There’s absolutely nothing wrong with travelling to much-visited and adored cities like Barcelona, Venice, or Florence—after all, we’d be remiss in suggesting that any city on the planet could replace the romance of Paris or the storied history of Athens. But for the traveller who’s simply on the market for something a little more under-the-radar, there are plenty of lesser-known cities in Europe to explore. Half the fun of travel is discovery anyway, don’t you think? We’ve been doing some matchmaking, so read on for five underrated destinations that will satisfy your taste for beauty, adventure, culture, and then some.
Skip London, Visit Edinburgh
Keep it in the Great Britain family and head to Edinburgh, Scotland, for a metropolitan mix of history, culture, food, and gorgeous architecture to boot. Main sights include Edinburgh Castle and Arthur’s Seat, but there’s plenty more culture to explore too. In August, the city hosts the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the largest arts festival in the world.
Skip Dublin, Visit County Clare
Dublin has some truly incredible sights, including a magnificent 13th-century castle and other medieval wonders. But if it’s history and natural wonders you’re after—rather than nightlife—scenic County Clare is just as noteworthy. Highlights include the breathtaking ragged Cliffs of Moher, the 15th-century Bunratty Castle, and the mystical rock formations of The Burren.
Skip Athens, Visit Rhodes
This scenic Greek island, away from the crowds of Athens, boasts beautiful beaches plus a few sights that will give you your fill of history, including the Temple of Apollo, the Acropolis of Lindos, the Governor’s Palace, as well as a bustling Old Town with medieval castles, Roman ruins, and Byzantine mosques.
Skip Barcelona, Visit Valencia
The coastal city of Valencia, just a short train trip south from Barcelona, has it all: beaches, history, culture, and a bustling culinary scene. Valencia has a lovely daytime culture with its bike-friendly streets, plus a happening nightlife with rooftop discos and the garden atop the Arts and Sciences Museum.