There are plenty of incredible places waiting to be discovered in Europe. Some are more popular, others still remain hidden. Every time I visit a new country, I want to discover hidden gems, places that are not yet touristy. That’s why I searched for the most beautiful, off-the-beaten-path destinations in Europe.
To make things easier for you, I’ve ordered them by country. How many of these secret places in Europe have you visited yet?
Hidden gems in Albania
Located in the Northern Albania mountains, Theth is one of the off-the-beaten-path places in Europe that travelers should include on their bucket list. While getting more attention lately due to its charming atmosphere and stunning location, the village still retains its authentic character, with old stone churches and houses located in the middle of a lush valley, surrounded by dramatic mountain peaks and raging rivers.
Around the village, there are plenty of hiking paths leading visitors to unbelievable mountain passes, waterfalls and other unforgettable sights.
Hidden gems in Austria
2. St. Wolfgang
The enchanting Sankt Wolfgang is located on the banks of Wolfgang Lake, in the Salzkammergut region of Austria, not far from the city of Salzburg. Caught between tall mountains and the crystal-clear lake, the small settlement has an authentic atmosphere that makes it one of the underrated places in Europe you need to visit.
Apart from the breathtaking natural beauty surrounding the town, there’s a lot to explore inside Sankt Wolfgang, such as a beautiful old church, a spa and a winter resort. The village has been an important pilgrimage site for many centuries.
Hidden gems in Azerbaijan
The capital of Azerbaijan might be one of the unknown places in Europe – a city filled with amazing attractions that also exhibits a unique exotic atmosphere. Set on the shore of the Caspian Sea, this destination perfectly blends the old and the new, featuring a stunning walled old city.
Tourists can visit the superb palace complex of the Shirvashahs, the 12th century stone Maiden Tower and many mosques and museums. Baku also features modern architectural wonders, like the Flame Towers, Teza Pir Mosque or the Crescent Hotel. The waterfront promenade is also another highlight, with many shaded alleys and cafes.
Hidden gems in Belgium
If you’re looking for underrated places in Europe, make sure to add Ghent to your bucket list. I visited this incredible city twice and I’d go back anytime in a heartbeat.
Unlike Bruges, Ghent is less touristy but equally charming. Here you’ll find beautiful cathedrals, a wide variety of craft beer and stunning canals. The best way to explore the city is by boat, so make sure to take a boat tour and admire the views!
Hidden gems in Bosnia & Herzegovina
Have you ever considered visiting Bosnia & Herzegovina? Mostar is a charming town, located just a short drive away from Croatia. You can visit it as a day trip from Dubrovnik or Makarska.
Mostar is mainly known for the picturesque houses and the Old Bridge. If you’re lucky enough, you can even see people jumping from the top of the bridge into the cold waters of the river below. Would you dare? I recommend planning at least one day to visit this beautiful town.
Hidden gems in Bulgaria
6. Veliko Tarnovo
Veliko Tarnovo is the perfect city-break in Bulgaria. The houses here are layered on beautiful hills while the city is divided in two by a stunning river. Veliko Tarnovo is a destination with a rich history and some of the places worth visiting are Tsaravets Fortress, Sveta Gora Park and Trapezitsa Fortress.
While in the area, take a day trip to an incredible UFO-shaped building. It’s called Buzlduzha, an icon of the communist regime.
Hidden gems in Croatia
7. Galesnjak Island
Croatia is known for its countless stunning islands, but one of them is truly special. I’m talking about Galesnjak Island, an island shaped like a heart. There are no houses or infrastructure here, but you can visit this island and enjoy its beautiful beaches.
It’s a popular destination for couples and honeymooners. This under-the-radar destination in Europe is a must-see!
Hidden gems in Czech Republic
8. Kutna Hora
After exploring Prague and its charming city centre, head to Kutna Hora, one of Europe’s secret destinations. Located in the region of Bohemia, Kutna Hora is a city full of history.
Perhaps the main attraction here is the fascinating Sedlec Ossuary. This church is a resting place for more than 40,000 people, but there is nothing usual about this place. The church is decorated with human bones. Yes, you’ve heard it right, the chandeliers and other decorations are made out of bones.
The marvelous town of Telc located in the southern part of the Czech Republic is one of those offbeat European destinations that offers an unexpected experience to all travelers. The historical town center is included in the UNESCO World Heritage and the houses here have one of the most beautiful and interesting architecture in this part of Europe.
With colorful townhouses that date back centuries, but are perfectly preserved, a stupendous Gothic cathedral, an elegant Renaissance castle, underground tunnels and the delightful Czech beer to enjoy, this can be an unforgettable destination.
Hidden gems in Estonia
Estonia is one of the off-the-beaten-path destinations in Europe. When it comes to must-see places in Europe, Estonia is not on the top of any traveler’s mind. However, there are plenty of exciting places to discover in this country.
One of them is Tallinn, the capital city. Tallinn has a beautiful old city, boasting with traditional restaurants, museums and historic houses. If you’re looking for something more modern, head to Telliskivi Creative city, a place for people to hang out and discover local shops.
Hidden gems in The Faroe Islands
11. Faroe Islands
The lonely Faroe Islands archipelago sits in the northern Atlantic Ocean, midway between the coasts of Norway, Iceland and Scotland. Lost in the endlessness of the sea, these dramatic islands are definitely among the hidden gems of Europe, featuring some of the most spectacular and beautiful landscapes in the world.
With more sheep than people inhabiting several of the 18 Faroe Islands, this area is known for its tall mountains rising from the ocean, green pastures and stone villages, lonely lighthouses and stunning waterfalls. A dream destination for anyone who loves natural wonders!
Hidden gems in France
Located on the French Riviera, Menton is known for its beautiful beaches and colorful houses. This city is best explored on foot. You’ll discover beautiful churches, local shops and stunning viewpoints.
Menton is the perfect destination for those looking for a beautiful yet relaxed destination.
13. Verdon Gorge
One of the most impressive natural wonders in Europe is the gorge of Verdon in the Provence of southeastern France. The deepest gorge in the country, is quite a spectacular sight. The turquoise water of the river meandering between steep cliffs that rise for hundreds of meters is a sight to remember.
While there is no road through the gorge, several follow it high above, including many trekking paths that offer astonishing panoramas. Travelers can also discover this natural wonder’s beauty by going rafting, kayaking or renting a boat.
Hidden gems in Georgia
Among the unknown places in Europe, there are some fascinating destinations that truly surpass any expectation. Ushguli is located in the high mountains of Georgia, at an altitude of 2100 meters. Considered one of the highest continuously inhabited settlements on the continent, this piece of heaven is quite challenging to reach and this has preserved its authentic atmosphere and architecture.
The highlights of this ancient village are the stone tower houses spread throughout the lush valley surrounded by tall ridges. Of the 300 towers that once stood in Ushguli, only about 30 can be admired today and they’re included in the UNESCO World Heritage.
Hidden gems in Germany
The sensational Bastei Rock Formations and Bridge are located near the eastern border of Germany, close to Dresden. Being one of the hidden places in Europe, this amazing structure is not known by many travelers, yet it is worth visiting for its spectacular landscapes.
The rock formations were connected first by a wooden bridge and in 1851, a sandstone bridge was built for visitors to fully enjoy the scenery. Tourists can admire the surrounding mountains, the nearby river and even old fortresses on the horizon, as well as the needle-like rocks of Bastei that the bridge connects.
Trier is one of the least known destinations in Germany, located close to the eastern border with Luxembourg, on the Moselle River. Claiming to be the Rome of the North, this tiny city packs an overwhelming amount of cultural heritage sites, including eight attractions that are included in the UNESCO World Heritage.
Among the fascinating places to discover in Trier, are the Porta Nigra Roman Gate, Constantine’s Throne Room, the Roman Bridge, the imperial bathhouses, an amphitheater, the oldest Gothic church in Germany, a well-preserved medieval old town, the Karl Marx museum and many other marvels.
Hidden gems in Greece
Everyone heard about Santorini or Mykonos, but few know about Thassos. There are many off-the-radar islands in Greece and Thassos is one of them. A must-see attraction on the island is the incredible Giola natural pool.
Other tourist attractions include beautiful beaches such as Marble Beach and Golden Beach. While in Greece, don’t forget to try the Greek salad, it’s the perfect way to refresh yourself!
Known for its colorful neoclassical houses, Symi town is a vibrant place that will steal your heart. While in the area, don’t hesitate to visit Symi Castle. It’s a 30 minutes hike to the top, but the views are worth it, especially if you visit it at sunset.
If you’d like to explore some of the nearby beaches, take a boat tour from Symi town and be amazed by the crystal clear water. Symi is one of the most colorful places in the world and a hidden gem worth exploring.
Hidden gems in Iceland
Have you ever heard about the Rainbow Street in Iceland? Well, it’s located in Seydisfjordur, a remote yet beautiful village in Iceland. There are several hikes you can do here, including visiting one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland – Gufu Waterall.
Seydisfjordur is a small, charming city. If you’re driving along the Ring Road, I recommend stopping here for at least a few hours. The scenery is breathtaking.
20. The Arctic Henge
One of the most interesting hidden places in Europe can be uncovered in the wild and cold north of Iceland. The Arctic Henge is a unique monument created in the remote village of Raufarhofn, consisting of a set of blocks of stone that represent dwarves from the Icelandic legends and celebrate pagan beliefs.
Set in a particular manner so that visitors can see the midnight sun from various points and without any interference, this monument is truly spectacular, a modern reinterpretation of ancient beliefs and customs.
Hidden gems in Italy
One of the most underrated destinations in Europe is the beautiful village of Castelezzano. Perched on a cliff, this village impresses through its architecture and history.
Get lost on the narrow streets, stop at a local restaurant and enjoy a delicious glass of wine and some pasta. Can life get better than this? I don’t think so.
Among the hidden gems of Europe, the idyllic Sirmione will definitely steal your heart. Located on the coast of Lake Garda in northern Italy, it’s packed with fascinating places to see.
Among the highlights, Sirmione features a medieval castle rising out of the water, several splendid old churches, the marvelous Catullus Grottoes with its Roman ruins, the prehistoric site of Lugana Vecchia and many thermal springs. Tourists can also sail on the Garda Lake, hike in the nearby mountains and much more.
Majestically set between the mighty Etna Volcano and the coast of Sicily, the spectacular town of Taormina is one of the best secret destinations in Europe. Featuring a rich cultural heritage and blessed with amazing natural beauty that also includes several superb beaches, Taormina has a lot going for it.
Travelers can explore its ancient attractions like the large and beautifully preserved Greek Theatre or admire the interesting Porta Messina, while newer sights include the Duomo di San Nicola, several beautiful churches and palaces. Another highlight is the tiny Isola Bella island, while the nearby coast is dotted with beaches, caves and grottoes.
Often overlooked by travelers that choose more famous destinations like Capri or Ischia, the tiny island of Procida is equally enchanting. Tucked between Ischia and the mainland, Procida offers incredible views of the Gulf of Naples and the Vesuvius in the distance. An interesting fact is that Procida will be the Capital of Culture in Italy for 2022.
There are plenty of things to admire and do on the island. You can admire the colorful houses, the beautiful old churches, the idyllic beaches and cozy little restaurants, but most of all, visitors come to enjoy the chilled-out lifestyle and atmosphere.
Hidden gems in Northern Ireland
25. Giant’s Causeway
Giant’s Causeway is a well-known destination in Northern Ireland. However, not many international tourists know about this place. The huge complex made from thousands of hexagonal basalt columns created by nature is a truly fascinating sight.
Filled with legends and myths, these majestic geological formations impress through their almost perfect shapes, as well as the beauty of the landscape they create. Travelers can explore the site, learn more about it and admire the natural wonders on the northern coast of Northern Ireland.
Hidden gems in Norway
One of the off-the-beaten-track destinations in Europe, the small fishing village of Reine sits in a breathtaking landscape, surrounded by the northern wilderness of Norway. Located above the Polar Circle and on a remote island rather far from the mainland, this unique place shows the magnificence of Lofoten Islands, surrounded by tall mountains and fjords.
While in Reine, a hike up to Reinebringen is definitely worth it for the spectacular panorama it offers. Tourists can also enjoy many other activities like cycling, kayaking, skiing or watching the Northern Lights (in winter).
Hidden gems in Poland
Looking for unique places in Europe? Look no further and plan a trip to Zalipie. This village is known for its houses that are painted in colorful floral patterns. Even the interior furniture follows the same patterns.
There are a few locals left who still master this art, keeping this tradition alive. Zalipie has been on my bucket list for a long time and I’m more than happy to include it in this post about hidden gems in Europe.
Located in western Poland on the river Warta, Poznan has an unbelievably rich cultural heritage, mostly condensed into its splendid Old Town with colorful townhouses, elegant squares and old churches.
Among the most interesting attractions in Poznan, travelers can visit the Old Market Square with the History Museum and the peculiar Croissant Museum, the Old Town Hall, the majestic Imperial Castle, the beautiful Poznan Cathedral, as well as many other museums and churches.
Hidden gems in Portugal
29. Costa Nova
Among the underrated places in Europe, the beaches of Portugal are not given enough credit for their sublime beauty and charm. One of the most beautiful ones can be found near the city of Aveiro, just south of Porto. The seaside resort and beach of Costa Nova and its sister Barra are simply stunning.
With superb colorful houses lining the promenade, perfect golden sand beaches and plenty of activities to choose from, Costa Nova is a must-see destination in Europe. Furthermore, the tiny strip of land is backed by the Aveiro Lagoon, forming a splendid landscape.
One of the secret places in Portugal is Obidos, a small town that is still overlooked by tourists. The main attraction is the castle, but I also recommend walking on the narrow streets. Take your time to admire the beautifully pained houses.
Hidden gems in Romania
One of Europe’s most beautiful villages is Biertan, a small village in Romania, hidden from tourists. What makes Biertan special is the fortified church located on top of a hill located right in the centre of the village.
This church looks like a small castle and it dates back to the 15th century. The Saxon village of Biertan is also quite impressive. The houses are beautiful and there are a few restaurants where you can try traditional Romanian food.
The last inhabited medieval fortress, Sighisioara is one of the hidden gems in Romania and one of the most beautiful fortresses in the country. Stepping inside the fortress is like stepping a few hundred years back in time. The cobbled streets, small churches, beautiful towers and narrow alleys are just some of the attractions in Sighisoara.
For the best view of the fortress and the city, climb to the top of the clock tower. Also, you can visit the place where Dracula was supposedly born. Sighisioara is a magical place that should be on the itinerary of any traveler visiting Romania.
Rated by Top Gear as The Best Road in the World, Transfagarasan goes through the Carpathian Mountains in a series of never-ending hairpins. At its highest point, the road reaches Balea Lake – an iconic place in Romania.
This secret place in Europe is mostly visited by locals, wanting to escape the chaotic cities. The road gets pretty busy during weekends and national holidays. Also, keep in mind that during winter, Transfagarasan is closed.
Hidden gems in Russia
34. Dargavs, the City of the Dead
This place is not for the faint-hearted. Dargavs is a medieval necropolis, home to the remains of more than 10,000 people. Located near the border with Georgia, this mysterious place is one of the less-known places in Europe.
The history of this place is still unknown, but one thing is certain – there are 99 well-preserved crypts. Just like the crypts, the corpses here are very well preserved.
Hidden gems in Scotland
Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and a fantastic travel destination within Europe. With its mighty castle, its cobblestone streets and superb character, Edinburgh has plenty of highlights for travelers to discover.
Among the most interesting things to see and do in Edinburgh, are the majestic Edinburgh Castle overlooking the city, the insightful National Museum of Scotland, a hike to the astonishing Arthur’s Seat for panoramic views of the city, the superb Calton Hill and the National Monument, the thrilling Dungeon and the charming Zoo.
Set on the picturesque Skye Island, just off the northwestern coast of Scotland, the tiny Portree village is surrounded by the most enticing wilderness one could imagine. While only a couple of centuries old, this fishing village is one of those offbeat European destinations that offers an unforgettable experience.
Among the most interesting things to see and do while visiting Portree, travelers can enjoy the charming bay and the surrounding hills or explore the hiking paths like the famous Old Man of Storr walk.
Hidden gems in Slovenia
One of the off-the-beaten-track destinations in Europe is the lake Bohinj, located inside the Triglav National Park in Slovenia. Surrounded by the magical Julian Alps, travelers often overlook it in favor of the more famous Lake Bled, located nearby.
Nevertheless, it has its charm, the whole valley featuring astonishing landscapes with forests, pastures and remote villages, always backed by the mountain ridges. Visitors can explore the nearby hiking paths and discover unique panoramas, enjoy the local hospitality or try some water activities during the summer. There are also splendid canyons and waterfalls waiting to be explored.
Hidden gems in Spain
One of the secret destinations in Europe, Gaucin is located in southern Spain, not far from the coast and the Gibraltar Strait. Part of the white villages of Spain, the town and its bright houses sits on the mountains’ slope and features an authentic atmosphere that is lost elsewhere.
The steep and narrow streets lead to unknown corners, where travelers can discover charming sights. One of the highlights includes climbing towards the ruins of the Castle of the Eagle for a superb panorama of the surrounding area, as well as other activities like hiking, birdwatching or simply enjoying the chilled-out life in a traditional restaurant.
39. Setenil de Las Bodegas
Located in the mountains of Cadiz Province in southern Spain, this amazing village is one of the off-the-beaten-path places in Europe. The destination is extremely spectacular, built along the steep ridges of a river canyon, with some of the houses built directly into the rock or in former caves.
It is definitely a unique settlement, with alleys passing through veritable tunnels under the rockface. Setenil de las Bodegas, apart from its amazing setting and architecture, is also known for its traditional products and cuisine.
Hidden gems in The Netherlands
Giethoorn, also known as the Venice of the North is one of the most picturesque villages in Europe. What makes this village special is the fact that cars are not allowed inside and the only way to get around are by foot or by boat.
The village itself is rather small, perfect to be explored in only one day. Most tourists come here as a day trip from Amsterdam.
To avoid the chaos in Amsterdam, I recommend an equally charming city, Delft. Smaller than Amsterdam, but with rich history and incredible architecture, Delft is known for its blue Delft pottery.
From Amsterdam, it’s easy to reach Delft by train and you can visit the main attractions in the city in just one day. Delft is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered!
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