A Guide to Alternative Travel in Europe | Hertz

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by Hertz - 19 June 2018

Must-see destinations in European capitals

To celebrate a hundred years of hiring cars, we’ve compiled a new guide to the alternative locations for tourists in Europe. This city break bible uncovers eye-catching attractions which dwell a little way from the well-beaten path of European tourists.

Using our comprehensive mapped guide, we’ll show you the more low-key but loved examples of galleries, museums and special spots across the continent. So while you’re taking in the more recognised sights and sounds of four European capitals, make some time to book a hire car and see the places which lend their cities even more character and culture than the guidebooks show you.

Here we’ve created a few more in-depth profiles of the places that best showcase the veracious charm of our four fair cities, so get your guidebooks and maps ready to mark down a few more. We’ve also taken a look at some of the most spectacular festivals in Spain as part of the guide.


On the roof

In keeping with the traditional romantic sense of the city, Paris planners have done well to restrict the skyscrapers and other multi-storey buildings to its fringes. Our favourite view of vibrant Paris is from the balcony of the Musee d’Orsay. After you’ve gazed upon the gallery’s best works of the Impressionist era, enjoy even more beautiful views as you gaze over the Left Bank and the serene Seine.

Art Occupation

When 59 Rivoli made its name in the early Noughties, its art-loving proprietors were technically squatters in one of Paris’ best-loved but neglected buildings. But as it drew support from a groundswell of grassroots artists and tourists in search of an offbeat creative pulse, the city moved to make it an official part of Paris culture in 2005. As permanent artists-in-residence work alongside seasonal guests, no two tours of the building’s bustling galleries and performance spaces are ever the same.

Just passing through

We couldn’t blame you for not taking your eyes off the Basilica of the Sacré Cœur on a walk around Montmartre, but stay at street level and you might stumble across another unforgettable sight. Le Passe-Muraille is a striking sculpture depicting the visible parts of a man caught passing through a wall. Based on a story by Marcel Aymé, the ‘Passer-Through-Walls’ took much ungainly advantage of his magical ability until the day he mistakenly took the wrong medicine and became trapped here.


Bargain hunting

It may be a little more of a rushed vibe than you’d want in relaxed Rome – particularly on a very early Sunday morning – but the famous Porta Portese flea market in theTrastevere quarter is too good an opportunity to miss. A great chance for some people-watching and to pick up a bargain, here you’ll find everything from novelty vinyl to antique picture frames. Be sure to get there early, and don’t be afraid to haggle for a better deal.

The golden gate

In a city already so steeped in ancient history, you’ll find one of Rome’s quirkiest tales on Esquiline Hill at the Alchemical Door. Inside the park at Piazza Vittorio, this is the only remaining door to the villa said to be owned by a wealthy local in the early 1600s. Inscriptions on the door are thought to be clues to the secret of alchemy, left behind at the scene by a man who disappeared through the threshold - forever.

All roads lead to Rome

The old saying is certainly true in reverse, as the Appian Way contains stretches of what’s considered Europe’s oldest paved road. Starting at the San Sebastian gate, the old road takes you through beautiful parkland and past preserved pieces of history like the Roman catacombs. Visit each of the fascinating historical sites or simply enjoy some fresh air on this part leg of European identity.


Artful alleys

The Street Art Alley near Hackescher Markt is one of Berlin’s best-kept art secrets. Adorning the walls of this small courtyard is an ever-changing canvas of pieces by local artists, alongside the contributions of well-known visitors from around the world. A famous depiction of Anne Frank painted here has remained untouched since. Those seeking inspiration away from the normal galleries will find more artistic wonders inside the buildings surrounding the courtyard.

Rural retreat

Green space isn’t available in every city you visit, but Berlin’s Grunewald Forest makes for an amazing escape. A favourite for hikes and walks, take in the opulence of the many mansions which hosted wealthy West Berliners, and enjoy a tranquil dip at Kuhhorn Badestrand. Tour the remains of the Teufelsberg complex, a former listening outpost used by the Americans during the Cold War, and cap it all off with dinner with a superb view of the waters.

How the other half lived

Much is made of the Wall which divided East and West Berlin for many years, but few places can immerse you in typical East German life like the DDR Museum. With interactive displays and recreated interiors, discover what life was like on the other side of the Berlin Wall.


Amazing art and where to find it

The decades of collaboration between graphic artists Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima has brought us many of the most-loved props and posters seen in the Harry Potter series of films. Here at the House of MinaLima you can experience four floors of memorable film designs captured on canvas. See reproductions of the best-known pieces used in the films, like the wanted posters for Sirius Black, and the Quidditch matchday programmes, and lose yourself in the wonderful world of wizardry.

Poise in the park

Take a moment in Holland Park for this little piece of inspiration from the Far East. The Kyoto Garden is a permanent remainder of London’s Japan Festival held in 1992, which brought all manner of cultural celebrations across the world – including a sumo wrestling tournament held at the Royal Albert Hall. Take a serene stroll in this oasis of calm and enjoy beautiful stone sculptures alongside a soothing waterfall.

Neon-tinged dining

Head out to Walthamstow and enjoy the splashes of neon which adorn the walls of God’s Own Junkyard. This gallery of gaudy lighting was curated, collected and restored by the late Chris Bracey, who spent decades creating many of the pieces on show. There are items taken from bars, fairs and circuses among the glowing galleries. Conclude your trip with some light refreshment at the Rolling Scones Cafe, and bask in the buzz of these pop culture treasures.