Heading to Europe, but looking for a destination that’s off the beaten path?  Look for an European Destination of Excellence.  An European Destination of Excellence, or EDEN for short, is an award given out by the European Commission to highlight relatively “unspoiled” tourist destinations that still offer visitors the chance to experience local culture.

According to this article in the New York Times, European Destinations of Excellence include small, quaint villages with an ancient history, like Carlingford, Ireland Edirne, Turkey. Carlingford features fresh seafood and medieval monasteries, while Edirne has been around since the Neolithic era and claims to be the birthplace of marzipan.

Visiting an EDEN destination is also an environmentally responsible choice, since sustainable development is one of the criteria for winning the award.  In the New York Times article, Ton van Lierop, a spokesman for the European Commission, explains “We want to promote destinations, locations, regions and towns with particular historical and cultural backgrounds, where sustainability plays a role.”

So far, there are 52 destinations that have received the EDEN designation.  Check out the European Destinations of Excellence website here to discover awesome destinations like the Sierra de las Nieves in Spain or the Tourist Wine Route of the Jura in France.

Of course, once you find a place to go, getting a passport should be your first priority. It’s important to allow enough time for your passport to arrive before you plan to leave. Getting a passport takes at least 6 weeks if you apply directly to the Department of State with regular processing, and at least 3 weeks if you apply for expedited processing.

However, if you’ve found an irresistible last-minute travel deal, don’t despair. Getting a passport quickly is possible. The easiest way to get a passport in a hurry is to use a private passport expediting company like RushMyPassport.com.  RushMyPassport will hand-deliver your passport application to the Department of State, resulting in processing times as quick as 24 hours.

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