Popular destinations are popular for a reason — they’re reliable, tried-and-tested favourites. But sometimes it’s worth looking beyond what’s familiar and visiting somewhere new and not as affected by tourism.
Don’t worry if you’re not sure where to start. We’ve put together a list of Europe’s most underrated destinations, so you can start planning your next trip now.
1. Constanţa, Romania
Romania’s third-largest city, Constanta is a history enthusiast’s dream. There are plenty of landmarks to discover, from the eerie abandoned Constanţa Casino to Ovid Square, where you can see the statue of the famous Roman poet, Ovid.
Want something a little more relaxed? There are lots of tranquil beaches, or if you prefer to avoid the sand there’s the harbour and Tăbăcăriei Lake, which is surrounded by greenery.
Where is Constanta?
On the west coast of Romania, by the Black Sea.
2. Ghent, Belgium
This small Belgian city is unfairly overlooked in favour of its more famous neighbours. Located by a canal, it’s utterly charming, making it the perfect place for a romantic break. Admire the interesting architecture by day (Gravensteen Castle and St Bavo’s Cathedral are both must-dos) and unwind in one — or several — of the bars by night. It’s the perfect time to try some Belgian beer.
Where is Ghent?
In the north of Belgium.
3. Gothenburg, Sweden
Gothenburg is the second-largest city in Sweden, but there’s more to it than just size. It’s a cultural hub, with art galleries, music festivals, and many more to enjoy. The best way to get to know Gothenburg is just to walk and see what you find. It’s very easy to get around on foot and you may well stumble across a local secret or two.
Those who love slightly older artwork should make their way to the Konstmuseum, which displays work by Rubens, Monet and Picasso, while anyone who prefers contemporary art will have fun exploring the exhibitions at the Konsthall, which is free.
And of course, for something more lively there’s the Liseberg Amusement Park — home to thrills like an excellent wooden roller coaster, plus smaller rides for the little ones. Just make sure your travel insurance covers anything adventurous. 1Cover data shows 1 in 6 travellers had to make a claim in 2016.
Where is Gothenburg?
On the west coast of Sweden.
4. Porto, Portugal
Fancy yourself as a bit of a foodie? Head to Porto, where you’ll find Portuguese cuisine such as “arroz de tamboril” (garlic and tomato rice stew cooked with monkfish) and francesinha, Porto’s signature dish. Francesinha is essentially an enormous sandwich filled with meats like steak, ham, sausage and chorizo, which are covered with melted cheese and spicy tomato sauce. It’s normally served with chips and a fried egg.
There’s more to Porto than food, however. Its cultural centre has been awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status and it’s not difficult to see why. From the beautiful bookstore Livraria Lello to the intricately decorated buildings and the Dom Luís I Bridge, you won’t be stuck for things to see.
Where is Porto?
Northern Portugal, in the Iberian Peninsula.
5. Valletta, Malta
The entire capital of Malta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is reason enough to go there in itself.
In case you need more convincing, there’s also a lot to do. The nostalgia of the Toy Museum will delight visitors of all ages, while St John’s Co-Cathedral displays original Caravaggio paintings and boasts impressive gilded rooms. You can even learn about Malta’s history in a 3D show, complete with moving seats, water and air blasts.
Relax at the end of the day with a meal by the peaceful waterfront.
Where is Valletta?
In the south east of Malta.
Do you have any underrated destinations you’d recommend? Let us know in the comments!