8 European Destinations You Haven’t Thought to Visit (But Should)

Unique places to visit in Europe, where to go in Europe off the beaten path

When you think of visiting Europe, you may imagine seeing the sites in Rome, enjoying a croissant in Paris, or drinking a Guinness in Dublin. But while those iconic European cities are worth visiting, there are so many off-the-beaten path destinations that I’d recommend instead. These are the top 7 places in Europe that you probably haven’t considered experiencing…but you should.

Unique european destinations to visit-- Nantes, France

1. Nantes

I had never even heard of Nantes before I visited this past summer for a travel blogging conference, but I absolutely loved the time I spent in this lovely Paris alternative. If you’re looking for a unique city break or just somewhere different to visit from Paris, I know you’ll love this modern, visitor-friendly city. Flights are cheap from London so it’s a great place to visit for a weekend. Check out my vlogs from the trip to see more of the city and what there is to do there. I recommend taking a cooking class, like the one I did, to learn more about the unique local cuisine.

Unique places to visit in Europe, where to go in Europe off the beaten path, Budapest, Hungary

2. Budapest

Budapest is becoming less of a hidden gem due to more people discovering how inexpensive it is, but it’s still a bit off the beaten path. Visit for a long weekend and you’ll find your money goes a lot farther than in most other cities, so it’s a great place to “splurge” on your accommodation as you’ll feel like a king! I recommend staying in the Buda side and I think the best way to see the city is with a bike tour, just make sure you’re not out of shape!

Different places to go while in Europe, Where to go in Europe that's off the beaten path, Bologna, Italy

3. Bologna

Bologna is overshadowed by its nearby neighbors Rome, Venice and Florence but not for good reason. Super accessible from those popular spots, I recommend spending a couple of days in the city to get away from the tourists (mostly) and to EAT WELL. I visited with the Emilia Romagna Tourist Board a few years back and again last year with Tom and some friends, and am still hooked.  You MUST try Tagliatelle al Ragu while you’re there, and don’t be afraid to make your visit a completely culinary- focused one, as the food is unreal there!

Unique places in Europe, Unique places in Italy, Cinque Terre

4. Cinque Terre

Americans love to visit Cinque Terre in Italy but the English have yet to catch on. This unique and incredibly picturesque area on the Italian Riviera has lots to do. It’s made up of 5 small towns that visitors can hike between. It’s not the easiest hike but the views make it so worth the sweat! Visit just before or after peak times (April-May and September-October) and you’ll avoid some of the crowds while still being able to enjoy the weather.

where to go in europe unique, unique cities to visit in Europe Antwerp Belgium

5. Antwerp

Don’t know where Antwerp is ? You’re not alone. But it’s where I studied abroad, and more than 5 years on I still think it’s one of the most underrated city breaks in Europe. It’s a great city for shopping (I frequented the Meir way too often) and it’s an easy city to explore on foot. Architecture lovers will love it– even if you don’t get to Antwerp by train, visit the main train station… it’s breathtaking. And of course, when in Belgium, you must try chocolate, waffles (eaten as snacks) and pomme frites. The Belgians take fries to a whole new level, especially when it comes to sauces. Just don’t pick ketchup– you’ll get judged heavily by the locals!

off beat places to visit in europe Interlaken, where to visit in europe that's different, unique places to visit in europe

6. Interlaken

Switzerland is an expensive country to visit but if you’re an adventure buff then Interlaken should be on your itinerary. I garnered up the courage to free fall 200 feet through a canyon there, but you can choose to ski the Swiss Alps, go canyoning, skydive or just enjoy some fondue and night sledding. The town is so incredibly picturesque year-round, so visit when you’d like.

different cities to visit in europe, howth ireland

7. Howth

Howth probably isn’t a destination that you’d spend more than a few hours in but if you’re in Dublin, it’s worth visiting. We did while we were in Dublin last summer and the pictures really say it all. Go for a walk along the harbour, hike up the rocky terrain for incredible views, and grab something to eat at Octopussy, which, while the name is questionable, comes highly recommended by a friend who grew up in the town.

8 European Destinations to Visit in Europe that You Probably Haven't Thought of

8. Brighton

England is much more than just London, and a spot that sometimes is overlooked for a visit is Brighton. This seaside city is just 60-minute train ride away from London and is lovely in the warmer weather. It’s most famous for its lanes, which are small side streets off that are lined with boutique shops that are lovely for browsing (or buying!) We visited Brighton with my parents this past summer, and we walked along the boardwalk, ate at Bill’s Restaurant (YUM), and just enjoyed the sunshine.

Have you been to any of these spots? Which ones are you planning on visiting or would recommend? Let me know in the comments.

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20 Comments

  1. March 4, 2015 / 2:35 pm

    Budapest is in the running for our summer holiday this year, I like going to places that are just jammed with tourist!

    • March 6, 2015 / 11:32 am

      I think you meant not just jammed 😉 I think you’d find Budapest that way, sans the couple of months in the summer (July and Aug) where the kids are off school. Definitely much better than the typical spots in Europe !

      • March 6, 2015 / 7:31 pm

        Ha yes I meant not jammed packed:) I will have to check Budapest out one day though, it is climbing higher and higher on my list!

  2. March 4, 2015 / 3:43 pm

    So many good places on here. I’d love to go to Budapest and Cinque Terre and have been to Brighton but there are some good off the beaten track suggestions here. Thanks!

  3. March 4, 2015 / 8:08 pm

    I’m ashamed to say the only one I’ve been to is Brighton. I must explore Europe more this year.
    Lots of love,
    Angie

    • March 6, 2015 / 11:30 am

      Angie, you’re not the only person from England who’s said they haven’t done too much of Europe. Seems to be a common thing as it’s so close and you guys like to go FAR! I do hope you make it to at least one more on that list though 🙂

  4. March 4, 2015 / 9:30 pm

    Antwerp seems like my cuppa tea (and waffles, nom!) will be checking that out for sure!

    Gem x

    • March 6, 2015 / 11:29 am

      It’s so underrated, Antwerpen. It’s a student city so lots of great nightlife there if that’s what you’re looking for, if not, beer and pubs will do 🙂

  5. March 4, 2015 / 10:38 pm

    I went skiing in Interlaken several years ago. The alps were so beautiful and Interlaken is such a cute little town.

    • March 6, 2015 / 11:29 am

      I’m not a huge skier but I really wanted to ski the Alps when I was there. It was just before it was warm enough so I opted for throwing myself into a canyon instead!

  6. Hanna
    March 5, 2015 / 1:29 pm

    When me and my now husband were in a long distance relationship, we considered meeting up half way in Cinque Terre. In the end I ended up flying to the US (where we live now); I soooo regret that! It would have been great to see a new place.

    • March 6, 2015 / 11:27 am

      You should have Hanna, that would have been so romantic! You’ll have to make it there one day, I know you won’t be disappointed.

  7. LondonKiwiEmma
    March 5, 2015 / 7:16 pm

    Oh, I love these suggestions – Budapest is on our ‘to visit’ list this year 🙂

    • March 6, 2015 / 11:27 am

      Thanks Emma! Have you been to any others on the list? Oo I do hope you make it to Budapest. This cold weather is making me yearn for those warm baths!

  8. March 6, 2015 / 2:17 pm

    All great ideas for off-the-beaten track destinations! Yes, Budapest is a must visit for sure, and Antwerp is especially good for fashion lovers. I really want to make it to Cinque Terre one of these days!

    • March 8, 2015 / 11:37 am

      Glad you agree with Budapest and Antwerp, and you MUST get to Cinque Terre soon! You’ll love it Elle.

  9. March 14, 2015 / 11:52 am

    Love these suggestions! Living in London it seems silly not to visit these places! So thank you! Cinque Terre and Interlaken are now on my list!

    • March 14, 2015 / 2:25 pm

      When Europe is so easy to get to I think sometimes it’s easy to forget that we have all of these great places right under our noses!

  10. Brooke
    January 18, 2016 / 3:54 am

    Vernazza was the perfect home base for 4 days spent in the Cinque Terre!!! Inexpensive, huge gelato for €2, amazing pizza and sardines…. wake up and hike and then by the time youre to the next town you dont feel guilty to indulge on gelato. 😉 Also I would recommend staying up on the mountain in the Swiss alps in Gimmelwald (we got a chalet on air bnb for ~$100 a night) and it was absolutely amazing (Jung frau out our window, super easy access to the Schilthorn where you get the best views, and all the activities nearby). Going from there to staying in Interlaken made Interlaken look boring. That said, Interlaken would be a great base if you want to explore both sides of the valley!

    This is an awesome list. I hope to visit Budapest one day! And over all I cannot recommend the Cinque Terre enough!!! We went in September and it was absolute perfection!

    • January 22, 2016 / 11:31 pm

      So glad you enjoyed Cinque Terre as much as I do Brooke 🙂 Thanks for commenting and reading!

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