Every summer, social media feeds bustle with photos and videos of popular tourist attractions, inspiring you to book a trip and escape your everyday life. Despite the abundance of information on travel destinations, many corners of this world are still under the radar. These are perfect for explorers who want to jump on a road trip adventure and visit places that are under-appreciated and under-loved by the global public.
So take out your road trip checklist, pack your things, and get ready to discover these four off-the-map places in Europe to discover on your summer road trip that are guaranteed to take your breath away!
There are many breathtaking locations in secret Spain, but the historic walled town of Cuenca is definitely one of the most underrated locations. Cuenca is perfect for history lovers as it can transport you back to medieval times with its brilliant and well-preserved architecture and scenic landscapes. Built by the Moors and conquered by the Castilians in the 12th century, Cuenca is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
This medieval city is known for being the home of Spain’s first Gothic cathedral as well as for its “casas colgadas” or “hanging houses,” which appear to defy gravity as they dangle off the rocks and face the Huécar river. There are many things to do in Cuenca besides taking a walking tour on the cobblestone streets. You can visit the Spanish Abstract Art Museum, the Museum of Archaeology, and the Cuenca Science Center, enjoy the views from the Saint Paul Bridge, dive underground into the Túneles de Alfonso VIII, drive to the Enchanted City, and marvel at many other historical architectural treasures.
Sazova Park, Turkey
When it comes to Turkey, you always get bombarded with touristy photos of Istanbul, Pamukkale, Cappadocia, Bodrum, Antalya, Izmir, etc. While these are stunning and must-visit locations, we recommend visiting Eski?ehir, a culturally and historically rich city in northwestern Turkey famous for being one of the oldest settlements in Anatolia.
Eski?ehir is the home of Sazova Science, Culture and Art Park, one of the biggest attractions in the city since 2008. Sazova Park is a destination that appeals to all ages, notably children. The biggest attraction is the Fairy Tale Castle. Contrary to popular belief, the castle is not inspired by Disney but by eight different historical buildings in Turkey, including Galata tower, the Maiden’s tower, and Topkapi Palace. The park also has an amphitheater, playgrounds for children, and many cafes and restaurants. Other attractions include Pirate Ship, Zoo, Artificial Pond, Science and Experiment Center, Eti Underwater World, Sabanc? Space House, Culture Center, etc.
Cruising the Croatian coast and visiting the Plitvice Lakes National Park are probably two of the most popular activities in Croatia. However, this beautiful country offers something for everyone. If you are an avid wine lover, head to the Slavonia region in eastern Croatia to visit Kutjevo, the country’s wine capital that dates back to the 13th century. In fact, Kutjevo is the home to the oldest Croatian winery that carries the town’s name and dates back to 1232, marking over 800 years of wine-making tradition.
Besides learning about wine-making and enjoying wine-tasting, Kutjevo offers unforgettable gastronomic specialties and is close to the natural park Papuk, a UNESCO geopark and a must-visit destination for nature lovers. You can also visit Dvorac Kutjevo or also known as the Kutjevo Abbey, which was a Cistercian monastery built in the 13th century.
Lake Bohinj, Slovenia
Anyone who has visited Slovenia knows that it’s a country filled with breathtaking views. Located within the Triglav National Park, Lake Bohinj is a less popular destination than its neighbor, the Lake Bled. Surrounded by the Julian Alps, Lake Bohinj is the place to enjoy fresh alpine air and relax while admiring the serene views of its pristine waters. There is a comfortable 12km-long walking trail around the lake as well as swimming spots where water-sports lovers can enjoy kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding.
Hikers can enjoy the trail that runs through Mostnica Gorge and the Voje Valley, or, if you are not up for the physical activity, you can ride the Vogel cable car to the top of the mountain. Either way, you will be greeted by unforgettable views. Other attractions include the St. John Cathedral and the stone bridge, the statue of Zlatorog, and the Savica waterfall.
Whether you are a nature lover, a history geek, a family person, or an adventure seeker, the world has a lot of unexplored corners that can offer you the experience of a lifetime.