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


France to Greece

From France to Greece. A Summer of House Sitting Through Europe.

 

Imagine this, your peering out over a gorgeous Greek beach from your own balcony. Next to you is a very cute border collie patiently waiting for breakfast. You have six weeks to explore this new little village, beaches and all its delicious local food (and to think the accommodation is costing you nothing).

We, The Travelling House Sitters recently spent that time in the Greek seaside village. With a month of 28°C days, it allowed for a lovely slow exploration of the Greek coastal village!

Over the last three years, we have cared for over 29 homes, in places such as Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Ireland, The UK, France, Italy, Montenegro & Greece and The Carribean.

Below are some of our favourite house sits (how you can get started too!)

Amongst the Vines

Our first house in Europe was 30 mins east of Bordeaux. We had travelled from India to Turkey then onto Manchester to pick up our new campervan. It was a long drive and we couldn’t wait to arrive and relax!

This home was set along a beautiful river that stretched to Bordeaux and was nestled within dozens of rows of vines. The homeowners informed us that as long as you stayed a set of vines away from the farmhouse you could walk though any vineyard in the area. This made walking the dog each morning a dream come true.

True to form the wine of the area was incredible. Our little town had a just a supermarket, boulangerie and a local wine association. The baguettes were known as the best in the region ( we couldn’t agree more).

From France to Rome

Following the home in the vines we looked after an apartment in Barcelona, and then back to France for a house sit in Provence. After Provence, it was on to Italy! We were booked too care for a lakeside villa in Lake Como and three cats. We then braved the heatwave and made our way down to Rome for a month-long housesit.

As we journeyed south, we ticked off bucket list locations such as the Tuscan Hills, Florence, the Parmigiano cheese factories & Bologna (one of the most surprisingly beautiful cities in Europe!)

The Unexpected Views of Montenegro

We didn’t know much about Montenegro but it absolutely blew us away. We cared for two cats who until just recently had spent their entire lives living on a sailboat in the Caribbean. We think they enjoyed the views of The Bay of Kotor almost as much as we did. However, one of them preferred the sights and sounds of his favourite YouTube videos, one was a 14-hour long video of an aquamarine and the other a 10-hour video of tropical birds (it’s a tough life for a cat).

Next, it was on to Greece for the final leg of our journey. However, between Montenegro & Greece our campervan broke down in the middle of the Albanian countryside (but that is a story for another time). We sadly left the camper behind and journeyed on by bus to our next sit.

In the Greek Kitchen

Our next sit was in a Greek seaside village. Here we learnt the true meaning of Greek hospitality. The homeowners insisted we stay for two nights when they returned. They wanted us to experience a Sunday feast with the whole family.

It was an incredible experience in which we spend the morning in the kitchen learning Greek recipes then the afternoon eating, drinking and chatting with the whole extended family.

Our final house sit of this journey is in Athens at the base of the Pantheon, we look forward to experiencing the city before we head off to the Caribbean! Our next house sit involves a catamaran and another sailing cat!

This house sitting lifestyle is very enriching and can be suited to anyone. Whether you’re an adventurous traveller or someone who just needs to save some money on rent. If you’re interested in experiencing this for yourself, we are here to help! Take our online course which takes you through how to become a housesitter!