With so many fabulous places how do you choose your holiday destination? If you don’t like to follow the crowd and are looking for somewhere different, I’ve got some off the radar destinations for you to consider.
Although Malaga is rapidly catching up in the affections of international tourists looking for Europe's best cultural hot spots, Bilbao is still one of the best off the radar destinations in Spain. From its stunning plazas and awe-inspiring landscapes to its extraordinary museums, Bilbao is one of the most inspiring places to visit. The wonderful architecture of the Santiago Cathedral and the Guggenheim Museum alone are worth the price of a plane ticket. Rent a car and explore the Bilbao coastline, which is a far cry from the holiday villas and apartment complexes of the Costa del Sol. For a special night out, catch an opera at the Palacio Euskalduna.
Although much of Gdansk was destroyed during WWII, the little town has managed to return from the ashes to shine once more. Its cobbled streets and restored medieval merchant houses that once belonged to Hanseatic League traders make Gdansk one of the most unusual off the radar destinations in Europe. Gdansk has such charm and its friendly locals make a night on the town such a delight that this Polish town should be on the itinerary of every traveler touring Eastern Europe. The Polish gateway to the Baltic provides visitors with a fascinating glimpse into the rise, subsequent fall and eventual phoenix-like re-emergence of Europe's unity. Visit the Gdansk Historical Museum, which is housed in the gorgeous 14th-century Town Hall and head to the Old Town, which has been lovingly restored to its medieval splendour.
The capital of Ecuador will appeal to travelers who prefer their holidays to be active and packed with adventure. Perhaps one of the most unusual destinations on the world-wide tourist trail, Quito in Ecuador offers amazing insight into the mysterious Inca culture. The city was built on the ruins of an Inca settlement and still retains several examples of Inca architecture, some of the best preserved in South America. It's also a good place to get physical - join a raft tour and explore the mighty Amazon. Take a hike in the rain forest that still covers much of the country. For a rest day, head to the beach. Quito has several fine beaches to choose from.
Why not see for yourself? Visit the Welsh capital and discover how the city on the shores of Tiger Bay has managed to transform itself from a shipping and mining town into one of Europe's hottest city break destinations. Once decidedly off the tourist radar, Cardiff is now one of the most popular cities to visit and to relocate to. From the huge Castle and Bute Park complex in the heart of the city to the stunning Cardiff Bay development with the brand new BBC studios, Cardiff has a sheer overwhelming number of tourist attractions to offer. Go shopping and dining at Mermaid Quay or visit the Millennium Centre for a spot of free music. Explore the delights of Llandaff Cathedral, where regular concerts are being held in summer or hop on a bus and stroll through the wonderful open air museum of St. Fagan's on the outskirts of the city. Eat fish and chips at the beach of Barry Island or be chased by the Daleks at the Dr. Who Exhibition in Cardiff Bay.
Before WWII devastated much of East Germany, Dresden was one of Europe's most beautiful Baroque cities, a center for art and culture. Anyone of importance in 18th century Europe came here to play, to be seen and to be heard, Mozart included. Located at the heart of the Prussian Imperial Court and Europe's early pottery industry, Dresden was a wealthy place and this was reflected in its stunning architecture. Buy a Dresden Card, which permits free admission to many of the museums and art collections and provides you with free bus travel in the city. Join one of the fabulous steam boats and take a tour on the river, the best way to get a first impression of this fascinating city. Dresden boasts a great nightlife, with fine dining restaurants, the Dresden Opera House, pubs, vibrant bars and live music venues. It may have been an off the radar destination during the years of East German dictatorship, but Dresden today is one of Germany's most visited tourist hot spots.
Granada is one of the oldest colonial cities in Central American, yet it is still not high up the tourist agenda. Thankfully, this is gradually changing and more tour operators are including Granada City in their holiday packages. If you are a romantic at heart, hire a horse-drawn carriage and explore the city park. Art lovers will adore Granada's La Calzada Art Center, where they can learn how to wield a canvas and palette knife in one of many art classes or how to blow glass. Visit the duck-egg blue Iglesia San Francisco, reputedly the oldest church in Central America and the most breath-taking building in Nicaragua, or go on a thrilling hike to explore the beautiful Reserva Natural Volcan Mombacho.
The capital of Vietnam is a fascinating place and I recommend going here before the word gets out. A thrilling blend of East meets West, Hanoi will stay in your mind long after you have dusted off your suitcase and put away your passport. Perhaps one of the most thought-provoking and stunning cities in the world, Hanoi truly manages to get under the traveler’s skin. Visit the Women's Museum in Hanoi's old quarter and discover what role Vietnamese women played in the country's history. The museum holds more than 1,000 exhibits. Located in the Ly Thuong Kiet Street, near the central Hoan Kiem Lake, the museum sits in Hanoi's oldest part, where French architecture dominates the city-scape and grand foreign embassies, boutique hotels and governmental offices vie for space. Take a stroll through the gardens that surround the lovely 11th century Temple of Literature, dedicated to the teachings of Confucius and home to the Imperial Academy, the country's first national university.
I know it’s hard to choose a holiday destination but I hope I’ve made that decision harder by adding even more fabulous places for you to consider! ^_^ Where are you holidaying this year?