Travel in Europe is booming, especially in places like Rome, Madrid, and Paris. It’s not uncommon to find crowded streets and long lines at attractions in popular destinations.
But Europe has so much more to offer. You can bypass the crowds by visiting some of the continent’s most beautiful, but often-missed destinations. Here are some of our favorites.
Stockholm, Sweden; Photo by Anna Hunko/Unsplash.com
Stockholm is a one of the most scenic capital cities in Europe. Built on 14 islands that border the edge of a 24,000-island archipelago along the Baltic Sea, Stockholm is a city of water. Bridges crisscross the orderly streets, where modern architecture is built alongside Renaissance-era buildings.
Stockholm has carefully preserved its natural environment and claims to be one-third water, one-third parkland, and one-third buildings. You’ll see hundreds of bikes along the bike paths and sailboats navigating the clean waterways.
Be sure to visit the Old Town, called Gamla Stan, which is filled with narrow cobblestone streets and squares lined with pink, yellow, and ochre-colored buildings. Don’t miss the changing of the guard at Royal Palace of the Kingdom of Sweden, or the Vasa Museum, home to a well-preserved Viking ship. Take a stroll in Kungsträdgården, the King’s Royal Garden. In the summer, the sun barely sets in Stockholm, providing long days of sunshine to enjoy the pleasant weather.
Graslei Quay and Leie River, Ghent, Belgium; Photo by SCStock/iStock.com
If you’re seeking an authentic European experience away from crowds of tourists, Ghent is an excellent option. This quiet gem is in the Flemish part of Belgium. Flemish is closely related to Dutch and is one of three official languages in Belgium—the Flemish province in the North, the French in the Center, and a small German province in the East.
Nestled along the banks of the rivers Scheldt and Leie, Ghent celebrates its medieval past with well-preserved architecture, cobblestone streets, and picturesque canals. Don’t miss the city’s castle, Gravensteen, which stands tall as a reminder of its storied past, and the Gothic St. Bavo's Cathedral, which is home to the famous masterpiece "The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb" by the Van Eyck brothers.
Alongside its unique history, Ghent is a progressive town known for art, music, and innovative cuisine. You’ll find a vast array of contemporary galleries, lively festivals, and a diverse gastronomic scene.
Panoramic view of Innsbruck, the capital city of Tyrol in western Austria; Photo by saiko3p/iStock.com
During the winter, Innsbruck, Austria, draws skiers from around the world, but fall and summer are excellent uncrowded times to visit. Nestled in the heart of the Austrian Alps, the city is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a wide variety of hiking trails and mountain vistas. The majestic Nordkette mountain range is easily accessible from the city center via a cable car and provides panoramic views of the entire region.
The town of Innsbruck is a destination on its own. Don’t miss the imperial Hofburg Palace or the historic Old Town, with its colorful buildings and attractive streets. Not far is the famous Swarovski Crystal Worlds, where you can view dazzling creations and purchase something sparkling to take home.
Take time to dine at one of Innsbruck’s many family-run restaurants to enjoy warm hospitality and traditional Austrian cuisine.
Houses at the beach promenade of Binz, island of Rügen, Germany; Photo by eyewave/iStock.com
Did you know that Germany has islands? Rügen is Germany’s largest island. Located in the Baltic Sea, it’s an idyllic retreat that offers natural beauty, rich history, and leisurely relaxation. With its beaches, lakes, dense forests and chalk cliffs, Rügen has something for every type of outdoor adventurer.
Be sure to visit Jasmund National Park, home to the striking white chalk cliffs of Königsstuhl, a sight that has inspired artists for generations. Then take time to explore the local fishing villages, seaside resorts and harbors. The famous seaside resort of Binz still showcases the grandeur of the 19th-century spa culture, while the nearby hunting lodge of Granitz Castle provides panoramic views from its scenic tower.
For a rejuvenating escape, Rügen provides a unique way to experience German culture while relaxing in a laid-back island setting.
It pays to get off the beaten path while traveling in Europe. You’ll find uncrowded destinations and unique experiences.