Forgot packed capital cities and head out some overlooked European cities instead, here’s our collective choice for the best under-the-radar destinations for your next Euro adventure…
With most heading to Paris or Cotes d’Azur, Toulouse isn’t on the average tourist’s radar. Once voted the best place to live in France, it’s home to an attractive historic centre and a vibrant arty student population. The traffic free Place du Capitole easily passes the ‘great city squares of Europe’ test and when darkness falls the city’s many bridges and public buildings are beautifully illuminated.
With rumours of mafia control and rubbish collection issues, it’s fair to say this Italian city isn’t on everyone’s travel wish list. So why should you visit? It’s a laid back and surprisingly easy-on-the-eye place and here you’ll get a ‘true’ taste of Italian city life – after all this is the birthplace of pizza. Also worth checking out is the exceptional art museum, Capodimonte and the 16th-century chapel filled with Baroque sculptures.
Nestled on the Costa Blanca, this city often get’s unfairly lumped with a package resort reputation. There’s much more to the city than many realise and aside from the long glistening coastline, it’s an attractive place with a village-esque atmosphere. Highlights include the narrow streets of the historic quarter, the modern marina, cosmopolitan bars and restaurants and of course plenty of fine weather during the summer months.
With most tourists heading to Geneva or Zurich it’s fair to say Bern is often – and unfairly – overlooked. This is the city where Albert Einstein once called home and it’s a pretty, compact place wrapped in a loop of the River Aare. Expect plenty of cobbled old-world charm with a UNESCO listed medieval old town and gorgeous 15th-century arcades.
Probably due to its location (at the bottom end of the country) Ireland’s second city doesn’t receive the visitors it deserves. It’s a lively city which will give you a true taste of Irish life. Filled with great bars, arts centres and an emerging foodie scene, Cork makes a very cool travel destination. Head for both North and South of St Patrick’s Street for the city’s most entertaining quarters – this is where you’ll find narrow streets lined with plenty of pubs, restaurants and shops.
Berlin isn’t the only cool city in Germany. The more compact Dresden runs a very close second, although it doesn’t receive even a fraction of the attention. Just like the German capital, its cheap rents and open-minded culture has drawn artists by the bucket load. The older part of the city features impressive baroque architecture and world-class museums and in the newer side you’ll find vibrant avant-garde buildings, a constantly evolving cultural scene and arguably some of the best nightlife in Germany.