Photo by Preve Beatrice
Photo by Preve Beatrice

Hidden Gems to Discover in Europe

by Jessica Zen
Stripes Europe

When traveling in Europe, there are some obvious main attractions that are not to be missed. Neuschwanstein Castle, the Eiffel Tower and St. Peter’s Basilica are just a few of the most famous. However, there is so much more to Europe than these iconic places. Lovingly restored castles, romantic ruins and crystal clear beaches are just waiting to be explored. Get off the beaten path and enjoy these hidden European gems.

Burg Eltz in Germany

A truly unique find, this castle is not only untouched by the ravages of war, but also still owned by family members of the original builders. Burg Eltz is elevated 230 feet on an oval rock in the Eltz Forest and has eight towers and a timber frame. Original furnishings can be found throughout the castle for this pristinely kept historical site, giving a first-hand experience with the Middle and Early Modern ages. Interior rooms include an armory, treasury, knight’s hall, 15th century kitchen and many other fascinating pieces of art. This astounding castle wasn’t finished overnight. It took 500 years of construction to complete. What more could you want out of a castle experience?  

Mont St. Michel in France

Drawing its name from the monastery perched on the island, Mont St. Michel has been around since the 6th century. The abbey itself was built as close to the heavens as possible, and has served as a pilgrimage site for centuries. The strategic location on an island that is only accessible during low tide helped ward off assailants. Nowadays, tourists are able to visit the barren, Gothic abbey rooms and see the church with its incredible arched windows and pillars. While only 50 people are residents of this magnificent place, an estimated 2.5 million visitors make the trek each year to see this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Piran in Slovenia

Sparkling from the blue waters of the Adriatic Sea, the city of Piran in Slovenia glows with medieval architecture, romantic narrow streets and compact houses. Venetian town walls still stand between groves of olive trees and the emerald waters teeming with fishing boats, divers and exotic fish. When the weather is just right, the Dolomites and Julian Alps are visible above the Gulf of Trieste. Piran is perched on the Slovene Riviera and is filled with natural wonder and fantastic seafood, including turbot, scampi and dondoli clams. Wellness enthusiasts will enjoy hotel spas that feature local mud and salt with medicinal elements. For the foodies, thrill seekers and spa-goers, Piran has a little something for everyone.

Jealous Wall in Westmeath, Ireland

Standing in what appears to be a romantic state of ruin, the Jealous Wall is actually a faux abbey ruin built out of jealousy. In this case, jealousy of a popular wife and more successful brother brought a fantastic piece of architecture that still adorns the landscape of Belvedere House. Built in 1760 out of limestone, the wall is Ireland’s largest folly and is a melancholy reminder of a feud between brothers. The lakeside estate that hosts the follies and restored Georgian villa covers 160 acres and is open for visitors to explore and learn about the sordid tale of Robert Rochfort and the literal and metaphorical walls he built to keep others at bay.

Discover the rest of Europe while you enjoy these unique destinations. Never stop your travels once you’ve seen the places everyone has heard of. Keep looking for something new and exciting because the world is your oyster!

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