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Six Unique European Destinations to Visit this Year

Image of Cologne city
5 Jan

Six Unique European Destinations to Visit in 2017

The trend in travel is to look new and unique. The destinations made popular by the Grand Tour such as Paris, Florence, Rome and Prague have lost little of there appeal. However, if you are looking for something a little different then try some of these destinations I have picked out.


The Slovenian capital is easily walkable, has a great vibe and a lively cafe scene. Like many of Eastern and Central European capitals it is overlooked by a castle; but there the similarity ends. A great deal of the city was designed and built by Slovenia’s own architect and urban designer Plečnik after an earthquake destroyed much of Baroque Ljubljana. It is very much what I would describe as a Boutique Capital.


As the gastronomic capital of France most visitors go there to eat. However, there is a lot more to Lyon than food. Following the trail around trompe l’oeil murals of the city is an excellent way of seeing the city. From the well preserved Roman amphitheatre through Old Lyon with its traboules or hidden passageways to the elegance of central Lyon and on to Confluence with its cutting edge architecture there is more than enough for a few days of exploration.


Cologne sits on the banks of the Rhine and is dominated by its cathedral or Dom. Carnival time is a must for those who like to let their hair down and the Christmas Market here should be on everyone’s bucket list. As the name suggests Eau de Cologne was invented here and you can visit the two rival perfumeries. You can be romantic in Cologne and attach a padlock to what is claimed as the first love padlock bridge before strolling along the Rhine to the Chocolate Museum and the Grand Cafe Chocolat. Finish off by visiting the Roman ruins beneath the city.


Hard enough to find on a map and even harder to pronounce (bid-gosh is near enough) this city in western Poland is an undiscovered jewel for culture vultures and for those who like to be close to nature. It was shortlisted for European Capital of Culture for 2016. There is evidence of art everywhere with the free balancing man on a tightrope over the Brda River being the centrepiece of it all. For a close to nature experience you can kayak right into the city centre beside the modern opera house. From the wharf you can take in a few museums, art galleries or an opera within less than 5 minutes walk.


The Alentejo is a region of Portugal north of the Algarve. Often referred to as the breadbasket of Portugal it is known for the quality of ingredients that feature in much of Portugal’s cuisine. There are some great hilltop towns to wander, an Atlantic coastline of sandy beaches and wild cliffs and fantastic castles and ancient farmhouses to stay in. Food in Alentejo might be rustic but it is honest cuisine; meaning you are only served what is in season.


Another region worth visiting is Puglia; the heel of Italy. It is rising in popularity and has some unique features of its own. The Trulli, a small round house with a conical roof, is the iconic image of the region. These Trulli can be seen across the countryside but the greatest concentration of these unique dwelling houses is the town of Alborobello. Good simple food is the hallmark of the regions cuisine and a visit to a farm or a tour of Old Bari is the best way to sample the food. In Bari you can visit the shrine where Saint Nicholas, our Santa Claus, is buried.

These are my six suggestions for 2017. Do you have any suggestions? Please share them in the comments.

Before you travel make sure you have arranged your travel insurance. Our Single Trip policy is perfect for European destinations with many benefits. Or if you are planning to take multiple trips this year then our Annual Multi-Trip travel insurance may be what you are looking for.

Gordon Lethbridge is a blogger over at