It’s holiday decision time once again. Where are you going to go bring the family this year? You’ve already been to most of Europe’s major cities, the Caribbean hotspots and large swathes of North and South America. You’ve compared prices of major cities, checked out landmark tourist sites and visited world famous theme parks. Basically you’ve covered all the places that people go on holiday. What you need now is to visit a hidden gem, one of the places that only the hip and smug know about. You’ve got your credit card in hand and now all you need is a destination. A destination like…
Haarlem, the Netherlands
Amsterdam is great. It has numerous art galleries, plenty of nightclubs and loads of fun people with funny accents. But if you want to see another side of the Netherlands then you should check out Haarlem. It’s where Dutch master Frans Hals painted some of his best work and is home to a church organ once played by Mozart. It’s got cobblestone streets, lovely churches and cosy cafes. If you’re looking for an alternative to the hustling bustle of Amsterdam, Haarlem is perfect for a day trip away from the city.
Olomouc, Czech Republic
While everyone else heads to Prague for some sightseeing and square spotting you’ve slipped away for a trip to Olomouc one of the most beautiful cities in Eastern Europe. It’s sort of like Prague but without all the people, which sounds lovely now, doesn’t it? It’s got the largest historical preservation zone outside of the Czech capital, while the Holy Trinity Column built in the 18th century is a UNESCO World Heritage site. If you’re being super clever you should time your visit to coincide with one of the many festivals that take place here throughout the year, which keep both young and old entertained.
OK, if you really want to earn your hipster credentials then a visit to Pyatigorsk is a must. For starters, it’s very difficult to get to as it’s surrounded by no less than five mountains. It’s also some distance away from the more popular tourist destination of Minsk and, here’s the kicker, you need a special Visa to visit. If you do go to the trouble, Pyatigorsk is one of the most beautiful places you will ever set eyes on. And lastly, it happens to be one of the oldest spa resorts in Russia and has plenty of mineral springs to bolster those holiday hipster credentials.
Las Pozas, Xilitla, Mexico
If you’re staying in Mexico City and are looking for something interesting to do for a couple of days then a trip to Las Pozas is definitely a must. Its story in brief: it was created by crazy English aristocrat Edward James who woke up one morning and thought to himself, you know what I should do with my life? Build a giant surrealist fantasyland in the Mexican jungle. And so that’s what he did. It’s got waterfalls, staircases to nowhere, carved orchids and, rumour has it, cost about $5m to build. The nearest airport is about 3 – 4 hours away so it is a bit of a trek to get to but with its surrealist trappings it’s the perfect trip for all the family.
Iceland is great. No matter where you go. You’ve got geysers, waterfalls, stunning surroundings and plenty of lovely hotsprings. Also, if you’re lucky you can check out the Aurora Borealis. Akureyri is Iceland’s second-city and is a fine alternative to Reykjavik. It’s a port town with some of the warmest temperatures in the country. It’s particularly lovely to visit in the summer and has a load of bars, restaurants and a fine historic centre. It’s definitely somewhere that can be classed as a hidden gem.