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5 Breathtaking, Hidden Cultures Destinations in Europe

These five destinations will give you the best travel options for the upcoming seasons

Ancient town of Matera at sunrise, Basilicata, Italy

Venice, Barcelona, Lisbon, Granada…besides the most popular tourist places, there are various hidden treasure chests with a mesmerizing cultural, historical, and culinary heritage in Europe. Whether you are looking for a little town where you can avoid the crowd or would like to discover a place less known, that can represent the culture more authentically, these five destinations will give you the best travel options for the upcoming seasons.

There are various hidden treasure chests with a mesmerizing cultural, historical, and culinary heritage in Europe

Matera

As a UNESCO World Heritage site with various churches, chapels, and unique caves, Matera is the perfect place to visit if you are looking for somewhere calm, yet mysterious.

Matera Sassi cityscape by night, Basilicata Italy
Matera Sassi cityscape by night, Basilicata Italy

Matera is located in the South of Italy, lying in a canyon, and just like its location, the architecture and cultural heritage of the town is mesmerizing as well. Because it hasn’t been discovered by lots of tourists yet, Matera will show you the real, cultural side of Italy without the crowded squares and restaurants

Matera, La Cripta del Pelccato
Matera, La Cripta del Pelccato

After taking a walk at the Sassi di Matera region (which can be translated as “stones of Matera”), discover the narrow streets and the architecture that is incorporated and beautifully worked together with the landscape and caves. Regarding sights, one of the outstanding in the region is the Cripta del Peccato, which has Old Testament scenes depicted by eighth-century frescoes.

Culinary Experiences: Pizza (of course), with a hint of fiery chilli , wild mushrooms, and truffle oil and o recchiette al tegamino, their oven-baked orecchiette pasta with meat sauce and their specialty, local cheese.

Hotel Recommendation: Albergo Sextantio Le Grotte Della Civita, Cave Hotel

The interior of the Albergo Sextantio Le Grotte Della Civita, also known as the Cave Hotel
The interior of the Albergo Sextantio Le Grotte Della Civita, also known as the Cave Hotel

Kotor

Although Montenegro has gained popularity amongst tourists in the past years, Kotor is still an underrated, hidden treasure chest with both historical and architectural legacy. Kotor is located in a gulf, surrounded by mountains, which adds an extra charm to the town, but besides its stunning geographical location, the welcoming environment and Venetian architecture makes Kotor a town worth exploring.

Kotor is still an underrated, hidden treasure

The stunning view at Kotor and the bay
The stunning view at Kotor and the bay

The biggest attractions in town are St. Tryphon’s Cathedral, a Roman Catholic–style cathedral built in the early 12th century and Our Lady of The Rocks, a small church on the bay of Kotor.

The stunning view at Kotor and the bay
The stunning view at Kotor and the bay

Culinary Experiences: Montenegro’s traditional cuisine is based on two main ingredients: lamb and potatoes, and there are various options (such as the Kuvani Brav, which is a slowly boiled, soft lamb meat, or Kuvana Krtola, a dish made with baked potato halves, fresh sour cream, and cheese).

Hotel Recommendation: Hotel Cattaro

The beautiful view from Hotel Cattaro Restaurant and Montenegro's traditional lamb and potato dish
The beautiful view from Hotel Cattaro Restaurant and Montenegro’s traditional lamb and potato dish

Bruges

While everyone is visiting Brussels, Bruges offers a different, less touristy experience with similarly stunning architecture and traditions. While taking a walk on the streets of the Belgian city, you can experience how Bruges was one of the main centers of European culture, art, and architecture.

Markt square of Bruges with the Belfort as background
Markt square of Bruges with the Belfort as background

Arriving at the main square, the Belfry of Bruges (the bell tower) represents the gothic influence on the architecture in the city, while you can enjoy the lively market with traditional food, handmade jewelry, and leather goods. If you would like to discover other places of the city, we recommend taking a look at every narrow street—you will find the best cafés and patisseries on the quietest, hidden areas of Bruges.

You will find the best cafés and patisseries on the quietest, hidden areas of Bruges

The mysterious, narrow streets of Bruges
The mysterious, narrow streets of Bruges

Culinary Experiences: Having their own museum with the history of French fries, trying their very own French fries along the famous Belgian chocolate from one of the elegant chocolate and waffle shops is an absolute must for every passing tourist.

Hotel Recommendation: Hotel Dukes Palace

The 5 star Hotel Dukes Palace in Bruges and one of Bruges' traditional dishes, the waffle with whipped cream and strawberries
The 5-star Hotel Dukes Palace in Bruges and one of Bruges’ traditional dishes, the waffle with whipped cream and strawberries

Girona

Girona is usually just passed by tourists visiting the famous Salvador Dalí museum in Figueres, but this little town, located in the northeastern region of Catalonia, has a lot more to offer. From the warm, Mediterranean architecture to the friendly people and one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Spain, Girona is the perfect escape place if you would like to connect a cultural trip with a few days of relaxation. While staying there, make sure to discover the Cathedral of Girona, the Placa de la Independencia (Independence Square), and the Passeig de la Muralla, the old city wall.

Passeig de la Muralla with a beautiful view of Girona
Passeig de la Muralla with a beautiful view of Girona

Culinary Experiences: Don’t leave Girona without trying the Iberico Jamon and the sepia-inked risotto with seafood (baby octopus, prawns, and squid). If you would like to get a taste of a Catalonian family’s everyday meals, we recommend the heavier sausages, chorizos, and stuffed potatoes.

Hotel Recommendation: Hotel Históric

The street view of Hotel Históric in Girona - Inked risotto with seafood, one of the specialities of Girona
The street view of Hotel Históric in Girona – Inked risotto with seafood, one of the specialities of Girona

Colmar

Capturing the medieval beauty of France, Colmar is another stunning getaway place, regardless of the season or the weather. Just like a smaller version of Venice, the narrow streets and beautiful wooden houses of the town are divided by canals, which will take you through the hidden cafés, restaurants, and architectural sights of Colmar.

Colorful traditional french houses in Colmar
Colorful traditional french houses in Colmar

This hidden cultural town is also known for its architectural wonderland with beautiful churches, maisons, and chateaus such as Maison Pfister, Musée Bartholdi, Chateau de Kaysersberg, and the Chateau du Haut-Ribeaupierre, each with their very own breathtaking architectural style. If you are looking for a place to celebrate Christmas and enjoy a traditional Christmas market without the huge crowds, it’s definitely worth booking a hotel now to witness the fairy-tale Christmas market with mesmerizing lighting and decoration during winter.

The chateau of Haut-Koenigsbourg, situated in the valley
The chateau of Haut-Koenigsbourg, situated in the valley

Culinary Experiences: When visiting Colmar, don’t miss out on two of their most famous dishes, the Tarte Flambée (a smoked, thin bread-dough, cream cheese, onion, and bacon) and the Fleischschnackas (a rolled egg pasta with onions, parsley, and meat stuffing).

Hotel Recommendation: Hôtel & Restaurant La Maison des Têtes

Hôtel & Restaurant La Maison des Têtes and The famous Tarte Flambée, made with onion and fresh cheese
Hôtel & Restaurant La Maison des Têtes and The famous Tarte Flambée, made with onion and fresh cheese

 

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Written by Alexandra Vincze

My passion for fashion started at a very young age: from haute couture runways to new, emerging designers, I admire the creativity and uniqueness of the fashion world. Since my first fashion internship in 2013, I got the opportunity to work together with amazing artists, brands and magazines, including Old Liquors.

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