Europe is one of the primary tourist destinations in the world. Many people want to visit Europe and see the amazing sights, and luckily for them, there is plenty of easy-to-digest information out there. From TV shows on the Travel Channel, books like Lonely Planet, and a plethora of blogs, Europe is probably one of the easiest places to travel around (albeit at a price). However for those who are looking for some off the less popular but still worthy places to visit in Europe, here are 5 underrated European cities to visit!
1. Lviv, Ukraine
Ukraine isn’t a place that pops up on many traveler’s bucket lists, but it really should. It’s not only the largest country wholly in Europe, they have a fascinating history to boot. Being the birthplace of Slavic culture makes Ukraine a great place to visit for travel buffs, but for those who just want to enjoy a beautiful European city, Lviv is a fantastic choice.
Located in the west of the country, Lviv is the cultural capital of the country and is drastically different from Kyiv. Most of the buildings in the charming center are influenced by the Austrian style due to being part of Austria-Hungary for over 200 years! Popular travel blogger from Ukraine, Alona Tiunina, has written a great guide about Lviv in English for those looking to make the trip.
2. Riga, Latvia
Potato jokes aside, Latvia is a beautiful country, and the capital of Riga is just beautiful. In fact, while you can see pretty much the main stuff in a day or two, you really should spend a bit longer and explore outside the central tourist zone.
Riga has a vibrant history and that, while troubled at parts, makes it such a unique European city. Julie from whynotju has written a great Riga travel guide for those looking to immerse themselves in the city.
3. Cagliari, Italy
I bet you didn’t expect to see an Italian city on a list of underrated European cities to visit. The truth is, even though Italy is an extremely popular country to visit, most travellers stick to the same places: Rome, Tuscany, Venice, and maybe some smaller day trips outside of their base. However you can’t really visit Cagliari on a day trip. Why? Because it’s located on the island of Sardegna (Sardinia) across the Tyrrhenian Sea from the mainland.
Cagliari is a beautiful and charming city with its own culture unique from the rest of Italy. While many people think Sardegna is just for a summer beach vacation, you can really go any time of the year. Enjoy walking around the historic city center during the day, and eating traditional seafood dishes with wine at night.
4. Plovdiv, Bulgaria
Just like how Lviv is the cultural capital of Ukraine, Plovdiv is the cultural capital of Bulgaria. Plovdiv is easily reachable from Sofia by train or bus, so it makes a great weekend getaway if you are staying in the capital.
Kati and Sabrina from moonhoneytravel have written a fantastic little guide about visiting the Plovdiv wine festival if that’s your thing. Other than that there are some fantastic ancient ruins which are integral to the history of the city. You can also just spend your days walking around the charming old town enjoying afternoon drinks and people watching.
5. Ljubljana, Slovenia
Another capital city, Ljubljana is really something of an up and comer on the tourism circuit. In fact, it’s getting more and more visitors every year. The city is run through by a large river with many beautiful bridges. One of the most popular has giant dragon statues at the entrance.
The symbol of Ljubljana is the dragon, so you will see the motif in many different places. One of the must-visit places in the city is the old castle, located on a hill overlooking the entire region. You can hike your way to the top, or take a funicular straight to the entrance.