While I don’t believe there are truly any off the beaten path places in world any more, I do still believe you can travel to less-visited and less touristed destinations — even in well-discovered Europe.
All it takes is a little know how — and a sense of adventure.
Let’s take a look at some tips for traveling off the beaten path in Europe.
Do some research to find that destination that’s not in the guidebook
Sure. You’ll want to use some of the usual guidebooks such as Rick Steves and Lonely Planet to plan your trip.
But you’ll also want to look at tourism board websites and travel blogs.
It’s here that you may run across a site or a town or an area that isn’t in the above guidebooks — or maybe just gets a short paragraph.
It may require digging a little deeper.
Look at maps and seek out those cities, towns or regions that aren’t the usual tourist spots.
Find out about them to see if there is something there that appeals to you.
It could be a good time to enlist a personal travel planner — like yours truly — to assist you in finding those destinations and planning this trip.
But if you put some time and effort into it, you’ll find a few places that are less touristy but still have loads to offer.
Get advice from the locals
Know someone who lives in Germany or Ireland or Italy — or who used to?
Ask them for advice as you plan your trip as I bet they’ll have some fabulous ideas on things to do and places to go that have a more local vibe.
I’m so fortunate to have an Irish friend who lives in Dublin. She has given me some wonderful tips on some off the beaten path places in Ireland.
Once you arrive in a spot — even if it’s a more popular and touristy destination — ask your B&B host or a shopkeeper for advice on some things to do in the area that are less touristy.
The owners of an agriturismo I stayed at in the Umbria region of Italy kept telling me I needed to visit Bevagna.
Bevagna wasn’t on my list — in fact I’m not sure I had even heard of it.
But I found it on the map, drove to it, walked around it and fell in love with this little town.
It wasn’t very touristy and I wandered about with the locals. It was fabulous!
So listen to the locals and take their advice.
I think if you truly want to get off the beaten path in Europe then you have to take detours — planned detours and unplanned detours — otherwise known as getting lost.
If you’re out for a drive with a plan of going from site A to site B but you see a sign for something that looks interesting, then turn down that road and go check it out.
Maybe you’re walking through a town and have your mind set on getting to a specific museum or church. But you see a sign for another site that sounds interesting.
Follow that sign. Take the detour.
And if you’re walking or driving and suddenly find yourself a bit lost, just go with it.
You never know what you might find.
Unplanned detours are often when the magic happens and you stumble upon something truly special.
Put the map away and follow your travel intuition
This tip ties in with the taking detours tip.
Sometimes putting the map away and letting yourself get a bit lost is the best way to get off the beaten path in Europe — or anywhere else.
I think we often rely too much on the map or the GPS to tell us where to go and how to get there.
But sometimes we need to connect with our inner selves more and listen to our travel intuition — our heart and our soul.
Some might call it listening to your gut.
Whatever you call it listen to it, truly hear it — and follow it.
Chances are you’ll end up in some really cool place — the middle of a beautiful forest or a quiet pedestrian way where some kids are playing futbol or at some stone circle in the middle of a field.
Have a sense of adventure — not a sense fear
I travel alone most of the time.
And I’ve traveled to lots of places that would be considered off the beaten path to many people.
But I’m never really afraid.
I don’t fear for my safety or well-being.
I know if I get lost I’ll find my way back.
And I’m smart enough to know if I’m in an unsafe area — and to get the hell out of there.
Typically I’ll know where those areas are and will avoid them altogether.
But the one thing I always have with me is my sense of adventure.
I’m an explorer — discovering places for the first time.
Be curious as that curiosity will definitely lead you to destinations off the beaten path in Europe.
Find your inner child and let go of some of those inhibitions.
Off the beaten path Europe awaits!