Europe is renowned for its famous cities. Travelers from all over the world wander ancient Rome, enjoy the light show at the Eiffel tower, and walk around the old stone city walls of Dubrovnik.
All of us know about these major attractions, but there is much more to Europe than these famous cities. The truth is, some of the best experiences in Europe are the found in the lesser-known towns and cities.
Let's discover 10 cities in Europe that you didn't know existed but definitely should visit.
Thun, located in the Bernese Highlands of Switzerland, entices visitors to escape the hustle and bustle of Europe's larger cities. Thun has all the highlights of a major European city including old castles, majestic mountains, and friendly locals. In the summer, the nearby fields and meadows surrounding Thun turn an incredible shade of bright green. The winter is equally beautiful with snow covering the massive mountains surrounding the city. The city possesses great food, a medieval city center, and extraordinary views. Thun is the whole package.
When I think of Český Krumlov, my mind races to memories of red roof houses, old locals hanging clothes out to dry, and the rushing river cutting through the medieval city. Český Krumlov is the home to an old castle that looks across the city and over the rolling hills in the distance. Walking down the cobblestone streets filled with hole-in-the-wall shops gives you the feeling that you accidently stumbled into a fairy tale. Český Krumlov is one of the most inviting cities in Europe.
Bellagio is nestled perfectly beside a large lake and mountains. Located on Lake Como, this small city is so stunning that it is referred to as the pearl of Como. The city is known for its winding stone lanes and aged buildings. Bellagio is a popular honeymoon destination, but even so, it is a great getaway for anyone traveling through Italy. Every nook and cranny in Bellagio holds something to discover.
Visitors struggle to leave Hallstatt. This tiny fishing city is located in the mountainous Salzkammergut region of Austria on the banks of a gorgeous lake. Alpine houses stretch in all directions throughout the city. Hallstatt itself is wonderful, but what makes it so special, is the area surrounding it. There is an old salt mine to explore, trails to hike, the Echern Valley to see, and waterfalls to bask in.
Annecy is unlike any other city I have seen in France. Canals cut past the multicolored houses and chateaux and drift into the lake. Sitting at 1,500 feet above sea level, Annecy is like a Venice sitting high in the mountains. It is easy to see why the city was even adored by counts and dukes.
Odense is the third largest city in Denmark. However, many travelers do not know about it, which is a shame because Odense is a city worth visiting. In fact, the tiny houses and small streets might trick you into believing that it is not a city at all. Instead, you feel like you have stumbled into a large village of almost 200,000 people.
A couple of things that stand out about Odense are the beautiful sculptures, tasty food, timeworn castles, and historical museums. Odense features the best of Denmark's culture, and it is becoming increasing popular among artists and cyclists. It is also one of Demarks cheapest cities to visit. Surprisingly, Odense has stayed off the radar for most travelers.
Torun is a medieval city in Northern Poland. The city was lucky enough to escape bombing during the great wars leaving the city unscathed. The untouched and well-preserved buildings make Torun the best example of Gothic architecture in the country. In fact, the entire old town of Torun is a UNESCO site.
Freiburg is a lively, yet relaxing, university city in Germany. This Medieval city is well known among Germans for its mild weather. Freiburg is in Germany wine country and at the doorstep of the infamous Black Forest. The secluded nature of this city makes it a perfect European getaway to drink some wine, embrace the culture, and wander the German landscape.
Cádiz has had people living in it since 1,000 B.C making it one of the oldest cities in Spain. This ancient city is engulfed with history and legend. Even the trees in the park are said to have been brought back from Christopher Columbus after discovering the New World. When visiting Spain, there’s no doubt that Cádiz should be near the top of your itinerary.
The first notable thing about Mostar is Stari Most; the large stone bridge suspended high above the Neretva River. This famous bridge was built in the 16th-century, and it has become one of the most recognizable landmarks in Bosnia.
Mostar also has lively markets and shops to visit as well as alleys and street art to discover. The stunning Kravice Waterfalls are just 25 miles outside the city, perfect for adventure travelers. Mostar has the potential to steal your heart, so be careful.
There is so much more to Europe than the famous tourist cities of Paris, Rome, and Athens. The continent is full of lesser known places off the beaten path.
These are some of the best cities to visit in Europe that you didn't know existed. Each one is beckoning visitors to come spend a little time with them on your next visit to Europe.
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Stephen Schreck is a world traveler, nomad, and adventure backpacker. Knowing a life of aimlessly wandering the globe in search of adventures was the only life for him he set out to make his dream his reality. Currently he is trying to conquer his fears and tackle his bucket list. Follow Stephen's adventures at A Backpacker's Tale or on social media on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.
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