With so many incredible destinations and cultures in Europe, there’s all-manner of holidays to choose from, all just a few hours from your own doorstep. From hiking in remote countryside, lesser-known cities, touring breaks and a combination of them all – sometimes, doing something a little different is just what the doctor ordered. With that in mind, we’ve handpicked two destinations that offer just that. Keep reading to find out where they are!
Perhaps not the first choice that pops into your mind when choosing a European or even a Polish city break, but there’s plenty to see and do in underrated Gdansk. Trust us, it’s a hidden gem! The city has a unique feel that sets it apart from other cities; the maritime history dating back centuries, streets of distinctive un-Polish architecture and an obvious WWII destruction creates an atmosphere that you’ll find hard not to love. And with an abundance of historical monuments, a gorgeous river and wonderful food scene, you’ll not be short of things to do in Gdansk. Sold yet? Find out more about the top things to do there and we think you will be.
CLIMB ST. MARY’S BASILICA
You’ll not get a better city view than at the top of St. Mary’s Basilica, one of the largest brick churches in the world. Make sure you put your walking shoes on before you start, as the 78-metre tower has a total of 405 steps to climb! If you don’t enjoy heights, perhaps waiting at the bottom is for you, but if you decide to go for it, it’ll be worth it – you’ll see the whole city from the top…even if you have to grip onto the handrail!
WALK THE LENGTH OF DLUGA STREET
In most European cities, you’ll find a central square, but in Gdansk there’s a long pedestrian street instead, which acts as a central gathering place, named Dluga Street – or sometimes, Long Lane. It’s scattered with beautiful landmarks, including the Town Hall, which is home to one of the historical museums, the ancient Neptune’s Fountain and the Green Gate – one of the city’s most notable tourist attractions.
VISIT LONG EMBANKMENT
Years ago, this was a place where all of Gdansk’s onloading and offloading took place – it wasn’t exactly a tourist hot-spot shall we say. But the transformation and reputation it has now is only a good one; you’ll find row of gorgeous, quaint restaurants and bars sitting right on the water, so you can sit back and take in the atmosphere as the locals pass you by. Make sure you dedicate some time here, as we’re almost certain you’ll want to try more than one restaurant and bar!
Whilst Malta’s well known for relaxing beach breaks (and rightly so), there’s a lot more that’s worth discovering while you’re here. With a capital city bursting with culture and history, neighbouring sleepy island of Gozo, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and ancient temples, we think it’s the perfect destination to combine relaxation and exploration. Whilst down-time’s needed, here’s what we think shouldn’t be missed on a visit to one of Europe’s most southern isles.
A DAY OUT IN VALLETTA
If Valletta were a person, they’d have plenty of stories to tell – and what we love about it is the contemporary architecture, delicious cuisine and thriving nightlife scene! In fact, Valletta is UNESCO World Heritage listed for its colonial architecture; elegant church domes and spires reaching the skyline, townhouse with bright balconies and imposing military forts are all what contribute to its likeable character. Our advice is to spend a full day in the city – whether you want to sit back, relax and soak up the warm atmosphere, spend your day walking through the bustling streets, meandering through churches and cathedrals or a mix of them all, the choice is yours.
TAKE A BOAT OVER TO GOZO
Only a short ferry crossing away, Malta’s sister island, Gozo has an entirely different character of its own. It’s greener, smaller and more rural, offering a quiet haven with beautiful views of a rugged landscape and gorgeous coastline. Being so small, we also love Gozo for its local, traditional dishes in the small and friendly restaurants. Think sun dried tomatoes, bottled capers, olives and gooey cheeses…perfect to combine with a chilled glass of wine!
VISIT THE BLUE GROTTO
A complex of seven caves, the Blue Grotto can be found in the southern coast of the island. The only way to see the Blue Grotto at its best, is by boat – and you’ll be wowed! Unique limestone formations on the surrounding cliffs create incredible views, and the fauna and flora will impress too. What’s great about a trip to the Blue Grotto, is the boats are small enough to get into the caves, so you can truly appreciate your surroundings.