Forget the cookie cutter vacation and say hello to the best underrated travel destinations in Europe!
Move aside London, Rome and Paris, it’s time to explore some lesser known areas of Europe. As lovely as trips to these beautiful cities are, get ready for adventure with underrated travel destinations in Europe. Some of the best places to visit are those under the radar, you’ll find few tourists, typically lower costs and lots to do (and write home about!).
Get ready to plan a trip to remember with these underrated travel destinations in Europe, as told by travel bloggers!
Belarus is a country that has only recently appeared on the tourist maps. This former Soviet Republic previously had many restrictions for foreign tourists, but recently, the government has loosened them. Belarus has many natural features, including over 20,000 rivers and 11,000 lakes bringing drawing more and more tourists to the country for active and outdoor recreational activity. The country has an interesting yet tragic history, and is well preserved with medieval castles and old cities. Minsk, the capital of Belarus, is becoming starting to gain popularity for it’s nightlife. Quickly becoming the gambling centre of Eastern Europe, the city is home to many Monte-Carlo style casinos, luxury nightclubs and diverse options of bars and restaurants. The low prices are an added bonus, making visitors want to return again and again.
Europe in general is an incredibly popular destination for travellers from around the world. But what about the lesser known Baltic states and Lithuania in particular? Head to Vilnius, the capital, first and you’ll leave wanting more. Its Old Town cobbled streets and the incredible architecture have a real charm. Lithuanians are always well dressed and there’s a huge amount to do and history to learn about in a city that only holds 550,000 people. There’s a church on almost every corner, castles dating back to 14th century and museums everywhere. While you’re there make sure you try some rye bread, cepelinai (a potato-based dumping), saltibarsciai soup (a bright pink beetroot soup) and surelis (made from curd cheese and comes in about every flavour you’d imagine).
When most people envision their first trip to Europe they think of Paris, Rome, London, etc. They rarely consider Budapest, which is a huge oversight. In my opinion, Budapest is the most underrated destination Europe and my personal favourite city in Europe. Besides there is a ton of things to do in Budapest the city is drop-dead gorgeous, everywhere you turn is another picture-worthy building or street. The people are really nice and English is widely spoken, which cannot be said about destinations Germany or France. Your money will go a lot further in Budapest, everything is like half the price compared to some of it’s neighbouring countries. You can easily spend less than $30 a day a person and still have an awesome day with a few beers and tasty food. My favourite place is up at the Fisherman’s Wharf either early in the morning or just before sunset, it’s one of the best views of the city.
Bucharest, the capital of Romania has to be one of the most underrated destinations I ever visited in Europe. Before my trip I had a not so positive image of Romania from my first visit back in the 90’s and had no idea what to expect. To tell the truth, I was even hesitant to go… However, it appears that Bucharest has undergone complete transformation in the recent years. I found a bustling city with interesting and well preserved history, stunning architecture, beautiful parks, and a very lively old town with quirky bars, really good restaurants, and beautiful shops. I also met so many incredibly friendly people who were all very passionate about their home town and proud to show it to the international visitors. The city was much greener, safer, and more interesting than I ever expected it to be. I think that Bucharest has all the right ingredients to becoming the next top destination in Eastern Europe. So get there before the rest of the world finds out!
The Zagorochoria region in Northwestern Greece is a place of exceptional beauty where striking nature and traditional architecture complement each other in perfect harmony. It contains more than 45 traditional stone build villages scattered over the striking mountainous landscape of Aoos-Vikos National Park. It is a hikers paradise with a plenitude of walking trails winding through the impressive gorges, along the sparkling rivers and up to the peaks of Mount Tymfi. An absolute must for every mountain lover is a climb to the magnificent Drakilimni (Dragon Lake) perched at the altitude of 2050 meters above sea level followed by a night spent at the Astraka Mountain Refuge. Or take a road trip through the stunning countryside exploring the picturesque villages of Zagorochoria, centuries-old monasteries clinging to the rock face of Vikos Gorge or the unique stone bridges characteristic of the region.
Vila Nova de Milfontes, Portugal
Vila Nova de Milfontes is just a couple of hours drive north from the popular Algarve region and is one of the most pleasant beach towns along this stretch of Alentejo coastline. It’s a very low key town with a local vibe and is almost undiscovered by foreign tourists. With laid-back locals, golden beaches and a charming whitewashed centre, Vila Nova de Milfontes should be on everyone’s itinerary while touring Portugal. The village-like town is at the tail end of a shimmering sand-edged estuary and at its mouth, where it meets the Atlantic, there are a number of magnificent beaches. The beaches at Vila Nova de Milfontes have all tastes covered – calm bays for safe family swimming, tick! – wild and rugged, tick! – rolling Atlantic waves for surfing, tick! The town centre is pretty chilled and not spoilt by mass tourism or over development but it comes to life at night with a local holiday atmosphere. There is a great selection of inexpensive restaurants cooking up awesome grilled fish and meats and the beer is super cheap!
Plovdiv is a charming little city in the south of Bulgaria that most don’t even know exists. It is recognized at Europe’s oldest inhabited city, which gives you an idea of some of the history you will find here. While the sights around the Old Town will certainly charm you, what makes Plovdiv special is the people that live here. Locals will welcome you with open arms, the nightlife is jumping, the vibe is always friendly, and everyone will be curious to see what brought you to their relatively unknown hometown. If you’re heading to Eastern Europe, definitely keep this one on your list.
Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
The city of Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina is known for it’s iconic Old Bridge “Stari Most,” and their local diving competitions, but there’s more to this city then just the postcard-perfect bridge. While the capital city of Sarajevo may be the larger of the two, Mostar is one that should not be missed if you’re heading to Bosnia or even its neighbouring country, Croatia. The war in the early 1990s did much damage to the city and while the city has been rebuilt, remnants of the past still remain. You’ll come across untouched buildings and the “Don’t Forget” stone, a reminder of the war, but despite the city’s history there is more to be seen. From a bustling bazaar to cafes serving traditional Bosnian coffee, Mostar has a little something for everyone to enjoy. Things are a bit slower paced until nightfall and that’s when the city’s vibrant nightlife scene gets going. From the war history, to beautiful mosques, to shopping for handicrafts at the bazaar, Mostar may be one of Europe’s underrated cities but for those who like to venture off to less populated places it is definitely worth the visit.
Galicia is home. The place where I was born and bred and the one I return to in between my travels around the world. And believe me, I would have definitely changed that would it not be a dream destination. Lacking the big hotels and tourism complexes other areas in Spain are filled with, the development of tourism is still at a good pace in Galicia. People have finally understood sustainable and ecotourism is the way to go and all the efforts entrepreneurs are making go towards an environmentally friendly tourism. The best example is St. James Way, a pilgrimage that comes from the Middle Ages that has been bringing hiking enthusiasts to Galicia ever since. Slow tourism, locally produced food, Galician managed initiatives and a great natural environment make the rest.
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We Hope You Enjoyed These Underrated Travel Destinations In Europe!
Are you ready to plan a trip to some of Europe’s lesser known cities? Whether you’re interested in ancient cities, beautiful scenery or just friendly people and good food, there are hidden gems all over Europe waiting for you to explore. These underrated travel destinations in Europe won’t stay unknown forever, get yourself on a flight and start exploring!
Many thanks to all the travel blogger contributions! Be sure to check out their blogs. More travel blogger collaborations coming soon.