The quintessential places where old-world charm meet modern curiosity are scattered like gold coins throughout Europe. We went off-the-beaten cobblestone path and uncovered a few hidden gems worth planning your next vacation around. Have a look.
Robert Browning said, “Open my heart and you will see, graved inside of it, Italy.” This captivating and beautiful cliff-top town perched atop the island of Sicily is the stuff of poets and dreamers. During the day, you might find yourself wandering the café-lined streets hunting antiques or exploring the ancient ruins, while looking out to views of Mount Etna and the Ionian Sea. Mount Etna is Europe’s largest and most active volcano. And really the beauty here is unspeakably rare and rivals even the Amalfi coast.
Italian-Swiss painter Giovanni Segantini called Soglio the gateway to paradise. It’s an enchanting village in the Bergell region near Italy and it’s famous for flowers. The narrow stone streets weave in and out and rejoin at the Church of St. Lorenzo, Soglio’s landmark. And while Soglio is a recent and wonderful discovery for many, the settlement and the town were recorded as early as 1219.
Welcome to a prosperous town with an uncommon energy and a youthful spirit. This is Aveiro, which hugs the edge of a shallow coastal lagoon on the Ria. A bird-lovers paradise, Aveiro (uh-vey-roo), which might be Latin for place of birds, is the place occasionally dubbed the Venice of Portugal for its boats, bridges and picturesque canals. It’s a lovely spot best discovered on foot or aboard a moliceiro – the traditional seaweed-harvesting boat now used for tourists.
Southwest Germany’s Esslingen became a major trading center by building two bridges over the Neckar River, making it an obvious for medieval traders. Now the town has more than 200 timber-framed buildings from the 13th to 16th centuries, lining its canals. During the holidays, they are a backdrop for the German Christmas market, where 200 tradesmen in medieval costumes sell authentic crafts from the Middle Ages. But any time of year it’s fun to stroll the narrow streets, admire historic churches, and discover a new baked-good favorite.
Sweden’s western coast is graced by the small town of Smogen, where getting there is almost as fun as being there. You cross over a bridge with panoramic views of the bay below you. From there, every minute is a new discovery, from the small waterside houses splashed with vibrant color, to the charming and welcoming people.
There you have it – a few new places you might want to put on your travel bucket list for 2019.