Three quiet spots in Europe

Chris Carter finds refuge from Europe's tourist hordes in these peaceful holiday destinations.

952-travel-karpathos

Enjoy seclusion in the mountain villages of Karpathos

Credit: Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo

Enjoying ancient architecture, rich histories, or picturesque beaches doesn't have to mean sailing into overcrowded ports such as Venice, says Emma Featherstone in The Daily Telegraph. There are "quieter European beauties" to visit on a cruise.

Take Karpathos in Greece, for example. "Small ship cruises (which make up the majority that dock here) tend to anchor off the coast and tender into Pigadia, the island's capital and main port, which has a variety of pastel-coloured, Venetian-era buildings surrounding its shore."

Cruise operator Voyages to Antiquity (voyagestoantiquity.com) offers a 13-day Classical Greece and Islands of the Aegean itinerary from £2,495, which includes a day spent on Karpathos. The island is the second-biggest in the Dodecanese island chain. It is midway between Rhodes and Crete and offers a wealth of beaches and coves to explore. Or you can make a day trip to the mountain village of Olympos to admire its cube houses, windmills and churches. "Even the pickiest of beachgoers should find their perfect spot." Head to the east coast for small, gravelly beaches sheltered from the wind; to the south for fine, white sand; to the west for sandy, sheltered spots; and to the north for quiet beaches mostly reached by boat.

Treviso: home of the tiramis

952-travel-treviso

"Treviso, and kindred cities across Europe, offer an alternative" to the overcrowded tourist hot spots on the continent, says Jason Horowitz in The New York Times. The city is located just a half-hour train ride from Venice "a place to replenish on the culture and modern manners of an Italian-speaking Italian city before rejoining the madding crowd". Such gems exist all over Europe. "You just need to look." Canals flow in Treviso, just like in Venice. But here, trout actually swim in them. You can still see the water mills that once provided the "fearsome" Venetian navy with bread. Joggers and cyclists set out from the confluence of rivers marked in Dante's Paradiso, and the faithful still observe vespers in the packed church of St Francis, where Dante's son is buried across from Petrarch's daughter.

Around the corner from Fishmarket Island, "the beautiful people gather around the tables outside Osteria al Corder The bohemian crowd prefers Osteria Muscoli, where old men spend the mornings, and soak up the spirits with salted pork sandwiches". Beneath Horowitz's room at Il Focolare (£85, ilfocolarehotel.com), a wine bar draws "a night-time crowd that spills onto the narrow piazza". Opposite is the restaurant where, according to legend, the tiramis was born.

Santander: a neglected but charming city in northern Spain

952-travel-santander

Santander: recklessly authentic, unapologetically Spanish

Credit: age fotostock/ Alamy Stock Photo

The northern Spanish province of Cantabria has quiet beaches at least, quiet in terms of the number of people. The noise comes from the waves, which are some of the best in Spain, "harnessing the powerful rollers of the Atlantic", says Jessica Cole in Lonely Planet magazine. "Surfing rules here." Yet the region of Somo "can feel gloriously empty". This is "the tragedy of the place", Damian Freeman, who runs the local La Curva surf school, tells Cole. "People arrive in Santander on the ferry and immediately leave for Madrid without discovering these gems." A tragedy, perhaps, but also one of its greatest charms.

It's a similar story in Santander itself. This city suffered a devastating fire in 1941, spawning a number of mid-century low-rise buildings. Yet "freed from the burden of its own beauty, the city exudes a reckless authenticity". Make no mistake, "it is unapologetically Spanish". And not all of the original city was laid to waste. El Sardinero is a once-outlying district that was patronised by Alfonso XIII in the early part of the last century, when it became a "Belle Epoque hot spot". At its centre, Hotel Chiqui (£50, hotelchiqui.com) is an Art Deco-fronted hotel with rooms whose sea views overlook the "long, silken sands" of Sardinero Beach. Santander has retained its "cloak of relative obscurity". But not for long perhaps. The city is "on a mission to evolve and there's precious little holding it back".

Recommended

The Halkidiki peninsula: finding sanctuary in Greece
Travel and holidays

The Halkidiki peninsula: finding sanctuary in Greece

Sani Resort on the Halkidiki peninsula is a haven of tranquillity, says Jasper Spires
14 Jun 2022
Two stunning Sicilian villas
Travel and holidays

Two stunning Sicilian villas

There is so much to see in Sicily, says Chris Carter. Villa stays allow you to take it all in.
10 Jun 2022
Ellenborough Park: a winning country house hotel
Travel and holidays

Ellenborough Park: a winning country house hotel

Come to Ellenborough Park for the horse racing, stay for the fine dining, says Matthew Partridge
11 May 2022
The Lygon Arms: a Cotswolds hotel full of history
Travel and holidays

The Lygon Arms: a Cotswolds hotel full of history

The Lygon Arms in Broadway is such an impressive hotel that some people never want to leave, says Matthew Partridge.
4 May 2022

Most Popular

The ten highest dividend yields in the FTSE 100
Income investing

The ten highest dividend yields in the FTSE 100

Rupert Hargreaves looks at the FTSE 100’s top yielding stocks for income investors to consider.
22 Jun 2022
Get ready for the coming oil glut
Oil

Get ready for the coming oil glut

Investors are assuming that energy prices will stay high. History suggests the opposite, says Max King
20 Jun 2022
The ten investment trusts with the highest dividend yields
Investment trusts

The ten investment trusts with the highest dividend yields

Investment trusts are one of the best ways to participate in the stockmarket, and the way they are structured means they can maintain their dividends …
23 Jun 2022