We are all familiar to death with cities like London, Paris, Amsterdam and so on. And kind of bored as well. Not that these places are not worth the visit, but because of how over-hyped they are. Over-tourism is turning into a serious issue, while many other gorgeous destinations are being ‘left-out’ and never even considered as a place to visit.
There are many positives to visiting less-known and off-the-beaten-path cities and sights. It’s way more budget friendly, you will escape the crowds and most probably have the place to yourself, and you will get to discover places not many have seen before. If this doesn’t convince you, then the next chapters should do the job.
I asked 27 travel bloggers to share their most favourite Europe hidden gems and talk about what they love about these places. Discover some of the most beautiful and less known destinations in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Belgium and much more.
27 EUROPE HIDDEN GEMS YOU NEED TO VISIT
Aiden | Freeborn Aiden
Out of the many under-appreciated gems I’ve found in Europe, Lecce is probably my favourite. To picture Lecce, simply imagine Florence but at a fraction of the cost, without the crowds and without pretension. The charming old town is network of elegant stone streets boasting an embarrassment of stunning renaissance churches and cathedrals.
Lecce is simply a perfect spot for a long weekend where you can live La Dolce Vita. There is a thriving Air BnB scene and you can pick up an old stone studio apartment in the centre for under $50 per night. The food scene is superb with every meal been better than the last; it is also a lot cheaper than other places and 20 Euro will get you a delicious meal for two.
The city does not have an airport but can be accessed by flying into either Bari or Brindisi. The train takes around 90 minutes and was under 10 Euro when we visited last summer.
Chris Backe | Worthy Go:
Photo: Chris Backe | Worthy Go
Tallinn, Estonia can get overlooked for a few reasons. It’s considered by some to be part of Eastern Europe, but it feels almost like a Nordic country. Let’s call it an intriguing blend of the two.
Start with the touristy Old Town — it’s a UNESCO World Heritage and exceptionally well-restored. It’s worth a full day of walking if you have it. Keep your eyes open for events, and pick up the Tallinn Card if you’ll be exploring a lot of museums. One highlight here: the Museum of Orders of Knighthood, which shows the honors given to worthy people across dozens of countries.
Other highlights: Telliskivi, the local hipster district full of restaurants and shops, the collection of Soviet-era statues behind the History Museum, and the Estonian Open Air Museum, a collection of restored buildings across centuries of history. You’ll need at least 3 days to do the city justice.
Rahma | The Sane Adventurer
The small border town of Kazbegi in Georgia is one of the most beautiful places in the country to visit. Lying just a mere 10km away from the Russian border, Kazbegi is mainly famous because of Mt. Kazbegi, which is a big attraction for tourists and hikers alike.
One of the most common things to do in Kazbegi includes a short two-hour hike to a lonely church on top of Mt. Kazbegi. The Trinity Church is a 6th century church, which is now only used for tourism purpose.
Alternatively, for all those who don’t like to hike, there is an adventurous fifty minutes off-road jeep ride which can be hired to reach the church. Trinity church in Kazbegi is also the best spot to have a panoramic 360 degrees view of the town. Even during the peak summer months, the snow-capped peak of Mt. Kazbegi can be seen from anywhere in the town.
If you’re visiting Georgia, then do consider taking a day trip from Tbilisi to Kazbegi.
Claudia | My Adventures Across the World
Photo: Claudia | My Adventures Across the World
Latvia has yet to become a top tourist destination, but this is bound to change as soon as the word gets out of how gorgeous it is. Riga, its capital city, is the obvious starting point to explore the country and a fantastic place to explore with great museums, beautiful churches and gorgeous city parks.
To get a proper understanding of the history of Latvia, make sure to visit the Museum of the Occupation in the heart of the Old Town, and also The Corner House, which is the former KGB building where political opponents were held, tortured and often killed.
Other highlights include St. Peter’s Church, from whose dome you can get gorgeous views of the city, or the Skyline Bar, which is located at the 26th floor of Radisson Blue Hotel on Elizabetes and where you can sip a drink while admiring a 360 degrees view of the city.
Make sure to rent a bike to go around town and to bike along the river – it’s a locals’ favorite.
Kenny | Knyxc Journeying
Fontainebleau is merely 45 minutes away from Paris and it’s one of the country’s best-kept secrets. To Parisian, the town is a nice weekend getaway; to tourists, the city is actually a hidden gem with its historic Château de Fontainebleau, musical festival and beautiful sceneries. While the major crowd head to Château de Versailles, Château de Fontainebleau offers nothing less but also houses in abundance of magnificent work of art and a beautifully crafted back garden.
More, hop on a hot air balloon and glide through the farmlands, farmhouses, and forest quietly in the morning and enjoy a glass of champagne in the field at the end.
Lastly, the Django Reinhardt Festival is a highly respected jazz music festival with a long and rich history in Fontainebleau. It takes place in July every year – and if you happen to be in Paris during that time, drop by Fontainebleau and soak into the music and festivities with the locals and celebrate with some good food and fine wine!
Amber | Food And Drink Destinations
Photo: Amber | Food And Drink Destinations
Located in the west of Scotland, Glasgow is a must-visit destination. Although Glasgow has a reputation for being a little rough-around-the-edges, it offers stunning architecture and world-class food and drink offerings.
It’s a port city set on the River Clyde with a mix of Victorian and art nouveau architecture. For history and culture lovers, check out the Glasgow Cathedral or the stunningly beautiful botanical gardens.
There are a handful of whisky bars where scotch whisky lovers can try their hand at tasting a dram from each of the five whisky regions. Some of these bars are hundreds of years old. Or, there’s the Clydeside Distillery, which is located just outside of the city center. They offer tours and tastings daily.
For craft beer lovers, there is no shortage of craft brew pubs and even breweries inside the city limits. For travelers to Scotland, Glasgow is the perfect introduction to both the history and the modern lifestyle of Scotland.
Rota Vicentina, Portugal
Campbell & Alya | Stingy Nomads
Photo: Campbell & Alya | Stingy Nomads
The Rota Vicentina in Alentejo, Portugal is a relatively new hiking route, not many people know about. The trail starts in the small town of Santiago do Cacém, 150km southeast from Lisbon. It’s easy to get there by bus from Sete Rios bus station. The route goes along the coast, through small beach towns and fishermen’s villages.
The scenery on the Rota Vicentina is breathtaking; dramatic cliffs, sandy beaches, fields of wildflowers, olive plantations and pine forest. It’s an ideal trail to combine beach holiday and hiking. Compared to the popular Algarve regions, the main beach holiday destination in Portugal, Alentejo is quite an off the beaten path area with mostly locals coming here for holidays. As a result, accommodation and food here is cheaper than in Algarve and it doesn’t get crazy busy even in peak season.
Along the route, there are several surfing spots, so it’s possible to combine hiking with surfing or learning how to. Accommodation on the Rota varies from camping to hostels and guest houses. Spring is the best time to walk the Rota Vicentina the weather is nice and warm but not too hot like in summer, prices are cheaper and the fields and dunes are covered in wildflowers.
Troodos Mountains and Kakopetria, Cyprus
Jonathan | Journey Maxx
Think of snow-capped mountains and winter sport destinations and Cyprus is not really one of the first that comes to mind. For this island of Aphrodite is more synonymous with beaches, blue seas and sun shining locations of sand and palm trees.
However in the near centre of Cyprus is the Troodos mountains, the most popular ski resort on this usually sunny island and yet something of an off-the-radar location for snow-sport enthusiasts. A very charming cluster of villages with a leisurely Alpine feel at its heart. Kakopetria – literally translated as ‘bad rock’ – is that year-round bit of chalet living nearer the eastern Mediterranean. The region’s UNESCO World Heritage painted churches are one of the stand-out features Byzantine murals, constructed in the 10th and 11th centuries. In Kakopetria, the Church of Saint Nicholas on the Roof (Agios Nikolaos tis Steigis) is the only surviving relic of this age.
Kakopetria is little more than an hour’s drive from either Limassol or Nicosia but it can also be reached by bus. This is one of the most serene locations to escape and be immersed with nature and meander through cobbled pathways of old stone houses and water mills, an exhibition in great cultural preservation. A region that is blessed with a forest of pine and oak trees accompanied by the soothing sound of the River Clarios downstream. A true must-visit location for all enthusiasts of hiking, cycling and other outdoor sports in all four seasons.
Diana | The Elusive Family
Located in one of the most beautiful regions in Switzerland, Lauterbrunnen’s location in a valley between the Swiss alps is perfect for a variety of activities from the small city. A nearly 2 hour train ride from Zurich, or accessible by car as well, Lauterbrunnen is central for visiting some of the most popular and well known peaks of the Swiss Alps.
Take the funicular car up to Murren, a city without cars. Hike the Alps from several locations originating in Lauterbrunnen or take the cable car up to Schilthorn, where parts of the James Bond movies were filmed. Lauterbrunnen’s Jungfrau Valley is home to 72 waterfalls with Staubbach Falls the backdrop of Lauterbrunnen. Brave visitors can also paraglide or skydive from the mountains in the summertime.
It’s a beautiful place to visit, be sure to read more on the best things to do in Lauterbrunnen.
Vikos Gorge, Greece
Wendy | The Nomadic Vegan
Every year, thousands of visitors to Greece hike the Samaria Gorge in Crete, but hardly any of them have even heard of the Vikos Gorge, which is even more spectacular. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, it’s officially the deepest gorge in the world!
Walking along the trail at the bottom of Vikos Gorge, you’ll be surrounded by towering cliffs. Don’t forget to stop and look up to admire the incredible scenery! The gorge is in a northwestern region of Greece called Zagorohoria that doesn’t get many foreign visitors. If you make the effort to get here, you’ll probably have it practically to yourself.
The hike starts in a beautiful little mountain village called Monodendri and finishes in an even more beautiful village called Mikro Papingo. Since it’s not a circular hike, it’s probably best to take public transport rather than your own car to reach the trailhead. Buses are not that frequent, though, so check the schedule beforehand, and make sure the bus driver knows where you want to get off, since it’s not very common for tourists to stop at Monodendri.
Sylvia | Wapiti Travel
Photo: Sylvia | Wapiti Travel
In the middle of the Atlantic, more than 1.600 km away from Europe’s mainland, are the Azores. One of Europe’s little-known tourist treasures.
These unspoilt volcanic islands are a paradise for those looking for an active nature holiday. Over the years the volcanic activity has created a whole range of impressive tourist sights. There are breathtakingly beautiful crater lakes, impressive geysers and majestic lava caves. After a day of exploring you can bathe in the natural hot springs or take a dive in the natural swimming pools.
Active travelers can let off steam hiking, riding quads, canyoning, kayaking or with one of the various other water sports.
This brings us seamlessly to one of the best sights in the Azores. This one is not on the land but in the water. Did you know that in the Azores, you have a 95% chance of seeing dolphins, and a 75% chance of seeing whales?
A dolphin and whale tour should be at the top of your list of things to do in the Azores.
Maggie | The World Was Here First
Photo: Maggie | The World Was Here First
Georgia is a country that needs tourists more than ever and while the Caucasian nation has many draws for visitors – including staggering mountain peaks, incredible wine, and a beautiful coastline – one of the best places to visit is undoubtedly its capital city of Tbilisi.
Though it is slowly gaining popularity amongst western tourists, Tbilisi is still a very offbeat destination in Europe and retains innumerable charms compared to other, more visited capital cities. There are a seemingly infinite number of things to do in Tbilisi, however, my favourites include taking to cable car to the Narikala fortress, wandering through the chaotic city streets in the Old Town, eating some delicious Georgian cuisine in one of the city’s many fantastic restaurants, or sipping homemade wine in a traditional Georgian cellar.
Tbilisi is also one of the most affordable European capitals, with average prices that are even lower than many Eastern European cities. That makes the Georgian capital an attractive destination for travellers looking for the most value for their money. All in all, Tbilisi is an excellent hidden gem in Europe and deserves to be on more traveller’s wish-lists!
Nadine | Le Long Weekend
Photo: Nadine | Le Long Weekend
Menorca’s coastline features an incredible medley of beaches. Some are expansive, resort-style shorelines, while others are more elusive, hiding behind vast forests or undeveloped landscapes. It’s these hidden beaches of Menorca that are, in my opinion, the most beautiful. And they’re well worth the extra effort it takes to reach them.
Head to the northern shores of the island for the ochre tinged sands of Playa de Cavalleria or the moon-like scenery of Cala Pregonda. Or head to the southern coast for the stunning sheltered bay at Cala Macarelleta and the seclusion and intimacy that Cala Escorxada provides. Many of the island’s hidden beaches can be found by following the ancient Cami de Cavalls that circles the island, or the various coastal trails that snake high above the cliffs.
Cala Coticcio, Sardinia
Hanna | Solar Powered Blonde
Photo: Hanna | Solar Powered Blonde
Cala Coticcio in Sardinia is one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever visited. It is located on Caprera Island in the North of Sardinia. To get here you take the ferry from Palau to La Maddalena Island, and then cross a small bridge over to Caprera Island. After a short drive, you park near a small forest and the beach is about a 30-40 minute walk along a small path.
It is definitely a hidden gem and not the easiest beach to get to, so make sure to wear a pair of good shoes. However, once you reach Cala Coticcio, it is well worth the walk. After walking down, there are two small beaches with perfect sand and some of the bluest water I’ve ever seen, perfect for spending the day swimming. There are no shops, so make sure you have everything with you for the day. I went here in March, so we had the beach all to ourselves in this photo but it gets busy in summer, so I would recommend going early!
Ellis | Backpack Adventures
Chisinau is one of the most underrated cities in Europe. Few would consider Chisinau as a destination for a city trip, even though it has a lot to offer. The capital of Moldova combines great food and wine with culture and history.
Chisinau is not a large city and most tourist attractions are near the pleasant central park. If you are into Soviet architecture, Chisinau has a lot of hidden gems. Add some beautiful churches and hip cafes and you can easily spent some days here.
Furthermore, it’s a great base to explore Moldova’s countryside with ancient monasteries and wine cellars. Moldova has some of the largest wine cellars in the world and some are an easy day trip from Chisinau.
Another interesting day trip is Tiraspol. The capital of the unrecognized country Transnistria. With so many things to see and do around Chisinau it is surprising that not more people visit this hidden gem in Europe
Kate | Our Escape Clause
Photo: Kate | Our Escape Clause
Tucked into a quiet corner of Provence’s Luberon Valley, strolling through the peaceful, quiet streets of Goult might just make you forget that you are traipsing through one of the most popular regions of France!
While nearby villages like Gordes, Bonnieux, and Roussillon might pull in more visitors, there’s something absolutely stunning about less-touristy Goult.
There’s not much to be said about what to do in Goult, exactly – the biggest tourism draw is definitely its incredible Thursday market – but its lack of a standard things-to-do checklist is absolutely part of its appeal.
While you’re there, consider savoring a long lunch eaten outside in the sunshine, strolling through the town’s colorful back streets, climbing up to the Jerusalem Windmill at the top of the town, and admiring the gorgeous views of the Luberon Valley.
Emily | Wander-Lush
Photo: Emily | Wander-Lush
Berat, one of Albania’s two UNESCO-Listed historic centres, is one of the prettiest towns in Europe. Many tourists visit Berat as a day trip from Tirana or as a stop-over on the way to the Albanian coast. But Berat still has a local feel, which makes it one of my favourite hidden gems in the region.
Berat is best known for its Ottoman-style architecture – stone and plaster houses that creep up either side of the river valley. Their glass frames give Berat its nickname, ‘The City of a Thousand Windows’. Mangalemi is the larger of the two neighbourhoods, with Berat Castle perched high above it. Inside the castle grounds, the Onufri Iconography Museum holds some of Albania’s loveliest religious artworks.
The other side of Berat, the formerly Christian Gorica Quarter, is much smaller. You can get a great view of Mangalemi’s houses from the top of Gorica Hill. Other things to do in Berat include strolling along Boulevard Republika at dusk, and eating at some of the excellent restaurants in town. Just outside Berat, Osumi Canyon and Bogove Waterfall make for an excellent day excursion.
Berat is located 100 km south from Tirana and is easily reached by public bus.
South Evia, Greece
Helena | Just for one summer
Photo: Helena | Just for one summer
Despite its close proximity to Athens and striking natural beauty, South Evia is often overlooked by the foreign visitors holidaying in Greece. It’s a shame though as the southernmost tip of Greece’s second-largest island has so much to offer.
Its coast is lined with beautiful sandy beaches, relatively remote and peaceful even during the high summer season. But the sea is the main highlight here, cool, emerald green and crystal clear! It’s worth mentioning though, that the beaches of South Evia are not easily accessible and you’ll spend a good amount of time driving over rugged dirt roads or hiking in order to reach them.
However, South Evia is not just a coastal paradise, it is an awesome destination for hikers and mountain lovers as well. Mount Ochi, towering above the southern coast of the island to an altitude of 1398 meters, offers plenty of hiking trails running through some of its lush gorges and to the summit. But no matter which side of South Evia you choose to explore you are guaranteed to have a great time far away from the crowds!
Emma | Emma Jane Explores
Ypres is located in the Flanders region of Belgium. Pronounced ‘ee-per’, this city and surrounds became famous for the part it played in World War One – the famous poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ was written about this area of Belgium. Obviously, then, one of the best things to do in Ypres is to immerse yourself into learning about the history of the Great War including taking a tour out to various battlefields and gravesites around Flanders Fields.
The centre of Ypres is a beautiful old European town with the eye catching UNESCO World Heritage listed Cloth Hall being the majestic centrepiece and home to the Flanders Fields museum. The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing which marks the entrance to the town, is another example of the horrors of war, with countless names inscribed on the gate to mark the fact that these soldiers have no known grave. Every evening at 8pm the Last Post is played at the Menin Gate, a stark reminder of what took place in this region of the country many years ago.
Isle of Bute, Scotland
Susanne | Adventures Around Scotland
Photo: Susanne | Adventures Around Scotland
‘There are almost 100 inhabited islands in Scotland so visiting at least one should be on your Europe travel itinerary. While many tourists head to the Isle of Skye, they are missing out on some other beautiful and interesting islands.
The Isle of Bute is one of the easiest Scottish islands to visit as it can be reached in just over 90 minutes from Glasgow. It has some lovely scenery, with many beaches, and it even has its own colony of seals at Scalpsie Bay. The main town of Rothesay is home to a unique circular castle surrounded by a moat and famous public toilets with a preserved Victorian interior.
The island is also home to Mount Stuart, the most spectacular Gothic mansion house in the UK which is extremely lavish inside. Standing stones and pretty gardens are just some of the other attractions that you will find on this hidden gem of a Scottish island.
Maria & Rui | Two Find a Way
Photo: Maria & Rui | Two Find a Way
We remember the first photos of Montenegro we saw, and we instantly fell in love. After months daydreaming about this small Balkan country, we booked our trip and made sure to base ourselves in the charming town of our dreams.
Kotor is so stunning that it almost doesn’t look real. The Old Town is incredibly well preserved and walking its narrow cobbled streets instantly takes you back in time. And somehow, the scenery around the Old Town is even more stunning, as the rugged mountains meet the beautiful Adriatic Sea, creating what many call Europe’s southernmost fjords. Even if your visit to Kotor is short, climbing the City Walls is something you absolutely must-do if you’re able, as you’ll be rewarded with some of the most majestic views on the planet.
The popularity of the Bay of Kotor is on the rise, which means that it’s no longer the hidden gem it once was, but if you take the time to see the region, you’ll find that there are still plenty of hidden spots.
Sara | Our Kind of Crazy
Photo: Sara | Our Kind of Crazy
Kemi, Finland is a hidden gem in Lapland. It is the perfect winter wonderland destination. With frozen seas, snow castles you can sleep in, and an ice breaker cruise, it’s definitely a little town with a lot of adventure. Kemi offers some really unique and exciting places to stay as well. The Seaside Glass Villas are perfect for viewing the Northern Lights from the comfort and warmth of your room. 2 entire walls and ceiling is made of glass for the perfect view overlooking the frozen Baltic Sea.
If you’re up for it, stay the night at the Snow Castle Hotel where the rooms are made completely of ice and snow. Be sure to hop on a snowmobile and head out to the Icebreaker cruise, where you’ll be able to ride on the Icebreaker Sampo, and even have a chance to float in the icy waters. Kemi is a highly underrated destination which you are sure to enjoy.
Michael | mscgerber.com
Photo: Michael | mscgerber.com
Belogradchick, a wonderful place in Bulgaria located around 3 hours from the capital Sofia, is for sure one of the most beautiful hidden gems I’ve ever witnessed during my travels in Europe. It consists of basically three different attractions – and every single one of them is so unique.
Firstly, Belogradchik is home to the impressive Belogradchik Fortress, which looks absolutely magnificent. Additionally, you can find the Belogradchik Rock Formations all around the area, which are super special and left me speechless.
Lastly, there is also some magical caves nearby Belogradchick, like the Venetsa cave, which is just a 20 minute drive away. Overall, Belogradchick was one of my highlights in Bulgaria and I would highly recommend getting there to see this hidden gem of Europe.
Claire | Curious Claire
Photo: Claire | Curious Claire
Poland is one of my favourite countries to visit in Europe as it has so much to offer. Sadly though most visitors to Poland will only ever visit Warsaw and Krakow, missing out on hidden gems such as Zamosc, a beautiful 16th Century Renaissance town which was even added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1992.
The main attraction that brings people to Zamosc are the colourful Armenian Tenement Houses in the market square. The architecture is simply amazing and gives the colourful new harbour in Copenhagen a run for its money! Other attractions worth checking out in Zamosc are the cathedral, the synagogue and the bell tower which can be climbed up for stunning views in the summer months.
Zamosc is easily reached by train from Lublin which is another great city in Poland to visit. The train to Zamosc from Lublin takes just over 2 hours on the Przewozy Regionalne network
Barranco Blanco, Spain
Linn | Brainy Backpackers
Photo: Linn | Brainy Backpackers
Barranco Blanco is definitely one of Spain’s hidden gems. Just off the busy Sunshine Coast of Malaga, you find this lush green river walk popular with the locals. It is a fairly easy walk until you get to the first water hole. Then you have to decide if you swim across or climb the steep rock wall on the side to continue across to the next pools and eventually a little waterfall. There are not many travelers that know about this tropical little hideout.
To get to Barranco Blanco you will need a car as there is no public transport that get you there. Just plot Barranco Blanco into the GPS. When you get closer, you get to a left turn into a dirt road. There is a sign that you can’t drive any further. Ignore that sign and keep driving until you get to a small parking space and leave your car. Continue by foot on the same road a few hundred meters until you get to the bridge and a sign on your right where the path starts.
Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
Kylee | Passports and Preemies
Photo: Kylee | Passports and Preemies
A town that hasn’t lost its identity in a modern world, Cesky Krumlov is still one of the most underrated towns found in Europe. A two-hour drive south from Prague or 2.5-hours north of Salzburg, Cesky Krumlov is the perfect place to venture for a day trip. Here you won’t find Starbucks or McDonald’s, but instead classic restaurants serving Czech cuisine, Czech beer, and Czech hospitality.
A highlight of this medieval town found in the Czech Republic is the Cesky Krumlov Castle sitting high on the hill, overlooking the entirety of the town below. Settled in as early as the 8th-century, Cesky Krumlov is an old, medieval town that is surely not to be missed.
27. Yerevan, Armenia
Coni | Experiencing the Globe
Armenia is trapped between Asia and Europe, and even though Armenians consider themselves European, Yerevan is hardly ever on the list of the best places to see in Europe. Big mistake! This was the first country to embrace Christianity and that gave us the most stunning monasteries in Europe. Yerevan is the perfect place to base yourself to see the best of Armenia. Don’t miss Khor Virap, Tatev, Geghard, and Sevanavank, the most picturesque monasteries ever.
The city is also full of treasures. Start your trip in Republic square and marvel at the incredible stonework that give Yerevan its nickname, the Pink City. Look for art in the Cafesjian Center for the Arts, visit the religious site of the Holy Mother of God Kathoghike Church and the Saint Gregory The Illuminator Cathedral, shop in Vernissage and the Gum market, learn about the most recent war in the museum inside the statue of Mother Armenia, and about the country’s tragic past in the Genocide museum. From there you’ll also get amazing views of the city and of Mount Ararat in the background.
Can you think of any other Europe hidden gems? Share them in the comments below!
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