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Insider tips for Europe: These destinations are totally underrated

Europe has many beautiful corners. Some are better known and some are almost unknown. Yet it is precisely these hidden gems that can make a trip so special.
We went in search of Europe's insider tips and discovered four countries that are absolutely worth seeing and offer incredible memories. Here we present them to you:

These four countries are (still) insider tips

#1 Slovenia

Rushing waterfalls, the largest stalactites in the world, picturesque landscapes. But also vibrant student cities, an up-and-coming food scene and lively squares. Slovenia offers you the perfect mix of breathtaking nature and magnificent cities. So you can add variety to your trip and combine an active vacation in the countryside with a city trip or two.

Three spots that you should definitely not miss:

1. the capital Ljubljana with a glass cable car that takes you up to the castle, with creative districts full of colorful hustle and bustle, with impressive facades that take you back to the 18th century. What we particularly like: the city is absolutely clean. This is also due to the fact that it is one of the most sustainable cities in Europe.

2. Lake Bled, which is probably the most iconic postcard image in the country. In the middle of a crystal-clear lake is a small island with a church tower. The view is simply unique and can be enjoyed from the hiking trail that leads around the lake.

3. Postojna Caves - the second largest stalactite cave in the world. Take a train ride through the 24-kilometre-long cave system, explore the underground river Pivka and be amazed by the wonders of nature.

Other highlights in Slovenia are:

  • the Dolce Vita in Piran
  • tours to wineries
  • the nature reserve around Lake Zelenci
  • the Predjama cave castle
  • the Vrata Valley with waterfalls

#2 Albania

A few years ago in Bali, we talked to a world traveler who had already traveled through 18 countries before our conversation over delicious peanut butter cups. When we asked her which place she liked the most, Laura immediately said: Albania.
We were surprised at first. Simply because the country was not yet on our radar as a vacation destination. But then she told us about the incredible diversity of the country. Of dreamy beaches, of bays and seaside resorts reminiscent of the Riviera, of places that wind their way up hilly landscapes, of reservoirs in green national parks, of sweet baklava and of her hike through the Alps.
We asked Laura which three spots were her highlights. She recommended these:

1. Berat - the city of a thousand windows
2. the Osum Canyon - the Grand Canyon of Albania
3. the seaside resort of Ksamil

Other highlights in Albania are:

  • the capital Tirana
  • Butrint National Park
  • historic town of Gjirokastra
  • Gjipe Beach & Canyon
  • the Koman Reservoir

#3 Madeira 

Do you love nature? Then Madeira is the place for you. The Portuguese island to the west of North Africa - in the middle of the Atlantic - is the hotspot if you want to experience tropical gardens, volcanic landscapes and views from the most beautiful cliffs in Europe.

If you meet other vacationers here, they are usually hiking. The so-called flower island is brilliant for this. The great thing is that you don't have to be a professional. There are hiking trails for all levels to enjoy the natural beauty. From the spectacular summit hike to Pico Ruivo to easy walks along the levadas - you are sure to find your own route.

But Madeira can do so much more. You should not miss it:

  • the market hall in Funchal
  • the seawater swimming pool in Porto Moniz
  • the botanical garden at the Monte Palace Madeira in Monte
  • the paradise garden of the Fajã dos Padres
  • a sunset at the Ponta do Pargo lighthouse
  • Paragliding in Arco da Calheta

Our tip for your hikes in Madeira: Stow sunscreen, a light jacket and your water bottle in our “Kick Off” backpack, which is designed for leisure activities and made from a robust material.

#4 Montenegro 

If you travel to Montenegro, you could easily forget that you are still in Europe. Many cultural influences are mixed together here and you will experience such a diverse landscape that you might think you are in South America one minute and in Egypt or even the Middle East the next. Another great thing about it is that you can combine everything on a road trip through the country. The Balkan state is a manageable size, so it is absolutely worth hiring a rental car locally.

You should definitely make a stop in the Bay of Kotor, the southernmost fjord in Europe. From here you can drive along the coast, look out over turquoise waters and incredible rock formations and finally arrive at Sveti Stefan - a former monastery island that is now a luxury hotel and popular photo motif. You can spend the night in the next small town, Petrovac, which is cheaper and at least as breathtakingly beautiful. Want to do some more hiking? Then you should head to Lake Skardar, the Tara Gorge (Europe's deepest gorge) or Durmitor National Park.

Further highlights are:

  • Ostrog MonasterS
  • Lake Scutari
  • Perast

Our travel tips to make your vacation a success

The four countries we have presented to you are definitely worth a trip. But to make sure everything is just right for your vacation, we have a few more tips for you:
  • Travel time: Before you book your vacation, check when the best time to travel is for the country in question. And ask yourself whether you can tolerate a lot of sun or prefer mild temperatures.
  • Adventures & tours: To experience even more, we recommend you check Get Your Guide for activities and tours offered by locals.
  • Packing list: You can use the 'Packtor' app to create a customized packing list - adapted to the climate of your destination and the duration of your trip. This way you avoid packing too much or forgetting something.
  • Luggage: Don't know what size suitcase you need? No problem. We have put together a guide for you here.

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