Sometimes it’s the less popular locales that prove the most spectacular holiday spots of them all.

1. Split, Croatia

Known for fine dining, excellent shopping and loads of bars to choose from, Split is also home to Diocletian’s Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and formerly a retirement palace built for the Emperor Diocletian around the year 300 CE. If that weren’t enough reason to book your trip to Split right now, then the captivating view of the Adriatic from this coastal town will surely do the trick. 

2. Vézelay, France

Before you book your ticket to Paris, consider Vézelay. Built in the 11th century, this ancient city in Burgundy is known for its vineyards, and the famous Basilica of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine. Built on a hilltop, the town is nothing short of picturesque, with fine wine, inspiring architecture and beautiful landscapes.

3. Gibraltar

The imposing landscape will inspire awe in even the most jaded traveller. Historically, Phoenicians were thought to be the first inhabitants of Gibraltar (around 950 BCE), but new evidence suggests that Neanderthals were here as far back as 28,000 BCE. The Rock of Gibraltar, off Spain’s south coast, is its only official landmark, but the densely populated city is so rich in its own unique culture and history that it never disappoints.

4. Porto, Portugal

If the name of this city reminds you of wine, your head is in the right place: this is indeed the place where port wine originated. Built during Roman times, this beautiful port city’s architecture, landscapes and history will certainly impress. Soak in the beauty with a glass of the finest wine and you’ve got the recipe for a perfect vacation.

5. Bruges, Belgium

This city deserves a spot on your travel bucket list. Bruges still has most of its historic architecture intact, preserved better than any other mediaeval city in the world. With its living history, breathtaking landscapes, canals, Flemish art treasures and, of course, world-renowned chocolate, a trip to Bruges is one you won’t regret.

6. Prague, Czech Republic

The historical capital of Bohemia, Prague, is rich in culture, history and magnificent architecture, both modern and old. Churches, cathedrals and other monumental buildings from the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque eras dot the city, and the locals are friendly and welcoming.

7. Dresden, Germany

The city of Dresden was largely destroyed during World War II. Since then, the elegant baroque city has been faithfully rebuilt. Home to some of Germany’s largest universities, 50 museums and 60 galleries, with a 700-year tradition of fine music, the city is picture-perfect. In warm weather, enjoy the food and camaraderie in the biergartens – you don’t need to be a drinker as they are family friendly.

8. Ferrara, Italy

Located in Northern Italy, Ferrara has nearly nine kilometres of Renaissance walls surrounding a city filled with immense cathedrals and castles that date back to the 15th and 16th centuries. Home to the powerful Este family, its artists and court, much of the city’s original planning and structure is brilliantly preserved, garnering it a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation.

Written by Maria Barillaro. This article first appeared in Reader’s Digest. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, here’s our best subscription offer.