Writer’s Note: Part 1 of our feature on Europe’s less popular, but equally stunning cities, we recommended places in Italy, France, the Netherlands and Belgium. Below we continue exploring more of Europe’s diverse attractions.
6. Corfu, Greece
|Sunset at Paleokastritsa beach in Corfu, Greece. Photos for ABS-CBNnews.com by Dheza Marie Aguilar
In addition to archaeological sites like the Temple of Kardaki, said to have been built in 780 BC, old Byzantine fortress, Orthodox churches and ancient villages, Corfu or Kerkyra is also an island of white sand beaches and hidden coves surrounded with blue waters and steep cliffs reminiscent of El Nido, Palawan. Because it lies in the Ionian Sea, the weather in Corfu is almost tropical, making it an ideal vacation place for Europeans once the colder months set in in the West.
Explore the small Corfu Town and discover its very tiny alleyways, French and British colonial houses and Venetian fortress, the Byzantine and Archaeological museums or the Greek Orthodox churches around the town.
You can also take day trips to nearby villages like Paleokastritsa and visit the Theotokos Monastery, built in the 12th century and situated on the highest hill of Paleokastritsa. Despite its fairly modern complex, being inside the monastery feels like being transported back in time. At six in the evening, the monks would gather inside the small church and recite their evening prayers while some Greek families in their traditional colorful clothes and head scarves light candles and offer vegetables, wines, food or flowers at the altar.
You can enjoy staple Greek fares likes stuffed squid, octopus, grilled sardines and other freshly-caught seafood and relax with the view of the Ionian Sea.
From Bari or Brindisi Italy, you can take a boat to Corfu which takes about 15 hours. From Corfu, you can easily make a day trip to another country like Albania. The best time to visit is in the late summer and early fall when the weather is gorgeous and most of the tourists have gone home.
7. Lubeck, Germany
|A colorful icon manning the door at the Figurine Theater in Lubeck, Germany.
This beautiful city in northern Germany is usually not on the map of Asian tourists but quite famous with European day and weekend trippers. Lubeck is located at the banks of the Elbe River and is an easy route for travelers going to Denmark by car. It is also home to marzipan, medieval architecture and Thomas Mann, the author who wrote the novel "Death in Venice."
The city center (Old Town) of Lubeck has retained its medieval ambiance - most of its 16th and 18th century brick buildings designed with Hanseatic Gothic architecture remain unaltered. The most notable among these buildings is Lubeck City Hall (Lubeck Rathaus) built in the 13th century and sometimes called “a fairy tale in stone” because of its colorful design and combined architectural styles.
One of Lubeck’s quirky attractions is the smiling little devil outside the St Mary’s cathedral, which has earned a reputation like Brussels' Peeing Boy or Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid.
According to legends, when the church was being erected, a devil thought that they were building a tavern so he helped the workers lay the foundation. When he found out that they were actually building a church, he tried to tear it down but the workers promised that they will build a tavern for him across the street. And indeed across the street is the cellar of Lubeck’s Town Hall.
If you want a panoramic view of the city, climb the Gothic tower of the St Petri Kirche (St Peter’s church). Not very far from here it is the Holstentor (Holsten Gate), St. Catherine Church and other architectural pride of the city.
After a day’s tour, head over to Niederegger store, a confectioner’s wonderland of the most delicious marzipans made with century-old recipes.
For authentic German staples, get dinner at the Ratskeller, an underground restaurant in Rathaus Square, just beside the Municipal Hall (Rathaus). Ratskeller has several semi-private “boxes” for 4-6 diners which are named after famous Lubeck-born personalities like the Mann brothers.
On the Thomas Mann box where I insisted to be seated during my visit, photographs of Thomas, his family and old home are spread on the wall as decorations, giving you a feeling of how it was like to dine in old Lubeck during his time.
8. Limassol, Cyprus
|The town of Arsos is one of the wine villages in Limassol, Cyprus.
Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, tends to be more crowded with European and Russian tourists, all year round. The better alternative is to go to its second largest city, Limassol (or Lemesos) which is less touristy and in closer proximity with ancient attractions like in Kourion city and several wine villages.
Limassol lies in the Mediterranean sea and close to the Troodos mountains, providing visitors with an array of outdoor activities. The best way to explore this part of Cyprus is by car and by following the wine trail of Lemesos which includes Omodos, Arsos or the Commandaria villages. Cyprus has several varieties of wines and some unique ones which are famous even to the English kings back in the Medieval times.
Like its Mediterranean neighbors, Limassol also has several archaeological sites spread throughout the city like the Sanctuary Apollo Hylates, God of Woodland, the Stadium and Cathedral of Kourion built in the 2nd century BC. Said to be the birthplace of the goddess Aphrodite, Cyprus and particularly Limassol is a great place to get acquainted with your mythological curiosities before you explore the Medieval and Victorian heritage of the Western Europe.
9. Glasgow, Scotland
Rough, raw and proud are the words to describe Glasgow, the lesser known and less refined sibling of Edinburgh, capital of Scotland. Glasgow has medieval castles, several modern and contemporary museums and fine Victorian and Glasgow-style buildings, much like the Edinburgh, only less touristy.
Visit the Kelvingrove museum, sample traditional haggis (much like our own dinuguan dish only with more innards) in the Stravaigin restaurant and get drunk on the best whisky in the world at the Lismore bar.
The newly-built, modern complex of the Riverside Museum: Scotland’s Museum of Transport and Travel is not be missed for a glance at Glasgow’s long history of shipbuilding and trading as well as old modes of transportation including century-old trains, buses, cars and even carriages.
For women, there is no shortage of shopping malls in Glasgow like Princess Square, offering from local designers, high street fashion and luxury brands.
10. Ludlow, England
|Old wooden houses with rather quirky designs are a typical sight in Ludlow, England.
Wooden houses, small shops with store names engraved on the doors, cozy tea houses at the end of narrow alleys, Saturday markets brimming with local products, from mead (oldest drink in the world) to apple honey and mouth-watering cupcakes, Ludlow is your quintessential European town with all the charms of the English countryside.
Ludlow is less than four hours by train from London, making it an ideal place to escape the overwhelming sights, sound and visitors of the English capital.
You can enjoy an overnight stay and afternoon tea at the Ludlow Castle or go on a ghost-hunting night at the Feathers Hotel which is famous for several sightings of rogue spirits.