If you’re tired of world-famous travel destinations, flooded with tourists, you should definitely seek for some lesser-known, charming destinations that you’ll be able to explore in peace. Europe definitely hides so many of such destinations, and in this blog post we bring you some of them – here are top 9 secret European destinations that you must visit.
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Let’s get to exploring some gorgeous European cities…
If you’ve been to Amsterdam, but want to see more of gorgeous Netherlands, you should definitely visit Maastricht – a beautiful city in the Southern part of the country, on the border with Belgium and Germany. The city is lying on the Meuse River and is surrounded by stunning countryside and historic castles.
Maastricht is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands with so much to see and explore. There are a lot of amazing fortifications to explore – Maastricht is known as the most fortified city in Europe, and we loved that many of them are actually to be explored underground, through the maze of tunnels.
While in Maastricht, you must check out its City Hall, the Market square and its gorgeous Sint-Janskerk (St. Jan’s) church with red tower, that is actually one of the most popular landmarks of this amazing city.
If you’re travelling to Montenegro, one of your stops is most probably gorgeous Old Town of Kotor. But once you’re there, we definitely recommend visiting one of the cutest Montenegrin (and Adriatic) hidden gems – a little town called Perast.
Only about 400 people actually live there, and we consider them very lucky. Perast might be the quietest place in Montenegro, but it’s also one of the most beautiful places, too. There is only one street winding through the centre of this charming little town, but there you can find 16 gorgeous churches and 17 grand palazzos. Also, while you’re in Perast, hop on a boat and visit the island and church Gospa od Škrpjela (Our Lady of the Rocks) – it will leave you breathless.
Sintra is a fairy-tale place in Portugal, nestled in the foothills of the Sintra Mountains, near Lisbon, so it’s a perfect day trip from the gorgeous capital. If we should name only one reason to visit Sintra, it would be to see its amazing, colourful Pena National Palace, that feels like Disneyland.
This romantic, beautifully ornamented palace is set on the top of the Sintra Mountain, and you should definitely explore its Moorish-Manueline designed interiors and learn a bit about its history. Sintra has UNESCO World Heritage status and is one of the oldest inhabited locations in Portugal. There is definitely a lot history to be explored over there. But if you get tired of all the walking and exploring, hit the beach – Sintra has a few of them that will totally amaze you.
Pilsen, Czech Republic
Pilsen, set about an hour away from Prague, is a lesser-known Czech destination, but totally worth visiting. You should definitely make a day trip to it, if you’re visiting Prague – it’s so convenient and you’ll love exploring its gorgeous Old Town. In the very centre, there is a large square, with an amazing Cathedral of St. Bartholomew in the middle of it, surrounded with pale coloured picturesque buildings. Not far from the central square you’ll stumble upon the Great Synagogue – the second largest one in Europe, unique for its architecture that combines romantic, neo-renaissance, Oriental, Russian Orthodox and Arabic styles.
Pilsen is famous for its Pilsner Urquell Brewery, which produces some great world-known beer. You can take a tour around the old cellars and factory where you can try their beer and learn about how it’s made.
Toruń is a smaller city in Poland, that is definitely one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, with such a gorgeous Old Town – no surprise that it is a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site.
There are quite a few buildings that will take your breath away – just take a look at Toruń’s Town Hall, the Cultural Centre and all the buildings in their surroundings. Also, you must see its enormous St. Mary’s Church and the Cathedral of St. John as well – they both look really extraordinary. Toruń is the birthplace of famous astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, and you must visit his old family home – it is astonishing. Check out the Planetarium, too, as well as the most famous landmark of Toruń – its leaning tower.
Ghent is a lovely small Belgian city, that isn’t overrun by tourists yet, so you’ll love exploring it in peace. It’s more of a laid-back university city with a cool vibe and tons of landmarks to explore. It houses 18 museums, 100 churches and over 400 amazing historical buildings. The city centre is closed for traffic so you’ll have to explore it on foot or bike, or you can rent a boat and explore its canals.
One of the must-see landmarks is definitely Old Tower Belfry that dominates the cityscape. Also, there are St. Nicholas Church and St. Bavo’s Cathedral, both set near the Tower and both are such beautiful buildings built in Gothic style.
Gargano is a National Park in southeastern Italy, in the Puglia region, with long sandy beaches and amazing pine forests. Summer is great in this region; the sea is amazing, and the coast is lined with charming little towns – you can make no mistake when choosing one for your vacation destination.
We recommend travelling to Vieste – a cute little town set on a cliff but surrounded by sandy beaches. Vieste is a place with gorgeous Old Town full of narrow streets with cats and dogs all around, a few beautiful churches and a great fortification. Explore its streets for a real feel of an Italian coastal city, especially in the evening, during the passeggiata (evening stroll).
Sibiu is one of the most idyllic and picturesque cities that you’ll ever visit, and it is located in Transylvania, Romania. The city is so rich in cultural and historical heritage, you will love exploring the narrow, cobbled streets of its Old Town. You must explore its upper town with amazing historical sites, and the lower town with colourful houses. Check out its Citadel of Sibiu, it is one of the best fortified citadels in Europe, with well-preserved remains.
Sibiu is the perfect destination for any cultural traveller – it’s full of art galleries and weird museums such as the Pharmacy Museum and Museum of Hunting, and many gorgeous churches with towers that give the amazing views over the city.
Bergamo is an underrated Italian city, set on a hill-top, about an hour away from Milan, so it’s a great day trip, but don’t hesitate to spend a few days there. This gorgeous city has its Upper City (Citta Alta) and Lower City (Citta Bassa), that are connected by a funicular and walking paths, of course, and both are full of gorgeous sights that you must see.
Wander around wide streets of the Lower City, check out its gorgeous piazzas, its Tower of the Fallen (Torre dei Caduti), Donizetti Opera House, and many other gorgeous buildings that you’ll find on the way. After that, head to the funicular and climb up to the Upper City – a charming medieval town set on the top of the hill. Walk around its narrow, cobbled streets and admire its old buildings, find a nice quaint café for a coffee break and some people watching, possibly at Piazza Vecchia. After that, head to Piazza Duomo and check out some of the most beautiful building in the Upper City – Bergamo Cathedral, Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore and Cappella Colleoni. This city is so picturesque, you will just love it!
As you can see, there is so much of Europe to explore. If you loved this blog post, be sure to check out our list of underrated European cities and best small cities that you must visit, you will love those as well.