The capital cities of Europe are among the most chic, romantic and fashionable in the world, and cities such as Paris, London, Rome and Barcelona offer magnificent sights, attractions of historical significance and fabulous luxury accommodations.
The drawback is that the cost of visiting the most famous European destinations reflects their standing, and as a result vacations in the prime locations are expensive. Clever travelers, however, have long been able to circumvent the crowds and find marvelous hidden treasures in underrated destinations, but without compromising on the quality and level of luxury offered by their chosen spot.
By Dave and Katie
Considered by many to be a boring, administrative center, Brussels has some hidden attributes that should make visitors think again. Luxury accommodations in Brussels, for example, are the same high quality yet considerably cheaper than their counterparts in Rome or Milan.
Gastronomic delights include superb seafood – elegant and sumptuous baby shrimp, mussels and oysters from the North Sea. Belgian beer is highly rated and the city boasts trendy restaurants and bars, and has a vibrant nightlife scene.
Buildings featuring fabulous art nouveau architecture complement the 17th century splendor of the Grand Place, and the many excellent museums and galleries include one that is devoted to the work of the surrealist artist René Magritte.
While Copenhagen remains the principal draw for foreign visitors to Denmark, the inside knowledge of the Danes means they have long favored the magnificent North Zealand region for a great vacation.
The coastal route from Copenhagen has miles of sandy beaches with calm waters and offers views across to Sweden; there are lakes and forests, country manors, castles and royal parks, plus the summer home of the Danish royal family, and Kronborg Castle, made famous as Elsinore in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
All this plus art galleries and museums; this region has an abundance of natural features and is packed with history and heritage.
As the membership of the EU has grown and the remoter, formerly communist countries have become accessible for vacationers, it’s increasingly possible to find cheap flights to many previously hidden parts of the continent. For example, Prague, capital city of the Czech Republic, has become such a well-known destination that effectively it overshadows its nearby neighbor Bratislava, the capital city of Slovakia.
Travelers keen to find out more about Bratislava’s lavish charms will note that the city – particularly the Old Town area – has undergone a stunning transformation, renovating its important historic buildings as well as creating great accommodations and a widely varied restaurant and nightlife culture.
The hallmarks of the city include castles, quaint squares and excellent views of the River Danube. Prague is just over three hours away by car, so it’s possible to get two great city experiences in one luxury vacation.
The elegant baroque town of Dresden has been completely rebuilt since World War II and offers a tempting alternative to Berlin and Munich. There is an impressive range of luxury accommodations including first-class hotels equipped with saunas and spas, set amongst the stunning landscape of the River Elbe.
Local attractions include; Zwinger Palace, Semper Opera House and the fabulous Frauenkirche with its towering white domes. A renowned city of culture, Dresden offers impressive programs of orchestral and choral concerts, theater and dance performances to suit all tastes.