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Rugged Cliffs & Crystal Clear Waters: This Hidden Gem In Italy Named Best Destination In Europe

While a summer vacation in Europe might seem like a dream, it doesn't always live up to the hype, especially in overly crowded destinations. Despite the breathtaking views, the increasing crowds in popular locations can make it hard to enjoy a relaxing getaway.

However, there's still a way to have your dream European vacation by choosing lesser-known, yet equally enchanting destinations. According to a recent ranking by Pompeii Tickets & Tours, this summer’s top spot isn’t the usual suspects like Mykonos, Amalfi, or Barcelona, but rather Taranto, Italy – a hidden gem worth discovering.

Taranto, located on the heel of Italy’s boot, is one of the country's best-kept secrets. Despite Italy being a top European destination for U.S. travelers this year, few are familiar with this coastal city. It's a pity because Taranto’s rugged cliffs and crystal-clear waters of the Ionian Sea rival the beaches of Capri and Palermo. Lido Azzurro and Marina di Pulsano are prime examples of this natural beauty.

However, it's important to note that Taranto's coastline is rocky, unlike the sandy beaches of the Adriatic. Families with small children might find it challenging, but for adventurous travelers, Taranto offers the ultimate Italian escape. The beaches are perfect for sailing, kayaking, and snorkeling. One must-visit spot is Grotta del Monacone, a sea cave accessible only by water. Here, light filters through the clear blue waters, creating a mesmerizing effect.

Beyond its beautiful beaches, Taranto is rich in history and culture, making it much more than just a resort town. With a history dating back to the 8th century BC, Taranto offers a wealth of attractions. Pompeii Tickets & Tours highlights Castello Aragonese as Taranto’s crown jewel and Europe’s top attraction for this summer. Additionally, the Taranto National Archaeological Museum, Ponte Girevole, and Taranto’s Old Town are must-see landmarks. Visiting these sites allows you to experience Italy’s history and culture without the typical crowds found in more famous destinations.

Taranto is also a budget-friendly destination. If you appreciate great value, this city should be on your list. Accommodations, including hotels and short-term rentals, range from $50 to $80 per night. A quick meal for one costs around $10. Public transport and attractions are reasonably priced, making the average daily expense between $100 and $150. This affordability, combined with the city's charm, offers excellent value for travelers.

The culinary scene in Taranto is another highlight. While Italy is renowned for its food, Taranto’s cuisine stands out even by Mediterranean standards. Seafood lovers will be in paradise here, with local favorites like Mar Piccolo mussels and raw oysters. The city's restaurants are known for their raw fish dishes, which are a must-try. Traditional eateries such as Rosaria Birreria Mediterranea and Al Borgo Antico offer authentic local flavors and should be included in your dining itinerary.

Taranto, Italy, offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, historical richness, and culinary delights, all without the crowds and high costs of more popular destinations. For a truly memorable European vacation, consider exploring this hidden gem. Whether you're an adventurer seeking thrilling water activities, a history buff interested in ancient sites, or a food lover eager to sample local delicacies, Taranto has something for everyone.


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