Skyscanner introduces 10 places to avoid the British crowds this summer
Whilst there’s nothing wrong with Brits (after all I am one myself!), when I go abroad, I want to feel like I’m abroad. If I go to France, I want to eat French food. If I go to Spain, I want to meet Spanish people. If I go to Italy, it’s Italian I want to hear.
Whilst some find comfort in being amongst their own kind whilst on holiday, if you really want to experience the genuine food, culture and customs of the country you are visiting, you’ll need to look beyond the British enclaves, to places where you can’t find Carling on tap, get a full English breakfast or watch premier league football on the big screen.
More than 16 million Brits visit Spain every year; 15 million visit France and 3 million visit Italy. It’s therefore little wonder that if you holiday in these countries, you’ll often be rubbing sunburnt shoulders with your fellow compatriots.
But you don’t have to travel far to escape Little Britain. There are concealed countries and secret cities just two hours flight from the UK, so why not try one of Skyscanner’s recommended ‘Low-Brit’ destinations this summer?
Squished between Romania and Ukraine and built on the river Bîc, this is one of Europe’s more obscure and also cheapest countries. In this forgotten corner of Europe, you’ll find surprisingly fine wine and a mixture of hip soviet bars and traditional European charm, not to mention a warm welcome from the locals who are generally surprised and delighted to meet foreign visitors, as so few bother to come. Find cheap flights to Moldova
2. Bosnia and Herzegovina
Capital city Sarajevo has been described by Balkan expert Alan Grant, creator of Balkanolgy.com as “the most likeable capital in the Balkans” – with a lovely old Ottoman quarter complete with narrow cobble streets. Outdoor enthusiasts will love the hiking, biking and kayaking in the Sutjeska National park and for the more culturally minded, there’s the Sarajevo Film Festival in August. Find cheap flights to Bosnia and Herzegovina
This Middle Eastern country boarders Turkey and boasts a Mediterranean shoreline, Roman ruins, remote desert and green mountains. Tom Hall of the Lonely Planet describes the food of Syria as “a real treat” with a “seemingly endless number of vendors serving falafel, shwarma kebabs, mezze and excellent seafood.” The fact that few UK tour operators feature Syria means it’s ideal for those wishing to venture off the beaten track. Find cheap flights to Syria
4. Montenegro (visitors from the UK: 13,000)
This tiny Balkan country boasts 73km of beaches along its 293km coastline, so there’s bound to be one to take your fancy. From sand to shingle, popular to deserted, modern to rustic and remote – there are around 117 to choose from. Zanjic is one of Montenegro’s favourite beaches; situated deep in the Miriste Valley, it’s surrounded by old olive groves and azure waters, and unknown to British holidaymakers. Montenegro also boasts the largest fjord in southern Europe. Find cheap flights to Montenegro
5. Ukraine (visitors from the UK: 69,000)
Ukraine is well off the Brit radar, but with stunning beaches, good food and historic cities, make it a blip on yours. It’s cheap too; in these cash strapped times, you’ll be able to buy beer at just 45 pence a litre, 200 cigarettes for £4.50 and a three course dinner for two with wine and cognac for under £20. Find cheap flights to Ukraine
6. Slovenia (visitors from the UK: 86,000)
Largely ignored by UK tourists, Slovenia truly is one of Europe’s best kept secrets. The country is small, about the size of Wales, so nothing is ever more than a short drive away. The geography is diverse with spiky mountain peaks to satisfy skiers, hikers, bikers and climbers, beaches in the south and wine regions in the east. Compact capital, Ljubljana, is beautiful with al fresco cafes and restaurants lining the green Ljubljanica River and a medieval castle crowning the city. Find cheap flights to Slovenia
7. Romania (visitors from UK: 118,000)
Think Romania, and it’s Dracula’s castle not sand castles that come to mind, but you’ll find Romania’s Black Sea resorts offer warm weather, miles of sandy beaches and good hotels – all with far fewer Brits than in the Med. Some of the better known beach areas include Mamaia (the ‘pearl of the Romanian Seaside’) and Mangalia. There are plenty of good standard hotels with English speaking staff, swimming pools and reasonably spacious rooms. Find cheap flights to Romania
8. Japan (visitors from UK: 221,000)
Whilst British backpackers flock to Thailand, Japan has remained off the beaten trail. This is partly due to the misconception that Japan is an expensive destination. Although more pricey than South East Asia, the cost of living in Japan is on par with the UK and many things (alcohol, petrol and eating out) are cheaper. Japan remains a place where westerners can lose themselves in a wonderfully exotic world, untainted by British influence. Find cheap flights to Japan
9. Croatia (visitors from UK: 268,000)
Though Croatia is growing in popularity with British tourists, it still receives a tiny proportion compared to Spain, France or Italy. Its hot summers and abundance of beaches and islands (there are 1185 of them) along the Dalmatian Coast make it an ideal alternative to better known summer destinations, and it’s also a cheaper option too. Find cheap flights to Croatia
10. Finland (visitors from UK: 515,000)
As the Finnish tourist board slogan goes, summer in Finland is “refreshingly different”. Finland’s Lapland is one of the Europe’s last true areas of unspoiled wilderness, with vast areas of forest and hundreds of pristine lakes, where visitors can enjoy the midnight sun, stunning natural scenery and see bear and lynx. A paradise for campers, hikers and bikers, Finland is not just a great escape from the British crowd, but crowds of any sort. Find cheap flights to Finland.
Approximate number of UK visitors during 2007, according to ABTA Members’ handbook 2009
Sam Baldwin is travel editor for Skyscanner