Europe has always been a popular tourist destination, with countries like France, Spain, and Italy routinely ranked among the best destinations in the world. Beyond these well-known nations, Europe is home to a bevy of lesser-known gems, all of which have a lot to offer travelers at a fraction of the price. If you’re planning a vacation, here are nine places you may not have heard of that you may want to include in your itinerary.
In the heart of Europe, Slovenia is a hidden gem for those who adore the great outdoors. Whether it’s a snow-covered summit in the Julian Alps or an undisturbed woodland to explore, the possibilities for adventure in Slovenia are unlimited. With awe-inspiring waterfalls, glistening lakes, and blue rivers to look at, the scenery is breathtaking. Try the Lake Bled Cake as well.
Finland’s national parks give the ideal opportunity to get lost in the country’s towering woods and crystal-clear lakes, with significantly fewer visitors than Norway and Sweden. You won’t know where to look when the Midnight Sun and Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) light up the sky while animals like brown bears and elk wander free.
Since its population is so tiny (just 1,350,000), Estonia has been chiefly overlooked by travelers looking for a low-density European destination. Even though half of Estonia is covered in forest, its capital, Tallinn, is a charming blend of ancient alleyways, contemporary commercial areas, and beach promenades.
The tiny landlocked country of Luxembourg is sometimes neglected in favor of its more well-known neighbors, France and Germany. Still, its fairytale city, ancient castles, and charming towns make a trip there well worth the time and energy. Although it’s just a few square miles, there’s a lot to see and do, thanks to a network of well-maintained biking and hiking routes that crisscross the rolling hills and vineyards.
This tiny nation is tucked away in the Alps, situated between Switzerland and Austria. Because of its small size, it lacks an airport, although getting to and from neighboring countries through road or train is simple. Skiing, hiking, and biking are available after you’ve made it into the area, which tourists don’t overrun.
As the setting for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Romania is a nation of rugged mountains, fairytale castles, and ancient villages that haven’t altered much since the Middle Ages. The country’s natural wetlands and fauna may be explored on hiking trails and at folk museums, and the country’s traditional culture is on display in rural communities.
Montenegro is a friendly and hospitable nation on the Adriatic Sea’s coastline, surrounded by high cliffs and wooded slopes strewn with flowers. This picture-perfect view is completed by the orange-roofed cottages that border the beach, and if you want to get away from the tourists, you can always go inland.
There is a growing cosmopolitan air and a rural cultural scene in Sarajevo’s Old Quarter, the city’s small center. To learn about the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which set off World War I, visit the city’s museums in its heart. A 16th-century Ottoman bridge over the Neretva River in Mostar is one of the city’s most popular attractions. Outdoorsy types may take in the countryside’s historic towns and lakes together with its bodies of water, as well as its stunning Dinaric Alps.
Like the other countries on our list, Bulgaria is sometimes overlooked in favor of more well-known Eastern European destinations such as Hungary or the Czech Republic, home to a plethora of castles. Greece, Slavic, Ottoman, and Persian cultures coexist in this Balkan country, making it well worth a visit. Thus, the nation is a doorway to European and Turkish culture (and cuisine) and one of the best-kept secrets for people who value cheap, friendly residents and magnificent landscape (hint: avoid touristy Sunny Beach as it is crowded and expensive).