Paris, London, Rome, Amsterdam, Prague, Berlin… these are all wonderful European cities to visit if you want to fly to a destination where everyone else is going. The most memorable European trips aren’t necessarily those spent with the crowds. The most enchanting are those in hidden towns experiencing the soul of the destination, giving you a greater sense of the country’s soul and its people, along with precious memories and bragging rights. Experience flying in your private jet to these secret European destinations.
Folégandros, Cyclades, Greece
This captivating sea island in the Cyclades is nothing like Santorini. In Folégandros, you won’t find cruise ships in the port or buildings with more than two stories. The Aegean escape is where you go when you want a quiet trip with waves rushing up to pebble beaches and goats grazing along a hill.
Stay in a villa at the boutique Themonies. For a unique dining experience, head to Irini Kafepantopoleio. The grocery store turns into a restaurant at night, making it the perfect spot for a home-cooked meal.
Arild, Skåne, Sweden
A fishing village on a southwest Swedish peninsula, Arild is a quaint, picture-perfect town that looks like it was plucked from a movie. Filled with plenty of natural beauty, one of the most interesting sites is manmade. In 1980, artist Lars Vilks nailed lumber and driftwood together in a cove and declared it an independent country, Ladonia. Thanks to residents who appreciated art, the installation (now called “Nimis”) still stands. Think of it as Arild’s version of the Watts Towers in Los Angeles. During your trip, explore the climbing towers and aboveground tunnels or take in a round of golf.
The most elegant hotel, the 17th-century Hotel Rusthållargården also has some of the best dining experiences. Try the egg cake with lingonberries.
Staufen im Breisgau, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Sitting on the southwest edge of Germany’s Black Forest, Staufen im Breisgau is the perfect destination for a wine tour. You’ll know that you’re downtown when you see the statue of Bacchus, the god of winemaking and wine. Follow the pastel buildings along Main Street to the market place, which the historic Town Hall crowns. Stop at various outdoor wine bars to sample local vintages. If you’re single, keep your imbibing under control. According to local legend, if you get a little too tipsy and fall or step into one of the irrigation ditches, you’re destined to marry one of the town’s residents.
When visiting Staufen im Breisgau, stay at the elegant Panacée Grand Hotel Römerbad in nearby Badenweiler. Tame your appetite at Café Decker and the restaurant at Fauststube im Löwen.
Giornico, Ticino, Switzerland
Located in Switzerland’s Italian-speaking canton, Ticino, the charming town of Giornico is the area’s best-preserved village. Appearing as if time stood still since the Middle Ages, arching bridges and old stone buildings bring what you read about in history books come to life. Be sure to see the beautifully preserved frescoes inside the Romanesque San Nicola Church.
You won’t find any hotels in Giornico, but the Hotel Giardino Ascona on Lake Maggiore will do splendidly. For an Italian meal like none other, go to Grotto dui Due Ponti overlooking the river in Giornico.