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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.