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6 Underrated cities to visit in Europe

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Depending when you travel during Summer, in Europe, expect high temperatures | Photo: Milan Zmátlo

It’s no surprise that Europe hosts some of the world’s most exciting cities to visit, whether walking the streets of Paris or taking pictures of the Colosseum in Rome. However, many cities with equal charm get lost or unnoticed in all this excitement, so we’ve put together this list. Keep reading to learn about some of Europe’s more underrated cities you might want to add to your upcoming summer itineraries!

Gravensteen, Ghent, Belgium : Photo: Flo piennan

Ghent, Belgium

Ghent, located in Belgium, is a captivating city that offers a delightful blend of history, culture, and architectural wonders. Yet, it only sometimes appears on the travel list of our typical European visitors. It is often overshadowed by its more famous counterparts, Brussels and Bruges. 

Ghents’ remarkably well-preserved medieval architecture offers picturesque streets and Instagram-worthy pictures around every corner. The iconic Saint Bavo’s Cathedral‘s spires and the breathtaking interior are must-see attraction.

Numerous museums, art galleries, and theatres call this city home while showcasing the great works of artists like Van Eyck and Rubens. For our romantic readers, Ghent’s idyllic canals and waterways provide the perfect date options to admire the city’s beauty from a new perspective.

Riga, Latvia | Photo: Gilly Berlin

Riga, Latvia

Riga, the capital of Latvia, boasts that dark academia aesthetic we see across the Pinterest boards of many. With Gothic and Art Nouveau buildings at every corner and impressive spires adorning the skyline, it’s no wonder architecture enthusiasts drool over this city’s beauty. 

Between perusing the Latvian National Museum of Art or the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, make sure to stop by The Central Market, located within a series of massive zeppelin hangars. It is a booming hub for visitors and locals to indulge in authentic dishes, fresh produce, and shopping for unique souvenirs.

For beachgoing, the Gulf of Riga is close to the city center and offers private beaches that are safe to swim and bask in the sun. If you’re in search of tranquillity and a connection with nature, add Riga to your list growing list of destinations to visit!

Zagreb, Croatia | Photo: Daniela Pitesa

Zagreb, Croatia

Zagreb, Croatia’s capital, has been growing in popularity for digital nomads everywhere but gets less credit than the country’s more coastal cities. Zagreb’s historical charm is a significant draw with narrow streets, large open squares, and iconic landmarks such as St. Mark’s Church, the Cathedral of Zagreb, and the historic Stone Gate. 

In recent years, Zagreb has become an attractive destination for digital nomads looking for a lively and affordable city. I speak from experience when I say this city has got it all! Shameless plug, but Quahwa Cafe is a personal favourite spot for fast wifi and tear-worthy coffee. For any foodies reading, štrukli (cheese-filled pastry) continues to haunt my dreams as I await the next time I can indulge.

You can easily find yourself wandering through local parks and green spaces, which provide a refreshing escape from urban life. Plitvice Lakes is only a few hours from the city, and although teeming with tourists in the summer, it remains a worthy site to see.

Wroclaw, Poland| Photo: Agnieszka Błaszczyk

Wroclaw, Poland

Wroclaw, located in western Poland, is home to the country’s 3rd largest square, Rynek. It’s lined with places to eat, drink, and explore. Wroclaw’s Gothic-style Cathedral and Tumski Bridge are must-see attractions for architecture buffs. 

Many students call this city home, studying out of the University of Wroclaw, founded in 1702. Therefore, the city is lively at night, with busy bars, clubs, and restaurants. The city annually hosts festivals, concerts, and events, from classical performances to contemporary exhibitions, ensuring something exciting is always happening! 

For a more leisurely activity, consider taking a stroll along the Odra River or exploring the nearby islands to appreciate this city’s natural beauty. Nonetheless, take advantage of the beauty of Wroclaw, and start planning your next trip!

Lyon, France | Photo: Nguyen Dang Hoang Nhu

Lyon, France

Paris isn’t France’s only must-see destination, but the city of Lyon, nestled in the heart of France, is a place worth checking out. The culinary scene is perhaps the most notable draw for tourists looking to treat their palates by eating at one of the many Michelin-starred restaurants that call this city home. Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse, an indoor food market, is the perfect place to indulge in local French flavours. 

The city’s UNESCO-listed Old Town, Vieux Lyon, presents a maze of narrow streets, medieval buildings, and tucked-away courtyards- lending visitors’ hours of exploration on the city’s cobbled paths. Lyon’s annual Festival of Lights is another major attraction, where the city becomes engulfed in light installations and artistic street performances. Lyon is not a city to pass up on your next trip to France.

Perugia, Italy | Photo: Sterlinglanier Lanier

Perugia, Italy

Perugia, a city in Italy’s Umbria region, is renowned for its festivals, like the annual Umbria Jazz Festival, which draws musicians worldwide. If that’s not your thing, consider attending the Eurochocolate Festival, celebrating all things chocolate. 

In addition to the many festivals, the city’s art scene is no laughing matter, having an extensive collection of Italian masterpieces which will make any art fanatic swoon when visiting Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria.  

Moreover, Perugia’s gastronomic offerings are not to go unnoticed, as truffles, cured meats, and traditional Umbrian dishes are readily available. Just swing by a local trattoria to enjoy some local dishes and wines. Perugia lives up to its reputation as an exciting and beautiful place worth visiting.

I am a Canadian copywriter and marketing consultant that seeks to help business owners and entrepreneurs attain their goals and reach their targeted communities. I am also an avid traveler and book enthusiast.

Travel

Baros Maldives appoints new PR agency in the UK

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Baros Maldives appoints new PR Agency in the UK
Maldives is experiencing a significant increase in tourism and celebrated a record 12% increase in arrivals last year

Global independent marketing and communications agency, FINN Partners, has been appointed by Baros Maldives and Milaidhoo Maldives to lead on PR and digital services, in the United Kingdom.

FINN Partners communications strategy will focus on tactics that will generate coverage and awareness to showcase the independent, locally and family-owned properties, highlighting what sets them apart from other resorts in the Maldives. 

“With the UK being an important market for us, we look forward to working with FINN Partners to help build brand awareness in the UK for both Baros and Milaidhoo Maldives, by bringing to life the uniqueness of each property and what sets both resorts apart from other luxury resorts in the Maldives,” says Visha Mahir, Chief Operating Officer at Universal Resorts Management.

Maldives is home to 176 resorts and over 800 guesthouses. According to  the Ministry of Tourism, the country is experiencing a significant increase in tourism and celebrated a record 12% increase in arrivals last year.

“Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, it’s an honour to be representing Baros Maldives, ‘The Maldives Icon’. We very much look forward to communicating the private island resorts truly authentic Maldivian offerings to media. We are also excited to showcase how Milaidhoo Maldives, set in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, embraces a contemporary way of living the Maldivian heritage and culture complemented by a wide range of curated meaningful experiences on offer to guests in addition to exceptional cuisine, personalised service, and attention to detail,” says Debbie Flynn, Managing Partner and Global Travel Practice Leader, FINN Partners.

The FINN Partners UK Travel portfolio also includes destinations such as Italy, Greater Palm Springs, The Bahamas and brands including Travelzoo, Intrepid and Accor. 

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Searches for ‘quiet life’ soars by 530%

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a female solo traveler in a mountain trip
The quest for a more serene lifestyle is on the rise, a recent report by Pinterest reveals | Photo: Artur Voznenko

Searches for enigmatic destinations are rising as travellers crave places promising a blend of wonder, adventure and the unexplored, according to a recent Pinterest Summer 2024 Travel Report.

With over one billion travel-related searches and over 10 billion travel saves in one year, the platform has become a source of inspiration for those planning a future trip.

8 out of 10 weekly Pinterest users turn to Pinterest when planning their summer escapades. Since last year, searches for ‘travel vision board’ and ‘packing guide’ have skyrocketed by 210% and 480% respectively as travellers curate their bucket lists and gear up for unforgettable journeys. 

However travellers are not looking only for adventurous things to do while on vacation.

The quest for a quieter, more serene lifestyle is on the rise, with searches for ‘quiet life’ soaring by 530% according to a report by Pinterest. As the longing for simplicity has extended to travel, since 2023, searches for ‘quiet places’ and ‘calm places’ have increased by 50% and 42% respectively. Pinners are searching for digital detox travel: many sought-after nature destinations offer a respite from the constant buzz of connectivity and digital distractions, providing a much-needed break. Solo travel emerges as a liberating choice, granting individuals the freedom to craft their itinerary, pace and priorities without compromise. Whether basking in the tranquillity of a secluded beach or meandering through serene countryside landscapes, these experiences contribute to self-care and overall well-being. Increase in specific searches include solo travel (up +35%), glamping aesthetic (+260%), Cabin in the mountains (+180%), Village vibes (+145%), Island life (+30%), and searches for national parks, which increased +250% since last year.

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Britons holidaying abroad are getting more value for money

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A elderly British couple holidaying abroad.
Sterling has strengthened in value against 21 popular currencies over the past 12 months | Photo: Vidar Nordli-Mathisen

Strong currency performance puts more cash in pockets of Britons holidaying abroad

Rising rates for sterling mean holidaymakers can look forward to getting more for their money in the vast majority of holiday destinations this year, according to new exchange rate analysis by Post Office Travel Money for its regular Holiday Money Index survey of currency rates and sales trends.

Sterling has strengthened in value against 21 of Post Office Travel Money’s 25 bestselling holiday currencies over the past 12 months but the amount by which Britons can hope to benefit varies quite significantly from one destination to another. While Britons can expect to receive 3.8 per cent more than a year ago when changing their pounds into euros and 5.5 per cent more US dollars, they will get far more for their money when visiting Turkey, Kenya and Japan.

The Exchange Rate Monitor, published as part of the Holiday Money Index, reveals that Britons visiting Turkey will currently get around 73 per cent more liras for the pounds than a year ago – the equivalent of almost £211 extra on a £500 currency purchase. This rises to 113.5 per cent – or £266 extra – over two years.

Sterling has also gained almost 21 per cent in value against the Kenyan shilling and 15.7 per cent against the Japanese yen compared with a year ago. Although the dramatic fall in value of the Egyptian pound reported in last year’s Holiday Money Index has bottomed out, it is still 6.3 per cent weaker than last March. Cumulatively, this means visitors will receive around £234 (88 per cent) more on a £500 currency transaction now than two years ago.

There have also been sizeable sterling gains against the currencies for a trio of the most popular destinations for UK holidaymakers – Prague (Czech Republic: +12.7 per cent), Thailand (Thai baht: +9.9 per cent) and South Africa (South African rand: +9.2 per cent), while Britons visiting friends and family in Australia will get 8.5 per cent more holiday cash for their pounds.

Only four currencies – the Polish zloty, Mexican peso, Costa Rican colon and Swiss franc – have gained ground against sterling. The pound’s biggest fall of 4.3 per cent year-on-year has been against the Polish zloty, although this is eclipsed by two year losses of over 20 per cent against the Costa Rican colon and Mexican peso.

Sterling’s current buoyancy against most leading holiday currencies – including the euro and US dollar – provides a great incentive for Britons considering trips abroad in the coming months. Most currencies have weakened against the pound in the past year, and many of these are for destinations that traditionally offer the cheapest prices for meals, drinks and other tourist staples. Good examples of this range from Turkey and the Czech Republic in Europe to Kenya, Thailand and Vietnam further afield,” says Laura Plunkett, Head of Travel Money at Post Office.

The latest analysis of currency sales by Post Office Travel Money, which accounts for one-in-four of all UK foreign exchange transactions, reveals that sales of 16 of its 20 bestselling currencies have risen over the past 12 months (February 2023-January 2024). It also observes that many of these currencies are continuing to show marked growth in 2024 to date.

Reviewing sales for January 2024, Post Office Travel Money reports that Caribbean currencies have seen the most dramatic year-on-year growth among its 20 bestselling currencies. In particular, it found that East Caribbean and Barbados dollar purchases rocketed by 103 per cent and 64 per cent respectively in January – outperforming growth levels by rival destinations in the Far East.

However, taking at the year as whole, seven Far Eastern currencies dominate the top 10 chart of Post Office Travel Money’s currencies showing the greatest levels of growth. The biggest percentage sales increase was for the Chinese yuan, which recorded a spectacular 573 per cent year-on-year rise, albeit against very low sales the previous year when visits to China were off limits.

The euro and US dollar remain by far the most popular holiday currencies, topping the chart for the past year as they have consistently done – and a sales increase of nine per cent in January made the euro the 10th fastest growing currency for that month.

Demand for aspirational destinations is also particularly strong. Both the Australian dollar, third in the Post Office bestsellers top 10, and New Zealand dollar, ninth in the table, have built on the exceptional currency growth seen a year ago when Australia and New Zealand re-opened to international visitors.

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