We just did a trip in Italy and Spain in which we discovered and enjoyed some beautiful small charming towns. From Instagram to Facebook all my friends were asking me, “How did you even find these little towns?” Well I wish I could say I have this great method, but instead it’s just happy accidents. I will show you 5 ways I stumble upon these happy accidents that end up making the best vacations.
There are always the tried and true methods which are travel books and let me tell you I use a wide variety of travel books to figure out what areas are some of the best discovered areas that we shouldn’t miss. These do tend to be a bit more touristy or even more visited towns, but you just never know when one is so far off the beaten path that few seek it out. Frommer’s 25 Great Drives in Tuscany and Umbria and 25 Great Drives in Spain helped me a lot on our last trip.
Word of Mouth
I am not afraid to ask my friends what towns they have been too and what exactly they loved about those places. Like me they have discovered places that many people might pass up because most people really just want to see Rome and that’s it, which there is nothing wrong with that, I just also like to see how the true locals live.
This has been a huge asset in planning trips. Not only can you bookmark things, but you can share boards with your travel buddies and you can find places together and plan your road trips with things that interest both of you. Pinterest contains so many blogs from travelers that you find places that most people have not heard of. Pinterest has really helped the world of tourism, because once unknown places are becoming more and more known. These gems need to be sought out.
This is probably my most favorite tip of all. I am a map nerd. Even before there was Google, I would sit and just spend hours pouring over maps. When we first moved to Germany in the early 90’s I would sit and study all the maps so I would know my way around and discover new routes. I had no idea what I would find along the way, I just knew it would be a happy accident.
Fast forward 25 years and we now have Google maps. Say for instance that I know I want to drive from Rome to Orvieto, so I start clicking on every single town in between. When you click on a town in Google maps it brings up pictures of the towns. I start to see pictures of things that I know I need to see and discover myself. From there I start to create routes and before you know it I’m stopping in towns like Sorano that are tiny, medieval, breathtaking and literally no tourists whatsoever. The town was tiny and I think I saw one maybe 2 other couples walking through it. Check out some small charming towns that I discovered by doing this.
Our AirBnB hosts have always been a huge help. They know all the hidden gems in the area and they want to make sure you discover them too. I love this. We have even had hosts that spoke very little English, but with a huge smile on their face they pointed out, on a map, all the places we need to visit. Thanks to them we have found some pretty cool places.
What are you tips for discovering places to visit on road trips through Europe and beyond?
We have also done a trip from Germany all the way to Czech.