Hidden Gems in Europe – Travel Dudes

You could travel and explore the typical highlights of Europe… But why don’t you visit these hidden gems in Europe as well?

When thinking about a trip in Europe, your first thoughts are probably the big cities of Europe like visiting Paris, Barcelona, Prague or going sailing Croatia. But, there’s a lot more to Europe to discover than these hot spots.

If you’re looking for somewhere quieter, check out these hidden gems in Europe.

The best hidden gems in Europe

Skip the crowds and check out these secret spots in Europe.

Cinigiano, Italy

100 kilometers south of Florence, this small corner of Tuscan wine country has managed to its keep old-world charms while producing some of the most striking new-school Super Tuscan wines.

Breathtaking views of endless fields and vineyards, even better at sunset, are around practically every corner. Yet somehow, the crush of crowds isn’t.

Tour organic family-run vineyards like Cantina Basile or live royally while staying at the Castello di Vicarello. It’s all truly divine.

Another lovely place to visit nearby is the vineyards of Chianti.

Hidden gem in Italy, Cinigiano
Cinigiano, Italy

Roanne, France

Foodies will find eating their way across the French countryside is a breeze, no matter where they go. But those serious about top-notch gastronomy cannot miss Roanne, home of the Troisgros family and of Maison Troisgos, a restaurant that foodie bible Gault Millau referred to as the best in the entire world.

Those who prefer to sharpen their own skills in the kitchen can attend The Ecole des Trois Ponts, a famous nearby cooking school.

Take a stroll by the Loire river to walk off the calories, and enjoy some of the historical architecture.

Here are a few other trips in France that aren’t Paris.

Lappeenranta, Finland

Closer to Saint Petersburg than to Helsinki, Lappeenranta draws a fair share of visitors from nearby during the summer months. A short drive from Saimaa, the fourth largest lake in all of Europe, travelers come for boat cruises and sunbathing during the warmer months.

But there are plenty of great ways to spend the day that don’t involve fishing or swimming. A bustling central market, ancient fortress, and plenty of museums and other cultural attractions mean there’s never a dull moment in this curious Scandinavian city.

Winter brings low temperatures and plentiful skiing, snowmobiling, and sledding.

Another hidden gem in Finland is Hossa National Park.

Lappeenranta - Hidden gems in Europe
Lappeenranta, Finland

Cotas, Portugal

A couple years back, Portugal’s Duoro Valley was anointed the next Napa, and while the international market might not have reacted accordingly, wine lovers and fans of peaceful vistas overlooking rolling hills will fall in love once they visit.

The small town of Cotas is predominantly known for Quinta da Romaneira, where old-world decor is preserved but cutting-edge fermenting tanks and materials are used to help local vines step up their game.

It’s a perfect luxury retreat for travelers looking to be pampered somewhere other than the typical European haunts.

Abisko, Sweden

This secluded Lapland town might not immediately seem like a must-see spot, but that’s before travelers take into account its Arctic Circle location – definitely one of the hidden gems in Europe.

Photographers, nature-lovers, and anyone who wants a mind-blowing experience should make the pilgrimage to Abisko National Park, one of the best spots in the world to catch a glimpse of the aurora borealis (Northern Lights). Shimmering curtains of bright green and blue dance across the sky for hours during the winter months, and clear skies mean an even more stunning spectacle.

For those who are serious about their viewing experience, booking an overnight with the Aurora Sky Station is a must. Check out these accommodation options.

European hidden gem in Sweden
Abisko, Sweden


Volunteer Abroad Travel Insurance – Travel Dudes

You will need travel insurance when you plan to volunteer abroad. Most companies that organize travel trips insist or recommend you having volunteer abroad travel insurance.

Travel insurance is an insurance that is intended to cover medical expensesfinancial and other losses incurred while travelling.

Travel insurance can be gotten directly from insurance companiestravel agents and travel suppliers. The insurance covers student travel, business travel, leisure travel, adventure travel, cruise travel and international travel.

If you’re going to be volunteering abroad, you’re going to need to get specific travel insurance.

Buy travel insurance now!

Buying volunteer abroad travel insurance
Buying volunteer abroad travel insurance

Buying volunteer abroad travel insurance

Buying travel insurance is tricky especially when finding the right plan for you that will cover you extensively. Travel insurance covers you against risks such as severe weather, last minute cancellations, terrorist attacks, emergency/accidental care, and travel delays, missed connections, lost baggage etc.

Most people buy travel insurance so that they are medically covered when they are abroad; they don’t want to lose money due to cancellations and others want to prevent losing their luggage and travel documents.

There are various companies to buy travel insurance from depending on your location, price and what you want. Some insurance companies provide travel insurance which is niche specific where they specialize in student travel; others offer simple policies for everyday travelers, some offer just medical insurance or evacuation plans. 

World Nomads, for example, has specific travel insurance for volunteering abroad – get more details here.

Depending on what plan you want there are generally two types of plans which are package plans and travel medical plans.

When planning to buy travel insurance when volunteering abroad consider the following

Trip Cancellation insurance

Trip cancellation coverage provides reimbursement for lost travel expenses if you need to cancel your trip. Unexpected events like sickness, death, severe weather, industrial strike, terrorist incidents, something happens to your destination residence, theft of travel documents like passports, financial default by tour operator, and you may be needed back at work.

Trip cancellation insurance is important because some volunteer abroad fees are expensive which can go up to $ 5,000. With some organizations you are asked to plan early in advance in order to confirm a place with them. In such a situation during the period of waiting a lot can happen and you may need to cancel your trip. Also volunteer abroad programs involve a lot of several stops and connections and they have a higher risk of problems and things to go wrong.

Trip cancellation is important as you may choose to volunteer as a group or as a family and you may need to cancel because one of you may fall sick. This will save the money that could have been lost. Depending on the insurance company you use, they each have a number of reasons for you to cancel and they will reimburse you. Trip cancellation coverage should be bought early in advance to make sure you get the full benefits.

Medical insurance

Health insurance from your country only covers you while you are at home. When you decide to volunteer abroad you will need travel insurance. Travel insurance takes care of medical coverage while you are volunteering abroad.  When you are abroad despite of the vaccinations you are given you are still prone to be infected by indigenous diseases.  

The coverage includes being taken to hospital, being treated, charges for hospital stays, the cost of drugs, and evacuation back to your home country. Medical insurance is important since when you are in a foreign country and you might know where the hospital is. Also they may be speaking in a foreign language and getting help might be a bit difficult. When you are evacuated back to your home country, they will take you straight to hospital for further treatment. When buying medical insurance, inform them of your preexisting conditions to make sure you are fully covered.

Other advantages

Travel insurance covers against lost or damage baggage. This happens a lot due to connecting many different flights. It also protects against your property being stolen. There are some occasions when you arrive at your destination and your baggage is delayed.

The cover includes reimbursement of essential items like toiletries, and basic clothing. Some companies offer extra coverage on car rental damage protection, identity theft, and adventure travel coverage. Consult your travel agent on which is the best insurance company to use and what exactly they cover

Examples of travel insurance companies

There are many companies, travel agents and specialty travel companies that provide travel insurance.  They vary greatly on price and what they offer or cover.

At Travel Dudes, we highly recommend getting travel insurance from World Nomads.

Volunteer activities in their Standard plan may cover include:

  • Hospitality or work at bars.
  • Farming such as fruit picking, WWOOFing or other manual labor.
  • Wildlife or animal care.
  • Environmental or conservation work.
  • Au pair, nanny or other volunteer childcare.
  • Teaching.
  • Retail work such as shop assistant or store manager role.
  • Office or clerical work.

Volunteer activities their Explorer plan may cover include:

  • Undertakings in construction or renovation projects, including painting, using power tools, operating machinery or roadwork.
  • NGO support and disaster relief.
  • Medical and health care work (health education, medical services, medical practitioner).

Get a quote from World Nomads below:

Check out our other posts about travel insurance:


Water Sports in Barcelona – Travel Dudes

Barcelona has the perfect combination of sandy beaches and warm weather…which means that there is a host of amazing water sports in Barcelona.

Head out to sea to try one of these exciting water sports in the inviting Mediterranean waters!

Water sports in Barcelona to try out

Jet ski Tour of Barcelona’s coast

Fancy yourself as a bit of a James Bond? Take on the waves with speed and style and discover the coast of Barcelona and the Catalonian coastline with a fast-paced jet ski tour. This top Barcelona water sport allows you to see all the famous sights in the coolest way possible. It’s also the perfect activity in the hot weather, to feel the fresh spray of the Mediterranean Sea cooling down the heat.

Check out: Get Your Guide or Viator for more information on booking this afternoon out on the waters.

Jetskiing in Barcelona
Jetskiing in Barcelona

Paddle boarding in Barcelona

The Mediterranean waters that surround the beaches of Barcelona are often very calm, making it the perfect placid-lake environment for paddle boarding. SUP, otherwise known as Stand-Up Paddle, is one of the most popular water sports in Barcelona. It’s a fun one to try out with friends for a more relaxed experience, as you can lay down on your board for some tanning time if you get tired!

It’s super easy to pick up, so it’s possible to just rent a board for the day and head out on your own. But if you’d rather have some support to get going, it’s also possible to book a guide to teach you the ropes.

Check out: Escuela SUP to find out more about booking and introductory classes. Or, rent your own Paddle SUP.

Water sports in Barcelona
Paddle boarding in Barcelona

Flyboarding in Barcelona

Flyboarding is recent water sport to have skyrocketed (pardon the pun) in popularity all over the world in recent years. If you’ve never heard of flyboarding before, let us explain. You balance yourself on a high-powered water jet board, that propels you out of the water and into the air, which you then control by going up, down, forwards and backwards. Sounds a bit futuristic, right! It’s the closest thing to being able to defy gravity, or to becoming Spiderman.

It takes a bit of practice to get into the swing of fly boarding, but a team of certified instructors will be on hand to teach you all the basics. It dips into the extreme category of the water sports listed, but with a qualified centre and instructors it is perfectly safe and fun.

Check out: Get Your Guide or Viator for more information.

flyboarding barcelona

Hydrofoil and eFoil

Another one we’d forgive you for not having heard of before is electric hydrofoiling, or eFoil. Learn to sail the waters of Barcelona on a high-tech eFoil, which is a flying surfboard with a small, electric motor that levitates above the surface of the water and is controlled by Bluetooth. It’s the latest and most exciting way to travel the coast of Barcelona!

It’s suitable for all age ranges, and instructors can take you through introductory and advanced classes to get to grips with this futuristic way of surfing.

Check out: Take Off Barcelona or Five Star Watersports.

hydrofoil barcelona
Image Source: Five Star Watersports Barcelona

Windsurfing in Barcelona

Feeling up to the challenge of mastering both wind and sea simultaneously? Well, windsurfing is the sport for you! It’s perhaps one of the most difficult water sports in Barcelona to master, so it’s certainly not one for the fainthearted. But if you’re up for the challenge, it’s a great way to spend an adrenaline-filled afternoon.

You can windsurf all year round in Barcelona, and there are a variety of schools offering lessons for reasonable prices.

Check out: Escola Catalana de Surf, Anywhere Watersports Barcelona, and Viator.

Windsurfing Barcelona

Seabob tour

Brownie points if you know what a Seabob is! We’re sure you’ll have seen them before, they are a hydrodynamic jet that you grip onto, to propel you both above and below the water. It gives the sensation of swimming like a fish, leisurely gliding through the serene waters of the Mediterranean.

One of the best aspects of Seabobbing is that it’s completely environmentally friendly, it zooms powerfully and almost silently through the water. Dive to depths of up to 40 metres with proper safety equipment to explore what lies under the Barcelona shores.

Check out: Jet Scoot for the best Seabob experience.

Seabob Barcelona
Image Source: Jet Scoot

Sailing in Barcelona

In the mood for something a little fancier and classier? How about a few hours sailing around Barcelona’s coastline, and letting a professional skipper do all the hard work for you? This way you can spend more time relaxing, admiring the landscape, and sipping on a glass of wine, than having to do the heavy lifting yourself!

Book onto either a private yacht tour, or join a larger group, and sail through the serene waters for the ultimate relaxation experience. We recommend a sunset sailing experience, to see Barcelona in its best light under dreamy pink skies.

Check out: Get Your Guide or Viator to choose your perfect sailing experience.

Water sports in Barcelona - sailing
Sailing in Barcelona

Looking for more things to do in Barcelona? Check out these posts:


TTOT = Travel Talk on Twitter – Travel Dudes

#TTOT – Travel Talk on Twitter is the travel community’s biggest Twitter chat, taking place every Tuesday at 9:30 AM/PM GMT.

(Use the #TTOT hashtag during the week for your travel tweets!)

#TTOT – The Chat: It occurs *twice* every Tuesday: 9:30 AM and 9:30 PM Greenwich Mean Time

Check a World Clock and Meeting Planner to find where that time is in your part of the world.

timeanddate.com/worldclock/meeting.html

Just copy, paste and tweet each question at the right time. Then join the discussion and have fun!

Around 9:15 am & pm GMT (or similar tweets):

Get ready for #TTOT (Travel Talk on Twitter: bitly.com/TTOT-info)! Today’s topic: ‘April Travel Fools’

Join the fun on Travel Talk on Twitter by searching for #TTOT on Twitter, then clicking on the option “latest”.

Join the fun on TRAVEL TALK ON TWITTER. Search for #TTOT then click on the option “latest”. Find today’s 5 travel questions to discuss here:  traveldudes.com/ttot-travel-talk-on-twitter/

Travel Talk on Twitter

Travel Talk on Twitter Questions

9:30 am&pm GMT:
Q1 via @hendrikmorkel: COVID19 Restrictions are all lifted, BUT only for today! Where would you travel today? #TTOT

9:40 am&pm GMT:
Q2 via @TravelDudes:  Have you seen/read any travel related April fools today already? Which one? #TTOT 

9:50 am&pm GMT:
Q3 via @TravelDudes:  Let’s create our own “April Travel Fools” together. Let’s start, then we choose the best & share those! #TTOT 

10:00 am&pm GMT:
Q4 via @charlesmccool: What is the best or worst prank you have been a part of? #TTOT

10:10 am&pm GMT:
Q5 via @hendrikmorkel: Worst April weather you have ever encountered on a trip? #TTOT 

Topic next week to tweet about:

Be the FIRST to propose your #TTOT #travel #chat questions & see yourself featured on the next #TTOT chat: https://www.facebook.com/TravelTalkOnTwitter  
Next #TTOT topic: ‘Traveling with Kids’

Please help to promote next week’s topic a couple of times!

Next Topics:

30th March: 1st of April – April Travel Fools
6th April: Traveling with Kids
13th April: Customs & Migration
20th April: Coronavirus
27th April: Tech-free travel
4th May: Emergencies Abroad

Further info about the Travel Talk on Twitter:

Travel Talk on Twitter is a social media travel event and a social travel hashtag on Twitter. Look out for the hashtag #TTOT

#TTOT Basics for the event:

* There are 2 #TTOT sessions. Like that, all the travel tweeters in every time zone can join the fun! (And the fun doesn’t end just because #TTOT does. Feel free to keep responding throughout the day.)

* The hosts will send out 5 questions. Every 10 minutes there will be a new question.

Facebook page: facebook.com/TravelTalkOnTwitter On this page you will be able to see which topic will be next, but even better… You can submit your questions and with a bit of luck, your question might get chosen for #TTOT! So, be creative! (And don’t forget to include your Twitter handle so we can credit you during the event.)

#TTOT – The Hashtag:

Whenever you need any travel related help…
Whenever you have a question for your travels…
Whenever you tweet about travel… Just add it to your tweet! It’s short & a very well known hashtag!

Travelers worldwide will look out for it and will use it as well to tweet about their passion…

Travel!

It’s not a hashtag of a single company… It’s YOURS… It’s OUR Social Travel Hashtag!

You can use #TTOT throughout the week to tag your travel-related tweets to get the attention of others in the #TTOT community. Twitter is about being social and it starts with a simple #TTOT.

#TTOT’s promises to you:

1) We pledge to be as open as possible.
2) We promise to take all criticism and ideas with the utmost seriousness and respect. Let us know if there’s anything you think needs to change for us to better serve the travel Twitter community.
3) We won’t use your tweets for any outside publication without your knowledge and consent.

That being said, don’t be surprised if you end up in a #TTOT recap. If you are surprised, we hope it’s in a happy way. Please don’t assume that #TTOT runs the recaps, though, as we don’t. If you don’t want to be included in a recap, contact that person directly.