Don’t get us wrong, the Eiffel tower is pretty special, but you aren’t exactly breaking new ground with a trip to Paris. Looking for a few new cities to put on your European Bucket list? Here are some of our favorite less visited European cities and why they are worth a visit:
The biggest city in the Baltics is full of history and incredible architecture. In the 19th century, Riga was growing at a rapid rate that resulted in a building boom. Today, the Old City is often regarded as having the largest and best collection of Art Nouveau buildings in the world and was given UNESCO World Heritage site status. In 2014, Riga was the European Capital of Culture. While in the city, make sure to try some of the unique cuisine inspired by the country’s many influences.
Lake Bled, Slovenia
Tucked away in the Julian Alps outside the capital of Ljubljana, Lake Bled is a picturesque little resort town. The crown jewel of the area is the church on the island in the middle of the lake. Trails run the length of the perimeter of the shoreline with great views of the island and also the Bled Castle perched high above on a cliff.
The walled city of Dubrovnik sits on the Adriatic sea with towering cliffs behind making for an absolutely stunning landscape. The producers of the Game of Thrones must think so too because numerous scenes for the show have been filmed in and around the city. The white limestone blocks used to create the wall around the old city date back to as early as the 12th century. Inside this lesser-visited gem, visitors can see the influences from different groups that controlled the city, like the Venetians. Don’t miss the sunset from the top of the walls.
Possibly the best under-the-radar city in Europe is Budapest. This charming city is split in two by the Danube River. On one side lies the centuries old Buda Castle and on the other the slightly more modern city. Both are connected in the middle by the famous Chain Bridge. Aside from the remarkable architecture, the post-soviet rebellious spirit is still alive and well in the city. Not to mention everything is dirt cheap here compared to most of the rest of Europe. Budapest seems to have an energy that pulls you in, it should be high onyour visit list.
Home to a large and lively city square, Krakow is at the center action in this central European gem. A short walk from the square is the impressive Wawel Royal Castle. Krakow is also surrounded by the painful reminders of the past with the largest concentration camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, just 30 minutes away. Also in the city is the museum and memorial dedicated to Oskar Schindler and the many lives he saved during the Holocaust.
Prague, Czech Republic
Though gaining in popularity over the past decade, Prague still sees less visitors than mega tourist destinations like Paris and Rome. Those that make the trek will discover a city full of amazing architecture, unique cuisine and, of course, great Czech beer. Prague is beautiful during all seasons, but really comes to life in the summer and the month of December for the Christmas markets.
Often overshadowed by trendy and rebellious capital Berlin and beer-loving Munich, Cologne has a lot to offer tourists too. The massive, Gothic style Cologne Cathedral is as impressive as any in central Europe. Climb the dizzying 533 steps to the top for out of this world views of the city. Wander the cobblestone streets and make time for a glass or two of the city’s Kolsch style beer.