Rome, Paris, London, Venice and Barcelona are some of the most beautiful cities in Europe. And if you still haven’t, you should definitely pay them a visit. However, there is so much more to Europe than its main tourist attractions. If you’re willing to dig a little deeper and check out some less known places you might experience a certain country in a totally different way – with a smaller amount of tourists, friendlier locals and a more authentic vibe. Here are some suggestions:
1) TOLEDO, SPAIN
The capital of Castile – La Mancha region is known as the ‘city of the three cultures’ – Christians, Arabs and Jews lived behind its walls together for centuries. The Gothic cathedral, sephardic synagogues, mosques, palaces and the canvases of the famous painter El Greco make the city rich and diverse in both architecture and art, which is why Toledo is declared a World Heritage Site.
Photo source: www.toledosistercities.org
2) ROVINJ, CROATIA
This enchanting little town remains one of the last true Mediterranean fishing ports. Fall in love with its narrow cobbled streets, romantic squares, colorful houses with tiny balconies, little shops, art galleries and cafes. There are 14 islands in the archipelago of Rovinj and the most popular are Sveta Katarina and Crveni Otok (the Red Island), also known as Sveti Andrija.
Photo source: www.rovinj.co
3) BRNO, CZECH REPUBLIC
Located in the province of Moravia, Brno is the second largest city in the Czech Republic. Its most valuable gems are the crypts, castles, numerous churches and museums, the local cuisine and of course the fertile vineyards of South Moravia. The city’s Old Town Hall is guarded by a two-meter dragon, while the Functionalist Villa Tugendhat found its place on the UNESCO list.
Photo source: www.youtube.com
4) ANTWERP, BELGIUM
The second largest city in Belgium is definitely the coolest one. The largest port in the country was the home of the famous baroque painter Pieter Paul Rubens in the 16th century, which is why there are numerous places to admire his works across the city. The vibrant entertainment and fashion scene, hipster cafes, restaurants and bars in a combination with the riverside fortress and a truly impressive cathedral make Antwerp a must see European gem.
Photo source: www.architecturaldigest.com
5) RENNES, FRANCE
The administrative capital of Bretagne, a province in western France, is also a vibrant university city that can charm your socks off with its medieval old town streets, the impressive parliament building and the Thabor gardens. The best thing about Rennes is definitely the food – the traditional crêpes (sweet) and galettes (savory) are served in many restaurants and occasionally as snacks on the street. Make sure to try the heavenly seafood and the popular cider as well.
Photo source: www.brittanytourism.com
6) AREZZO, ITALY
The famous Italian movie ‘La vita è bella’ was filmed in this charming little town. It’s located 80 km southeast of Florence and if you’re in Tuscany you shouldn’t miss seeing it. Arezzo is believed to be one of the twelve most important Etruscan cities and is divided into the upper and the lower town. In the upper part of the town, which has a medieval appearance, you can see the cathedral, the town hall and the Medici Fortress, from which the main streets spread towards the lower part of the town.
Photo source: www.cabinflooresoterica.com
7) GRAZ, AUSTRIA
Numerous green parks, red rooftops, a river flowing through the city center, the renaissance courtyards and baroque palaces make Austria’s second-largest city a must see. The famous Schloßberg hill is connected to the center by steps, a funicular and a glass lift which is also the city’s landmark. A young and relaxed vibe, a vibrant art scene and a great nightlife rule the city.
Photo source: www.sueddeutsche.de
8) COIMBRA, PORTUGAL
Coimbra is both the medieval capital of Portugal, and the country’s greatest university for the past five centuries. Its historical center is situated down a hillside on the east bank of the Rio Mondego. During the academic year, the bars and cafes are full of students and during the warmer seasons the streets are filled with guitar players and fado singers.
Photo source: www.yellowbustours.com
9) MOSTAR, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
This city was the most heavily bombed of any Bosnian cities during the Yugoslav wars and it suffered huge consequences. Later on it was rebuilt using some of its original pieces recovered from the Neretva river. The Ottoman style architecture, the Old Bridge which is the landmark of the city, the vivacious markets and friendly people make Mostar one of the nicest places to visit in the Balkans. Walk around the Old Town, don’t try to jump from the Old Bridge, check out Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque and sit by the river to have some ćevapi (a popular minced meat dish) and baklava (a very rich and sweet desert made of thin layers of pastry, nuts and honey).
Photo source: www.herzegovina.travel
10) WROCLAW, POLAND
Situated in the middle of the Silesian Lowland, where the Oder River branches forming 12 islands, the city is spanned over 130 bridges. Once described as ‘the holy blossom of Europe’, the city of Wrocław has belonged to Poles, Czechs, Austrians, Hungarians and Germans. These different cultures and religions have of course contributed to its diversity. Wroclaw is a lively cultural center, with major festivals, a great nightlife and a large student community.
Photo source: www.thecontinentaldrifters.com