When we think about traveling to Europe, most of us immediately think of places like Paris and London—cities like these are very well-known and glamorized by the media. However, just because they are the most talked-about does not make them superior to other European cities. I have found that the best places to visit are the ones off the beaten path. These lesser-known cities aren’t filled with as many tourists, which I find makes them more relaxing, cultured and beautiful. Plus, the less touristy areas are usually cheaper! So, let me introduce you to some of my favorite underrated cities in Europe to add to your bucket list.
1. Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is my all-time favorite city in Europe. Before I arrived, I had no expectations. In fact, I had never even heard of the city. But it turned out to be what I would describe as a real-life fairytale land. It seriously looked like something out of a Disney movie. But the best thing about Prague is that there is so much to do! You can visit the John Lennon Wall, watch a ballet, hang out with peacocks in flower-filled parks, shop designer brands, explore Romanesque architecture and castles, walk the Charles Bridge, go to jazz clubs and so much more! There is a diverse selection of food that is so delicious and affordable that I sometimes would order two meals. The city’s nightlife is one of the best I have experienced in Europe. There is a pub made out of ice, a medieval-themed bar and even a bar with robots that make the drinks. Prague is the perfect place for a young, adventurous traveler!
2. Bruges, Belgium
Bruges is a small city in northwest Belgium. It is known for its canals, cobblestone streets and colorful buildings. The architecture in Bruges consists of very unique, gothic, brick buildings. At the heart of Bruges is the “Markt” that is filled with cafes, shops and horse-drawn carriages. Bruges has a beautiful city area as well as picturesque parks around it, such as the Minnewater Lake. The city is covered in shops that offer amazing Belgian waffles and chocolates that will seriously rock your world. There are also several lace shops because the city is known to craft some of the most luxurious lace in the world! You can also appreciate the artwork on display in several museums by artists such as Salvatore Dalí. The Christmas setup in December is warm and welcoming, making Bruges a great place to visit around the holidays!
3. Lucerne, Switzerland
Lucerne is a small, quiet city in central Switzerland. It sits amongst snow-covered mountains next to crystal-clear lake Lucerne. It is known for its medieval architecture and beautiful mountains. You can walk the cobblestone streets surrounded by colorful houses, explore the lake, walk the Chapel Bridge, eat the local swiss chocolates, visit museums and much more. The most beautiful site in Lucerne is Mount Pilatus. You can take a ski lift to the top of the famous mountain for around $88 (USD). That may sound expensive, but every penny is worth it to stand above the clouds. Switzerland, as a whole, is a very expensive country to visit, but there are easy ways to cut costs. For instance, eating food from the grocery store instead of restaurants and staying at a budget hotel. Overall, Lucerne is a great place to visit if you are looking for a beautiful, peaceful getaway.