It Doesn’t Get Better Than These Unique Europe Tours
Touring Europe might be a bit "cliché," but the continent is popular for a reason. Undeniably beautiful towns have preserved medieval architecture, wine flows freely, and the food (especially in the south) is so good that it evades description.
That said, there is definitely an overdone way to travel through the continent. If you want to avoid it, we suggest finding a tour that specializes in less-visited destinations or that does the typical ones in a way that skews the ordinary.
Fall in love with the continent all over again on one of these unique Europe tours.
Variety Cruises Hidden Greece Tour
Duration: 7 days
Country visited: Greece
Sailing around the Greek isles is the dream of many. While countless companies offer island-hopping tours, nobody knows the land better than the Greeks themselves. This is what we love about Greek-owned Variety Cruises, which has been owned by the same family since 1949.
In their Hidden Greece, Unexplored Greek Isles tour, they "show you our home, off-the-beaten-path." The trip includes hidden gems like Kalymnos, Serifos, Ikaria and Patmos. (Never heard of them? That's the entire point!)
This is not the Greece of your Instagram feed — it's much better.
Wilderness Scotland's Road Cycling Tour
Duration: 7 days
Country visited: Scotland*
Wild, rugged Scotland offers green, rocky landscapes and rough waters. It's a place where you'll want to brave the elements to spend as much time outdoors as possible.
Wilderness Scotland does an amazing job at making this happen, focusing on active tours in nature. Their best tour, however, might be the week-long road cycling adventure in the Outer Hebrides, a chain of islands off the northern coast of Great Britain. Besides the breathtaking landscape, you'll encounter a strong Scottish pride and hear the Gaelic language widely spoken.
*Though Scotland is part of the United Kingdom and not a sovereign country, it is culturally independent and, as such, is treated as a separate destination.
Natural Habitat Adventures' Wild Nature of Croatia and Slovenia Tour
Duration: 9 days
Countries visited: Croatia and Slovenia
Natural Habitat Adventures specializes in, well, adventures in nature. The company also partners with the World Wildlife Fund to help conservation efforts in the places they travel to. While their tours are a bit on the pricier side, they really do offer unmatched quality and the peace of mind of knowing you won't be harming the environments you visit.
Take a tour of wild Croatia and Slovenia. The former is not a hidden gem anymore, but the latter certainly continues to fly under the tourist radar. Either way, this tour will take you to places most foreigners have never even heard of. You'll skip Dubrovnik and Split in Croatia in favor of Kornati National Park, Pag Island and Krupa Monastery, the oldest in the country. In Slovenia, you'll visit Lake Bleed, tour a bee farm and take an artisan cheese-tasting tour.
Exodus Travels' Restoring Italy's Wild Heart Tour
Duration: 6 days
Country visited: Italy
Want to give back while you travel? Exodus lets you do just that with their incredible Rewilding the Apennines tour. You'll spend time enjoying the beauty of Italy (and its delicious food!) but will also help restore the local ecosystem of the Central Apennines.
Besides knowing that you're helping make Italy even more gorgeous, you'll get the chance to see wildlife that most people don't even know exists within the country, including wolves, golden eagles and Marsican brown bears. As you'll be working with locals and staying in small communities, you'll build a relationship with the places you visit and leave a positive footprint.
Atlas Obscura's Romania Tour
Duration: 11 days
Country visited: Romania
Atlas Obscura dominates the niche of the weird, wonderful and curious. It's not surprising, then, that their trips are unique and focus on exploring "obscure" places.
Their Romania: Castles, Ruins, and Medieval Villages tour "dives into all things medieval, dedicating particular time and attention to Romania's ancient history and enduring landmarks." The trip's highlight is no doubt a visit to Bran Castle, also known as Dracula's Castle (though it's not where the real-life Dracula lived). You'll also go to a giant underground salt mine and eat a medieval dinner with authentic period-appropriate recipes!
Uniworld's Burgundy and Provence Tour
Duration: 8 days
Country visited: France
Paris is nice, but once you've seen the City of Lights, you should set out to see the rest of what France has to offer — which is a lot. And if you really want to make it special, consider a river cruise tour.
Uniworld takes travelers through the beautiful south of France in a river itinerary that follows the footsteps of Van Gogh, Cezanne and Gaugin. The tour begins in the dreamy Avignon and goes up the Rhone River to Lyon. Plus, you can feel good about giving money to this cruise company since they offer farm-to-ship food and partner with local organic suppliers.
Intrepid Travel's Baltic Experience Tour
Duration: 12 days
Countries visited: Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia
Clouded by the Iron Curtain until the early 1990s, the Baltic continues to be a hidden gem of Europe. With gorgeous architecture, wild nature and few tourist crowds, you should get there before the secret comes out.
On this Baltic tour, you'll kayak in lakes, bike around Lithuania's Curonian Spit National Park and cleanse in a traditional sauna. Plus, the trip is very affordable.
Contiki's Fire and Ice Tour
Duration: 6 days
Cost: Request quote
Country visited: Iceland
There is nothing cliché about Iceland, but some spots are definitely less frequented by tourists than others. On this Fire and Ice Tour, you'll get to go to the must-visit places like the capital Reykjavik and the famed Blue Lagoon. But those are really more of the extras of the trip rather than the focus.
Instead, you'll go deep into the Icelandic wilderness to parts that travelers often skip. Stops include Thingvellir National Park, the Geysir geothermal fields and Vatnajökull National Park, where you'll find Europe's largest glacier. Plus, you'll spend a night at Midgard Base Camp. If you're traveling in the winter and get lucky, you might get to see the northern lights right from your room.
Insight Vacations' Amazing Spain and Portugal Tour
Duration: 9 days
Countriesvisited: Spain and Portugal
Spain and Portugal may not be off-the-beaten-path per se, but sometimes, a trip is unique in the way it approaches a classic itinerary.
In this nine-day Insight Vacation trip, you'll see some of the Iberian Peninsula's most iconic sights, including the intricate Arabesque palaces of Alhambra in Granada and Fatima, Portugal's most important holy sight. But the best part of the trip may be in Seville, famous for flamenco dance. Rather than just seeing this art form, you'll get a private lesson at the local nonprofit, the Cristina Heeran Foundation.
Unforgettable Travel's Polish Jewish Heritage Tour
Duration: 7 nights
Country visited: Poland
You can't talk about Polish history without talking about Jewish history, as this Unforgettable Travel tour definitely knows. You'll see Warsaw, Lubin and Krakow through the lens of Jewish heritage, before and after the tragic events of the Holocaust.
The tour isn't for the faint of heart since you'll be visiting more than one concentration camp. But if you're interested in learning first-hand about the country's dark past and how it has recovered from it, this is the best tour to do so.