Europe’s Hidden Gems

Europe may be packed with culture, but distance-wise, it can feel quite small. So maybe, if you’ve travelled around a bit, you feel like you’ve done it all. But, in fact, with such a diversity of places to explore, there’s always somewhere new just around the corner. If you’re thinking of planning a short break away, why not go somewhere a bit unexpected? Monarch flights will get you to all sorts of unusual destinations, and here are some of the best of them:
With the recent Cannes film festival, summer in the South of France is already underway. But with the popularity of Marseille, Cannes and St. Tropez in the surrounding area, Nice sometimes gets overlooked. In fact, this coastal city is full of culture and interesting things to fill a weekend doing. Castle Hill is the first place to head for a spectacular view, and to get your bearings, before heading down into the Old Town to wander winding streets. Then, make your way to Place Rossetti for some gelato in one of the cafes around the square, and to visit the grand Sainte-Reparte cathedral.
The home of Mozart is, naturally, a must-see destination for any music fan. But it is also just a fascinating place to visit for a short break. With the Salzburg Fortress, Hellbrun Castle, Mirabell Palace and the cathedral, there is more history in Salzburg than anyone could possibly absorb in one visit. The specialty museums, like the Marionette Theatre or the Mozarteum are some of the delights of Salzburg, as are the Sound of Music tours of the city where the Vonn Trapps lived.
Malta is home to the world’s only underground prehistoric temple, known as the Hypogeum of Hal-Saflieni, which is a UNESCO world-heritage site. The island is also bursting with all sorts of unique historical attractions, including the first complete example of a high baroque cathedral in the form of St. John’s Co-Cathedral. Once you’ve seen your share of the island’s culture, try some of its special cuisine which includes things like the fish-based Lampuki pie and sheep’s cheese Widow’s soup. An exploration of the coastline is a must, particularly through the dramatic rock formations around the caves known as Blue Grotto.

Lake Constance

With shores in three different countries, this lake to the south of Germany makes an excellent holiday destination. Even if you can claim to already have been to Switzerland, Germany and Austria, you probably can’t claim you’ve done them all in one weekend, so here’s your chance. Fly into Friedrichshafen, then visit the castles at Meersburg, Germany, see an opera performed on the floating stage on the lake by the concert hall in Bregenz, Austria, and snoop around Napoleon Museum in the Arenenberg Castle, Switzerland, where Napoleon III spent his last years in exile from France. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could always throw in a quick trip down to the tiny Principality of Liechtenstein. That really is somewhere to check off your bucket-list.