Mastercard reveals top hidden gems across Europe that everyone can afford
I am so excited that Bulgaria was listed in the #tophiddentreasures of Mastercard travel campaign. People often ask me how I finance my trips. Big help to me is my Mastercard credit card. I use it only for travel services and it gives me a chance to plan in advance the expenses in the best possible way. On the other hand I feel safe that I will not finish my cash during the trip. When they contacted me and asked me to present Plovdiv, the Bulgarian destination in the list ranked on 23 place, I said they have found the right person for the job. 🙂 Thank you for the trust Mastercard Europe. I am happy we found each other.
Mastercard Top Hidden Treasures – about the methodology
Mastercard Top Hidden Treasures looked into 44 countries. These are Armenia, Albania, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Republic of Ireland, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom. As a result they identified the best hidden gem in each country. The criteria were the following:
- relatively undiscovered by the average tourist
- offers multiple activities, both cultural and outdoor
- can be visited during most part of the year
- offers payment acceptance
- not exclusive for a certain age and family status
- has infrastructure for travelers.
Using Mastercard data and information from local travel bloggers and tourism experts these gems have then been ranked according to the cost of stay and convenience (payment acceptance, ease of communication, local transportation, safety and hygiene, quality of service). Travelers are always looking for inspiration when seeking out a new place to visit in their country or abroad.
Here I am sharing with you top 15 destinations of #tophiddentreasuers, which I would like to visit. After I checked the list of Mastercard travel campaign, these destinations found place in my travel bucket list. I hope you will find your travel inspiration too and visit some of them.
1. Asturias and Covadonga convent, Spain
Spain – Covadonga. Photo credit © mrks_v / stock.adobe.com
2. Mdina & Zebbug, Malta
Despite being the 9th smallest country in the world, Malta is a Mediterranean jewel and features amongst Mastercard’s top 15 hidden treasures in Europe. It attracts travelers with breathtaking landscapes and a stunning coastline during most part of the year. It also offers numerous outdoor activities ranging from golf to rock climbing or one can simply admire Malta’s rich medieval heritage. Mdina offers grand palaces, cultural treasures, and baroque architecture. The city of Zebbug has a fascinating Arabic influence and is famous for spectacular celebrations, a “festa” that can last 3 days or more with hundreds of people attending. Surprisingly, Malta still remains very affordable – eating out costs €25 and you can find a room in a guesthouse for €24.
3. Salzkammergut region, Austria
Austria – Hallstatt. Photo credit © mRGB / stock.adobe.com
Lake Hallstatt, one of the most beautiful Alpine lakes in Austria, is hidden in the heart of the Salzkammergut region. With stunning views throughout the area, visitors will find many activities to enjoy, both during summer and winter months. A mountain railway connects Hallstatt to a historic salt mine, while the Dachstein Ice Caves and the Mammoth Cave in Obertraun can both be reached by cable car. Locally sourced, delicious meals are typically priced around €25, and accommodation can be found for €35.
4. The Azores, Portugal
Portugal – the Azores. Photo credit: © vickysp / stock.adobe.com
The Azores, an autonomous region of nine islands located in the mid Atlantic, is an unspoiled paradise. Breathtaking landscapes, volcanoes, crater lakes, fishing villages and waterfalls make them a unique gem to be discovered. In 2009, UNESCO listed the Azores a Biosphere Reserve. Some islands are named after natural elements, like Pico the “Mountain Island,” featuring a volcano, and Ponta do Pico, the highest mountain in Portugal. Prices are also very affordable, with meals at around €15, and accommodation at €25.
5. Perast, Montenegro
6. Lednice-Valtice, Czech Republic
7. Pag Island, Croatia
8. Saaremaa Island, Estonia
Estonia – Saaremaa Island, Photo credit © Simone Vasta / 500px.com
Located in the Baltic Sea, Saaremaa is Estonia’s largest island. Windmills and the famous local home-brewed beer are considered its symbols. Its most attractive site is, no doubt, the Kaali craters – the result of several meteorites that impacted some 3,500 years ago – the largest forming the unique, green-colored Kaali Lake. Kuressaare is the island’s only town and features a medieval and bishopric castle dating from the 13th century. Eating out will cost €18, and accommodation approx. €23.
9. Volos & Pelion region, Greece
10. Velika Planina, Slovenia
11. Kaszuby, Poland
Small, traditional villages are typical for Kaszuby, a picturesque region in the North of Poland near Gdansk. Wdzydzkie Lake is a paradise for kayakers and sailors. In Kaszuby you’ll find stone circles called the ‘Polish Stonehenge’ – these places of worship and burial were also used as an ancient astronomical calendar. According to some, they even have the power to heal! Eating out is very affordable at around €12, and accommodation can be found for just under €20.
12. Naarden, the Netherlands
13. Cape Kolka, Latvia
Cape Kolka is located at the junction of the Gulf of Riga and the Baltic Sea. Following complete isolation as a military base during Soviet times, Cape Kolka is strikingly beautiful and still untouched by crowds of tourists. The two seas kissing each other is an unforgettable experience, and results in different colored waters swirling and merging. It’s stunning, and also relatively affordable. Meals can be found for around €14, and accommodation for just €20.
14. Danube Delta, Romania
Romania – Danube Delta. Photo credit © Radu Dumitrescu-Elian / 500px.com
The Danube, Europe’s second longest river, divides into countless sub-branches and channels, leading to reeds, sand dunes and forests that form the Danube Delta. The area is home to some 1,200 species of plants, over 320 types of bird, and 45 varieties of freshwater fish. It became a national park in 1938, and the Romanian part of the Delta was included in UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. A wide range of accommodation, from authentic guesthouses to fully equipped spa hotels, can be found at very reasonable prices (€15), and eating out is just over €10.
15. Balaton-Uplands, Hungary
Locals refer to Lake Balaton as the “Hungarian sea”, and with good reason – it is Central Europe’s largest freshwater lake. To avoid crowds, travel a few kilometers to the North. The Balaton-Uplands are Hungary’s version of Provence or Tuscany – providing natural beauty and spectacular views of the lake, tiny villages with century-old whitewashed houses, and picturesque restaurants and guesthouses. All at very reasonable prices – eating out is around €13, and accommodation is possible for under €20.
Share with your friends these travel ideas and have a great, safe & hidden holiday!
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