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Photography: Getty Images/Cultura Exclusive1 of 4
Paris and Rome will always be honeymoon mainstays, but some under-the-radar destinations—with fewer American travelers and more affordable hotels—might just become your new favorite stops. We're willing to bet you've never been to a few of these surprising spots. Whether you want to go to Italy, France, Spain, or England, there are less-traveled locales in each country with all the charm you'd expect from Europe—without being totally overdone. And to make sure your experience is as one-of-a-kind as the environment, we've even worked out all the details for you: where to stay and where to go out, day or night.
Still want to hit the staples? No problem! It's easy to work in these spots for quick jaunts. Either way, you'll be sure to return from your unique European getaway feeling refreshed and inspired, thanks to your time traversing through uncharted territory. And think of how impressed your friends and family will be when you dish out all the details and show them photos from a fresh perspective! Go ahead, take the road less traveled. One piece of advice: Go now, before the whole world catches on.
Lake Iseo, Italy
This low-key waterfront has the same charm, romance, and sumptuous views as its higher-profile sibling, the nearby Lake Como—but with far fewer über-expensive hotels and paparazzi.
Where to stay: With its lounger-lined pool deck and green lawns leading down to the lake, Hotel Rivalago (from $136 per night, rivalago.it) in the town of Sulzano is all about alfresco. But the 33 recently redone rooms make staying in just as tempting.
Day out: The vineyards of Franciacorta—used to make a sparkling wine that's considered Italy's answer to Champagne—crisscross the countryside. Spend a day at Ca' del Bosco (cadelbosco.com), known as much for its modern sculpture collection as for its wine.
Date night: Take a quick boat ride to Monte Isola to dine on local seafood, such as wood-grilled trout, at the famous La Foresta (forestmontisola.it), and follow it up with a hand-in-hand stroll along the isle's picturesque promenade.
Photography: Courtesy of Clarance Hôtel Lille2 of 4
Thanks to a splashy new hotel and a world-class culture scene, this old industrial city (pronounced LEEL) near the Belgian border is France's ville of the moment for European travelers.
Where to stay: An 18th-century townhouse in the historic center was recently transformed into the dignified Clarance Hôtel (from $223 per night, clarancehotel.com). Now stylish Parisian weekenders fill its manicured gardens and 19 light-filled guest rooms.
Day out: An art lover's paradise, Lille is home to the Palais des Beaux-Arts (pba-lille.fr), one of the largest museums in France. Just 25 miles southwest, you'll find the Louvre-Lens (louvrelens.fr), a stunning outpost of the Paris museum that showcases works by Botticelli, Rembrandt, and other masters.
Date night: You can't do better than the Clarance's own La Table restaurant, helmed by Nicolas Pourcheresse, a former contestant on the French version of Top Chef. The five-course menu, a bargain at 79 euros, showcases the bounty of the on-site beehives and garden.
Photography: Courtesy of Cara Shelly3 of 4
Costa De Laluz, Spain
This Atlantic-facing coastal region, west of the more developed Costa del Sol, offers windswept beaches, wildlife-filled preserves, and Michelin-starred restaurants.
Where to stay: Head to the scenic hilltop village of Vejer de la Frontera for that untouched-by-tourists vibe (though vacationing Europeans descend on it in August). Here, Casa Shelly (from $89 per night, casashelly.com) has only seven rooms, decorated with geometric tiles and timbered ceilings.
Day out: Binge on Moorish architecture in the ancient city of Cádiz, then drive about 40 minutes up the coast for a tasting of Manzanilla at the historic winery Bodegas Barbadillo (barbadillo.com), in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, where the sea air gives the native sherry its briny tingle.
Date night: In the port town of El Puerto de Santa María, seafood whisperer Ángel León recently reopened his acclaimed Aponiente (aponiente.com) in a former flour and salt mill. Can't get a reservation? Try his more casual (and even newer) La Taberna del Chef del Mar (34-956-112-093).
Photography: Courtesy of Soho Farmhouse4 of 4
The Cotswolds have been the country getaway of choice for ritzy Brits (and Anglophiles) forever, thanks to the gorgeous setting and proximity to London. Oxfordshire county is the region's of-the-moment escape, with splashy new accommodations, dreamy spas, and big-city-caliber dining.
Where to stay: Soho Farmhouse (from $510 per night, sohofarmhouse.com), in Chipping Norton, blends East End swagger and Downton Abbey pedigree. The 100-acre compound includes a horse stable, a meat-curing cave, and cabins with wood-burning stoves and outdoor tubs.
Day out: Follow up a facial at the luxe Bamford Haybarn Spa (bamford.co.uk) with a visit to Sudeley Castle & Gardens (sudeleycastle.co.uk), the burial place of Katherine Parr, Henry VIII's last wife, or a gin tasting at the Cotswolds Distillery (cotswoldsdistillery.com).
Date night: The handsomely rustic Wild Rabbit (thewildrabbit.co.uk), in Kingham—where chef Tim Allen works his magic with wild game and Angus beef—is the place for dinner. Choose between the 18th-century pub and the more formal dining room.