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The Most Underrated Cities in Europe (Part I)

Introduction: Europe is undoubtedly one of the most popular continents for travelers of all types. Many of the world’s most well-known and popular destinations are in Europe, including Paris, Rome, Venice, Barcelona, and Amsterdam. However, Europe is also full of underrated cities that have much to offer travelers and are worth a visit.

Highlights: Discover all these great cities have to offer, including the colorful Nyhavn of Coppenhagen, visiting the chocolate museum of Hamburg, glassblowing in Waterford, walking cobblestone streets in Cologne, exploring Spilberk Castle in Brno, try a Maltese dish in Valleta, swim the beaches in Herceg Novi, and more!

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Strasbourg, France

Written By I Know The Pilot

France is famous for many reasons – beautiful cities, delicious food, fascinating culture – and lets not forget the wine! There are so many amazing places and regions to visit, tourists can be spoilt for choice. However, it is often the slightly underrated, off-the-beaten-track spots that really take us by surprise and provide amazing memories for years to come. 

Hiding in the far East of France, close to the German border, is a stunning city called Strasbourg – full of colourful wooden houses, unique culture and shopping, beautiful churches and delicious cuisine. There are four bridges along the border which connect France with Germany, and the city truly represents a merging of countries and culture. 

Capital of the ‘Alsace’ region, Strasbourg has a lot to offer any type of traveler – many travel there for the stunning colourful wooden buildings lining the narrow lanes and the river. Visitors can take a boat ride through the city, which provides the perfect vantage point to take in the views. Alsatian cuisine blends the best of French and German food – make sure you try some of the pretzels, available from street vendors, or the famous ‘tarte flambe’, a pizza-like dish with a thin crust and variety of toppings to choose from. 

Not only is it the seat of the European Parliament, Strasbourg is also located directly in the most productive beer region in France, as well as right on the ‘Route des Vins’, the Alsatian Wine Trail trail. There are plenty of breweries within the city, or wine lovers can opt to take a day trip to some of the amazing varietal wineries near the city.  

No trip to Strasbourg is complete without a visit to the amazing cathedral; to be honest, it is hard to miss! Dominating the city skyline, the Gothic building spans several centuries of architectural styles and showcases a stunning interior to match it’s awe-inspiring exterior. Don’t forget to check out the famous Astronomical Clock, and visitors can climb the tower for amazing views of the city. Concerts and events also often take place in the Cathedral plaza, especially in Summer!

If the sights start to bore you (though we doubt it), there are a number of museums and other sites of interest to check out, including the Alsatian Museum, a Zoo, an Opera and Theatre, a science museum, a variety of art museums; not to mention the Palais des Rohan, the parks, other churches and synagogues, or trips to the nearby cities of Colmar, Kaysersberg or Eguisheim (say that five times fast!). In Summer, there are plenty of events across the city to keep you occupied, and in Winter the amazing Christmas events and traditional markets bring a festive vibe to Strasbourg. 

Easy to get to, visitors can utilise public transport such as the extensive train and bus network, or fly directly to the city’s airport (though it is quite small, with limited airline access). The nearest major airport is Frankfurt, roughly two hours away on the train, or people can take a high-speed train from Paris and be there in roughly the same time. There are many options for those that want to stay, from five-star hotels through to boutique guesthouses, bed and breakfasts and funky hostels (we loved the ‘Graffalgar’ hotel, with every room featuring a graffiti design from a local artist). 

Strasbourg is a beautiful, historically significant, fun city to visit! Don’t miss out on this amazing spot on your next trip through France (or Germany). 

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Photo by Sebastiano Piazzi on Unsplash

Gijon, Spain

Written By A World to Travel

It’s easy to fall in love with Northern Spain, if you don’t mind its weather. 
Surely different from the idea many have about this country, this part of the Iberian peninsula has not much to do with stereotypes such as flamenco, sangria, paella, and bullfighting. 
And that is perfectly fine. Especially for those trying to avoid crowds and busy destinations. The fact that this part of the country is off the path for many makes it even more special. 

One of the cities I like the most in this area is Gijon, in Asturias. Between the Cantabric sea and the mountains, the size of this city makes it perfect for everyone looking for a compromise among all things urban and nature. Something very attractive for active travelers, they will find the things it offers are many. From surfing to paragliding, the number of different things to do in Gijon won’t let them have a dull moment if they don’t want to. 

Other than that, Gijon is a great place to experience the world-famous Asturias cuisine. Fabada and cachopo are among the dishes to try there. Also apple cider. Pouring it out in the Asturian way is an art that entertains tourists day in day out. All in all, Gijon is a city full of life that welcomes its visitors with open arms and without any doubt, one of the places I would move to in a whim.

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Gijon, Spain. Photo Credit: A World to Travel.

Copenhagen, Denmark

Written by TravelNuity

While Copenhagen may not be top of your mind when you think of gorgeous European cities to visit, a visit to Copenhagen is sure to delight you. With beautiful historic buildings, sparkling waterways, renown gastronomy and Scani-chic designer hotels, the city is perfect for a short getaway.

Any visit to Copenhagen has to include a visit to Nyhavn, or New Harbour, the 17th-century port lined with colourful houses and a popular spot for both locals and visitors alike on a sunny day. It’s also one of the departure points for a boat trip on the harbour, another must-do, which will include a brief cruise past the famous Little Mermaid statue. (Otherwise it’s not worth the trek out to the somewhat underwhelming icon.) Instead, perhaps consider crossing over the harbour to Freetown Christiania, an at-times controversial commune that reveals a different side to Danish culture. 

While Copenhagen may be famous for top-rated restaurants such as Noma, a visit to one of the local food markets such as Torvehallerne is a more accessible way to experience Danish cuisine. The open-faced sandwiches known as Smørrebrød are a must-try, particularly topped with the locally made pickled herring. 

It’s also a must to stop at one of the gourmet hot dogs stands scattered around the city. The Danes have elevated this humble item to an art-form, adding a variety of gourmet toppings. Alternatively, during the winter months, stop off in one of the many bakeries to load up on pastries, an essential element of hygge (the Danish concept of cosiness).

Are you a pet lover? Visit this great city with your dog!

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Copenhagen Photo Credit: Travlnuity

Sofia, Bulgaria

Written by Live Dream Discover

Bulgaria is still not really on the tourist radar but that’s starting to change due in large part to the vibrant city of Sofia. This capital city is one of the oldest cities in Europe and has an interesting though often tumultuous history that can be seen and felt as you walk the streets. Having said that, there’s also a youthful population that is more than ready to welcome all things new and innovative. All these things make Sofia a destination that offers a blend of historic sights, interesting culture and a lively social scene, all at a very affordable price. Which is why now is the time to go!

One of the most unique things about Sofia is what they call the “Square fo Religious Tolerance” It’s so named because of the square that is formed by the different religious buildings of the Catholic Cathedral of Saint Joseph, the Sofia Synagogue, the Banya Bashi Mosque, and the Eastern Orthodox St Nedelya Church. It’s a perfect example of Sofia’s varied history and influences and how it’s creating a beautiful melting pot.

Other sights include Saint George Rotunda, Saint Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, and several Roman ruins. When you’re ready to eat, drink, and shop head to the pedestrianized Vitosha Boulevard for a colorful variety of restaurants, bars, and stores. Speaking of food, you may be pleasantly surprised at the variety of delicious fresh meals. Be sure to try a fresh-baked banista, a delicious shopska salad, and meshana skara (mixed grilled meats).

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St. Alexander Nevski Church. Photo Credit: Live Dream Discover.

Hamburg, Germany

Written by Gustobeats

Hamburg, is truly the heart of Europe if you are talking about international logistics, trading, and economics, and it is a great city to explore as well. The most famous of Hamburg is its port area. From there, you can enjoy a long harbor walk to the famous Warehouse District, Speicherstadt, which is also inside the HafenCity quarter. For modern architecture lovers, a visit to Elbphilharmonie in HafenCity is a must. Elbphilharmonie is one of the largest and advanced concert halls in the world and it has a cute nickname “Elphi”.

Hamburg offers much more than only its port. You can visit St.Michael’s Church in the city center. It is not only a landmark of Hamburg but also a great Baroque-style church in 132 meters high. You can climb up to the top and have the best view of the whole city, and enjoy a different view from behind the huge bronze statue of the Angel Michael and devil. Hamburg also hosts a few large museums and galleries for classical and contemporary art. I highly recommend Kunsthalle Hamburg if you don’t have much time in the city. We’ve also been to a chocolate museum called Chocoversum. It’s a chocolate-making tour which shows how chocolates are made from cacao trading till mixing with milk and sugar. It includes a short interactive section of making-your-own-chocolate which is the best for kids and “adult-kids”. A trip to Hamburg cannot be without a night in Reeperbahn or Große Freiheit in St.Pauli district. It is just an experience of Hamburg’s vivid nightlife and free spirit.

Walking inside the city center, there are many art shops and interesting German restaurants for typical German food. A large cup of coffee with a typical Hamburg Franzbrötchen is good for a sweet breakfast. You cannot miss Currywurst either. It can be a simple street food for a quick bite, but also good to enjoy it on a big plate with some fried potato chips in a typical German bar.

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City View from St. Angelo Michael Church Bell Tower. Photo Credit: Gustobeats.

Waterford City, Ireland

Written by Travel Around Ireland

A city in Ireland that is often overlooked and is probably one of the most underrated cities in Europe is Waterford. Located in the south eastern corner of Ireland, Waterford is a city that should not be skipped.

Waterford is Ireland’s oldest city, having been established 74 years before Dublin by the Vikings. It was an important settlement and also became Ireland’s second city during medieval times. It is part of Ireland’s Ancient East and is steeped in history.

Waterford is most famous for its crystal and glassblowing with the Waterford Crystal Visitor Centre offering visitors a chance to see how pieces of the world-famous crystal are made and there is a retail shop there too. This visitor’s centre borders what is known as the Viking Triangle of Waterford.

This part of the city is where you will find the oldest parts of the city and where the likes of Reginald’s Tower can be found. Reginald’s Tower is Ireland’s oldest civic urban building and is also home to the Viking Museum where you can see artifacts from the era. Make sure to see if you can spot the cannon ball still embedded in the outer walls. Directly outside the Tower is a replica of a Viking long-boat. Reginald’s Tower, along with the Medieval Museum and Bishop’s Palace Museum make up the Viking Triangle. See if you can spot parts of the 1000-year old Viking city walls.

Another great place to visit in Waterford lies just 5km from the city centre. Waterford Castle is a medieval castle which lies on an island in the River Suir. It is reachable by a small car ferry and is now a hotel and gold resort, although the grounds are open to the public. You could enjoy a spot of lunch in the restaurant (provided it is not closed for a private wedding) before taking a stroll through the grounds and seeing if you can spot the resident deer.

One of the best ways to explore Waterford is on the tourist train that meanders around the city while giving you an in-depth introduction to the city and its history. It is a covered train meaning you can still discover the city even if the typical Irish weather closes in. Afterwards, stop into one of the many pubs and warm yourself over a bowl of Irish Stew or the soup of the day. Ask for some Irish soda bread to dip into it. And if you stay long enough you could be enjoying a spot of live music over your pint of Guinness.

Waterford is a great city to visit in Ireland and is a must if you are planning to spend time along the East Coast of Ireland. Waterford is around two hours from Dublin so you could enjoy both cities during one trip.

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Waterford Castle. Photo Credit: Passports and Adventures.

Cologne, Germany

Written by Emma Adventures

Cologne is a gorgeous city located in the West of Germany, on the famous Rhine River. Just an hour north of Frankfurt by train, Cologne is often skipped by tourists visiting the area, but it is well worth a visit. Known for its Gothic architecture, amazing art scene, its food and the fact that it’s an authentic German city. 

Easily the most popular sight is Cologne Cathedral, a hugely impressive cathedral in the centre of the city which has been standing since 1880. After admiring the cathedral from every angle, you can climb the 533 stairs to the top for incredible views of the city. Make sure to head to Museum Ludwig to admire art from the likes of Picasso, and head to Hohenzollern Bridge, the famous ‘love locks’ bridge. For scenic views of the city and the cathedral, head across the river to Cologne Triangle, where you can head to the 29thfloor to admire incredible views which are even better at night time. You can also go on a cruise on the Rhine River, and shop on Germany’s busiest shopping street, Schildergasse. 

Head to Cologne’s old town on the banks of the river to wander and admire the authentic feel and colourful buildings. This is also the perfect spot to stop for a drink or meal, with the cobblestone streets lined with cafes, bars and restaurants. Make sure to try a Kolsch, Cologne’s draft beer, and shop for souvenirs in one of the many shops. 

You really can’t miss a visit to Cologne when in Germany. Admire the amazing architecture and art, shop, eat and drink and simply take in the feel of an authentic Germany city. You won’t regret it!

Find more reasons to visit Cologne

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Cologne Cathedral. Photo Credit:Emma Adventures.

Syracuse, Italy

Written By Smudged Postcard

When people visit Sicily, it tends to be Taormina which is top of the list. However, if you travel an hour south of Catania airport you’ll reach the city of Syracuse, which is well worth a few days of exploration.

The historic heart of Syracuse is the island of Ortigia which consists of a warren of medieval narrow streets. Most streets lead to views of the dazzling Mediterranean Sea while others streets head into the centre of the island and its most dramatic square: Piazza Del Duomo.

In Piazza Del Duomo, visitors can enjoy a coffee or granita at one of the many cafes and then sit back and admire the incredible cathedral. Built on the site of an Ancient Greek temple, there are still several Doric columns incorporated into what is now a predominantly Baroque edifice dating from the 17th century. There are also elements of Arabic and Norman influences reflecting the complex history of Sicily.

If you’re looking for things to do in Syracuse with kids, you’re in for a treat. There’s an excellent puppet theatre where children are reserved front row seats. Kids will also enjoy exploring the waterfront battlements of 13th century Castello Maniace where they can play at both pirates and knights in one setting.

Another highlight of a visit to Syracuse is the archaeological park, just outside the city centre. Here you’ll find the remains of both a Greek and Roman amphitheatre as well as an interesting man-made cave called the Ear of Dionysius where the Emperor apparently listened to his prisoners’ wails.

If you’re visiting Syracuse in the summer months, there’s a string of appealing beaches close by. However, the city is so beautiful you’ll likely find it hard to leave. There are countless restaurants and cafes to try. Ensure you sample a delicious granita which is a coarse version of sorbet but no less delicious.

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Piazza del Duomo. Photo Credit: Smudged Postcard.

Brno, Czech Republic

Written By Czech the World

Brno is the second-largest city of the Czech Republic and the capital of the Moravia region. Brno presents a perfect combination of history and a modern city. It was voted as the 6th most favorite student city in the world. (1) In Brno, you will find remarkable places, as well as delicious food, cozy cafes and world-famous beer, which isn’t just great but also very cheap!

Once you are there, do a self-guided tour around the center and visit Brno’s main dominants – the Špilberk Castle, which is a massive baroque citadel with extensive casemates as well as the most iconic building of Brno – Petrov Cathedral. Another very impressive place, that should be on your list, is St. James Ossuary, which is the second-largest ossuary in Europe! If you find yourself as a fan of modern architecture, you shouldn’t miss Vila Tugendhat – villa built in functionalist style in 1929-30, which is listed among UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Here, you can find also other places and things to do in Brno.

Once you are in the Czech Republic, try also some local cuisine. Czech cuisine is quite heavy but delicious. There are some of the most typical national dishes:

  •  Svíčková – a creamy vegetable sauce, served with dumplings, sirloin steak and a little bit of whipped cream and cranberry sauce.
  • Vepřo – knedlo – zelo – roasted pork with dumplings and sauerkraut.
  •  Guláš – a stew from beef or pork prepared with onions, red peppers, and other spices, served with dumplings. It’s a bit different from Hungarian Goulash.

One day is just the right amount of time to visit all the important places! Everything in the city center is within walking distance. In case you have some extra time, you can make a short trip to Brno dam and Veveří Castle. 

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Bucharest, Romania

Written By The World As I See It

If you’re looking for an incredible European city that is underrated then consider Bucharest, Romania. Located in Eastern Europe’s Balkans region, Bucharest has endless reasons to visit, one of which for some is to learn about the man behind the Dracula legend – Vlad Tepes. But there’s so much more to Bucharest and Romania for that fact. The architecture of Bucharest is an interesting mix of Parisian and communist but is also full of parks and charming narrow streets.  For budget travelers you’ll love the ability to fully enjoy Bucharest without a big price tag. Romania still runs off of their own currency, the Leu. It’s a cheap city to visit, for European standards, with affordable deals on great hotels, cheap meals, and affordable attractions.

There are endless things to do in Bucharest, with something for every traveler’s interest, from museums to parks and even a vibrant nightlife scene. Some of the top things to do in Bucharest include visiting the Palace of the Parliament, the second largest administrative building in the world, wandering the old town, strolling through Cişmigiu Park, the city’s oldest park that’s located in the city center, and popping by Old Princely Court to meet Vlad the Impaler. If you’re looking for awesome museums try Bucharest History & Art Museum as well as Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum. And if you have more time, I dare you to take a day trip to visit Bran Castle, the inspiration behind Bram Stoker’s Dracula’s castle.

So, if you’re looking for an amazing European city to visit that hasn’t been overrun with tourists, is budget-friendly, and full of history, charm, and edge, then choose Bucharest for your next destination.

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Bucharest Park. Photo Credit:The World As I See It.

Valletta, Malta

Written By Dukes Avenue

I may be a little biased because I grew up in Malta, but the charm of the capital city Valletta is undeniable. So undeniable in fact, that I also chose it as my wedding location in 2016.  It’s a fortress city named after its founder, Grand Master of the Order of St. John, Jean Parisot de la Valette, and is known as the ‘a city built by gentlemen, for gentlemen’. And whilst this statement may be a little antiquated, it gives a little insight to the city’s elegance and grandeur.

Valletta is one of Europe’s smallest capital cities, with a population of around 7,000 inhabitants – but it definitely packs a punch. There is so much to see that you could easily fill up a whole day exploring.

Wander around and admire the grandiose baroque palaces, gardens and churches. Start with the Triton Fountain, as it sits just at the entrance to the city. A visit to Upper Barrakka and the Saluting Battery is an absolute must if you are looking for sensational views of the Grand Harbour. For those that are more into their history, you’ll definitely want to check out the Grandmaster’s Palace and the National War Museum, as well as St. John’s Co-Cathedral. Casa Rocco Piccola is also worth exploring – it’s a 16th century palace belonging to a Maltese noble family, and despite being an attraction, it remains a much-loved family home.

And when you finally get tired of exploring all the side streets and secrets of this beautiful city, book a table at well-known Rubino’s – an Italian trattoria serving some of the finest Maltese cuisine. Fried rabbit is a traditional Maltese dish, so if you see it on the menu that day, it’s the dish I would recommend choosing!

Valletta is also home to some stunning boutique hotels which were once grand palazzos. You’ll be spoilt for choice, but 66 St Paul’s is my favourite!

Valletta is a great destination for a hen party! Find more info here.

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Maltese Balconies. Photo Credit: Duke’s Avenue.

Herceg Novi, Montenegro

Written By Sam Sees World

Many places in Europe are ignored due to more popular and talked about places nearby getting all the attention. This is especially true for the beautiful and underrated city of Herceg Novi, Montenegro. Herceg Novi sits at the top of Montenegro near the Croatian border with the base of the city sitting along the waterline of the Bay of Kotor. The city is full of character and authentic Montenegrin elements which makes it an amazing place to visit.

However, Herceg Novi often gets ignored due to its close proximity with Kotor and Dubrovnik, but skipping this Adriatic gem is nothing short of a mistake. The other two destinations are packed with tourists which makes exploring very unenjoyable and lessens the authenticity of exploring a foreign country. Whereas Herceg Novi welcomes significantly fewer tourists with all the same beauty. Here you can explore and feel lost in a foreign country full of beauty and surprises.

There is also a ton to do in Herceg Novi. The main thing to do is swimming in the water from one of the many beaches in the town! The water here is vivid blue and amazing for swimming in. You can also enjoy some more cultural aspects of the city like going to the old clock tower or one of the forts that used to defend the city in times of battle. More so, you can eat at some of the delicious restaurants that serve authentic Montenegrin dishes like Cevapcici, which are essentially little sausages.

This is a place you do not want to miss in your European adventures. A place where the cultures, city, and life have been relatively untouched by tourism and you can get lost in the streets without feeling like one in a thousand other tourists. 

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Herceg Novi. Photo Credit: Sam Sees World.

Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Written By Nomad Blood

I might be a bit biased as I live here, but for me Cluj-Napoca is an amazing city to visit (if not the best) if you are thinking of coming to Romania. If you did not know that, Cluj is the second largest city in the county after Bucharest, and it is considered the unofficial capital of Transylvania ( yes, that Tranyslvania).

The city has a lot to offer : historic buildings and monuments, museums, nature, nightlife and music festivals. So if you are looking for history, you are in luck. Make sure to check out The National History Museum of Transylvania, Pharmacy Museum, Ethnographic Museum, or just take a walk around Saint Michael’s Church or Matthias Corvinus House.

Do you enjoy your time in nature? Cluj has a lot of beautiful parks ( Cetățuia, Central Park, The Botaical Garden) and two forests, one of which was voted as the most hunted forest in the world, if you are into that. But Cluj is really known for the nightlife and music festivals. If you wanna go out you can find anything from hipster cafes, thematic pubs, beautiful garden terraces, and wild parties. But what attracts the most tourists in Cluj are the main festivals: Untold and Electric Castles. Not only are they the largest festivals in the country, but some of the largest in Europe, with an attendance between them of over 500,000 people. So make sure to add Cluj-Napoca to your travel bucket list, as I promise you will not regret it.

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Replica of the moon at Piarist Church of Cluj. Photo Credit: Nomad Blood.

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Written By Backpack Adventures

Sarajevo is a great city to visit. Yet it receives few visitors compared to some other European capitals. Even though there are no famous tourist attractions, there are lots of things to do in Sarajevo for those interested in history, culture and delicious food. People are just not yet aware of everything the city has to offer.

Let’s start with the Bascarsija. The city’s historical center let’s you travel back to Ottoman times with its cobblestoned streets, mosques, bazaars and cozy restaurants. It feels a bit like a miniature istanbul, but than much smaller, less crowded and more authentic.

There are plenty of teahouses to sit down and try some herbal tea or Bosnian coffee with sweet pastries like baklava. For lunch try some burek. These phyllo dough pastries come with fillings of meat, cheese or spinach and are absolutely delicious. The bosnian version of kebab, cevapcici is also a must try.

Other attractions in Sarajevo include its elegant Austrio-Hungarian architecture, some interesting museums about the Bosnian civil war, the markale market, the latin bridge and the city hall. There is enough to do in the city itself for a day or two.

Another reason not to skip Sarajevo as a destination is its scenic surroundings. It lies in a valley with green rolling hills on each side. The mountains are great for hiking in summer and winter sports in winter. Getting there is easy with the new cable car up to mount trebevic where you will find the abandoned bobsleigh tracks of the 1984 winter olympics.

For more nature you can also visit Vrelo Bosne. A large park in the suburbs of the city where you will find the spring of the Bosne river that runs through the city. As you can see there is a huge variety of things to do that makes Sarajevo well worth a visit. 

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Sarajevo. Photo Credit: Backpack Adventures.

Tirana, Albania

Written By Lemons and Luggage

When talking about the most underrated cities in Europe you can’t forget about Tirana. Albania’s capital is not very popular with tourists. A negative reputation based on the country’s misrepresentation in certain blockbuster movies has kept tourists away from the city for too long. Because Tirana is actually a safe city that has changed a lot in recent years.

The ugly Communist-style architecture was improved by painting the walls in bright colors. This was the former mayor’s attempt to improve the quality of life in the city. And it seems to have worked. Additionally, bike lanes and big boulevards make it very easy to explore and get around the city.

There are many reasons you should visit Tirana. But perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the city is its multi-religious identity. In Tirana, you will find mosques and churches within walking distance from each other.

The center of the modern city is Skanderbeg Square with a statue of Skanderbeg and a huge Albanian flag. Here, you can visit Et’hem Bey Mosque and Tirana’s landmark, the Clock Tower. A few steps from the square there are several beautiful, colorful government buildings.

Another highlight of Tirana is Murat Toptani Street. This pedestrian street is also where you can see the walls of the Fortress of Justinian.

If you want more background information about the city pay a visit to the National History Museum, the National Gallery, or the House of Leaves. The latter is the Museum of Secret Surveillance which portrays the horrifying life under the dictatorship. An absolute must if you want to understand the city’s past.

But Tirana also has a vibrant nightlife. The Blloku neighborhood is the best place to look for trendy bars and cafés. During the dictatorship, only government officials were permitted entrance to the neighborhood. But now the young people of Tirana have turned it into the center of Albania’s nightlife.

Don’t miss out on visiting Albania’s capital! You will love the welcoming young population of Tirana. Since relatively few tourists make it to Tirana, the local population appreciates them so much more.

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Skanderbeg Square. Photo Credit: Lemons and Luggage.

Bade Baden, Germany

Written By Spa Wellness Destinations

Baden Baden is one of the most famous spa towns in the world. This beautiful German town is a wonderful destination to visit at all times of year and especially during winter. 

Baden Baden boast an imposing wellness infrastructure and is home to twelve springs which are located 2,000 meters underground. One of the most prominent and impressive bathing facilities, the temple of well-being is the Friedrichsbad where guests can enjoy the delightful Roman bath facilities and get closer to discovering the bathing traditions.

During the holidays season, Baden Baden transforms into a winter wonderland where you will discover delightful Christmas markets set in the gardens right in front of the illuminated Kurhaus, in the Kurhaus Colonnade and in the central square.  As the air fills with the sweet smell of mulled wines and the city lights up with thousands of Christmas lights, there are hundreds of stalls selling local crafts and delicious snacks like German sausages and potato fritters.  At the Festival Hall Baden-Baden which is one of the largest classical music venues in Europe and the largest opera house in Germany visitors may enjoy an evening of opera and other cultural classics. Baden Baden is also home to a glorious casino, the opulent Belle Epoque environment is a truly magical experience, even if you are not that much into casinos — this building is a rare jewel. Baden Baden is also a great city to enjoy numerous day trips to other popular German towns. 

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Baden Baden. Photo Credit: Spa Wellness Destinations.

Jerez de la Frontera, Spain

Written By Andalucia In My Pocket

Jerez de la Frontera is one of those hidden gems of Spain that not many people get to visit. Located close to Cadiz, in Andalucia, Jerez de la Frontera is known for three things: the birthplace of flamenco, the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Arts and the sherry production.

Walking along the narrow streets of the old town of Jerez de la Frontera feels magical because of all the rhythms of flamenco that spread into the air from one tablao or another. In the evenings, locals gather at their neighbourhood pena and watch flamenco performances. Tourists go to the tabalo – a flamenco bar, where they can enjoy the famous Spanish performance over a delicious local dinner.

One of the tourist attractions in Jerez de la Frontera is sherry tasting at one of the bodegas in town. Usually, factories and distilleries are built outside towns. However, in Jerez, they are in the city centre. Sherry is a fortified wine known all over the world as a sweet aperitif. In Jerez, this type of sherry is mostly made for export, and it called “crema de sherry”. The original sherry is dry and clear, with an earthy aroma. Sherry can only be produced in Spain, in an area called the “Sherry Triangle”, between Jerez de la Frontera, Puerto de Santa Maria and San Lucar de Barrameda.

The Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Arts is one of the four most prestigious in the world. Here you can see how the horses are trained and learn about the art of horse riding in Andalucia in the attached museum. Every day you can watch a fantastic demonstration of equestrian ballet in which the horses seem to dance on classical Spanish music.

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Jerez de la Frontera. Photo Credit: Andalucia In My Pocket.

Cardiff, Wales

Written By Run with Amber

Cardiff, Wales is a city you shouldn’t pass up if you find yourself in the UK. While largely overshadowed by it’s big city friend, London, 3 hours away, there’s something about Cardiff that makes you feel right at home. 

With London being the big famous city that it is, it gets a lot of tourists. In Cardiff, while tourists do go there, it’s not overrun by them. There’s space without crowds, has the most lovely, intoxicating smelling fresh air you’ll ever breathe, and enough trails to keep you busy for hours, which includes some great views of the River Taff that runs through the city to Cardiff bay. 

Cardiff’s city life definitely gives you your pick of cafes, bars, and restaurants. You won’t have a hard time finding the type of food you might be craving. All different types of cuisine, and I can say that the Indian food at the Spice Quarter is some of the best I’ve had in the UK. You can also head down to Cardiff Bay if you’re in the mood for a waterfront view with your meal, or coffee. 

Wales is famous for castles, and you can see quite a few in Cardiff. Cardiff Castle is in the town center, right in the middle of everything! If you’re up for an easy bike ride, you can head up to Castell Coch (‘Red Castle”), and if you want to go even further north visit the Caerphilly Castle. And don’t worry if you don’t have a bike, Cardiff has bike rentals very cheap through NextBike. 

Cardiff is jam packed with so much without having to go very far. It smells better, it’s quieter, the people are nicer, and it’s a lot cheaper than London. This city is so underrated, but I think if anything that makes it all the better when you visit.

Spend a Weekend In Cardiff

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River Taff. Photo Credit:Run With Amber.

Manchester, England

Written By Beloved City

If there is one underrated destination in the UK it would be Manchester. As a matter of fact, the North of England as a whole is very often skipped and yet is one of the best parts of the country. Even Though Manchester dates back to Roman times, it was mainly built during the industrial revolution. This industrial background used to put off loads of visitors but a lot has changed this past 10 years.

Nowadays, Manchester is a tech and hipster hub. Although it is the 3rd biggest city in England, the city centre is quite small and easily walkable. Some of the best things to do in Manchester include: the Gay Village, Piccadilly Gardens, the Printworks, Manchester Cathedral and St Peter’s square. If you are a Potterhead and want to see the Mancunian version of Hogwarts, head to John Rylands library.You will also find many museums and galleries. I particularly recommend the Museum of Science and Industry and the Manchester museum. They are both free. 

You should also check out the Northern Quarter, Manchester’s trendiest neighborhood! Made of old warehouses, it became home to many bars and restaurants, street art murals and is often used as a movie location. If you are a foodie, you will want to try Eccles cakes, Vimto and most of all, get a Sunday roast in one of the pubs! 

Finally, there are many day-trip options. While you are in Manchester, you can easily go to 2 of England’s most beautiful national parks: Lake District and Peak District, but also discover other Northern towns and cities such as Liverpool, Chester and York. Manchester is not like London at all. The architecture, history and vibe is very unique to the North of England. If you want to have fun and meet very friendly people, it’s the place for you!


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Manchester. Photo Credit:Beloved City.

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The Most Underrated Cities in Europe (Part I)
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  1. I love this post, thanks so much for sharing! I hadn’t heard of much of these places actually and it’s always good to learn about new, more under the radar, destinations. From this list I’ve only been to Manchester (several times) and Cologne, which I really loved actually! I’ll be looking out for more of these related posts and discover some more great European travel destinations 🙂

  2. Nice list Melissa! I’ve only been to two places from this list: Cologne I loved, Copenhagen not that much (maybe I just visited at the wrong time, at the end of December). So many places here to add to my life long bucket list! Valleta looks especially lovely to my taste.

  3. Great list for city lovers! From the list, I have been to three cities. Sofia, Valletta, and Brno. I would say Valletta is getting touristy (or was getting). But other 2 cities are spot on!

  4. Totally agree with Cardiff and Cologne! They are underrated and really worth the trip. I hope to visit the other destinations you mentioned too 🙂

  5. Considering I live in England and I’ve never been to Manchester, I agree that it’s very underrated! I also agree with Copenhagen, as my grandparents used to live there and it’s absolutely stunning. This is a great post by the way!

  6. I lived in Bucharest and Iasi in Romania for a total of about a year. Bucharest is interesting, but the best parts are something I don’t really think a ‘tourist’ will get to enjoy. I would push Sinaia and Brasov before either Bucharest or Cluj. Certainly, Bucharest is big. I spent 8 months exploring it and wasn’t bored. I got to live the live, know the locals… No reason you can’t do both. But the Transfagarasan is a day trip in itself. Architecture like castles can be something to visit along the way. You’ve really got to like architecture and churches to like Bucharest unless you want to pass days away in the city center at innumerable pubs. Very modern in some ways, very old in others.

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