Looking for the best non touristy places to visit in Europe? We got you covered. From underrated places to off the beaten path travel, here are the 37 best hidden gems in Europe that are worth adding to your bucket list!
The European continent is more than the popular cities of Paris, London, Rome, and Amsterdam. Of 44 countries strong, along with the 5 transcontinental countries of Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey (partially located in Europe and Asia), there is so much history & culture, nature, and adventure that you will keep wanting to explore more.
Our mission is to explore all of the European continent and 30 countries later we still have a massive list to go through. So here are some of the hidden places you must visit in Europe!
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37 Best Hidden Gems in Europe + Secret Spots
Travel Tips for European Destinations
- Europe 101: Learn how to plan a trip to Europe or apply for Schengen Visa
- Europe Packing List: Grab this Europe packing guide for all seasons
- Europe Winter Destinations: List of places to visit in Europe in winter + Christmas markets
- Europe Itineraries: 7 days in Europe itinerary samples
All of these unique and unexplored places in Europe are listed alphabetically by country and include the nearest city/airport to reach there.
By Helena from HelenaBradbury
Visit from Tirana (1.50 hours)
Berat is a small city located in central Albania around an hour and a half from the capital city of Tirana. Berat is often referred to as the city of a thousand windows, thanks to the unique Ottoman houses which cover the hills with their many windows looking out across the valley.
Berat is one of two UNESCO listed towns in Albania and it’s not hard to see why. With the ancient Berat Castle dating back to the 13th century, it is one of the most intact fortifications you’ll see in the country. The walk up the hill to the castle can be strenuous but it’s well worth it for the stunning views and exploring the historic citadel, which is full of markets, mosques and churches.
The Old Town is magical, you can spend hours wandering the cobbled streets and exploring the market stalls here. Take a walk across the Ura e Varur Bridge for a beautiful vantage point of the Old Town Ottoman houses with the windows that seem to peer down at you from the hills.
The National Iconographic Museum is located inside the Church of St Mary in the castle quarter, is full of Byzantine history, and costs just 200 leks to enter ($1.95 USD).
Although Berat can be visited on a day trip from Tirana, it is best enjoyed with an overnight stay to enjoy the history and unique landscape of Berat. Guesthouse Arben Elezi is located in the heart of the Old Town with modern rooms and free parking, its crowning feature is definitely the roof terrace which you can enjoy breakfast on with incredible city views.
Restaurant Antigoni on the opposite side of the river also offers a dining terrace with beautiful views of the town and castle opposite, as well as traditional Albanian dishes and platters. Berat free walking tour is a great way to learn more about both the Old Town and the new city from a local.
By Jiayi from TheDiaryofaNomad
Regular flights from London, New York
Baku, the stunning capital of Azerbaijan, is hands down one of the most unique places to visit in Europe. This city is not very touristy but definitely deserves more attention. Home to lots of ancient monuments and majestic skyscrapers, Baku is also known for its fascinating “Old meets New” and “East meets West” vibes.
One of the most beautiful places in Baku is the Old City (Icherisheher). Strolling around there, you’ll come across marvelous historic buildings such as the Maiden Tower, the Palace of the Shirvanshahs, and Muhammad Mosque, which dates all the way back to the 11th century.
One of the best things about the Old City is that you can also see the Flame Towers from there. These towers are three modern skyscrapers that became a symbol of Baku. Seeing them rise behind the historic buildings of the Old City is definitely one of those “Old meets New” sights.
In Baku stop by Highland Park to get a gorgeous view over the entire city and the Caspian Sea. Don’t forget to visit Heydar Mosque, Baku Boulevard, Heydar Aliyev Center, and Fountain Square as well. In fact, the best restaurants in town are in the Fountain Square area, which is also a fantastic place to stay in.
A trip to Baku would be incomplete without a day trip to Gobustan National Park, which is home to 6,000 petroglyphs (prehistoric rock carvings). These ancient carvings are 40,000 years old and depict worship and hunting scenes. You can also see hundreds of mud volcanoes in Gobustan National Park, many of which still have mud bubbling inside.
Počitelj, Bosnia and Herzegovina
By Milijana from WorldTravelConnector
Visit from Sarajevo (2.50 hours) & Mostar (30 minutes)
Počitelj is a strikingly picturesque village near Mostar in southern Bosnia and Herzegovina. This ancient hillside village is located in awe-inspiring natural karst along the left bank of river Neretva.
Stunning Počitelj with its wonderfully preserved medieval and Ottoman architecture is one of the most beautiful villages in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The architecture of Počitelj represents a unique mix of Mediterranean and Oriental elements with some local details.
This historic village was a strategically important medieval fortified town founded by a Bosnian king, but Ottomans conquered it during the conquest of Bosnia in the 15th century. Ottomans ruled the town for the next three hundred years when some of the finest examples of Islamic art and architecture in Počitelj were built.
Today Počitelj is on a tentative list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in Bosnia. Touring Počitelj literally feels like stepping back in time (to the 15-18th centuries). All of the must-see attractions here can be visited in a few hours.
But if you get hungry wandering uphill, narrow, and cobbled medieval streets of Počitelj, try traditional Bosnian foods at Caffe Grill ‘Almir’ or in Restaurant Počitelj. Traditional Bosnian ćevapćići and burek are some of the most delicious foods in the world.
By Bilyana from OwlOverTheWorld
Visit from Sofia (2 hours)
One of the most beautiful places to visit in Bulgaria for history and culture lovers is without a doubt the small town of Koprivshtitsa. Koprivshtitsa is a historic town situated in Sredna Gora Mountain.
The town is best known for its authentic Bulgarian architecture and as one of the center’s of the April Uprising in 1876. Koprivshtitsa is home to many architectural monuments from Bulgarian National Revival times, collections of ethnographical treasures, old weapons, national costumes, and typical Bulgarian jewelry.
While visiting Koprivshtitsa, stop by The First Rifle Shot Bridge, which is one of the most important historic sites in Bulgaria. The beginning of the April Uprising on 20th April 1876 has been marked here. What else is really interesting to be seen is witnessing the making of ‘’plasti’’ – handmade colorful covers made from wool.
If you’re into hiking, Koprivshtitsa is the starting point for the hike leading to Bogdan peak, the highest of Sredna Gora Mountain.
Koprivshtitsa is only 110 km (68 miles) away from the capital city Sofia and makes a great day trip destination. If you decide to stay longer to explore the area, a wonderful place to stay is Hotel Paradise – an authentic Koprivshtian house with a lovely garden where you can relax after a day of exploration.
By Lyndsay from ThePurposelyLost
Easily Visit from Trogir
If you’re interested in finding some truly hidden gems in Europe, the island of Biševo in Croatia should not be overlooked. Easily accessible, so add to your itinerary from a day in Trogir, Hvar, or Split.
With only about 15 inhabitants in the island, it’s not a place you go for anything but nature. Although there are numerous, there are two very famous caves in Biševo, only accessible by boat. Monk Seal Cave is notable for its high, arched opening. Once inside, the cave narrows to a small beach, where seals could once be found ashore, which is how the cave got its name.
The other more famous cave on Biševo is the Blue Cave. Due to white sand along the ocean floor and an opening for sunlight to pass through underwater, the water inside the cave shines a brilliant blue during daylight hours. Locals have always known of its beauty, but it was brought to public attention when an Austrian explorer wrote an article on the Blue Cave in 1884.
Pag Island, Croatia
By Suze from SurveySuze
Visit from Zadar (30 minutes)
If you are looking for unique places to visit in Europe, you will love Pag Island. This otherworldly destination will ensure you feel like you have left Europe altogether.
Pag Island is located in Croatia only about a 30 minute drive from Zadar. It has stunning scenery like nowhere else. It’s dry and rocky and the contrast to the blue sea and sky is very picturesque.
In addition to the stark scenery, Pag town is a cute village with a beautiful harbour full of beaches, restaurants and shops. Pag is known for its cheese so stopping at the cute cheese stalls on the main road is mandatory.
History buffs will want to stop at the Talijanova buža, an original Roman aqueduct from 1AD in Novalja. The aqueduct is more than a kilometer long and was set up to supply the town with water from the fields. It’s located at the Town Museum which is also worth a look.
In summer, Pag is famous for its beachfront clubs with Aquarius being a great stop for anyone interested in this scene. Stay at the Boutique Hotel Intermezzo in the middle of Pag town, for great rooms in a great spot.
Pljesevica Mountain Trek, Croatia
By Becki from MeetMeInDepartures
Visit from Zagreb
One of the best hidden gems in Europe is the Pljesevica Mountain hike. Located in a tiny town called Korenica, on the border of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Dinaric Alps, this is an epic hike with the most amazing view from the top.
The trail is 13.6 km (8.3 miles), so although that might not sound a long distance, the climb is steep in places. It starts on flat farmland at the foot of the mountains and gradually climbs up through pine forests, on to the mountainside and eventually the top.
At the top, you’ll find old relics from the Yugoslav War which includes an old runway, cave networks, bullet hole-riddled checkpoints and the derelict and crumbling barracks. It’s also her at the top where you can stand with one foot in Croatia and the other in Bos & Hetz.
Close to the war ruins, there is a gigantic rock overlooking the valley below. This natural stage is unarguably Croatia’s most photogenic rock with its backdrop of the nothing but endless sky and fields below.
The full-day hike is steep, it’s marked with red painted dots on trees, rocks and lamp posts at about every 20-30 metres. Although they are mostly easy to spot, it’s also easy to miss one and take the wrong route. If you don’t see a marker for about 50 metres, retrace your steps and look for it.
Do note that there is no toilet, or supplies en route, so take everything you need with you. This is also bear and wolf country. At the top of the mountain, you’ll see warnings for land mines. These are for the Bos & Her side of the trail. The Croatia side is safe. So do not cross the barrier where you see these signs.
By Nisha & Vasu from Lemonicks
Visit from Zagreb (1.25 minutes)
Varaždin is a small but quaint town to visit in Croatia. Located 87 km (54 miles) north of Zagreb, this town is well known for its picturesque castle and is perhaps one of the two most memorable things to do in Varazdin. It is said that the construction of this castle started in the 14th century and it was built and rebuilt multiple times for over four centuries in different architectural styles owing to different owners and their preferences.
Today it is home to the City Museum with permanent display of documents, signet rings, sceptres, along with many collections of paintings, firearms, ceramics, clocks etc. It is also popular for wedding shoots.
Make time to visit is one of the prettiest cemeteries here, located less than 10 minutes’ walk from the castle. The cemetery is more like a well-manicured garden with well-marked resting places of folks, both famous and otherwise. This is one of the most peaceful places you can visit with flowers and shaped-trees all around, and does not for a moment, give you the thought that you are in a graveyard.
If you want to fish, the River Drava is located about a couple of miles away. You will find people fishing here and also see a lot of water birds floating around.
New Forest National Park, England
By Lieze from GlitterRebel
Visit from London (1.50 hours)
Tucked away in the rolling hills of Hampshire, an ancient national park and forest holds free-roaming ponies, picturesque villages and beautiful views onto the sea. The New Forest national park is a secret British people have been keeping from tourists for decades.
The New Forest is dotted with ancient, sleepy villages with Tudor cottages and Victorian stately homes. The villages of Brockenhurst, Burley and Beaulieu are by far the most beautiful villages in the National Park.
Lymington, a town just on the edge of the National Park often attracts people who love sailing and has a nice little high street with everything you might want on your little holiday to The New Forest.
The most famous attraction in The New Forest is the Beaulieu Motor Museum. This is the largest motor museum in Europe and offers an amazing collection of cars. Not interested in cars? Visit the grounds of the museum to explore a smaller museum on British spies during the Second World War and another on life in Victorian England.
The New Forest is also known as a haven for cyclists, hikers, and camping enthusiasts. The national park has free-roaming ponies, cows, donkeys and in winter you can even see the free-roaming pigs.
If you are looking for a hotel in The New Forest, head to ForestPark Hotel in Brockenhurst. Not only do they have a large garden where you can drink a nicely prepared G&T, but their breakfasts and Sunday roasts are very well known in the area. The hotel edges onto the open forest and Brockenhurst high street is only a 5 minute walk away!
By Anisa from NorfolkLocalGuide
Visit from London (3 hours)
About 160 km (100 miles) northeast of London, you will find “The Fine City” of Norwich. During medieval times, it was the second most powerful city in England, now it’s much less known.
It’s home to Norwich Cathedral,one of the finest complete Romanesque buildings in Europe. Completed in 1145, it has the highest Norman tower and largest monastic cloisters in England (visit for free).
While Norwich Castle might not be one of the most picturesque castles you will come across, it’s history makes it worth a visit. It was founded by William the Conqueror almost 1,000 years ago! You can explore the Norman castle keep, take a tour to the roof for panoramic views of the city, and see a wide variety of artifacts and art inside the museum.
A trip to Norwich wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Norwich Market. It’s one of the oldest (over 900 years) and largest open-air markets in England. Under the colorful canopies, you will find a wide range of goods, clothing, toys, food, and more.
It’s lovely to walk along the Wensum River that winds around the city centre. Maybe stop and grab a pint or some food at the Ribs of Beef pub near Quayside. Also don’t miss Elm Hill, arguably one of the most picturesque streets in Britain.
While you can visit Norwich as a day trip, it’s best to stay longer to explore the nearby North Norfolk coast and Norfolk Broads National Park. For accommodation, stay in the city centre hotel – Assembly House.
By Karen from WhereIWandered
Visit from Paris (3 hours)
Chedigny is a small town with a population of only about 500 residents in the Loire Valley of France. It is located between the famous Chateaux of Loches and Chenonceau. When you visit the town of Chedigny you might feel as if you have stepped onto the set of a Disney movie because Chedigny is so beautiful that it hardly seems real.
Back in 1998 the Mayor of Chedigny decided to plant 700 rosebushes. The idea caught on, and the townspeople began to plant roses and grow other types of flowers in the gardens. Today there are so many roses that no one knows how many have been planted, and it is notable for being the only village in France which has been certified with the label of a “Jardin Remarquable” (remarkable garden!)
Chedigny is a gorgeous place year round but if you go in the spring the colors and sights and scents of the gardens are overwhelming in the best possible way. They have a 2 day rose festival in May which draws guests from all over.
Stop for a meal at the Les Clos Aux Roses which serves delicious food made with all fresh ingredients often from the local garden.
Although there are no hotels in Chedigny, you can opt for guesthouses. Les Clos Aux Roses has some rooms as does the old mill in a town called Le Moulin Des Foulons.
By Ophelie from limitlesssecrets
Visit from Nice (28 minutes), Monaco (18 minutes)
Èze is a medieval village located in the South of France. You will find this hidden gem in the French Riviera between Nice and Monaco. This unique location atop a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and its architecture from the Middle Age makes this place very worthy of a visit!
One of the best things you can do in Èze is to simply walk around in the narrow streets and staircases of the village. You will have the feeling that you stepped back in time!
The parish church of Èze is beautiful. Notre Dame de l’Assomption was built in the 18th century and is classified as a “monument historique”. Its ochre façade is typical of the buildings in Provence. You can also visit the inside of the church and admire the beautiful baroque style!
One of the treasures of Èze is its botanical garden. Located at the top of the village, it was built after the Second World War on the ruins of a castle. This exotic garden offers a large collection of cacti and succulents from different climate zones in the Mediterranean region, Africa, and the Americas. As you wander here you can also admire statues created by Jean-Philippe Richard.
This garden is dotted with breathtaking panoramic views of the coast at 429 meters high!
Here you can hike the Nietzsche Path down to Èze -sur-Mer or hit the beach. If you want to stay in Eze we recommend Château Eza – a 5-star hotel located in a castle!
By Diana from TheGlobetrottingDetective
Easily visit from Munich (2 hours), Stuttgart (1 hour)
Blaubeuren is a lovely postcard-perfect medieval town nestled in the Swabian Alps, in the state of Baden-Württemberg in the southern part of Germany.
It’s an easy day trip from big cities such as Ulm, Stuttgart, and Munich. Ulm in Baden-Württemberg is only 20 minutes away. You can reach Blaubeuren very easily by car or local train.
The best time to visit this hidden gem in Europe is in spring and summer when nature is all lush green and the sun is brightly shining. Moreover, it’s also incredibly beautiful when the autumn colors cover nature.
The morning hours offer the most sensational views. The morning colors of the water are extremely bright and shiny. It will make you feel like Alice in wonderland. The number one highlight of Blaubeuren is Blautopf, which is a lovely little spring (source of the Blau River).
Everywhere around Blautopf, the view is stunning. It might be small but the views will make you stay there for a long time. The café right next to this shining emerald green water spot, Café am Blautopf, is the most excellent place for a German-style rest where you can have lunch, and refreshments. Try Flammkuchen here, an oven-fresh tarte flambée, with bacon and onion.
After your German treats, discover the half-timbered medieval houses of Blaubeuren built in the 15th century. The loveliest and most photogenic part of the old town is Little Venice.
Lastly, there are a plethora of hiking trails around Blaubeuren. The unspoiled nature of the Swabian Alps is highly appreciated by nature lovers and photographers.
For an overnight stay, head to Ferienblockhaus auf der Schwäbischen Alb. Around Blaubeuren, you also find cute villages with plenty of authentic and traditional accommodation options.
By Vrushali from Couple of Journeys
Easily visit from Munich (1 hour)
Very few people visiting Bavaria know about the charming lake town called ‘Schliersee.’ Schliersee is situated about 55 km (34 miles) south of Munich.
You can easily drive to Schliersee from Munich or even take a regional train from Munich. The train journey takes about 50 minutes, and there are trains every half an hour to one hour. To save money, you could even buy a Bayern ticket.
Once in Schliersee, start by exploring the Schliersee lake – the lake after which this town is named. The lake is located just outside the railway station. The vast lake of Schliersee is as charming as the other famous Bavarian lakes. In summers, it is a lovely place to sunbathe, relax, or frolic around with kids. In winters, the frozen lake makes for a great ice skating spot.
In addition to spending time at the lake, you could also take a boat trip to the small lake island called ‘Wörth’. Whiskey lovers could also head to SLYRS for a tour of the famous Whiskey distillery.
You could also take a half an hour bus from Schliersee and head to Spitzingsee. Spitzingsee is a lake located atop a small hill and offers spectacular views of the Alps. You can also take a cable car and visit the mountain-top club Schliersbergalm. Here you will find a lovely play area for kids. On the way down, you can enjoy a thrilling toboggan ride.
The best place to stay in Schliersee is Karma Bavaria, which is located just about 10-minutes away from the lake and has rooms that provide home-like comfort. However, if you don’t have the time to spend much time in Schliersee, you could even explore the town on a day trip from Munich.
By Theresa from AdventuresInMiddleAgedTravel
Easily visit from Frankfurt (2.50 hours)
Trier is the oldest city in Germany and it was originally a Roman fort. The biggest attraction in town (literally and figuratively) is the Porta Nigra (the Black Gate). It is the only surviving Roman gate of what used to be four gates that loom at the north edge of the Old Town.
Built over 2,000 years ago, it stands almost 30 metres tall and has many stairways and rooms to explore. After Roman times it has also been a church and a monastery. In the 1800’s Napoleon dissolved the church and monastery and had it returned to its Roman form.
Trier is also the birthplace of Karl Marx and has a museum in his former home. It contains information about his life and writings as well as the history of Communism.
The main market square (hauptmarkt), in the pedestrian only old town, used to be located much closer to the Moselle River. In 882 Vikings destroyed the old market which prompted the move further inland.
The specialty drink in Trier is called Viez. It’s called an apple wine, but is a tart cider. Have a viez-limo (with lemonade) or a viez-sprudel (with soda water), both very delicious.
The original Cathedral of Trier was built by Constantine and the modern one is a mishmash of styles added on over the centuries making for an interesting visit. The archeological site of the Roman Barbara Baths is available to be viewed via raised walkways. These baths were the largest in the Roman World outside of Rome.
A great place to stay in Trier is the Appartement St Barbara, located just outside the old town.
By Chrysoula from TravelPassionate
Visit from Mykonos (3 hours)
Despite being nestled between the Greek mainland and one of the country’s most popular islands, Mykonos, the island of Syros is relatively unknown by tourists which makes it a real treat for those seeking an authentic Greek getaway.
Syros is actually the capital of the Cyclades chain of islands and has played an important role in terms of trade here for centuries. Having been inhabited since prehistoric times (circa 4000 BC!), the island has a wealth of history and culture as well as plenty of modern amenities too.
The main town in Syros is Ermoupolis, the island’s capital, which features some stunning neoclassical buildings and Venetian mansions including the Ermoupolis City Hall in Miaouli Square. Visitors should also explore the Archaeological Museum, the Apollon Theatre, and Agios Nikolaos Church before taking a dip with a view at Asteria Beach.
Other intriguing sights include the cobblestone streets of Ano Syros, the coastal village of Kini, and the beaches of Vari, Agathopes, Finikas, and Azolimenas.
As Syros doesn’t rely on tourism as its main source of income it is an island that is accessible and lively all year round which makes it an excellent option for those seeking a winter or early spring break.
By Kirsten from YonderlustRamblings
Visit from Nuuk (1 hour)
A visit to Greenland is like taking a literal step back in time, to a unique destination that remains raw, untouched, and mesmerizing.
The best place to get a truly characteristic taste of unfiltered Greenland is in the town of Kangerlussuaq, on the southwestern coast of the island. This quaint town makes an ideal base for experiencing Greenland, as it is also home to the country’s international airport.
Kangerlussuaq has strong ties to the culture and adventurous lifestyle that is still on full display here. Visitors can try local cuisine such as musk oxen, reindeer, and exotic seafoods.
Locals and guests alike still utilize modes of transportation such as dog sleds. Tours offer a glimpse of Kangerlussuaq’s harbor, and Greenland’s lifeline to its waterways, as well as the Kangerlussuaq city museum and “downtown” area.
For a taste of Kangerlussuaq’s unique ties to World War II, it is even possible to stay in renovated military barracks, found at lodges such as the Old Camp and Polar Lodges. In addition to its one of a kind culture, Kangerlussuaq also provides a haven of things to do in Greenland for adventure and outdoor lovers.
In Kangerlussuaq, it is possible to hike neighboring peaks like Mt. Hassell or the Arctic Circle Trail, tour the world’s second-largest ice sheet, explore vast tundras inhabited by reindeer, foxes, and Arctic hares, witness the towering Russell Glacier, and of course, spot the Northern Lights in one of the most pristine nightly panoramas in the world!
By Chrissy from JetLaggedRoamer
Take a journey off the beaten path to the charming town of Gyor, located along the Northwestern border of Hungary. Györ is a colorful village enclosed by meadows and filled with rich Hungarian history. This hidden gem in Central Europe was nearly destroyed by a fire and rebuilt in the 15th-century.
Györ’s Town Hall is the primary landmark and a popular stop. It’s just a short walk from the train station. Doors of this magnificent 59-meter Neoclassical structure have been open since 1898. The outside of this building bears Györ’s coat of arms. Due to the colossal size of this structure, it makes it nearly impossible to capture it in a photo.
Go for a stroll along Baross Gábor which is a pedestrian only street. It is a perfect stop to browse the cobblestone streets for souvenirs, shopping, or to grab a cocktail and people watch.
To catch a view of the city from a different perspective visit the Bishop Lookout Tower. You can catch a glimpse of this unique town from a tower view.
Take a walk through Györ’s main square Szechenyi Square. There is a wide variety of bars, shopping, and outdoor dining to appease any tourist.
Another stop deserving of your visit is Carmelite Church which depicts the splashes of blazing yellow found throughout the city. What makes this church so stunning is its ornate onion-domed tower. This church was built and has been a staple in Györ since 1725. An impressive alter and organ with an angel perfectly centered on top awaits you inside.
Quench your thirst at Kotygós Café, a well-known cafe with the locals. They have one fabulous blueberry beer that will have your tastebuds buzzing. After all the sightseeing in Györ, Ibis Gyor is the perfect hotel to catch some much-needed rest. It is nearby to all the main attractions in the city and a short walk from the city center.
Copper Coast, Ireland
By Isabelle from issysescapades
Visit from Dublin
The “Copper Coast” is located in County Waterford, Ireland is one of the hidden places in Europe. It is a part of the country that is known as the “Sunny South-East”, as it receives some of the best weather in Ireland throughout the year.
A stretch of coastline that runs between the towns of Tramore and Dungarvan, the Copper Coast is around 25 km (15.5 miles) total in distance and can be undertaken in a day.
The area incorporates the Copper Coast Geopark, which is a designated UNESCO Global Geopark. It is known as the “Copper Coast”, due to the vast copper mines that ran here in the 19th century.
For those with an interest in geology, the area is fascinating, as it shows a complete look at Ireland throughout the millennia (460 million, to be exact), showcasing a land that featured ice ages, undersea volcanoes and deserts.
The land also tells the tale of the people who lived here – along the Copper Coast you will find Gaulstown Dolmen, a prehistoric portal tomb that is estimated to have been built between 3500-4000 BC and which is older than the pyramids of Egypt. The landscape also features ruined castles, abandoned mines from the area’s heyday and crumbling, Great Famine-era deserted cottages.
The real beauty of this attraction is the outdoors – move at your own pace and stop at your leisure where you stumble upon something that piques your interest. Do make sure to include the Copper Coast Geopark Visitor Centre to learn about the rich history of this area.
Even if your interest in geology is limited, the area is one of great natural beauty that encompasses dramatic cliffs, charming coves and the moody Irish Sea, so rest assured that it is a real crowd pleaser!
As one of Ireland’s more under-the-radar locations too, expect to have much of the route to yourself, making this is a wonderful alternative to Ireland’s well-trodden Wild Atlantic Way route. It is also a great choice for those limited on time and looking for a short break in Ireland that is outside of Dublin city break.
You can base yourself in either Dungarvan or a little further north in the Viking city of Waterford. Stay at the Granville Hotel, an elegant, harbor-front hotel that has held an important role in sheltering weary travelers since the 1700s.
By Rhonda from TravelYesPlease
Visit from Galway
Inishmore, one of Ireland’s Aran Islands, is a wonderful place to visit thanks to its intriguing ancient sites, beautiful natural attractions, small villages, relaxed way of life, and isolated location.
For such a small island, there’s an impressive amount of things to do on Inishmore. Active, independent travelers will enjoy renting a bike and riding along the scenic, rural streets to various attractions on the island.
The most prominent place to visit is Dún Aengus fort on the south coast. This prehistoric fortress has curved, terraced walls and stands dramatically at the edge of a high cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. From the fort visitors can enjoy views of almost the entire island.
Other historic sites on the island include the remains of a former monastic centre known as the Seven Churches, Dún Dúchathair (the Black Fort) and its early stone houses, and the circular Dún Eoghanachta fort.
Inishmore is also home to a seal colony, sandy beaches, and a unique rectangular limestone pool known as the WormHole.
Even though many of Inishmore’s attractions can be seen in one day, it’s worth spending the night so you can enjoy the island at a more leisurely pace. A variety of accommodation types can be found including bed and breakfasts, hotels, hostels, and camping. For a unique accommodation experience, stay in one of the glamping units at the Aran Islands Camping and Glamping. They have units inspired by the traditional beehive style of stone huts once used by monks.
By Emily from LondonCityCalling
Visit from Bari (1 hour)
Located on the southeastern tip of Italy in the beautiful Puglia region, with its historic towns, lush countryside and clear turquoise waters, is a popular destination for domestic tourism yet surprisingly undiscovered by the rest of the world yet, making it one of the best hidden gems in Europe.
There are numerous places in Puglia worth visiting, but among the most interesting has to be the unusual historic town of Alberobello.
Alberobello is located in an area of Puglia called the Valle d’Itria which is famous for its traditional mortarless limestone houses with domed roofs known as trulli. The town of Alberobello has the highest concentration of trulli in the entire region, around 2,000 in fact, leading to it being declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996 and certainly one of the most unique towns in all of Italy.
While many people opt for a day trip to Alberobello, given the small size of the town, the best way to really experience Alberobello is to stay overnight in an authentic trulli – book your own spacious and private trulli with Trulli e Puglia.
During the day you can wander around Alberobello’s busy and vibrant trulli-lined streets, visit the heritage museum at Trulli Sovrano, admire the many domed roofs from the viewpoint at Belvedere Santa Lucia and shop for souvenirs at little tourist shops set inside the rows of traditional buildings.
Then at night when the majority of the crowds have disappeared, head out again for dinner at one of the lovely local restaurants and to see the magical little town lit up with rows of fairy lights before finally retiring back to your trulli to enjoy a glass of local wine or limoncello.
Lago di Limides, Italy
By Krisztina from SheWandersAbroad
Visit from Cortina d’Ampezzo (30 minutes)
The beautiful mountain range of the Dolomites is one of the most popular places to visit in Northern Italy, therefore it can get pretty crowded, especially in the summer season. While most people visit Alpe di Siusi, Tre Cime di Lavaredo or the insta famous Lago di Braies, luckily you can still find many European hidden gems in the area.
One of them is Lago di Limides, a beautiful alpine lake located only a 30-minute drive from Cortina d’Ampezzo. Most tourists have never heard of this little lake so if you’re looking for peaceful, undisturbed scenery, it’s definitely worth adding Lago di Limedes to your Dolomites road trip itinerary!
After arriving at Rifugio Col Gallina, you can leave the car in the nearby parking lot and then continue your way to the lake on foot. It requires a short hike to be able to reach the lake but it’s quite an easy trail so it’s suitable for beginners or families as well. Most of the trail goes through the forest so it’s important to wear proper hiking shoes!
The trail mostly goes uphill and it takes around 25-30 minutes to get to the lake from the parking lot. This tiny little lake offers some insane panoramic views on both sides and if you’re lucky, you can see a beautiful reflection of the surrounding mountains on the lake as well.
Since Lago di Limides is not so well-known among tourists, chances are high that you will have the lake all to yourself. You can walk around the lake, take a million photos and you can even prepare a small picnic on the shores.
By Jennifer from FamilyTripGuides
Visit from Lake Como (50 minutes)
Lake Como in northern Italy is the opposite of a hidden gem Europe but there is a town on its shores that is still an unknown gem! The charming village of Lezzeno is just 14 km (8.6 miles) west of Bellagio, the well- known “jewel of the lake.”
Lezzeno’s affordability makes it an amazing European destination to visit as this typically expensive region in Italy. Hence why we recommend Lezzeno over the other tourist centers of Varenna, Bellagio, and Como for its local charm but also its proximity to the main sites and ferries. We stayed in one of the best Airbnbs of our European travels with full lake and mountain views from our garden every morning at the outdoor table.
You can also take the ferry from Bellagio to the beautiful (but touristy!) Varenna for the day to explore more of the region. The town is picture-perfect and the gardens of Villa Monastero are stunning.
By Isabella from BoundlessRoads
Visit from Koror (40 minutes)
Less popular Sardinia destinations, the harbor town of Palau will surprise you with its charm and peaceful vibes. Tucked in the region of Gallura on the north-east coast of Sardinia, Palau is close to the trendiest Sardinia destinations, such as Porto Cervo and the Costa Smeralda, the top favorite places of the Jet Set.
Palau harbor is the main channel of access to the captivating Archipelago La Maddalena. Going on a boat tour is the best gift you could give yourself and then you will realize why La Maddalena has been declared National Park for its unparalleled beauty and pristine waters.
Culture lovers should know that Palau is also surrounded by interesting archeological sites that you can visit if you wish to get acquainted with Sardinian history and culture. Do not miss the Giants’ Grave in Coddu Vecchiu, and the iconic nuraghe, a Sardinian historic symbol.
The best way to get around is to rent a car. It’s very easy and safe and you will have the freedom to get where you want at your own pace. In fact, there are amazing beaches in the nearby area that you don’t want to miss. The closest one is Sciumara beach, where you can either lay on your towel or join a beach club and rent chairs and sun-shade, but there many other amazing bays along the coast that you will want to discover.
Lastly, don’t forget you are in Italy, where you will find some of the amazing culinary delights. To have the best experience, stay away from the more touristic places and ask for “taverne” and “trattorie” where you will find the most genuine and authentic food and local dishes, including the delicious Sardinian wine, local cuts and cheeses.
By Christina from Travel2next.com
Visit from Milan or Turin (1.50 hours)
Tucked away in the north of Piedmont, northwest of Vercelli, is the little-known town of Varallo. This town is one of the nine Sacred Mountains (or ‘Sacri Monti’) of Italy which has chapels built during the 16th and 17th centuries. These chapels are a combination of art and architecture, with artistic paintings on the walls and ceilings frescoes along with life-like figurines depicting scenes that tell stories from the Bible.
The project aimed to turn this collection of Sacri Monti into a holy pilgrimage trail in Europe that would become an alternative to the Holy Land in Israel. Varallo’s chapels were the first to be constructed in this ‘New Jerusalem’, and the cluster of chapels is a lesser-known Italian landmark worth visiting.
Other things to do in Varallo include visiting the 15th-century Church of San Gaudenzio, and the Valsesia Railway Museum, which has displays of railway memorabilia and photos as well as a freight yard. The region around Varallo is wild and beautiful, offering plenty for adventurous visitors including skiing, canyoning, cycling, and rafting on the Sesia River.
The most vibrant time of year to visit is during the Varallo carnival when the town comes to life with traditional music, dancing, and crafts in the early months of each year.
There are several Airbnb’s as well as luxury villas in the region, but if you want to stay in town, the place to book is Albergo di Italia, which is on the main street as you drive into town.
By Lori from Travlinmad
Visit from Milan (2.50 hours)
In Emilia Romagna outside Modena in northern Italy, the city of Vignola is a hidden Italian gem just waiting to be discovered. Dating to the year 826, this historic city offers something for lovers of architecture, history, and the traditional food of Italy.
The jewel at the center of the city is the incredible fortress of Rocca di Vignola, the biggest historic site in the region. Tracing its beginnings to the 12th century, the impressive castle comprises massive towers, ramparts, walkways, and galleries all open to explore on your own or on a guided tour. And the huge Gothic frescoes depicting life at court back in the day are worth a look!
Entrance to the Rocca is free as are the guided tours. But reservations are recommended, especially if an English-speaking guide is needed.
Foodies should absolutely not miss a visit to Vignola, the birthplace of one of the most iconic local foods — the original flourless Torta Barozzi. First invented by Eugenio Gollini in 1886, this decadent sweet treat is the only Torta that can be called the Original Torta Barozzi, and the recipe remains a closely guarded secret. Stop in the Pasticceria Gollini when you’re in town to try the Torta and stock up on some for gifts.
Spend the day exploring the town and plan an overnight stay at the Hotel Eden. This hotel has the most stunning views of the Valle dei Ciliegi and offers free bike rentals.
By Fiona from TravellingThirties
Add to your Balkans trip
Lithuania is the “first” of the Baltic states and its capital city, Vilnius is a true hidden gem in Europe. As a relatively new country, Lithuania gained its independence in 1990, it is full of beauty, culture, and history.
When you are visiting the city, you can cross the river to one of the smallest Republics in the world. The Republic of Užupis is located right in the middle of Vilnius. Visit the gift shop/tourist information centre to get a stamp in your passport.
To get the best views of the city head up Gediminas’ Tower, the views are stunning, especially at sunset. Not only can you get the best views from Gediminas Tower you can also learn about the history of Lithuania and their ride to independence. Make you sure you look out for the information on the human chain that helped the Baltic states gain their independence in 1990.
Vilnius is a very affordable city and is a great option if you are traveling around Europe on a budget. You can stay in the city centre without breaking the bank and you can easily navigate around the city without the need for public transport.
The Radisson Blu Royal Astorija Hotel is a 5-star hotel located in the middle of Vilnius Old Town and will set you back roughly $100 a night. If you are looking for a cheaper option check out Hotel Tilto, which is also located in the Old Town and is a fab place to stay on a budget.
By Frans from AskTheDutchGuy
Visit from Amsterdam (1.50 hours)
For many, Steenwijk is the city you pass through to get to the more popular village of Giethoorn. However, the city has a lot to offer—with its beautiful museums, a historic church, and plenty of hidden gems that will make you experience the Dutch culture.
Have you ever had coffee or a couple of drinks in a real blacksmith shop? That’s what you will get here at De Smederij. One of the hidden gems in Steenwijk, this place is located in the heart of town. It’s a cross between a hotel and an espresso bar. Enjoy your stay here and have delicious meals in their charming dining room.
Snackbar Bestaria Steenwijk is a popular snack bar, which is home to juicy beef burgers. However, a must-try is the Steenwijker Meatball, which is unique to the Netherlands. It was invented by a Steenwijker butcher, Lieffert de Vos, and it’s been around for over 150 years.
Head to Cafetaria De Honingpot to get a taste of the best frikandel in town.
Skopje, North Macedonia
By Cassie from Cassie the Hag
Add to Balkans trip
Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia, is one of the European hidden gems. Visit it as part of a Balkans trip (Travel tip: The bus from Prizren to Skopje is cheap and convenient)!
One of the first things you’ll notice upon arriving in Skopje is the frankly ridiculous amount of statues! Spotting them all makes for quite a fun experience, although you’ll soon learn it was considered quite controversial when the government spent millions on a bucket load of statues rather than better local infrastructure.
There are lots of ‘new, but made to look old’ grand architecture, featuring white columns and domed roofs, which make walking down the river in Skopje very beautiful.
Other things to see here are visiting the Old Bazaar, which is one of the oldest marketplaces in the Balkans, dating back to the 12th century.
Next to the old Bazaar is the stunning Kale Fortress. Originally built in the 6th century and most recently renovated following the 1963 earthquake, the fortress is a large and beautiful structure which you can take some time exploring. It’s a perfect place to visit for sunset, due to its magnificent view over Skopje and the mountains beyond.
You could also use Skopje as a base for exploring the nearby canyons and mountains by taking a local guide, or stay in the heart of the city and visit one of the many museums such as the Memorial House of Mother Teresa.
Finish your trip with a stop at the local Opera or enjoy traditional Macedonian foods or burek from a bakery.
Lower Vistula Valley, Poland
By Olivia from HappyintheHollow
Visit from Warsaw (3.50 hours)
Visit the Lower Vistula Valley (Dolina Dolnej Wisły) in the late summer or early fall, to experience this rural segment of Poland’s Pomeranian region.
This area is centered around the Vistula river, and is flanked by the historic cities of Toruń (birthplace of astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus and famous for its “pierniki” gingerbread, among other things) and Bydgoszcz (home to numerous historic and atmospheric sites).
In recent decades, and under the leadership of the Lower Vistula Landscape Park, traditional plum jam – cooked for hours in huge copper pots – has made a comeback and put the region on the map of traditional European foods. Attend the “Festiwal Smaku” (Taste Festival) in the little village of Gruczno in late August every year for a culinary deep dive and to see how the plum jam (powidła śliwkowe) is made.
To fully experience the Lower Vistula Valley’s rural character, try to stay at a farm. Don’t miss the Mennonite cottage in Chrystkowo, limestone caves in Gądecz, the medieval architecture of Chełmno, and the beautiful, frequently protected nature all around. It’s a great region for bike rides, hikes and paragliding.
By De Wet & Jin from MuseumofWander
Visit from Lisbon (1.50 hours)
Just over an hour away from Lisbon, the UNESCO city of Evora is one of Europe’s most beautiful towns. Yet, the regional capital of the Alentejo region, Evora, seldom makes it onto a European bucket list.
Stunning Evora has so much to see and do that it deserves more than just a day trip from Lisbon.
Stay for a few days and taste your way from one winery to the next. It’s also possible to do wine tasting and food pairings right in the center of Evora. Many Portuguese will claim that the best red wines in the country comes from the Alentejo.
Evora’s old town center is surrounded by medieval city walls. Inside the walls you’ll find white and yellow houses, cobblestone streets, several churches,a roman temple, a cathedral and sunny squares where you can indulge in sweet pastries such as the local favourite, Queijadas de Évora.
The biggest draw to charming Evora is its laid back atmosphere, fantastic food, wine and warm weather. No wonder some people call it New Tuscany. Luckily, it’s not nearly as well known as its Italian counterpart. It is indeed one of Europe’s hidden gems.
The city’s most famous sight is the Chapel of Bones. This church is decorated from floor to ceiling with human bones and skulls.
Stay at the M’AR De AR Muralhas inside the historic center, which is the perfect base while in Evora. The pool and the garden will assure that you also relax between sightseeing and wine tasting.
Ria Formosa, Portugal
By Anuradha from CountryHoppingCouple
Visit from Faro (35 minutes) or Lisbon (2.75 hours)
Located very close to Faro is Ria Formosa Natural Park, which is a hidden gem in the Algarve region in Portugal. Ria Formosa is a protected nature park with 18000 hectares spread over 60 km (37 miles) of coastline dotted with beaches, islands, and mudflats. Due to its biodiversity, Ria Formosa is also christened as one of the seven natural wonders of Portugal.
Ria Formosa is separated from sea by five barrier islands and two peninsulas which are home to plenty of flora and fauna. Five of the barrier islands are Culatra Island, Barreta Island, Armona Island, Tavira island and Cabanas Island. Although small in size, each of these islands in itself is a destination not to be missed.
The rich marshes and lagoons are one of the finest breeding grounds in Europe for coastal birds like Ibis, ergets. herons, storks, flamingos. It is possible to spot birds all through the year, although spring and winter are popular time to do bird watching as these birds use Ria Formosa reserve as a migratory stopover before heading to Africa.
Not just birds, in general you can find many wildlife thriving in this rich landscape, like seahorses and chameleons. There are plenty of walking trails and adventure activities like kayaking and segwaying.
The perfect place to base yourself is around Faro, Olhao or one of the Ria Formosa Islands – the most popular being Tavira. We recommend staying in The White House Boutique Villa in Olhao or Hotel Rural Quinta do Marco in Tavira.
Monsaraz, Portugal: Hidden gems in Europe
By Marco from Travel-Boo
Visit from Evora (50 minutes)
Located a mere stones-throw away from the Spanish border lies the gorgeous medieval city of Monsaraz, Portugal. Perched atop a hill and offering up incredible views out over the Algueva river that separates Spain from Portugal, Monsaraz is a true European hidden gem that has somehow managed to avoid over-tourism and retained a truly authentic Portuguese feel.
Stepping through the ancient city gate you’re immediately transported to a long-forgotten era as you are greeted by the charming white-washed walls and cobbled streets. The city itself is quite compact and easy to explore on foot, but there’s certainly lots to keep you busy.
Browse through the local arts and crafts markets to buy some Portuguese souvenirs that range from art, hand-woven wool products, ceramics, and more. Pop into the gorgeous 16th century church, the Igreja Matriz as you wander through the charming streets.
Visit the small castle located at the end of the city and walk along the walls, past the arena and take in the view as you watch the sunset over Portugal and Spain.
Get there for lunch and head over to one of the restaurants overlooking the Alentejo countryside, such as the top-rated Taverna Os Templarios for a delicious Alentejo meal, and of course more breath-taking views.
Last but not least if you want to take a dip in the Algeuva river, then travel for 10-mins by car down to the Praia Fluvial, a man-made beach set on the banks of the river. Facilities include onsite parking, a kids play area, a restaurant and restroom facilities.
Given that Monsaraz is located only two hours east of Lisbon, and only about an hour from another famous medieval city, Evora, many visitors would plan a day trip from Lisbon to Evora and include Monsaraz as an additional stop on the way.
San Marino: Hidden gems in Europe
By Pam from DirectionallyChallengedTraveller
Visit from Florence (3 hour 50 minutes)
An amazing hidden gem in Europe is the tiny micro-country of San Marino. The oldest country in the world boasts breathtaking views of the Italian countryside while being home to an impressive castle. Traveling to San Marino is one of the best weekend destinations in Italy.
The first thing one notices about San Marino is the towering castle on the peak of Monte Titano. The three towers date back to the 11th century and are fun to explore. The First Tower, Guaita is the oldest tower and most famous. The Second Tower, Cesta, is on the highest peak and is home to a museum holding over 1500 weapons dating back to the Medieval Era. On the smallest summit is The Montale, the third tower, which is not open to the public.
Hand-tossed, fire-grilled pizza with local wine overlooking the countryside at Ristorante II Beccafico is a great way to end the day.
If you’re staying overnight, opt for Hotel Cesare, located at the top of the mountain. It has a patio overlooking the hillside.
Triglav National Park, Slovenia
By Lori from Travlinmad
Visit from Ljubljana (50 minutes) or Lake Bled (under 5 minutes)
Triglav National Park is the only national park in Slovenia, and despite its small size, the country more than makes up for it with one of the youngest and most beautiful natural areas on Earth.
Established in 1981, Triglav is located in the northwestern part of Slovenia and packs a ton of amazing sites into just 340 square miles in the eastern Julian Alps.
In addition to its natural attractions Triglav is rich in Slovenian cultural heritage. According to legend, this is the land of the golden-horned chamois who reigned over the Julian Alps and his kingdom’s greatest treasures lie hidden in Triglav National Park and its surroundings.
At 2864 meters, Triglav is the highest point in Slovenia and it can take a few days to hike the summit. But surrounding it are sites like Lake Bled, Lake Bohinj, and the Soca Valley all waiting to be explored. Vintgar Gorge is the gateway to Triglav and offers an excellent hike for any level of experience.
The best months to visit Slovenia are the months from May through September, when the green pastures and rocky trails offer the best hiking.
The small ski town of Kranjska Gora offers a wide selection of hotel accommodations from budget to luxury. The Hotel Alpina is a favorite for its close proximity to two local lakes — Lake Jasna and the Lake Zelenci nature preserve. The hotel offers world-class skiing and exceptional service at your doorstep. Kranjska Gora is also one of the best ski resorts in the region.
Cuenca, Spain: Hidden gems in Europe
By Alessia & Toti from ItalianTripAbroad
Visit from Madrid (1.50 hours)
Cuenca is one of those cities that almost no one knows about. Thanks to its history and gorgeous architecture, Cuenca is a Spanish city that you can’t miss visiting, out of the popular guides and an authentic gem in Europe.
Located over an hour away from Madrid, the ancient city of Cuenca is built on rocks. The basin, where the name Cuenca comes from, was a strategic point overlooking the entire valley.
Even if it’s a small city in the heart of Spain, there are many things to do and see: the Gothic Cathedral, the famous San Paul bridge, Las Casas Colgadas, Plaza Mayor and the ancient wall.
Santa Maria and San Julian Cathedral are one of the most famous places in Cuenca. It’s the first Spanish example of Gothic style which is still undamaged. Las Casas Colgadas are a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site, a complex of houses hanging on the rock.
The construction was very hard, while the houses are facing the river Huécar flowing below the cliff. If you wish to enjoy a stunning view over the valley, Las Casas Colgadas got a museum and a restaurant inside.
Cuenca is the perfect destination to enjoy the local’s life, hang out with locals, taste the delicious tapas, and learn about its magnificent history. Its fascinating history places Cuenca in the list of favorite destinations in Spain.
For a real experience, stay in Posada San Jose where you will be sleeping in a historical building that was once a convent and offers stunning city views.
Bursa, Turkey: Hidden gems in Europe
By Luda from AdventureswithLuda
Visit from Istanbul (2 hours)
Although Istanbul might be the most famous city in Turkey, its neighbor Bursa definitely deserves a spot on your itinerary. Situated just 2 hours from Istanbul, Bursa is a hidden gem that’s full of beautiful parks and squares (its nickname is Yeşil Bursa or Green Bursa), ornate tombs of sultans, and historical gems.
Bursa was the first capital of the Ottoman Empire and has plenty of colorful and historical tombs and mosques that tell the story of the city. While exploring Bursa, don’t forget to grab the city’s most popular souvenir, silk, at the Koza Han, or a handmade trinket at the famous Yellow Bridge (Irgandı Köprüsü).
Other places of interest include the Imperial Gate, where you can walk up to the Tophane Park and see a beautiful panoramic view of the city.
If you’re in Bursa on a Tuesday, definitely visit the cultural center to see a traditional whirling dervish show. Those who have an extra day can check out Cumalıkızık, a colorful village 30 minutes outside the city, where you can walk up the steep cobblestone streets while admiring the beautiful Ottoman-era buildings.
Before leaving Bursa, don’t miss the chance to try the city’s claim to fame: the İskender Kebap. Created in the 1800s, the İskender Kebap is made of thin pieces of grilled meat topped over pita bread and generously smothered with butter, yogurt, and tomato sauce. Wash it down with some Şıra (grape juice) and you’re almost a local!
For a truly unique place to stay in Bursa, the Kitapevi Hotel is highly recommended. It originally served as a bookshop (the name Kitap Evi translates to Book House) but was lovingly restored into a hotel. There are only 12 rooms — a true boutique experience! — that is decorated in a chic vintage style and with views of the bazaar and parks.
Final thoughts on best hidden gems in Europe
Phew! We hope this list of 37 European hidden gems have encouraged you to explore more of the off the beaten path and learn more about lesser known places filled with history, culture and culinary delights!
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