10 Beautiful Places to Get Lost in Europe

10 Beautiful Places to Get Lost in Europe

10 Beautiful Places to Get Lost in Europe - The Overseas Escape

Why do we travel – is it the food? The architecture? That feeling of being inspired? To escape? Sometimes it’s all that and more. And sometimes, it’s simply to let ourselves go—when we travel to get lost. Nothing quite beats ditching the smartphone or map, and intuitively roaming.

What I love most is simply to take a morning, and to follow my lens, because wandering is when genuine traveling experiences are born. Now, not all cities are built equally when it comes to wandering (hello, LA?). And that’s the charm of most European cities–you’ll never find a grid in a historic district, only winding alleyways, dead ends, and small passageways that you’ll probably forget the name of. To make sure you’re strolling in the right places, here is your quintessential European field guide to getting lost.

1 | Seville (Barrio Santa Cruz)

A maze of improbably narrow and winding cobblestone alleys. Whitewashed houses with brightly painted shutters and wrought iron balconies overflowing with plants and flowers. Small squares lined with orange trees. Hidden passageways. Santa Cruz is idyllic enough to feel like a dream, but one thing is for sure—you’ll not want to come back to reality!

Seville_Spain_072(Image via The Fresh Exchange Blog)

2 | Barcelona (El Born neighborhood)

El Born has all the characteristics of the perfect borough for a wander—intimate side streets, cute cafes, and funky boutiques all leading into medieval buildings. It’s laid back, but at night is the place to go if you’re in for some serious partying. This is all well and good, but what’s the real kicker? The beach is just a 10 minute walk away! That is, if you can make it that far on a full stomach of tapas 😉

Barcelona - The Overseas Escape-1

3 | Amsterdam (Jordaan district)

Jordaan is a labyrinth of little canals, beautiful courtyards, art studios and galleries, boutiques, and pubs. It’s simply gorgeous. What it lacks in major sites it more than makes up for in peaceful charm. Look for the stone tablets above doorways that are carved to show what profession once occupied that house (tailor’s would have a scissor, etc.)—which makes for a great guessing game!


4 | Venice (the whole thing!)

It’s hard not to get lost in Venice. The best thing to do is to embrace it, and leave the map at home (it won’t do much good anyway!). Not only is walking significantly cheaper than any other form of getting around, but meandering over tiny bridges and unbelievably small lanes is the best way to discover this magical place.


5 | Heidelberg (Altstadt)

“Ich hab’ mein Herz in Heidelberg verloren” is the title of a famous German musical (“I lost my heart in Heidelberg”). Having lived there, I’m pretty sure it could be the soundtrack to my life—Heidelberg is absolutely delightful. From romantic castle ruins to lovely architecture to strolls along the River Neckar, all perfectly nestled between two mountains. And don’t forget to partake in the afternoon coffee and cake culture at Coffee Nerd!

Heidelberg - The Overseas Escape-1

6 | Lisbon (Alfama neighborhood)

There are only two ways to understand where things are in Lisbon: either up, or down. No matter where you set out on your walk, your trip will end in stairs! Pro: peace and quiet without cars. Con: brutal on the thighs! But Alfama is worth it—it’s one of the oldest ‘hoods in one of the oldest cities in Europe, and is only accessible by foot. A true glimpse into Portugal’s Arabic roots.

Lisbon - The Overseas Escape-1

7 | Istanbul, Turkey

(Beyoglu and Kadikoy, or Fatih and Uskudar)

Although the Grand Bazaar might be the ultimate place to get lost (don’t forget to barter down your prices!), Istanbul has many quarters full of quiet backstreets offering peeks into its dynamic cultural swirl. Head to Fatih or Uskudar for gorgeous mosques and a more humble, conservative feel, and go to Beyoglu or Kadikoy for a lively introduction to the city’s modern pulse. Stop for Turkish tea (“çay”) or coffee, play a game of backgammon (the locals game of choice), and keep moving. No matter where your wandering takes you, the call to prayer soaring above will remind you of your location—where East meets West.

Istanbul - The Overseas Escape-1(Original Image Via // Editing is My Own)

8 | Rome (Trastevere neighborhood)

Once you’ve had your fill of the main sites, the true pleasure of Rome comes from roaming through backstreets until you stumble upon an ancient sculpture or some spectacular fountain. Dodge Vespas and snap pictures—heavenly gelato in hand, of course.

Trastevere, Rome, Italy - The Overseas Escape-4

9 | Paris (St. Germain)

There’s actually a word in French for someone who wanders about aimlessly—a “Flâneur” is a connoisseur of the street. And in St. Germain (the quintessential place for urban exploration), it’s hard not to feel cultured while roaming—book stores, design shops, galleries, historic cafes, churches, museums, you name it. Not to mention that you’ll never go hungry, as there’s always a bakery around the corner.


10 | Prague (central historic district)

Prague’s central district is like a fairy-tale. The medieval center remains a undamaged by WWII, with its cobblestone lanes shooting this way and that beneath gold-tipped towers and church domes. Wander over to Charles Bridge to really bask in the majesty of it all.


Bonus: Cassis, France

Oftentimes, it’s the small villages that are more memorable than the big cities. This was definitely my experience in Cassis—waking up before the sleepy town had gotten moving for the day, and simply strolling without an agenda gave me a great fantastic for this little town in the French Riviera. Here’s a more detailed report!

Cassis, France - The Overseas Escape-13

  • What a great and beautiful list! Makes me want to book to Europe stat!

    • Margo

      same here, girlfriend! I had all these pretty streetscape shots which inspired this post, so many beautiful places to explore over there!

  • Great list!! I’ve been to a few 🙂 I’m thinking about a winter trip to Europe, do you have any posts or advice? Thank you!

  • I love the colors in Istanbul!

    • Margo

      So gorgeous, right? I actually did a little editing on that shot to bring out the colors in the shadows but otherwise it’s exactly what you see! 😀

  • what a colourful street in Istanbul! I often got lost in Venice:)

    • Margo

      Isn’t it just gorgeous!? I do admit I did some tweaking on the Istanbul image in Lightroom but nothing more than bringing out the color in the shadows!

  • Katya

    All of those are amazing places! And half of them are still on my list:))

    • Margo

      there ya go, Katya! nothing like a little bucket list motivation! ;D

  • Rob @ robconroyphoto.com

    Loved the post! Pictures are great too! I can’t wait to get stuck into my own European adventures soon! I’ll be sure to check out all these places on your recommendation!

    • Margo

      oh yes, you definitely should – especially the tiny town of Cassis (near Marseille), what a treasure!

  • We’re heading to Amsterdam later this year and I’ll definitely make sure to check out the Jordaan District!

    • Margo

      absolutely! i’d recommend staying there if you get the opportunity, it’s in a great location for exploring the city and the streetscape is just so beautiful!

  • Kari Guastella

    The St. Germain district of Paris is my favorite. I could walk around there for hours!! Prague is very high on my wishlist though!

    • Margo

      right there with ya, girl! Dan and I often daydream about living in St. Germain because it’s just so picture-perfect to stroll. 🙂

  • Wow! Amazing photos.


    • Margo

      thanks so much, dear! I’ve been very very lucky to have been to so many gorgeous places. 😀

  • Lauren G

    I’ll be staying in Trastevere when in Rome; glad to see by all accounts it’s really a great part of the city to explore.

    • Margo

      oh it really is such a treasure! I felt like in some ways it was a breath of real authentic Rome in what can be a very touristy city. Enjoy your trip!

  • Love this post. Seville is gorgeous and St. Germain in Paris is one of my favorite neighborhoods too! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Margo

      absolutely, my dear! glad you enjoyed the post! it was fun to come up with a list of places that have been special to me for doing nothing more than strolling! 🙂

  • Great list! I loved both Alfama (Lisbon) and Prague when we visited earlier this year; both were so unique and so magical!

    Kate | http://www.petiteadventures.org/

    • Margo

      magical is a GREAT way to describe it! glad we’re on the same page about St. Germain and Alfama – so beautiful!

  • I seriously need to visit all of them!!! <3

    • Margo

      when the goal is to do nothing more than stroll, I think that makes it’s a good little bucket list to work from! 😀

  • OMG! Cassis :))). It is really really beautiful small village in Europe! It is a great place for awesome and “slowly” holiday.

    • Margo

      YES! I totally agree! During my morning walk in Cassis (circa 9AM) I was quite sure I was in some sort of French daydream. The craziest thing for my to comprehend is that people actually live there… I can’t imagine!

  • I totally agree with the places I’ve already been to, the rest I put straight on my to-go list! 🙂

    • Margo

      woohoo! smart thinkin’ dear! enjoy getting lost! ;D

  • I’m going to four of these places on my upcoming Europe trip…wish I had time to do them all!

    • Margo

      oh woohoo, which 4 places will you be visiting? AND, can I come with you!? 😀

  • I’m dying to visit pretty much every single one of these places! We loved Istanbul when we visited, but sadly we only had about 20hrs to explore the city before we jumped on our cruise ship, so we had to cram in all the sights in the evening and first thing in the morning before our ship left. It was one of my favourite cities, and I’d love to go back and explore more!
    Cassis looks beautiful too, and I’m dying to visit Barcelona!
    xo April | April Everyday

    • Margo

      oh man, well at least you got a little bite of Istanbul so you can know what to focus on NEXT time you visit, right? 🙂 Cassis is a dream and Barcelona is something extra special, especially at night!

  • i’ve only just found your blog and it is so lovely! it’s giving me such wanderlust and i’m definitely having to make lists of new places i want to visit now! xx

    • Margo

      yay, that’s definitely my goal Laura – provide a little wanderlust and guidance for europe-bound travelers! glad you enjoy the blog and thanks for the sweet words!

  • Can’t wait to get lost in Lisbon in less than 2 weeks!

  • Miss M

    OMG These are all so stunning! I’m off to Rome in 2 months, and we’re due to go to Prague next year for my 30th – now I’m going to have to add Turkey to my list – LOOK AT THOSE COLOURS! Thank you for sharing hun! x

    • Margo

      YES! Your travel schedule sounds wonderful, may I please tag along!? I’ll bake you a giant birthday cake in Prague too! 😀

  • SO many beautiful places! I am dreaming of Amsterdam <3


    • Margo

      gosh I love Amsterdam so much, the architecture there is just astounding!

  • I have been to three of these but the others are on my list!

    xx Kelly
    Sparkles and Shoes

    • Margo

      yes! that’s awesome! which of the remaining ones are at the top of your list?!

  • The slow pace

    I can’t agree more! Well, I haven’t been in Prague or Cassis (yet 😉 but I did visit the other cities you mention and they are absolutely gorgeous! I would add Barrio de los Austrias in Madrid (my hometown!) and the Edinburgh’s old town!

  • SO many beautiful places! I am dreaming of Amsterdam., I am sharing this post…

  • Thanks so much for the suggestion. many beautiful places are share in this post…