7 Destinations in Europe You Wouldn’t Think to Visit (but Really Should)

Vence, FranceAnia Kropelka/Getty Images
As one of the most accessible and beloved parts of the world, Europe is home to plenty bucket list–worthy places. History will draw you to ancient cities like Rome, Athens, and Lisbon, while culinary feats on nearly every corner call from Paris and London. And we can’t forget the rolling, robust lands of Ireland and Scotland. It could take a lifetime to fully immerse yourself in every destination.

While these iconic stops are definitely worth your attention, there are others that might not have as much search traffic, but can give you a whole new perspective on a place and its people. These little-known wonders — most of which are not-so-far from larger metropolitan areas — will add depth and dimension to your getaway, offering a unique opportunity to see and experience something beyond the usual circuit.

Below, seven underappreciated European gems you need to know about.

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Scotland’s Outer Hebrides

Scotland’s Skye and the Hebrides snagged the seventh spot in this year’s World’s Best Islands in Europe ranking, but the former is arguably the most popular with travelers. Take a ferry ride beyond the Isle of Skye to explore what’s considered to be one of Europe’s last natural habits, the Outer Hebrides. This collection of islands — the largest being the Isles of Lewis, Harris, and North and South Uist — offers a full immersion into Celtic history, heritage, and charm.

You can hear locals speaking or singing in Gaelic, marvel at medieval churches, and see Neolithic standing stones up close. On Harris, where tweed fabric was originally woven, local artisans continue to craft capes, bags, and more traditional goods with the makings of an excellent souvenir. To visit, carve out your own schedule or book one of the many the tours that explore this region. This 11-day, 10-night optionthis link opens in a new tab from CIE Tours International includes whiskey tasting, beach hopping, and more. Depending on the season, you’ll want to pack layers, as summers can be ideal beach weather, but winters are often unforgiving.

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Sardinia, Italy

The expansive island of Sardinia is just an hour-long flight away from Rome. If you’ve ever been to the Algarve on Portugal’s southern coast, you might recognize the jagged — and breathtaking — landscape that defines Sardinia’s 1,200 miles of coastline, blending beaches into mountains. There are two special qualities that set this destination apart from others: its Bronze Age stone ruins that look like beehives and its microclimate. Thanks to the headland behind Santa Margherita di Pula, which shields the coast from cold north winds, this region has 300 days of sunshine. Though it’s lovely to visit from March through December, June and July will give you the warmest ocean temperatures. For a luxe, beachfront stay, book the Forte Village Resortthis link opens in a new tab in Santa Margherita di Pula.

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Thessaloniki, Greece

On your next trip to Greece, hop on an hour-long flight from Athens to spend a few days in the country’s “second city,” Thessaloniki. This Northern port offers plenty for history lovers, but it’s also got a modern liveliness to it. You can wander through ruins from the Romans, the Byzantines, and the Ottomans — thanks to its numerous occupations — and then make your way to Valaoritou Street for stylish cocktail bars and plenty of music. Since the heart of the city was entirely rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1917, the 20th-century architecture of this area will feel far away from the traditional Greek vibe. The city is also popular with locals because the beaches are also less crowded than on the islands. Don’t miss White Tower, Roman Forum, and the cobblestone streets of the historic quarter, Ano Polithis link opens in a new tab.

Belgrade, Serbia

If you’ve already experienced the bath scene in Budapest, danced ’til dawn at the infamous five-story club in Prague, and ordered just-one-more cocktail while admiring the moonlit sea in Dubrovnik, set your sights on a lesser-known party destination: Belgrade. The capital of Serbia is becoming quite the watering hole for young travelers who, thanks to its many teeming bars and restaurants (and coffee shops to wake you up when morning comes). Here, you can experience splavovi — splav, for short — floating lounges anchored along the Danube and Sava rivers, each featuring a different musical genre. These tend to rage every night of the week, but if you need a break, make sure to see Beogradska Tvrđava, the historical fortress representing the city’s part in the Ottoman, Serbian, Austrian, Byzantine and Roman empires.

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Vicenza, Italy

You’ve heard of Venice and Verona, but a short 30- to 40-minute train ride from either of these known Italian destinations is Vicenza. Within the country’s northeastern Veneto region, you’ll be amazed by how little foot traffic this beautiful town hosts. It’s most known for its unique buildings, specifically those of 16th-century architect Palladio. If you enjoy spending hours winding through halls of art, you’ll find yourself sipping cappuccinos in between visits to the Basilica Palladiana and the Palazzo Chiericati. You might even catch a movie at the Teatro Olimpico, an outdoor theater that’s indoors. As a bonus? You can add “wandered through a UNESCO World Heritage Site” to your checklist, since the longstanding value and importance of the architecture in this town earned it a nod. If your budget allows, consider staying for a long weekend where you can talk about the beauty you’ve witnessed over wine al fresco at the Villa Valmarana Ai Nanithis link opens in a new tab.

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Ljubljana, Slovenia

Though small in size, Slovenia is big on personality, led by its diverse and robust capital, Ljubljana. As a college town, you might find a younger crowd here, but they bring plenty of outdoor cafes along the river. Here you can stroll through plenty of green patches, most notably Tivoli Parkthis link opens in a new tab (not to be confused with the amusement park in Copenhagen). As a true melting pot squished between Italy, Croatia, and Austria, the food scene has recently become one of Europe’s most intriguing. Don’t miss the tasting menu at Strelecthis link opens in a new tab and the pastries at Zvezdathis link opens in a new tab. When you’re in town, book your stay at the Intercontinental Ljubljanathis link opens in a new tab and ask for a top floor in this 20-story high hotel, so you can wake up to one of the city’s best views.

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Vence, France

It’s hard not to fall for the refined charisma of France — from the quaint, streetside cafes of Paris to the glittering grape vines of Bordeaux. But if you want to go off the grid? Head 45 minutes east of Cannes to find Vence, a small commune in the hills of the Alpes Maritimes. You might want to speak French, or at least attempt, when you pull into to this town, which is known for its landscape and the luxury destination spa at the Chateau Saint-Martin & Spathis link opens in a new tab. You may also want to pack your watercolor palette, as inspiration struck for many an artist — Picasso and Matisse, namely — in this idyllic Côte D’Azur perch.


11 thoughts on “7 Destinations in Europe You Wouldn’t Think to Visit (but Really Should)

  1. Annika Perry – East Anglia, UK – I’m a versatile writer whose books span across various genres. My first venture into publishing is "The Storyteller Speaks" and this a collection of short stories, flash fiction and poetry. Published in January 2018 "The Storyteller Speaks" has received over twenty-five glowing reviews on Amazon. "Oskar’s Quest", my second book, it is a beautifully illustrated children’s book for younger children (and all young at heart!). "Oskar’s Quest" is an engaging story of adventure and courage. I have also completed one more story for children which is as yet unpublished. "Island Girl", my first full-length novel, is in its final edits and I’m looking forward to publishing this in due course. Writing has been a passion since childhood although it is only in the past few years that I have seriously started to write fiction. Initially, a writing course gave me encouragement and direction with my writing. Furthermore, the tutor recommended blogging and in January 2015 I set up my blog, Annika Perry’s Writing Blog. I never imagined the friendships I would make and I’ve been overwhelmed with the warmth and incredible support from people around the world. In spring 2014 I won First Prize in a Writing Magazine’s Short Story Competition which was a fantastic surprise and joy. Furthermore, I was short-listed for an Ink Tears Short Story Competition the same year. The recognition of my writing ability outside of my family and friends was a huge boost to my self-confidence and as a result, I started the mammoth undertaking of writing my first novel. Meanwhile, in early 2017 I was greatly encouraged by my friends and writers to publish some of my numerous short stories in a book. It was with great excitement and sense of achievement to launch the publication of my first book, "The Storyteller Speaks", in December 2017 with the paperback released in January 2018. The latter part of 2018 and throughout 2019 was busy with the realisation of a dream project, to publish a children’s book. Like so many parents, my son when young would request a bedtime story. These I tended to make up and a couple became his and my personal favourites. I revisited one of these stories and after much rewriting, editing and finding a wonderful illustrator, "Oskar’s Quest" was ready! Overall my road to publication has been circuitous and aided by the support of my family and friends. After gaining my BA Honours Degree in German Language and Literature from the University of Leeds I started working as a journalist. Following a serious illness, I changed career and gained a position as Administration Manager for a busy timber import company. I worked here for many years before leaving to pursue my passion for writing. I am now a full-time writer, blogger and book reviewer. I was born in Gothenburg, Sweden and at the age of six, moved to the UK with my family where we settled near Ilkley, West Yorkshire. Since then I have moved many times but now live in a small village in North Essex, England with my husband and occasionally my son, when he returns during university holidays. I am on the following social media sites and look forward to seeing you there. If you have a specific enquiry please use the form below. Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnnikaPerry68 Author Website: https://annika-perry-author.com/ Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Annika-Perry/e/B0789NNWFX/ Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/55576285-annika-perry Linkedin:https://www.linkedin.com/in/annika-perry-5a9ab8a6/
    Annika Perry says:

    Mihran, I want to pack my suitcase and head out to all these! So inviting and beautifully presented! I’ve been to the Inner Hebrides and it was a magical cruise/tour which I’ll never forget!

    1. mihrankalaydjianblog – San Diego, CA – Mihran Kalaydjian On a personal note, I love the outdoors, comedy, bbq, reading and traveling. I worked in the beer industry in college so I love talking about good beer. I used to be a competitive runner so (like all runners) if you make the mistake of asking me, I'll tell you about my entire career and PRs. I also spent my youth working in restaurants, so if you've done the same, we can swap stories. The five items I can't live without: Everything, infinity, wanton boredom, limitless limits, change. Mihran Kalaydjian, A proven ability to articulate a company's brand culture as well as key strategic initiatives and delivery of desired results. Outstanding leadership, communications and project management skills. A committed individual with strong organizational skills that believes leading by example is key to building a strong team to achieve high guest satisfaction results and cost control measures. Mihran Kalaydjian provides visionary leadership and management oversight of the sales, marketing and revenue strategies for Classic Hotels and Resorts. Mihran Kalaydjian suggest: Your energy should be focused on finding a solution, quickly and effectively. I am at my best when I have a tight deadline, but every aspect of the project is planned, organized and working in excellence.
      mihrank says:

      Thank you, very much appreciate your kind words…

  2. gillmorris – UK – I am currently back in the Uk after many years in Thailand. I am interested in photography, culture, history, and travel amongst other things and I want to share my thoughts and experiences with you as I turn the pages of my life. I am passionate about writing and I want to express this passion through my tales and photography from Thailand and other countries in the hope that you may be inspired to open your eyes to the world.
    gillmorris says:

    Wow, fabulous places! I want to go to every one! 🙂 Hope you are doing well Mihran 🙂

  3. 😀🙏😊 Thank you very much for following my site.😃❤ God bless you.

  4. Alan A. Malizia: Contagious Optimism! Co-Author – Retired mathematics teacher and high school athletics coach. Honors: 1988 Ct. Coach of the Year for H.S. Girls Voleyball and 2007 Inducted into the Ct. Women's Volleyball Hall of Fame. Since retiring have written two books; "The Little Red Chair," an autobiography about my life experience as a polio survivor and "A View From The Quiet Corner," a selection of poems and reflections. Presently I am a contributing author for the "Life Carrots" series primarily authored by Dave Mezzapelle of Goliathjobs.com.
    Alan A. Malizia: Contagious Optimism! Co-Author says:

    We can put up with some of the ugliness in the world when it is countered by so much beauty. The ugliness gets all the attention. Beauty is taken for granted. And in that it may be lost.
    -Alan

  5. Huguette – Beirut, Lebanon – I am a writer and blogger and my content is original, genuine and reflective of real-life experiences, inspiration, motivation and human behavior. I believe that “We are all as unique as our fingerprints along with our thoughts and emotions” and this is what you will find navigating this website. I am a human rights activist and peacebuilder and I have been on a very rich journey in defending human rights and improving people’s lives. I speak three languages: Arabic, English and French, but this blog will be mainly in English.
    Huguette says:

    Oh wow! Beautiful destinations 😊 the bucket list is growing 👍 thank you for sharing

  6. Lady G – Georgia – I am Lady G 💋💋Lover of family, friends, good food, good drink, and loud laughter. Spiritually aware sky-gazer and maker of good 🤗 things happening. ✨
    Lady G says:

    Oh wow! Thank you for this. I pray that I get a chance to travel in Europe and I appreciate this kind of information. Very helpful!

  7. Rupali S Banerjee – Hi !! this is Rupali S Banerjee. A Bengali at heart, a proud Indian at soul and above all a kind and compassionate human being. writing is close to my heart and so is my blog!!
    Rupali S Banerjee says:

    Thanks a lot for summing it up so nicely. This will surely help a lot.

  8. Teagan Riordain Geneviene – Body in one place -- mind usually in another – I started the blog, Teagan's Books, as part of what I call my “grand experiment” in indie publishing. However, it has come to be quite dear to me. As an indie author, I share and promote the books of others as well as my own. My published works are epic fantasy, urban fantasy, and mysteries touched with magic. Most are set in other eras, probably because I never really felt at home in my own time. I hope you'll stop by, read something, enjoy it, and leave a note saying hello. http://teagansbooks.wordpress.com/about/
    Teagan R. Geneviene says:

    This is marvelous, Mihran. I like learning a little about the less famous places. Hugs!

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