If you’re in the planning phase of your upcoming adventure with Busabout, or simply daydreaming about where you’ll go when the time comes, there are bound to be some big city names on your list. Berlin, Amsterdam, Rome, Prague, Barcelona… But what about those smaller locations that you don’t recognise? Hop-on Hop-off has some truly epic optional stops that you might never have heard of, but don’t let that deter you from making the most of these hidden gems. Often it’s these lesser-known small towns that become the highlight of your trip, and they’re definite favourites among our past travellers!
Lying in the foothills of the Tatra Mountains in southern Poland, Zakopane is a beautiful village popular with hikers and nature-enthusiasts all year round, and gets a wave of visitors in winter for skiing. Wooden houses and chalets line the small residential roads, and the cute main street is filled with numerous stalls, traditional restaurants and cosy bars where you can get far too comfortable. You can wander the cobbled street and marvel at the old buildings that look like something straight out of a fairy tale. Find a restaurant and sit down to a warm, hearty Polish meal like pork knuckle, bigos (stew), or pierogis (dumplings).
Only an hour or so from Vienna, Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and has more charm than you can shake a stick at. It’s an eclectic mix of old and new, with a surprisingly urban feel for a place with so much history. Banking the Danube River, Bratislava has a historic pastel-hued Old Town with beautiful architecture, a castle dating back to the 9th Century, green parks with hiking trails, and cute markets too. You can wander the old streets here for hours and not get bored. Trust us, you don’t want to skip this one!
Quintessentially Austrian, Ellmau is a popular film location for scenes of the stunning alpine countryside. This village is dominated by the Ellmauer Halt mountain (2,344 m above sea level), which is the highest summit of the Wilder Kaiser mountain range. It’s no surprise that the village is known for spectacular hikes, ranging from easier walks to the mountain huts, right up to challenging treks to the high summits. These ones are not for the faint-hearted! The St. Michael parish church sits nestled amongst the surrounding village and wooden chalets, and is well worth a visit. Experience the snow and tobogganing in winter, or sit on the green grassy hills in summer and admire the mountains. What more could you want?
This is a city you’ll wish you had more time in. The de facto capital of Switzerland, Bern is built around a curve in the Aare River with origins tracing back to the 12th Century. If cobblestone streets, orange rooftops and medieval architecture are your thing, then this cute city is right up your alley. While exploring, see how many of the creepy-but-cool statue fountains you can spot on the streets! And if you’re there on a nice hot day, you can even go swimming or tubing down the river. Follow it up with a picnic in the riverside park, and soak up the sun with a cold drink.
This one we can’t stop raving about. Grunau im Almtal is a small, picturesque village in Austria surrounded by some of the most incredible scenery you’ll see on your trip. In summer you can enjoy the crystal-clear tranquil lakes, dense green forests and numerous trails for hiking; in the colder months it becomes a paradise for winter sports and activities. It’s the perfect stop for a peaceful break from the hustle and bustle of the bigger cities. Just go ahead and Google ‘Almsee Lake’ and you’ll see what we’re talkin about – you know you want to.