While most tourists flock to Europe’s main attractions of Paris, London, and Rome, there are many other beautiful hidden gems around the continent that are pretty as a postcard and bursting with culture, yet tend to go overlooked. Include these in your Europe travel list and you’ll come away totally charmed!
Lesser known but incredible destinations for Europe travel:
Germany’s picturesque village Rothenberg ob der Tauber seems like it’s straight out of a fairy-tale! In fact, it’s part of the Romantic Road and one of the most popular travel destinations in Bavaria – easily accessible from Frankfurt, Nuremberg and Stuttgart.
The medieval town has been untouched by the passage of time, surrounded by a 14th century town wall. When you travel to Rothenburg, you can take walking tours to learn more about the town’s history, or even get a view of the countryside by climbing the Town Hall tower. Fun fact: Walt Disney used Rothenberg as the inspiration for his film Pinocchio!
When you travel to Bohinj, you’ll fall in love with its spectacular views of the mountains and the beautiful, crystal-clear lake. An ideal summer holiday, visitors can swim in the water, cycle, or walk the trails, participate in outdoor pursuits like kayaking, hiking or visit the many charming villages.
Slovenia is the hidden gem of Europe and its capital Ljubljana was as the European Green Capital for 2016. Lake Bohinj, the gateway to the Triglav National Park, is a gem within a gem – less crowded and situated 26km west of Lake Bled (another stunning beauty!).
Menton, also known as the “Pearl of France”, is the last stop on the Côte d’Azur before Italy, and sits prettily on the water. The sunny climate, numerous restaurants, artistic museums, and pastel mansions help make it one of the most attractive towns on the coast to travel to. Plus, it’s the most affordable on the French Riviera.
Menton is also known for its lemons, which are known for their flavour and celebrated every February! Travel to Menton from Nice – it’s only about 20-odd kms away.
Kotor, a UNESCO-listed World Natural and Historical Heritage Site, is a picturesque and well preserved coastal town, located in a secluded channel of a Montenegro bay. While cars are not allowed within Kotor’s Old Town, you can typically wander through the narrow maze of cobblestoned streets, packed with souvenir shops and traditional cafes, and climb 1,350 steep steps to view the town’s ancient fortifications, mountains, breathtaking turquoise bay, coastal towns, and buildings that date back to the medieval times. If you are adventurous enough, try paragliding from atop the surrounding cliffs.
To travel to Kotor, one of the top 5 attractions in Montenegro, the most romantic way is by ferry from Italy.
Svalbard is exactly what you had alway imagined the Arctic North looked like: glaciers, ice fields, icebergs, and a seemingly endless dark, Arctic night. The town’s whaling and fishing villages have become major travel destinations to see polar bears, reindeer, and marine mammals, and you can even travel further and explore through boat trips, glacier hikes, or expeditions by snowmobiles!
The Svalbard Islands are located in the Arctic Ocean, midway between Norway and the North Pole. Almost two-thirds of Svalbard is protected and is rich in nature reserves and national parks – a perfect destination for green travel.
Kizhi Island, Russia
The Kizhi Island in Russia, located in Lake Onega, popular for its 80 historical wooden structures, the most famous among them is the Kizhi Pogost, which includes two large wooden churches and a bell-tower. The pogost is famous for its beauty and longevity, despite that it is built exclusively of wood. All of this interesting architecture in harmony with its surroundings is definitely a sight to see!
Petrozavodsk is the main and only city of Karelia and the distance between St. Petersburg and Petrozavodsk is roughly about 420 kms. Travel to Kizhi island via a small speed motor ship called hydrofoil.
Also known as the, ‘Pearl of the Renaissance,’ Poland’s unique town of Zamość, located near Warsaw and the border of Ukraine, is nearly picture perfect, and is a preserved example of Renaissance town planning. Is it any wonder that the pretty, planned town, founded in the 16th century by Chancellor Jan Zamoysky on the trade route linking western and northern Europe with the Black Sea, finds itself on the UNESCO World Heritage List?
In addition to the colorful architecture, during the spring and summer, Zamość hosts a number of cultural, sports and trade events, making it even more attractive to visitors. Is it on your Europe travel bucket list now?
Also, known as the “City of a Thousand Sieges,” Girona is a must-see for those interested in history! The city, which lies north of Barcelona, has walls dating from the Roman period, Moorish baths, Gothic-style churches, and the Girona Cathedral, which features an 11th-century tapestry depicting theological scenes. Additionally, the numerous restaurants, cheap bars, and winding cobblestone streets are all ways to spend a fun-filled day.
Hellnar, located on the westernmost part of Iceland, is an ancient fishing village populated with numerous buildings that function as either farms, lodgings for the seasonal workers or fish-related structures. However, travel to Hellnar today and you’ll find many colorful houses and farms in the town which have wonderful views of the Snaefellsjökull glacier, and hotels, cottages, and cafes to accommodate the visitors.