Secret Escapes in Europe: Top tips from our team
Traveling helps us to disconnect and recharge, to broaden our horizons, and to emerge ourselves in different cultures. It’s no surprise that our multi-cultural team is comprised of people passionate about travel, and for many of us, it was the location as much of the job that played a huge role in why we moved to Berlin. As the number of Covid-19 cases drop and borders slowly begin to open their doors again, our team decided to share some hidden gems from their favorite places to visit in Europe.
#1: Scotland – Kostia & Kseniia
Situated in the north of Great Britain, Scotland is an overwhelmingly beautiful land, rich in history, with many points of interest—and, of course, a must-do for any Potterhead.
We stayed in a small room 10 minutes away from the city center of Edinburgh, which allowed us to explore the city on foot. Edinburgh was not as affected by WWII as other UK cities have been, and most of the architecture has been preserved and maintained over the centuries. It makes for exciting walks and quite an educational experience.
Retracing the steps of J.K. Rowling when she was writing the first Harry Potter book is an experience in itself—visiting a street, which became a prototype for Diagon Alley, or a church that became an inspiration for a Hogwarts’ Great Hall, or looking for names on the tombstones, that later become prominent characters in the story, is something fans of all ages will enjoy.
It gets even more exciting if you have a car available. Most of the interesting spots to the south of Edinburgh are 2-3 hours away and are quite well grouped, so picking 3-5 of them for a day trip would be no issue. We were able to visit Alnwick Castle, Rosslyn Chapel (featured in The Da Vinci Code), Melrose Abbey, and many other exciting historical places.
And, of course, the nature of the land is simply amazing. Being educated in post-soviet schools [Kseniia and Kostia both from Ukraine], we’ve always wanted to see the Highlands, that were so dear to Robert Burns. Now we can understand and share his fascination!
#2: The Algarve, Portugal – Irina
Algarve is a Southern coastline in Portugal. This region is blessed with white sandy beaches, dramatic cliffs, and picturesque fishing towns and villages.
One of the best things you can do in The Algarve is to take a car and travel around the region, starting from Faro (the largest city) and ending at Sagres Point, also known as “the end of the world.”
I have been to The Algarve twice now, and even though on my most recent trip many places were still closed due to Covid restrictions, I enjoyed this return trip more. The lack of tourists meant we could interact with the locals, enjoy the town, and explore the beautiful surroundings almost completely by ourselves.
I love everything about it—from its beautiful coastline and beaches to the incredible architecture and idyllic small towns. I would highly recommend hiring a boat or kayak, as there are some amazing hidden beaches and caves that are accessible only by water. The picturesque cities of The Algarve with their vivid buildings, such as Faro, Albufeira, and Lagos, are also an absolute must see!
#3: Copenhagen, Denmark – Mandy
It’s no surprise that the Danish often rank among the world’s happiest people, when it’s capital bursts with culture, architecture, markets, and activity.
My absolute favorite location has to be Copenhagen! Somehow everything felt so familiar there and I felt incredibly safe, as a solo female traveler, to explore the city alone. It has so much to offer…I took a boat trip, visited exotic food markets, watched a parade of the royal guards, and went to an incredible leisure park called Tivoli which had a fantastic open-air concert.
#4: Tenerife, Spain – Nikolay
Tenerife is the largest of Spain’s Canary Islands, located off West Africa. It is dominated by Mt. Teide, a dormant volcano, that is also Spain's tallest peak.
My wife and I have visited Tenerife twice and loved it both times. For me, Tenerife is excellent value for money—European quality at an affordable price. The island itself is large enough to be explored for weeks and its nature is rich with flora and fauna.
In the very center of the island there is Mount. Teide, a large volcano with a beautiful view. The volcano itself is surrounded by dried lava leftover from the last eruption that occurred more than a hundred years ago, which makes you feel a little like you’re walking on Mars. There are also several zoological and botanical parks that are great fun for both kids and adults.
If you like water sports then Tenerife is definitely for you! Situated on the Atlantic Ocean, the island is perfect for jet skiing, surfing, kayaking, snorkeling, whale/dolphin watching, and much more. We also visited one the coolest water parks I’ve ever been to, in Costa Adeje, called Siam Park, which has a steep pipe slide surrounded by sharks!
#5: The North Sea Region, Germany – Iuliia
The North Sea is one of Germany’s best kept secrets, with its many locals but very few tourists. Perfect for nature-lovers, the region is covered with white sandy beaches, forests, and charming German villages and small towns.
It was ideal traveling with a car through Northern Germany. We visited the coastal town of Dangast, the seaport town of Bremerhaven, and Bremen. There are only around 50 kilometers between these towns, so driving along the coast was quite easy.
For the four days of my trip, I stayed in a small town called Elsfleth, which is surrounded by nature and farmland animals. For me it was my first experience of staying in a small German town, and a completely different experience. I loved it!
#6: Lanzarote, Spain - Abdul
Lanzarote is one of the Canary Islands, located near the coast of West Africa, but administered by Spain. Often called the "Island of Eternal Spring", it has sunshine for the most part of the year with very little rain, and is well-known for its weather, beaches, and idyllic landscape.
I visited Lanzarote in March and experienced extraordinary landscapes and crystal-clear beaches. The island is just 60km in length, which makes it easy to move around and you can rent a car for just a small cost.
While driving, I discovered bizarre lava formations and black sand beaches, which I’d not experienced before. The island also has amazing infrastructure with every corner well connected by motorways and there are plenty of activities designed for tourists, with locals often speaking both Spanish, English and German!
If you have the time, then I highly recommend taking a ferry to explore the nearby islands, as each Canary Island has something unique and exotic to offer.
#7: Lago di Braies (Italian Alps), Italy – Kseniia
Lago di Braies is located in South Tyrol, Italy. Many travel bloggers call it “the most beautiful lake of Alps” and it sits in the heart of the Dolomites.
Whenever I get the chance, I try to go to the mountains. I always feel at home in the mountains and believe they bring me inner strength—so it’s no wonder that my favorite spot in Europe is the Italian Alps.
I fell in love a year ago, when I flew to Italy to celebrate my 30th birthday with my husband, Kostia. We rented a car and spent the whole week driving the serpentine road through the Dolomites, making stops only to take photographs of those breathtaking views.
If you ever get a chance to visit then I strongly advise going to Lago di Braies, a beautiful mountain lake hidden in the forest. It’s beautiful, peaceful, and I could honestly stay there forever.