Whether it's your first trip to Europe or your
fifth, your planning may not include some of these out-of-the-way
spots. But with a little extra effort (made possible by some of great
deals available right now) you can leave the crowds behind and have a
unique experience all your own. Here are our editors' picks for Europe
this year.

Cappadocia, Turkey


that's old is new again, and what began as a spiritual refuge many
centuries ago has grown into a place for all kinds of travelers to seek
renewal. Several boutique hotels, many of them built around low-lit
underground cave-spas, have recently set up shop in Göreme, perhaps
signaling a renewed flow of tourists to the area. Cappadocia's defining
feature is it's otherworldy natural landscape, created by the erosion
of lava, mud, and ash into a sculpture garden of fairy chimneys
(surrealistic shapes of cones, needles, pillars, and pyramids) best
viewed from a hot air balloon. Even better, explore the Göreme Open-Air
Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site comprised of hundreds of rock-hewn
ancient churches.

Galway, Ireland

As one of the fastest-growing cities in Europe, Galway
is a sizeable blip on the tourist radar screen, thanks to its
reputation as the liveliest place in the Irish Republic. A university
town known for its festivals, and situated in a spectacular setting
with a lovely old town quarter, Galway has now become a major
destination for global trendsetters. While it has long attracted
writers, artists, and musicians, these days it is drawing fashionistas,
interior designers, antique-hunters, and youth-culture aficionados, who
have given Galway a new hot buzz. Shop-till-you-droppers find it
heaven, thanks to tons of high-style boutiques, such as Cobwebs (great
antique jewelry) and Maille (the place to get a Stetson hat with a
feather in it—a Galway look), while the Treasure Shop has even made
centuries-old Wedgewood chic again.

Valencia, Spain


third-largest city, and the capital of the region, Valencia is nearly
equidistant from Barcelona and Seville. Today it represents the essence
of contemporary Spain—ie, daring design and cutting-edge cuisine—but is
still deeply conservative and proud of its historical traditions. It's
the home of paella, as well as a fascinating juxtaposition of a Gothic
quarter with hot new architecture. The 2007 America's Cup brought new
infrastructure and economic development to town, and 2009 promises to
be big yet again as the America's Cup may return for this year's race.

Southern Wales

You might not think of Wales first when you think of Britain and the
UK, but it has a lot going for it. Not only is it an exceptional place
to go walking and hiking—there are paths for rambling all throughout
the southern part of the country's verdant hills, castles, and
coastline—it also has a ton of history. You could base yourself in
Cardiff or Swansea, which is the birthplace of the poet Dylan Thomas,
then head to Neath to see Craig-y-Ddinas, a cave system where King
Arthur and his knights are said to have stashed their treasure. The
Ryder Cup in 2010 will surely bring this upcoming destination further
into the spotlight.

Tallin, Estonia

Of the three Baltic capital cities (the other two are Vilnius and
Riga), Tallinn is growing the fastest and has bounded the quickest into
the Internet age. Its tiny Old Town, the most impressive in the region,
has romantic towers, ankle-wrenching cobblestone streets, cozy nooks,
city-wall cafés, and a dozen other attractions—all within a half square

Photo Credits: Valencia photo courtesy of Valencia Tourism;
Cappadocia courtesy of TravelChic13, Fodors.com photo contest entrant