The end of the semester can be incredibly stressful, with finals and makeup tests when summer is just around the corner. However, there are ways to make it more tolerable. The best way is to start planning your vacations. For those who don’t want to go far away, there are some places that you should visit with your mates.
The first problem that comes to most students’ minds is that travelling is notoriously expensive, especially when thinking of places such as Paris, London and Rome. An irresistible mix of culture, history and landscape, the continent can be a money-snatching fiend in summer. But if you go at the right time and avoid tourist attractions (those pricey cities), you’ll find that you’ll actually be able to avoid the pricey tourist traps and enjoy your vacation a little bit more.
So, grab a notepad, whip out your credit card, pack your suitcase and check out the coolest places to travel in Europe this summer. But where are they?
After contacting a few students from around Europe, the survey has shown that there are many places which are not yet discovered and stormed by tourists, so here is an utterly subjective selection of these hidden gems for your enjoyment.
Everybody knows Italy for its pizza, pasta, the Colosseum and the beautiful beaches. Although we are easily swept away by the illusion of serene historical towns and the romantic landscape, let us take a step out of our comfort zone, be that our hotel or the well-known beaches we go to each year, and submerge ourselves in the real Italian Dolce Vita.
Even though they say all roads lead to Rome, for the purpose of this article and your own good let’s take a detour to Puglia, which is a scenic Italian region in South-Eastern Italy, also called the Pearl of Italy. The silvery olive orchards and the long sandy beaches are located beside the clearest and cleanest seas in the Mediterranean. Its varied cultural heritage is the product of a rich, albeit (at least to our ends) boring historical past stretching through the millennia, so let’s jump to fine restaurants in the area.
If you are keen on local, homemade food, then follow Madonna to the Trattoria Terra Madre in Alberobello, also known as The White City for its traditional dry-stone buildings.
If you are considering something fancier, then the Grotta Palazzese located in a cave just next to the sea in Polignano a Mare is the way to go. It is a small but spectacular place to spend your dinner (and money). Also, don’t forget about the beaches in Polignano, where you can swim, not just eat in a cave.
This summer change your flight tickets from Paris to Marseilles and discover the Tourtour, a fairytale village in the Provence-Cote d’Azur region, which is a member of the most beautiful villages association of France. Far from the noise and turmoil of the main roads, Tourtour is a charming village surrounded by grasslands and meadows, with a spring that feeds the eight village fountains as well as turning the wheel of the olive oil mill, still in working condition.
Colmar is a very old and beautiful town with cobblestone streets and exquisite cuisine. It is located in the Alsace region of France, and is the capital of Alsatian Wine. So if you want to get away from the busy French cities, Colmar is a good option for you.
As everyone knows, Norway is the homeland of the tastiest seafood you can get in Europe. Also, nature, untouched landscapes, not to mention the breathtaking fjords. Instead of staying in Oslo, and wasting your money on overpriced souvenirs, take a memory for life with you. Lysefjord is one of the most famous and astonishing fjords in Norway. You may not find trolls in the region, but the midnight sun and the northern lights from the cliff make you feel as if you had stepped into a different, magical world.
However, if you really want to experience real Norwegian city life you should visit Bergen, the second largest city in Norway. There, the touch of nature is still tangible, so you can just go and climb a mountain overlooking a sea that beholds the beauty of this Idyllic place, called Floyen. Bryggen is a World Cultural Heritage site, and the docks are of exceptional beauty with many colourful buildings from the 14th century.
Summer doesn’t only mean beach time, sunburns, and cocktails next to the pool. So if you’d rather ditch the sand-and-surf set and head for the hills, Austria is your place.
For lovers of natural beauty, Zell am See can be a good option. Little beats taking a gondola up into the mountains, going for an alpine walk then stopping for lunch on the sunny terrace of a mountain hut . In addition, you can try glacier firn skiing until early summer in Kitzsteinhorn. But if you simply want to get away from the everyday craziness, you should definitely visit Hallstatt. It’s a picturesque, tiny village in the Austrian state of Upper Austria. The easiest way to get there is by taking the train. The train station is located across the lake, so you have to take a small ferry to reach the town. It’s a great way to arrive because the views you get from the lake are gorgeous. And when you get to the time all you need is just to sit back, soak up the sun and admire the beautiful views.
Have a nice summer!
By Laura Koch