hidden europe

Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

Magazine articles marked with the symbol are available in full-length for online reading (provided you are a subscriber to the printed magazine and have created a member account). All texts with the source "Letter from Europe" or "Notes" are available for online reading for every visitor to this website.

An exotic spot in western Scotland: the gardens at Crarae (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

By the shores of Loch Fyne

  • 30 Apr 2018
In Victorian Scotland, the public took great interest in technology, and so the detonations at the quarry of Crarae on the west shore of Loch Fyne became something of an attraction. The regular steamer from the Clyde to Inveraray would pause at ...
Magazine article

On a Starry Night

To walk in solitude in the company of stars is indeed something special. It's a chance to attend to the beauty of the heavens. In the Austrian village of Großmugl, the 1500-metre long Sternenweg is a gift to ...
The Swiss village of Samnaun is a duty-free haven (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Keeping loyal to Samnaun

  • 12 Jan 2018
We had assumed that the practice of diligently recording and publishing the name of visitors had long since died out until last summer we visited Samnaun. This really is one of Europe's most oddball communities. It is tucked away in the hills on ...
Lufthansa looks set to become more dominant in German skies following the demise of its rival Air Berlin. Air Berlin operates its last flights on Friday 27 October 2017 (photo © Radarman70 / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

The slow demise of Air Berlin

  • 27 Oct 2017
This evening, as the prosecco glasses clink and the water salutes cascade, anyone might be forgiven for thinking that Air Berlin had just notched up some great commercial success. What is in fact being marked is the demise of an airline with flight ...
James' View, a great base for exploring the island of Barra (photo © hidden europe).
hidden europe note

James' View: a stunning holiday home in Barra

  • 10 Aug 2017
James' View is stunning. You'd barely credit that the building was once no more than a simple Hebridean dwelling. It has been transformed by owners Marion and Will into a very welcoming holiday home on Barra. It makes a perfect base for exploring ...
Swiss style in Zermatt (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

The tourist gaze: Zermatt

  • 23 Jul 2017
There is more to Zermatt than the Matterhorn. hidden europe editor Nicky Gardner recalls an early morning walk in the Swiss ...
The cover of hidden europe 52 shows the town of Torgau. The scene is dominated by Hartenfels Castle, the one-time residence of the Electors of Saxony (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Editorial hidden europe 52
  

Welcome to hidden europe 52. Much travel writing fuels a shallow approach to travel. Fear of missing out (FEMO) makes travellers roam the globe in haste. There is, we think, a better way of engaging with places and cultures. We prefer to take ...
Monument to Nikolai Gogol in Vevey on the Montreux Riviera in Switzerland. Gogol was just one of many artists who enjoyed a sojourn by Lake Geneva (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Montreux connections

  • 31 Dec 2016
If you've eaten too much over the holidays and fancy some exercise, why not join us on a walk around Lake Geneva. Let's focus on the Montreux Riviera, which sweeps softly around the north-east part of the lake. It is densely settled with ...
Byron's visit to the Château de Chillon in 1816 set the agenda for generations of subsequent travellers. This hugely popular castle on the shores of Lake Geneva is in the premier league of Swiss visitor attractions (photo © Pavalache Stelian / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

The Prisoner of Chillon

  • 5 Dec 2016
200 years ago, on 5 December 1816, the Scottish publisher John Murray published The Prisoner of Chillon, a poem in the romantic idiom by Lord Byron. It was inspired by a visit which Byron and Shelley had together made to the Château de Chillon that ...
The Augustinian abbey on Inchcolm - an island in the Firth of Forth near Edinburgh (photo © Creativehearts / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Buying a Scottish island

  • 1 Dec 2016
Would you ever consider buying an entire island? This autumn has seen a couple of Scottish islands on the market. For a mere two million pounds, you might consider Tanera Mòr, the largest of the Summer Isles just off the coast of north-west ...
Magazine article

Visa News

A chance to visit Belarus without a visa, and a tweak to the visa regulations in the Russian port of Murmansk are just two of the latest changes to visa regimes in ...
Lock-in tower (called a 'kulla') and traditional stone house in the north Albanian village of Theth (photo © Laurence Mitchell).
Magazine article

Albania: A Tale of Two Valleys

It is unlikely that great streams of tourists will be arriving in the mountains of northern Albania anytime soon. But this part of the southern Balkans now benefits from better access roads. Guest contributor Laurence Mitchell reports from two ...
Part of a 'Kursächsische Postmeilensäule' - a milestone erected in the Electorate of Saxony as part of an initiative to formalise postage charges. This milestone is at Bad Gottleuba on the former post route between Dresden (Saxony) and Teplice (Bohemia) (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Exploring the Ore Mountains

The Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains) offer excellent possibilities for hiking, cycling and cross-country skiing. But even less energetic visitors can reach remote communities in the region by local bus and train ...
Fish is a staple in the local diet, and you'll find a fabulous choice of seafood in the markets of Siracusa, Sicily (phooto © Presse750 / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

South to Sicily

The latest book from hidden europe editors Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries is Europe by Rail. Catch the flavour of this new edition with our train journey from Rome to Sicily, specially adapted from the book for this issue of the ...
Memorial to Father Hendrik in the Altes Land village of Steinkirchen, Germany. He was the symbolic leader of the first Dutch settlers who moved to the area in the 12th century (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

A Visit to the Old Country

Beside the River Elbe, just downstream from Hamburg, lies the Altes Land. It is one of Europe's most intensive areas of fruit cultivation. Apples, raspberries, cherries and plums aplenty in a region which owes much to early Dutch ...
The main street in Clarens, South Africa (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

A Tale of Two Clarens

On the face of it, there is no connection between the Swiss town of Clarens (on the north shore of Lake Geneva) and the South African town of Clarens in the Free State. But the South African town took its name from the eponymous Swiss community. It ...
A classic piece of communist architecture: on its completion in 1952, the Kotelnicheskaya Embankment building on the Moskva River in Moscow was the tallest building in Europe (photo © Leonid Andronov / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Welcome to hidden europe 48

  • 13 Mar 2016
Today's Letter from Europe reviews the contents of hidden europe 48. Publication of this new issue of the travel magazine is 15 March 2016. Copies are already available for ...
From great novels to vintage romance, the whole world of the printed word is traded in Redu, a book town in Belgium (photo © Katrin Schönig).
Magazine article

Redu: that novel idea
  

Tucked away in the hill country of southern Belgium is the town of Redu. On the face of it, Redu is much the same as other towns in the Ardennes region. Except that, in Redu, the printed word is especially cherished and valued. Paul Scraton invites ...
The operations room in Valletta used by the Allies for managing operations in the Mediterranean theatre in World War II (photo © Victor Paul Borg).
Magazine article

Valletta's subterranean secrets
  

Dive into the streets of Valletta and you'll discover one side of the Maltese capital. Climb up to the city ramparts for a very different view of Valletta. But Victor Paul Borg believes that the only way to understand the military history of ...
Magazine article

Playing the Welsh card
  

Welsh settlers landed on the Patagonian coast in 1865 to create Y Wladfa (literally 'the colony') in the Chubut Valley. Within little more than a generation, most of the Welsh migrants had moved inland or left South America altogether. But a veneer ...
The former prison island of Cabrera - just off the south coast of Mallorca - is now a popular destination for day trips by boat from Mallorca (photo © Alexander Nikiforov / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Cabrera, a tainted paradise

  • 1 Mar 2016
In the summer of 1812, while Napoleon's Grande Armée was storming east towards Moscow, William Faden's publishing house in London was busy putting the finishing touches to a new guide to Spanish inshore waters. Among the areas covered in the pilot ...
The Ile de Bendor seen from the coast at Bandol, France (photo © Bunyos / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

A glass of pastis

  • 18 Jan 2016
It's hard to say no to pastis. Especially on the island of Bendor, off the south coast of France, where pastis is the preferred drink at almost any time of day. If you are really bold, you can get away with ordering a glass of the local Bandol ...
End of the line for the slow train from the Czech spa town of Karlovy Vary: Marianske Lazne (photo © hidden europe).
Letter from Europe

Bohemian therapy

  • 2 Aug 2015
Eight times each day, even on Sundays, a train leaves the Czech town of Karlovy Vary for the 80-minute journey through the hills to Mariánské Lázne. Both communities are celebrated stops on the European spa circuit. They both flourished in Habsburg ...
Lisbon’s Praca do Comércio, with the prominent statue of King José I on his charger and the triumphal arch and arcades behind. The restaurant-café Martinho da Arcada is to the right of the arch (photo © Iain Bamforth).
Magazine article

Exploring Lisbon with Pessoa

Think of writers who are intimately associated with a particular city: Kafka and Prague, Joyce and Dublin, Svevo and Trieste... or Pessoa and Lisbon. Pessoa did for Lisbon something which few other leading writers have done for their home city. He ...
Teenagers from the Soviet Union and Africa at Artek in summer 1982 (image from RIA Novosti).
Letter from Europe

A children's republic in the Crimea

  • 9 Jun 2015
This week marks the 90th anniversary of the opening of the Artek children's camp in the Crimea. Throughout post-Soviet Europe there are thousands of older people who look back with great affection to the summer holidays they enjoyed as children at ...
The Hurtigruten vessels which ply the Norwegian coast provide essential links to ports along the way. This is a shipping service that connects remote communities with the wider world (photo © hidden europe).
hidden europe note

Hurtigruten: frequently asked questions

  • 10 Sep 2014
Readers of hidden europe often ask us about details of the Norwegian coastal voyage. On this page we have gathered together two dozen such questions with our answers. A lot of general information on Hurtigruten is available in brochures. ...
The Hurtigruten vessel MS Kong Harald in Kirkenes harbour, getting ready for its southbound journey on the Norwegian coastal voyage (photo © hidden europe).
hidden europe note

Hurtigruten: the Norwegian coastal voyage

  • 10 Sep 2014
To our mind, the Norwegian coastal voyage is one of Europe’s finest slow travel adventures.The Hurtigruten vessels which ply the Norwegian coast provide essential links to ports along the way. The pure simplicity of the timetable allows travellers ...
Magazine article

Kratovo: a town worth its salt

The Macedonian town of Kratovo is by-passed by most travellers exploring the southern Balkans. But guest contributor Chris Deliso took time to discover the town which was once an important mining centre. Join us as we walk over the bridges of ...
Magazine article

Crimea notes

The Ukrainian railway administration may still be advertising trains to Crimea, but not a lot of Ukrainians will be heading to the region for their summer holidays. Hoteliers in Crimea are having a lean season, but Moscow has plans to ensure that ...
Painting at the East Side Gallery, a surviving fragment of the Berlin Wall (image © Anagram1 / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

A share in history

The agency that promotes tourism to the German capital is called Visit Berlin. During 2014 Visit Berlin is promoting the idea that 9 November 2014 is the night when you just must be in Berlin. Just as Notting Hill Festival and Edinburgh Hogmanay ...
Colourful houses in Ærøskøbing, the capital of the Danish island of Ærø (photo © Marieke van der Horst).
Magazine article

Double act: the Danish island of Ærø
  

The Danish island of Ærø is no more than a fleck in the Baltic. Yet this beautiful island is a good place to understand Danish history. If you are ever in any doubt as to how much the sea has inflected the Danish experience, make time for Marstal, ...
Magazine article

Rail timetable reborn
  

The renaissance of the European Rail Timetable (ERT) is good news for rail travellers across the continent. The decision last year by Thomas Cook to scrap the title was a bitter blow. But, thanks to a new company set up by the team that compiled ...
Letter from Europe

Reclaiming Weimar

  • 30 Jan 2014
Snow falls over all the city, covering the cobbles and the pathways. In the gentle stretch of parkland that lines the valley of the Ilm, snow drapes the follies and the ruins. In the middle of Weimar, statues of stern men are laced with light snow. ...
Letter from Europe

Into the desert

  • 21 Jan 2014
The monastery on the Isola di San Francesco del Deserto is a place apart, an island retreat in the shallow recesses of the northern lagoon well away from the hustle and bustle of Venice. It is an island where blessed solitude is punctuated by the ...
Magazine article

Alhama de Granada: Al-Andalus revisited
  

Alhama de Granada is a small town in the mountains of Andalucía, one feted by many writers in the Romantic tradition as being on a par with Granada itself. Laurence Mitchell describes the pulse of everyday life in Alhama, a place that still has its ...
Magazine article

Miss Jemima’s Swiss journal
  

In 1863, Jemima Morrell participated in the first ever escorted tour of the Alps organised by Cook. Her diary of that journey is a remarkable piece of writing - one that slices through Victorian formality. The story of what happened to that diary ...
La Seu Cathedral dominates the waterfront of Palma de Mallorca (photo © Elena Zarubina / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

Island hopping through the Balearics
  

To understand Menorca and its history, you have to arrive at Maó by ship. There is no better way to do this than by taking the weekly sailing from Palma di Mallorca to Menorca, along the way passing the island where Hannibal was born and another ...
Letter from Europe

Remembering Miss Jemima

  • 14 Jul 2013
Cast back 150 years, and Bastille Day came and went without the average Parisian taking much notice. It was not till 1880 that 14 July acquired the status of a national holiday. Thus when Miss Jemima Morrell wandered the streets of Paris on 14 July ...
Letter from Europe

Hercules in Lazio

  • 28 Jun 2013
The time is coming when residents of Rome escape the Eternal City. Rome is not a place to stay in summer. Many from Rome head north into the hills of Lazio, where Etruscan, Roman and Renaissance threads intertwine in history and culture. The lakes ...
Stephansplatz in the centre of Vienna - an architectural medley of ancient and modern (photo © Pixcom / dreamstime.com).
Magazine article

Retrospect 1873: Salzburg to Vienna
  

There is a prevailing view in Salzburg that Vienna is halfway to Asia. And that is certainly the perspective with which 19th-century travellers from western Europe approached Vienna. We retrace the itinerary followed by Thomas Cook's clients in ...
Letter from Europe

Thomas Cook: March 1873

  • 28 Feb 2013
By the end of February 1873, Thomas Cook had encircled most of the northern hemisphere. Cook and his party of circumnavigators had sailed from Liverpool in September 1872. The travellers discovered iced water, Pullman cars and Sioux warriors in the ...
Letter from Europe

A place for newly-weds

  • 12 Nov 2012
Where were we? Ah, yes... Contemplating the western horizon as October slipped into November. So we travelled west, just as we promised. We saw white horses and chalk downland, slipping through geology to reach a land of gorgeous place names. We ...
The Landmark Theatre in Ilfracombe, England (photo © hidden europe).
Magazine article

Just like Elba

Antony Gormley's dramatic sculpture, The Angel of the North, has done wonders for south Tyneside. Will Verity do the same for Ilfracombe? But Verity's stay in the north Devon port is limited to just twenty years. And who then might take her place ...
The watery townscape of Brandenburg an der Havel, Germany (photo © hidden europe)
Magazine article

It’s the small things that matter

Would you believe that a major guide book publisher really suggests that the Rhine runs from north to south through Germany? With tight budgets, some publishers are cutting corners and skimping on detail. For the Rough Guide to Germany, that means ...
Magazine article

England and Europe

Given our interests, you might have thought that we'd have pounced on The Smell of the Continent the moment it was published in 2009. The book is a witty and well-researched account of how the English discovered continental Europe in a decades ...
Letter from Europe

All eyes on Ukraine

  • 4 Jun 2012
Just over five years ago, on a sunny day in mid-April 2007, Victor Yushchenko paid a courtesy visit to the European Commission. On the same day Victor Yanukovich addressed the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Ukraine was in ...
Letter from Europe

From synagogue to swimming pool

  • 22 May 2012
It is tempting to scatter superlatives when it comes to Poznan. Three years ago we featured this striking Polish city in hidden europe magazine, and since then we've written frequently on Poznan for other media (most recently in the august pages of ...
Letter from Europe

Across the Channel

  • 16 Mar 2012
The stretch of coast north from Boulogne (in the direction of Calais) is a good place to reflect on England. We took a local bus along the coastal road last month, and it made for a fine ride on a perfectly clear, crisp winter day. Beach ...
Letter from Europe

Women on the rails

  • 8 Mar 2012
International Women's Day (IWD), which is celebrated today in many countries across the world, has been a feature of the European social landscape for more than a century. From the outset, IWD gave focus to a range of initiatives across Europe that ...
Letter from Europe

Liberating public spaces

  • 19 Feb 2012
Wandering through the middle of Berlin last week, we were struck by the large number of professional photographers and film crews busily working away, each claiming a stretch of pavement to use classic Berlin scenes as the backdrop for their work. ...
Letter from Europe

Church etiquette

  • 9 Jan 2012
Over the recent holidays, a friend and fellow-traveller popped the 'church question'. Is it okay to slip into Mass or Evensong to enjoy the splendours of Venice's Basilica di San Marco or York's magnificent Minster when the principal intent is not ...
Letter from Europe

Now the dust is settling

  • 22 Apr 2010
Well, that was certainly an interesting week for travellers around Europe. Lots of angst for stranded souls. Rich fodder for the British tabloids as brave holidaymakers returned to English ports recounting tales of journeys from hell. Heavens, we ...
Letter from Europe

Celebrity tourism in the Trossachs

  • 19 Oct 2009
Celebrity tourism is nothing new. In 1847, Queen Victoria had journeyed to the Hebrides from the Clyde, using the Crinan Canal to avoid the long sea journey around the Kintyre peninsula. In so doing she encouraged thousands of other travellers to ...
Magazine article

Thinking about festivals

The festivalisation of culture penetrates all areas of the arts. No longer is it possible to offer a string of Mozart concerts. Nowadays it has to be a Mozart festival. hidden europe probes the issues of authenticity surrounding Europe's growing ...
image © Nexus7 / dreamstime.com
Magazine article

A manifesto for slow travel
  

Slow travel is about making conscious choices, and not letting the anticipation of arrival undermine the pleasure of the journey. By choosing to travel slowly, we reshape our relationship with place and with the communities through which we pass on ...
Letter from Europe

Slow travel

  • 14 Mar 2009
Have you ever thought about slow travel? The Slow Food movement is well established, and there are now slow cities. But what about slow travel? Robert Louis Stevenson and Freya Stark both travelled with donkeys. They were attentive to every turn of ...
Letter from Europe

Helgoland

  • 24 Mar 2008
Despite a biting north wind and some squally showers of sleet and hail, Helgolanders did what they always do on the evening of Easter Saturday: gather just before dusk for the traditional Osterfeuer (Easter fire). Helgoland (often still referred to ...
Letter from Europe

Maltese moments

  • 28 Jan 2008
The English poet Coleridge was not at all keen on Malta. 'The dreariest of all dreary islands,' he wrote in a letter back to his Lakeland home. And Byron is alleged to have described the Maltese capital, Valletta, as memorable mainly for its ...
Letter from Europe

North Cape (Norway)

  • 6 Nov 2006
The experience of driving through the world's longest road tunnel is one to remember. At over 24 km long (more than 15 miles), the Lærdalstunnelen linking Aurland and Lærdal in western Norway is more than twice as long as the Mont Blanc Tunnel that ...
Letter from Europe

Dark tourism in Berlin and beyond

  • 13 Aug 2006
Many of Berlin's prime attractions evoke the darker side of the city's past. The new monument to the murdered Jews of Europe just south of the Brandenburg Gate is the latest addition to Berlin's dark tourism repertoire. Just a short walk away is ...