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Hidden Gems of the South

The South of Europe is home to many bustling cities, beautiful beaches, and tourist hotspots - but hidden amongst these are unspoiled havens that are well worth heading off the beaten track for. Here are some of our recommended hidden gems that are not to be missed in the sun-soaked South. 

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1. Montserrat, Spain


From the mountainside monastery to the 'stairway to heaven', the sights of Montserrat are incredible and start well before you reach the town. Whether you choose to take the cable car or the rack train to ascend the mountain, you can be sure of a breathtaking panoramic experience.


This holy town holds many religious artifacts and a ton of French art that spans centuries, featuring works by El Greco, Monet, Dali and more. It's also a site of pilgrimage, with visitors coming from far and wide to visit the statue of the Black Virgin, rumored to have healing properties.


Fan of hiking? Catch the Funicular de Sant Joan, which takes you further up the mountain to the hiking trails that lead to the tallest peaks. 


How to get there

Train from Barcelona: 2 hours, including either the cable car or rack-train (Eurailers will need to pay for a regular ticket on the Monistrol-Montserrat rack-train).

2. Cassis, France


This unspoiled small fishing town on the Mediterranean coast is just 20 minutes east of Marseille and is the perfect spot for a day trip for both active travelers and the more laid-back alike.


With its quaint, colorful docks, it is the picture-perfect place to enjoy freshly caught fish and traditional ‘Bouillabaisse’ and sample their world-renowned Cassis wines.


For those eager to hit the beaches, the Calanques National Park is a short walk – and as you venture deeper in, the more secluded the beautiful limestone Calanques coves get. In particular, the Calanques d’en Vau is not to be missed! Not a fan of walking? There are regular boats that can take you directly to these coves for between 10 and 25 euros.


How to get there

Train from Marseille St-Charles: 20 minutes


Tip: If you have a flexi Pass, buy a point-to-point ticket to save yourself a travel day.

3. Piran, Slovenia


Nestled between Italy and Croatia, the beautiful city of Piran is located on the tip of Slovenia’s coastline. Given the city's Italian roots, you’re sure to discover local delicacies as you wander through Tartini Square, famously named after violinist Giuseppe Tartini.


Alternatively, embrace the city’s longstanding fishing tradition and feast on the catch of the day or pay a visit to the Walls of Piran.


How to get there

Train from Ljubliana: 3.5 hours (including a 20-minute bus for Koper-Piran) 

4. Alberobello, Italy


Alberobello is the must-visit hidden gem when exploring the heel of Italy, with its hut-like white and straw Trullis setting. It's the perfect scene for a Mediterranean escape, and many local festivals are held here during the summer months. This gives you the chance to experience local culinary delights, traditional dancing, and famous Italian hospitality.


Foodie or wine lover? Check out the Enoteca Tholos wine bar, which offers tastings of the region's many wines, cheeses, meats and oils. For the more adventurous, they also offer traditional cooking classes in their Trulli!


How to get there

Train from Bari: 1 hour 10 minutes

5. Plovdiv, Bulgaria


Whilst being the second largest city in Bulgaria, the ‘city on seven hills’ is relatively undiscovered by the average traveler. Being touted as the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, Plovdiv is steeped in history – with remnants of Ancient Greek, Roman, and Ottoman architecture dotted throughout.


Perhaps the most impressive is the Roman amphitheater that hosts events all year round, from opera to rock concerts and even traditional Bulgarian theatre performances. See the event schedule here.


Want to cool down from the hot summer sun? Try some ‘Tarator’, a cold soup that can be enjoyed alongside Bulgaria’s national drink - fruit brandy.


How to get there

Train from Sofia: 3 hours


Tip: Our partner Getyourguide offers a virtual reality tour to Plovdiv from Sofia -  and Eurail customers get 10% off!

Start your journey

Inspired to take a journey? Find the best Eurail Pass for you and start discovering these hidden gems. 

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