Europe is a continent full of wonders, from its ancient history and culture to its modern cities and attractions. But beyond the popular destinations like Paris, Rome, or London, there are many hidden gems and secret attractions that only locals know about.
These places are off the beaten path and offer a unique and authentic experience for travelers who want to discover something different and special.
In this blog post, I will share with you some of these hidden gems and secret attractions in Europe that only locals know about. They are:
Monastery of Archangel Michael Panormitis – Symi, Greece
Greece is a country with thousands of islands, each with its own charm and beauty. One of these islands is Symi, a small but picturesque island in the Dodecanese archipelago.
Symi is known for its neoclassical architecture, its colorful houses, and its crystal-clear waters. But it also has a spiritual treasure: the Monastery of Archangel Michael Panormitis, one of the most important religious sites in Greece. The monastery was built in the 18th century on the site of an ancient temple and houses a miraculous icon of Archangel Michael that is said to grant wishes and heal diseases.
The monastery also has a museum that displays religious artifacts, folk art, weapons, and documents related to Symi’s history.
Symi is a perfect destination for those who love history, culture, and nature. You can also enjoy swimming, hiking, and boating on this charming island.
Some of the best things to do in Symi are:
- Visit Symi Town, the capital and main port of the island. It is divided into two parts: Gialos, the lower town with its elegant mansions and lively waterfront; and Chorio, the upper town with its narrow alleys and traditional houses.
- Explore Kali Strata, a long staircase that connects Gialos and Chorio. It has 500 steps and offers stunning views over the harbor and the sea.
- See The Castle of Symi, a medieval fortress that stands on top of a hill above Chorio. It was built by the Knights of St John in the 14th century and later used by the Ottomans. It has a small chapel inside dedicated to St John.
- Relax at Nimborio Beach, one of the most popular beaches in Symi. It is located on the opposite side of Gialos and has fine sand and clear water. You can reach it by boat or by foot along a scenic path.
- Discover Panormitis Bay, where the monastery is located. It is a beautiful bay surrounded by green hills and pine trees. You can admire the monastery from different angles or take a boat trip around the bay.
Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch – Anglesey, Wales
If you are looking for a tongue-twister challenge on your next trip to Europe, try pronouncing this Welsh village’s name: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.
Yes, that’s right. This village has one of the longest place names in the world, with 58 letters. It means “St Mary’s Church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St Tysilio of the red cave” in Welsh.
The name was coined in the 19th century as a publicity stunt to attract tourists and railway passengers. Today it is still a popular attraction for visitors who want to take a photo with the signpost or get a stamp on their passport at the local post office.
But there is more to this village than its name. It is located on the island of Anglesey, which is rich in natural beauty and historical sites. You can visit Plas Newydd, an elegant mansion with stunning views over Snowdonia; Britannia Bridge, an engineering marvel that spans the Menai Strait; or Anglesey Sea Zoo, where you can see marine life from around Wales.
Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch is not only a mouthful but also a delight for travelers who want to experience something unique and memorable.
Some of the best things to do in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch are:
- Learn how to pronounce the name correctly. You can watch this video or ask a local for help. The trick is to break it down into smaller parts and practice slowly.
- Visit James Pringle Weavers, a shop that sells Welsh products such as woolen blankets, pottery, and souvenirs. You can also find the longest domain name in the world: llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.co.uk.
- Explore Marquess of Anglesey’s Column, a monument that commemorates Henry Paget, the first Marquess of Anglesey, who fought at the Battle of Waterloo. You can climb up 115 steps to reach the top and enjoy panoramic views over Anglesey and Snowdonia.
- Enjoy The Pringles Restaurant, a cozy place that serves traditional Welsh dishes such as lamb cawl, bara brith, and Welsh rarebit. You can also try some local beers and ciders.
- Stay at The Holland Arms Hotel, a historic hotel that dates back to the 18th century. It has comfortable rooms, friendly staff, and delicious food.
Sveti Stefan – Budva, Montenegro
Montenegro is one of Europe’s hidden gems, with its stunning coastline, mountainous landscape, and medieval towns. One of its most picturesque places is Sveti Stefan, a small island connected to the mainland by a narrow isthmus.
Sveti Stefan was once a fishing village that dates back to the 15th century. It was fortified by walls and towers to protect it from pirates and invaders. In the 20th century, it was transformed into a luxury resort that hosted celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, and Kirk Douglas.
Today it is part of the Aman Sveti Stefan, an exclusive hotel that offers elegant rooms, suites, and villas in the restored stone buildings. The hotel also has a spa, a gym, a library, and several restaurants and bars.
Sveti Stefan is a perfect place for those who want to enjoy a relaxing and romantic getaway in a stunning setting.
Some of the best things to do in Sveti Stefan are:
- Swim or sunbathe at Sveti Stefan Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in Montenegro. It has pink sand and turquoise water that contrast with the red roofs of the island. You can also rent sunbeds, umbrellas, and water sports equipment.
- Visit Villa Milocer, a former summer residence of Queen Marija Karadordevic of Yugoslavia. It is now part of the hotel and has six suites, a dining room, a living room, and a library. You can admire its elegant architecture and gardens.
- Explore Budva, the nearest town to Sveti Stefan. It is one of the oldest settlements on the Adriatic coast and has a charming old town with narrow streets, stone houses, and churches. You can also see Budva Citadel, St John’s Church, and The Dancing Girl Statue.
- Enjoy The Piazza, the main square of Sveti Stefan island. It has three churches: St Stephen’s Church, St Alexander Nevsky Church, and Transfiguration Church. You can also find some shops, cafes and art galleries.
- Treat yourself at The Aman Spa, where you can indulge in massages, facials, body treatments, and yoga sessions. You can also use the indoor pool, the sauna, the steam room, and the relaxation area.
I hope this blog post has inspired you to visit these hidden gems and secret attractions in Europe that only locals know about. They are definitely worth adding to your bucket list!
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Thank you for reading and happy travels!