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Top 10 Underrated European Cities To Visit

Posted by Nicole West on 22/02/2015
Top 10 Underrated European Cities To Visit

When we think of a European holiday, Paris, Rome, Venice and Barcelona come immediately to mind. However, just because these mighty cities always top the ‘most visited’ lists, doesn’t mean Europe’s finest hidden gems should remain undiscovered. Here are 10 of the most beautiful and underrated European cities, to help you find adventure off the beaten path.

1. Ljubljana, Slovenia

The capital of Slovenia is imbued with a relaxed Mediterranean vibe, it’s charming, small and easy to get around. Historically preserved, Ljubljana boasts the remains of the Roman city of Emona, a medieval castle in the old city centre and buildings with Baroque facades.

Each year, the city hosts more than 10,000 cultural events from alternate art to classical music. Surrounded by areas of natural beauty, it’s the perfect base to explore Slovenia’s high mountains with walking, cycle and hiking trails.

2. Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Although well known for being heavily bombed in the war following the breakup of Yugoslavia, Mostar has rebuilt to become a lively and tourist-friendly city again. The Old Bridge, or Stari Most, which was originally built by the Turks in 1566, was restored to its former glory in 2004 and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Visit the Old Bridge Museum and 300 year old Muslibegovica House, considered the most beautiful house from the Ottoman period in the Balkans. In the evening, the enchanting city lights up and quaint restaurant terraces beckon with views of the Old Town.

3. Brasov, Romania

The Old City of Brasov was founded by Teutonic Knights in 1211 and is one of the best preserved cities in Europe. Sitting at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains, Brasov city is the base for Romania’s most famous ski resort, Poiana Brasov and adventure activities.

Prahova Valley is nearby and it’s here that we find Sinaia, one of the oldest mountain resorts in Romania and famous for the breath-taking Peles Castle.

4. Helsinki, Finland

A vibrant seaside city with beautiful islands and lush green scenery, Helsinki is easy to explore and full of quirky design, architecture, culture and shopping opportunities.

Famous for a love of partying, in central Helsinki the locals hang out in cocktail lounges and go on bar crawls until the wee hours. The Archipelago of Helsinki consists of about 330 islands, perfect for beach or camping trips.

5. Freiburg, Germany

Freiburg im Bresigau is located in the extreme south-west of Germany on the Dreisam River at the foot of the Schlossberg hill. As a famous university town, the city is well known for its medieval minster, high standard of living and environmental practices.

It’s in the heart of a major wine growing region and acts as the entry point to the enchanting Black Forest. Visit Rathauplatz Plaza to hang out with the locals and Augustinermuseum, a beautiful Augustinian monastery displaying a wealth of baroque and 19th century art.

6. Ferrara, Italy

Surrounded by nine kilometres of ancient walls, Ferrara contains palaces dating back to the 14th century, breath-taking cathedrals and it’s a hub for artists, musicians and writers.

Castello Estene is one of the most popular sights with its moat, drawbridge and history dating back to 1385. The Palazzo Massari is an early Renaissance palace housing museums and a sculpture garden. Relax and enjoy the vibrant Italian ambience at one of many bohemian inspired cafes.

7. Biarritz, Spain

Located on the Bay of Biscay, Biarritz is a seaside city known for its surf culture. Surf beaches include Grande Plage and Cote de Basque on the Boulevard du Prince de Galles. Art Deco reigns supreme, appearing everywhere from mansions to galleries, blending with Russian Orthodox churches and views of Spanish Basque Country mountains.

Visit the tiny fishing village of Port des Pecheurs for an atmospheric place to have an afternoon drink, or climb the 258 steps inside the 73 metre high Phare de Biarritz lighthouse to gaze at the Basque coastline.

8. Innsbruck, Austria

A hot spot for winter sports and hiking, Innsbruck is famous for hosting the Olympic Winter games twice. It’s located in the Inn Valley and is home to an astounding array of museums, churches and monuments.

Take a ride on the Innsbrucker Nordkettenbahnen, a gondola offering thrilling alpine views. Visit Hofkirche, one of Europe’s finest gothic royal churches and, if you’re there between May and July, check out the athletes training on Bergisel, a giant glass and steel ski jump.

9. Split, Croatia

Home to UNESCO World Heritage Site, Diocletian’s Palace, Split is known for fine dining, shopping and exciting nightlife. Though it’s the economic hub of the Adriatic shoreline, you can still wander the streets of the historic centre and view Roman walls, temples and squares.

Popular sights include St. Duje’s cathedral, Peristil Square, Jupiter’s Temple and the main promenade, Riva. For a nature hit, visit Marjan, an oasis for walking, bike riding and jogging or swim at Bacvice Beach.

10. Gothenburg, Sweden

As the second largest city in Sweden, Gothenburg is a university town hosting yearly festivals, Scandinavian architectural style and rich, historical culture. It’s situated on Sweden’s west coast at the outlet of the Gota River and with over 60,000 students, it has a lively, welcoming reputation.

Top sights include a hilltop fortification called Skansen Kronan, a spectacular indoor Fish Market, Gothenburg Art Museum, Maritime Museum, Gothenburg Cathedral and Slottsskogen Park.

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