When traveling to Europe, there are plenty of prominent places to see like Rome and London, of course. However, with these well-known cities come can come with big crowds, high price tags and a loss of authenticity. There are other locations that aren't as well-known, with amazing sights, authentic culture intact, affordable prices, and beautiful scenery. Here are just 5 of the many underrated cities to visit while touring Europe.
Paphos is a city located along the coast in the Southwest region on the island of Cyprus. To the traveler, one of the biggest tourist attractions found here is the Roman governor’s palace. This is where an assortment of mosaics can be viewed related to Greco-Roman times. When you visit the area you can see tombs, fortresses, theatres, palaces, villas, and much more from that period as well. Paphos is known as the modern mythical birthplace of the Greek goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite. It also has beautiful beaches, restaurants galore, a lively harbor area and a great shopping mall. The area has been named one of the European Capitals of Culture for the year 2017.
If you like big cities and history, Pula is the place to go. This is the largest city in Istria County, Croatia. It can be visited by going to the southern tip of the peninsula. The climate is generally mild and you can explore ruins, fishing, shipbuilding, and winemaking traditions in the area.
As another Roman region, you can view what the area is most famous for, their first-century amphitheater. This amphitheater is one of the largest of six that remain in the world. Throughout the summer months, there are a variety of festivals and concerts that take place at this establishment. There are also many other sites to see from the Castle and the old Roman city walls to the Arch of Sergii and the Temple of Augustus.
Take time while in Pula to enjoy the tourist area as well. This space along the coast is lined with seaside cafes, restaurants, and aromatic pine groves. If you are willing to travel a bit further south to the Premantura Peninsula, you can explore the amazing nature park located there.
By heading North from Pula, you will come to the city of Rovinj, Croatia. This area is one of the last true fishing ports located in the Mediterranean. With a population of just under 15,000 people, it is a popular area with locals on the coast of the Istrian peninsula. Some of the residents here still speak the original Romance language.
The Rovinj islands are known for their natural beauty. The summer months have caused the locals to turn the area into an ideal spot for visitors by upgrading many hotels and restaurants to 4-star status, offering water activities, and hosting entertainment events.
As the second largest city in Bulgaria, Plovdiv is an essential area for culture, transportation, economics, and education. You can find this city located along the two banks of the Maritsa River. Evidence points to human life existing in the area as early as the 6th millennium BC!
If you visit at the right time, you can take part in several cultural events including an international theatrical festival, International Fair Plovdiv, and a TV festival known as “The Golden Chest.” Along the cobbled streets that wind through the Ancient Roman city, you can visit art galleries, museums, bohemian cafes, and a plethora of other cultural sites. If you are interested in going out, there is an exciting nightlife that can be enjoyed as this is a major university town.
Perhaps the most interesting place to visit here is their Roman amphitheater. It is known as the best preserved in the Balkans and there are often performances that still take place here.
Lastly, the capital of the Pomeranian Voivodship, Gdansk, is Poland’s largest seaport and the country’s fourth largest area. You can explore this region along the Baltic coast on the southern side of the Gdansk Bay. It is part of the tri-city composed of Gdansk, nearby Sopot and Gydnia. All three worth a visit, however, Gdansk is the standout of the three.
There is a huge assortment of sites that can be seen by walking from one end to the other of the Royal Way. In total, there are at least a dozen different locations that hold history from the Hanseatic League times. Some of those have been reconstructed just for the purpose of the tourism industry. A few of the sites here include the Golden Gate, Prison Tower, Main Town Hall, Neptune’s Fountain, and a Torture House. Also within an hour on train, you will find the world's largest castle by surface area The Malbork Castle. An amazing site to see!
The main Dluga street offers a place where tourists can travel the cobbled roads to see the old churches, historical red-brick buildings, cafes, shops, and museums. Come to the area and also take advantage of the dockside beer gardens, boat cruises, and other water attractions.
Go Off the Well Beaten Path!
While creating the itinerary for your trip to Europe, consider taking the time to see one or two of these unique places. Even though they are not commonly heard of or talked about by those that visit the area from the U.S., each has something unique to offer the interested traveler.
A Few Travel Tips:
- Stay hydrated during your travels, you will likely be doing a lot of walking when sightseeing and can easily get dehydrated. My favorite water bottle is the DYLN Living Water Bottle. It's light, convenient to carry along, and creates refreshing alkaline water straight from the bottle.
- Pack light. Multipurpose items are best for saving suitcase space. The smaller your suitcase the better as you never know if the places you go will have elevators!
- Do some research. The more you know about the places you visit, the more you get out of the trip. Learn the history, read books from the historical period, and talk to locals when you arrive. Even chatting with your taxi drivers can be very insightful.
- Have a blast!