Check out These European Cities Before the Rest of the World Does

When someone gets the opportunity to travel to Europe, they’ll often make a bee-line for Paris, Rome, or London. These cities are popular for a reason; they are amazing destinations. Their only drawback is that they can often be expensive and crowded, as they are already established tourist locations.

This summer, I decided to take a couple of weeks before my summer abroad program to travel around on my own time. Now there is a lot to take into account; the safety of the country, the cost, and what you want to see. After having spent some time of my own in Europe and doing my own research, I have compiled my own list of seven of the top up-and-coming European travel destinations.

These are the safest and cheapest options I have come across so far, in no particular order:

Budapest, Hungary

Image source: Keszthelyi Timi

Budapest has been called the Paris of the East, but I think that does it a disservice. Standing alone, it's a sprawling city that’s relatively cheap and hosts impressive baroque architecture. It has a brighter nightlife scene than one would expect, most notably the series of Ruined Pubs. During the day, there are sites such as Fisherman’s Bastion, the Central Market, or one of the many thermal baths that are scattered across the city.

Prague, Czech Republic

Image source: Anthony Delanoix

Probably the most popularly cited of cities on this list, Prague is a slightly more established destination. As a cultural center of Europe, this city has beautiful neo-baroque and gothic architecture. It has a vibrant old town and a lively pub-scene. Also, don’t miss the iconic Astronomical Clock.

Mykonos Town (Chora), Greece

Image source: pixabay

On the tiny island of Mykonos, the town of the same name is a real-life fairytale. What sets it apart from your classic Disney movie set is its notoriously wild nightlife scene. Arguably better than Ibiza, but much more tucked away. This island is hard to beat with its clear blue waters and lively social scene.

Rovinj, Croatia

Image source: VRBO

Rovinj is a small coastal town built upon a hill with a church spire sitting at the very peak, and is surrounded by the clear blue waters of the Adriatic. Croatia as a country has been overlooked as a whole. I had the fortune of visiting it and must say that it has been my favorite experience abroad so far. Miles of picturesque coastline, beautiful, yet small cities, and lush forests, Croatia has it all. Also, there is something about Croatians themselves are the perfect mix of lighthearted and savage. If you find yourself there also make sure to hit up the cities Dubrovnik and Zagreb.

Kotor, Montenegro

Image source: Alexandr Bormotin

This city is safe for solo travelers, filled with friendly people, and has prices for beach front rooms that are hard to beat. It has been officially named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with the old city dating back to between the 12th and 14th century. The country itself has coasts, mountain ranges, glacial lakes, all picturesque and very cost-friendly. It’s a bit far off the beaten path, but definitely worth it.

Istanbul, Turkey

Image source: Fatih Yuryur

Istanbul is Europe’s largest city, half of which is in Asia. Turkey as a country hosts one of the oldest civilizations in the world. That means the place is steeped in ancient art, culture, and sites. From spice markets to Roman ruins, there is something for everyone in this extensive country which represents a union between the East and the West. Don’t miss iconic sites like the Blue Mosque and pretty much any bazaar.

Siena, Italy

Image source: Matteo Kutufa

Siena is by far the smallest city on the list (a town actually). This location would best fit into a trip that incorporated multiple fortress-hill towns. But what sets it apart from the hundreds of other small Italian hilltop towns is the red, winding streets that stretch on forever until they empty out onto a massive central plaza. Another unique site is the striped cathedral that sits at its peak. Not much in the way of nightlife, but it's incredibly unique and about as picturesque as it gets.