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European Gems Off the Beaten Track

19th February 2015

While the glories of London, Paris and Prague frequent on the lips of travellers, there's so much more to Europe worth shouting from the rooftops. A little off the beaten track and away from the capital cities awaits a fine line-up of beautiful, intriguing and unique treasures ripe for discovery. From England and Switzerland to the western reaches of Poland, here are our favourite European gems that you may - or may not - have already heard whispers of.

Krakow, Poland


Krakow presents a fascinating fusion of past and present, where atmospheric old squares and character-laden streets play home to magnificent architecture, a lively nightlife and impressive museums and galleries. Explore the magnificent Old Town, where coffee-sipping travellers and locals fill the cafes and a magnificent old church, with its dominating twin spires, takes centre stage in the main square. Catch splendid views from the hilltop Wawel Cathedral and Pawel Castle and take a wander through Kazimierz, the former Jewish quarter where remnant synagogues stand testimony to the city’s sometimes rocky past. Wherever you go though, you can’t deny the 21st-century cosmopolitan bustle infiltrating this former royal capital and post-Communist gem.

See Krakow on Trafalgar’s Bohemian Highlights tour.

Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina


Just a side-step from Croatia’s dazzling coastline, Mostar is quite easily the most beautiful city in Bosnia. Dominated by the Stari Most, the Balkans’ most iconic bridge, the views from – and of – the bridge are truly spectacular, arching high over the fast-flowing blue river waters below. Meander along the cobblestone streets, where arts and craft markets presents a unique array of souvenirs, drop into the stunning mosques, and take in the local culture and stories at the Museum of Herzegovina. Just outside of town, don’t miss a swim at the cascading and lush Kravice Falls.

See Mostar on Trafalgar’s Croatia & Bosnia-Herzegovina tour.

Interlaken, Switzerland


Perched between three mighty snow-capped mountains and straddling two glittering lakes, Interlaken is a paradise for outdoorsy types, whether that’s walking the scenic winding trails or indulging in adrenalin-pumping adventure. Paragliding, abseiling, mountain biking and hiking are just a few of the favourite ways to experience the scenery, but even standing still, the world-topping views make the journey here worthwhile. Ride the vintage Heimwehfluh Funicular up one of the mountains, wander the beautiful flora of Alpine Garden and in winter, don’t miss your chance to carve up some of the finest snow in Europe.

See Interlaken on Trafalgar’s Secrets of Switzerland tour.

Bristol, England


Famous as a hub for creativity, music and culture, Bristol also nurtures some fascinating history to explore whilst stealing a lovely spot on the harbour. Every traveller here can find something to perk their interest, from spotting famed Banksy street art to exploring Britain’s most acclaimed historic steamship, the SS Great Britain. The abundance of theatres, art galleries and music venues put on a feast for the senses, the landmark new M-Shed history museum is an absolute must and every traveller here must take in the soaring expanses of Clifton’s iconic suspension bridge. From the beautiful countryside to the independent shops spruiking unique goods in the city centre, Bristol delivers.

See Bristol on Trafalgar’s family-friendly Castle & Kilts tour.

Siena, Italy


Nestled amongst rolling hills and vineyards beneath the sweet Tuscan sun, Siena is a gorgeous medieval town. Most famous as the host of the annual Palio horse race, Siena is also loved for its arts, awe-inspiring architecture and fabulous food and wine. At its heart, it also touts a UNESCO World Heritage town centre. Sip Italian coffee as your admire the stunning buildings lining the Piazza del Campo, including one of Italy’s greatest Gothic churches, before marvelling at the famous art exhibits of Museo Civico and the three museums on offer at Santa Maria della Scala. Once you’ve ticked off the main sights, simply wander the winding alleyways and steep steps to see what you find – the atmosphere of this grand city will follow you wherever you go.

See Siena on Trafalgar’s Italy Bellissimo tour.

Looking for more great European holiday gems? Check out The Unsung Heroes of a European River Cruise, our Tips for Self-Drive Europe Holidays and our Top 5 Family Friendly Music Festivals in Europe.