Secret Europe

Underrated, overlooked, off the beaten track – this is what Exodus does best. There’s nothing we like better than finding a hidden gem, whether it’s a tiny restaurant only the locals know about, or a whole region which never seems to hit the headlines. They’re quieter, secluded, and give you the sensation of having stumbled on something special. Here are just a few secret Europe destinations we’re delighted are still (mostly) under the radar:

Secret Trails of Medieval Spain

Santo Domingo de Silos Abbey Santo Domingo de Silos Abbey

 

Why is it secret? With big names like the Spanish Pyrenees or the Camino de Santiago stealing the press, the heartlands have remained in relative obscurity. Our Product Manager Marta Marinelli calls this a “secret pilgrimage, a sort of unknown Camino de Santiago.” The rich religious heritage covers a landscape defined by windy ridges and deep wooded gorges, where every building is home to a story. Pass humble, ancient hermitages, enjoy tranquility in the ornately carved cloister museum and get a taste for Spanish life at the local bodega (winery). Taking you there: Secret Trails of Medieval Spain

The Albanian Alps

Theth Valley, photo taken by Exodus staff member Theth Valley, photo taken by Exodus' Head of Customer Operations

 

Why is it secret? Communism has kept Albania off the tourist map for many years, keeping it isolated from outside influences. Since the 1990s things have slowly started to change, but the strong traditions are alive and well. Folklore and fairy tales, mountains and monasteries: the Albanian Alps have so much to offer the avid hill walker. If you crave culture while you wander, look no further: from historic familial feuds and rural farm life to Ottoman bazaars and ancient mosques in Kosovo, the rich heritage of this underrated Mediterranean gem is best discovered on foot. Taking you there: Walking in Albania

Baltic Beauty

Estonian Countryside, photo taken by Exodus Sales Manager Estonian Countryside, photo taken by Exodus Sales Manager

 

Why is it secret? Describe a landscape studded with huge glistening lakes, crowned with 14th century castles and covered in cool, shady forests – and it is usually western Europe which springs to mind, perhaps Germany or Switzerland. With these heavyweights hogging the limelight it's no wonder the Baltics get less air time, but we predict these days are numbered. The beautiful Baltics deliver all this in spades, with a side order of tranquillity hard to find elsewhere. These virtually flat back roads are a haven for cyclists. Taking you there: Cycling the Baltics

Slovenian Sunshine

Slovenia's scenic Lake Bled Slovenia's scenic Lake Bled

 

Why is it secret? Honestly, we have no idea. Slovenia is an outdoor enthusiasts paradise, but this incredibly scenic place seems less popular than it should be. Still, we're not complaining. The “Sunny Side of the Alps” is a maze of wiggling trails for walkers of all levels, from lakeside wanders to roped-up scrambles. Cyclists have a dizzying array of winding roads that lead deep into the dramatic limestone gorges and past cool, jewel-like lakes. The only thing that doesn’t make sense is why nobody else is here. Taking you there: holidays in Slovenia

Romania’s Carpathian Mountains

Why is it secret? Romania has year-round charm, it's simply that very few people talk about it. The mountains are a safe haven for wildlife, one of the last strongholds of European brown bears, grey wolves and even elusive lynx. Our top tip? Make sure you indulge daily in the locally produced honey – it’s seriously special. In summer, the beautiful agricultural hills and dramatic gorges make perfect walking, accompanied by trilling birdsong, the occasional shepherd and absolutely no-one else. In winter, whilst the bears snuggle up and hibernate, all that glitters is snow. The locals warm up with winter markets, sleigh rides and their potentially lethal homemade schnapps. But the real lure of a Carpathian winter is their fabulous Icehotel – as glamorous and exciting as the Swedish original, at a fraction of the cost. Taking you there: holidays in Romania

Bran Castle in summer Bran Castle in summer

 

Bran Castle in winter Bran Castle in winter

 

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