Stephanie is a cherished member of the Sampling America writing team, dedicated to crafting captivating narratives that transport readers to thrilling adventures across the country and beyond.
Most people will probably think of the most popular tourist attractions when setting their sights on Europe for their next vacation: Rome, Paris, Madrid.
However, Europe has some surprising gems in the smaller, less traveled countries. Consider visiting one of these unknown countries for a unique exploration.
Andorra is a tiny nation wedged between France and Spain in the Pyrenees mountains. The nation is mostly tax-free, making it the perfect place for high-ticket shopping when in Europe, many people stop by Andorra to save the tax on an expensive designer item.
The country also hosts historic Romanesque architecture and has several churches and castles that can be visited. You can also tour Pal, a medieval town dating back to the 11th century.
Albania is a stunning country on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, just across the isle from Italy. This country often gets looked over in favor of Greece or Croatia.
However, this country offers the same white sand beaches and stucco houses built into the sides of mountains present in other Mediterranean countries, and it’s a cost-effective travel destination, making it the perfect country to add to your travel itinerary.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina is another country in the Balkan peninsula. Although Croatia was cut off from the Adriatic Sea, it more than made up for it with stunning medieval architecture and a natural atmosphere.
The country is a beautiful mixture of Ottoman Empire and Austro-Hungarian influence. Discover the country’s rich history in the nation’s capital, Sarajevo.
Latvia is a small country between Lithuania and Estonia on the Baltic Sea. It hosts remarkable beaches and lush forests.
Latvia’s capital city, Riga, has several well-known restaurants where you can dig into their national dish, grey peas and fried bacon. You can also stop by their historic medieval town of Cēsis, which has had many movies filmed in it.
This former Soviet bloc nation borders Poland, Latvia, and Belarus. Its capital city, Vilnius, is known for its medieval structures and charm.
This country has a surprisingly strong nightlife, with many young backpackers visiting the city to party. It also hosts several excellent outdoor activities, such as pristine beaches and lush hiking trails.
Macedonia is a nation in the Balkan mountains, but it sits on a stunning lake, surrounded by high mountains and ancient European architecture.
It’s one of the cheapest countries in Europe to visit, with much of the same culture and charm. Consider visiting Macedonia on a backpacking trip to relax in luxury at a small cost.
You can also visit the hilltop city of Ohrid, a massive medieval castle on top of a picturesque lake.
Montenegro sits below rugged mountains; its narrow beaches run along the Adriatic coastline, offering a stunning Mediterranean atmosphere.
This country does not cater to travelers, though, so you’ll need to plan ahead and figure out any outdoor activities you would like to partake in. Many people buy kayaks to use during their trip and sell them on their way out.
Slovenia sits in central Europe. It’s known for its mountains, ski resorts, and stunning blue lakes. Visit Lake Bled, a glacial lake fed by hot springs. It sits next to the town of Bled, which hosts several historic churches and medieval casts.
The capital of Ljubljana is known for being friendly to visitors and backpackers. It hosts several colorful houses and buildings with many cafés and students.
Luxembourg is a tiny European nation surrounded by Belgium, France, and Germany. It’s mostly rural, with many thick forests, natural parks, and rocky cliffs.
Its capital, Luxembourg City, is well known for its medieval town, castles, and quintessential European architecture. It will surely make a unique destination for your trip.
Cyprus is a tiny island nation that sits in the Mediterranean Sea. Since it sits on the border of Western Asia and Southeast Europe, it shares the best parts of each culture.
Many people say that it looks similar to Greece or Sicily, but the food and culture are very representative of Turkey and other Middle Eastern countries.
This nation is one of the best countries in the world to relax on the beach with an Aperol spritz and a plate of feta and olives.
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