15 Underrated Destinations for the FOMO in You!
When planning a trip to Europe, the usual and rather predictable cities of Paris, London, Rome, Amsterdam or Barcelona often come to mind. And for good reason, too! They are, after all some of the most fun and vibrant capitals with lots to see, do and experience. But what if you're after places that are equally fun, but with less people ruining your selfies?
Well, we have rounded up 15 underrated destinations you should consider for your next trip over!
1. Kassel, Germany
A 1:21hr train ride north of Frankfurt is the city of Kassel. Perched on the River Fulda in Hesse and best known for its contemporary Documenta art exhibition, Kassel impresses with its stunning castles and manicured parks. A lush city of museums, this was the home of the famous Brothers Grimm, who gave the world so much joy through their fairy tales. There's even the museum Grimmwelt Kassel, which houses the work of this famous literary duo. Oh, the Rococo manor of Schloss Wilhelmsthal and the medieval castle of Lowenburg are must-sees too!
2. Sopot, Poland
When you have the French and Italian Rivieras brimming with everything you want from a sunny vacay, the idea of heading to a Polish beach might seem laughable. But believe us, the Polish Riviera is where you should be for a "Sopot" of sun, sea, sand and the luxury of space! Located on the Baltic Sea just north of Gdansk, Sopot is a spa town that's also home to Europe's longest wooden pier and the famous Crooked House on Bohaterów Monte Cassino. You can get here from Warsaw by train in only three hours.
3. Lyon, France
France's third largest city, Lyon is a thriving town with a dynamic cultural, food and clubbing scene. First named Lugdunum by the romans in 43BC, the quintessential Lyonnaise experience is to spoil your taste buds at a bouchon. Food and wine aside, Lyon has about 2,000 years of history imprinted on its streets, of the cobblestone kind, that is. From Notre Dames to vineyards, parks and rivers, Lyon may be smaller than Paris, but it does produce its own wines (lots and lots of it!) and has equally as much to offer, if not more! Lyon is only 2hrs south of Paris.
4. Gothenburg, Sweden
The second largest city in Sweden, Gothenburg is the country's city of culture and cafes, yet one that very few travellers think to visit. Great for people who like exploring by foot, Gothenburg is a very green and walkable city with lots of interesting neoclassical architecture, canals, boulevards, and boutique bars and eateries to marvel at and discover. Only 3hrs away from Stockholm, it really is easy to lose yourself wandering around this chilled and arty university town.
5. Maastricht, Netherlands
About 2:20hr south of Amsterdam is the vibrant city of Maastricht, where its Roman history has left it with a maze of tunnel caves and beautiful historical buildings. Famed for its culinary delights, this city's strategic position had seen it under attack over the centuries, giving rise to the need for the forts, moats and many elaborate city walls still standing today. When you go, visiting the open-air markets is a must, as is going on one the many underground tunnel tours.
6. Ghent, Belgium
A port city in northwest Belgium and one that is much loved by Belgians, Ghent is a cosy city of well-preserved medieval buildings combined with an industrial edge. Only 30 mins by train from Brussels, Ghent is surprisingly (and fortunately) not as touristy as Bruges, Antwerpen or some other cities. When you visit, you'll find some fascinating museums, a string of boutique shops and quirky bars to keep your visit interesting and rich.
7. Innsbruck, Austria
A microcosm of Austria, Innsbruck is often overlooked by visitors as they head to the mountains or to other more well-known cities like Salzburg (1:48hrs away) and Vienna (4:14hrs away). The capital of Tyrol, this Alpine city has long been associated with winter sports. However, you should come and admire the city's interesting architecture, take in the beautifully pastel-painted medieval houses while getting lost in the car-free cobblestone lanes of the Old Town. This picture-perfect city will no doubt surprise you!
8. Odense, Denmark
The third largest city in Denmark and hometown of fairy-tale writer Hans Christian Anderson, Odense bursts with charming streets, interesting museums, imaginative art galleries, lush green parks, and a fabulous night and dining scene. When you visit, you'll no doubt enjoy the lively and vibrant atmosphere as the residents live up to the city's motto of 'to play is to live'. Not as touristy as Copenhagen (1:15hrs away), you can really enjoy life like a local here to get a sense of the Danish lifestyle.
9. Ljubljana, Slovenia
An elegant and leafy city, Ljubljana is Slovenia's capital and largest city, which remains quite the hidden gem. With one of the biggest car-free zones in Europe, Ljubljana was named the European Commission's Green Capital of Europe in 2016. An already picturesque city, its beauty is only enhanced by stately bridges, cobbled streets, decorative pillars, arched alleys, cultural monuments, lampposts and richly painted churches. No doubt, you will be trigger-happy when visiting this insta-worthy city. Ljubjana is a 2:15hr train ride from Zagreb in Croatia.
10. Brno, Czech Republic
Only a short 2:30hrs southeast of Prague in the Czech Republic is the city of Brno. While there is no equivalent of the Charles Bridge as a major attraction, this university town boasts a lively club and café scene sans large tourist crowds with their selfie sticks. When you go, you must visit the `pilberk Castle. Sitting pretty on a hill overlooking the city centre, you'll be able to see the fortifications along the gradual hill which you'd have climbed along. It's also a great spot to get a panoramic view out over the city!
11. San Sebastian, Spain
The small Basque city of San Sebastian (only 2:49hrs east of Bilbao) is a well-known destination for foodies, with more Michelin star restaurants per capita than anywhere else in the world. However, there is much more than good food to this sophisticated sandy Spanish destination. With three beaches surrounded by art nouveau buildings and beautifully manicured parks, San Sebastian is also home to one of the world's most glamorous film festivals. All we can say is be prepared to be besotted when you visit!
12. Granada, Spain
Another underrated Spanish city is Granada, 2:33hrs northeast of Malaga. Known as the land of a thousand castles, the city was the last stronghold of the Moorish empire, and evidence of its rich past is everywhere in the Islamic architecture and lively Arab-flavoured streets. For even more charm, the Old Town's narrow streets is where you'll enjoy the very essence and flavours of this Spanish coastal town. Our advice is to come here hungry and with fully charged cameras.
13. Ipswich, UK
A waterfront country town in Suffolk just over an hour by train northeast of London, Ipswich sits on the bank of River Orwell. The oldest town in England with a rich and interesting history, you'd be hard pressed not to stop every few steps to check out a point of interest. If you're into buildings, then you will love seeing architecture from all eras including 16th-century terraces, Georgian townhouses, Victorian villas, 20s semis, Edwardian townhouses, and even some modern-day luxury apartments.
14. Perugia, Italy
A wander through the cobbled alleys of Perugia and you will instantly be transported back in time. This capital of Umbria, often overshadowed by the glorious Tuscany, is a pleasant and vibrant university city that constantly reminds its present of its past. With its numerous piazzas and arched stairways adding to the city's charms, it appeals to many artists and art lovers. Perfect for a weekend escape, you can reach Perugia from Rome or Florence in just over 2hrs.
15. Basel, Switzerland
A major cruise hub in Europe and Switzerland's art and architecture capital, Basel is only about an hour's train ride from Bern and Zurich. Bordering with France and Germany, Basel is a sophisticated and laid-back city where its residents are as passionate about their art as the nation is about their chocs and cheeses. Home to Art Basel, a visit in summer requires a swim in the River Rhine where you can join many others on a river "pub crawl"!