When somebody says they are going on a trip to Europe nobody would question you if the thoughts running around your head were off the romantic tourist hotspots like Paris, Rome and Prague.
But the true beauty of Europe is often found beyond the boundaries of these huge cities, in the small country towns or the hidden gems of lesser travelled countries. And many of these places are perfectly suited to a short getaway of a couple of days.
We have been fortunate to experience some amazing places on our European road trips but we wanted to discover new places as well. So, after launching Part One and Part Two of this list, we reached out to more of our travel blogging friends and asked them to tell us about their best place in Europe for a short getaway.
Aran Islands, Ireland with Natalie from Cosmos Mariners.
On your next trip to Ireland, you need to include a day or two on the stunningly beautiful Aran Islands. Inishmore is the largest, so I’d recommend using it for a base: to get to the other two, smaller islands, you can catch a ferry if the water isn’t too rough. All three of the islands are perfect for biking, so rent a bicycle near the ferry terminal, grab a picnic from a local shop, and meander for the day.
You can see cliffs that rival the more famous Cliffs of Moher without all of the crowds, learn a little Gaelic (the primary language of the islands’ inhabitants), and relax with a Guinness at a pub while you listen to traditional music. Each of the islands also has unique offerings: there’s the shipwreck of the MS Plassy on Inishsheer, a massive Iron Age fort on Inishmore, and the cottage of Irish writer John Millington Synge on Inishmaan.
Most of the people who visit only stay for the day, so an overnight stay allows you to meet more of the locals and learn more about the culture that exists on these isolated islands.
Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland with Dana from Wandering Donut.
Switzerland is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful countries in the world and Lauterbrunnen has a lot to do with that. Snuggled into a gorgeous valley surrounded by waterfalls and pure magic this place is sure to take your breath away especially in winter!
While it may not be full of shopping malls and endless tourist attraction this majestic town still has a lot to offer and will have you falling in love quicker than you can say free mulled wine. Similar to most European cities around that merry time of the year Lauterbrunnen lines its snow dusted streets with Christmas markets to warm your soul and fill your heart with love and happiness.
However, if the magic of the valley isn’t quite enough for you, Lauterbrunnen also has a station for you to jump aboard the Jungfrau Railway to take you on one of the most overwhelmingly stunning rides of your life to the Top of Europe where you can continue to frolic in the snow and take in even more overwhelmingly stunning views from the highest point in the continent.
While Switzerland may be one of the most expensive countries in the world and the Jungfrau might seem a little steep both literally and in price, it is so worth it.
Georgia with Yukti from Travel With Me 24/7.
5 Reason you must visit Georgia once in a lifetime.
1. Indulge into the wonderful mountainous virgin nature.
2. Receive the tremendous Love and Hospitality from Georgian people
3. Food and wine lovers should definitely come here.
4. Less expensive and very much affordable.
5. If you want to fall in Love again then come here… Believe me any depressed or sad person will revive his life again and again start to believe positively. In short a HEALING COUNTRY.
There is so much to see, feel and love with Georgia that after coming back you feel something is missing – Let’s go again… Georgia will make you fall in love. Specialty of Georgia is, it’s culture, loving and friendly people, virgin and untouched nature, animals, healing properties of climate, food, budget friendly and most simple not too complicated in any form(real freedom as if no one is watching you for your actions or formalities).
When you are leaving Georgia I bet all have moist eyes as if something is left behind or someone is waiting for you. I don’t know what it is, but there is some attraction in this which pulls you … may be Georgia touches our soul.
Umbria, Italy with Vick from Guiri Insider.
Everybody talks about Tuscany, but I feel that it`s “little brother” Umbria, a less touristic but equally beautiful region, doesn’t get the recognition it should, and I really don`t get why.
I admit I was delaying my visit there because I always thought this should be a trip to take with a loved one. Movies always sell it as such a romantic place… And yes, it can be very romantic. But it can also be perfect for someone who wants a calm, relaxing getaway, a break from the popular cities overcrowded with tourists, an inspiring place to get back in touch with nature and yourself, a perfect place to perfect the art of Slow Travel.
Umbria is a wine region, so do expect to be surrounded by the most photogenic fields of vineyards and be offered to taste the most delicious local Italian wines. The food there is also great. If not lazily sunbathing by a pool (in the summer), reading by the fire (in the winter) or walking around grapevines (all year long), there are plenty of charming little villages to be explored: Bevagna with its medieval fair; Montefalco for a great meal; and Assisi because of the impressive, stunning Basilica of San Francis of Assisi, that should belong on everyone`s bucket list.
Umbria is easily accessed by train from Rome or Florence, and the villages can be seen during one afternoon/day trip, so even though I did explore a little, I was able to keep my relaxed pace while in Umbria, wine glass in hand, just living the dolce vita…
Budapest, Hungary with Hannah and Adam of Getting Stamped.
One of my favorite cities in Europe is Budapest and on my last two visits I added on 3 nights to my trip and headed to Budapest. Not only are there a ton of Budapest attractions to keep you busy exploring the city for a few days but it’s one of the prettiest cities in Europe.
We love getting lost just wondering down the streets, finding little random shops, and taking in all the gorgeous old buildings. As an added bonus it’s super affordable, it definitely is a weekend getaway where your dollar goes a long way. A night out won’t set you back more than $50 even if you go to the famous Budapest ruin bars. Some of our favorite places serve up $1 pints of cherry beer. Hotels are also super affordable and there are an abundance of Airbnb options.
If you’re visiting during the holidays several of the squares have Christmas markets setup with unique Christmas gifts, tasty food, and of course mulled wine to warm you up. Oh and back to it being cheap, not only were the Christmas markets the best in Budapest but the cheapest too. Budapest is our go-to getaway for a few days in Europe, we’ll be back next month actually!
Interlaken, Switzerland with Arzo of Arzo Travels.
Switzerland is probably one the most beautiful countries in the world with sceneries that are just breathtaking.It is hard to name one place only which makes a perfect weekend getaway but if you only had a weekend to spend in Switzerland you should visit the region of Interlaken.
Interlaken itself is just a small town, so if I talk about Interlaken I mean the region which is one of the most diverse and stunning places in all of Switzerland.
Interlaken is THE place for outdoor lovers: Extreme sports is extremely popular or just hiking the gorgeous mountains, outdoor fans will enjoy their time.
The best: You do not have to hike up, Switzerland´s mountains are so easily accessible that you can take a funicular etc. to enjoy mountain views without much physical exercise (my favorite mountain view is from Brienzer Rothorn).
If you ask me about my favorite lake I would say Lake Brienz is the most stunning one of all. So definitely take walks around Interlaken´s lakes and hop on some boats to enjoy some tours.
If you are tired of the amazing nature (could this ever happen?) then visit one of the very, very cute villages and towns in that region like Thun or Spiez and experience another kind of Switzerland. However you spend your weekend in Interlaken, it will be anything but boring.
Tarragona, Spain with Emma from Money Can Buy Me Happiness.
Just one hour by train south of Barcelona lies the port city of Tarragona. Firmly wedged in Catalonia, Tarragona has all the nuance and beauty of Barcelona, on a much smaller scale. We travelled there for a few days with kids and it was by far the best short break we’ve taken.
From our hotel (Hotel SB Ciutat Tarragona) we strolled up the beautiful Rambla Nova(think Barcelona’s La Rambla, sans throngs of tourists), stopping for cafe con leche and fartons in one of the stunning cafes that dot the periphery, all the way to the Balco de Mediterrani. Views from the Balco made it obvious how this city became one of the first colonies in the Roman Empire. Known as Tarraco by the Romans, this beautiful city still boasts Roman ruins in the thousands.
The ruins include a stunning 2nd-century amphitheatre, a necropolis, partial ruins of a Roman forum and tombs. The ruins are cheap to visit, situated within easy walking distance from the city centre and no queuing was necessary. Tarragona is serviced by Reus airport (a Ryanair port) making it the perfect destination for a budget-friendly, short break on the Med.
Cologne, Germany with Shannon of In Search of Mexican.
If you’re looking for somewhere to spend a couple of days in Europe then you can’t beat Cologne. The city dates back to Roman times and is also home to the most visited landmark in Germany, Cologne Cathedral.
Next to the cathedral is the small, but beloved historic district which stays active until 3 in the morning during the summer. While you’re there you have to try Kölsch, the local beer made in Cologne.
Cologne is a wonderful place to go for Christmas Markets as it is home to seven of them, including one right next to the gorgeous cathedral. So no matter what you’re in the market for you’ll be able to find it.
Girona, Spain with Claire from Tales of a Backpacker.
Girona is a fabulous place to spend a weekend away. Around an hour from the centre of Barcelona, there are excellent train links between the two cities. It also has an international airport, with regular flights from the UK & Europe in the summer.
Game of Thrones fans can visit filming locations from the series, including areas used for scenes from Kings Landing, Braavos and Oldtown, and even if you’ve never seen the show, the city is stunning. A bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel before he designed his famous tower, a beautiful baroque church, a Benedictine monastery and an impressive cathedral all mean Girona has its fair share of architectural gems.
In May, Girona hosts a flower festival, when fragrant, colourful displays adorn the city. This brings crowds of people too, but if you time your visit during the week there will be less people around. For beach lovers, a 35-40 minute drive will take you to beautiful beaches and secluded coves on the Costa Brava. Foodies will not be disappointed in Girona either, with fine restaurants offering the best of Catalan and international cuisine.
Catalan culture is alive and well in Girona, and if you’re lucky you might also catch a performance from the castellers, who stand on each other’s shoulders to build gravity-defying human towers.
Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic with Us.
Prague is widely considered one of Europe’s cultural hotspots and most beautiful cities, and rightly so. But if you want to get all of this but without the big city crowds then the fairytale village of Cesky Krumlov may hold the answer.
Located just a few hours from Prague this delightful little town derives its name from a word meaning “the crook of a river” which perfectly describes its location. A town that has changed very little in hundreds of years nestled in the small valley of a winding river, and it really is as perfect as it sounds.
Explore the winding cobblestone streets, climb the hill to the Castle or just chill in the pubs and cafes and take in the history and romance of this place. While not for the adrenaline junkies Cesky Krumlov is a place that should be on everyone else’s radar for sure.