Hidden Gems of Europe

Picked by award-winning travel writer Abigail King

Abigail King is an award-winning journalist, author, and influencer, whose work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Lonely Planet, the BBC, Red, CNN, and more. She is the founder of Inside the Travel Lab, regularly ranked as one of the best travel blogs in the world.

We chatted her up over a virtual glass of wine.

Your pick of Europe’s underrated gems

I think that there are so many places that are underrated, the two that come to my mind and I keep going back to are The Hague in the Netherlands and Graz in Austria. They are really underrated in the UK. Actually, UNESCO has recognised Graz and they have won many design awards. And obviously, The Hague is well known as being the centre of various international courts.

For visitors, both are absolutely gorgeous as they have got that lovely mix of medieval, historic, European architecture, traditions and food and yet a lot of modern cutting-edge reinvention, art, and design. They both are small and walkable in the city centres and I just found the people friendly and I absolutely love them.

europe's gems
The Hague, Netherlands

And the one you find somewhat overrated

Probably, Bruges, unfortunately, but I think that might be because of the crowd. The only times that I have been there, I have been passing through and it’s just been so crowded and raining that I haven’t been able to really see the beauty of the place. I have enjoyed other places in Belgium a lot more. 

One scene of incredible beauty that’s top-of-the-mind recall

That would probably be the view from a hot air balloon that I took in Costa Brava. So the closest city would be Girona and oh my goodness you could see the mountains, the sea, and the sandy beaches. Also, it is the trip as you go up, that’s just gorgeous. It’s all cloaked in clouds and there are these terraces and small farms. There is just scenery all the way up and coming down, it’s absolutely stunning.

One town or spot in Europe where you’d love to check in for a calm, healing weekend

If anywhere that I don’t want to go for a calm and healing weekend, it’s spa town now bar town in the south of France. They use sulphuric water and it smells like rotten eggs and you have to wear a swimming hat and it’s all very strict and smells terrible. But for a calm and healing weekend, the Dolomites are just magnificent. There are purple-lavender mountain peaks that just make them look different to other mountains. And they are the home to a lot of spas, a lot of healing rituals, and traditions that actually feel nice. And of course, they just have the history attached. 

The Dolomites

If you had to spend one entire year in a European country, no exit allowed, which one would it be and why?

It is not very imaginative but it has to be Italy, because of the breadth of the landscape. You have got the beaches, you have the ruins of ancient Rome, you have the stunning mountains. I just talked about the Dolomites but there are others. There is the birthplace of the renaissance. I would spend a lot of time studying there. And for all my talk about learning and studying architecture, let’s not forget that Italy has some of the world’s best food. I love the approach to great quality food and enjoying life, so yes, Italy. In fact, I am not sure if a year would be enough. 

Enchanting Italy

Hold on, we have some more European gems up our sleeves for you! Here’s a list of Europe’s top chocolate hotspots – thank us later!

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