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.

Your thoughts on "Four hidden European destinations"

  • Another hidden Polish gem, a little more off the beaten path: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kazimierz_Dolny Kazimierz Dolny is a beautiful ancient village located in the hills overlooking the Wis?a river valley ~120 kilometers southeast of Warszawa (and ~200 kilometers northeast of Kraków). It's not the place to go if you want night life & parties, but it's a wonderful place to relax for a few days.

    on August 3, 2010 at 2:29 pm Reply
  • Glad to see the place we decided to settle down in for a few months is a hidden gem! Cornwall really is a very pretty place and the people are friendly.

    on August 3, 2010 at 4:34 pm Reply
  • Doing some surfing there, Michael? Keith - looks great.

    on August 4, 2010 at 1:32 am Reply
  • Only of the online variety, currently ;-) It's a great place to ride bikes around, though, which we do whenever it's not raining, currently not incredibly frequently! Ah, English summer. Lucky we're Australians and love rain.

    on August 4, 2010 at 7:00 am Reply
  • Love that rain! We spend a summer in Hastings in 2008 and it was pretty rough. Cycling around might have been more enjoyable than watching the wind whipping up the beach.

    on August 6, 2010 at 3:51 am Reply
  • Rain doesn't bother you at all? Come to Scotland:) It's far from being overcrowded (right, Glasgow and Edinburgh are, but there is much more of Scotland than these two cities) and Scottish hills and beaches are really beautiful. Plus some great surfing spots, well maintained cycling paths and the best fish'n'chips in the whole world. Still not sure? have a look at those photographs:) http://www.scotlandinprint.co.uk/ (it's just a sample website, just type "Scotland" in Google Images and enjoy)

    on August 6, 2010 at 6:11 am Reply
  • @Craig & Linda: Yes, that doesn't sound incredibly enticing ;-) We tend to totally avoid the beach in favor of what we find is the region's real strength, that incredible timeless countryside. We're a bit spoiled with beaches, being Aussies, but the depth of green here is like nothing we've ever seen. Plus it just looks even better in the rain! @Daniel: Oh man, believe me, Scotland is right at the top of our todo list - it's been a massive priority right from the start. We're very excited about it, and are heading up as soon as our current project's all done. Except that'll be around Winter, so maybe Spring ;-) Can't wait!!

    on August 6, 2010 at 6:18 am Reply
  • Cornwall is lovely but don't forget the rest of the South West - and remember Pasties were invented in Devon not as the Cornish would have you believe Kernow

    on August 6, 2010 at 7:16 am Reply
  • Great recommendations, Loved Cornwell in March- The Lizard Pensinsular- Spectacular. (Devon is great too- along the River Tavy) Highly reccommend Krakow, beautiful city old and new, friendly helpful locals and wonderful Christmas Markets. Will keep Utrecht in mind for next trip.

    on August 6, 2010 at 9:35 am Reply

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