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What’s not to love about Europe’s most famous cities in summer? You have culture, cuisine, historic charms and, well, crowds. Looking to escape the hordes of people who descend upon the continent’s most popular places? Check out our favorite alternatives to many of Europe’s top spots!

To be clear, the cities we are offering alternatives to are amazing  and are popular for good reason. If you have one of these places on your calendar already, you are going to have a great trip—you just might have to navigate thicker crowds and higher prices. This list is for those looking to go even deeper and to explore more cities in Europe, similar to ones that they may already love.

RELATED: 4 incredible European train journeys

Lisbon at night - go here not there European destinations

You won’t regret trading Barcelona for Lisbon | CC Flickr photo by Raphaël Chekroun

Lisbon, not Barcelona

Tourist hotspot Barcelona has been making headlines lately for its efforts to decrease tourism (more on that here). Barcelona is an amazing city, but during certain times of the year, it is bursting at the seams with visitors. Trade your glass of Cava for something from the less crowded Lisboa Region. Portugal is an ideal alternative to Spain: After all, they are neighbors and share a lot of similarities like close proximity to the sea, great wine, amazing food and friendly locals. While you won’t find the same crowds, you will find a much lower price tag in Lisbon on just about everything compared to Barcelona! 

Orbitz-3 Perfect Days in Budapest-Széchenyi Thermal Baths-GettingStamped

Széchenyi Thermal Baths | Photo by GettingStamped.com

Budapest, not Prague

Longing for the old world charms of Prague, but feeling overwhelmed by the crowds in the Old Town Square? Head to Budapest instead! Similar to Prague, Budapest is a sprawling city full of beautiful architecture and vibrant neighborhoods. With a mix of fascinating buildings both old and new and an intriguing history to match, Budapest will not bore you. Soak in even more culture in the warming waters of Széchenyi Thermal Baths and the funky, memorable Budapest ruin pubs (check out our recommendations for those here). You won’t be disappointed skipping the spires of Prague for beautiful Budapest!

RELATED: Three perfect days in Budapest

Lofoten Islands Norway - go here not there European destinations

Channel your inner Viking in Norway’s Lofoten Islands | CC Flickr photo by Michał Unolt

Norway, not Iceland

The land of fire and ice is so hot with tourists right now it has people looking for another place to cool down. Instead, find yourself lost in the fjords of Norway’s rugged Atlantic coast. Here you’ll find no shortage of ice in the glacial-carved fjords with staggeringly tall cliffs and stunning mountains. If it’s waterfalls you’re after, Norway impresses with plenty. Toss in some Viking lore and culture-packed capital Oslo, and you have the makings of an epic Iceland alternative!

ALSO: Here’s a great alternative to skimpy rewards programs—join Orbitz Rewards and earn instantly!

Famous german castles - go here not there - gettingstamped.com

Go back into time at Eltz Castle | Photo by GettingStamped.com

Eltz Castle, not Neuschwanstein castle

One of the top sights in all of Europe is the fabulously ornate Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, which can see as many as 6,000 visitors daily. The beauty of the castle is undeniable and it’s said to be the inspiration for Walt Disney’s fairytale castle, but what most don’t realize is that most of this modern day castle is from the 1800s, not the Middle Ages. Trade Neuschwanstein for the more authentic, less visited, and just as impressive Eltz Castle, tucked into the hills of southern Germany about 5 hours northeast. This picturesque castle has been in the same family since the 11th century and survived many wars because of its hidden location. One of the most impressive features of Burg Eltz, as the Germans call it, is the long bridge at the entrance. However, the best part about this castle is if you go in the morning, your chances of having it all to yourself are good.

Treviso Canals go here not there European destinations

Have the canals of Treviso all to yourself | CC Flickr photo by dvdbramhall

Treviso, not Venice

In the summer months, the canals of Venice fill to the brim with tourists seeking Old World charms. While there’s only one Venice,  nearby Treviso has many of the same allure with a fraction of the crowds. Trade the bustling Grand Canal for the tranquil channels of Treviso. While not as extensive as Venice’s Canals, Treviso makes up for that with a low-key authenticity that years of tourism have eroded in Venice.

Under the radar islands - Hvar Croatia - GettingStamped

Come stare into the aqua colored waters of Hvar | Photo by GettingStamped.com

Hvar, not Dubrovnik

The secret is out! The world has officially realized how beautiful Croatia is. The Old Town of Dubrovnik owes much of its daily cruise traffic to looking a lot like a set from GoT (probably because it is). However, there are many other places in Croatia that are just as beautiful and sans the crowds. North along the Dalmatian Coast, you’ll find the postcard-worthy island of Hvar. This thin strip of land holds charming white stone architecture, beautiful beaches, and it’s surrounded by some of the clearest water in Europe.

 

Tagged: Budapest, Europe

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Hannah & Adam | Getting Stamped Bloggers
Hannah & Adam are travel writers & photographers who have called the road home since 2013. Their passion for adventurous travel has brought them to 60 countries and counting. They blog about their adventures on their travel blog GettingStamped.com.

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