The Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum, Stonehenge: if you’re planning a trip to Europe, chances are at least some of these are on your list. But with great fame, come long waits. You should definitely make the effort to check out some of the classics, but if crowds and waiting aren’t your thing, we’ve provided some no-less-worthy alternatives for you to consider as well!
Classic: Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower was first unveiled at the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris. Believe it or not, the tower’s design was actually criticised at first by leading French artists and intellectuals. But today, when someone says France or Paris, chances are Gustave Eiffel’s creation is one of the first images to pop into your mind.
Under-the-Radar: Saint Jacques Tower
The Eiffel Tower is iconic, but if you’re looking for a view over Paris, there are plenty of great alternatives. One of those is Saint Jacques Tower. Saint Jacques is the sole remnant of the 16th century Church of Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie, destroyed in 1797 during the French Revolution. Located in the 4th arrondissement, tours are on offer, and visitors can climb to the top for some breathtaking views! The only downside? 300 steps and no elevator (disclaimer: children under 10 are not permitted to enter the tower).
If you’re planning a visit to Rome, there’s a good chance the Colosseum is near the top of your itinerary. There’s valid reason for this. Almost 2,000 years old, the Colosseum is the largest amphitheatre ever constructed, and an integral part of Roman history. The engineering behind the infamous “entertainment” alone make this a site worth seeing.
Under-the-Radar: Ostia Antica
If you’re pressed for time or would rather enjoy some history without the huge crowds, consider making a trip to Ostia Antica, the site of the ancient harbour city of Rome. Located 25 kilometres southwest of the Italian capital, Ostia Antica is just a short train ride away. While chances are there’ll still be crowds, they’ll be a fraction of the size of those at the Colosseum, and you’ll be able to satiate your fix for Ancient Rome all the same.
Classic: La Sagrada Família
When you think about Barcelona, there are few landmarks more iconic of that city than El Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família; and it hasn’t even been completed yet! The basilica is one of the most renowned examples of the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí’s work, and these elements have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Under-the-Radar: Church of Colònia Güell
As incredible as the Sagrada Família is, the place isn’t short on visitors. If you’re a fan of Antoni Gaudí but aren’t so keen on crowds, the answer is another unfinished work by the famous architect located a short way outside of Barcelona. La Cripta de la Colònia Güell, also known as the Gaudí Crypt, is the first instance in which Gaudí incorporated all of his architectural innovations. While only the crypt was completed before the project’s bankroll dried up, it stands today as a beautiful monument to the late architect’s genius.
Classic: British Museum
Few London experiences are quite so recommended and overwhelming as a visit to the British Museum. The sheer vastness of the Museum’s collection of art and artefacts from all around the world make the museum an intimidating prospect (you could easily spend several days in the institution attempting to explore everything). No less intimidating, however, are the bag checks and lines. Still, with free admission, and all the treasures on show within, the museum is a must-see for anyone with more than a few days in the city.
Under-the-Radar: British Library
In the mood for seeing some priceless treasures but don’t have the time to invest in the British Museum? A great alternative is the British Library! While you won’t find the Rosetta Stone there, some of history’s greatest written works can be found within its walls (from Magna Carta to Shakespeare to Lewis Carroll and beyond)! Just like the British Museum, the British Library is free to visit; and the lines are usually minimal.
When we think of Europe, a lot of things come to mind: fashion, museums, food and culture being some of the more prominent themes. When it comes to prehistory, however, one landmark stands out more than any other: Stonehenge. The Neolithic ring of stones has haunted many an imagination through the centuries. Though the structure may come off as underwhelming when compared to a visit to Times Square; viewed in the context in which it was constructed, Stonehenge almost defies belief.
Under-the-Radar: Ring of Brodgar
While more out of the way than its neighbour to the South, the Ring of Brodgar is no less impressive; and when paired with the other Neolithic monuments to be found on Orkney, it is a site that shouldn’t be missed! Unlike Stonehenge, the Ring of Brodgar has no designated visiting hours and is free to visit; so you can spend as much time exploring as you’d like!
Classic: The Alps
No other natural phenomenon in Europe captures the imagination quite like the Alps. They are the highest, and most extensive mountain range lying solely in Europe, encapsulating eight European countries (France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Italy, Germany, Austria and Slovenia) and offering some of the greatest outdoor recreational activities in the world. With beautiful vistas, incredible and diverse cultures, hiking, skiing, and more; the Alps are a natural landmark not to be missed!
Under-the-Radar: The Pyrenees
While admittedly smaller in scale than the Alps, the Pyrenees are magnificent in their own right. Forming a natural border between France and Spain, the range also encompasses the state of Andorra and the distinct regions of Catalonia, Basque, Aragon and Occitania. Like the Alps, the Pyrenees have a unique history and a variety of diverse cultures, and lend themselves well to outdoor activities of all kinds. Unlike the Alps, the Pyrenees also include some incredible beaches!
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