I’ve been traveling to Europe for the last four years; it’s my summer ritual. Everyone is out in the cafes, there are lots of concerts, the weather is great, and there are tons of travelers around. Even if it’s just for a few weeks, I always come here in the summer.
One of the greatest things about Europe is the thousands of potential destinations. There are so many cities, towns, parks, and islands to see that it would take a lifetime to try to see all of Europe. But while everyone goes to Paris or London or Rome, they miss the tiny destinations that hold just as much charm but are often overlooked. Here are four destinations you might have overlooked or not heard of but are worth a visit:
This spot in Poland is a popular destination for the few people that make it out of Western Europe, which sadly few people ever do. Krakow has traditionally been one of the leading centers of Polish academic, cultural and artistic life. It has a sad side of history too – during World War II, the Jewish population was moved into the Krakow Ghetto.
Krakow is a medieval city with beautiful architecture, great information about the holocaust, and a vibrant atmosphere. From coffeehouses to jazz clubs, Krakow has a sophisticated nightlife – but not too sophisticated as people go out until the break of dawn. In 1978, UNESCO placed Krakow on the list of World Heritage Sites.
Just south of Amsterdam, Utrecht is a miniature version of the capital but without the crowds. Utrecht’s city center features many historic buildings and structures, and is host to Utrecht University, the largest university of the Netherlands. After Amsterdam, it has the most cultural events in the country. You’ll find beautiful canals, ancient churches, great green space, and lovely town squares.
The city is a big university town and as such as very youthful and vibrant feel to it. Hardly anyone ever visits here despite it just being 30 minutes from Amsterdam. If you thought Amsterdam had too many people, come here and relax – you’ll get the same level of beauty but without the crowds that often spoil it.
Paros is considered as one of the most beautiful islands of the Cyclades. During the summer, everyone heads to the Greek islands. The warm weather fills up these islands with pasty people looking to get rid of their winter whiteness and get an amazing tan. But even though there are hundreds of islands to choose from, people seem to get stuck on Santorini, Rhodes, Crete, Mykonos, or Ios, so these islands become expensive and overpriced. Paros doesn’t.
Paros is an island in the Cyclades that remains quiet even during the high season. There are no crazy clubs or bars and most people skip over it. But you shouldn’t. There are great fishing villages here, good seafood, and good sailing trips can be taken from the island.
Cornwall’s culture, spectacular landscape, and mild climate make it a popular tourist destination, especially during the summer. When people come to visit England, they tend to stick to London. But the best part of England is outside of London, and Cornwall is one of the highlights of a trip to the country. Located on the west side of England, Cornwall is filled with rolling hills, easy hiking trails, beautiful lakes, and tiny towns with friendly locals. It’s my favorite place in all of England and I highly recommend it.
There are a million destinations in Europe but often people just focus on the most popular cities. Learning about the places we visit is more than just visiting the hot destinations, it’s about going someplace different. Variety is the spice of life and variety gives you more understanding of where you go.
So, next time you’re in Europe, try out one of these places and get a better sense of the places you visit by exploring the unexplored.