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Europe’s top 10 most underrated cities

Everybody knows London, Paris, Rome and Barcelona and they are rightly counted among Europes most interesting cities, but this status, often coupled with the coverage they recieve from official tourism authroities, often leads to other fabulous european cities to be overlooked by travellers . When planning your vacation this year, why not broaden your scope and pay a visit to one of Europes more underrated cities.

Pamplona, Spain
Home to stunning Roman buildings, mosaics and scenic parks as well as lively tapas bars, restaurants and cafes, the city of Pamplona was first brought into international awareness by one of its most famous modern day residents, the great American writer, Ernest Hemingway. The city is famous worldwide for the San Fermin festival, which takes place from the 6th to the 14th of July, in which the annual running of the bulls is one of the main attractions. It is located along many wine routes and its status as a historical capital makes this northern Spanish city well worth a look.

Düsseldorf, Germany
This bustling West German state capital, located along the mighty Rhein river, boasts an ecclectic mix of old and new. The Altstadt (old town) is home to such a high concentration of bars, pubs and traditional breweries that it has earned the title of die längste Theke der Welt (the longest bar in the world). The cities fashion strip, the Königsallee is one of Germanys most important fashion districts. It is also the most vibrant Karneval city in Germany. The start of Febuary sees the city filled with costumed revellers as several days of Carnival celebrations begin.

Bruges, Belgium
Often referred to as the Venice of the north, the north western Belgian city of Bruges is very cosmopolitan for its size. With numerous Amsterdam like canals, a great number of music, beer and food festivals throughout the year and with most of its medieval archietecture intact, this city offers old-style charm rarely found elsewhere.

Gdańsk, Poland
Gdańsk is frequently referred to as the most beautiful city on the Baltic Sea. The city has many fine buildings from the time of the Hanseatic league and it is this majestic archieceture that gives it its charm. Also known as Danzig under its German name, the Polish city of Gdańsk is the capital city of Pomerania and has had a somewhat turbulent history. Its geographical position has made it one of Europe’s most strategically important cities

The Hague, The Netherlands
The Hague is not only the seat of the Dutch parliament, but also the permanent residence of Queen Beatrix, the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court Hague as well as to the most popular seaside resort in the Netherlands. The city has a layout that is more spacious than other cities in the Netherlands. Post-war construction saw the creation of various parks and green zones around natural streams, it is significantly greener than any other in the Netherlands.

York, England
York’s ancient history dates back to Roman times. This North Yorkshire cathedral city has some of the best-preserved structures and buildings in Europe. York is awash with regular annual cultural festivals, earning it the byname of England’s “City of Festivals”. Some of the more popular festivals include the Early and Late Music, the Viking Festival and the Festival of Angels. The city has a wide range of accommodation available for weekend breaks or for longer stays.

Graz, Austria
Being the home of six universities, Graz has a rich past in education. About 14 percent of the city’s population is made up of students, which contributes to the citys lively atmosphere. The University City is associated with names as renowned as Nikola Tesla, Johannes Kepler and Arnold Schwarzenegger. A museum dedicated to the movie star turned governor has been made of his childhood home.

Turin, Italy
Turin is part of the Piedmont region and is an hours drive from the boarder with France. Not as well known or as well visited as other large Italian cities like Rome and Florence, but no less spectacular. Turin combines a mixture of castles, leafy parks, art galleries and grand boulevards, which all contribute to this cities aristocratic, romantic atmosphere.

Sintra, Portugal
The picturesque municipality of Sintra in the Grande Lisboa subregion was classed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1995. Its numerous former royal residences, arabesque estates and hill top castles in addition to its romantic landscapes make this enchanting portugese town a must see.

Ski resorts in the Austrian Tyrol

Austria’s Tyrolean alps provide the perfect location for any self catered ski holiday. They have everything – lots of snow, stunning views, glacier skiing, beginner friendly slopes, challenging slopes, rich culture, and fun apres-ski.

Most ski holidays to Tyrol will begin the same way, with stunning views as you land at Innsbruck airport situated between mountains. What happens next depends on your choice of ski resort – and the choice of resorts is large.

The largest skiing area in the Austrian Tyrol is Wilder Kaiser Brixental, which is also one of the largest ski resorts in the world. It contains several ski villages including Ellmau, Soll, Westendorf, Hopfgarten.
In 2009 and 2010 ‘SkiWelt’ as the area is known, won an award for best ski area in the world, a title it may maintain in 2011.
There are over 270km of pistes to enjoy, of which 75% has snow-making equipment should natural snow conditions be poor. There are many lifts bringing skiers to the slopes, and many mountain restaurants, so the slopes are well provided for.

You can also enjoy floodlit night skiing, with 12km of slopes open for you to ski in the hours of darkness.
SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser – Brixental 2011/2012 ski season opens December 3rd 2011 and closes April 9th 2012.

Zillertal Arena is the ski area in the Zillertal Valley, and contains 166km of ski-able slopes split across 91 pistes. The Zillertal Arena is accessible from Zell, Gerlos, Ramsau and Hainzenberg, via 49 lifts.
The Zillertal Arena caters for all kinds of skiers, with 9 ski schools, lots of cross country skiing, 37 mountain huts and bars, a snow park, and 5 downhill racing slopes. There is also ice-skating and night time tobogganing.
The Zillertal Arena ski season runs from 3rd December 2011, with slopes opening around 8am most days, with some 7am opening times available later in the season.

Arlberg is a ski area in the Tyrol which comprises many well known towns, including St Anton, St Chistoph and Lech. Arlberg’s 260km of pistes which connect very well with the towns. The towns all have a very strong Alpine feel as the Arlberg area has a lot of skiing history.
The Arlberg railway rungs through the resort, which means you can reach towns such as St Anton by train from Innsbruck – a truly enjoyable way to arrive for your ski holiday.
The Arlberg ski area opens on 2nd December 2011 and closes on 22 April 2012.

If you want to find out more about the region visit tyrol.tl, or to start planning your skiing holiday, browse our self catered ski accommodation rentals.

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