I’m in Hawaii currently for work and catching up with my parents here for the few days I’m here, but while I’m away I got to thinking about some of the “off the beaten path” places we’ve experienced, those places that aren’t as advertised as say, Paris and London.
Many of our travels have been to major cities around the world or within our own country, but often it’s the lesser known places that have a different impact on you when you travel. Many times, it’s the smaller, less known locations that truly show off the best qualities of that country. It’s something I’d like to do more of this year as well, to trek outside of the major cities and see more of the rest of the country. But so far, here are some of my favorite places we’ve visited in Europe, places that are a bit off the beaten path.
While Bushmills might be famous for its Whiskey, it’s definitely not a huge tourist destination in Northern Ireland. The town of Bushmills is still a small little town with old buildings and cobblestone streets. We stopped and had lunch here on our way back from the Giants’ Causeway as we headed to Belfast and thoroughly enjoyed the old-world feel of this Northern Irish town.
While Cannes and St. Tropez seem to get most of the credit as the famous towns on the French Riviera, Nice (while not entirely off the beaten path) isn’t credited enough for the beauty that it is. While you may get the celebrities in Cannes and the gorgeous beaches in St. Tropez, Nice will offer the old feel of France with a little more reserve.
When I say St. Andrews, I’m not talking about the golf course which most people visit the town for. I’m talking about the town of St. Andrews itself, the little winding side roads, the colorful buildings and the magic of Scotland bottled into a landmark on the coast. To get here you wind through gorgeous Scottish countryside and through small country towns until you spill out onto roads lined with stone buildings and chimneys. Explore the town itself and you’ll never want to leave.
Iceland is a country where the “off the beaten path” locations really mean just that. The vast expanses of land and gorgeous countryside are what make Iceland. So while you might base yourself in Reykjavik, there is nothing more compelling as the countryside and Thingvellir is a spot that will take your breath away. Take it in at sunrise before the tourists arrive to take in the site of the first Viking parliament and note the cracks in the earth’s surface here where the North American and Eurasion plates meet.