There are plenty of European destinations which travel aficionados love but don’t always top people’s bucket lists. But they should, because often these destinations will be easier on your budget, help you escape the crowds and there’s a good chance that you won’t return home with an overloaded social media account filled with pictures from the same old tourist traps.
Even though these are all well-traveled destinations they don’t tend to be as packed as Paris, Amsterdam or Barcelona. There is nothing wrong with exploring Italy or the U.K., but sometimes by going a little further afield you can find great adventures in destinations which are hiding in plain sight.
Malta is a small island nation in the Mediterranean Sea. It’s known for its beautiful beaches and rich history. The island is a dream destination for history buffs, as the Temple of Hal Saflieni is reminiscent of ancient temples and the Hypogeum is the world’s oldest subterranean structure. Malta is also a great place to snorkel and scuba dive. Malta is also one of the most LGBT-friendly destinations in the world. While Malta’s tourism has increased, it hasn’t reached the level of more heavily trafficked destinations. Malta can be reached by boat from nearby cities like Tunis, Algiers, and Sicily. Plus Air Malta connects a number of European capitals.
Croatia is a nation on the Adriatic Sea. It has a border with several countries including Slovenia, Italy, and Hungary. Zagreb is the capital and largest city. Since joining the EU and being prominently featured in Game of Thrones, Croatia has done a booming tourist trade, but there are still many lesser traveled places in the country and it remains a great alternative the much busier Italy which is just across the Adriatic Sea.
Croatia has a mild Mediterranean climate year round. The majority of the country is made up of forests, lakes, and mountains. The many islands in Croatia are also worth a visit. Rovinj, Split, and Dubrovnik are a few of the many popular islands. Croatia’s food is considered a delicacy and worth trying. The Dalmatian pršut, a type of smoked ham, is a local specialty. Croatia is a popular European destinations but it offers a lot to visitors. There’s much to do, the people are friendly, and it’s still easier on your budget than other more traditional European vacation playgrounds.
Germany is a large country in central Europe and a dominate economic, political and cultural force on the continent and around the world. Berlin is the capital and largest city. German is the official language, but English is widely spoken in major cities. Frankfurt and Munich are large international air transport hubs but there are still more out of the way places to explore.
The country is known for many famous historic sites such as the Berlin Wall, the Brandenburg Gate, and Munich which home to the annual Oktoberfest celebration. But there are also a number of smaller destinations worth visiting. Germany has a great transportation system, making it easy to travel to nearby destinations like the Black Forest, Dresden, and beyond. Germany is a great choice for those looking to explore an important country on a couple of days layover during a connecting international flight.
Bulgaria is a European country on the Black Sea. The capital and largest city is Sofia. The name “Bulgaria” is thought to come from the word “bel” which means “fair” or “white”. Bulgaria has a rich cultural heritage and is home to many historic and architectural sites. There are a number of beautiful monasteries and churches like the Rila Monastery, one of the world’s largest wooden buildings. Bulgaria is known for its delicious food and is a popular destination for food lovers. Bulgaria is a lesser known European destination and is great for those looking for a cheap trip to a beautiful country rich in history and tradition.
Poland is located in Central Europe with a western border with Germany, an eastern border with Belarus and Ukraine, and a southern border with the Czech Republic. To say it’s been at the center of world affairs is an understatement. That’s why it’s so interesting and important to visit.
Warsaw is the capital and largest city. Polish is the official language, but it’s very easy to communicate in English. Poland is home to many historical landmarks like the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Site, the Wieliczka Salt Mine, and the Royal Wawel Castle. Poland is a great choice for those looking to understand war, peace, communism, the holocaust, politics and philosophies of all stripes. But its also has a lot of heart and energy and is a fun place to wander cobblestone streets to just experience your surroundings.
Romania is in southeast Europe. It has a western border with Hungary and a Black Sea coast on the east. The capital and largest city is Bucharest. Romania’s cultural heritage is rich, and it’s home to many historic and architectural landmarks. Romania has so much more to offer travelers than Count Dracula myths. It offers a rare chance to explore a quieter, old fashioned European experience and it’s still very affordable.
There are many benefits to visiting these European destinations. Countries such as Romania and Bulgaria offer a look back in time, Germany is convenient and interesting, Poland is important historically, while Malta and Croatia offer lifestyles which can’t be beat.