Are you like us and are always in search of new travel destinations, which are not often on travelers’ radars? Look no further as we have a new travel bucket list for you.
The payment company Mastercard, together with travel bloggers across Europe, did a list of 44 hidden European destinations. We feel honored that we were able to represent Slovenia and happy to see Slovenia reached impressive 10th place on the list.
The criteria for choosing the best destinations across Europe were:
- Undiscovered by the average tourist
- Lots of activities and rich with outdoor and cultural sights
- Year-round visiting
- Payment acceptance
- Interesting for young and old and for different interests
- Good travelers’ infrastructure
While bloggers were focused more towards the attractiveness of the destination and undiscoverness, the Mastercard focused towards cost of living (prices for accommodation and meals in local restaurants) and possibility of payment by Mastercard.
The complete list include 44 destinations (you can check the complete list here), but there is TOP 15 list, which will definitely make you to pack your bag and start exploring.
TOP 15 Europe’s hidden treasures
1. Asturias and Covadonga Convent
Crystal clear water, uncrowded beaches, hiking trails and wilderness – did we get your attention? The northern region in Spain, Asturias, will definitely charmed you with its amazing nature, but as well with vibrant towns, local culinary and culture. One third of the region is recognized as natural space and you can also find four biosphere reserves on Unesco. When visiting, one of the most attractive sights is the Covadonga convent, so make sure not to miss it.
(Accommodation prices from 25€ up, meal in a local restaurant 18€)
2. Mdina and Zebbug, Malta
Malta is the world’s 9th smallest country, but it offers everything what a curious traveler wants – rich culture and history, amazing views, picturesque towns and good food. When we were traveling around Malta we also loved the charming Mdina town. For everyone interested in Arabic feel, stop at the Zebbug town as well – especially during the three days long festival.
(Accommodation prices from 24€ up, meal in a local restaurant 25€)
3. Salzkammergut region, Austria
If for nothing else, travelers stop at the Salzkammergut region for the beautiful and photogenic Hallstatt. Its lake, which is one of the most beautiful Alpine lakes in Austria, makes everything even more picturesque. When already there, visit also the nearby salt mine and the ice caves of Dachstein and Mammoth.
(Accommodation prices from 35€ up, meal in a local restaurant 25€)
4. The Azores, Portugal
Portugal has been beloved tourist destinations, but luckily there are still places, which don’t get much attention. One of them is also the Azores in the middle of Atlantic, known for its amazing nature, offering breathtaking landscape, crater lakes, volcanoes, waterfalls and fishing towns. Even Unesco listed the Azores as a Biosphere Reserve.
(Accommodation prices from 25€ up, meal in a local restaurant 15€)
5. Perast, Montenegro
Montenegro might be known as a luxury destination around the world, but the luxury here is still pretty affordable if comparing to other Mediterranean countries. Montenegro can brag with its beautiful beaches on the coast, but wilderness nature interior.
(Accommodation prices from 12€ up, meal in a local restaurant 13€)
6. Lednice-Valtice, Czech Republic
The vast, 200 km2, area Lednice-Valtice is the largest artificial geographical area in Europe, offering observation of birds while taking a boat ride on the river. Visiting the area you will enjoy walking paths with views, including the one from the 60-meter high minaret. Don’t even overlook the amazing Lednice Castle, built on a Renaissance chateau and Gothic fort.
(Accommodation prices from 20€ up, meal in a local restaurant 10€)
7. Pag Island, Croatia
We canot say that Croatian coastline is little known among travelers, but the Pag Island has still managed to end up on the list. Its moon-like landscape, salt, lace and cheese production convinced the jury.
(Accommodation prices from 30€ up, meal in a local restaurant 13€)
8. Saaremaa Island, Estonia
The largest island in Estonia is best known for its windmills and home-brewed beer. Nevertheless, here are also amazing and 3500 years old Kaali craters, from which the Kaali Lake is the most amazing one.
(Accommodation prices from 23€ up, meal in a local restaurant 18€)
9. Volos and Pelion region, Greece
Oh yes, Greece still have places which are not often on tourist radars. One of them is also Volos – known for its history, good restaurants and vibrant nightlife. Volos lies between beaches and Mount Pelion. Near Pelion the Damouhari harbor can be found, where the movie Mamma Mia was filmed.
(Accommodation prices from 25€ up, meal in a local restaurant 16€)
10. Velika Planina, Slovenia
Coming from Slovenia, we are super proud that also Velika Planina made it to the list of TOP 15 hidden treasures in Europe. Velika Planina is the perfect place for nature lovers, who cherish tradition and history – while hiking, you will be able to admire lots of wooden houses, the oldest preserved herdsmen settlement in Europe. Last but not least, Velika Planina is also just an hour drive from Ljubljana, the capital.
(Accommodation prices from 40€ up, meal in a local restaurant 15€)
11. Kaszuby, Poland
Near the city of Gdansk lies the Kaszuby region, which is best known for its picturesque traditional villages. The lake Wdzydzkie is also a great place to enjoy if you are passionate about kayaking or sailing. Last but not least, here is also the “Polish Stonehenge”, known as an ancient astronomical calendar and a place of worship, with the power to heal.
(Accommodation prices from 20€ up, meal in a local restaurant 12€)
12. Naarden, The Netherlands
Just 30 minutes drive from Amsterdam a paradise for all the castles and fortresses fans can be found. Naarden is the only fortification in Europe with double walls and moats. Its star shaped form makes everything even more spectacular.
(Accommodation prices from 60€ up, meal in a local restaurant 30€)
13. Cape Kolka, Latvia
During the Soviet times the Cape Kolka was completely isolated due to its military base and that is why even nowadays the cape has been untouched from the crowds, making it stunningly beautiful.
(Accommodation prices from 20€ up, meal in a local restaurant 14€)
14. Danube Delta, Romania
When Simon and I traveled around Romania, we loved best our experience on the Danube Delta. Did you know that the Danube Delta has been declared as a national park since 1938 and that the Romanian part of the delta can also be found on the Unesco’s list of World Heritage Sites? If you enjoy nature, you definitely should put a visit to the Danube Delta high on your bucket list – the area is home to 320 types of bird, 45 varieties of freshwater fish and more than 1200 species of plants.
(Accommodation prices from 15€ up, meal in a local restaurant 10€)
15. Balaton-Uplands, Hungary
If you ever visited the Lake Balaton, you know why it is known as the “Hungarian Sea”. It is huge – in fact, it is the largest fresh water lake in Central Europe. If you want to avoid crowds, head up to the North – the Balaton-Uplands. It is said you can see the Hungary’s version of Provence or Tuscany there. Its tiny villages and views of the lake make everything even a bit more special.
(Accommodation prices from 20€ up, meal in a local restaurant 13€)
We unfortunately have not visited many destinations from above, but some have been on our bucket list for ages and some have just been added to it. We just hope these places will avoid crowds as long as possible, as one of the best things about traveling is to visit little known culturally rich places, where wilderness can still be felt and seen.