Five “unconventional” European capitals you must see

Five “unconventional” European capitals you must see

The European capitals…! Who wouldn’t want to visit at least one, at least once in their life? Your thoughts immediately turn to Paris, Rome, Athens, Berlin, Madrid, Vienna. Certainly these are the most famous, the most beautiful, the most touristy of all. But at least for once, for just one season, treat yourself to the pleasure of experiencing a holiday in “other” European capitals… less conventional, less known. But just as beautiful. We suggest five for this autumn-winter. Pack your bags and go discover…


The small capital of the small island of Malta is famous above all for its crazy summers, full of life and entertainment. But rediscovering it in autumn or winter could be a new emotion. To get there you land at Malta Airport, not far from the city centre.

Historic city, linked to the adventures of the Crusader knights, Valletta has a very large old town made up of alleys, courtyards and underpasses a bit like an Arab city. The enormous dome of the Virgin of Carmel’s church dominates everything, but the unique sight to see is the cathedral of St John, which shares the title with the church of St Paul in Medina. The simplicity of the exteriors clashes with richly embellished interiors in the eighteenth-century baroque style, which makes these churches true monuments of art.

In addition to the churches, Valletta is also famous for the great St. Elmo Fort, the Grand Master’s Palace, the Barrakka Gardens, the National Museum of Fine Arts and the tourist promenade along the harbour. The three beautiful medieval towns of Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua, which form the district called “The Three Cities”, are not part of Valletta but automatically complete its urban area. So they can also be considered part of the capital’s itinerary.


The ancient capital of Portugal has recently been rediscovered by international tourism, despite having always been there, with its artistic beauty and architecture – among the most beautiful in the world! – in placid waiting. Today, landing at the Lisbon-Portela airport, you can head to the center to admire the cathedral, the monastery known as “of the Jeronimos”, Marques de Pombal square, the Belèm Tower, Rossìo square, the two spectacular bridges – dedicated to April 25th (very reminiscent of the red bridge of San Francisco) and to Vasco de Gama.

Going to the upper part of Lisbon allows you to admire unique views of the city and the ocean. There are many “viewpoints” that can be found along the route: Miraduro da Graça, Alto Santa Caterina, Miraduro Santa Luzia, Panoramico de Monsanto, Miraduro Senhora do Monte… to name just a few. Tradition has it, that tired tourists should stop to taste the confectionery delicacies of the capital at the historic Antiga Confeitaria de Belém café.


The Icelandic capital is still easy to visit in autumn – not so much during the freezing winters! It is easy to visit, because it has few very specific monuments and all of them are very beautiful. Being based here, landing at the local airport, however allows you to visit many wild places typical of the region around Reykjavik, including volcanoes!

Don’t miss the famous monumental church of Hallgrímskirkja … a “missile” of concrete and glass projected towards the sky, or the simpler and nicer Domkirkjan, the Lutheran cathedral. Also worth visiting are the Perlan dome, the Harpa concert hall, the streets of the historic center with the colorful houses that characterize them. Live the all-Icelandic experience of a strong tea in one of the historic “cafés” in the oldest quarters, which look more like elegant private lounges, where the tourist is more than pampered.


Rediscovering Sarajevo is a must. Reborn shortly after the post-war reconstruction of the early 2000s, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovna is a riot of architecture that expertly mixes Western and Eastern styles, churches and mosques especially. Go see: Ali Pasha Mosque, Emperor Mosque, King Fahd Mosque, Orthodox Cathedral, Catholic Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. And again, the Latin Bridge, the Jewish Cemetery, the Visegrad Tower, the White Fortress, the great caravanserai of the Morica Han. Today you can use again the local airport to land directly a few kilometers from the center.


In summer the world discovered the beaches of Albania and the beauty of its forgotten landscapes. In autumn, it would be time to go and explore its capital, Tirana. You land at the nearby airport and you can immediately go to the center to admire the modern Resurrection Cathedral, the mosques (Grand Mosque, Tanners’ Mosque, Kokonozi Mosque, Ethem Bey Mosque), the Justinian Fortress, the Grand Park, the Zoo of Tirana, the Piramida Park and the nineteenth-century Clock Tower. At night, this capital changes its face and becomes a lively Arabic-like “suq”, with people, colours and perfumes that will invite you to enjoy life “the Albanian way”. Do not miss it!