Skip to Content

26 Underrated European Spots to Visit in 2024 (without the people or price tags)

26 Underrated European Spots to Visit in 2024 (without the people or price tags)

Share with your friends!

If you’re planning a trip to Europe this summer, the unfortunate fact is that so many places on your bucket list are going to be overrun by other tourists.

So much so that many cities are now implementing limits of the number of visitors per day, or require visitors to pay a tourist tax/fee to visit. 

But, this doesn’t have to ruin your dream trip!

In fact, there are so many hidden gem places to visit throughout Europe that are still barely known by North American tourists.

From medieval towns and tranquil islands to vibrant villages and serene gardens, here are my favorite off the beaten path places in Europe that won’t feel like you’re missing out on the heavy hitters.

For each spot, I’ve also included my insider tips or must-do activities to help you plan your visit.

This post contains affiliate links, meaning if you click through and make a purchase I may make a small commission. I only share information about things I know, love and trust!

Hidden Gems in Western Europe

Village of Èze, France

Perched on a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean, the village of Èze offers breathtaking views and narrow, winding streets lined with art galleries and boutiques.

One of the cutest towns in France and is easy to visit by a 20 minute bus ride from Nice. 

Its medieval ambiance and exotic botanical garden make it a must-visit if you love a blend of beauty and history.

Insider Tip: Hike the Nietzsche Path from the seaside to the village for stunning views and a rewarding challenge.

Kaysersberg-Vignoble, France

Kaysersberg-Vignoble, in the Alsace region, is a fairytale village with half-timbered houses, a charming river, and scenic vineyards.

A town that feels perfectly preserved from the middle ages, complete with cobblestone streets and narrow alleyways

Visit for its exceptional wine and its delightful blend of history, gastronomy, and picturesque landscapes.

Must-try: Sample the local Alsace wine at a family-run vineyard for an authentic taste of the region.

Sark Island, France

Sark Island, a car-free haven in the Channel Islands, offers breathtaking cliffs, hidden coves, and starry skies.

Its tranquil paths and historic sites make it an idyllic spot for nature lovers and those seeking a slower pace of life.

If you have time: Take a night walk to enjoy Sark’s status as a Dark Sky Island, offering some of the clearest stargazing in Europe.

Vlieland, the Netherlands

Vlieland, a serene Wadden Sea island, features vast sandy beaches, dune landscapes, and quaint villages.

Ideal for cycling and bird-watching, it offers a peaceful retreat with its untouched natural beauty and charming atmosphere.

For a chill afternoon: Rent a bike to explore the island’s scenic trails and discover its beautiful beaches and dunes.

Volterra, Italy

Volterra, perched on a Tuscan hilltop, boasts Etruscan ruins, medieval architecture, and panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

Its alabaster workshops and ancient Roman theater add to its unique allure, making it a captivating destination for history enthusiasts.

Interesting stop: Visit the Alabaster Ecomuseum to learn about the town’s ancient alabaster craftsmanship and take home a unique souvenir.

Brisighella, Italy

Brisighella, a charming medieval village in Emilia-Romagna, is famed for its three hills crowned with ancient fortresses and towers.

Its picturesque streets, thermal baths, and olive oil heritage make it a delightful and unique destination.

Don’t miss: Climb the Clock Tower for panoramic views of the village and surrounding countryside.

Monte Isola, Lago d’Iseo, Lombardy (Italy)

Monte Isola, the largest lake island in Italy, offers a serene escape with its charming villages, olive groves, and scenic hiking trails.

Accessible only by boat, it provides a tranquil retreat with stunning views of Lake Iseo and the surrounding mountains.

Insider Tip: Rent a bike to explore the island’s scenic trails and charming villages at your own pace.

Bonn, Germany

Bonn, the birthplace of Beethoven, offers a blend of cultural heritage and natural beauty.

With its vibrant museums, historic sites, and scenic Rhine River views, it’s a captivating destination for history buffs and music lovers alike.

Tip: the best time to visit is spring to witness the blooms on Cherry Blossom street, when the entire street erupts in a bright pink display of blooms

Lekeitio, Spain

Lekeitio, a hidden gem on the Basque Coast, boasts beautiful beaches, a charming harbor, and rich maritime history.

Its colorful festivals, Gothic basilica, and friendly atmosphere make it a delightful coastal retreat.

Insider Tip: Walk to San Nicolás Island during low tide to explore this unique tidal island connected by a sandbar.

Armona Island, Portugal

Armona Island, part of the Ria Formosa Natural Park, is a pure taste of paradise, without cars! Visiting here will feel like a tranquil retreat with pristine beaches and charming cottages.

Accessible only by ferry, it’s a perfect escape for those seeking unspoiled nature and peaceful coastal beauty.

Fun idea: Pack a picnic and spend a day on the island’s less crowded eastern beaches for a peaceful retreat.

Hidden Gems in the Northern Europe

Tallinn, Estonia (The Old Town)

Tallinn’s Old Town is a medieval wonderland, with cobblestone streets, ancient churches, and vibrant town squares.

Its well-preserved architecture and rich history make it a UNESCO World Heritage site, offering a glimpse into Estonia’s past while hosting trendy cafes and artisan shops.

Best views: Climb the tower of St. Olaf’s Church for stunning panoramic views of the old town and the Baltic Sea.

Island of Jersey, UK

The Island of Jersey offers a unique blend of British and French influences, with stunning cliffs, sandy beaches, and historic castles.

Its diverse landscapes and rich heritage make it a fascinating destination for history enthusiasts and nature lovers.

If you go: Don’t miss the breathtaking sunset views from Corbière Lighthouse, the island’s most photographed landmark.

God’s Own Junkyard, UK

While not a town or natural attraction, God’s Own Junkyard in London still makes this list of worthwhile hidden gems. 

It’s a neon wonderland, showcasing an eclectic collection of vintage and custom-made neon signs.

This vibrant gallery offers a unique and colorful experience, blending art, nostalgia, and dazzling lights in a truly unforgettable setting.

Plan ahead: Visit on a weekend to experience the lively café serving delicious homemade cakes amidst the neon glow.

St Dunstan in the East Church Garden, England

St Dunstan in the East Church Garden in London is a serene oasis amidst the city’s hustle and bustle.

The ruins of the bombed-out church, overgrown with lush greenery, create a hauntingly beautiful and peaceful retreat, perfect for reflection and relaxation.

For the best experience: Visit early in the morning for a peaceful experience and the best light for photography.

Orkney Islands, Scotland

The Orkney Islands, steeped in ancient history, feature rugged coastlines, Neolithic sites, and vibrant wildlife.

From the mystical Ring of Brodgar to the charming harbor towns, it’s a captivating destination for those seeking a connection to Scotland’s past and natural beauty.

My favorite area I recommend you visit: Explore the ancient Neolithic village of Skara Brae, one of the best-preserved prehistoric sites in Europe.

Hidden Gems in the Balkans

Gjirokastër, Albania

Gjirokastër, known as the “City of Stone,” is a UNESCO World Heritage site with its well-preserved Ottoman-era architecture and a stunning hilltop castle.

Its cobblestone streets, historic homes, and vibrant bazaar offer a glimpse into Albania’s rich cultural heritage, making it a must-visit hidden gem.

Must-do activity: Explore the Gjirokastër Castle and enjoy the panoramic views of the city and the surrounding valley.

Rovinj, Croatia

Rovinj, a picturesque town on the Istrian Peninsula, boasts narrow cobblestone streets, colorful houses, and a stunning seaside promenade.

Its blend of Italian and Croatian influences, along with its vibrant arts scene, make it a hidden gem on the Adriatic coast.

For the best views: Climb the bell tower of St. Euphemia’s Church for the best panoramic views of Rovinj and the Adriatic Sea.

Mljet Island, Croatia

Mljet Island, with its lush forests, tranquil lakes, and secluded beaches, is a paradise for nature lovers.

Its national park, featuring two saltwater lakes and a 12th-century monastery, offers serene beauty and peaceful exploration away from the crowds.

Best way to explore: Kayak around the island’s serene lakes and visit the ancient Benedictine monastery on St. Mary’s Island.

Halkidiki, Greece

Halkidiki, with its three peninsulas, boasts golden beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush forests.

Known for its scenic beauty and rich history, it’s a paradise for beach lovers, hikers, and those seeking both relaxation and adventure.

Halkidiki is the perfect place to visit in Greece if you want beaches, coves and clear water but without the crowds and price tags!

Trip idea: Take a boat trip around Mount Athos, a UNESCO World Heritage site and monastic community, for a unique cultural experience.

Kotor, Montenegro

Kotor, nestled in a stunning bay, is a UNESCO World Heritage site with winding streets, ancient walls, and historic churches.

Its dramatic mountain backdrop and crystal-clear waters create a mesmerizing setting for exploration and relaxation.

Can’t miss: Hike up to the ancient fortress of San Giovanni for breathtaking views of the Bay of Kotor.

Sighișoara, Romania

Sighișoara, the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, exudes medieval charm with its colorful houses, cobbled streets, and a towering clock tower.

It’s one of the most colorful medieval towns in Europe you probably haven’t heard of!

This UNESCO World Heritage site is a captivating blend of history and legend, offering a unique glimpse into Transylvania’s storied past.

Fun fact: Explore the town’s medieval citadel and visit the house where Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration for Dracula, was born.

Piran, Slovenia

Piran, a charming coastal town on the Adriatic Sea, is known for its Venetian architecture, narrow winding streets, and picturesque harbor.

Its historic town center, featuring the stunning Tartini Square and the ancient city walls, offers a delightful blend of cultural heritage and seaside beauty, making it a hidden gem in Slovenia.

Hidden Gems in Eastern European Countries

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Sarajevo, a city of diverse cultures and rich history, offers a blend of East and West with its Ottoman-era bazaar, Austro-Hungarian architecture, and poignant war history.

Vibrant street life and welcoming locals make it a fascinating and heartwarming visit.

Insider Tip: Visit the historic Latin Bridge, where the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand took place, sparking World War I.

Český Krumlov, Czechia

Český Krumlov, a UNESCO World Heritage site, enchants visitors with its fairytale castle, winding river, and cobblestone streets.

This charming town offers a step back in time, with its well-preserved Renaissance and Baroque architecture.

Insider Tip: Visit the Český Krumlov Castle during the evening for a magical view of the illuminated castle and town.

Nida, Lithuania

Nida, nestled on the Curonian Spit, is a serene escape with pristine beaches, picturesque dunes, and a charming fishing village atmosphere.

It’s a the perfect getaway for nature lovers and those seeking tranquility, with its unspoiled landscapes and rich cultural heritage.

Insider Tip: Rent a bike to explore the Curonian Spit’s unique dunes and pine forests.

Bodrum, Turkey

Bodrum, with its dazzling turquoise waters and vibrant nightlife, is a blend of ancient and modern.

Known for its historic castle, charming marinas, and lively bazaars, this coastal town has the perfect mix of history, culture, and seaside relaxation.