Many people are keen to avoid the beaten track when they go on holiday, but there’s always the risk of arriving somewhere dull that has been avoided by tourists for a reason. Europe’s rich cultural history means that there are plenty of wonderful destinations on the continent, and this list will help you to find an original travelling experience without the swarming tourists.
Best for sun and sea
Split sits on Croatia’s Adriatic coast, and is one of the Mediterranean’s most beautiful and ancient cities. If you tire of sunbathing on nearby Bačvice beach you’ll find plenty to do in the city itself. The old town was one of the first urban centres to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and there are numerous historical and cultural monuments within the walls of the imposing Diocletian’s Palace, a 1700 year old Roman landmark.
Best for a country retreat
The Mosel River Valley in Western Germany is home to quaint villages, fairytale castles, and acres of sprawling vineyards. The villages throw festivals at the end of summer, so arrive in August or September to see the best of traditional rural life. Base yourself in Traben-Trarbach, rent a car and explore the surrounding countryside.
Best for a city creak
Nicknamed ‘The Paris of the East’, you can’t take a step in Budapest without stumbling across a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city has a youthful, dynamic vibe, and an enviable nightlife scene. There’s plenty to see and do, from world renowned classical music and naturally occurring thermal baths to interesting walking tours. If you have to take a breather, visit one of Budapest’s famous coffee houses to keep your energy up.
Best for outdoor activities
Europe boasts a number of great mountain ranges to keep skiers and hikers happy, but none can rival the Southern Carpathians for history. Base yourself in Romania’s second city, Brasov, which has plenty of world class ski resorts nearby, including Poiana Brasov. Just 15 miles away you’ll find Bran Castle, one of the gothic fortresses linked to the Dracula legend. The legendary Count may have departed, but the twisty stairs of this ancient castle create a gothic atmosphere nonetheless.
Paying your way
It’s always wise to carry a credit card when you’re travelling abroad, and an American Express rewards card makes the ideal travel companion, allowing you to earn exclusive membership points as you spend, which can be redeemed for rewards like future flights and hotel stays. Plus, if you get a cashback credit card from American Express, you can take advantage of competitive cashback rates.