10 hidden gems in Europe to visit in 2019
The birthplace of Western civilisation should certainly be on your travel list for 2019, especially since it’s so affordable for South Africans
Paris, France. Picture: iStock
Trafalgar’s Travel Directors have given us the inside scoop on their favourite destinations in Europe and the UK.
Add these 10 must-see destinations and experiences to your 2019 travel list:
1. Óbidos, Portugal
One of the hottest European destinations for South Africans right now, Portugal isn’t all pasteis de nata in Lisbon and Douro cruises in Porto.
Head to Óbidos, a medieval town in the centre of Portugal, and wind your way up its cobblestone roads to the castle at the top of the hill, says Ana Rita de Vilela.
“Enjoy the amazing view over the region and taste the typical morello cherry liqueur in a chocolate cup, affectionately known as a Ginjinha. Drink the liqueur and then eat the cup!”
2. Florence, Italy
Visit the Officina Profumo in Florence, one of the world’s oldest perfume and herb dispensaries. Dominican friars opened this store in the 16th century, but today this little gem looks more like a museum than a perfume shop.
“You’ll even see the perfume that Caterina de Medici wore when she married Henry II, the King of France,” says Alessia Crosti.
3. Cardiff, Wales
Built on what was once a Roman fort at the end of the 50s AD, Cardiff Castle is located within beautiful parklands at the heart of the capital, and features fairy-tale towers and an 11th-century moat.
“When visiting Cardiff Castle, touch the Roman Wall and see the tunnels where the people of Cardiff sheltered during the Second World War,” suggests Andrew Thomson.
4. Innsbruck, Austria
There are few things more traditional than strudel in Austria and the best place to taste it is in Innsbruck, says Bernie McCarthy.
The word strudel is derived from the German for “whirlpool” to describe the layers of this pastry, which now comes in a range of flavours, from traditional apple to even cabbage.
“Stop at the Strudel Shop off the Main Square, which accommodates all different tastes and diets,” says Bernie.
5. Bergen, Norway
Beautiful Bergen is renowned for its colourful wooden façades in the UNESCO-listed Bryggen district, the old wharf of this coastal city. But Catrin Griffiths suggests taking a walk out to Sandviksveien, a little way from the busy centre.
“There are narrow alleyways, charming houses with tiny gardens and views of the fjord” to be enjoyed.
6. Paris, France
There’s nothing quite like snapping a selfie against the backdrop of one of the world’s most beautiful and romantic cities.
And the best place for this is on the top-floor café of the Galleries Lafayette on Boulevard Haussmann in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, near Opera Garnier, says Eve Hand. You’re guaranteed the greatest views of the Palais Garnier and beyond.
7. Rome, Italy
If you’re heading to Rome, you simply have to visit the Historic Centre. Fabrizio Marcuccio likes to take his guests to a lovely balcony overlooking the Roman Forum for the best views.
“The balcony is just behind the town hall on the Capitoline Hill and is by far the best view of the Roman Forum and the Colosseum.” Get your cameras ready!
8. Poznań, Poland
History buffs will adore a visit to Poznań, the first capital of Poland and widely regarded as the birthplace of the Polish nation. A particular highlight during your visit to this historic city will be the famous clock at the town hall, says Gasper Atelsek.
“Every day at noon, you can admire mechanical fighting goats playing above the clock. Goats are the city’s main tourist attraction and there’s also a great legend surrounding them.”
9. Athens, Greece
The birthplace of Western civilisation should certainly be on your travel list for 2019, especially since it’s so affordable for South Africans. In addition to visiting the trendy neighbourhoods of Plaka and Kolonaki, you should visit the Acropolis of Athens.
Trafalgar TD Jason Healan suggests heading up to Philopappos Hill for the “absolute best view of the city, from the sea to the surrounding mountains, the different neighbourhoods and of course, the Acropolis”.
10. Berlin, Germany
Edgy Berlin is a must-visit during summer and for Rob Early, nothing could be better than spending a summer evening in the city’s Tiergarten.
“This 520-acre city park if Germany’s largest. Rent a pedalo on the lake, cycle, picnic, barbecue, or even watch Berliners doing Tai Chi. My recommendation is a lakeside beer or something to eat at Café am Neuen See.”