Whilst it can be all too easy for us to focus on the attractions of our capital cities, there’s plenty of lesser-known European travel destinations out there to satisfy your wanderlust. So here’s some of the best secret finds in Spain, France and the Netherlands along with some tips for suitable entertainment that range from glamorous casinos to fun beach activities.
Most Dutch travelers to Spain have a tendency to hit the south coast. But the northern coast of Spain also hosts many wonderful locations with the port city of Santander offering a tantalising blend of Gothic cathedrals and windswept beaches like the Playa de la Magdalena that even features a small zoo and locomotive train.
If you find yourself on the Costa del Sol, then book a hire car and head up into the mountains to discover the wonderfully atmospheric mountain towns of Jimena de la Frontera and Ubrique that offer a wonderful taste of Andalucian life. Plus the amazing gorge and bull rings at Ronda complete the picture for a charming glimpse of old-school Spain.
The French Riviera is also something of a tourist magnet with many visitors showing themselves to be endlessly in thrall to the casinos of Monte Carlo. But a short drive into the hills reveals a succession of quaint towns like Vence that offer commanding views of the Bay of Angels, and some fantastic boutique shopping opportunities too.
Heading up into the mountains means that you can also take advantage of the many vineyards in the area with the likes of Vins De Bandol hosting regular wine festivals that provide the perfect excuse to fire up on your smartphone and pretend you’re in Monte Carlo with the site’s great access to a range of authentic casino games of roulette, poker and blackjack.
Less than half an hour away from the tourist trap of Amsterdam, lies the pretty town of Haarlem. This town offers many charming cobbled streets and gabled houses to serve the more discerning tourist. Of particular note is the Franz Hals Museum that’s delivers the perfect introduction to the Golden Age of Dutch painting.
And to the south-east, the city of Nijmegen has recently blossomed thanks to a laid-back fun-loving atmosphere that led to the institution of many great pop-up concert events. Also the acclaimed Volkhof art museum and the Velorama – unbelievably the only bicycle museum in the whole of the Netherlands!
So when you visit these countries, be sure to check out these hidden gems!