A European vacation is more than just a trip. It’s an opportunity to experience a whole different culture and take in the sights and sounds of several famous cities in one go. You’ve heard of Paris, London and Rome, but you may not have heard of these enchanting cities situated along the European coast. Here’s a look at a few of the best European coastal cities you may never have heard of.

Kamenjak, Croatia: Visit Protected Beaches in This Secluded Paradise

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Kamenjak is an undeveloped protected nature reserve just South of Pula that has developed a following among beach-goers in Croatia. Visitors to the city can experience secluded pebble beaches, beautiful wildflowers and greenery, with access to the pristine Adriatic Sea. A little over 100 miles outside of Venice, Kamenjak is the perfect day trip for a change of pace during an Italian vacation.

Navigate through the maze of dirt tracks through wildflower gardens and waterfront paths to find the perfect isolated spot on the beach, or head to the southern tip of the peninsula and veer west to experience a spectacular, 2.5-mile stretch of pebbly bays naturally broken up by slab-stone terraces.

Cala Gonone, Sardinia: Capture Fantastic Views of the Mediterranean

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Situated along the Eastern coast of Sardinia and the Golfo di Orosi’s coastline, Cala Gonone provides access to about 25 miles of pristine beaches. The town’s port offers a launch pad for boat excursions that take you to incredible cliffs and hidden coves that can’t be accessed otherwise—the perfect setting for a private, romantic jaunt to a magical place.

If you’re looking for a relaxing day with incredible views of the Mediterranean Sea, this isolated, picturesque place provides exactly the refreshment you’re seeking. If you’re an adventure-seeker, you can get plenty of satisfaction spending the day in Cala Gonone, as well; the stunning cliffs aren’t only good for sight-seeing, but for rock climbing. Cala Gonone is known as one of the primary rock-climbing areas in Sardinia.

Rovinj in Istria, Croatia: Relax Near Natural Beauty and Ancient Culture

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Croatia is quickly becoming one of the most talked-about countries in all of Europe. The country as a whole tends to fly below the radar of the major metropolitan areas, such as Paris and London, but Croatia is building a solid reputation for its unique scenery quite unlike anything else you’ll find in Europe. Rovinj is a quaint village in Istria, near Pula, and it’s one of the best locations for capturing the essence of the mysterious country.

Situated in the Istrian Peninsula, this coastal town rests comfortably in a peaceful, charming bay that has an almost mystical feel. Not surprisingly, the town is a major draw for artists, poets, and those who appreciate natural beauty and ancient culture. There are a few well-known monuments worth visiting in Rovinj, including the Church of St Euphemia, which provides an exceptional view of the entire village.

Skagen, Denmark: Beautiful Beaches and an Art Museum to Match

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Denmark is usually not known for the beaches, but the town of Skagen easily puts the city on this list with the beautiful beach. White sand makes this quite an aesthetically pleasing place for the eyes. Two Baltic waters flow to this beach so watching the waves overlap each other has become quite a site for the tourists and townspeople alike.

With the beauty that this town brings, it has become a haven for artists. Many artists come here for inspiration as well as to view works of art at the museum nearby. For the different type of tourist, there is even a teddy bear museum, which proves to be entertaining for visitors.

Positano in Naples, Italy: An Entrancing Coastal Town with Stunning Architecture

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Positano is one of Italy’s most architecturally entrancing coastal towns. As you drive along the highway towards this little-known town within the larger vicinity of Naples, take in breathtaking views of Italy’s seaside architecture and the Tyrrhenian Sea.  Positano is about 19 miles from Naples proper.

This can be a costly place to visit, as it offers many high-end, exquisite dining experiences. The town has served as the backdrop for a number of romantic films, and it’s the perfect setting for a honeymoon or amorous vacation.

Oia Santorini, Greece: Rest Easy in This Quaint Town Overlooking the Mediterranean

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Greece is a common stop on a luxury European cruise, known for its exotic architecture and views of the Mediterranean nothing short of mind-boggling. Oia is one of the most well-known villages in Santorini, but this quiet town often gets overlooked by travelers looking for a big-city experience.

Oia Santorini’s claim to fame is its ethereal sunsets and “quaint village” feel. The village itself is situated atop a cliff providing amazing views of the volcano of Palia, Nea Kameni and the island of Thirassia. The village also provides easy access via high-speed boats to the popular tourist areas of Crete, Mykonos and Naxos.

Tivoli, Italy: Walk Through Lush Gardens and Admire Ancient Fountains

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A trip to Rome is not complete without a day trip to Tivoli, Italy. You can get to Tivoli in about half an hour by taking a train on the Roma-Pescara Line from Rome’s Tiburtina station, then catching a shuttle bus to the popular tourist attractions of Villa d’Este and The Gardens and Waterworks. Villa d’Este is the perfect opportunity to experience Renaissance architecture and Italian Renaissance gardens.

If you think a trip to The Gardens and Waterworks means you’ll be meandering through gorgeous flower gardens, think again: at The Gardens and Waterworks, you’ll find about 500 foundations constructed using Renaissance plumbing. If you want to take a trip back in time, a day trip to Tivoli will satisfy your thirst for history.

A trip to Europe is a fascinating experience, no matter where you go, but take advantage of everything Europe has to offer by taking a short day trip to a quaint village or coastal town to escape the hustle and bustle of the major European attractions.

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Featured photo credit: colorfull lifegard post in miami beach, florida via Shutterstock

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