Europe is the second most popular international destination for Americans, after North America (Mexico and Canada) itself. This means that many of the most common cities visited will include Paris, London, Rome, or maybe even Copenhagen if you want to deviate from the norm. However, have you even taken a gander at visiting somewhere like Paphos in Cyprus, or maybe even Riga in Latvia? Chances are high that you haven’t.
Many seasoned travelers would agree that you are missing out on the Europe of your dreams by only visiting the tourist traps you feel you have to see. Today, we will attempt to change your perspective of European travel, and open up your horizon to 15 upcoming european cities off the beaten path to many tourists.
1. Utrecht, Netherlands
While Amsterdam is still the choice city for individuals looking to visit the Netherlands, visitors to the country may want to consider Utrecht City, Netherlands. Built along a canal, Utrecht has a high student population to keep the city young while also undergoing a series of growth. Despite this, the city is still with great historical character, a shopping centre, museums, and cobbled streets that make it impressionable to any age group.
2. Edinburgh, United Kingdom
London is always the association made when one says they are going on a getaway to the United Kingdom. However, if you are looking for a change of scenery to taking in the United Kingdom, Scotland’s capital city of Edinburgh can offer you the development and entertainment that comes with a major capital while also offering stunning countryside greenery and the famous Edinburgh Castle.
3. Siena, Italy
Most tourists to Italy attest that an Italian vacation isn’t complete without visiting the capital city, Rome. However, for those looking for something new and refreshing, Siena is the city you will fancy. Located in the Tuscan region of Italy, the largest nearby city is Florence. The city centre is the main aspect of the city and the most beautiful with the red stone roofs. However, you don’t have to museum hop all day. Siena is growing as a centre for shopping as well.
4. Marseille, France
Despite Marseille being the second largest city and most visited city in France, it’s no doubt that Paris is the star of the show with their 24 million visitors a year, compared to Marseille’s two million. However, as a port city, Marseille offers the visitor a nice selection of seafood, unique shops, and museums. Voted Europe’s Capital of Culture for 2013, Marseille’s French identity and Greek influence brought by the city’s pioneers make it truly one-of-a-kind.
5. Maribor, Slovenia
Ljubljana may be Slovenia’s most popular destination, but the city of Maribor should also be a city on your list for your Slovenian getaway. The district of Lent specifically is the centre of attention for Maribor, including stunning architecture, the world’s largest grape vine, and a myriad of ways to relax with well-known spas scattered around the city, including the Fontana Terme Maribor.
6. Bibury, England
London gets all of the headlines as the tourist destination for those visiting the United Kingdom. However, Bibury can be a great weekend trip for those looking to relax and take in the best of nature that the Britain has to offer. Featured in various paintings and artwork, Bibury doesn’t draw tourist in through tons of restaurants and tourist activities. It presents itself the way it is and the tourist come. From horseback riding to the picturesque Arlington Row, Bibury is ready for you to discover it.
7. Palmanova, Italy
As you can see in the photo above, the city’s plan is beautifully designed to form the shape of a hexagon. This is formed to lead to the city square, the Grand Piazza, that features the city’s famous cathedral known as the Duomo Digale. Palmanova, being a fortified city since the early 1590s, has a historic and somewhat medieval charm that is unmatched and under appreciated in Italian tourism.
8. Ronda, Spain
Ronda is a good tourist destination, especially for those taking in the rest of Andalusia, but it still has a rustic charm that has kept it from being damaged by overproduction and rapid tourism. The gorge, pictured above, is the main attraction of the town in terms of sightseeing. This doesn’t mean that the only thing you will be doing is taking pictures of it. You will find that restaurants are centred nearby, it makes for a nice walk, and events are regularly held. If you are looking for a well-preserved destination in Spain’s southern region, Ronda could be that place.
9. Tallinn, Estonia
Being the capital of Estonia, tourism as a whole in the country still isn’t the most active compared to other European countries. This doesn’t mean that the city doesn’t come with the European flair that you’d want from a city. Being added to the UNESCO World Heritage site back in 1997, the city has not only be preserved, but has improved greatly over the past eighteen years. You’ll have your fill of restaurants in the Old City, with many specializing in traditional Estonian cuisine. From the Kumu Art Museum to the Seaplane Harbour, and even a couple of nightclubs sprinkled in, you’ll certainly have a ton of places to choose from to visit.
10. Muhu Island, Estonia
Along with the capital city of Tallinn, an even more unique part of Estonia that isn’t necessarily in the tourist scope just yet is Muhu Island. The gap is apparent between the way of life and traditions of those in Muhu and those in the mainland Estonia. I’d equate it to residents of Hawaii and those who live in the mainland United States. The island features many farm buildings, museums, places to stay and eat, as well as a jazz festival in the middle of the summer.
11. Lodz, Poland
For being one of Poland’s largest cities, Lodz has been overshadowed by the capital Warsaw in some respects. Regardless of this being true, Lodz is filled with a history that is most notably including World War II and the Jewish ghettos built around the city. If you are looking to visit a city that doubles as a thriving metropolis and look at the past, Lodz is the Polish destination for you.
12. East Anglia, United Kingdom
East England is one that isn’t always featured as a tourist enclave. It is relatively unknown for its beach lifestyle that isn’t normally associated with the United Kingdom. In some respects, it makes someone feel as if they are in Nantucket or another city in New England, United States. Like any other seaside city, you will find that East Angilla is a great place to go crabbing, and take in seasonal festivals and concerts including the Great Yarmouth Maritime Festival in September.
13. Formentera, Spain
Formentera may not be the top European spot for those living abroad, however for Europeans this is the hot spot for those looking to soak up some rays. Off the coast of Spain, on the Balearic Islands, Formentera is known for being a beach city with a low pace lifestyle, and even some sunbathing with your top off at one of the many nude beaches in the city.
14. Lewis Island, Scotland
The Isle of Lewis is the destination for individuals looking for the most traditional Scottish culture one can find in modern-day Scotland. Along with very traditional architecture and cultural traditions, Lewis is also recognized as a protective area of Scotland due to the variety of flora and fauna that grace the region. Popular sites of the Isle of Lewis include ancient ruins and sites like Calanish Standing Stones, Gearannan Village, and the St. Columba’s Chapel, among many others.
15. Turku, Finland
Helsinki is the most popular city for tourists in Finland. However, Turku is another location that, while not always in a tourist’s scope of view, is important to see. The former Finnish capital offers the most for visitors during the Winter holiday season; however, during other times of the year, you can find a variety of museums, two music festivals (Turku Music Festival and Ruisrock), and the famous Paavo Nurmi Marathon held in the summer.
Which European city, not mentioned above, do you feel should be discovered by tourists? Let me know in the comments below.
Featured photo credit: BBC via ichef.bbci.co.uk