Europe has always been considered a prime vacation destination and many of the (well-known) European cities are engulfed year round with tourists from all around the globe. However, so many beautiful and equally fascinating countries are often overlooked, dismissed or entirely unknown! To help you discover some of these hidden gems, here are 8 lesser-known European cities to visit this summer.
1. Constanța, Romania
There are many European cities by the sea that are both beautiful and picturesque. The Romanian town of Constanța, located on the shores of the Black Sea, is no exception. With its white sand beaches, beautiful seaside resorts and a town with over 2,000 years of history, this location will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression on anyone that pays a visit.
Whether you are there to enjoy the sandy beaches and fun resorts of Mamaia, camp on the beaches near the little hippie/music festival town of Vama Veche, check out the abandoned Constanța Casino, walk through the Old Town surrounded by beautiful historical buildings or visit the folk art museum, know as the Muzeul de Arte Populara, you will definitely find a new appreciation for an amazing, yet underrated European country.
2. Wrocław, Poland
Many Eastern European cities are often overlooked as vacation destination options, yet these countries have much to offer in terms of culture, history and beauty. A wonderful travel spot would be to visit the largest city in western Poland, Wrocław.
Filled with many historical sites and vibrant cultural venues, you can visit a variety of landmarks including the Panorama of the Battle of Racławice, a huge 19th-century painting that reaches over 15 meters in height and 114 meters in length, the vibrant and crowded medieval market square founded in the 13th century, home to the Gothic Old Town Hall and great restaurants for fine local dinning and much more. There is no wondering why it was chosen to be the European Capitol of Culture for 2016 and why you should definitely book it for your next vacation.
3. Granada, Spain
Many European cities are blessed with preserved medieval architecture and the city of Granada in Spain is no exception. Located in the south of Spain, in the Andalusian region, this town holds over 700 years of Moorish heritage and is home to many magnificent sites, both man made and natural.
Enjoy the view of the Sierra Nevada Mountains while taking a tour of the impressive Alhambra, a palace/castle/summer retreat and enclosed town, built during the 1200s and 1300s. Visit the Royal Chapel, resting place of two of Spain’s most important rulers, Isabella I and Ferdinand II, complete with beautiful, Italian designed alabaster tombs and feast on Tapas (which originated in Andalusia) from 1pm to 4pm and 9pm to midnight in any bar in Granada.
4. Budva, Montenegro
Budva is a Montenegrin town on the Adriatic Sea and the coastal area, called the Budva Riviera, is the country’s main centre for tourism. Known for its well-preserved medieval walled city, sandy beaches and vibrant nightlife, this destination is often nicknamed “the Montenegrin Miami”.
Visit the Stari Grad (Old Town) one of the star attractions with its marbled streets, Venetian walls and many new shops, bars and restaurants that have popped up everywhere. Get away from the crowded main beaches and head to Ploče, a pebbly beach with crystal clear water or simply do some people watching with all the Russian and Ukrainian tourists that flood the beaches and spot the nouveau riche park their multi-million dollar yachts in the town’s guarded marina.
5. Tirana, Albania
Out of all the more obscure European cities, Tirana, the capitol of Albania is definitely one worth checking out. With its Mediterranean seasonal climate and known for its colourful Ottoman, Fascist and Soviet era architecture, this city has much to offer and to discover. Visit the National Museum of History that offers exhibits from the prehistoric times through Communist rule all the way to the anti-Communist uprisings of the 90s.
See the city’s brightly coloured concrete housing estates, look out for their multiple cafés for some excellent coffee, beer, pastries and gelato or learn a thing or two about the country’s history by visiting Skanderbeg Square, home to a large bronze statue of their national hero and also home to the treasured Et’hem Bay Mosque.
6. Hugh Town, St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly
Not necessarily big enough to be considered a city, Hugh Town is still the largest settlement and serves as the capital of the Isles of Scilly. Located on the island of St Mary’s, off the southwest coast of Cornwall England, this village is the central hub of the island and offers a cluster of cute little shops, banks, churches, cafés, galleries, restaurants, pubs and a wonderful museum.
Visit one of the three beautiful beaches in town or head up country and explore the deserted white sandy beaches, dramatic rocky coves, stunning seascapes, amazing archaeological sites and take in the beautiful scenery along miles of coastal and country paths and nature trails.
7. Valletta, Malta
Another lesser known of the European cities, and the cultural capital of the Mediterranean Island of Malta, is the city of Valletta. This walled city, established in the 1500s, is known for its museums, palaces and grand churches. The entire town was named a Unesco World Heritage site and is described as one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world.
Visit the National Museum of Archaeology, walk the narrow side streets full of tiny quaint shops and cafés or see Valletta’s beautiful gardens including the Upper Barrakka Gardens, Hastings Gardens and the Lower Barrakka Gardens. Everywhere you turn, you will see beauty and history in this lively and culturally rich capital.
8. Salzburg, Austria
The final destination on this list of over-looked European cities is Salzburg, Austria. Not nearly as popular as the capital Vienna, it is often forgotten by many tourists and not nearly as talked about. This compact city, located in the foothills of the Alps, is super easy to explore in just one day and is home to the perfect blend of history and culture.
Visit the Hohensalzburg Fortress, built in 1077 and once one of Europe’s largest castles, walk through the picturesque Old Town and grab a bite at one of the many restaurants and cafés or visit the birthplace of Mozart and see where he was born and raised, the violin he played as a child and the clavichord he used while composing The Magic Flute. Also, for all of those Sound of Music fans, you can head over to a couple of different landmarks in the city where many of the movies key scenes were filmed.