For decades, Europe has been a popular destination for backpackers, vacationers, and wanderfusters. Its rich culture, deep history, picturesque cities, and awe-inspiring landscapes have charmed visitors year after year, and you can be one of them.
Countries like England, France, Italy, and Spain are some of the most popular destinations in Europe. Travelers can easily spend ten-plus days exploring each of these ancient lands, but they aren’t the only stunning destinations in Europe.
There is beauty around every corner in Europe, and these 5 lesser-known but equally enriching destinations are perfect for anyone looking for a genuine European experience.
A Few Tips For Traveling Europe:
Don’t be afraid of public transportation.
Wear comfortable shoes; you’ll be doing much walking.
Use RFID-blocking bags or wallets.
If you plan to carry a bag around town, ensure it has a zipper.
Carry change. A lot of public bathrooms require a few cents to enter.
Tipping isn’t necessary for most European countries.
Airlines like Ryanair and Norwegian Air provide affordable flights around Europe; just be prepared to travel light. Both airlines have extremely cheap flights but charge extra for checked baggage.
Check your airline’s carry-on policies; they will differ.
Bring a travel buddy!
5 European Destinations You Didn’t Know Should Be on Your Bucket List
The moment you step off the plane in Norway, you will feel the instant sense of peace that permeates the land. Home to the Northern Lights, deep Fjords, and mystical trolls, this former Viking territory is now one of the safest and wealthiest countries on Earth.
The people might seem cold initially, but if you engage with them, you’ll find they are warm and generous. It can be expensive to travel around Norway, but everything from food to lodging is high-quality, even the cheapest options.
Norway has endless destinations, from breathtaking nature to charming cities and towns. Fly into the capital city, Oslo, where you will find the famous Opera House and the Royal Palace. Oslo is one of the safest major cities in the world and hosts a plethora of incredible shopping, dining, and entertainment.
From there, you can travel South to the coastal city of Kristiansand or northwest to Bergen, the heart of the fjord. Bergen is best known for its picturesque Bryggen, lined with traditional wooden buildings.
In the north, you’ll find Stavanger, best known for its iconic Pulpit Rock and stunning fjords. Even further north is the Artic Capital, Tromso. You can sign up to tour the Northern Lights or book a night in the Ice Domes and sleep below a light blanket. The best time to check out the Northern Lights is late September through early April.
Norwegians like to live in the moment. So take your time, enjoy leisurely walks along the piers or a kanalboller and coffee in a local café. It's worth it.
2 - Belgium
Belgium may be one of the smallest countries in Europe, but it is full of medieval castles, romantic cities, and world-renowned beer and sweet treats. If you’ve never tried a Belgian waffle or Belgian chocolate, you are in for a treat!
As home to the de facto capital of the European Union, Belgium is generally welcoming and friendly to travelers. However, they occasionally receive terrorist threats, so make sure you check travel advisories and keep an eye on the news before traveling.
You can easily spend a few weeks exploring all this little nation can offer. You can check out the Grand Place, Parc du Cinquantenaire, St Michael and St Gudula Cathedrals, and so much more in Brussels. Walk the cobblestone streets in ‘Venice of the North,’ Bruges, often considered one of the most romantic cities in Europe.
For some hidden gems, visit Gravensteen in Ghent, a 12th-century castle, or St. Peter’s Church and Oude Market in Leuven. Visit the enchanting Hollerbos, aka the Blue Forest. You’ll find a dreamy forest carpeted in Blue Bells in April and May. You can also visit the breathtaking scenery, visit Dinant. You’ll discover Collegiale Norte Dame de Dinant, a 13th-century Gothic cathedral with an iconic pear-shaped bell tower perfectly backdropped by stunning cliffs.
Nestled on the Western coast of Spain is the small, charming nation of Portugal. Home to Fado music, Cristiano Ronaldo, port wine, and the infamous azulejo tiles. A warm and inviting coastal country where the people will happily go out of their way to help anyone in need.
Enjoy wine from Porto or the volcanic islands of Madeira. Explore sea caves and cliffs on the stunning beaches in Lagos. For a glimpse back in time, visit the Roman temple in Evora and the medieval sites in Coimbra.
Portugal is one of the safest places to travel and offers many of the same beachside fun and charm as parts of Spain, without the cluttered tourist attractions. So if you are looking for a vibrant and culturally rich vacation full of delicious food, lively music, and friendly people, head to Portugal.
4 - Austria
Walk through the streets of Austria, and you’ll be struck by the deeply rooted values for art, craftsmanship, and community. You’ll see it in the architecture, the music, and the extended meals packed with deep conversation and lighthearted joking.
Its capital city, Vienna, was home to legends like Beethoven, Mozart, and Sigmund Freud. Everything in Vienna feels grander, from the pastries and cafes to the palaces. You could easily spend a week enjoying Vienna, but once you decide to venture out, you’ll find an assortment of stunning locations.
Visit the historic city of Salzburg or the Alpine resort in Kitzbuhel. Echern valley hosts the most photographed spot in Austria, Hallstatt, a magical town settled between mountains and water. No matter where you go, you’ll feel like you’re walking through a postcard or movie set.
For the most part, Austria is safe for tourists. However, there have been terrorist threats in the past. Make sure you check travel advisories and the news before traveling.
5 - Iceland
If fantasy and outdoor exploration are what you want, then we saved the best for last. Iceland, a nature-lovers paradise, rests in the far northern corners of Scandinavia. This magical land contains enchanting villages, mystical lagoons, and elvan folklore.
Once the home of Vikings, today, it hosts friendly, whimsical, and down-to-earth people. Belief in elves and fairies is still prevalent. Most Icelanders believe in Huldufólk, supernatural beings who lives among nature in a parallel world.
This once relatively unknown destination has grown in popularity thanks partially to its Insta-famous Blue Lagoons, incredible hikes, and picturesque towns. As one of the safest travel destinations in the world, it has become a haven for the young and the restless.
You can spend days exploring and around the capital city, Reykjavik. The city is full of incredible cuisine, cafes, and shopping. When you are ready to see some natural wonders, book a Northern Lights Tour or whale watching tour. Ten minutes from the Reykjavik airport are the Blue Lagoons, geothermally heated pools that glow turquoise through a light natural mist. From there, you can travel for fifteen minutes and find incredible hiking trails around the Fagradalsfjall Volcano.
Once you decide to leave the stunning capital, you can walk the black sand shores strewn with iceberg chunks at Diamond Beach in Jokulsarlon. Then visit the Glymur Waterfalls and wild birds at Þingvellir National Park or the dramatic rock formations by Reynisfjara Beach in Vik. And you won’t want to miss the ice caves in Vatnajökull National Park.
These are just a few of the countless life-altering destinations throughout Europe. When we say that beauty is around every corner, we mean it—beautiful cities, countryside, and, most importantly, people. While exploring any of these European destinations, we encourage you to move slowly and allow yourself to engage with your surroundings fully. Take it all in and allow yourself to be impacted by the beauty.
Let us know where you are inspired to explore! Which of these destinations would you like to learn more about? Let us know!