With more than 10,000km of coastline, more than 12,000km of land borders, and more than 5,000 islands, it’s no wonder that Europe is one of the world’s most popular travel destinations. But while Europe may be a continent filled with diverse cultures, history, and entertainment, it is also home to some of the continent’s lesser-known gems that travelers who only have time for a quick trip may not know about. With that in mind, we rounded up some of the continent’s best hidden gems that all travelers – whether for business or pleasure – should put on their itinerary.
Belgium: The Little European Country That Could
If you’re looking for a European city that could fit into either France or Germany, you should consider Belgium. Not only is it located in the same time zone as both countries, but it also has a language that is closely related to Dutch and French. It is also one of the most densely populated areas of Europe, which means that there are a lot of great places to explore on a single trip.
With a population of less than 10 million, Belgium has a much lower population density than the likes of Monaco or the Vatican City. While this means that there are fewer places to explore on a single trip, it also means that you are more likely to get a true taste of Belgium in its entirety on your visit.
The Czech Republic: From Prague to the Bohemian Switzerland
The multicultural nature of the Czech Republic means that you are likely to find something that appeals to both your Eastern and Western European sensibilities on your visit. While the vast majority of the country lies in the central European time zone, the nation’s second city of Prague is in the Central European Summer Time zone, which means that it is six hours ahead of Western Europe. In terms of having a true “European” feel to it, Prague is a great place to start.
Just a short distance away from the bustling city lies the Bohemian Switzerland, a nature reserve that is home to a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. With mountains, lakes, forests, and a fascinating history, the Bohemian Switzerland is the perfect place to relax on your trip to the Czech Republic.
Budapest: Hungary’s Famed for its Coffeeshops
For travelers who like to blend a little culture with their coffee breaks, Budapest is the place to go. The Hungarian capital is home to a number of beautiful coffee houses that date back hundreds of years. While these days many of them are run as tourist attractions, they still retain much of their original character, which makes them a great place to spend some time relaxing away from the hustle and bustle of society.
Hearing the stories of Hungarian history as you sip your coffee locales is a great way to spend a day in Budapest. Not only that, but it also gives you something to think about after you finish your coffee − you’ll definitely want to know more about the country that has been serving you that delicious brew.
Istanbul: Once the Constantinople of the West
While Istanbul is well known as a popular tourist destination for Eastern tourists, it is also one of the most fascinating and underrated cities in Europe. With a history dating back thousands of years, and a culture that is steeped in both Eastern and Western traditions, Istanbul is a great place for history buffs and culture vultures alike.
The city’s strategic position at the center of both Europe and Asia means that it has been targeted by both the East and West in its history, meaning that you can explore a number of fascinating war museums, including museums that tell the story of the city’s capture by the West and its liberation by the East.
Helsinki: The Scandinavia City That Will Take Your Breath Away
If you’re looking for a city that will take your breath away, then Helsinki is the place to go. The Finnish capital is often ranked among the world’s top ten urban jungles, and with good reason. With more than 1,500 acres of parkland, and more than 100 parks, Helsinki is a city that is all about having a green space close at hand at all times.
Although many parts of Europe are famous for their love of nature, Helsinki is something special. With more than 1,000 islands in a lake situated at the heart of the city, and the sauna located just a short walk from the city center, Helsinki really is a city that can offer you a taste of the outdoors wherever you are in the city.
There are many great reasons to visit Europe, and if you are looking for a hidden gem, these five destinations are a great place to start. From beautiful parks to fascinating history, as well as great sights, food, and drink, each of these European destinations has something interesting to offer. So, which one will you choose?