Find the “Ugly” in Europe

by Angelique Platas

May 22, 2019

© Adriano Rubino | Dreamstime
Located at the center of Liguria, Genoa is Italy’s main seaport and a great base for visiting several Italian Riviera towns and villages by train or ferry. The city boasts a relaxed way of life, mild climate, stunning medieval quarter, Europe’s second-largest aquarium and the gorgeous 16th-century Rolli Palaces.

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Finding the beauty in an iconic city like Rome, London, Prague or Paris is easy — just look around. See the jaw-dropping sites of the Coliseum or the Sistine Chapel on a summertime trip; take an obligatory photo on the South Bank with Big Ben in the distance; savor Prague Castle views; or stroll the stunning streets of Paris in the springtime.

Just know, you will not be the only traveler seeing those same sites. For something with a little different perspective, less crowds, but still a scenic view, U.K.-based cycling tour company Freewheel Holidays has an alternate route.

Affectionately called the Ugly Tour, it’s really just a cheeky way to say travelers have the opportunity to see all the most-visited tourist destinations in the area, but with add-ons and swap-out options to replace those overcrowded spots. You’ll be within a stone’s throw of crowds visiting The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen and the 17th-century Reuben House in Antwerp, so instead, on the Ugly Tour, stop at the more modern Port House on a Belgian Beer Tour.

While all the warm-weather crowds flock to the most-visited destinations in Europe, you’ll be nearby at some of the less-visited locales.

Florence to Rome 

On an eight-day, self-guided tour of Italy, travelers can see the uglier side of the country’s famously beautiful cities. Ride through stunning architecture sites from an ugly time, Fascist Italy under Mussolini rule. Learn all about the interesting history, sorted past and still-standing and stunning buildings in Rome and Florence. Read more about the specific stops here.


Prague to Dresden 

Cycle through Czechoslovakia and Germany along the Elbe River cycle path. On an eight-day, self-guided tour, stop at sites famously left over from Eastern Europe’s blended and ancient past. Stop by Prague’s Nuclear Bunker Museum to view Soviet-style propaganda history.


Other “ugly” tours include the shorter, seven-day itinerary with Brussels to Bruges via Ghent; cable-car rides from Innsbruck to Munich; parliament visits in Basel to Strasbourg; and the sciences of Geneva to Lyon. Check out other trips and availability here



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