Lesser-Known European Destinations For The Smart Traveler

Lesser-Known European Destinations For The Smart Traveler

It is understandable that you may want to take a vacation to many of the popular European cities in Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany. These countries have beautiful and historical cities, incredible cuisine, and a lot of hype. But there are 27 countries in the European Union, and most are highly underrated. Though Europe has had no issue with drawing in tourists, the destinations featured here have flown under the radar for years. So swap out your annual trip to Paris or Rome, for one of these alternatives, and they might just surprise you.


You may want to check a few Balkan countries off your bucket list before they become the next hotspot destination. Countries like Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria and Romania are sneaking on to many a travel itinerary, renowned for their beautiful natural landscapes, cities nestled into valleys, and mountain-top views to remember for a lifetime. For now we recommend Albania as a location still semi-shielded from the effects of overtourism. Just last year, Lonely Planet called this country the “jewel” of the Balkans, and that may be because there’s something for every type of traveler here. Big cities, small towns, incredible hiking routes in nature, and the beautiful blue teal waters of the Adriatic and Ionian Seas offer up the perfect beach day.



Sure, you could book your flight to Rome or Florence this year and have a wondrous adventure full of rich gelato and some of the world’s most beautiful architecture, but you can get much of the same in less crowded Sardinia, off the west coast of Italy. Though this island’s beaches still see plenty of tourism in the high season, if you catch this charming island in the early spring or autumn you won’t be overwhelmed by the masses. The breathtaking seaside landscapes compete with that of the Italian Riviera or the Amalfi Coast, and the cultural and culinary offerings are second to none.



The next time you’re budgeting for a trip, consider a small country tucked between Switzerland and Austria with just as much character. Liechtenstein, the world’s sixth smallest nation, is famous for medieval architecture, alpine landscapes, and hiking trails that connect the villages. The famous Liechtenstein Trail, launched in 2019, traverses the whole country for 75 km (about 46 miles). Throughout this hike discover beautiful villages, ancient farms and historical ruins.The best time to hike here is between April and October. According to The Travelers Buddy, Liechtenstein only receives about 80,000 visitors per year and is the least visited country in the E.U. so get there now before the word spreads!



This satellite island of Portugal may see its fair share of tourists at the height of summer, but it still offers a great alternative to more saturated destinations like Lisbon or the Algarve, and it gives a tropical vibe and temperate weather year round. Here you can enjoy plenty of outdoor adventures such as visiting waterfalls, hiking mountains, dolphin or whale watching, and more seaside activities. Views here compete with those of France’s southern coast, or Italy’s most beautiful seaside views. 



Home to one of the oldest living languages on Earth, Lithuania is not a European country to miss. Located in Northeastern Europe along the shores of the Baltic Sea, this country has beautiful cities that are fantastically preserved. History looms large here and in Vilnius, the country’s most popular metropolitan area, you can find views that compete with that of cities like Vienna, Prague, and Budapest. Discover castles, wonderful museums, including one dedicated to beekeeping, and explore the green countryside and coursing rivers. Lithuania has a bit of something for everyone, and is a worthy stop for those looking to experience lesser-known EU countries.


Featured Image: Castelsardo, Sardinia (Photo by Vlas Telino studio)

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