Tired of predictability? If so, the last thing you need is a predictable holiday. This is the year you should be booking a trip that’s a little out of the ordinary, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you must fly to jungles or deserts to see something different. Here are four travel destinations you have probably never thought to visit but really should. While they’re hardly off the beaten track like Uzupis, Ladonia or Pelplin, they’re still pretty extraordinary.
If you’ve been skipping over Benidorm while you’re browsing Spanish holiday destinations, you’re not alone. It’s admittedly the godfather of package holiday resorts, so unless you’re travelling with small children and want nothing more than a pool and a hotel buffet, it might be somewhere you thought isn’t for you. But, you’d be mistaken. A holiday to Benidorm could involve a wander down Tapas Alley in the Calle Santa Domingo (the best location for authentic Spanish cuisine), or a 30-minute drive will take you to the magnificent hilltop village of Guadalest, complete with a castle! Skip the busy beaches in the centre and head west past the Old Town to Poniente Beach – you won’t be jostling for space on this gorgeous stretch of sand – and soak in the peace of St James’ Church.
City breaks are perfect for those who enjoy immersing themselves in culture, art and architecture. So, if you’ve already done Paris, Barcelona and Rome, why not give Austria a go? Vienna has centuries of history to uncover, and its rich heritage has left it with glistening opera houses, magnificent town halls and a whole more to explore at your own pace. Visit the Schonbrunn Palace, marvel at the Spanish Riding School and stop by the Rathaus after dark: illuminated against the night sky, it looks like a real-life Disney palace. Indulge in schnitzel and sachertorte, and use your loose change to get around the city on the U-Bahn or the trams.
With its youthful attractions and cheap flights, Amsterdam is always a popular European city. But its lesser-known sibling, Rotterdam, is a hidden gem that’s well worth a visit. Those who love modern architecture are spoiled for interesting buildings in this city (it was rebuilt after heavy bombing in World War II), and if you prefer welcoming pubs over bustling clubs, you’ll enjoy the nightlife in Rotterdam. There are lots of green spaces in Rotterdam (ideal if you’re visiting in summer as it’s lovely to sit with an alfresco lunch while the locals go about their days), and it can easily hold its own against Amsterdam when it comes to museums, art galleries and a foodie scene. Here’s more information if you need a little more persuasion.
If Belgium has never been on your list of places to visit, you’re not alone. This relatively small country is often overlooked in favour of larger destinations like France and Germany. However, for those who are curious enough to look at the destination between these two giants, there’s a real treasure trove of places to uncover. Bruges, for example, is a Medieval city in the northwest of the country, and a quick Google image search will show you just how exquisite it is. Cobbled streets, canals and achingly old buildings are a huge part of the draw, and the museums, art galleries and chocolate (Belgians are among the top connoisseurs of fine chocolate, after all), makes it a charming place to visit. It’s wonderful at any time of year, but it feels particularly special at Christmas with the markets, snowy surroundings and cups of warm cocoa.
So, will you consider visiting somewhere out of the ordinary this year?