In exactly 7 weeks, I’ll be getting on a plane to Africa. Counting down the days?! Who? Me?!? I have no return ticket, no idea about when I’m coming back to Europe and no plan whatsoever. I figured it was best this way, ’cause the whole time I thought I needed a plan, it was driving me nuts. The plan changed more often than my head could follow, so I threw it out the window. Now everybody else thinks I’m nuts… And me, I’ve never felt better in my whole life.
The biggest adventure of my life awaits, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t gonna miss ‘home’ at least a little bit. So today it’s time for a little tribute. Not to those super touristy spots that everybody knows already – sure most of them totally deserve the attention, but they get more than enough credit already. Nope, I want to show you the lesser-known spots, the ones you might have never even heard of before, but that will probably amaze you even more.
MY FAVORITE HIDDEN GEMS IN EUROPE
Tolmin Gorge, Slovenia
Located in the southern part of Triglav national park, Tolmin is one of those places where at some point you might start doubting that you’re actually still in Europe. The moss-covered rocks and narrow passages give it something mysterious, and the water is actually as blue as in the picture.
There’s several possibilities if you want to hike to the gorge, or you can just drive to the entrance and walk from there. The path inside the park is well-maintained and not very difficult, but it’s mainly stairs so probably not suitable for everybody.
I totally recommend combining your visit with a drive through Triglav National Park, as this place actually deserves its own spot on this list. Quiet and breathtaking, what else do you want? It’s not super far but with the winding roads and all the stopping you’re gonna want to do it does take several hours to get from the north of the park to Tolmin, so make sure to leave early to reach Tolmin well before sunset, as the light dissapears quite early in the gorge itself.
This place… Not only is it stunning, but on top of that my first moments in Berat were so memorable that they deserve a post of their own, so a little bit of patience please! OK OK I’ll give you a sneak peak… It might have involved an Albanian police officer, a way to steep and slippery road, a car with no brakes and bald tires, a Lili screaming ‘I am not moving this fucking car ever again, I’m too young to die! ‘ and a Dan Flying Solo trying to calm down the cop in his best Albanian whilst snapchatting it all…
Add a guesthouse inside a 13th century castle and a day trip to an amazing little waterfall and you know it’s gonna be a winner!
Tens of thousands of bluebells bloom every year in the Hallerbos in Belgium, transforming it into a landscape you’d only expect to find in a fairy tale. Who wouldn’t want to live happily ever after in a place like this?
I guess everybody’s heard of Cinque Terre by now and you’ve probably even been or at least have it written down somewhere very high on your bucket list. You’re absolutely right! If this was a top 10 of not-at-all-hidden-gems-in-Europe, Cinque Terre would be my number one. Without a shadow of a doubt. But it’s not – a top 10 of not at all hidden gems – so instead, let me introduce you to Tellaro.
Only a short journey away from Cinque Terre, I actually made a spontaneous sex sound when I first saw it. Yyyyep, it’s THAT beautiful! You can read all about that awkward moment right here.
Get ready to fall in love…
Piva Canyon and Durmitor national park, Montenegro
I don’t get it. Knowing how tiny Montenegro is, how the hell are there not more people going to the north?!? Jawdropping and barely touched, this area belongs on every bucket list. Check out my full post about Piva Canyon and Durmitor National Park and start planning!
One of the cutest little towns I’ve ever seen! I ended up here on my way to the slightly more visited town of Comares – taking the small roads, of course! – and couldn’t help but stay a while. Cútar is small and I don’t even think there’s a hotel, but if you combine it with some of the other white villages of Málaga, it makes for an awesome day trip!
Butterfly valley of Petaloudes, Rhodes, Greece
Beautiful nature and butterflies everywhere, that’s what you get in the Valley of the Butterflies in Rhodes. Most people visit the park, which is not that unknown or hidden and has an entrance fee, but there’s a few places outside of the actual park that are just as beautiful and where you can wander around freely and – most of the time – alone. Just ask the locals, they’ll tell you where to go.
In order not to disturb the butterflies, try to be as silent as possible and keep some distance.
Konjic, Bosnia and Herzegovina
It started with a look at google maps, and one of my friends saying ‘Hey, this is a cool name for a town, let’s go there! ‘… I know exactly 2 people in the whole world who’ve heard about Konjic. They were both with me when I ended up there… They also both pronounced the words ‘I don’t think 1 night is gonna be enough ‘ at exactly the same time as me, more or less 5 seconds after we’d arrived. Here’s why…
You’d think you were in Italy, but no, this is Slovenia. Located at the tip of a narrow peninsula and almost completely surrounded by water, this place is what strolling-along-the-water-dreams are made of. The colorful houses, the tiny fishing harbor, the sunsets and the tiny alleys complete the picture marvelously.
Lake Komani, Albania
The road to Lake Komani is bad. In fact, most of the time, to road to Lake Komani isn’t even a road, but more like a collection of holes in what appears to have been a layer of asphalt at some point. It takes almost 3 hours coming from Shköder, which is only about 50 km away, but it’s worth every second.
Arriving at Lake Komani is one of those BAM in-your-face experiences, and the views during the boat tour are beyond amazing. Check out my full post about Lake Komani for a lot more information and plenty more pictures!
Segura de la Sierra, Andalusia, Spain
Located all the way up a hill, the drive to Segura de la Sierra alone is worth a trip to Spain. It’s literally olive-tree-heaven, and once you reach the town, the views are beyond amazing. A perfect place to spend the night after a day driving and hiking through the Sierra de Cazorla in the north-east of Andalusia.
Yep, another one from my dear home country. The locals that live in Durbuy like to call their town the smallest city in Belgium and sometimes even in the world. This isn’t entirely true, but with only around 400 people living in the city center, it’s definitely tiny. And cuuuuu-hute!! Although pretty well-visited by people from Belgium and its neighboring countries, I’m pretty sure nobody else has ever heard of it, and I can assure you that that’s a shame!
I’ve visited Durbuy several times ‘back in the days’, but strangely I don’t have any pictures. But no worries, this website has got you all covered!
SO WHICH ONE'S YOUR FAVORITE?
Have you been to any of these? What did you think? Or do you know any other small European towns and places that are missing? I definitely have a few more on my bucket list, like all the little islands in Scotland or cute towns like Karlovy Vary in Czech Republic. Tell me all about it in the comments… and maybe make me want to come back for more!