Summer inter-railing trips around Europe are a rite of passage for many travelers and there’s a well-worn tourist trail to follow. While this beaten path takes backpackers to some of the most famous cities in the world like Rome, Amsterdam, and Paris, it comes with some drawbacks. Prices in these popular urban centers are high, crowds are dense, and accommodation can be difficult to book on short notice.Instead of hitting the classic European highlights, consider planning a summer trip that explores the hidden gems of the continent. These 10 underrated European cities have unmatched cuisine, history, and cultural experiences for lower prices. Plus, there won’t be more tourists than locals in these destinations.
10 Ljubljana, Slovenia
Slovenia is becoming more popular among travelers due to its central location in Europe and proximity to Croatia. However, it’s still a lesser-known destination with lots to offer. The capital city Ljubljana has a university, lots of green spaces, and a charming old town.
Travelers can enjoy the summer sunshine on one of the many outdoor patios or have a picnic in Tivoli City Park. Ljubljana is also just a short bus ride away from Lake Bled, where travelers can enjoy a scenic morning canoeing on the iconic lake.
9 Malmö, Sweden
Many travelers head to Sweden to explore the capital city Stockholm or take in the charm of Gothenburg. But the hidden gem of the country is the Southeastern city of Malmö. It's close to Copenhagen, making it ideal for combining with a trip to Denmark and northern Germany.
Malmö is a coastal city with plenty of shops and cafes for travelers to enjoy. The central square called Lilla Torg is one of the most picturesque areas in the city.
8 Riga, Latvia
The Baltics aren’t as frequently traveled as many of the countries in Western Europe and Southeastern Europe. However, they have a rich history that is prevalent in the incredible architecture and delicious food.
Located in the northwest of the continent, Riga is the capital of Latvia. It sits on the Baltic Sea and has a beautifully preserved Old Town with pedestrian-only streets. The Old Town is where visitors can find Livu Square, a lively location for enjoying restaurants, bars, and clubs.
7 Tbilisi, Georgia
Georgia is a lesser-known country in the Caucuses in Eastern Europe. It has a soviet past and as a result, there are a lot of historical sites to visit and learn from. Besides being off the beaten path, and providing a more local travel experience, Tbilisi is a vibrant city with amazing food, markets, and kind people.
Georgians are known for their hospitality and frequently welcome travelers into their homes for a meal. The US dollar also stretches further there than in other parts of Europe because Georgia has its own currency and doesn’t use the Euro.
6 Porto, Portugal
Portugal is a popular destination in Western Europe, but many travelers find themselves in the capital city of Lisbon or the Brit’s favorite vacation spot, Faro. For those visiting Portugal in the summer who want to avoid droves of tourists, consider heading northwest to the coastal city of Porto instead.
Porto is worth visiting for the Old Town alone, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site along the Douro River. The Old Town has a 2,000-year-old history and offers scenic views of the water.
5 Plovdiv, Bulgaria
Bulgaria is gaining traction as a tourist destination, but travelers might not realize that the best part of this beautiful country isn’t necessarily the capital city. While most flights land in Sofia, it’s best to drive or take the train a couple of hours to the second-largest city, Plovdiv.
Plovdiv is extremely picturesque with cobbled, winding streets, a well-preserved old town, and a beautiful hilly landscape.
4 Ghent, Belgium
Travelers may skip Ghent in favor of Brussels or Bruges, but they’re missing out. It’s a university town making it a lively city with lots of restaurants, bars, and exciting nightlife. This port city is in the northwest of the country and has historically been an important part of Europe’s trade industry. The architecture of the city is breathtaking with castles and cathedrals for travelers to admire and photograph.
Every Friday there is a market in Ghent (called Vrijdagmarkt) with tons of stalls to explore. It’s the perfect way to spend an evening getting a taste of the local food and drink.
3 Strasbourg, France
Forgo the hustle and bustle of Paris for a serene few days in Strasbourg, France’s border city on the Rhine River. Sharing a border with Germany, Strasbourg boasts French and German influence for incredible culinary options.
It’s Notre-Dame Cathedral is a must-see spot while in the city as is La Petite France, which is the historic quarter of Strasbourg. The city is also home to European Parliament.
2 Mostar, Bosnia And Herzegovina
Travelers considering Croatia for their summer holiday but wondering if it’s too touristy may want to head to Mostar instead. This city in Bosnia and Herzegovina has all the medieval charm of Dubrovnik, without the crowds.
The Neretva River passes through the city under the Old Bridge, which is the perfect spot to watch sunrise or sunset. The beautiful buildings and surrounding scenery make Mostar one of the top sites in the Balkans.
1 Tallinn, Estonia
Estonia is a small country in Northeastern Europe, just south of Finland. The capital city Tallinn is on the Baltic Sea and has a stunning Old Town that is the highlight of any traveler’s visit. Walking through the cobbled streets of the city feels like stepping back into medieval times.
Estonia uses the euro but prices are relatively low here, especially for food and drink, making it attractive to budget backpackers.