Group tours of Europe are great, but maybe in their own way. Getting a car or camper van and doing it yourself is a different experience, where you can stay as long or as little in the places you venture to, and head away from the tour groups herded between the sights with thousands more ready to take their spot for a photo. There are countless towns, villages, scenic look outs and sights in Europe where tourists rarely explore, and these three are just a sprinkling of the delights that await those who stray from the pack.
Tucked away in southeast Europe in the Balkan Peninsula, far away from the crowds in Europe's more mainstream destinations, Bosnia and Herzegovina is harbouring a secret town to delight visitors.
Blagaj is a village based on the Buna River, two hours southwest of Sarajevo by car. It is valued for its culture and the blend of Mediterranean and Ottoman influences in architectural style. Praised as a harmony between nature and engineering, the most photogenic scenery is at Vrelo Bune, at the source of the Buna river where the Blagaj Tekke- a type of monastery - is nestled in to the cliff.
Many more of Bosnia and Herzegovina's towns remain historically medieval in atmosphere, with less Soviet remnants than you might think. Still recovering from the effects of a brutal civil war in the early 1990s, the residents today enjoy a mountainous terrain particularly renowned for winter sports, and a rich history inherited from previous settlers dating as far back as 10,000BC including the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires.
This country deserves top spot on a bucket list as a cheaper and interesting alternative to western European nations; plus, it won't be so quiet for long.
Not just a safe driver on the TV, Ronda is a city near the southern tip of Spain, high in the mountains. 100km from Malaga, the modern day Ronda is built from Roman foundations, but the surrounding areas shows pre-historic rock paintings from ancestors who appreciated the beauty of the natural landscape long before Caesar.
The city has not been granted a peaceful past; the population had ebbed and waned as expulsion, Napoleonic invasion and guerrilla warfare during the Civil War have taken their tolls. But today, a thriving city of 35,000 inhabitants stands.
Ronda perches delicately on either side of a canyon that has been carved by the Guadalevin River which runs 100 metres below. The three bridges that zig-zag across the canyon give the best dizzying look-out spots for the impressive drop below, and particularly Puente Nuevo, New Bridge, is popular for the panoramas of the Serranía de Ronda Mountains.
The Old Town, La Cuidad, is home to wealthy inhabitants and quaint cobblestone streets. There are more villages of Mediterranean white houses dotted in the landscape around Ronda to idle away some long days and enjoy the Andalusian culture.
Oland Island is Sweden's second largest island, hugging the coast off the Kalmar Straight at Sweden's southeast, and is joined by a 6km bridge to the mainland town of Kalmar.
The island is a popular holiday destination for Swedish families and for good reason. There are white sandy beaches, royal residences and harvest festivals to draw people together.
The scenic beachside campsites are in the north of the island, whereas the landscape of Oland's south is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in part due to the biodiversity and the presence of rare plant species.
You can also brush up on your knowledge of the Vikings by visiting burial grounds at Gettlinge and Hulterstad. If that's not quite fast paced enough for your family, head southeast to the Eketorp Fortress where actors dressed in medieval costume greet visitors and re-enact scenes of raids in the Fort's history.
Heading across Western and Eastern Europe can often mean hefty insurance premiums and one way fees for car rentals. Avoid these costs and have more in the kitty for souvenirs by leasing a brand new, tax-free Peugeot. For more information about Peugeot Leasing or Car Hire, give our experienced reservations team a call on 1300 656 601.