While most visitors to Europe want to drink their espresso in a chic café in Paris or eat tapas in the beating heart of downtown Barcelona, others are keen to seek out places that have remained “under the radar,” away from the hoards of fellow tourists.
Thankfully, Europe is blessed with many such places; underrated destinations that most visitors simply ignore. In its latest “best of” travel list, CNN has rounded up 21 of the continent’s most inconspicuous places for discerning travelers to discover and explore, among them Zagori, in the mountains of the northwest Greece, and Patmos, the northernmost island of the Dodecanese.
The name Zagori means “the place behind the mountains.” As the article notes, this mountainous region of Epirus escaped Turkish occupation and maintained its independence during the four centuries of Ottoman rule. Exploring the myriad hiking paths and descending the 900m-deep Vikos Gorge, it is easy to understand why.
While the article talks about the wild landscape, where goats roam the high cliffs and lush forests, Zagori is much more than untamed wilderness. Its quaint villages look like something out of a postcard and its stone bridges make it an ideal place to explore behind the wheel of a 4×4, or on a scooter.
At the northernmost point of the Dodecanese, Patmos is famous for being the island where St. John the Evangelist wrote the Apocalypse.
Cruise ships regularly arrive at the island, unload passengers onto coaches headed to the Cave of the Apocalypse, which then immediately return to the ship. But, as the article notes, those in the know have been visiting Patmos for years; a fabulous low-key vacation destination to suit all tastes. The beaches around the town of Skala are especially beautiful, with seaside tavernas serving fresh calamari and ice cold beer.
The rest of Europe’s underrated destinations, according to CNN:
North Uist, Scotland; the Midland Region, Ireland; Orange, France; Basel, Switzerland; Apuseni Mountains, Romania; Henne Strand, Denmark; Nellim and Lake Inari, Finland; Antwerp, Belgium; Wiesbaden, Germany; Picos de Europa, Spain; Sardinia, Italy; Vilnius, Lithuania; Rotterdam, Netherlands; Kalmar, Sweden; Białowieża National Park, Poland; Pristina, Kosovo; Pula, Croatia; Bansko, Bulgaria.
This article was previously published in Greek at moneyreview.gr.