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Hidden gems of Europe

By Sophie Marie Atkinson 26/05/2015

Hidden gems of Europe

Off the beaten track and away from the crowds, Sophie Marie Atkinson explores the forgotten holiday destinations you could travel to this summer.

Faroe Islands

Situated roughly halfway between Iceland and Scotland and inhabited by just 50,000 descendants, this tiny 18-island archipelago can be reached via a very short flight from the UK. It’s a paradise for walkers and ornithologists alike, complete with dramatic mountains, stunning fjords and huge colonies of puffins. It’s also set to be the new frontier of Nordic fare; the summer months bring vibrant cultural scene with festivals and traditional boat races.

La Gomera, Spain

At just 13.6 miles long, La Gomera is one of the smallest of the Canary Islands. And what it lacks in dazzling beaches and swanky hotels, it makes up for with an abundance of unspoilt charm. From its natural beauty – including lush subtropical rainforests and mountainous scenery, perfect for walkers and climbers – to rustic villages rich in tradition and restaurants that showcase La Gomera’s distinct personality with unusual food and drink, this tiny island doesn’t disappoint.

Plovdiv, Bulgaria

With a strikingly beautiful Old Town set against a backdrop of the breath-taking Rhodope Mountains, it’s hard to see why Plovid remains so undiscovered. This major university town also boasts a buzzing nightlife, and lays claim to everything from historical treasures, including an impressive Roman amphitheatre – the best-preserved in the Balkans – to an abundance of bohemian cafes.

Mons, Belgium

Another beneficiary of 2015 European Capital of Culture, the beguiling Belgian hilltop city of Mons unveils a host of attractions this year, including a whopping five new museums, two concert halls and a literary open-air cafe. Following a major Van Gogh exhibition earlier in the year, a stunning maze of 8,000 sunflowers will bloom in the main square in July and installations will appear on street corners. The summer months will also see a focus on the city’s food, which ranges from rustic seafood to Belgian classics (think meatballs, mash and rabbit) – with barbecues, banquets and mystery dinners abound.

Bologna, Italy

This beautiful Italian city with a rich culinary history often goes under the radar with Brits favouring the likes of Rome and Florence for a weekend away. But by doing so, many people are overlooking the culture, cafes and otherwise that Bologna offers up. Visitors can spend their days admiring the architecture on foot, visiting the gelato museum just outside the city, and attempting to burn off all the calories they consumed in the famed creamy pasta sauces and rich meat dishes.

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