Enter the realm of unexplored territories and enjoy the charm of Europe’s lesser-known cities and regions. Even though the continent is teeming with tourist hotspots, there are still enchanting destinations that remain untouched by the crowds. Discover our carefully curated selection of ten exclusive Europe travel tips.
If you’re longing to escape the hustle and bustle of long-haul flights and embark on an unforgettable European adventure, we’re here to inspire you. Whether you want to stroll through charming cities, treat yourself to a tranquil island getaway or traverse majestic mountain ranges, our diverse selection of suggestions is just what you need. Immerse yourself in the hidden treasures of Germany, the Netherlands, Slovakia, France, Italy, Greece, Albania, Denmark, Sweden and Iceland.
Let yourself be enchanted by these hidden treasures and embark on an unforgettable journey through the enchanting destinations of Europe. Avoid the beaten track and create unforgettable memories in Europe’s best-kept secrets for 2024.
1 | Bratislava (Slovakia)
Bratislava, an often underrated capital city that is overshadowed by Vienna and Budapest, is a breathtaking metropolis that should be on every traveler’s bucket list. For an unforgettable excursion, we recommend starting in the charming Old Town, strolling through the picturesque alleyways and finally arriving at the Old Town Hall. With its striking Gothic tower, reminiscent of a church, a breathtaking panoramic view of the historic center opens up as you climb to the top. However, no visit to Bratislava would be complete without a visit to the iconic castle, which was rebuilt in 1968 after a devastating fire in the 19th century. Inside, the historical museum and treasury invite you to explore and offer an insight into the city’s past.
When tiredness sets in after an extensive city tour, you can recharge your tired feet on a leisurely boat trip along the Danube and gain a new perspective on Bratislava at the same time. Perhaps a strange sight will catch your eye – don’t worry, because the UFO is another remarkable attraction. From its platform 95 meters above the ground, the UFO offers an unparalleled 360-degree view of the city and its surroundings. Surprisingly, reaching this height requires no effort, as a small elevator transports visitors comfortably to the top.
2 | Nijmegen (Netherlands)
Nijmegen, the oldest city in the Netherlands, is often overlooked by many travelers. They don’t realize that this dynamic city has a fascinating history dating back to Roman times. You can explore this history by following the seven-kilometre ‘city walk’, which takes you to various cultural sights and art installations and even offers panoramic views. For a deeper insight into history, the Valkhof Museum is a must. It houses ancient art and archaeological treasures, some of which are over 5,000 years old. Don’t miss the opportunity to shop in the Lange Hezelstraat, the oldest shopping street in the Netherlands, which offers a wide selection of cafés for well-deserved breaks. Furthermore, Nijmegen’s charm extends beyond the city itself, with the surrounding green countryside and the 14-kilometer N70 walking route, which takes you through eight ‘mountains’ and offers glimpses of the city’s natural beauty.
3 | Holstein Switzerland (Germany)
While the name Saxon Switzerland may sound familiar, a lesser-known gem awaits you in Germany: Holstein Switzerland. Nestled in Schleswig-Holstein, close to the enchanting Baltic Sea coast and Lübeck, this destination is a paradise for nature lovers. With a remarkable ensemble of 200 lakes and idyllic forest landscapes, Holstein Switzerland offers a retreat for both nature lovers and lovers of cultural sights.
Prepare yourself for an extraordinary journey on numerous hiking and cycling trails, some of which will take you to the vast landscapes of Canada. Discover the Holstein Way of St. James or embark on the fascinating Monk’s Way. Water sports enthusiasts can also enjoy numerous activities such as canoeing and fishing. The Great Plön Lake offers a picturesque backdrop with the magnificent 17th century Plön Castle, which is well worth a visit. Another architectural marvel awaits you in the charming town of Eutin.
4 | Milos Island (Greece)
The island of Milos in Greece is a quiet oasis in the middle of the busy tourist destinations of Mykonos and Santorini in the Cyclades. Located in the southwest of the archipelago, Milos is known for its volcanic landscape and the vibrant colors of earth and sand. The enchanting town of Plaka is the heart of the island, adorned with charming snow-white houses and azure blue doors. To catch the breathtaking sunset, climb Kastro Hill overlooking the town to the west.
Milos has numerous must-see attractions, including the stunning Sarakiniko beach, characterized by its striking white rock formations and crystal clear turquoise waters. Exploring the bay of Kleftiko, visitors can marvel at the vivid rock formations while taking an exciting boat tour. Another gem of Milos is the enchanting beach of Paliochori, adorned in shades of red under the glistening sun and hiding a treasure trove of colorful pebbles on its sandy shore. The volcanic nature of the island is most evident in this area, with numerous hot springs bubbling beneath the water’s surface.
5 | Toulouse (France)
Toulouse is located in the southwest of France and is often referred to as the pink city (Ville Rose). It is considered one of the most beautiful metropolises in France, but is still relatively unexplored. The city owes its nickname to the unique reddish-orange hue of the bricks used in many of its buildings, which are particularly enchanting at sunset. Toulouse’s landmark is the Capitole, a building that houses both the town hall and a theater. Directly in front of it is the spacious Place du Capitole, a popular venue for various events, surrounded by a variety of restaurants and cafés.
Another notable sight in Toulouse is the Saint-Sernin Basilica, a Romanesque masterpiece from the 11th century. It is considered one of the largest of its kind in the western world and holds the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage designation. The Canal du Midi, which runs through Toulouse and connects the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, also has the same UNESCO recognition. As a change from exploring the city, we recommend a leisurely bike tour along the canal, as you can easily find rental bikes at various stations in the city. In the evening, you can follow local tradition and have a picnic and relax on the banks of the Garonne. As you enjoy your meal, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the Pont Neuf bridge, the Hôtel Dieu Saint-Jacques and the dome of the Hôpital de La Grave, all iconic features captured on every Toulouse postcard.
6 | Lake Ohrid (Albania/North Macedonia)
Lake Ohrid is located in Albania and North Macedonia and is becoming increasingly popular with travelers looking for a vacation destination. Once considered a somewhat sleepy jewel on the Adriatic, this region is now known for its charm. What many people may not know is that Lake Ohrid is the oldest lake in Europe, with a history dating back over 1.4 million years. This remarkable body of water stretches across Albanian and North Macedonian territory and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
If you embark on a journey to the shores of Lake Ohrid, you will discover a variety of fascinating attractions. One such place is the town of Ohrid, often referred to as the ‘Jerusalem of the Balkans’ due to its numerous churches. A notable landmark above the lake is the Church of St. John of Kaneo, which offers a picturesque sight.
Delve deeper into the wonders of Lake Ohrid and discover other remarkable highlights. One of these is the monastery of Sveti Naum, which can be reached by excursion boat from Ohrid. Alternatively, you can explore the Bay of Bones Museum, which features a reconstructed ancient village on stilts in the water. For those looking for a refreshing dip in the warmer months, Lake Ohrid offers beautiful beaches such as Tushemit and Pogradec. Furthermore, if you prefer to combine hiking with a breathtaking view of the lake, the Galičica National Park, located in the southeast of the lake, is the perfect destination.
7 | Monte Saccarello (Liguria, Italy)
When you think of the Liguria region in northern Italy, you usually think of the famous Cinque Terre and coastal villages visited by international celebrities such as Portofino. However, this region also offers a beautiful and deserted mountain landscape that is perfect for hiking adventures. One of the highlights of the Ligurian hinterland is Monte Saccarello, the highest mountain in Liguria, which reaches an impressive height of 2201 meters. A well-marked and relatively easy hiking trail leads to its summit in the Maritime Alps.
Our suggestion is to start your hike in the village of Verdeggia, which lies at an altitude of 1,100 meters. From there, you only have to hike another five kilometers, albeit with some steep climbs, to reach the summit. Along the way, you will find yourself on a section of the famous Alta Via die Monti Liguri (AV), a long-distance hiking trail that winds its way through the entire Ligurian hinterland. Once you reach the top, an obelisk and a statue of Christ await you as well as a rewarding view. To delve deeper into this beautiful region, you can return via the Rifugio Sanremo, the highest refuge in Liguria, and extend your hike to a total distance of 15 kilometers before returning to Verdeggia.
8 | Island of Fanø (Denmark)
Unlike many other North Sea islands, the island of Fanø in Denmark is not so frequently visited. Although it is the northernmost island in the Wadden Sea and is only about 15 kilometers long and five kilometers wide, it is rich in attractions. The ferry from Esbjerg takes you to the island’s main town, Nordby, in just twelve minutes. As soon as you arrive, the cozy atmosphere of the thatched-roof houses immediately evokes vacation feelings.
However, Nordby is not even considered the most beautiful village on the island. That title goes to Sønderho, which lies at the southernmost tip. In fact, Sønderho is even called “Denmark’s most beautiful village”! Visitors can expect well-preserved historic buildings, a picturesque church straight out of a fairytale and various museums, including the Fanø Art Museum and the historic Sønderho Mølle mill.
To fully explore the island, we recommend leaving the car behind and discovering Fanø by bike instead. There are five suggested routes ranging in length from seven to 42 kilometers, all of which are well signposted. Among them, the “Panoramaroute 404” stands out, which leads to the best panoramic views Fanø has to offer. And of course, the island is also known for its beautiful beaches, which stretch for a total of twelve kilometers. The section between Fanø Bad and Rindby Strand is particularly recommended for swimming.
9 | Luleå (Sweden)
Sweden’s gateway to Swedish Lapland: Luleå is located on the coast of the Baltic Sea in the far north of Sweden. This charming town serves as the capital and gateway to the fascinating region of Swedish Lapland. Regardless of the time of year, a visit to Luleå is always worthwhile. In winter, the city transforms into a winter wonderland and offers exciting activities in the icy landscape. The famous ice road that surrounds the city offers numerous opportunities for hiking, ice skating, cross-country skiing, tobogganing and even dog sledding. In addition, when the ice reaches a reasonable thickness, usually in February, a designated ice road is opened for cars to drive into the town’s enchanting archipelago. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the mesmerizing Northern Lights illuminating the dark sky.
One of the absolute highlights of Luleå is the historic church town of Gammelstad, which is not far from the modern city center and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The roots of Luleå lie in Gammelstad and it still fascinates visitors with its 400 charming little red wooden houses, reminiscent of the idyllic village of Bullerbü. These houses were traditionally used by churchgoers as overnight accommodation. To delve deeper into the history of this village and its remarkable church dating back to 1492, visitors can explore the informative visitor center and the Hägnan open-air museum. Various events are held in Gammelstad throughout the year, including Walpurgis Night and Midsummer celebrations, which add to the charm of this already fascinating destination.
10 | Tröllaskagi Peninsula (Iceland)
The Tröllaskagi Peninsula in the north of Iceland near the town of Akureyri is a hidden gem that is well worth a detour for those exploring the country. While many travelers focus on exploring all of Iceland, especially on the Ring Road 1, there are other picturesque peninsulas worth discovering.
With its name meaning ‘troll peninsula’, it’s no wonder this place has a mysterious allure. Snow-capped mountains up to 1,500 meters high form a picturesque backdrop and attract avid skiers in the winter months. In summer, it offers hikers a peaceful environment to explore without the crowds.
If you drive along road 82, which later becomes road 76, you will come across charming coastal villages such as Dalvík, Ólafsfjörður and Siglufjörður. In these sleepy towns, you will mainly meet friendly locals chatting over a cup of coffee in small cafés or strolling through the stores. Remarkably, the Tröllaskagi peninsula is also home to a unique attraction: Iceland’s only beer spa. Located in the town of Árskógssandi, this establishment opened in 2017. Here, visitors have the opportunity to relax for 25 minutes in a vat filled with lukewarm beer and treat themselves to a cold brew. However, it’s up to you whether you follow the advice and don’t shower afterwards to get the best possible effect on your skin.