Top 10 Unknown Regions
With obvious exceptions such as Provence, the Dordogne and Tuscany, most of the regions we feature tend not to be very well known to the British.
In some cases they are largely unknown even by the population of the country in question! It could be argued, however, that this is no bad thing – it does at least mean that these regions remain wonderfully unspoiled and tranquil, making them a joy to discover for those who do venture to our Top 10 Unknown Regions.
The timeless Engadine valley, Switzerland
Despite the fact that St Moritz lies at one end of the valley, the Engadine in eastern Switzerland thankfully remains completely unspoiled. Today, idyllic villages such as Guarda and Zuoz look largely the same as they did several centuries ago, their cobbled streets lined with sturdy stone houses whose arched doorways and deeply recessed windows are decorated with delicately painted patterns and murals (sgraffiti) and window-boxes dripping with flowers. We offer walks
and holidays in the snow
The atmospheric Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Iceland
Western Iceland is much less visited than the south, where visitors travel to experience the more famous landscapes of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano. But the striking west coast
is a revelation, boasting astonishing landscapes at every turn, a rugged coastline simply teeming with birdlife and a fish-rich sea where seals and whales can commonly be seen from shore. The peninsula does boast its own volcano, Snaefellsjokull, and myriad waterfalls and black-sand beaches, perfect for quiet walks while the waves crash on weird and wonderful rock formations.
The quiet and traditional Apennine mountains, Italy
Inntravel may have been offering walking holidays to the Apennines
for many years, but they remain largely unknown. Stretching from Liguria to Umbria, these rugged mountains form Italy’s spine, and are great walking country. Autumn is a particularly special time here as the woods of beech, oak and chestnut that coat the lower slopes provide wonderful displays of colour, and the abundant chestnuts and wild mushrooms are incorporated in a variety of delicious local dishes.
beautiful, yet secret, Lake Iseo, Italy
Iseo is the smallest of Lombardy’s four major lakes and, though it nestles between the famous lakes of Como and Garda, is a secret jewel. To the north, the landscapes are rugged and wild, while its southern shores yield to the gentle, vine-covered hills that produce the delicious Franciacorta wines. However, perhaps Lake Iseo
’s most alluring feature is its delightful island, Monte Isola, with its distinctly Mediterranean landscape.
historic Castile-leon, Spain
Just north of Madrid, the ancient kingdom of Castile-Leon is strikingly beautiful and utterly timeless, crisscrossed by age-old transhumance routes and dotted with splendid castles, romantic churches, magnificent Roman ruins and perfectly preserved medieval stone villages. Here, you enjoy the sensation of being in ‘real’, undiscovered Spain – even in the cities visited on our Classical Cities of Old Castile
rail journey, which takes you back to Spain’s Golden Age.
the remote and rugged mountains of Auvergne, France
Thanks to the adverts for a certain brand of mineral water, most Britons will at least have heard of the Auvergne
, even if very few have actually visited it. Admittedly, it is not the easiest place to get to – from Paris you face a six-hour train journey – but it is well worth the effort. The bulky (and deceptively high) mountains are surprisingly green, their pastures grazed by the omnipresent Salers cow whose milk is made into a delicious cheese of the same name, and the cones of the extinct volcanoes (puys
) add a certain enchantment to the scenery.
Sicily’s majestic Madonie Mountains, Italy
Rising from Sicily’s centre, the Madonie Mountains
stretch northwards towards the Tirrenian Sea. Unaware of the wonderful possibilities for walking, few tourists, British or otherwise, venture here, and the result is a great sense of space and freedom – and absolute tranquillity, broken only by the occasional cry of a royal eagle. Spring, when endemic flowers coat the ground, and autumn, when the reds and golds of the turning leaves light up the wooded slopes, are particularly special times.
amid the volcanoes of The Garrotxa, Spain
Catalonia as a whole may be well known, especially because of its vibrant capital, Barcelona, and the tempting beaches of the Costa Brava, but this corner of the region in the foothills of the Pyrenees still feels very much like uncharted territory. Here, you can walk across warm, wooded hills on scenic paths that have linked the stone villages and their pretty Romanesque churches for centuries and not meet another soul all day. We offer walking
and cycling holidays
here amid the ancient volcanoes
discovering Piedmont, Italy
Piedmont’s full-bodied, velvety Barolo wines deservedly rejoice in fame, but less well-known are the eleven idyllic medieval villages where they are produced, the unusual landscape of wave-shaped hills that surround the villages and their crumbling castles, and the outstanding regional gastronomy based on delicious white truffles, hazelnuts and flavoursome cheeses. We offer walking holidays
in this enchanting region!
The timeless island of Rügen, Germany
If you’re looking for a cycling holiday somewhere that little bit different, look no further than Rügen
. Despite lying off the sunniest corner of the coastline, it is little-known beyond Germany and Scandinavia, but those that are in the know hold it in great affection. What endears it to anyone who visits are its seaside eccentricities (think Belle Epoque piers and rows of canopied deckchairs on white-sand beaches), its villages which exude charm and nostalgia, its mighty chalk cliffs, and, above all, its constant ability to surprise and delight.
If our Top 10 Unknown Regions has inspired you, please contact
our friendly reservations team.