Three of Europe’s unspoilt havens

Chris Carter looks at three of the most unspoilt havens in Europe for travellers seeking to get away from it all.


Vihula Manor: a sumptuous eco-spa in Estonia
(Image credit: Credit: Arco Images GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo)

Lahemaa coast, Estonia

Estonia's Lahemaa coast looks in places "like the aftermath of some wild geological party, its clearings scattered with glacial erratics as big as cars", says John Gimlette in The Guardian. "The storks (now winging their way to Africa) had left behind great shaggy nests, and everything was dusted in ice." The stillness in the Krvemaa forest to the south, where Gimlette and his family hired snowshoes for a trek, is "mesmerising".

It's where Russian tank regiments used to train. Before them came the Finns, leaving their place names, and the Vikings, their loot. But it was the aristocratic Germans, who came as medieval crusaders, staying until 1918, who best left their mark, "embellishing the forest with their outlandish pastel-coloured palaces". One of the most sumptuous is Vihula. It has its own vodka distillery and collection of Soviet limousines. "After years as a collective farm, it now has a new life, with 73 stylish rooms, an eco-spa and a tempting menu that includes an elk tartare starter."

Abruzzo, Italy

The Italian region of Abruzzo, east of Lazio and north of Puglia, is synonymous with disaster, says Lisa Fogarty in The Independent. Earthquakes and avalanches have wreaked devastation in recent years. Yet Abruzzo has much to offer. It has "unspoilt national parks, pristine sandy beaches, Roman remains and quiet villages", and is often described as "the greenest region in Europe".

Subscribe to MoneyWeek

Subscribe to MoneyWeek today and get your first six magazine issues absolutely FREE

Get 6 issues free

Sign up to Money Morning

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Sign up

Film-maker Walter Nanni leads a project to make Uno Spot L'Abruzzo a crowdfunded, TV show to explore "the sights and showcase the peerless views of the underplayed region". "We want tourists to discover a unique place, washed by the sea, with two majestic mountains set just a few kilometres from the beach, and with an ancient food tradition that's full of flavour", Nanni tells Fogarty. "A holiday in Abruzzo is one away from tourist traps."


Lemnos, Greece

You need to hire a car to explore this beautifully unspoilt Greek island. From the moment you reach Lemnos, "it's immediately obvious this is not a mass-market tourism experience", says Johnny Goldsmith in the Daily Mirror. We were staying on the east coast at Surf Club Keros in a safari tent (pictured above) "more luxurious than it sounds". There's air conditioning, internet, private bathroom and decking, for starters, and a range of water sports on offer, such as wind- and kite-surfing. On the west coast, at the capital, Myrina, there is a castle, built high up on a rocky peninsula. It's free to visit, and "it's the perfect place to take a sunset walk".

There are also restaurants and bars in town, and there's no shortage of local charm. In fact, in the neighbouring village of Kaspakas, the streets are so narrow, a special slender ambulance is required to navigate them. If it's relaxation you need, you won't do better than with a natural hydrotherapy bath at the Therma Spa, near Myrina. The spa has existed for thousands of years, where the water is pumped from hot springs, which, according to myth, were created by Hephaestus, the god of fire. "This lesser-known Greek island is worth a visit before everyone else finds it."


Become a modern-day Robinson Crusoe

"If Robinson Crusoe holidays are yourtype of thing, you'll want to knowabout a new hotel concept that'sabout to take Japan by storm," saysLiz Connor in the Evening Standard.Huis Ten Bosch, a theme park on theedge of Nagasaki in Japan, is to builda fleet of floating hotel rooms to ferry guests around its 39,000 square-metreuninhabited island.

The bubble-shapedGPS-guided "sea taxis" will take theirpassengers around its unspoilt coastthrough the night while they snooze,waking up to find themselves in anew spot each morning. Sleeping upto four, and costing around £200 anight, the split-level capsules pack ina compact bathroom and a bedroomwith lofty windows through which towatch the world go by.

Chris Carter

Chris Carter spent three glorious years reading English literature on the beautiful Welsh coast at Aberystwyth University. Graduating in 2005, he left for the University of York to specialise in Renaissance literature for his MA, before returning to his native Twickenham, in southwest London. He joined a Richmond-based recruitment company, where he worked with several clients, including the Queen’s bank, Coutts, as well as the super luxury, Dorchester-owned Coworth Park country house hotel, near Ascot in Berkshire.

Then, in 2011, Chris joined MoneyWeek. Initially working as part of the website production team, Chris soon rose to the lofty heights of wealth editor, overseeing MoneyWeek’s Spending It lifestyle section. Chris travels the globe in pursuit of his work, soaking up the local culture and sampling the very finest in cuisine, hotels and resorts for the magazine’s discerning readership. He also enjoys writing his fortnightly page on collectables, delving into the fascinating world of auctions and art, classic cars, coins, watches, wine and whisky investing.

You can follow Chris on Instagram.