Top 10 European destinations you probably haven’t heard of
Europe is a number one holiday destination, but where can you visit in Europe that isn’t full of tourists?! If you’ve ever tried to actually get up the Eiffel Tower, check out the Colosseum or visit Anne Frank’s house you’ll be well aware the queues are absolutely insane. It can be better to visit Europe in winter to avoid the crowds, but the weather can be pretty dismal. So why not get off the tourist trail and see some quieter parts of Europe that are just as beautiful, if not more so.
Some of the best places to visit in Europe in one relatively unheard of country. There are so many things to do in Slovenia. Stunning national parks, picturesque lakes, epic castles, terracotta roofed towns and a local cuisine to drool over. But it doesn’t have the massive crowds of neighbouring Austria or Italy. Head down to Lake Bled for a picture perfect floating church. Or go west to the seaside town Piran, with it’s Venetian rooftops and hidden alleyways. Slovenia is also the greenest country in Europe.
Kiev is undoubtedly one of the coolest cities in Europe. The huge coffee culture and foodie scene mixed with the very cheap Hyrvnia currency make it an extremely liveable city. Kiev’s recent history also provides some very interesting street art and museums with the Soviet influence never too far away. But Kiev is anything but communist bland. It’s vibrant, quirky, friendly and did I mention very cheap!
All eyes are on this city in northern Greece. As part of the old Macedonian empire, Thessaloniki is full of Roman ruins and odes to Alexander the Great (and is also the birthplace of Attaturk- where you can actually enter Turkish soil while still very much in Greece.). But Thessaloniki isn’t just old ruins and history. It is emerging as one of the most up and coming cities in Eastern Europe. Jam packed with eateries from around the globe and bars to accommodate any kind of alcoholic (from casual drinks to dancing on the tables with one shoe missing). Take a stroll down the promenade at sunset to take in a slice of the local culture and maybe even take a free ride on a pirate ship around the bay because, well, why not?
4. Kutna Hora
As obscure Instagram spots go this one’s pretty high on the list. Just outside of the Czech capital Prague, lies a small town called Kutna Hora with a slightly disturbing little secret. The Sedlec Ossuary here is home to over 60000 bodies that have had their bones assorted into various displays including a bone chandelier. I’m not really one for dark tourism but this is a pretty unique little spot to have a peruse. Plus these people all chose to be buried here due to ‘holy soil’. So not that disturbing after all.
You’ve heard of Vienna and the rolling Austrian Alps. But have you thought of visiting the place that the majority of the filming for ‘The Sound Of Music’ was carried out? We’re talking cute Austrian houses. Wide open green hills as far as the eye can see. Visit a schnapps farm, eat vast amounts of Sachet Torte. You can even hop over the border to Germany to visit the Eagles nest; Hitler’s mountain top hideaway complete with Golden lift. This is off the beaten track travel at its finest.
If Kiev is my favourite city in Eastern Europe Porto is it’s hot, Western equivalent. History, check; Port literally comes from here! Art, check; the blue and white tiles are world famous. Food, triple check. Portugal has some of the best food from anywhere around the world. The bonus to visiting Porto rather than Lisbon is that eating out is usually about half the price. If you are wondering if Porto is worth visiting the answer is absolutely! Make sure not to miss the indoor food markets when you’re there.
Now price is never in Switzerland’s favour when it comes to travel here. The trains, food and accommodation is going to coast an arm and a leg no matter how budget savvy a traveller you are. But the stunning Swiss Alps make it all worthwhile. Nowhere else in Europe can you find such stunning peaks surrounding pristine wooden chalets interspersed with the most adorable cows you’ve ever set eyes on. Nestled between Interlaken and Jungfrau (the highest point in Europe you can get to without hiking) is the perfect town of Grindelwald. I challenge anyone not to immediately fall in love with this place. There are many things to do in Grindelwald if you get bored of walking around. From summer tobogganing, clifftop adventure courses and mountain carts. Visit nearby Lauterbrunnen for the best brownie of your life or Murren for a Via Ferratta to work it all off.
8. Bath and the Cotswolds
It’s hard to explain to people that London may as well be a different country to the rest of the UK. London has in fact petitioned for independence in the past. The rest of England and the UK has so much to offer but barely gets a look in on the tourist radar. One of my favourites is Bath. A Roman town with ancient, well, baths obviously and a pretty impressive cathedral on the borders of the Cotswolds, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. A great base for exploring the quintessential English countryside and not a bad place for a pasty and afternoon tea either. Check out the top 5 villages to visit in the Cotswolds here.
Ok so Croatian islands are no longer a secret. But this one’s a far cry from the party vibes of Hvar and well off the radar of the sail Croatia vessels. Not far from Dubrovnik, Mljet is 1/3 national park making it a nature lovers paradise. It’s home to the first marine protected area in Europe and some pretty epic swim spots and hikes for those long Croatian summer days. It’s a short ferry hop from Dubrovnik, the walled city that captured the viewers of Game of Thrones as Kings Landing.
Tallinn, Estonia’s beautiful capital city, has encapsulated the best that Europe has to offer in one easy to explore package. What is there to do in Tallinn? Cobblestone streets, colourful houses, a fascinating history and culture. It is the place to go if you’re looking to get off the beaten path in eastern Europe. Hipster areas full of street art, delicious cuisine and yes, there is Gelato! Head to the nearby beach in summer or the Christmas markets in winter. Tallin’s small population means there’s lots of room to explore. So why not get out in to the beautiful Estonian countryside with this guide to taking a road trip through the Baltics. Who knows you may even spot a bear!
So there we have it 10 off the beaten path vacations in Europe. European city breaks that aren’t Paris or Amsterdam (don’t even get me started on London!). Get out there and see something that’s not on 20 of your friends Instagram feed. Europe has so much to offer no matter what kind of holiday you are after.
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How to travel better for less
These are the companies I use to travel the world for less. The reason long term travel is cheaper than you think is often down to shopping around for a great deal, here I’ve done the hard work for you!
Booking.com – I always book with this site if looking for cheap accommodation as the filters are so easy to use. Become a genius member after five bookings and get great discounts too!
Air BnB – Sometimes you can find great local places to stay on Air BnB. In some countries, like Cuba, it’s the only way to book!
Transferwise – A debit card you can use all over the world and get great exchange rates with no hidden fees. This bank has saved me £100’s in bank fees!
Monzo – A similar travel card to the above with additional features like joint accounts and bill splitting.
World Nomads – Travel insurance is one of the most important things you can have while travelling. Don’t leave home without it! World Nomads provide the very best cover.
What to pack – Here is my ultimate list of what to pack for every trip, available on Amazon. Plus eco friendly alternatives to your toiletries.
Omio – The place to go for all of your public transport needs in Europe. Save a bundle!
G Adventures – A sustainable, fun, responsible travel company. I’ve travelled with them many times and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend any of their amazing trips of a lifetime.
Some links in this post are to affiliate sites. If you purchase something through them, I may earn a small commission at no cost to you. I am very grateful when you use my links to make a purchase as it helps keep the blog running. Thanks for reading.
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About Lost Wanders
because we can't all travel all the time. Or can we?