Megan Bryant is a passionate writer and traveler who has combined her two loves to help others fulfill their traveling dreams. When she isn’t writing, she’s usually curled up with her 3 Dachshunds and a good book or planning her next adventure—wherever that may be.
Europe is a continent filled with popular landmarks, incredible landscapes, and some of the best cuisines you’ll find in the entire world. But although the Eiffel Tower and the Colosseum have their undeniable charm, there’s a whole world of enchanting European destinations beyond the tourist hubs.
These 14 lesser-known havens promise authentic experiences, genuine interactions, and the thrill of exploring places untouched by mass tourism. So, pack your curiosity and leave the crowds behind as we unveil the captivating allure of Europe’s non-touristy destinations.
Antwerp is Belgium’s second-largest city which seamlessly blends history and culture, making it a unique and enticing destination for those in search of a non-touristy destination. Renowned as the world’s diamond capital, Antwerp invites visitors to explore its fashion boutiques, incredible architecture, cobblestone streets, and of course, its culinary scene that will leave your mouth watering long after your meal is done.
Portugal is a popular tourist destination, but that doesn’t mean all of its cities get the recognition they deserve. Aveiro—often referred to as the Venice of Portugal—sees very few tourists, and after seeing its canals, bridges, and beaches, it’s hard to understand why.
Black Forest, Germany
The Black Forest in Germany is known for its dense woodlands, rolling hills, and quaint little villages that look straight out of a fairytale. But the pine forests aren’t the only draw to the Black Forest, as the area is a treasure trove of cultural heritage, making it the perfect destination for those who prefer to explore off the beaten path.
Although Bologna, Italy, isn’t seen as a tourist destination, if you love history, it is definitely the destination for you. Bologna has beautiful terracotta buildings, medieval streets with arched colonnades, and hidden courtyards just waiting to be explored. Plus, while you’re there, check out the city’s vibrant food scene—Bologna’s Bolognese sauce and fresh tortellini are to die for.
Romania doesn’t make it onto many people’s lists when they’re booking a European getaway, but Brasov is here to change your mind. Nestled in the Carpathian Mountains, Brasov is a medieval Romanian city lined with colorful baroque buildings, the city’s centerpiece—the Black Church—and architectural wonders that will truly take your breath away. And don’t worry; all you outdoor enthusiasts will be happy to know that Brasov is also an excellent destination for hiking, skiing, and wildlife watching.
When most people go to the Netherlands, they visit the country’s capital, Amsterdam. But even just a stone’s throw away (25 minutes in a car) are non-touristy cities just as—if not more—beautiful than the country’s most popular city itself. And Haarlem is a prime example. Haarlem has picturesque canals, cobblestone streets, centuries-old architecture, and museums that boast a remarkable collection of artifacts. So whether you visit Haarlem for the entire duration of your Netherlands trip, you just for the day, you won’t be disappointed.
Nestled amidst the breathtaking panorama of the Austrian Alps, Innsbruck in Austria is a non-touristy destination you won’t want to miss. The enchanting city, cradled in a valley surrounded by towering peaks, blends outdoor adventure with cultural exploration. Acting as the perfect gateway to the world of alpine wonders, the medieval old town of Innsbrucks connects skiers and snowboarders to the Nordkette mountain range by the city’s futuristic cable car.
Kotor in Montenegro sits in a fjord-like bay, giving it impeccable views of the surrounding dramatic mountains. With medieval architecture, towering city walls, and museums that showcase the town’s past, Kotor is an ideal destination for history buffs who wish to visit an area with very few—if any—other tourists.
Another Italian city that doesn’t see a huge influx of tourists—unlike Rome, Milan, and Venice—is Modena. Modena sits in the heart of the Emilia-Romagna region and is renowned for its automotive heritage and its culinary scene. The modest-sized city, with its cobblestone streets, medieval architecture, and love for opera, is one of the best destinations for car enthusiasts, music lovers, and foodies in search of mouth-watering cuisines.
And while you’re touring all the non-touristy areas of Italy, you can’t miss out on Siena. Siena doesn’t quite experience the bustling crowds that the nearby city of Florence does, but that’s the beauty of this charming city. With plenty of attractions like the iconic Piazza del Campo, Duomo, and its narrow winding streets, your time in Siena will be one to remember.
Sofia is the capital city of Bulgaria, but as Bulgaria as a whole doesn’t see too many tourists, you can expect to be surrounded by local culture, history, and cuisine as opposed to touristy restaurants and attractions. Steeped in millennia of history, Sofia provides plenty of sources of entertainment; from the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral to the ruins of Serdica, you’ll be immersed in history from the second you step into the city.
Croatia is well known for its islands, which is why the country’s second-largest city, Split, is often overlooked. Split, however, is a coastal gem that boasts the UNESCO-listen Diocletian’s palace, bustling squares, quaint cafes, and azure waters that belong on the front of a postcard. Whether you’re drawn to delve into the echoes of the past or immerse yourself in the lively Mediterranean spirit, Split is a non-touristy destination that deserves to be on your radar.
Wroclaw, a city in the southwest of Poland, has an intricate network of canals and bridges, earning it the moniker of the “Venice of Poland.” Wroclaw’s history, architecture, and Market Square—one of the largest in Europe—come together to make Wroclaw one of the best destinations for people who prefer unique getaways.
Zagreb is Croatia’s largest city, but similar to Split, it often gets overshadowed by Croatia’s captivating islands. Zagreb, however, offers a blend of old-world charm and modern dynamism, enchanting its visitors with cobblestone streets, century-old churches, and colorful houses that give the city a vibrant character. Whether you delve into the culture, museums, galleries, or theaters, Zagreb has something for every tourist—especially ones who prefer authenticity.
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