Traben-Trarbach perches on the banks of the Moselle River. These days, it flies firmly under the radar, but back in the 20th century it was a different story altogether. Traben-Trarbach was Europe’s second-biggest wine trading city in Europe, second only to French powerhouse Bordeaux. Wine’s still very much a part of this town’s culture, though. Family-run wineries and vineyards are Traben-Trarbach’s bread and butter, so a wine-tasting session should be at the top of your to-do list. If you’re into hiking, this place has you covered. Part of the Moselsteig trail runs through the town, so it’s easy to explore the vine-crossed countryside around Traben-Trarbach. Don’t forget to take a tour of the huge wine cellars that wind their way beneath the town’s streets, too.
Get me there: Take a trip to Traben-Trarbach with our Moselle Valley – Vines & Views river cruise
You’ll find this slice of Italy in the toe of the country’s boot. Perhaps it’s the region’s tucked-away position that has allowed it to go unnoticed while Italy’s big names like Milan and Rome bask in the spotlight. Whatever the reason, now’s the time to discover Calabria for yourself, before the crowds catch on. Here, clifftop towns crown a coastline that comes complete with more than its fair share of sandy beaches. This place takes the Italy experience to the next level – it’s always been popular with Northern Italians coming down south for a beach-blanketed holiday. So, you can expect all the tourist-friendly trademarks, but without the sacrifice of any cultural authenticity. And, in classic Italy style, the food scene’s a winner. Make sure you try some local nduja on your pasta or pizza – you might’ve spotted this spicy spreadable sausage on the menu of your favourite Italian chain, but there’s nothing like the real thing.
Get me there: Discover Calabria with a stay at the TUI MAGIC LIFE Calabria
This island floats between big-names Rhodes and Turkey, but it’s got its very own personality. Forget Greece’s usual colour palette of blue and white – Symi Island mixes it up. As you sail towards the island – it’s far too small to have its own airport – you’ll see hillsides scattered with pastel-toned buildings, ranging from sunset oranges to lemon yellows. Expect to climb plenty of stairs to explore the island’s towns – 500 steps separate Gialos and Kali Strata. Want to try some local food? Take a breather in a taverna and ask for Symi shrimps. These tiny fried prawns are packed with flavour. Symi is famous for its sea sponges – you can visit a sponge workshop to find out all about this quirky slice of the island’s history. The Nautical Museum’s another sea-themed must-visit. It’s housed in a postcard-pretty neoclassical building in the island’s old shipyard, so it’s a great photo opportunity, too.
Get me there: See Symi on our Rhodes, Symi & beyond tour
Durnstein takes its name from its crowning glory – its crumbling castle. Glance up at this Medieval marvel, and you could be forgiven for thinking that it had grown out of the hill that it’s built on. Although the castle was almost destroyed in the 15th century, its ruins still stand proud, and they’re open to the public. Hike up to them, and you’ll get some serious views for your trouble – Durnstein sits in the UNESCO-listed Wachau Valley. The rest of this little town is clustered around the banks of the Danube River – think colourful buildings topped with terracotta roofs. If it’s historical sights you’re after, this place punches above its weight. As well as its castle, Durnstein boasts a Baroque Abbey, too.
Get me there: Call in at Durnstein on our Danube Waltz river cruise
Mostar might be Herzegovinia’s biggest city, but it’s far from mainstream. It’s most famous for its photogenic bridge, the Stari Most. This ottoman-style bridge arcs over the River Neretva – the end result’s like something out of a fairy tale. But that’s not all there is to this place. Wander its cobbled streets and you'll discover its bazaar, its traditional coppersmith’s shops, and an intriguing collection of street art. In fact, visit in the spring and you can join in with the city’s annual street art festival. Plus, if you’re happy to venture a little further afield, the Kravice Waterfalls are well within reach. Bring your camera for this daytrip – this collection of 25-metre-high streams plunge into the green-tinted lake below them.
Get me there: Uncover Mostar on our Adventure along the Adriatic tour
Croatia’s known for its island-hopping credentials, so it’s no surprise that the country’s coastline’s a treasure chest of hidden gems. But we reckon that Rab Island shines especially brightly. For starters, it’s got more sandy stretches than any other island in the Adriatic, so beach lovers are sorted. Plus, it’s a national park, so the postcard-pretty landscape’s protected. Inland, meanwhile, you’ll find Rab, a labyrinth-like town complete with narrow streets and Medieval churches. Choosing to stay on Rab Island doesn’t cut you off from the rest of Croatia’s collection of islands, though – far from it, in fact. It couldn’t be easier to daytrip to the likes of Krk, Lošinj and Cres, if you fancy a change of scenery. It goes without saying that the food on this island centres on seafood. Head to the harbour for the best of the bunch – lobster’s a mainstay on the menus of the seafood restaurants you’ll find here. But if you’ve got a sweet tooth, don’t end your trip without sampling a Rab cake. The recipe dates back to the 12th century, and features almonds, lemon and maraschino cherries.
Get me there: Stay on Rab Island at the TUI BLUE Carolina
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Author: Hannah Stratton
The TUI BLUE Carolina feels like an exclusive hideaway. It’s perched on the shores of a tree-smothered island, with views of Kvarner Bay.
All in all, you’ll tick off three countries on this Danube cruise, starting off in Hungary and stopping off in Slovakia and Austria.
The TUI MAGIC LIFE Calabria lines up a packed-to-the-rafters activity programme, lots of restaurants and a private beach.
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