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From Venice to Vilnius: Discovering Europe's Hidden Gems Exploring the Canals and Bridges of Venice, Italy So you've decided to venture off the beaten path and discover some of Europe's hidden gems, have you? Good for you.
While the major cities like London, Paris and Rome undoubtedly have their charms, Europe is chock full of underrated destinations waiting to be explored.
This summer, why not skip the crowds and head to some of the continent's best-kept secrets? Over the next few months, we'll take you on a journey to unearth some of Europe's most alluring hidden treasures.
First stop: the enchanting waterways of Venice.
After getting lost in the labyrinth of canals, we'll whisk you away to the historic heart of the Baltics in Vilnius, Lithuania.
A perfect blend of cosmopolitan culture within a backdrop of Baroque beauty.
Sound tempting? Then pack your bags - this will be a trip you'll never forget.
Our European adventure begins now.
Wandering the Medieval Old Town of Vilnius, Lithuania Exploring the Canals and Bridges of Venice, Italy The Grand Canal No trip to Venice is complete without a leisurely ride down the Grand Canal, the main waterway slicing through the heart of the city.
Hop aboard a vaporetto, Venice's public transit water bus, and soak in the palatial architecture and buzz of activity along the banks.
Some of the most striking buildings are the Ca' Pesaro, a Baroque palace housing modern art, and the Rialto Bridge, an iconic arched stone bridge spanning the canal.
Gondola Ride For a truly romantic Venetian experience, take a gondola ride.
The gondolier will serenade you as you glide down quiet canals, passing under quaint bridges.
While gondola rides are pricey, sharing with other passengers makes them more affordable.
Even a short ride is magical.
Exploring Dorsoduro Head to the Dorsoduro district, home to picturesque canals, bridges, and piazzas minus the big crowds.
Walk across the wooden Accademia Bridge, then wander narrow calle and campi, stopping for coffee at a canal-side cafe.
The Zattere promenade offers sweeping views of the Giudecca Canal.
The Santa Maria della Salute church, with its dramatic domed facade, is a scenic spot for photos.
From world-class art and architecture to intimate alleyways and hidden campos, Venice enchants.
Lose yourself strolling the endlessly walkable city, transported to another era with every turn.
By day or night, on foot or by boat, the allure of Venice's canals and bridges is eternal.
Venturing Off the Beaten Path in Small Town Venecija Exploring the cobbled streets of Vilnius’ Old Town, you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped back in time.
This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the largest surviving medieval old towns in Europe.
Wander the narrow alleys and you’ll stumble upon architectural gems around every corner.
Check out Vilnius Cathedral, a Roman Catholic church that dates back to the 14th century.
Climb the bell tower for panoramic views of red-roofed buildings as far as the eye can see.
Don’t miss Gediminas Castle, the remains of an upper castle on Gediminas Hill with origins from the 13th century.
According to legend, the Grand Duke of Lithuania Gediminas built the first wooden fortifications here after a dream about an iron wolf howling atop the hill.
For a glimpse into Jewish history, visit the Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum.
Vilnius was once nicknamed the “Jerusalem of Lithuania” due to its central role in Jewish scholarship.
This museum documents the history of Litvaks, Jews with roots in the Lithuanian Jewish community.
If you only have time for one museum, make it the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania.
This rebuilt palace showcases the history of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania with art, artifacts, and interactive exhibits.
Climb one of the palace’s towers for panoramic views of the red-roofed city.
After a day exploring, relax at one of the cozy cafés surrounding Cathedral Square or grab a pint at Bambalynė, an underground pub in a former monastery.
A perfect end to a day discovering the hidden gem that is Vilnius.
Experiencing Vilnius' Vibrant Arts and Culture Scene Venecija is a small Slovenian town on the Vipava River, about an hour from the capital Ljubljana.
While most visitors flock to Lake Bled or the coastal town of Piran, Venecija remains delightfully untouched.
Its cobblestoned streets and pastel-colored houses look as if they’re straight out of a storybook.
Wandering the Old Town The tiny old town of Venecija is perfect for wandering without an agenda.
As you stroll the narrow lanes, you’ll stumble upon St.
Peter’s Church, a picturesque church whose Romanesque bell tower has watched over the town for centuries.
Climb the tower’s 97 steps for panoramic views of red-roofed houses, the Alps, and surrounding vineyards.
Venecija was once an important stop on trade routes between Venice and Vienna, and its architecture reflects a mix of Venetian and Central European influences.
Beyond the Walls Just outside the old walls, you’ll find hiking and biking trails that lead into the surrounding hills.
Rent a bike to explore at your own pace, or join a guided e-bike tour.
The trails pass by scenic vineyards, orchards, and farms where you can stop to sample local wines, olive oils, cheeses, and other specialties.
Back in town, relax at one of the charming cafés on Glavni trg, Venecija’s picturesque main square.
Sip a glass of malvazija wine or a craft beer from the nearby Pelješac Peninsula and soak in the ambiance.
As evening falls, the square comes alive with locals and visitors mingling, kids playing, and traditional music wafting through the air.
Venecija’s off-the-beaten-path charm is sure to captivate you.
Lose yourself in this storybook town and enjoy a taste of Slovenian life at an unhurried pace.
The hardest part may be deciding whether to keep Venecija your own little secret or spread the word about this hidden European gem.
Tips for Traveling Europe's Hidden Gems on a Budget Vilnius has a vibrant arts and culture scene just waiting to be discovered.
As the capital city of Lithuania, Vilnius has been influenced by many cultures over the centuries, from Gothic and Renaissance to Baroque and Neoclassical architecture.
This blend of styles is reflected in the city’s art galleries, live music venues, theaters and museums.
Explore the cobblestone streets of the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you’ll stumble upon many hidden cultural gems.
Check out contemporary art at the Contemporary Art Centre and Rupert, or see avant-garde theater at the Oskaras Koršunovas Theatre.
Vilnius is also home to a renowned opera and ballet theatre, as well as a philharmonic hall that hosts world-class orchestras.
- Indulge in some live jazz, rock or electronic music at clubs like Opium Club, Tamsta or Loftas.
- Visit open-air art installations at the Vilnius Street Art Festival.
- Take in the latest exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, showcasing Lithuanian art from the 14th century to today.
Amid the cobblestone streets of the Old Town, you’ll discover many architectural wonders like the Vilnius Cathedral with its Neoclassical facade, and Gediminas Tower, the only remaining part of the Upper Castle.
The Gates of Dawn, one of the most famous landmarks, features an icon of the Virgin Mary said to have miraculous powers.
Vilnius has endured a long history of occupations, but its soul remains free.
This vivacious city celebrates freedom of expression through art, music, food, and festivals.
Lose yourself in the city’s creative spirit - you never know what hidden gems you might uncover in this open-air gallery.
Vilnius’ arts and culture scene is waiting to be experienced.
Dive in and discover!

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