While Paris, Rome, New York and London are highly popular international travel destinations, their home countries offer other historical landmarks, unique cultural experiences and interesting activities that tourists often overlook. When traveling the less-beaten track, you’ll find the travel experience is more authentic and less touristy.
Best Kept Secrets in France
Every region of France has areas that are often passed up by tourists. From the busy Paris region, the south stretches out into deep rural France. Close to the Parisian metropolis, you can discover farming communities and small villages. The Foret de Fontainebleau is a massive forest with rocky outcrops and dozens of hiking trails. From the Ardennes to the Aquitaine, the heartland of rural France lies. Enjoy picturesque hikes in the Massif Central Mountains away from the hustle and bustle of the cities.
Other undiscovered regions include Franche Comte, Auvergne and the Midi Pyrenees.
- Franche Comte is comprised of the scenic French Jura Mountains and is well-known for its unique clocks and delectable cheeses. In the capital city of Besancon, you’ll find old stone-built houses along with some of the finest public art galleries in France. The art galleries in Besancon showcase a large collection of master works from artists like Renoir, Matisse, Rembrandt, Rubens and Goya.
- Auvergne is also a mountain region with historic monuments and spectacular scenery. You can hike or mountain bike just about anywhere in the region. The Haut Allier and the mountains of the Margeride are also amazing areas. Fishing and kayaking are popular here, and you can get an adrenaline rush hang gliding from the volcanoes.
- The Midi Pyrenees stretch from Auvergne to the Spanish border. Hidden treasures in this region include the Pyrenees National Park, Goya Museum and the medieval towns of Albi and Lourdes.
Less Travelled Cities in Italy
Instead of Rome or Venice, head to the medieval cities of Turin, Trieste and Bologna. Turin is nestled near the foothills of the Alps and is home to great ski slopes, beautiful countryside, amazing wineries and gourmet chocolates. The city is abundant with historic cafes, world-acclaimed museums, castles and elegant squares. Be sure to stop at the La Venaria Real, summer residence of the Kings of Italy. You can also take a panoramic lift in the Mole Antonelliana and watch the yachts sailing down the Po River.
Trieste features the unique atmosphere of Central Europe and the long gone Austro-Hungarian empire. It’s home to the Teatro Verdi, one of country’s oldest opera houses. The Piazza Unita d’Italia is beautifully imposing with its location overlooking the scenic sea. While you’re strolling the harbour, there are plenty of Viennese-style coffeehouses around if you’re seeking rest and rejuvenation.
With its authentic lasagne, tortellini and mortadella, Bologna is a haven of mouth-watering delights for foodies. The enchanting city of Bologna is also home to beautiful buildings in Piazza Maggiore. At the Asinelli Tower and Garisenda Tower, you can climb the steps for a panoramic vista of the city.
Off-Beat Places in New York
While most travellers in New York City head for the iconic Statue of Liberty, Central Park and the Empire State Building, there are many other small treasures that deserve equal praise and attention. Nestled in the heart of the financial district, Stone Street offers the ambience and magic of nineteenth century New York. Narrow, cobblestone alleys offer a charming array of bars and restaurants. During the warmer months, you can enjoy umbrella-topped tables serving up authentic Mexican, Swedish and Greek fare. The atmosphere is wonderful, often providing the impression that you’re in Barcelona rather than New York City. At the Brooklyn Flea Market, you’ll find some of the best food, antiques and handmade crafts in addition to getting a spectacular skyline view. Even if you leave empty handed, your palate will be delighted, and your belly will be full.
Hidden Delights in England
Although the Norfolk Broads is popular with the British folk, many overseas travellers aren’t even aware of this location. This area has room for everyone and is filled with chocolate-box villages and picturesque waterways. You can even hire a boat and stay on the water for a few days instead of staying at a hotel. At East Kent, one can see historical buildings and cathedrals in Canterbury. The area’s white cliffs are renowned, and the seaside resorts of Folkestone and Ramsgate are within a short distance.
No matter which region or country you’re travelling to, it’s always best to journey with travel insurance, as this will help keep your travelling adventure worry-free. If you lose your luggage or have money stolen, travel insurance is there to protect you. For the best travel insurance quotes, be sure to check online.
Image courtesy of library_of_congress on Flickr