Mastercard reveals top hidden gems across Europe that everyone can afford

WATERLOO, June 20 – Travelers are always looking for inspiration when seeking out a new place to visit in their country or abroad. To make their holidays unforgettable, Mastercard today unveils 44 Top Hidden Treasures highlighting the most special, less known and affordable travel destinations in Europe.

At the very top features the Asturias region in Northern Spain with its amazing sights of the Covadonga convent, a truly breathtaking gem which is not yet overcrowded by tourists and still offers reasonable prices. Malta closely follows with its medieval city of Zebugg and third on the list is the Salzkammergut region in Austria with its beautiful Lake Hallstatt.

TOP 15 Hidden Treasures
1. Asturias and Covadonga convent, Spain 9. Volos & Pelion region, Greece
2. Mdina & Zebbug, Malta 10. Velika Planina, Slovenia
3. Salzkammergut region, Austria 11. Kaszuby, Poland
4. The Azores, Portugal 12. Naarden, Netherlands
5. Perast, Montenegro 13. Cape Kolka, Latvia
6. Lednice-Valtice, Czech Republic 14. Danube Delta, Romania
7. Pag Island, Croatia 15. Balaton-Uplands, Hungary
8. Saaremaa Island, Estonia

Flickr Photo: Europe’s hidden treasuresThe Top Hidden Treasures in Europe have been identified using Mastercard data as well as information from local travel bloggers and tourism experts. They were ranked according to beauty, crowdedness, payment acceptance, cost of stay and convenience[1].

“Mastercard’s expertise in where people spend has resulted in a unique list of recommendations that allow travelers to compare different places according to both attractiveness, convenience and cost,” said Adam Blake, Head of the International Centre for Tourism Research at Bournemouth University. “Their data, combined with local knowledge of places to visit, makes this guide very informative, even for seasoned travelers.”

Cards are more and more becoming travel companions

European travelers rely more and more on their cards when booking their holidays and even more while travelling. A consumer survey carried out by Mastercard in 2016 in 12 countries across Europe[2] found that 55% of travelers use their card to book their flights, accommodation and other expenses before the trip and 45% during the actual holiday. Most of them like to travel short distances within their own or in a neighboring country. People spend the most for hotels, clothes shopping and restaurants while travelling and use their card most frequently in food stores, restaurants, bars and transport. Austria, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Estonia are the countries where visitors pay most by card[3].

”More and more people around the world are embracing the benefits of traveling without cash, be it for business or pleasure. At Mastercard we want to assist holidaymakers & business travelers get the most out of their trips before, during and after the journey by providing them with trusted, innovative and simple payment solutions.  Mastercard Top Hidden Treasures  is designed to help travelers plan new and exciting journeys to destinations that truly deserve to be visited” said Javier Perez, President Europe Region at Mastercard

To ensure traveler’s peace of mind during their holiday, Mastercard provides them with tips and tricks to remember:

  • Know the services linked to your card, like security, travel and leisure services that could make your trip even more special.
  • Tell your bank or financial institution where you’re heading so they can help you faster if anything goes wrong.
  • Save the ‘Lost & Stolen Card’ number to your phone if you need to block it.
  • When paying with your card at a restaurant or a café, ask the waiter to bring the card reader or go with the waiter to the reader at the check-out.
  • Never write down your PIN code on a piece of paper and do not save it into your phone.
  • When you pay with your card abroad, always pay in local currency to get the best exchange /conversion rate
  • Check your statements and report fraudulent charges within 30 days. If something looks suspicious, call the bank.
  • Mastercard zero liability protects you from unauthorized transactions – those purchases you did not make.

Have a great, safe & hidden holiday!

About Mastercard

Mastercard,, is a technology company in the global payments industry. We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. Mastercard products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone. Follow us on Twitter: @MastercardMEA and @MastercardNews, join the discussion on the Beyond the Transaction Blog and subscribe for the latest news on the Mastercard Engagement Bureau.

Note to the Editor

Mastercard Top Hidden Treasures – about the methodology

Mastercard Top Hidden Treasures looked into 44 countries (Armenia, Albania, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Georgia, Greece, Hungary,  Iceland,  Israel,  Italy, Republic of Ireland, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey Ukraine and the United Kingdom) and identified the best hidden gem in each country meeting the following criteria:

  • relatively undiscovered by the average tourist
  • offers multiple activities, both cultural and outdoor
  • can be visited during most part of the year
  • offers payment acceptance
  • not exclusive for a certain age and family status
  • has infrastructure for travelers.

Using Mastercard data and in-depth information from local travel bloggers and tourism experts these gems have then been ranked according to cost of stay and convenience (payment acceptance, ease of communication, local transportation, safety and hygiene, quality of service).

About the Global Consumer Tracker (GCT)

The GCT is a quantitative survey on payment trends conducted by TNS across 28 countries, on a quarterly or annual basis. It is carried out through an online questionnaire via online research panels amongst respondents aged 18 to 64 years who either own a payment card or have a bank account. The sample sizes varies between 855 and 3,439 respondents. The travel segment was conducted in 13 countries.


[1] More details on the ranking and full list of countries in “Note to the Editor”

[2] Consumer Research GCT – UK, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Russia, Poland, Sweden, Hungary, Romania, Croatia, Bulgaria

[3] Mastercard data warehouse – Full year 2016 – European countries