Have you ever been to the smallest town in the world? Or seen a lake which during summer becomes a park? We give you the list of top 10 most unusual (and unique) places in Europe and we hope some of them will make you pack your bags and visit these wonders of nature!
1) Tinto River, Spain
The Rio Tinto is a river that flows through the city of Huelva in southwest of Spain. You’re probably thinking “why is some river that special” – well, the name of the river actually means “painted” in Spanish and it got the name due to its brick-red colour. The area along the river was for centuries a mine of copper, gold and other metals. After that many years of mining high levels of iron dissolved in the river which resulted in making the water extremely acidic.
2) Kjeragbolten, Norway
Here’s a perfect example of how nature is truly magical and unpredictable. Kjeragbolten is a mountain rock situated in Rogaland county in Norway. The boulder is “placed” between two cliffs at an altitude of 984 metres so you practically feel like you’re floating in the air. Besides being a very popular tourist attraction, Kjeragbolten is also one of the favourite spots for base jumping addicts. Getting there can be quite a challenge, especially the mountain climb because some parts require climbing equipment. However, once you get there, all the hard work will pay off because the view from the rock is absolutely amazing. And remember – don’t look down!
3) Hum, Croatia
Hum on the Istrian peninsula in Croatia is often referred to as the smallest town in the world although it certainly doesn’t look like one. This “town” was established back in 11th century and since then it has remained almost intact and that is why it still has the title of a town. There are only two streets in Hum and only 30 residents according to 2011 census. Although small in size, Hum is known for its unique mistletoe schnapps which can be only found in Hum. In fact, every year at the end of October all Istrian brandy makers gather on a fair in Hum where the visitors get to taste different types of brandy. Another attraction near Hum is the Glagolitic Alley which connects the town of Roc with Hum. It is actually a 7-kilometre long road with a series of 11 erected monuments, last being the City Gates of Hum.
4) Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland
The Giant’s Causeway is a natural reserve located in the vicinity of Bushmills, Northern Ireland. This nature’s wonder is unlike any other in the world – it consists of approximately 40 000 basalt columns which got included in UNESCO World Heritage Site list due to their rather peculiar shape. Although these rocks are actually the result of a volcanic eruption, there’s still a legend about them which says that the rocks were built by a giant (hence the name). In 1986 was opened Causeway Tourist Centre where you can get useful information about the site, exchange money and buy souvenirs.
5) Popeye Village, Malta
Nearly 40 years ago, this “village” didn’t even exist until Disney Productions decided to use the site near Mellieha as a film set for Popeye musical movie. The construction of the so-called Popeye Village, primarily named Sweethaven, was influenced by the comics of E.C. Segar and it is a village where Popeye comes back in hope of finding his father. Today the village is a very popular family fun park where you can meet characters such as Popeye, Olive and Wimpy, go on a boat trip around the village bay or watch various shows performed each day of the week. The entrance fee to Popeye Village is 16€ and it includes every activity in the park except food – and you get a free glass of wine at the entrance!
6) Green Lake, Austria
Also known as Grüner See (in German), Green Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes in Europe because of its crystal emerald-green water. However, that is not why it deserved a spot in our list of unusual places. This lake is actually made out of the snowmelt from Hochschwab Mountains. Every summer, due to high temperatures it dries up and again in spring the park fills up with water, sometimes even up to 12 metres of depth! The lake was a hotspot for scuba divers which were exploring the underwater park (you could even see benches and trails!) but unfortunately, diving or any other kind of water activity has been prohibited since last year because of the potential environment pollution.
7) Giethoorn, the Netherlands
What would you say if you needed to live in a place which has no roads at all? Impossible, right? Well, you were wrong. Fairytale-like village of Giethoorn is situated in Holland, in Overijssel province to be precise. It is a village entirely built on tiny islands connected by canals and over 180 wooden bridges. Popularly called the Dutch Venice, Giethoorn has been attracting tourists for decades but those who live there are even more lucky. The usual day in not so usual village consists of regular boat rides and every island has a walking path along the canals. Make sure you visit Giethoorn ‘t Olde Maat Uus Museum where you can see how the life in Giethoorn used to look like few centuries ago. All in all, we can agree on one thing for sure – it truly is an amazing place to visit!
8) Pamukkale, Turkey
Okay, it may not be in “European” part of Turkey, but it certainly deserves to be on this list. Pamukkale, or Cotton Castle, is yet another natural reserve which makes people think “how is it even possible that something like that exists?” This natural site in Denizli, Turkey is one of most visited attractions in this country. Pamukkale is known for its thermal springs and white travertine terraces. The temperature in hot springs ranges from 35 °C up to boiling 100°C and most of them are not accessible to tourists. Tourists are only allowed to dip their feet in shallow pools and the entire area is shoe-free – which means you need to walk barefoot since these springs can easily get polluted.
9) Mont Saint Michel, France
This unique fortified “town” on an island is one of France’s most iconic landmarks and each year more than three million tourists decide to pick Mont Saint Michel as their destination. The Mont, as many like to call it, was also listed as UNESCO World Heritage site, more precisely, its bay. Interestingly, the island was accessible only if there was ebb tide but luckily, today is connected to mainland by a bridge. The main attraction on the island is the Benedictine monastery on top of the island hill visited by more than 50 000 pilgrims each year on St Michael’s day. Visit Museum of History with rich collection of old weapons, paintings and sculptures and discover old prisons and cells (Mont Saint Michel used to a prison during the reign of Louis XI). And make sure you leave some time to do souvenir shopping and grab a delicious crêpe – who would have thought there’s so many things to do on such little island?
10) Holy Trinity Monastery, Kalambaka, Greece
This Eastern Orthodox monastery is probably the most peculiar monastery you’ll ever see. Holy Trinity Monastery is built on the so-called meteora stones whose meaning roughly translates to “in the middle of the sky”. Holy Trinity Monastery is not actually the only one in Greece – there are in total 24 of that kind while only 6 of them are open to visitors. This trend was popular during 14th and 15th century because it made monks believe that in that way they will be closer to God. The monastery can be reached either by climbing the stairs or by road on the neighbouring cliff and then taking a cable-car across the gorge between the two cliffs.