And when traveling along an achingly beautiful mountainside — sea snapping down below, jagged peaks piercing the sky, 360 degree views wrapping snugly around you — do you feel the tug of curiosity goading you on towards the mystery of what lies beyond the next bend, and the next, ad infinitum? In an age where new becomes old in the blink of an eye, it’s not easy to satisfy your appetite for utterly surprising and exotic travel destinations that no one’s heard of before. If you’re incurably curious, a pioneer, a trailblazer, a Marco Polo with less of a beard, these latest picks of Europe’s most exotic travel destinations are for you.
Skip the Blue Lagoon and opt for this less touristy hot spring. Tucked in the Westfjords, far up in the Northwest of the the island sits the steaming geothermal hot tub of Krossneslaugh, just north of the Norðurfjörður cargo station, and right beside the sea. It’s an icy, fresh, smoky dream and an ideal spot from which to admire Iceland’s wayward sun, up all night in summer, reluctant to leave the party.
Said to be the cultural capital of Albania, Shkodra is one of those rare finds: a quaint European city that seems almost entirely absent of tourists. Head to the gentle old town for a dose of fascinating history, bargains and heart-warming local hospitality. Equally alluring, Shkodra also happens to be the country’s bike capital, owing to its flatness, so rent a bike and ride the recently revamped streets before taking a trip to Lake Shkodra. Be sure to pay homage to the woman in the wall at Castle Rozafa. According to legend three brothers built the castle but on their first attempts the walls kept collapsing. When an old man instructed them to mure a woman into the walls to stop them from falling, the brothers decided that the wife who brought food to them the following day would be sacrificed. Two of the men told their wives to stay away and so when the third arrived she was captured and imprisoned in the walls, but she had one request: to keep one arm, a leg and a breast out the walls to continue nursing and loving her child.
Saint Sauvant, France
With a population of just 517, this 14-century village is ideal for travelers who love cognac and hate choice; the village offers only one place to stay. The Design Hôtel des Francs Garçons is an architectural masterpiece featuring medieval exterior and modernist fittings complete with hand-printed wallpaper and gorgeous swimming pool. It’s good to know before you go that in Saint Sauvant there is little to do but savor meals, swirl golden tipple in a glass, and wander the town’s four streets.
A list of must-see exotic travel destinations would be incomplete without Bari in the beautiful region of Apulia. This little-known Italian culinary wonderland is treasured by local Italians. Bari, the capital of this agricultural eden, is set on the sea. The town is home to a laid-back atmosphere and culinary tradition you’ll continue to crave long after you leave. If you’re looking for one of the the finest luxury tours of Italy, ask about the nearby Il Frantoio in Ostuni, a farmhouse nestled in olive groves and poppy fields. Free from television and other frenetic energy-sappers of modern life, get lost in the starry Italian skies, devour some of the greatest food you’re likely to eat, and rest and rejuvenate in the simple but beautiful rooms of this 19th-century masseria.
For further details about a once-in-a-lifetime escape to Apulia or one of the other exotic travel destinations in Italy, contact Charme & Adventure, specialists in tailormade luxury tours of Italy that prioritize authenticity, individuality and you.
Cover photo courtesy of Marco Tamma