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 our top ten unknown regions remain wonderfully unspoiled and tranquil, making them a joy to discover for the few who do venture here.
  • 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.
  • 'Unknown' is perhaps not quite right to describe the Scottish Borders; 'unjustly overlooked' is more accurate – most travellers pass straight through in their rush to reach Edinburgh or the Highlands. But if you do linger, you'll discover many cultural treasures – along the Tweed Valley, the region which our walking holiday explores, there's Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott, with its splendid formal gardens; Traquair House, one-time refuge of Mary Queen of Scots; and the site of the Roman fort complex of Trimontium, not to mention the traditional towns in which you stay. The walking is very enjoyable too, and you might spot a kingfisher or even an osprey.
  • 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 here.
  • The magical, secret paradise of La Gomera lies just under an hour’s journey from Tenerife, but few tourists venture here, unaware of the wonderful possibilities for walking this tiny island offers. La Gomera is full of marvellous contrasts: ancient forests, beaches of black sand edged by glittering blue seas, and rugged mountains scored with lush green valleys. The ascents and descents can be challenging at times but they make for thrilling routes, many of which offer views of the neighbouring islands.
  • Portugal’s most northerly region is a land of superlatives – thought by many to be the oldest and most beautiful part of the country, the Minho is certainly the greenest. It can also boast some of the most characterful Inntravel accommodation – a selection of elegant manor houses. And although the region’s ancient valleys and vineyards have long been crisscrossed by pilgrim routes, it remains firmly off the main tourist trail, leaving you free to enjoy its verdant beauty (and a glass of the local tipple – the sparkling vinho verde) in blissful tranquillity.
  • Slovenia as a whole is one of Europe’s most overlooked destinations, surrounded as it is by several larger and better-known neighbours. Among its many spectacular landscapes is Logarska Dolina: a velvet-green valley that lies at the foot of the lofty Kamnik-Savinja Alps. With just one hotel in the valley – a boutique, lodge-style hideaway set beside a waterfall – there are accordingly few tourists, giving walkers free rein to explore the high meadows and enjoy the magnificent views of this natural paradise.
  • With extraordinary natural beauty and exhilarating walking routes, Senja is often compared with the neighbouring Lofoten Islands. One significant difference, however, is that although the Lofotens have built up quite the reputation in recent years, Senja remains very definitely off the beaten track. All the more curious when you consider that as well as dramatic landscapes, Senja has a history stretching back over 2,000 years; an impressive variety of birdlife; plus the Midnight Sun graces the island from mid-May to mid-July.
  • 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.
  • 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 a walking holiday in this enchanting region – work up an appetite by day so that you can indulge by night!
  • From timeless hill-top villages to gently rolling vineyards and historic harbour towns – Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula is a paradise for cycling, though it enjoys a far lower profile than the country’s famous Dalmatian Coast. In the bucolic interior, small medieval towns charm with their labyrinthine streets and romantic old buildings, and local produce can be sampled at rustic konobe (traditional restaurants). The coast is just as entrancing, with harbour-side eateries, crystal-clear waters and glorious sunsets.

More top tens...

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