10 underrated European gems to discover in 2020

Jan 30 2020, 7:56 am

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There’s something truly special about visiting a place that feels undiscovered. Sure, we love Paris, Rome, and London as much as the next person. But know what we don’t love? Long lineups or, better yet, throngs of tourists crowding our picture-perfect travel moments.

That’s the thing about travel; you book your dream trip and spend months fantasizing about how wonderful it’s going to be. Then, you arrive and are greeted by the hustle and bustle of thousands of other tourists only to find: it looks like everyone else had the same idea. 

Don’t fret: that doesn’t mean you need to abandon the Eurotrip of your dreams. Lucky for you, there’s no shortage of equally amazing (lesser-known) destinations to keep your travel itinerary full (and relatively crowd-free).

1. Alberobello, Southern Italy

 

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This ancient village, which literally translates to “beautiful tree,” is nestled within the city of Bari in gorgeous Southern Italy. Its unique Trullo buildings — white, cylinder-shaped houses made of limestone boulders — will transport you back to the 14th century. Today, these enchanting huts are brimming with restaurants, cafes, and souvenir shops.

2. Gdańsk, Poland

 

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For years post-WWII, Gdańsk was considered a disputed territory. As a result, the city’s architecture has a fascinating mix of German, French, and Dutch influences. The town’s markets, ancient basilicas, river waterfront, multi-coloured houses, and rich history make it a travel destination worth not overlooking.

3. Trikala, Greece

 

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While Greece certainly has no shortage of beautiful landscapes, the oft-overlooked town of Trikala, in the country’s Thessaly region, is worth the trek north. The famous Meteora, a soaring rock formation that houses ancient monasteries, is just one of the marvels that make this area worth visiting.

If that’s not enough, the city is also a great jumping-off point for day-trips to other natural landmarks, including Plastiras Lake and the neighbouring mountain settlements of Pertouli and Elati.

4. Dinant, Belgium

 

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We know what you’re thinking, and no, this isn’t a scene out of a Disney movie. The picturesque town of Dinant, just South of Brussels, has a tiny population of just over 13 thousand (yep, people actually get to live here, how unfair!).

Aside from, well, just swooning over the landscape, you can visit Dinant’s famous Citadel, which offers more breathtaking views of the River Meuse, upon which the city was built.

5. Rennes, France

 

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This picturesque Breton capital leaves little to be desired. With its sprawling green spaces, abundance of historical monuments, and adorable Gingerbread-esque houses, it’s little wonder the town has been crowned one of France’s most liveable places.

6. Tallinn, Estonia

 

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Believe it or not, this pastel day-dream of a town has so much more to offer than just an Instagram backdrop, like its cobblestone-lined streets, ancient towers, and a fully preserved Gothic-style Town Hall.

Not a history buff? Don’t worry, this Baltic cultural hub is also bubbling with local cafes, shops, and restaurants.

7. Aalborg, Denmark

 

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Escape the crowds at the Nyhavn in Copenhagen and head straight for Aalborg. What makes this quaint northern city so special? For one, it used to be a Viking hotspot and many of its Iron Age relics still remain intact today.

Once an industrial hub overrun with factories, in recent years it’s undergone a makeover and reinvented itself as an epicenter of art, culture, and sustainability.

8. Ljubljana, Slovenia

 

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Don’t let its size fool you: this tiny European country, sandwiched between Austria and Croatia, is worth the settling down in for a few nights in your cross-European trek. It’s baroque architecture and cobblestoned streets will have you seeing the world through rose-tinted glasses.

9. Isle of Skye, Scotland

 

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Caution: these stunning natural landscapes may make your jaw drop. This region of Scotland’s Northern Highlands is chock-full of medieval castles, fishing villages, jagged mountains, and mystical waterfalls. What more could you ask for?

10. Split, Croatia

 

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While its neighbour to the south, Dubrovnik, is under siege by Game of Thrones fans (a frequent filming location of the popular television series), Split remains a rather peaceful slice of Dalmatian living. Here you’ll find a perfect harmony of ancient and modern, mountain and sea.


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