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Take the paths of a Europe less travelled

Take the paths of a Europe less travelled The fairytale-esque architecture of Prague, the bazaars of Istanbul, the historic monuments of Rome, the artistic ramblings of Barcelona, the vibrant culture of Amsterdam. These are a few of the cities that tend to instantly spring to mind when thinking about where to go on a short European break.

That these places draw millions of visitors each year is testament to their long-standing attraction. The flip side of this, though, is that popularity equals busy and, at times, overcrowded, as you take in the same sights, atmosphere and culture as thousands of others with the same intent. And while we are often willing to overlook this downside, if you do fancy somewhere that’s a little less congested, there are many other fantastic but less well known gems all across the continent to choose from.

The TopDog Insurance team's offers up some treasures here, just waiting to be explored!

Cork, Ireland

Ireland’s “foodie capital” offers visitors some of the best farm-fresh produce to savour. The English Market (trading since 1788) is one of the oldest of its kind, offering bygone ambience while catering for modern tastes with a huge variety of produce on numerous stalls. Stroll down to Coal Quay Market every Saturday to try famous artisan cheese or for truly authentic dishes, seek out crubeens (battered trotters) and drisheen (Irish black pudding). The Irish are also famous for their hospitality, so don’t miss the opportunity to listen to musicians armed with fiddles, flutes and bodhrans over a pint of stout, with Sin E and Corner House being savvy pubs to visit for an authentic Irish evening.

Helsinki, Finland

With its mix of neoclassical and art nouveau architecture, Finland’s capital has merged its sense of style along with values for living well. Clearly it’s getting this right as it’s often included in top ten lists of the world’s best places to live. The importance of environmental friendliness can be seen in many areas, including the city’s cuisine with chefs opting for local organic produce in their creations. Sample delicious food like kaalikääryleet (cabbage rolls) and lihapullat (meatballs) after exploring the Old Market Hall. The World Heritage Site at Suomenlinna is a nearby inhabited sea fortress built on six islands; it’s a popular picnicking spot and there are a number of museums to take in here too.

Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany

Southwest of the Schwarzwald, Freiburg im Breisgau is a reconstructed medieval town, home to some of the oldest universities in Germany. This picturesque city has a Gothic sandstone cathedral built in Romanesque style, which is topped by a truly awe-inspiring spire. After a quick pint and lunch at the atmospheric Martin’s Brau, catch the cable car (Germany’s longest) to the nearby mountain called Schauinsland. Or take the Schlossbergbahn funicular railway from the city centre to Schlossberg, which offers extensive views over both the city and the surrounding area. With a gorgeous climate too, Freiburg is ideal for those who love medieval history as much as their beers.

Granada, Spain

Nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada of Andalucía, the skyline of Granada is dominated by the awesome beauty of the Alhambra, a Moorish palace. It dates from the 13th century, is a World Heritage Site and is one of the few important Moorish estates where the intricately designed architecture has been preserved. While a visit is a must, there are plenty of other attractions to see as well. There’s the Cathedral of Granada, noted for its stained glass windows, and the Royal Chapel for its tapestries and paintings. When it comes to cuisine, sample the mollete bread, Bocadillo (Spanish sandwiches) and the merienda (‘afternoon snacks’) for a real taste of Spain.

Innsbruck, Austria

Innsbruck is the Tyrolean regional capital and sits in a valley surrounded by towering mountains, which on a clear day make for a breathtaking backdrop. Strolling around the beautiful old town and taking in the ‘golden’ roof of the Museum Goldenes Dachl is a must. The roof, completed in 1500 and decorated with 2,738 fire-gilded copper tiles, is regarded as the city’s most important symbol. Taste authentic cuisine by trying out Beuschel (an offal stew), Apfelstrudel and Gulasch. Then explore the Hofburg, a Hapsburg palace considered to be one of the country’s most significant cultural buildings, or avail yourself of the fantastic sporting opportunities the alpine location affords.

From the quiet beauty of Ireland to the refreshing air of Austria, these European cities are perfect for any short getaway. And whether you’re off for a few days or an extended break, we at TopDog Insurance are committed to providing you with the highest level of protection to ensure that you are safe and secure, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year when away.

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