Whether you want the clearest waters on the continent or winding Medieval cobbles, we’ve rounded up Europe’s best. Since our are all about multiple destinations, you can always opt in to have one of these included as part of your bespoke trip.
With the Aegean Sea’s turquoise-clear waters and Çesme’s stunning peninsula as its backdrop, the sleepy town of Alaçati is picture perfect. Think meandering cobbles, pastel-painted shutters and 14th-century local stone. Don’t be fooled by the rustic undertones and cheerful locals. There’s an upscale feel to Alaçati’s artisan workshops and olive oil producers, and the dining is out of this world. We fell in love sipping Turkish coffee under cascading bougainvillea (and a little bit more when we hit the town’s stunning marina). Boutique hotels here are often family-run, and we happen to know the best ones. Unmissable, unspoiled and an absolute must for a romantic break with a slight night-time pulse.
There’s a “Venice of the East” feel to Piran; a bay town where red roofs, church spires and the Adriatic’s steel-blue waters nestle quaint squares and brightly painted houses. Piran is a place where McDonald’s didn’t even last a year, but the Venetian-inspired architecture hasn’t gone anywhere. It’s easily reached by ferry from Venice- we actually recommended it to a couple on our holiday. They personally called it a “jewel”. Piran offers lighthouse exploring, belltower squares, thermal waters and enough cured hams and gourmet cheeses to satisfy even the fussiest foodie. Slovenia might not be on your bucket list, but with gems like Piran, it should be.
Fomm ir-Rih, Malta
Malta has been trending throughout 2018. Angelina Jolie picked it for her By The Sea movie, and the world followed her. Characterised by its untamed, rugged cliffs and snorkel-friendly coves, Malta might be drawing travellers, but the hidden gems are still unspoilt. Fomm ir-Rih is secluded as they come. The remote and literally translated “Mouth of the Wind” bay is a breath-taking panorama of crystalline waters, jaw-dropping cliffs and not a tour guide in sight. Your only interruption here will be the odd passing boat and a welcomed marine breeze. You’re on the mainland here, so we can easily weave it into your (where the Megalithic temples are otherworldly).
Maastricht, The Netherlands
Often overlooked by the world-famous Amsterdam, Maastricht is the Dutch wonder you never knew existed. Think “iconic Gothic architecture with a twist”. Packed with vibrant squares, quirky bookshops and tall, white-painted houses lining the Maas river, it’s a treasure just waiting to be explored. Maastricht is home to colourful festivals, fresh markets, cosy bars and a world-class epicurean scene. Under the watchful eye of the 15th-century Sterre Der Zee Basilica, the whole place twinkles at night. Literally the stuff of fairy tales.
Bobbing boats, whitewashed houses and uninterrupted stretches of soft sands make the little-known Koufonisia the beachy escape that’s waiting for its first footprints. Divided into upper and lower islets, you’ll find traditional Cycladic charm that’s a world apart from the more popular islands of Naxos and Mykonos. Prepare for a simple life in Kato Koufonisia (the lower island). Passing locals here soak up the Greek sun between fishing, while the other islets offer blue-domed tradition, taverna dining and picturesque windmills overlooking a crystalline, horseshoe bay. Ferries from Athens’ Piraeus port are daily. Definitely one for the that’ll give everyone back home major travel envy.
Unspoiled islands in the Venetian lagoon are hard to come by. A quick 40-minute vaporetto (water bus) ride from Venice and you’re in Burano. With a population of less than 3000, this lesser-visited island puts tradition above tourism. Much like Venice, gondolas dot bridged canals against a backdrop of colour and culture, but it’s the 16th-century lace production that sets this island apart. There’s a museum dedicated to it, although experiencing Burano is all about wandering the unknown paths, watching little old ladies chatter and sampling the island’s own Risotto alla Buranella. A must-see detour on any .