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Travelers headed for their first European vacation can either choose to spend it with other tourists in a popular destination or head for less well-known destinations. You’ll experience a more authentic view of the continent and feel like you have it all to yourself. Consider a trip to one of these islands or cities before booking your reservations.
Meteora in Greece
Greece is filled with memorable vistas and home to ancient monasteries. Make sure that you have plenty of memory in your camera because you’ll be unable to stop snapping photographs. The nearby community of Metsovo is known for its woodcarvers. You can commission a piece when you arrive in the area and pick it up before you leave.
Cathar Country in France
The majority of France is overrun with tourists. Instead of fighting them for elbow room, consider a trip to the little known Cathar Country. It is a hidden jewel in a land that is rich with beauty.
Take a side trip to the walled city of Carcassonne. It is surrounded by walking trails. The area boasts modestly priced lodgings which means you’ll be able to stay long enough to visit hilltop castles and the Rennes le Chateau. Since this is France and it is wine country, it is a requirement to sample the sparkling regional wine known as Blanquette de Limoux.
Asturias in Spain
The citizens of Asturias cling to the old ways and remain in close contact with nature. While there are plenty of hotels available, you will get a better understanding of the local culture if you book rooms in a casa rurales (rural house) or one of the many posadas (historical inn). The life style is simpler but so much more satisfying than a stay in a cookie cutter hotel or resort.
Geographically, the area features caves that provided shelter during prehistoric times. One of the most famous is the Altamira. Covered in art, it is often referred to as the Sistine Chapel of Prehistoric Art.
Pilgrims passed through the area and left a trail to Ribadesella, a port town. Take the time to sample the local cider with some cabrales, which is locally made and is the native blue cheese.
With a rich, old, and unspoiled culture, Sardinia is an island filled with gorgeous artwork in a peaceful and quiet setting. The landscape features vivid beauty and tourist learn to truly unwind during their stay.
You have the opportunity to view political murals painted during the Roman period, explore an ancient village in Tiscali, and actually bathe in the still operational Roman baths at Fordongianus. Make time for the precision craftsmanship of the beautiful sacred well of Santa Cristina and keep an eye out for the Nuraghe (bronze towers) that exist on the island.
After a day spent exploring, prepare yourself for a Sardinian dinner of roasted meats, delectable seafoods, and the signature drink known as mirto that is made from locally grown myrtleberries. Festivals are a large part of life on the island. They are traditional in nature and the most famous is the l’ardia di San Constantino which features a horse race that is run in the month of July.
This lovely island is at its best between November and May. Spring travelers should take a boat tour around the island in order to appreciate how lush and green it is. It is rich in history with Neolithic Temples that were built before the pyramids were even imagined. The Knights of St. John fought battles and a visit to these sites steeps you in its history.