Wednesday, April 01, 2015

5 Unlikely Holiday Destinations in Europe

When most of us think of a European holiday, we think of Paris, London, Amsterdam, Spain, Switzerland, Greece or even Germany. These are great holiday destinations, but there is more to Europe than these extremely popular cities and countries. There are places that offer sensational landscapes, rich cultural past, exceptional experiences and all this at great value for money. Here are 5 such unlikely holiday destinations in Europe:

Romania – Land of the Dracula

Famous castles of Romania
This Balkan country is the land of the Dracula. It is one of the cheapest countries to travel in Europe and also one of the most culturally vibrant. The Transylvanian Alps, Carpathian mountains, the Danube river and the Black Sea make this country a paradise for spectacular landscapes. From the painted monasteries of Southern Bukovnia to the megalomaniac monuments of Bucharest, from the biosphere reserves of the Danube Delta and the Black Sea Lagoons to the monasteries and deserts of Oltenia, from the baroque cities and traditional German villages of Banat to the traditional wooden churches and mountains of Maramures and from the medieval cities of Muntenia to the ski resorts of Transylvania, Romania offers travelers a lot of avenues to choose from.

I would go to Romania for its medieval churches, monasteries, laid back villages, friendly people and for the scenic Danube delta.

Poland – Eastern Europe’s Highlight

UNESCO World Heritage site of Zamosc
One of the largest countries of Eastern Europe, Poland offers great history from the  second World War. It’s unique mix of culturally strong beautiful European cities and relatively unspoilt countryside makes it a top holiday destination in Europe. From the sandy beaches with dunes and cliffs on the Baltic coast to the magnificent medieval cities of Krakow and Lublin in the South, from the picturesque backwaters of Podlachia to the warm and camping friendly countryside of Warmia- Masuria, from the beautiful Renaissance era town of Zamosc to the red-brick Gothic castle at Malbork and from the metropolitan center of Poland with Warsaw and Lodz to the birdwatcher’s paradise and inland dunes of Greater Poland, Poland has enough charms to keep you spell bound on your holiday.

Whether you are a culture buff, bird watcher, outdoor enthusiast, cyclist or even a party animal, Poland would appeal to you.

Norway – Northern Lights

Scenic Arctic town of Lotofen
Arctic Circle, Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) and Midnight Sun are some of the top things that come to mind when someone mentions Norway. A rugged landscape shaped by the Ice Age, Norway is famous for its amazing scenery that includes forested hills and valleys, mountains, a long coastline with fjords and some of the world’s greatest waterfalls. One of Europe’s sparsely populated countries, it is home to the most beautiful road in the world at Atlanterhavsveien, the largest glacier on European mainland at Jostedalsbreen and the northernmost part of Continental Europe at Nordkapp. Norway is also a top place in Europe for its party life.

If polar ice, ancient Sami culture, picturesque fjords, arctic islands and lots of adventure is what you seek, then Norway would be your perfect getaway. The easiest way to get here is to take flights to Oslo from many places in Europe or by taking the famous Norwegian cruises.

Iceland – Volcanoes and Ice

Glaciers of Iceland
This Nordic country is home to glaciers, volcanoes, waterfalls and lots of rugged geography. This is one of those countries to visit if you are a outdoor, nature and scenic landscape buff. Due to its proximity to the arctic circle, one can also experience the Midnight Sun and the Northern Lights here. From the lava fields and waterfalls of North Iceland to the largest city of Reykjavik, from the ice covered volcanic crater at Snaefellsjokull National Park to the most beautiful waterfall in Iceland at Gullfoss and from the whale watching site of Husavik to the geothermal hot springs at Geysir, Iceland has many of nature’s special sights that are bound to keep you captivated.

All you have to do on your trip to Iceland is to stray a bit away from the capital city and the rugged geography will come into view.

Serbia – Balkan Music and National Parks

Meanders of Uvac
Considered as one of the earliest settlements in Europe, Serbia is the birth place of many Roman Emperors. Home to the famous tennis stars and all-night party clubs, its capital, Belgrade has been voted as one of the most up and coming capitals of Europe. One of the top things about Serbia is its famous Balkan music with its traditional brass bands and trumpet festivals. Summers are popular for outdoor activities and national parks, while winters are known for ski slopes and mountain cabins. From the medieval 12th century monastery of Studenica to the Fruska Gora National Park that is dotted with ancient monasteries and wineries, from the breath taking Djerdap national park to the medieval castle in Golubac and from the famous ski resort of Zlatibor to Vrsac, one of the most beautiful cities in Serbia, this South East European country has attractions for every season.

Be it culture, history, scenic nature, wineries, nightlife, music, castles, churches or wildlife, Serbia has all this and more. You are bound to enjoy this beautiful Balkan country.

Disclosure: This post was written in partnership with Flybe.

Note: The photographs in this post have been borrowed under the Creative Commons License and have been linked to their respective host domain pages.

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