10 Insanely Gorgeous, Under-the-Radar European Destinations
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The value of the dollar against the euro is the highest it's been in years, making now the perfect time to take that trip you've been meaning to plan. But instead of the usual suspects (lookin' at you, London and Paris), why not try one of these under-the-radar spots that are far less crowded but just as beautiful?
The only thing better than seeing Goreme's stunning rock formations (into which enormous, beautiful churches have been built)? Experiencing them from a hot-air balloon, hundreds of feet overhead.
Go to Manarola, the oldest and second smallest of the Cinque Terre towns, for fresh seafood from the Ligurian Sea, sweet Sciacchetrà wine and some peace and quiet (no cars are allowed). To get there, take the Pisa Centrale train from any of the Cinque Terre towns, which costs less than $10 and runs multiple times per day.
Sometimes called "the pearl of Austria," this picturesque village is essentially car-free and surrounded by salt mines, which make for fascinating tours.
While in Alesund, visit the Atlantic Sea Park at Tueneset, the biggest saltwater aquarium in northern Europe. Visit in December for next-level skiing in the Sunnmore alps.
The coastal town of Kotor is actually a submerged river canyon. It's super-secluded, surrounded by limestone cliffs and has one of the best-preserved medieval old towns in the world. This little guidebook can help you navigate the local Austro-Hungarian fortresses.
Narrow streets and Gothic alleyways wind through this historical Slovenian town sitting at the tip of a thin peninsula. Pack your flats: The town is so tiny, you'll want to make the 30-minute walk from end to end.
Located on the Adriatic Sea, Rovinj is an active fishing port (hello, amazingly fresh meals) and boasts incredible Mediterranean weather. Also nearby is the Brijuni Island National Park, where you can see ancient Roman villas and the remains of a Byzantine Palace.
Though it's the second largest city in Portugal, Porto is often overshadowed, tourism-wise, by Lisbon. A lively cultural scene and even livelier-colored buildings should make you reconsider. Check out the Mercado do Bolhão, a massive indoor market where you can pick up culinary delights from freshly-baked breads to fish that were probably swimming in the Atlantic hours earlier.