Part-time traveller, Full-Time Brummie's a secret! Three hidden gems to put on your travel list


Have you ever travelled somewhere and wondered why you’ve never heard about it before? Why those “in the know” must have received the memo, whilst you’ve stumbled across it by accident? A place you want to shout about from the rooftops, but at the same time want to keep it a secret?  As part of the March Travel Linkup (#travellinkup), here are three places to visit before everyone else knows about them!

Porto Santo

I had never heard of this tiny Portugese island, off the coast of Madeira, but Mr Fletche spotted a deal when we were looking for a September getaway in 2015.   We stayed at the Pestana Colombos, sharing facilities with its sister hotel the Pestana Porto Santo a couple of minutes walk away.  The island is most famous for its magnificent 9km-long sandy beach on the south side, and for being home for a short while to Christopher Columbus; the explorer is celebrated wholeheartedly with a museum in the island’s tiny main town Vila Baleira and a week-long September festival.  Most of the island is undeveloped and barren, with amazing sand dunes which can be discovered using quad  bikes or on a small tour.  You can also walk or cycle to the south-west tip, Ponta da Calheta, where the beach ends in dramatic cliffs and rock pools.  It’s a perfect destination for a short relaxing break away from the crowds.

Porto Santo is a hidden gem just off the coast of Madeira

That 9km beach

Porto Santo is a hidden gem just off the coast of Madeira

Ola Senor Colombus… they take their Christopher Colombus celebrations very seriously here….

Porto Santo is a hidden gem just off the coast of Madeira

The sun rises on the Porto Santo beach in Portugal. Image Credit CPF Photography

Cinque Terre

This was one of those places that I saw pictures of on Pinterest, and immediately put the area at the top of my travel wishlist.  And in reality – it is just as enchanting, if not even more so.  Pastel coloured buildings clinging onto dramatically plunging cliffs. Lush vineyards on steep terraces. Fresh seafood, brought in on the same boats bobbing in crystal clear waters. A choice of five very different villages to stay in: the bustling seaside village of Monterosso al Mare with its sandy beaches, the harbour village of Vernazza, the hilltop Corniglia.  Swim off the rocks at Manarola, or explore the tangle of buildings that make up Riomaggiore.  Travel between them by boat, or by train, or by using the hiking trails which link the towns high up on the hillside – the towns themselves are largely traffic-free. Although the tourists are starting to come – the area is linked by rail to many of the Northern Italy cities via the station at La Spezia – this UNESCO World Heritage site still remains relatively peaceful.  All the tradition of an Italian village (five of them in fact) nestled onto a gloriously scenic stretch of Ligurian coastline.

Cinque Terre is a hidden gem in North West Italy

The dramatic coastline of Cinque Terre by CPF Photography

Cinque Terre is a hidden gem in North West Italy

The ferry brings more people to the beautiful village of Manarola on the Italian coast. CPF Photography

Cinque Terre is a hidden gem in North West Italy

The village of Riomaggiore in Cinque Terre, Italy. CPF Photography


Okay, Montenegro topped lots of “best place to visit” lists in 2016 so technically this isn’t a secret anymore.  But this was a “booked on a whim” daytrip from Dubrovnik, and even on a gloomy drizzly June day, the scenery as we left Croatia behind and headed south-east along the Adriatic was breathtaking.  Coastline, lakes, mountains and beautiful old towns, all in one day.  Kotor itself deserves a longer visit, one which would allow us to walk the 1200 steps to the top of the city’s fortified walls. It would also be good to spend time in the North of the country, where there are pine forests and lakes and waterfalls and canyons and gorges and hiking trails.  this really is a country that has it all – in such a small package!  Its also still relatively cheap, using the Euro despite not being an EU country. (Interestingly, neighbour Croatia is an  EU country but doesn’t use the Euro – if you’re visiting both countries, remember to take both currencies)

Montenegro is a hidden gem found on the Adriatic Coast

Perast in Montenegro

Montenegro is a hidden gem found on the Adriatic Coast

Perast in Montenegro

Montenegro is a hidden gem found on the Adriatic Coast

Beautiful and dramatic Montenegro, by CPF Photography

I love it when a place exceeds expectations, especially if you don’t have that many expectations in the first place!  Have you discovered any hidden gems?  Either travelling, or on your own doorstep? Let me know in the comments below…I’ll put them on my list and I promise not to tell everyone…

Hidden gems Pinterest.png


28 comments so far.

28 responses to “'s a secret! Three hidden gems to put on your travel list”

  1. We are going to Montenegro this year and would love to go to cinque terre

  2. Han Eats says:

    Gorgeous photos! Montenegro looks 😍 Now to find bags more money and annual leave… 🤔

  3. thebeasley says:

    Great tips! They look amazing places!

  4. Great blog post! These look like awesome places to explore.

  5. Montenegro is now on my list! So many people have recommended it to me.

  6. You’ve sold me on a trip to Cinque Terre as well this Spring. We’re on our way to Italy before hiking the Camino for a bit of sightseeing so this might be a fun warm up. I can’t believe I just found your blog! It’s going to be a great addition to my WordPress Reader habit

  7. josypheen says:

    These all look gorgeous!! 🙂
    Cinque Terre looks truly stunning. I’ll have to add that to my list too!

  8. Lisa Orchard says:

    Thanks for the heads up! When my littles get a little older, I’ll be able to travel. I’m going to check these places out!

  9. angelanoelauthor says:

    I still remember the path we took through Cinque Terre. . . I thought we’d slide down the hillside. The way the light twinkled on the water as we drank a late afternoon coffee (or was it wine?), I won’t ever forget. It’s been twenty years. Time to go back. Thank you for the post!

    • emfletche says:

      We hiked from Monterosso to Vernazza, and I remember thinking we must be descending…then you’d start climbing again! I’d get a glimpse of the beautiful pastel buildings and think “we must be close”…Cinque Terre is such a tease! Coffee, wine, Aperol Spritz or a gelato are all great ways to celebrate a Cinque Terre trek 🙂

  10. masgautsen says:

    I really enjoyed Cinque Terre!

  11. lilhiddentreasures says:

    Thanks for sharing these secret gems! Every time I travel I love finding secret gems that only the locals will know about. Your photos are gorgeous! It’s making me want to pack up my bags and GO!

  12. […] 6.’s a secret! Three hidden gems to put on your travel list I created this list as part of the March Travel Linkup, where travel bloggers are given a monthly prompt for a new blog post to share among the group. I explain why Porto Santo, Cinque Terre and Montenegro are on my hidden gems list. […]

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So what IS a Brummie?

Welcome to my World!

I’m Emmalene, a 40 something with a passion for travel, theatre, food, drink and the occasional accidental hike! I’m a born-and-bred Birmingham native so expect lots of Brum content on here too…

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