Top 5 destinations to escape the crowds
Keep your distance in some of Europe's best nature and small cities
You may know Europe for its big metropolises, like Paris, Rome and London. Look beyond these and you'll find a continent full of untouched nature, cosy cities and secret spots. When travel becomes possible again, social distancing measures will likely remain. But if you spread out to these less crowded spots, you'll have parks, lakes and mountains all to yourself, able to explore as if nothing had changed.
What's more, Europe's extensive rail network puts its scenic spots within reach of the bigger cities, so you can easily escape the crowds with a Eurail or Interrail Pass. When you're next able to travel, see the restrictions as an opportunity, and embrace the social distance in Europe's less crowded destinations, like these 5.
PLEASE NOTE: the travel situation surrounding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, including the measures mentioned in this article, can change rapidly. Always check the latest travel advice from your local government and the countries you wish to visit, before proceeding with your travel plans.
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1. Delphi, Greece
Delphi is a must-visit for any history buff. Major archeological attractions like the Temple of Apollo and the Athenian Treasury are located in the area. Nestled at the foot of the spectacular slopes of Mount Parnassus, Delphi's attractions are located outdoors and away from the tourist traps of Athens. Once you've walked the Sacred Way, you can hike further into the hills. You might even discover the Corycian Cave!
2. Provence, France
Take the high-speed TGV just 3 hours away from Paris and you'll arrive in Aix-en-Provence, the historic capital of Provence. The region's landscape of rolling hills, vineyards and lakes was made famous by 19th century artists, like van Gogh and Cézanne.
Now that same landscape is perfect for an outdoor escape. Visit the 6 Natural Regional Parks, to enjoy lake swimming, vineyard tours, or even bungee jumping and paragliding. The Camargue Regional Nature Reserve, known for its flamingos, is also nearby.
After some long days in nature you'll find the Côte d'Azur towns of Marseille, Nice and Cannes are all just a train ride away. So book your trip for the future and you may even be able to enjoy some more-crowded beaches by the time you're there!
3. Dublin, Ireland
Ireland currently requires its travellers to take a 14 day quarantine before exploring beyond their front-door. But if you have the time, or ability to work from anywhere, then you can turn this into an advantage...
Consider a staycation in Dublin. Hotels like the Shelbourne Hotel are located in historic buildings, which are attractions in their own right. Meanwhile, their amenities are much more modern, so you can self-isolate in luxury.
Once you're released you can enjoy a much quieter Dublin than usual, or head out by train from Ireland's railway hub to enjoy the island's nature.
4. Faro, Portugal
Faro is the principal city of Portugal's Algarve region, located on the south-west tip of Europe. The city never sees as many tourists as Lisbon, but visit outside of summer to enjoy the pristine city centre without crowds. Its century-old historical monuments include the Faro Cathedral of 1251 and the Arco da Vila of 1812. Outside the city there’s also a lagoon on the outer islands that you can explore, and a whole host of beaches along the Algarve coast, famous for their rock formations.
5. Bratislava, Slovakia
Bratislava is one of Europe's less-crowded capital cities, even at peak times. The city centre attractions, like Bratislava Castle, the Blue Church and the Slavín memorial can all be reached on foot, avoiding the need for crowded trams or buses.
You can also escape the city by bike or take a boat on the river Danube to visit lesser-known attractions like Devin Castle or Danubiana art museum.
Leah's tips for careful travel
- Wear your face mask in all public places (except when you’re eating)
- Frequently wash your hands with hand sanitiser or soap and water
- Refrain from touching your face
- Stay away from other people as much as possible
- Eat in open spaces whenever you can
- Wash your clothes and masks each time you wear them
- Follow local health guidelines
Even when travelling in less-crowded places, a lot of precaution is still needed to protect yourself and others around you. Always be wary of your surroundings and follow the local rules, and you’ll have a fun and safe travel experience.