A Cultural Travel and Expat Blog

The Best and the Boring of Europe’s Less-Traveled Towns

Posted By in France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Spain, Travel Tips, What I've Learned | 6 comments

“So…how did you end up here?” Brent and I were followed by this question virtually everywhere we went in Europe. As a side effect of basing our route through Europe around work exchanges, we ended up spending time in many unexpected and non-notable towns. In some cases, we lucked out and found ourselves in many undiscovered European towns, welcomed into small communities by people eager to share their language and culture with us. Other places gave us a taste of exactly why we were their first and only tourists. Here are the hits and the misses of our unusual European tour:

The Boring

St.Germier, France

St. Germier, Poitou-Charentes, France, undiscovered European towns

 

The 2 months we spent in St. Germier were a much-needed lesson for starry-eyed newbie traveler me, who at one time imagined that absolutely everywhere in Europe must be absolutely fascinating. St. Germier turned out to be more of a cluster of farmhouses than an actual town. There were no shops, and no businesses of any kind for miles. We certainly achieved our goal of being immersed in a francophone community, but it was challenging to find ways to take advantage of this language-learning opportunity because, short of going door-to-door, there were no places where we could meet and connect with our neighbours. On the plus side, the wide open farmlands were ideal for long walks, and our days always ended with brilliant sunsets and clear skies for star-gazing (unfortunately, the wow-factor of these things wore off within about a week).

Wettenbostel, Germany 

Wettenbostel, Germany, undiscovered European towns

Wettenbostel is a classic blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town. It’s the perfect place if you’re looking to escape the city and plunge deep into real German countryside tranquility. Although, like in St. Germier, the absence of any significant town infrastructure left us feeling isolated most of the time. If I ran out of something as basic as toothpaste, I was in for a 45 min. bike ride into the nearest town, which was dazzlingly urbanized by comparison because it had an actual grocery store and even a post office. Fortunately, our host family kept us entertained, not to mention that Wettenbostel does hold a top-notch Easter celebration, in which the locals gather around a big bonfire to enjoy beer and bratwurst.

The Best

Algaida, Spain

Algaida, Mallorca, undiscovered European towns

Algaida looks exactly the way I had always imagined a quaint Spanish village would. Narrow roads, a town square centered around a sandstone church, and an outdoor market on Friday mornings. My adoration was further enhanced by a cantina downtown, where we could bring empty 2L bottles to be filled with wine. Plus, Algaida is the home of Gordiola Glassworks, the oldest glass blowers’ in Mallorca. Visitors can watch the craftsmen work at their kilns, firing and shaping molten glass.


Capel Curig, Wales

Capel Curig, Wales, undiscovered European towns

Well-known by climbers, but less-so by other tourists, Capel Curig by far wins the prize for the most scenic town we visited with its mist-covered mountains, gleaming lakes, and endless hikes. Every day was an opportunity to climb to the top of a new mountain, explore a different trail, or visit one of the nearby medieval castles in Conwy or Caernarfon. Our evenings were spent in archetypical British pubs, where we could sit by the fire and drink pints of locally-brewed Purple Moose Ale.

Ostuni, Italy

Ostuni, Puglia, Italy, undiscovered European towns

 

Ostuni truly captures the Mediterranean spirit of Southern Italy. The old town is a maze of whitewashed houses, all clustered together and perched on a hilltop overlooking the sea. Although the population of Ostuni skyrockets during the tourist season, when we visited, it was just Brent and I exploring the quirky, winding roads, and feasting on the amazing cuisine. The old town is quite small and the streets are universally lovely-looking, making it the perfect city to get lost in.

Alkmaar, Holland

Alkmaar, Holland, undiscovered European towns

 

Ok, Alkmaar is a little touristy, but I don’t think I’m the only one who hadn’t heard of this charming place before coming to Holland. Tourists typically come to Alkmaar to view one of the last traditional Dutch cheese markets (although sadly it’s more of a demonstration for tourists, and you can’t actually buy the cheese anymore). It’s not the most original adjective, but with the numerous bike paths and canals weaving around the town’s 17th century buildings,  I don’t know how better to describe Alkmaar than “pretty”. For us, it was also an excellent place to enjoy the Queen’s Day celebrations without getting trampled by the crowds in nearby Amsterdam.

What are some of your favourite less-traveled towns around the world?

 

6 Comments

  1. Katja June 3, 2013

    Good info. Lucky me I recently found your site by chance (stumbleupon).

    I’ve saved as a favorite for later!

  2. Sarah A. January 29, 2014

    Good to know! I also enjoy traveling to the less touristy places. I will save up this information for my next Europe trip.

  3. Yashoda April 17, 2014

    This is advyashoda from India. While going thru WWOOF I came across ways of wanderers, and I read it. It was a good. Experience. Thanks a lot Jessica n my thanks to Brentt too. I am interested in learning Tulip gardening in Holland, as well parfume n wine making in France. Could you please advise me in this regard.
    Regards,yashoda.
    Advyashoda@gmail.com

  4. m88 October 17, 2014

    Amazing blog! Is your theme custom madfe or did you
    download it from somewhere? A design like yourss
    with a few simple tweeks would really make my blog jump out.

    Please let me know whhere you got your design. Many thanks

  5. m88 October 18, 2014

    Grreat article.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *