Europe is a continent with a rich history.  It features a sheer variety of bucket-list destinations ranging from natural wonders to history-rich capitals and quaint countryside towns.

The abundance of choices is overwhelming and many hidden gems in Europe remain unexplored because they stay in the shadow of much more known tourist hot spots.

Are you ready for an adventure?  These magnificent hidden places in Europe are waiting for you.

Hidden places in Europe

Herceg Novi in Montenegro is one of the hidden gems in Europe

Herceg Novi in Montenegro is one of the hidden gems in Europe (photo credits: Samantha from Sam Sees World)

Herceg Novi, Montenegro

Contributed by Samantha from Sam Sees World

It is very rare nowadays to find a place that is truly off the beaten path in Europe, but luckily there are still a few.

One of these rare findings is Herceg Novi, Montenegro – a stunning coastal city full of beauty and excitement.

Herceg Novi is located at the top of Montenegro near the Croatian border.

It is easily reachable by taking a plane to the airport in Dubrovnik, Croatia, or in Tivat, Montenegro, and driving there. 

Other cities in Montenegro are often ignored for the very famous Kotor. But believe me, once you have seen the authentic nature of Herceg Novi, it will leave its mark.

Here you will find an old town that isn’t packed with tourists, beaches lining the whole coast, and a mountainous backdrop like something out of a movie.

There are tons of things to do in Herceg Novi too. From going to one of the many beaches that line the coast, to hiking one of the two old fortresses within the city, to sitting in a restaurant and indulging in local tastes.

The best thing about Herceg Novi is that it can be visited several times. It is the perfect place to set up a base for a Montenegro adventure or just relax for a few days.

Herceg Novi offers the best relaxing vibes and is the perfect place for an Adriatic vacation!

Aphrodite's birthplace near Paphos

The beach which is believed to be Aphrodite’s birthplace near Paphos (photo credits: Smita from My faulty Compass)

Paphos, Cyprus

Contributed by Smita from My Faulty Compass

The stunningly beautiful Mediterranean island of Cyprus is known for its beautiful coastline and its fascinating legends. There’s no dearth of wonderful things to do in Cyprus and you can easily spend a week here and still not get enough of it!

The jewel of the island is the city of Paphos.

Steeped in history & culture and an abundance of natural beauty, Paphos will leave you awestruck!

One of the best things to do in the city is to visit the Kato Paphos Archaeological Park.

Even if you are not a history buff, this place is guaranteed to leave you fascinated.

Containing sites dating back from the 4th century to the Middle Ages, this park is famous for its huge Roman villas and their incredibly preserved, intricately patterned mosaic floors.

Step out of the Archaeological Park and take a stroll along the harbor of Paphos lined with restaurants & cafes up to the Medieval Castle of Paphos, another cultural landmark of the place.

A beautiful boardwalk stretches along the coastal path giving you incredible views over the sea as you walk towards the Tombs of the Kings, a large necropolis from the Hellenistic period.

I told you this place was rich in history!

From history to legends, Paphos has it all! The mythical birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love & beauty, is believed to be the beautiful beach of Petra tou Romiou. This rocky beach is home to Aphrodite’s Rock which is said to give you eternal youth!

If a fine golden sand beach is what you are looking for, Paphos has that too!

Coral Bay is one of the best beaches on the west coast of Cyprus, popular with swimmers & sunbathers.

Paphos is also one of the best places to base yourself in to explore more of the west coast of Cyprus.

An easy day trip from Paphos is to the ridiculously beautiful Akamas peninsula – covered in forests and tall mountains, it’s the perfect place for hiking!

Paphos is one of the best-hidden gems of Europe.

Plan to spend at least 3-4 days here to be able to take everything in.

An international airport in the city and excellent road connections to the other large cities of Larnaca and Nicosia make Paphos very easy to visit.

Add Paphos and Cyprus to your Europe bucket list now!

With winter temperatures between 16°C and 17°C, it is also a great winter sun destination in Europe.

 

A narrow cobblestone street in Sibiu

The medieval city of Sibiu (photo credits: Corina from Another Milestone)

Sibiu, Romania

Contributed by Corina from Another Milestone

Since Romania is still a fairly unknown destination in Europe, it has the opportunity to surprise its guests with many things.

The truth is that Romania has an incredible natural landscape, some very well preserved castles, and gorgeous medieval cities.

One of them is Sibiu, one of the best-hidden gems in Europe, just starting to get noticed.

Located at the border of Transylvania, in the heart of Romania, the city is 300 kilometers away from Bucharest. It is fairly easy to get there by car or by train.

Since Sibiu has a very small airport, flying is not a great option.

The charm of Sibiu is given by its cobblestone streets, colorful old buildings, and intimate cafes.

On a long walk in the old town, you will discover interesting places to visit: medieval towers, a large market framed by museums and a small piazza, both separated by the Council tower.

Another spot you shouldn’t miss is the Stairs passage.

Part of the old fortification system of the city, the Stairs passage has an amazing glow during sunset, especially in summer.

Read also: Magical fairytale towns in Europe.

After walking through this passage and crossing the Huet piazza, another colorful place will be revealed in front of you: Liars’ Bridge.

This important attraction in Sibiu took its name from the lovers that swear eternal love on it.

Many of these vows are broken and the bridge became a symbol of them.

Two days are enough to explore Sibiu’s main attractions. And if you want to discover more of Transylvania, Sibiu is a great base for day trips around it.  

Sand dunes in Curonian Spit National Park

Sand dunes in Curonian Spit National Park (photo credits: Jurga from Full Suitcase)

Curonian Spit National park, Lithuania

Contributed by Jurga from Full Suitcase

Lithuania’s Curonian Spit National Park is a true hidden gem of Europe.

Located on a narrow peninsula perched between the Baltic Sea and the Curonian Lagoon, it’s a place with some of the highest sand dunes in Europe, traditional fishing villages, pristine beaches, and endless pine tree forests.

Yet, it’s very little known to international visitors.

Curonian Spit is a wonderful destination for those who love untouched nature, long walks and sunsets on the beach, and also unique local traditions and culture.

Explore colorful towns with traditional fishermen’s houses, admire wooden artwork and sculptures, climb the sand dunes, or visit quirky local attractions such as the Hill of Witches or Sound Catcher… Make sure to check out local crafts, amber, and also taste some smoked fish, the specialty of the region.

Curonian Spit has a lot to offer, so you can easily spend several days here.

If you’re short on time, one full day is enough for the main highlights.

Curonian Spit can only be reached by car ferry from Klaipeda. You can drive or take a bus. If you have more time, I recommend renting a bike. It’s a great way to explore this beautiful area.

For more information and practical tips, please check this complete guide to the Curonian Spit in Lithuania.

The coastal town of Rovinj in Croatia

The coastal town of Rovinj in Croatia (photo credits: Katarzyna – Pixabay)

Rovinj, Croatia

Contributed by Lara from Both Feet on The Road

Hidden somewhere on the Istrian coast of Croatia, you can find this beautiful pearl called Rovinj.

Rovinj is a small romantic town perfect for a few days of relaxing under the Croatian sun.

If you’re staying somewhere else in Istria, Rovinj’s small size also makes for a perfect day trip.

Though one day won’t give you as much time to truly enjoy the relaxed pace of the coastal town with its delicious cuisine.

Rovinj is located on a small hill overlooking the ocean.  The best way to explore this picturesque town is to wander freely through its cobbled streets lined with colorful pastel houses.

A walk on the main street called the Grisia will take you along cute boutiques, cafes, and restaurants.

If you continue walking all the way to the top of the hill the Grisia takes you to the St. Eufemia Church.

The bell tower of the church is a popular place from which you can enjoy a beautiful view of Rovinj and the Adriatic Sea.

Read also: 9 natural wonders in Europe

There are also quite a number of beaches around Rovinj to enjoy the Adriatic sea. You can get a tan at the beaches along the Golden Cape Fores, Punta Eva, and Lone Bay beach, just to name a few.

Of course, you have to try a meal with the delicious truffles that grow in Istria and an Istrian wine.

You could also join a wine and truffle tasting to have the ultimate Istrian Experience in Rovinj!

The green rolling countryside of the Peak District in England

The green rolling countryside of the Peak District in England (photo credits: Jenny from Peak District Kids)

The Peak District, England

Contributed by Jenny from Peak District Kids

When people think of England they perhaps think of Buckingham Palace, red phone boxes, historical towns like Bath or Cambridge, or fish n chips at a traditional seaside town like Blackpool or Brighton.

But for me, it’s the green, rolling countryside that’s the true England, and overlooked by so many travelers is the Peak District, nestled in the heart of the country with its stunning landscapes, drystone walls, and quaint villages.

The Peak District is an outdoor lovers paradise and people visit the area to spend their days either hiking in the hills or cycling along the miles upon miles of disused railway tracks.

However, there are also some fantastic underground caverns to explore, or perhaps take the cable car up to The Heights of Abraham.

The best thing to do after a long walk across the dales is to warm up in front of a fire at one of the many old and characterful pubs with a pint of Peak Ale and a home-cooked roast. And as this is the Peak District, muddy boots and muddy paws are always welcome!

It’s a popular weekend destination for those living in the UK, but a lovely way to experience the area is to hire a holiday cottage on one of the many farms.

And whilst parts of the Peak District are accessible by the TransPennine Express train that runs between Manchester and Sheffield, you really need a car to get around this hidden gem.

The port in Leith

The port in Leith (photo credits: sumulee – pixabay)

Leith, Scotland

Contributed by Gemma from Everything Edinburgh

Leith is an area of Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh where many young locals and families live. 

 

First-time visitors tend to base themselves in or close to the Old Town to see popular attractions such as Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile and the Grassmarket.

 

However, return visitors or those who prefer a bit of local culture during their trip to cities should consider Leith when thinking about where to stay in Edinburgh.

 

This port area of Leith is only a 45-minute walk from Princes Street in the heart of Edinburgh, which is one of the best places to visit in Europe during wintertime.

The route is down the interesting Leith Walk which is packed with pubs and restaurants. Alternatively, take a short bus/taxi ride. 

 

Leith is home to a number of highly-rated restaurants and fresh fish eateries on The Shore. There is also a cool food and events venue called the pitt (weekends). 

   

Every Saturday there is a farmers market just off Commercial Street where traders sell baked goods, fresh fruit/veg, and crafts. 

 

You can easily lose a day pub hopping in Leith. Some of my favorites include Teuchters Landing (outside and inside seating), The Carriers Quarters (live music on certain nights), and the Roseleaf (cocktails in teapots). 

 

Shoppers should check out the Scottish Design Exchange at Ocean Terminal for souvenirs created by local designers. There will be no bagpipe soundtrack at this store! 

 

A popular and easy stroll along the Waters of Leith will take you to the upmarket Stockbridge and picturesque Dean Village areas of the city.

Beach fans have two choices close to Leith. Portobello Beach and Cramond Beach can both be easily visited from the area.

However, I can’t guarantee the weather! 

The St. Grigor Lusavorich Cathedral in Yerevan

The St. Grigor Lusavorich Cathedral in Yerevan (Photo credits Carine and Derek from We Did it our Way)

Yerevan, Armenia

Contributed by Carine and Derek from We Did it our Way

Yerevan is one of those places that has a lasting effect on its visitors. A hidden jewel in the Caucasus and Europe, it’s well worth a visit. 

To make the best of your time here and see some amazing attractions on day trips, we recommend spending at least five days in Yerevan.

Spend one half of your time in the city, and the other going on road trips to explore historic landmarks. 

Yerevan recently celebrated its 2,800th anniversary, making the city one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.

The vibe here is unlike anywhere else, a perfect mix of traditional Armenian culture and European flair. Plus, it’s budget-friendly and easy to get around the city. And best of all, the food here is some of the most delicious in the world!

Being the capital of Armenia, there is a ton to do in Yerevan.

Culture lovers will love the talented artists.  Almost every night, you can enjoy a show or two – from classical music concerts to opera, jazz, rock, ballet, contemporary dance and so much more.

Also, don’t be surprised if a band starts performing in your restaurant one night.

There are also a ton of museums that will teach you everything about the ancient Armenian culture and its rich history. In the Yerevan Brandy Company Building you can learn how renowned Armenian brandy is made and other museums will teach you how the famous colorful rugs are fabricated.

You can visit some old Soviet amusement parks, Armenia’s largest church, and its only active mosque. If you’re looking to buy some art or souvenirs, the painters’ market and vernissage market are your best bets. This is where you’ll find some beautiful handmade pieces to take back home. 

Regardless of what you’re into, we’re convinced you will find something that will amaze you in Yerevan.

It’s one of the best-hidden places in Europe.

The colorful houses in Porvoo

The colorful houses in Porvoo (Photo credits: Alexander from Engineer on Tour)

Porvoo, Finland

Contributed by Alexander from Engineer On Tour

Old Porvoo is one of the cutest things in Finland. It is Finland’s second oldest city, famous for its colorful old wooden architecture.

The city is full of small design shops and cozy cafeterias.

What I like the most is how they preserved the atmosphere of old.

In Porvoo, you will find a labyrinth of narrow stone-paved streets.

Houses are made of wood and have a lot of handmade elements, often paint is a bit worn out. And there are no chain restaurants. These kinds of places are always a bit of an island and have a strong contrast with ultra-modern, germ-free Scandinavia.

So, what should you do in Porvoo? I would say relax, drink coffee, and look for some unique beautiful items in the shops. It is a good place to visit after a busy city.

How long should you stay? A day or two. Most people go there for a day, but I would like to recommend staying for a night at one of these beautiful wooden houses. And of course, don’t miss the opportunity to photograph the city during the sunset (which happens very late in the summertime in Finland)

How to get to Porvoo? Normally people travel from the capital Helsinki.

The bus takes only an hour, which makes Porvoo the most popular day trip from Helsinki. There are around ten busses during the day.

 

The herdsmen settlement of Velika Planina in Slovenia

The herdsmen settlement of Velika Planina in Slovenia (photo credits: Ellen from Adventures with Nell)

Velika Planina, Slovenia

Contributed by Ellen from Adventures with Nell

Velika Planina is a traditional herdsmen settlement in Slovenia, where traditional pastoral methods are still in use.

Every summer, the herdsmen come to Velika Planina with their cattle and make themselves at home in the huts, living and working there for the summer.

Velika Planina can be reached by cable car and chair lift, and offers beautiful walks around the alpine pasture.

There are several restaurants but you can also just knock on the door of any hut in the summer and ask for the traditional dishes of sour milk, buckwheat mush, or Trnič cheese.

There’s easily enough to do in Velika Planina to spend two or three days there, from walking routes to learning about the history of the settlement and the lives of the herdsmen.  When staying overnight you’re in for a real fairytale accommodation experience.  You can choose from a few characterful and rustic hotels, guest houses, and chalets.

There are guided tours in the summer, cheese-making workshops, and a range of landmarks to visit such as the chapel of Snow Mary, the Preskar museum, and the Vetrnica cave.

How to get to Velika Planina?

For day trips to Velika Planina, I would recommend staying in the beautiful town of Kamnik, which is about 20 minutes away by car, and there’s a bus in the summer season.

It’s also accessible from the capital city of Ljubljana, taking around 30 minutes by car, or by getting the train to Kamnik (about 45 minutes) and then the bus to Velika Planina.

Lighthouse on Formentera island during sunset

Sunset on Formentera Island (photo credits: ElisaRiva – Pixabay)

Formentera, Spain

Contributed by Sylvie from Travels with Eden

As one of the lesser-known of the Balearic Islands, just off the coast of Spain, Formentera is well worth a visit.

The pretty little towns, clear seas, and long white sand beaches make trips to Formentera extremely memorable.

To get to Formentera, there are two options. Ferries run direct from Denia in mainland Spain to Formentera. However, most fly into Ibiza airport and catch a ferry from Ibiza, which is just 5 miles away.

day trip from Ibiza to Formentera is a very popular option with the proximity of the two islands along with Formentera’s size enabling visitors to see the whole island and pack in some beach time all in a day.

The capital of Formentera, San Fransisco, is popular with tourists.

Visitors can see churches, visit the wealth of independent shops, and stop for a coffee.

For some beach time, Illetes beach is the place to be with some of the clearest seas and whitest sand in Europe.

Walk North of Illetes beach, and you’ll reach Ses Salines national park, a protected marine area home to pretty salt flats and an abundance of migratory birds.

The small fishing village of Es Pujols is also a must-see.

The restaurants overlooking another fantastic white sandy beach come highly recommended.

To preserve the natural environment, Formentera only has a handful of small, privately run hotels and guest houses so it’s definitely worth booking in advance.

Stone beehive huts that were used by monks on Skelling Michael

Skelling Michael has become more popular since it was used as a filming location in Star Wars (photo credits: Emer and Nils from Let’s Go Ireland)

Skellig Michael, Ireland

Contributed by Emer and Nils from Let’s Go Ireland

Off the west coast of Ireland lies one of Europe’s best-hidden gems.

Skellig Michael is so otherworldly and remote in its appeal that it was chosen as a filming location for Star Wars.

For centuries, this rocky outcrop was one of the last outposts in the known world.

Sometime between the 6th and 8th century, the rugged island 12 kilometers off the coast of County Kerry became the location of an early Christian settlement.

In almost complete isolation from the rest of the world, monks lived very simple lives in the stone beehive huts which can still be seen to this day.

Recognized for its well preserved and highly unique early Christian settlement, the island was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.

Skellig Michael, along with the other smaller surrounding islands, is also an internationally renowned and protected seabird sanctuary. 

It is possible to visit the island as part of a day trip during the summer season, but you should book your trip well in advance.

The popularity of the island has risen dramatically since being used as a filming location.

Additionally, due to the protected status, only a limited number of visitors per day are allowed onto the island.

It takes roughly an hour to reach the island by boat, which is part of the adventure itself!

You need to be lucky with the weather, as boat sailings can be canceled if conditions are poor.

Bring everything you need with you due to the fact that there are no facilities on the island.

Comfortable shoes are also advisable, as there will be over 600 steps to climb on the steep terrain.

Kangerlussuaq a true hidden gem in Europe

Kangerlussuaq, the capital of Greenland, is a true hidden gem in Europe (photo credits: Kristen from Yonderlust Ramblings)

Kangerlussuaq, Greenland

Contributed by Kristen from Yonderlust Ramblings

Greenland is one of the best off the beaten track destinations in Europe! 

The best way to experience the otherworldly sights, culture, and experiences of this magical island is to pay a visit to the most quintessential of Greenlandic towns, Kangerlussuaq. 

Kangerlussuaq is home to Greenland’s international airport, and is also a home base for a multitude of the best things to do in Greenland, from visiting glaciers to sampling local cuisine! 

It’s the perfect destination for those who have a couple days or a couple weeks to spend in this remote corner of the world!

Kangerlussuaq is a multi-dimensional town, one that is brimming with unique experiences for every kind of traveler.

It has a rich history rooted in WWII and one that is blended with a very present and active traditional culture.

Travel is still done by dog sled, boat, and snowshoe-ing.

Residents bundle up in musk oxen wool, and still habit local bodies of water to ice fish.

In Kangerlussuaq, you can visit the local city museum, lodge in old military barracks, take a dog sledding tour, and sample local dishes including reindeer, various seafood, and musk oxen.  

Outdoor adventures abound in Kangerlussuaq, including a chance to visit stunning monoliths like the pristine Russell Glacier, hike local peaks like Mount Hassell, and visit the world’s second-largest ice sheet at the breathtaking Greenland Ice Cap! 

There are multiple tours that provide visitors a glimpse of every aspect of Kangerlussuaq, from its serene harbor to its frozen tundra inhabited by Arctic foxes and hares!

And of course, you can’t miss out on one of the best locations on the planet for basking in the Northern Lights!

The Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc

The Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc (photo credits: Veronika from Travel Geekery )

Olomouc, Czech Republic

Contributed by Veronika from Travel Geekery

Olomouc belongs to one of the most beautiful towns in the Czech Republic. The country’s 6th largest city is located in its East.

It features a picturesque Old Town made up of two interconnected squares and dotted with Baroque fountains from the 17th-18th centuries. An astronomical clock decorates the Old Town Hall Tower – even though it’s newer by a few hundred years than Prague’s clock, it’s still a unique sight.

The main draw on the Upper Square is the UNESCO-listed Holy Trinity Column. It’s one of the largest plague columns in the world and even features a small chapel on the bottom. It’s adorned with sculptures of saints and topped off with gold-like Holy Scripture.

Olomouc is wonderfully green. Once you get from the historical center, you’ll be surrounded by parks. One’s even just a few steps away from the Old Town. You couldn’t tell you’re still in a city – the park is large and follows a beautiful little creek.

Olomouc is famous for its typical smelly cheese, which has even received its own EU trademark. Called tvarůžky or syrečky in Czech, it’s a type of a ripened soft cheese. The factory making it is located just outside Olomouc.

You can get to Olomouc by taking a train from Prague, one of the prettiest cities in Europe. It only takes 2 hours to get there.

For a wonderful stay in the city center, opt for a beautiful boutique experience at Sophie’s Hotel or, if you need to watch the costs, go for the design hostel called Long Story Short.

The ancient cliff-side village of Rocamadour

The ancient cliff-side village of Rocamadour (photo credits: Ann from The Road Is Life)

Rocamadour, France

Contributed by Ann from The Road Is Life

Rocamadour is an ancient cliff-side village, surrounded by a beautiful green canyon in the heart of the Dordogne Valley.

It is truly one of the most picturesque villages in France!

Rocamadour is known for its famous religious buildings that cling to the side of a lime-stone rock face. Inside these sanctuaries, there is a sacred shrine that is said to provide healing powers.

For centuries, Rocamadour has been a popular pilgrimage destination and has attracted people from all over Europe who visit the site hoping to experience the healing powers of the shrine.

Rocamadour is easily reached by driving from Toulouse in just under 2 hours, or by driving from Bordeaux in 2.5 hours.

It also makes an excellent stop on a southern France road trip itinerary.

Rocamadour is a small village but there is enough to see in the village and the surrounding area that you could easily spend 2 days or more.

The most popular thing to do in Rocamadour is of course climbing the steep steps through the complex of sacred sites.

The “Grand Escalier” begins in the town center and ascends up 216 steps, leading you through each religious building. During medieval times, the pilgrims climbed up each step on their knees! 

Once you reach the top, spectacular views can be seen over the countryside below. Taking a walk through the pretty main street of the village center is also an enjoyable thing to do.

Admire the many historic buildings, some which are covered in ivy, and stroll underneath 13th-century archways.

Breathtaking views can be found around every corner in Rocamadour!

One of the houses decorated with Wooden Lace of Chernihiv

One of the houses decorated with Wooden Lace of Chernihiv (photo credits: Kamila from My Wanderlust)

Chernihiv, Ukraine

Contributed by Kamila from My Wanderlust

Chernihiv, Ukraine is one of the most underrated cities in Eastern Europe.

Located only 140 km north of Kyiv, the capital city, it is a popular day-trip destination thanks to the frequent bus connections, but the city deserves more than just those few hours.

Chernihiv is one of the oldest cities in Ukraine, dating back to the 10th century, and for years it has been an important center in the region.

Still today you can admire many great monuments from the times of the prosperity, especially impressive churches.

The most important one, Transfiguration Cathedral from 1037, is the oldest temple in Ukraine!

Most of the churches are located in Dytynets Park and historic cannon Val but it’s worth going a bit further away to see more religious monuments.

The most unique one is St. Anthony Underground Caves, founded in 1069. With bones of monks or relics of saints, this place is definitely not for the faint-hearted!

The city is also known for amazing old wooden houses with so-called “Wooden Lace of Chernihiv” – beautifully carved details.

You can find over 200 houses in this style around the city, some of them are very unique, like the one with wooden art-nouveau details.

Chernihiv is a very vibrant city, with numerous parks, local cafes, and restaurants.

You won’t find many tourists there (yet) but this makes it a great place to visit to experience the real Ukraine, beyond the popular tourist attractions. 

A view on the promenade in Thessaloniki

A view on the promenade in Thessaloniki (photo credits: Nisha from And There She Goes Again)

Thessaloniki, Greece

Contributed by Nisha from Nerdy Footsteps

Thessaloniki is an underrated destination in Greece.

While most tourists flock to the islands of Santorini and Mykonos, I find Thessaloniki a perfect destination to see the best of Greece.

The city hosts some of the most spectacular Greek Orthodox churches like Agias Sofias and Hagios Demetrios. It is full of historical monuments like the White Tower, Arch of Galerius, Rotunda and many more.

I recommend taking the long walk from the White Tower to the Ancient Agora.

Right next to the White Tower, you will find the Promenade, the most lively part of the city. This long walk along the sea is a must for anyone visiting the city.

I highly recommend grabbing a local drink at any of the bars along the promenade and see the beautiful sunset over the sea.

You can even visit Heptapyrgion (also known as Eptapyrio or Yedi Kule), an Ottoman-era fort from ancient Greece. It later served as the prison and its horror stories are well spread. Being at a hill in the north-east of the city also offers a nice view of the city.

But the best thing about Thessaloniki, as any Greek destination, is the food!

Treat your taste buds at Ladadika where people of all ages join to enjoy the delicious food and chat through the night. 

You can easily spend a week there, but I will suggest spending a minimum of two days in Thessaloniki. Thessaloniki can be easily reached by flights or trains.

 

A view from the top of the Schafberg Mountain in Austria, another hidden gem in Europe

Spectacular breathtaking views from the top of the Schafberg Mountain in Austria (photo credits: Darek from Darek and Gosia)

Schafberg Mountain, Austria

Contributed by Darek from Darek and Gosia

There are places in Europe that are unique and available at moderate prices but are so little known that they are often overlooked by the most popular guides.

Wrongly, because they are one of the best-hidden places to visit in Europe.

If you are looking for something spectacular with breath-taking views, head out to Austria to see Schafberg mountain – one of the most beautiful places in the country.

If you are spending your holiday in this part of Austria it’s definitely worth blocking a whole day for this trip.

The Schafberg summit can be reached in two ways, on foot or by riding the steepest, steam cog-railway in Austria! We highly recommend the 2nd option.

The journey to the top of the summit takes only 35 minutes during which you will see endless stunning views!

There is a small restaurant up there so you can have lunch and some refreshments before you start enjoying the spectacular views.

The best time of the year to visit Schafberg mountain is spring and summer as the weather is usually excellent during that time. You should be able to enjoy stunning views for miles. Early autumn is also a good period and it will definitely be less crowded in Austria then.

So, are you ready to visit this beautiful hidden gem in Europe?

Deposits of calcium along the river in Bagni San Filippo

The crystal-white calcium deposits can be seen all along the river in Bagni San Filippo (photo credits: Merryl from Merryl’s Travel & Tricks)

Bagni San Filippo, Italy

Contributed by Merryl from Merryl’s Travel & Tricks

The beautiful town of Bagni San Filippo is named after the secluded hot springs located there.

It is situated in Castiglione d’Orcia in the province of Sienna in Tuscany.

The town is just a few minutes’ drive from the Instagram famous Val d’Orcia.

Two or three days are enough to explore the area and visit these beautiful natural thermal pools.

The Baths of San Filippo are situated in a park in the heart of the little town.

A small downward hike through the park brings you to the beautiful pools.

The water flowing through these pools is rich in carbonate-calcic.

Over the years, these deposits of Calcium have formed huge formations along the flow of the water.

The Fosso Bianco is one of the first noticeable formations, but the White Whale is the most impressive one as it appears to look like a solidified waterfall.

The best time to visit the thermal baths is during the months of September to November.

The warm waters in contrast with the cool climate can be extra calming.

If you’re hoping for some privacy during your visit, I recommend early mornings or weekdays. Weekends can get busy as the relaxing pools attract both locals and Italian tourists from all around the country.

The town of Bagni San Filippo is just a short drive from Rome or Florence.

It is perfect for a relaxing day-trip from either of those cities.

If you do plan to stay and explore the area, I recommend staying in Montepulciano. But you can find a few stay options in the town of Bagni San Filippo as well.

The city of Cáceres in Extremadura

The city of Cáceres in Extremadura (photo credits: Wendy from The Nomadic Vegan  )

Extremadura, Spain

Contributed by Wendy from The Nomadic Vegan

While well-known cities like Madrid, Barcelona, and Seville struggle with the impacts of overtourism, the remote region of Extremadura in the west of Spain sees hardly any foreign visitors.

And yet, there’s certainly plenty to see there.

Though this once important region is now largely forgotten by the outside world, it was here where Spain’s colonial ambitions and conquest of foreign lands began.

Many of the conquistadores were from Extremadura, and they used the riches they plundered from the New World to build lavish palaces for themselves and their families.

Cities and towns not to miss include Cáceres, which is called the “monumental city” and is filled with impressive churches, towers, and palaces.

Trujillo has a lovely Plaza Mayor and some incredible views from its hilltop castle.

Then there’s Guadalupe, a small town that’s completely dominated by the Spanish royal monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe.

While the town can easily be seen in a couple of hours, it’s worth staying overnight in the guesthouse that’s located inside the monastery itself.

There’s also plenty of natural beauty in this region, and one great way to experience it is by walking the Ruta de Isabel La Católica, a 17-kilometer hiking path that starts in the village of Cañamero and passes by beautiful lakes and hilly countryside before finishing in Guadalupe.

Mérida is perhaps the best known of all Extremaduran cities, and it also has the most to see.

As the former capital of the Roman province of Lusitania, there’s an astounding number of ancient Roman ruins here.

And as the capital of Extremadura, Mérida is the easiest entry point and can be reached by train from Madrid.

You could easily spend at least a week exploring this little-known region.

 

Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Contributed by Daniela from Ipanema travels 

Without a doubt, one of the most underrated cities in Europe is Bulgaria’s old capital – Veliko Tarnovo.

Located in the north of the country, on the Yantra River, this extraordinarily beautiful city still remains off the beaten path.

With the houses in National Revival style clung to the hills, the ruins of the old fortress, and the winding river, the city is nothing but old, buzzing with life, thanks to the few Universities, which keep its spirit young.

The most famous attraction in the city is the Tsarevets fortress – the stronghold of the 2nd Bulgarian Kingdom (12th – 14th century). For the most beautiful view of the city, with a 360-degrees panorama, cross the river over at the Stambolov bridge and take a deep breath standing at the feet of the Horsemen (the Asenevtsi Monument). Stroll along Gurko Street or go souvenir hunting at Samovodska Charshia, where you’ll find lots of handicrafts from local artisans.

There are lots of lovely pubs and restaurants in the city that offer quality food. What sets those places apart from any other good restaurant in Europe, is the amazing view of the river and the Horsemen. Some restaurants to try when in Veliko Tarnovo include Ego, Shtastlivetsa, Lino Bar, and Ethno.

Read also: 10 of the cheapest countries to travel in Europe

The city is not that big and you can manage seeing quite a lot in a day, but I can highly recommend staying there a bit longer, at least 3 or 4 days so that you can feel the special vibe it has to offer. Throughout the summer many events and festivals are going on so the city is always full of life.

How to get there

Bus iconVeliko Tarnovo is very easy to reach from Sofia, Varna, and Plovdiv, where there are international airports. It takes about 2 and a half hours by car from all three cities. There are also good connections to Bucharest (Romania) and Istanbul (Turkey).

Conclusion

This concludes our list of hidden gems in Europe.  The old continent counts many cities that are brimming with tourists in high season.  

This list allows you the explore magnificent places in its vast territory where you can avoid these crowds and enjoy the true beauty that it has to offer.

 

 

Categories: Europe