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4 hidden holiday gems in Europe

11 November 2019

Life

by Lewis Pitcher

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Featured image: The Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, over Tromso in Norway.

 

As our summer finally, finally creeps to an end, the one thing we’re all thinking is where we’re going to escape to for summer 2020. That said, these days it’s getting a lot harder to find somewhere in Europe that isn’t completely overrun with tourists. As it turns out though, the GO office is filled with globetrotters with plenty of options for you to go roaming without bumping into hordes of cameras and sock/sandal combos. Here are our best picks of all the places you can go and still keep using your Pay Monthly or Top-up Plan, just like home!

 

Aeolian Isles, Italy

We’ll start with our closest destination to home, as well as the most traditional of our holidays. The islands can be found just off the north coast of Sicily and give a slightly quieter alternative to the more well-known islands off of Greece. Lipari is the largest of the islands and your best bet as a base whether you’re looking for a trek around some volcanic landscapes or just some good old-fashioned sun and swim. Panarea is another option as a base, although it will cost you a fortune as it’s something of a fashionista’s paradise. If you’re the adventurous type, day trip tours out to Salina and Stromboli offer some incredible sights and experiences including a hike up an active volcano (although perfectly safe, we promise). Otherwise, Lipari itself has some beautiful beaches including the Spiaggia Valle Muria, a stunning spot and an incredible place to be at sunset, or so I’m told…

 

Cornwall, UK

Ok, bear with me on this one. I know that when it comes to summer holiday destinations, England is hardly anyone’s first thought. That said, when most people think of England, they certainly aren’t thinking of Cornwall. Right in the bottom south-west corner of the country, Cornwall is almost like a different country in its own right and makes for a unique family holiday. Highlights include picturesque little fishing towns such as St. Ives (which happens to be the original inspiration behind Popeye Village) and the stunning open-air Minack Theatre at Porthcurno. The one thing not to miss though is the Eden Project, which offers the chance to visit real rainforest and jungle environments in incredible man-made biomes as well as a huge amount of activities and events for kids. I can also personally recommend the Cornish fudge, although the traditional Stargazey Pie you can probably skip.

Anyone for spinach? Anyone?

 

Northern Slovakia

Slovakia itself is one of many countries in the east of Europe that doesn’t get too much attention from tourists for whatever reason, but the northern part around the Tatra Mountains has some hidden gems. One recent visitor points to locations such as Janosikove Diery, a hiking trail through gorgeous canyons and ravines, and the Demonovska Cave of Liberty, a cave complex featuring a whole range of remarkable natural formations. For places to stay, the village of the superbly named Lucky features plenty of accommodation, restaurants and a great location central to everything I already mentioned. As a bonus, the Lucansky Vodopad waterfall sits in the centre of the village. Best of all, everything listed above is available at a relatively bargain price compared to most destinations. It’s also lucky for you that Data Boom is now on all GO’s mobile plans as standard; wi-fi coverage is not great, and I’m sure you’re going to have plenty of photos to upload.

 

Tromso, Norway

Dialling the weather up another notch, we reach Tromso in Norway, so far North it’s actually in the Arctic Circle. I understand if you, like my own wife, consider jumping from a Maltese summer into sub-zero temperatures a little daunting, but this place is simply amazing. Not even mentioning the mind-blowing ‘midnight sun’ visible in summer, Tromso itself has nearly everything. As one local resident enthusiastically told me, if you want nature there are forests and sandy beaches within 30 minutes’ drive, as well as a small mountain accessible by cable car. If you want history, there are museums for war, whaling and national heroes, not to mention the unique Ishavskatedralen, a church with a look more similar to the Sydney Opera House than the very traditional, but equally beautiful Tromso Cathedral. Add that to loads of great restaurants, shops and the northernmost brewery in the world, it’s hard to go wrong. Just watch out for public holidays – like Malta, apparently it goes a little quiet.