As one of the most accessible and beloved parts of the world, Europe is home to plenty bucket list–worthy places. History will draw you to ancient cities like Rome, Athens, and Lisbon, while culinary feats on nearly every corner call from Paris and London. And we can’t forget the rolling, robust lands of Ireland and Scotland. It could take a lifetime to fully immerse yourself in every destination.
While these iconic stops are definitely worth your attention, there are others that might not have as much search traffic, but can give you a whole new perspective on a place and its people. These little-known wonders — most of which are not-so-far from larger metropolitan areas — will add depth and dimension to your getaway, offering a unique opportunity to see and experience something beyond the usual circuit.
Below, seven underappreciated European gems you need to know about.
Scotland’s Outer Hebrides
Scotland’s Skye and the Hebrides snagged the seventh spot in this year’s World’s Best Islands in Europe ranking, but the former is arguably the most popular with travelers. Take a ferry ride beyond the Isle of Skye to explore what’s considered to be one of Europe’s last natural habits, the Outer Hebrides. This collection of islands — the largest being the Isles of Lewis, Harris, and North and South Uist — offers a full immersion into Celtic history, heritage, and charm.
You can hear locals speaking or singing in Gaelic, marvel at medieval churches, and see Neolithic standing stones up close. On Harris, where tweed fabric was originally woven, local artisans continue to craft capes, bags, and more traditional goods with the makings of an excellent souvenir. To visit, carve out your own schedule or book one of the many the tours that explore this region. This 11-day, 10-night optionthis link opens in a new tab from CIE Tours International includes whiskey tasting, beach hopping, and more. Depending on the season, you’ll want to pack layers, as summers can be ideal beach weather, but winters are often unforgiving.
The expansive island of Sardinia is just an hour-long flight away from Rome. If you’ve ever been to the Algarve on Portugal’s southern coast, you might recognize the jagged — and breathtaking — landscape that defines Sardinia’s 1,200 miles of coastline, blending beaches into mountains. There are two special qualities that set this destination apart from others: its Bronze Age stone ruins that look like beehives and its microclimate. Thanks to the headland behind Santa Margherita di Pula, which shields the coast from cold north winds, this region has 300 days of sunshine. Though it’s lovely to visit from March through December, June and July will give you the warmest ocean temperatures. For a luxe, beachfront stay, book the Forte Village Resortthis link opens in a new tab in Santa Margherita di Pula.
On your next trip to Greece, hop on an hour-long flight from Athens to spend a few days in the country’s “second city,” Thessaloniki. This Northern port offers plenty for history lovers, but it’s also got a modern liveliness to it. You can wander through ruins from the Romans, the Byzantines, and the Ottomans — thanks to its numerous occupations — and then make your way to Valaoritou Street for stylish cocktail bars and plenty of music. Since the heart of the city was entirely rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1917, the 20th-century architecture of this area will feel far away from the traditional Greek vibe. The city is also popular with locals because the beaches are also less crowded than on the islands. Don’t miss White Tower, Roman Forum, and the cobblestone streets of the historic quarter, Ano Polithis link opens in a new tab.
If you’ve already experienced the bath scene in Budapest, danced ’til dawn at the infamous five-story club in Prague, and ordered just-one-more cocktail while admiring the moonlit sea in Dubrovnik, set your sights on a lesser-known party destination: Belgrade. The capital of Serbia is becoming quite the watering hole for young travelers who, thanks to its many teeming bars and restaurants (and coffee shops to wake you up when morning comes). Here, you can experience splavovi — splav, for short — floating lounges anchored along the Danube and Sava rivers, each featuring a different musical genre. These tend to rage every night of the week, but if you need a break, make sure to see Beogradska Tvrđava, the historical fortress representing the city’s part in the Ottoman, Serbian, Austrian, Byzantine and Roman empires.
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You’ve heard of Venice and Verona, but a short 30- to 40-minute train ride from either of these known Italian destinations is Vicenza. Within the country’s northeastern Veneto region, you’ll be amazed by how little foot traffic this beautiful town hosts. It’s most known for its unique buildings, specifically those of 16th-century architect Palladio. If you enjoy spending hours winding through halls of art, you’ll find yourself sipping cappuccinos in between visits to the Basilica Palladiana and the Palazzo Chiericati. You might even catch a movie at the Teatro Olimpico, an outdoor theater that’s indoors. As a bonus? You can add “wandered through a UNESCO World Heritage Site” to your checklist, since the longstanding value and importance of the architecture in this town earned it a nod. If your budget allows, consider staying for a long weekend where you can talk about the beauty you’ve witnessed over wine al fresco at the Villa Valmarana Ai Nanithis link opens in a new tab.
It’s hard not to fall for the refined charisma of France — from the quaint, streetside cafes of Paris to the glittering grape vines of Bordeaux. But if you want to go off the grid? Head 45 minutes east of Cannes to find Vence, a small commune in the hills of the Alpes Maritimes. You might want to speak French, or at least attempt, when you pull into to this town, which is known for its landscape and the luxury destination spa at the Chateau Saint-Martin & Spathis link opens in a new tab. You may also want to pack your watercolor palette, as inspiration struck for many an artist — Picasso and Matisse, namely — in this idyllic Côte D’Azur perch.
One of the most important steps you can take toward achieving your greatest potential in life is to learn to monitor your attitude and its impact on your work performance, relationships and everyone around you.
I generally start my workshops and seminars by asking a fundamental question: What attitude did you bring into this meeting? Often, this brings puzzled looks. In truth, people generally don’t have a high level of attitude awareness. They’ll know if they are hungry or if their feet hurt, but they usually don’t have a good handle on their attitude. That is a mistake because attitude is everything. It governs the way you perceive the world and the way the world perceives you.
We all have a choice. We can choose an inner dialogue of self-encouragement and self-motivation, or we can choose one of self-defeat and self-pity. It’s a power we all have. Each of us encounters hard times, work performance, heartache, and physical and emotional pain. The key is to realize it’s not what happens to you that matters; it’s how you choose to respond.
Your mind is a computer that can be programmed. You can choose whether the software installed is productive or unproductive. Your inner dialogue is the software that programs your attitude, which determines how you present yourself to the world around you. You have control over the programming. Whatever you put into it is reflected in what comes out.
Many of us have behavior patterns today that were programmed into our brains at a very tender age. The information that was recorded by our brains could have been completely inaccurate or cruel. The sad reality of life is that we will continue to hear negative information, but we don’t have to program it into our brains.
The loudest and most influential voice you hear is your own inner voice, your selfcritic. It can work for or against you, depending on the messages you allow. It can be optimistic or pessimistic. It can wear you down or cheer you on. You control the sender and the receiver, but only if you consciously take responsibility for and control over your inner conversation.
Habitual bad attitudes are often the product of past experiences and events. Common causes include low self-esteem, stress, fear, resentment, anger and an inability to handle change. It takes serious work to examine the roots of a harmful attitude, but the rewards of ridding ourselves of this heavy baggage can last a lifetime.
Here are 10 strategies from my attitude tool kit to improve your attitude:
1. Self-Coaching Through Affirmations
Affirmations repeated several times each day, every day, serve to reprogram your subconscious with positive thinking. An affirmation is made up of words charged with power,
Help Keep You Motivated
. You send a positive response to your subconscious, which accepts whatever you tell it. When done properly, this triggers positive feelings that, in turn, drive action.
2. Self-Motivation Through Discovering Your Motives
Discover what motivates you—what incites you to take action to change your life. Basic motives include love, self-preservation, anger, financial gain and fear. Self-motivation requires enthusiasm, a positive outlook, a positive physiology (walk faster, smile, sit up), and a belief in yourself and your God-given potential.
3. The Power of Visualization
Studies of the psychology of peak performance have found that most great athletes, surgeons, engineers and artists use affirmations and visualizations either consciously or subconsciously to enhance and focus their skills. Nelson Mandela has written extensively on how visualization helped him maintain a positive attitude while being imprisoned for 27 years. “I thought continually of the day when I would walk free. I fantasized about what I would like to do,” he wrote in his autobiography. Visualization works well to improve attitude.
4. Attitude Talk for Positive Internal Dialogue
Attitude talk is a way to override your past negative programming by erasing or replacing it with a conscious, positive internal voice that helps you face new directions. Your internal conversation—that little voice you listen to all day long—acts like a seed in that it programs your brain and affects your behavior. Take a closer look at what you are saying to yourself.
Once released to the universe, our words cannot be taken back. Learn the concept of WOW—watch our words. What we speak reflects what is already in our hearts based upon all the things we have come to believe about ourselves. If we find ourselves speaking judgmental and disparaging things about our circumstances or those around us, we know the condition of our hearts needs to change. You can create a direct path to success by what you say.
6. The Power in a Positive Greeting
When people ask me how I am doing, I say, “Super-fantastic.” Most people enjoy working and living with others who try to live life for what it is—a beautiful gift.
7. Enthusiasm: Vital Tool for Staying Motivated
Enthusiasm is to attitude what breathing is to life. Enthusiasm enables you to apply your gifts more effectively. It’s the burning desire that communicates commitment, determination and spirit. Enthusiasm means putting yourself in motion. It’s an internal spirit that speaks through your actions from your commitment and your belief in what you are doing. It is one of the most empowering and attractive characteristics you can have.
8. Connecting to Your Spiritual Empowerment
The ultimate level of human need extends into the spiritual realm. Just as we feed our bodies in response to our primary need to survive physically, we need to feed our spirit because we are spiritual beings. Many people find powerful and positive motivation in their faith. I happen to be one of them.
9. Lighten Up Your Life with Humor
Humor is a powerful motivator. The more humor and laughter in your life, the less stress you’ll have, which means more positive energy to help you put your attitude into action. There are also health benefits to lightening up.
10. Exercising Will Help Keep You Motivated
One of the best ways to move to a more positive and motivated frame of mind is to exercise. A regular exercise routine can provide relatively quick positive feedback in the form of weight loss, muscle development and a sense of doing something positive for yourself.
Seek your personal and professional success by using the tools in this attitude tool kit. It is no secret that life seems to reward us most when we approach the world with a positive attitude.
We all have rules we live by. Some of them are inherent, such as smiling when walking past a stranger or shaking someone’s hand when introducing yourself. But others we have to develop over time until they become habit.
Good habits, practiced daily, can make all the difference in your life. We asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council what rules and mantras they live by. Which would you add to your list?
1. Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it.
The life advice I go back to most often is, “Life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it.” This quote has guided me in both my personal and professional lives. And it works because it’s true for all people: We all face challenges, but we all have the choice to respond in a positive or negative manner.
It’s really that simple. Give more in the world (of your time, money or talents) than you consume or take. It creates such an abundance of experience, connections and wealth, but never when those are the leading drivers.
My father grew up on a farm in a small, rural community where you build a reputation in either direction very quickly. He taught me that you are much better off under-promising and over-delivering than not meeting people’s expectations. Most of us do business in very small business communities and would also be best served by erring on the side of exceeding expectations rather than not meeting them.
My mom used to say, “We aren’t rich enough to buy cheap things.” Cheap things don’t last, and replacing them ultimately costs more time and money than buying high-quality goods to start with. This also applies to behavior: It’s easier to do things right the first time, rather than to retroactively fix a shoddy job.
One of the most simple life lessons I learned from my father at a young age is to “Keep it simple, stupid.” The KISS principle has been a guiding light for me, as I often remind myself, when things seem overwhelming or overly complex, to step back and keep it simple. Usually you can break things into smaller parts or simplify a problem to achieve your desired outcome. Thanks, Dad!
As an entrepreneur, it’s so easy to mix up business and personal, but it just causes mistakes and headaches that can impact both aspects of your life in a bad way. It’s better to keep these completely separate in terms of communication, social presence, money and daily tasks.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I never get tired of this positive way to look at every interaction I have. Whether it’s my family, co-workers or clients, I put their interests first. It’s not about what you can get from others, but what you give to them that makes you a pleasant person to deal with. The fact that the Golden Rule is still relevant is a measure of its power.
I constantly refer to these words because they remind me of the importance and power of momentum. To achieve your full potential, you have to stay energized. This encompasses everything from caring about your health and visiting the gym, to staying innovative and ambitious by vigorously exercising the mind.
I can easily work just for the sake of working. But I sure hope that toward the end of my life, I don’t look back on years of time spent in an office in front of my laptop working. I want to look back on relationships and lives that I’ve been a part of. This contributes more to my overall happiness than checking off my never-ending to-do list.
This approach guides every decision I make. If I don’t think we can do it better than anyone else and feel a strong passion for it, I decline the opportunity. Life’s just too short to spend time doing things that you aren’t proud of, don’t enjoy and aren’t going to put your full focus behind. During the years, this has saved us from many good opportunities, allowing the bandwidth for great ones.
Favors are a stronger currency than money: Whether it’s in the personal or professional sphere, non-monetary help/gifts build much more meaningful long-term relationships and have a greater positive relationship impact than those that are clearly tied to a financial amount. It shows you truly care about someone and have taken the time to learn about them. It’s not easy or even always possible, but it’s something I try to keep in mind.
George Santayana said: “To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mindthan to be hopelessly in love with spring.” Far too many of our problems—whether in business, relationships or day-to-day life—come from clinging to the past. By enjoying the discomfort of change, we open ourselves up to see things from a new perspective, and to be happier while doing it.
My father told me to “Always ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish.” This is something I try to ask every time I start a design, get stuck on a project and even in my personal life. It is a way to pull yourself outside of a situation and make the best decision.