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Laura Lindsay, from Lonely Planet, answers your travel questions

After four years of travelling in Europe and East Africa I’m now looking for something new. I’ve been through eastern Europe and Russia, and have done all the usual suspects. Do you have some new, fresh suggestions for places in or near Europe that are off the tourist trail? Sonya, via email

This could be tricky Sonya, as it sounds as though you have travelled widely, but my recommendation would be to consider the lesser known parts of traditional destinations.

Every destination in the world will have exciting areas that are off the beaten track. 

This is particularly true of Turkey, as much of the tourism is based around the coastline and cosmopolitan Istanbul.

Head inland to get away from the tourist trail, however, and there is lots to discover. Southeastern Anatolia is a fascinating destination, made up of historic cities and breathtaking scenery.

The historic city of Mardin is a highlight, with its cobbled streets and ancient buildings which are the perfect setting in which to discover thousands of years of history, dating back to Roman times.

The bazaar is a traditional example of a Turkish covered market, where donkeys are still the main form of transport.

Make sure you visit the hammam, which has great views over the Mesopotamian hills and is steeped in Roman history.

Also in this region, Gaziantep is worth a trip. Reputedly the home of baklava, this fast-paced city is a food lover’s dream. 


I would like to visit Bilbao BBK Live festival this summer and I wondered if you could let me know what else is nearby that would be of interest for the rest of my time in that part of Spain? Sophie, via email

BBK is one of the world’s best festivals, nominated for numerous awards and this year boasting an impressive line-up, including Kings of Leon and Fatboy Slim.

The festival also has the advantage of being held on the outskirts of Bilbao, so you are able to easily explore this fabulous city as well enjoying the delights of BBK Live.

Fly into Bilbao from London and spend a couple of days getting to know the arty side of Spain.

Home to the Guggenheim Museum, Frank Gehry’s incredible steel structure houses a huge selection of world famous art works including some from Andy Warhol and Mark Rothko. 

The city’s regeneration has given rise to a young, fashionable culture, with an old town that comes alive at night. In the Casco Viejo quarter you’ll find lots of tiny bars bursting with character.

Be sure to tuck into Basque speciality pintxos, a great value type of tapas.

Although Bilbao itself has a number of decent beaches, it is worth making the trip to Mundaka, which is said to have Europe’s best surf break less than an hour’s drive east.

The town itself is a pleasant destination too, with a traditional Basque port.

Or head further east to San Sebastian’s beautiful beaches or south to La Rioja to sample some great wines.

Lonely Planet’s Laura Lindsaywill give you the benefit of her infinite wisdom if you email a question to If your  question is answered, you’ll win a Lonely Planet guide of your choice.

Photos: Thinkstock


Lonely Planet expert's travel tips on travelling off the beaten path in Turkey and advice on visiting Bilbao BBK Live festival
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