TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - Mar 27, 2014) - Europe has always been a popular summer travel destination for Canadians and trips across the pond continue to grow in popularity every year. In fact, Canadian summer travel to Europe grew by more than 12 per cent last year versus the year before.*
When thinking about European travel cities like Paris, London and Rome come to mind. But what about some lesser known cities off the beaten path? Expedia.ca™ has compiled a list of these not-often-considered, but equally as cultural cities -- which often come with smaller price tags and lesser crowds. Combined with Expedia.ca's current Europe Sale offering up to 50% off your stay, this summer may prove the perfect time to broaden your European horizons with these suggested 'hidden gems.'
1. DELPHI, GREECE -- MYTHICAL MOUNTAIN
With deep roots in Greek mythology, Delphi is a vacation spot where you can lose yourself in the history of the Delphi Ruins. Just an hour outside Athens, Delphi is a mix of both ancient and modern, topped with the scenic slopes of Mount Parnassus, making it a ski town year-round -- ski in the morning and explore ancient mythology at the Temple of Apollo in the afternoon, even on a glowing summer day. Compared to similar accommodations in Athens, a hotel stay in Delphi will save guests a mythical $144 when booked on Expedia.ca.**
2. DIJON, FRANCE -- MUSING WITH MUSTARD
Escape the crowds in Paris this summer and visit Dijon, mustard capital of the world. Capital of the Burgundy region, Dijon is famous for more than just the yellow spread. Not only is it renowned for its medieval architecture, but it is also the region in which eight of the world's ten most expensive wines are produced. Compared to similar accommodations in Paris, Expedia.ca offers hotels in Dijon that are almost $120 less expensive.**
3. ROVINJ, CROATIA -- BLUE PEARL OF THE ADRIACTIC SEA
This colourful coastal town is relaxed in nature, rich in history and caters to just about any taste. Sun seekers can soak up rays on its expansive beaches, historians can tour the old town and learn the Balkan history, and adventure junkies can rock climb at Zlanti Rt Forest Park. Compared to similar accommodations in Croatia's capital Zagreb, a night in Rovinj saves Canadians nearly $50 when booked on Expedia.ca.***
4. LECCE, ITALY -- FLORENCE OF THE SOUTH
Lecce offers a Tuscan-like experience without the crowds often found in the more popular tourist destination of Florence. This quaint Italian town is packed with Baroque-style architecture and a vast collection of artwork, ceramics and classical vases from the region, housed at the "Museo Provinciale. Priding itself on R&R, shops in town close daily from 2:00pm to 5:00pm so locals can rest while visitors also take a snooze or explore the neighbouring seaside town of San Cataldo. Compared to similar accommodations in Florence, a night in Lecce booked on Expedia.ca is up to $153 less expensive.**
5. SINTRA, PORTUGAL -- ROYAL ROOTS WORTH SEEING
Home to historical palaces and ancient estates, Sintra is best known for its royal roots just outside of Lisbon. Be sure to visit the notable Sintra National Palace, a World Heritage Site and the best preserved medieval royal palace in Portugal. But if royal history is not for you, explore the golden Atlantic beaches, mountainous cliffs and panoramic views of this modern day Portuguese city. Compared to similar accommodations in Lisbon, a night in Sintra offers a royal savings of more than $100 when booked on Expedia.ca.**
6. CAPPADOCIA, TURKEY -- CHIMING WITH FAIRY CHIMNEYS
Prepare to be amazed by the spectacular landscape in the prehistoric region of Cappadocia. Ancient rock formations called "Fairy Chimneys" dot the area and offer visitors the opportunity to navigate through old caverns and a vast network of underground cities. Go sightseeing in ancient caves below the city or experience them from above on a sunrise hot-air balloon tour. Compared to similar accommodations in Istanbul, book a night in Cappadocia and save up to $122.**
7. BRIGHTON, ENGLAND -- LONDON'S COTTAGE COUNTRY
Just like Canadians escape to cottage country, Brighton is the seaside sanctuary for Londoners. Enjoy a sunset stroll along the promenade at Brighton Pier or indulge in traditional pub fare after a day of swimming in the English Channel. And when the sun goes down, enjoy the bright nightlife and dazzling displays that Brighton has to offer. Compared to similar accommodations in London, a night in Brighton will have you resting easy, with savings of up to $164 when booked on Expedia.ca.**
8. SEVILLE, SPAIN -- DANCING WITH HISTORY AND TRADITION
Like many other Spanish cities Seville is saturated with rich Spanish art, architecture and culture. But what makes Seville different is its recognition as the birthplace of Flamenco dancing. From cante (singing) and toque (guitar playing) to palmas (handclaps) and baile (dance), Seville is the perfect travel spot for anyone looking to break out their dancing shoes. Compared to similar accommodations in Madrid, booking a night in Seville on Expedia.ca will give you something to sing about with savings of up to $150 per night.**
9. LISSE, NETHERLANDS -- GARDEN OF EUROPE
A quick 30 minute drive from Amsterdam, you won't want to miss the colourful town of Lisse. Best known as the 'Garden of Europe,' Lisse is the home of Keufenhof Park where seven million flower bulbs are planted annually, covering an area of 32 hectares, alongside other budding floral beauties hyacinths, daffodils, orchids, roses, carnations, irises and lilies. But if you want to see the city in full bloom, visit in May during the annual Flower Parade. Compared to similar accommodations in Amsterdam, a picturesque night in Lisse offers $100 in savings per night when booked on Expedia.ca.**
10. SYLT, GERMANY -- GERMANY'S SURFER'S PARADISE
With more than 40 KM of sandy beaches, Sylt is the largest island in the North Sea and an oasis for water sport enthusiasts who enjoy sailing, swimming and kite surfing. Not only is it Germany's version of surfer's paradise, but Sylt is also a culinary wonder featuring everything from Michelin star-rated restaurants to scenic seaside food stops that will satisfy the hunger of any traveller. Compared to similar accommodations in Berlin, a night in Sylt booked on Expedia.ca provides a short journey to the beach and up to $60 in savings per night.**
For Canadians looking to find their 'hidden gem' this summer, Europe has never been more affordable thanks to Expedia.ca's Europe Sale. Travellers who book on Expedia.ca before April 28th for travel from May 1st to September 30th can save up to 50% on their stay when they book hotel only or flight plus hotel packages.
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*Conference Board of Canada Outbound Canada Report, January 2014
**Savings are based on an average per-night stay at 3-star rated hotels in these cities from April 12th to 13th, 2014 for two adults. All hotels are available on Expedia.ca as of March 25th, 2014. Prices are subject to vary based on booking date and star rating.
***Savings are based on an average per-night stay at 3-star rated hotels in these Croatian cities from April 19th to 20th, 2014 for two adults. All hotels are available on Expedia.ca as of March 25th, 2014. Prices are subject to vary based on booking date and star rating.