Discovering 10 Underrated Cities in Europe: Off-the-Beaten-Path Travel Ideas

Europe is a continent filled with hidden gems that are often overlooked by tourists. While popular destinations like Paris, Rome, and London are undoubtedly worth visiting, there’s something special about exploring lesser-known cities in Europe. These cities offer unique experiences, fewer crowds, and lower prices, making them perfect for travelers looking to discover a new side of European life.

Here are 10 lesser-known cities in Europe that are worth visiting for their rich history, cultural treasures, and culinary delights:

  1. Nafplio, Greece: This port city in Greece is known for its rich history and stunning architecture. Visitors can explore the Theater of Epidaurus or climb up to the Palamidi Fortress for breathtaking views of the city.
  2. Bruges, Belgium: This charming city is famous for its medieval tower Belfort and handmade chocolates. Visitors can also indulge in some of the best Belgian cuisine while exploring the picturesque streets.
  3. Liverpool, England: Liverpool is a cultural and musical destination famous for its landmarks like the Royal Albert Dock and museums like The Beatles Story.
  4. Bilbao, Spain: Bilbao is a cultural and culinary treasure with its Old Quarter, diverse neighborhoods, and unique Vizcaya Bridge.
  5. Plovdiv, Bulgaria: Plovdiv is the second-largest city in Bulgaria with a rich cultural history dating back to ancient times. Visitors can explore the Old Town or visit the Roman Amphitheater before checking out Kapana Creative District.
  6. Tartu, Estonia: Tartu is a charming university town with plenty to offer visitors including the Tartu Art Museum and Tartu Toy Museum.
  7. Cluj-Napoca, Romania: This bustling university town has plenty of attractions including St Michael’s Church and the National Museum of Transylvanian History.
  8. Ghent, Belgium: Ghent is another charming Belgian city known for its stunning architecture including St Bavo’s Cathedral and Gravensteen Castle.
  9. Riga, Latvia: Riga is a vibrant city with plenty of attractions including Riga Castle and St Peter’s Church.
  10. Kotor Bay Montenegro: Kotor Bay Montenegro offers stunning views of mountains meeting crystal clear waters along with historic landmarks such as Our Lady Of The Rocks church located on an island off shore

These cities offer something unique that you won’t find anywhere else in Europe. From historic landmarks to local cuisine to vibrant neighborhoods – each one has something special to offer visitors who are willing to explore beyond the beaten path.


Hi there! I’m Emily Parker, a travel enthusiast and writer who has had the pleasure of exploring some of the most beautiful and intriguing cities in Europe.

As someone who has traveled extensively across the continent, I am often asked about my favorite European destinations. While cities like Paris, Rome, and London are always at the top of the list, I always find myself eager to recommend some of the lesser-known gems that have captured my heart.

That’s why today, I want to share my personal list of 10 underrated cities in Europe that are worth exploring. From historic port towns to bustling university cities, these destinations offer a unique blend of culture, cuisine, and history that is sure to delight any traveler looking to discover a new side of Europe. So, without further ado, let’s dive in and discover some of Europe’s hidden treasures!


The idea of discovering 10 underrated cities in Europe may sound intriguing, and for good reason. There are so many great attractions and experiences that can be found by venturing off the beaten path, such as local cuisine and unique cultural experiences. Visiting lesser-known cities in Europe provides the opportunity to explore places that are not typical tourist traps yet offer a world of discovery and adventure.

Exploring these hidden gems also allows travelers to take advantage of more affordable prices than larger cities or resorts without compromising on quality or experience. Travelers can enjoy the local flavor from markets and eateries in towns still untouched by mass tourism, all while enjoying the convenience of being able to step onto public transportation with ease to get around quickly. The beauty of visiting small towns is being able to immerse oneself in a slower pace that is often missed when visiting bigger cities, allowing visitors time to simply sit back and observe their new environment at leisure.

Discovering overlooked destinations allows travelers the option to save money by avoiding excessive markups during peak seasons and provides an intimate, up-close view into each city’s culture and history – something which being immersed in locally created content will allow – each story conveys different perspectives than what has been seen through conventional media outlets or guidebooks. Whether it’s taking part in an off-the-beaten-path food tour or exploring forgotten palaces, there are plenty of adventurous possibilities awaiting those brave enough to test out uncharted waters!

Nafplio, Greece

When searching for unique and off-the-beaten-path travel ideas in Europe, look no further than Nafplio. Located in the beautiful region of Greece, Nafplio is a relatively unknown port city with rich history.

The first major point of interest is the Theater of Epidaurus, which was constructed during 340 B.C. It served as a healing arts venue featuring natural acoustics and pure materials from quartz to marble throughout its facade. The theater still stands today, showcasing stunning views and various performances throughout the year.

Another incredible destination in Nafpalio is Palamidi Fortress, built by Venetians in early 1700s for defensive purposes but now provides one of the most scenic locations in all of Greece. Located atop a steep hill at over 200 meters high, visitors can look out over miles of shoreline – offering generous views that extend far beyond what any camera lens can capture. Moreover, Palamidi Fortress contains an assortment of rooms and courtyards within its walls where interesting stories and artwork remain on display from centuries ago.

Overall, Nafplio provides an unforgettable journey into history with plenty to see and explore at every corner – making it one of Europe’s most underrated cities that often goes unnoticed by travelers on their way to more popular destinations!

Bruges, Belgium

Bruges is a city of canals and cobblestone streets that transports you to a bygone era. It is widely known for its enchanting fairytale-like atmosphere, delicious culinary delights, and quaint art galleries. Its establishment predates the 11th century, when it was formed as an important center of Flemish culture.

One of Bruges’ defining landmarks is the Belfort (Belfry Tower), located at 65m above the city center. This medieval tower gives visitors a fantastic viewpoint over the old city with views of the city’s numerous canals, channels and bustling squares with restaurants, cafes and bars radiating outwards from Markt Square. Tourists are also able to climb even higher up the narrow spiral staircase for panoramic views of Bruges rooftops.

While visiting Bruges it would be a crime to leave without trying some traditional Belgium chocolate. Chocolate makers in Bruges specialize in creating handmade chocolates from generations-old recipes that use local Belgian ingredients like honey and spices.

Tourists can take part in specialized chocolate making classes at shops around town to learn how to make their own delicious confections! Whether you choose to buy or make your chocolates one thing remains true – Bruges continues to offer some of the best handmade chocolates found anywhere in Europe!

Liverpool, England

Liverpool, England is an underrated city from Europe that deserves to be considered in any traveler’s off-the-beaten-path exploration plans. Featuring a unique blend of culture and music, this creative metropolis imbued with its own unique atmosphere provides more than enough reasons to visit.

A significant maritime port town, the city center is home to landmarks such as St. Luke’s “Bombed Out Church” and the Royal Albert Dock, both immortalized through iconic photographs.

Shopping areas like Cavern Walks are laden with independent boutiques stocked with colorful pieces while the artistic vibe continues in galleries found throughout the Metropolitan Borough of Liverpool (known locally as Liverpudlians!). Artwork by local talent can also be enjoyed at The Liverpool Biennial, Europe’s largest exhibition featuring contemporary art around the world.

If you’re looking for something musical, Liverpool has been immortalized in history books thanks to its influence on the Beatles’ story and impact on popular culture worldwide. Local purveyors like Captain John Lennon Tours will take travelers on a journey through John Lennon’s life for an entirely different and immersive experience! Another experience travelers shouldn’t miss is visiting Conwy Castle within steps of Wales’ connecting coastline for an unforgettable visit with magnificent views of surpassing mountains and riversides surrounding it.

No matter your reasons for traveling to Europe, consider adding Liverpool to your list of destinations during your off-the-beaten-path journey. You won’t regret it!

Bilbao, Spain

Bilbao, Spain marks the perfect destination for travelers looking to experience a little bit of everything. This unique and vibrant city has been given a second life thanks to its transformation in recent years, becoming both a cultural and culinary treasure. Bilbao is located in the province of Biscay, on the Basque Country’s northern coast.

The Old Quarter is where visitors will find some of Bilbao’s oldest architecture, with diverse sets of neighborhoods filled with baroque, renaissance, and modernist buildings. Head to Ribera neighborhood where you can explore Calle San Juan as well as Santos Juan Konstitutuko Church. The Plaza Nueva district also promises plenty of Baroque-era architecture for sightseeing and plenty of upscale shops for souvenirs.

Be sure not to miss out on one of Spain’s unique landmarks: The Vizcaya Bridge (puente de vizcaya), connecting Portugalete and Las Arenas across the Estuary of Bilbao. Built between 1893-1894 out iron and steel it was innovative for its time, considered an engineering feat that brought rail transport from Spain’s North to Europe at large. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2006!

Layout aside, Vizcaya Bridge also gives guests incredible views along its walking areas – perfect if you enjoy panoramic vistas by foot!

No matter what adventure you seek during your travels in Bilbao, this underrated city will let you discover off-the-beaten-path journeys while learning more about their historic and cultural aspects. Indeed it is something every traveler should consider during their visit in Europe!

Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Plovdiv, Bulgaria is one of the most underrated cities in Europe. Located in the foothills of the Rhodope Mountains, Plovdiv is the second-largest city in Bulgaria and has a rich cultural history that encompasses the Ottoman Empire and Ancient Rome. It has been named one of two European Capitals of Culture for 2019 and is quickly becoming a go-to destination for those looking to explore off-the-beaten-path travel ideas.

One must-see area in Plovdiv is its Old Town, which features cobblestone streets and restored 19th-century homes as well as some iconic Roman ruins such as an amphitheater where performances still take place today. Visitors can enjoy leisurely strolls through this charming area while admiring colorful architecture painted in red, yellow, pink, and blue.

In addition to its ancient roots, Plovdiv is renowned for its creative scene with many galleries and cafes located in the Kapana creative district or “The Trap“. This lively neighborhood is a hub for local artists who have their own unique shops and cafes spread out over 500 metres. It’s also home to monthly art festivals such as Artplay Fest and KapanaFest that bring together independent filmmakers, music performers, poster designers and visual artists from all around the world who showcase their latest works here.

Whether you’re looking for a culture filled getaway or to immerse yourself into an artistic experience overseas – Plovdiv offers something special that cannot be found anywhere else!

Tartu, Estonia

Tartu is a charming university town in Estonia, full of delightful surprises. Visitors here will appreciate Tartu’s interesting mix of modern and traditional architecture, with centuries-old buildings nestled alongside stylish high rises. With its many cafés, pubs, parks, and churches – there’s something to see and do around every corner.

The Tartu Art Museum is certainly worth checking out, particularly the part devoted to historic Estonian paintings from the 17th century onwards. The Tartu Toy Museum is also interesting for kids – it houses over 5000 antique toys from all over the world! Meanwhile for another taste of Estonia’s culture and history, head to the Tartu Market Hall. The bustling building hosts stalls selling fresh local produce along with traditional handicrafts and souvenirs.

In summary, Tartu is a great overlooked spot in Europe offering gorgeous architecture and plenty of cultural activities along with shopping and dining opportunities. Whether you come as a couple or family they’re sure you find something amazing in this city off the beaten path!

Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Cluj-Napoca is a lively and vibrant city located in the heart of Romania. The city is known for its vibrant university life and bustling nightlife, but there is much more to discover in this beautiful destination! Cluj-Napoca dates back to the Roman Empire and is often referred to as the “Paris of Transylvania” due to its mix of historical architecture.

One of the most impressive landmarks in Cluj-Napoca is St. Michael’s Church, an enchanting 16th century architectural building. Visitors can appreciate the church’s tall spire which was once used as a watchtower against invading armies, as well as admire the intricate interior frescoes that depict scenes from Biblical stories.

The historic center also features other remarkable sites such as Unirii Square with its imposing bronze eagle sculptures, while cultural attractions include Romania’s famous Turda Salt Mine which was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 2017. First opened in 1782, visitors can explore unique underground salt sculpted galleries filled with massive halls and towering salt cathedral sculptures up to 65 meters high.

With so much to unearth and explore, it’s no wonder why this underrated Romanian city has been gaining ground as one of Europe’s hidden gems – offering travelers an off-the-beaten path travel experience!

Ghent, Belgium

Ghent, Belgium is an underrated city in Europe with a rich, medieval history and full of vibrant culture that should not be missed! Located in the Flemish region, the city contains notable historical monuments among many other attractions. Ghent’s charm has generated a great number of off-the-beaten-path travel ideas for visitors who are looking for an authentic experience untouched by tourism.

The most indicative tourist attraction of Ghent’s influential past is the Castle of the Counts or Gravensteen, built in 1180 by Count Philip of Alsace. The imposing medieval fortress features eight towers encircled by towers and offer sublime views of Flemish architecture adorning Gothic spires. Besides viewing this iconic monument, tourists can explore fascinating winding alleys or wander along canals to discover Ghent’s cobblestone streets and centuries-old architecture juxtaposed with modern cafes and restaurants.

The local food and drink culture also makes Ghent attractive to food lovers. Sample traditional Belgian cuisine such as mussels and fries while trying out unique beers brewed at the Gruut brewery with recipes dating back to the Middle Ages! Tourists must also not miss out on the well-known chocolate factory producing delicious sweet treats that can definitely satisfy any craving.

Visiting off-the-beaten path destinations like Ghent make for a more memorable travel experience. With its incredible blend of historic castles, modern attractions, delicious food options, craft beers and addictive sweets, discovering this underrated Belgian city is one journey you would never regret taking!

Riga, Latvia

Riga, the capital city of Latvia, offers a unique travel experience for those looking for something a bit more off-the-beaten-path. This charming northern European city boasts a rich architectural heritage that is sure to captivate even the most experienced traveler.

The Old Town of Riga is one of the gems of this city, boasting incredible historic landmarks such as The Dome Cathedral and House of Blackheads. These stunning examples of Gothic architecture impress with their beauty and intricacy. Tourists can marvel at these sites while wandering through cobbled streets as they explore what this part of the city has to offer.

In addition to its awe-inspiring architecture, Riga also offers travelers access to one of Europe’s largest markets within its Central Market near Old Town. Ample stalls and foodie finds ensure that visitors will find something to meet their needs or taste buds. Here shoppers can find fresh produce, homemade meals or traditional Latvian handicrafts that offer great souvenirs for friends or family back home.

Visiting Riga for an off-the-beaten-path experience ensures both culture immersion and plenty of fantastic memories you’ll remember well long past your trip ends!


As a conclusion to discovering 10 underrated cities in Europe, we invite our readers to indulge in off-the-beaten-path travel experiences. When done right, visiting lesser-known cities can give you an intimate and authentic connection to Europe which you can experience nowhere else. From culture and history to local markets and narrow alleyways – these cities offer visitors the opportunity to explore a different side of European life that cannot be found anywhere else.

To wrap up our journey of exploration, we urge all adventurous souls out there to take up the invitation. All of the cities listed here are wonderful destinations that deserve more attention than what they currently receive – so plan your next trip and get ready for a truly unique experience!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: What are some of the best-underrated cities to visit in Europe?

A1: Some of the best-underrated cities to visit in Europe include Lisbon, Portugal; Krakow, Poland; Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina; Riga, Latvia; Tallinn, Estonia; Bologna, Italy; Vilnius, Lithuania; Dresden, Germany; Split, Croatia; and Palermo, Sicily.

Q2: What is the best way to explore these underrated cities?

A2: The best way to explore these underrated cities is to get off the beaten path and explore the local culture and attractions. Walking tours, bike tours, and day trips are great ways to get to know the city, as well as visiting local restaurants and cafes to get a taste of the local cuisine.

Q3: What are some of the attractions in these cities?

A3: Some of the attractions in these cities include historic sites, unique architecture, beautiful beaches and parks, vibrant nightlife, and delicious cuisine. For example, Lisbon has the São Jorge Castle, the Jeronimos Monastery, and the Belem Tower; Krakow has the Wawel Castle, the Old Town, and the Rynek Glowny; and Sarajevo has the Latin Bridge, the Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque, and the Sebilj Fountain.

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Jonathan Holmes

Jonathan Holmes is the CEO of Content Forge, a leading content service provider. With over 15 years of experience in the content industry, Jonathan has established himself as a thought leader in content creation, distribution, and marketing. Prior to founding Content Forge, Jonathan held senior leadership positions at several content marketing agencies, where he honed his expertise in developing data-driven content strategies for clients across industries.

Under Jonathan's leadership, Content Forge has become a trusted partner for businesses seeking to improve their online presence through high-quality content. Jonathan is committed to providing exceptional customer service and delivering results-driven content solutions that meet the unique needs of each client. When he's not working, Jonathan enjoys spending time with his family and exploring the great outdoors.

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