The best-hidden gems in popular tourist destinations.
List of possible locations
- Some lesser-known locations in Europe A places like
- Azores Islands in Portugal,
- Gdansk in Poland
- Ohrid in North Macedonia.
Azores Islands in Portugal
The Azores are an archipelago of nine volcanic islands in the Atlantic Ocean, and they’re known for their stunning natural beauty, including lush forests, dramatic cliffs, and spectacular waterfalls. They’re also a great place for outdoor activities like hiking, surfing, and whale watching. And despite being relatively unknown, the Azores are actually quite accessible, with several daily flights from major European cities.
First, The capital city of the Azores, Ponta Delgada. It’s a charming town with cobblestone streets, brightly colored houses, and a beautiful waterfront promenade. From here, you can take day trips to explore the other islands, which all have their own unique character. For example, the island of São Miguel is known for its hot springs and crater lakes, while the island of Pico is famous for its soaring volcanic peak.
São Miguel is the largest island in the Azores, and it’s home to the famous Furnas Valley. This valley is famous for its hot springs, bubbling mud pools, and geysers. You can even take a dip in one of the hot springs, which are said to have healing properties. And nearby, you can also visit the village of Furnas, where you can sample the local delicacy of “Cozido das Furnas”
“Cozido das Furnas” is a traditional dish that’s cooked underground in hot springs. The food is placed in a pot, which is then sealed and placed in a hole in the ground, where it cooks for several hours. When it’s done, the pot is retrieved and the food is served. The dish usually consists of a variety of meats, potatoes, and vegetables, all cooked in a rich broth.
One of the other highlights of São Miguel is the Sete Cidades Lagoon, which is a large lake located in a volcanic crater. The lake is split in two by a narrow strip of land, and the two halves are said to be different colors – one is blue and the other is green. The views of the lake are breathtaking, and it’s a popular spot for hiking and picnicking.
Gdansk in Poland
Gdansk is one of the oldest cities in Poland, and it’s played a major role in the country’s history. It was once a major port city and center of trade, and it was also the site of several major battles during World War II.
Gdansk was founded in the 10th century as a trading settlement by the Slavic tribe of the Polans. It quickly grew into a thriving port city and was a key location for trade between the Baltic Sea and Western Europe. The city was eventually taken over by the Teutonic Knights, and then it was ruled by the Kingdom of Poland and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Gdansk’s history is filled with stories of wars, revolutions, and independence movements.
The most famous events in Gdansk’s history – the outbreak of World War II. In September of 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland, and Gdansk was one of the first cities to be attacked. The city suffered heavy damage during the war, including the destruction of the iconic Gdansk Shipyard, but it was eventually rebuilt after the war.
As I mentioned, the Gdansk Shipyard played a major role in the city’s history. It was one of the largest shipyards in Europe, and it was also the site of the famous “Gdansk Shipyard Strike” in 1980. This strike was led by Lech Walesa and sparked the Solidarity movement, which was one of the most significant social movements in the history of Poland. Solidarity helped bring about the end of Communist rule in Poland and ushered in a new era of democracy in the country.
Absolutely, there’s so much more we could explore about the history of Gdansk, but I think it’s important to also talk about how the city is today. After the fall of Communism, Gdansk experienced an economic and cultural renaissance. The city is now a major center for business and tourism, and it’s known for its vibrant culture, stunning architecture, and delicious food. It’s also a very safe and welcoming place for visitors.
Let’s talk about some specific things you can do and see in the city. For starters, there’s the Main Town Hall, which is one of the most iconic buildings in Gdansk. It’s a beautiful Gothic structure that dates back to the 15th century, and it now houses a museum that’s definitely worth a visit. Then there’s the Neptune Fountain, which is one of the city’s most famous landmarks.
There’s also the Royal Route, which is a historic street that runs through the heart of Gdansk’s Old Town. It’s lined with beautiful buildings and cobblestone streets, and it’s a great place to wander and explore. There’s also St. Mary’s Basilica, which is a massive brick church that’s one of the largest in Europe. You can even climb to the top of the church tower for some stunning views of the city.
Ohrid in North Macedonia.
Ohrid is a small city on the shores of Lake Ohrid in North Macedonia. It’s one of the oldest settlements in Europe, and it has a rich history and culture. The city is known for its beautiful architecture, including medieval churches and monasteries, as well as its lakeside setting. There are also plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities, like hiking, swimming, and boating.
One of the highlights of Ohrid is the Church of St. John at Kaneo, which is a small church built in the 13th century. It’s located on a cliff overlooking the lake, and it’s considered one of the most beautiful churches in Europe. Another must-see is Samuil’s Fortress, which is a medieval fortress built in the 10th century. It offers incredible views of the city and the lake. Also, make sure you don’t miss Plaosnik, which is an ancient religious site with beautiful mosaics and frescoes.
Let’s talk about another part of what makes Ohrid special: the people. The city is known for its friendly and welcoming atmosphere, and the locals are always happy to share their stories and culture with visitors. Plus, the food is amazing! Ohrid is known for its fresh fish, which is caught daily in the lake, as well as its traditional dishes like tavce gravce, which is a baked bean stew.
The city is small and compact, so you can easily walk to most places. However, there are also plenty of taxis and buses available if you want to explore further afield. And if you want to see the lake up close, you can take a boat tour or even rent a kayak or paddleboard. And the best part is that everything is very affordable, so you can do a lot without breaking the bank.
Since we’re talking about the region, I also want to mention a nearby town called Bitola, which is a great day trip from Ohrid. It’s known for its Ottoman-era architecture and its charming Old Bazaar, which is a great place to shop for souvenirs and traditional handicrafts. Plus, Bitola has a lively cafe culture, so it’s a great place to relax and people watch.
So, in Bitola, one of the most interesting places to visit is the Heraclea Lyncestis archaeological site. It’s the remains of an ancient Greek and Roman city, and it’s full of fascinating ruins, including a well-preserved amphitheater and an ancient temple. And if you’re a history buff, you’ll definitely want to visit the National Museum of Bitola, which has a collection of artifacts from the region, including archaeological finds and ethnographic exhibits.