There is no better place to spend an under-the-radar vacation than in a secret European village. On the winding cobblestone streets, you can easily lose yourself in centuries-old charm and catch up with the slower-paced locals.
1. Monemvasia, Greece
- Elevation: 15 m
- Area: 947 km²
- Weather: 14 °C, Wind W at 11 km/h, 84% Humidity
Located on the southeastern side of Peloponnese, Monemvasia Greece was entirely carved on the backside of a sea rock in Medieval times. This huge sea rock is not visible from the mainland so that the locals could avoid enemy attacks. The only way to reach Monemvasia was by boat, while later on a paved pathway was constructed to connect the castle entrance to the mainland. This is how the name came out, meaning a single passage. A new town has been constructed in the mainland, just opposite the rock. A walk around the Castle Town is a travel to the past, while the sea view from the castle top is breathtaking. This is a Medieval Castle Town, exclusively carved on the slopes of a rock. This fantastic place was originally constructed in the Medieval Ages and has been continuously inhabited since then. This town was constructed invisible from the mainland to avoid enemy attacks. It can be seen only from the sea and only a narrow pathway connects it to the mainland. This is how its name came out, meaning a single passage.
2. Lugano, Switzerland
- Elevation: 273 m
- Weather: 13 °C, Wind N at 21 km/h, 35% Humidity
- population: 63,932 (2017)
Lugano is a city in southern Switzerland’s Italian-speaking Ticino region. Its Swiss-Mediterranean mix of cultures is closely related to that of Italy’s northern Lombardy region. This mix is reflected in its architecture and cuisine. The city stands on the northern shore of glacial Lake Lugano, surrounded by mountains. The picturesque lakeside city of Lugano is famous for its beautiful quasi-Mediterranean scenery, its Film Festival, and for being the residence of the Nobel Prize winner, Hermann Hesse. Nicknamed the “Monte Carlo of Switzerland”, the city is a popular destination for its lovely scenery and its laid back lifestyle, and it attracts several notable people to its shores. It is a glacial lake situated on the border between Italy and Switzerland. The climate, which is a colder version of a typical Mediterranean climate, allows temperate trees to grow alongside citrus and cypress trees. Try boating or other water-based activities in the Lake, or just sit back and enjoy the view.
3. Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
- Founded: 1274
- weather: 3 °C, Wind NW at 11 km/h, 74% Humidity
- Population: 10,930 (31 Dec 2011)
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is one of the oldest and most historic of the medieval towns along the Romantic Road. The Rothenburg Wine Festival (Rothenburger Weindorf) is held in high season with stands offering local wines and food and concerts by all kinds of musicians. The Rothenburg Advent Market, or Christmas Market, starts in November and offers a different experience than the year-round Christmas shops, with stalls offering seasonal food and gifts set up in the market square. The town sits above the deep valley of the Tauber River, on the picturesque “Romantic Road” between Würzburg and the Bavarian Alps. First mentioned as Rotinbure in the 9th century, it developed around a fortress in Hohenstaufen and was a free imperial city from 1274 to 1803. Local industries include the production of machinery, plastics, kitchen counters and publishing. The city is surrounded by walls with many towers and is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Germany. Monuments include the Gothic and Renaissance town hall with a Baroque arcade and the Church of St. James (1373-1528) with a wooden altar by Tilman Riemenschneider. Pop. (2007 est.) 11.199.
4. Korčula, Croatia
- area: 279 km²
- Length: 46.8 km
- Population: 15,522 (2011)
Korcula Island (pronounced kor-chu-la), also known as Emerald Island, is one of the many islands in Croatia. Located in the south of Dalmatia, this small island of 279 square kilometers is a favorite among travelers. A place of culture, history, beauty and charm, the island of Korcula offers a variety of unique activities and traditions, all located in the beautiful Adriatic and enjoying Korcula’s excellent climate. Ferries and buses from Dubrovnik and Split on the Croatian mainland bring visitors to the island of Korcula on private sailboats and catamarans. Whether you are planning a day trip to the island of Korcula or a stay of several weeks, come to the island to enjoy the hidden beaches, pebble and sand beaches, various water sports and picturesque views of all directions. The island is located in a prime position to catch the perfect afternoon Maestral, a summer wind that allows windsurfers to enjoy plenty of movement out on the waters. Gliding over the open sea connects guests and locals alike, and all skill levels are welcome to join in.
5. Ærøskobing, Denmark
- Population: 942 (2020)
- weather: 2 °C, Wind NW at 8 km/h, 88% Humidity
Ærøskøbing is a town in central Denmark, located in Ærø Municipality on the island of Ærø. The suffix -købing means a trade town in the languages that derive from Old Norse. Ærøskøbing’s houses and streets are delicately restored to retain the character of the olden days. The world’s largest electric ferry named ELLEN completed its first voyage with passengers in August 2019 in Denmark. It is sailing between the southern Danish ports of Fynshav to Soby, on the island of Aero. The e-ferry is capable of carrying 30 vehicles and 200 passengers and is powered by a battery “with an unprecedented capacity”. In the old part of the town are many fine examples of the work of skilled bricklayers, carpenters, and blacksmiths. Behind the idyllic façade of the town is a live and active town that has solved successive generations’ housing needs for centuries. Ærøskøbing Church at the market square is the third church on that location and on the square are the two old town pumps that supplied the town with water right up until 1952. The town windmill (of Dutch origin from 1848) has become a landmark for the town, and is approached from the south by the main road.