While Europe is renowned for its iconic landmarks and bustling cities, there is a treasure trove of lesser-known destinations waiting to be explored.
From charming medieval villages tucked away in the rolling countryside to rugged coastal retreats off the tourist radar, we have handpicked a selection of unique and enchanting places that offer a truly authentic European experience.
So, pack your adventurous spirit and join us as we delve into these secret corners of the continent, where captivating stories, rich history, and breathtaking beauty await.
Get ready to uncover Europe’s best-kept secrets and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Table of Contents
Why choose off-the-beaten-path destinations over popular tourist spots
There are several reasons why you should consider visiting off-the-beaten-path destinations in Europe.
Firstly, these destinations offer a more authentic and immersive experience. As they are not overrun with tourists, you get a chance to interact with locals and experience their way of life.
Additionally, off-the-beaten-path destinations are often more affordable than popular tourist spots, making them ideal for budget-conscious travelers.
Another reason to choose off-the-beaten-path destinations is that they offer unique experiences that you won’t find in popular tourist spots.
From secluded beaches to charming villages, these destinations have something for everyone. By exploring lesser-known destinations, you get to discover hidden gems and create unforgettable memories.
How to find off-the-beaten-path destinations in Europe
Finding off-the-beaten-path destinations in Europe can be challenging, but it’s not impossible.
One way to do this is by researching online. Travel blogs, forums, and social media can be excellent resources for discovering hidden gems. Additionally, you can ask locals or other travelers for recommendations.
Another way to find off-the-beaten-path destinations is to explore lesser-known regions in popular countries.
For example, instead of visiting Paris, you can explore the French countryside, which is dotted with charming villages and picturesque landscapes.
Similarly, instead of visiting Barcelona, you can explore the lesser-known regions of Catalonia.
8 off-the-beaten-path destinations in Europe
Plovdiv is one of the oldest cities in Europe and is known for its well-preserved Roman ruins and Ottoman-era architecture.
The city is also home to a vibrant arts scene, with numerous galleries and cultural events happening throughout the year.
When in Plovdiv, don’t miss a visit to the Ancient Theatre, which dates back to the 1st century AD.
Matera is a city in southern Italy known for its ancient cave dwellings, which have been inhabited since prehistoric times.
The city has a rich history and was designated as a European Capital of Culture in 2019.
When in Matera, take a stroll through the Sassi di Matera, a complex of cave dwellings that have been converted into hotels, restaurants, and shops.
Brasov is a charming medieval city in Transylvania, Romania, known for its Gothic architecture and picturesque old town.
The city is surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains, offering plenty of opportunities for hiking and skiing.
When in Brasov, don’t miss a visit to the Black Church, a Gothic-style church that dates back to the 14th century.
Tbilisi is the capital city of Georgia and is known for its rich history, diverse architecture, and vibrant nightlife.
The city is located in a valley on the banks of the Kura River and is surrounded by hills, offering breathtaking views.
When in Tbilisi, take a stroll through the charming old town, which is dotted with traditional Georgian houses and bathhouses.
Read More: 13 Best Places To Visit In Europe
Rila Monastery, Bulgaria
The Rila Monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Rila Mountains of Bulgaria.
The monastery was founded in the 10th century and is known for its stunning frescoes and architecture.
When visiting the Rila Monastery, take a guided tour to learn about the history and significance of this important cultural site.
Lake Bled, Slovenia
Lake Bled is a picturesque lake located in the Julian Alps of Slovenia. The lake is surrounded by mountains and is known for its stunning natural beauty.
When in Lake Bled, take a boat ride to the island in the middle of the lake, where you can visit the Church of the Assumption and ring the famous wishing bell.
Sintra is a charming town located just outside of Lisbon, Portugal. The town is known for its stunning palaces and castles, including the famous Pena Palace, which is perched on a hilltop overlooking the town.
When in Sintra, take a stroll through the historic town center and visit the National Palace, which dates back to the 14th century.
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Plitvice Lakes National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in central Croatia. The park is known for its stunning lakes and waterfalls, which are surrounded by lush forests and meadows.
When visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park, take a guided tour to learn about the park’s unique ecosystem and wildlife.
Things to do in each destination
Each of the eight off-the-beaten-path destinations in Europe offers a range of activities and experiences.
In Plovdiv, take a walk through the Kapana district, which is home to numerous art galleries and craft shops.
In Matera, visit the Palombaro Lungo, an ancient water cistern that dates back to the Roman era.
In Brasov, take a cable car to the top of Mount Tampa for panoramic views of the city.
In Tbilisi, visit the sulfur baths, which have been used for centuries for their healing properties.
In Rila Monastery, attend a religious service to experience the spiritual significance of the monastery.
In Lake Bled, take a hike to the nearby Vintgar Gorge, which is known for its stunning waterfalls.
In Sintra, visit the Quinta da Regaleira, a stunning palace surrounded by lush gardens and grottoes.
In Plitvice Lakes National Park, take a boat ride on the park’s largest lake, Kozjak.
Accommodation options in each destination
Accommodation options in off-the-beaten-path destinations in Europe range from budget-friendly hostels to luxurious hotels.
In Plovdiv, stay at the Art Hotel Dali for a unique art-inspired experience.
In Matera, stay at the Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita, a hotel located in ancient cave dwellings.
In Brasov, stay at the Casa Wagner, a charming hotel located in the heart of the old town.
In Tbilisi, stay at the Rooms Hotel, a boutique hotel located in a former publishing house. I
n Rila Monastery, stay at the Rila Monastery Guest House for an authentic monastic experience.
In Lake Bled, stay at the Grand Hotel Toplice, a luxurious hotel located on the shores of the lake.
In Sintra, stay at the Tivoli Palácio de Seteais, a stunning palace hotel located in the hills outside of the town.
In Plitvice Lakes National Park, stay at the Hotel Jezero, a comfortable hotel located within walking distance of the park’s entrance.
Transportation options to each destination
Transportation options to off-the-beaten-path destinations in Europe vary depending on the location.
In some cases, it may be necessary to rent a car to reach these destinations. In other cases, public transportation may be available.
For example, in Plovdiv, you can take a train or bus from Sofia, the capital city of Bulgaria.
In Matera, you can take a train from Rome or Naples.
In Brasov, you can take a train or bus from Bucharest, the capital city of Romania.
In Tbilisi, you can take a flight from major European cities or neighboring countries.
In Rila Monastery, you can take a bus or taxi from Sofia.
In Lake Bled, you can take a bus or train from Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia.
In Sintra, you can take a train from Lisbon.
In Plitvice Lakes National Park, you can take a bus or taxi from Zagreb, the capital city of Croatia.
Best time to visit each destination
The best time to visit off-the-beaten-path destinations in Europe varies depending on the destination.
In general, the shoulder seasons of spring and fall are ideal for visiting these destinations, as the weather is pleasant and the crowds are smaller.
However, some destinations may be better visited during the summer or winter months.
For example, Lake Bled is best visited in the summer, when the weather is warm enough for swimming and water sports.
Plitvice Lakes National Park is best visited in the fall, when the foliage is at its most colorful.
Tips for travelling to off-the-beaten-path destinations in Europe
Traveling to off-the-beaten-path destinations in Europe requires some extra preparation and planning. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your trip:
- Research the destination thoroughly before your trip, including transportation options, accommodation options, and things to do in the area.
- Pack appropriately for the weather and activities you plan to do.
- Be respectful of local customs and traditions, and make an effort to learn some basic phrases in the local language.
- Be prepared for unexpected challenges, such as language barriers or transportation delays.
- Consider purchasing travel insurance to protect yourself against unforeseen circumstances.
Exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations in Europe is a great way to discover hidden gems and create unforgettable memories.
Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or nature, these destinations offer something for everyone.
By following these tips and doing your research, you can have an amazing trip and experience Europe in a unique and authentic way.