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There are countless cities in Europe, but I bet only a dozen or so pop into your mind when you start dreaming about your next European vacation. The most popular cities in Europe are popular for a reason, but you should also consider visiting some underrated cities in Europe.
Especially the underrated cities in Europe on this list because they are set to explode with tourists once more people learn about them.
In fact, some of the cities on this list have already started to become up and coming destinations, so you better visit them quickly!
I’ve travelled extensively through Europe, but I haven’t visited everywhere. So, this list is based on the cities I’ve visited and think are underrated.
I haven’t made it to Georgia yet (sad face), but if I had, I’m sure a city from there would make a list.
What I’m trying to say is this is by no means a comprehensive list of underrated cities in Europe, but it should get you pointed in the right direction.
There are cities in Wester, Central, and Eastern Europe, so no matter where your European trip takes you, you should be able to stop into one of these underrated cities in Europe alone the way!
And please tell my your favourite underrated cities in Europe in the comments! I’d love to hear them, and the community would love to hear them as well. 🙂
1. Tallinn, Estonia
I’m going to start with what I think is the most underrated capital city in Europe.
Granted it is more popular now than it was when I visited for the first time in 2017, but it still isn’t on most people’s radar.
Tallinn has everything you could ever want in a European city.
It has one of the most gorgeous old cities in Europe, lots of fun things to do outside the old city (which most people ignore), and is super affordable.
You can visit Tallinn as a day trip from Helsinki, Finland, but I recommend spending at least two or three days to get a full sense of the city and what it has to offer.
If there is a performance during your time in Tallinn, I highly recommend you go to the City Theatre for a play or ballet performance.
Tickets are very affordable, and the inside of the building in spectacular.
You’ll likely fall in love with Estonia on your visit to Tallinn and may want to explore more of the country. If that’s the case, I highly recommend you visit Tartu.
It is actually my favourite city in Estonia!
Top 3 Things to do in Tallinn
- Visit the old city
- Explore Toompea Castle
- Wander around Kadriorg Park
|Best Time to Visit||May-September|
2. Timișoara, Romania
Now it is time to move on to what I think is the most underrated city in Europe (in my own personal opinion).
I adore Timișoara and find myself dreaming of going back more than any other Romanian city.
Romania as a whole is widely underrated and a country I recommend to all my friends and family. But even within Romania, Timișoara doesn’t get as much love as it deserves.
Not only is it stunningly beautiful, calming, and idyllic, but it also has a very interesting history and is where communism started to fall in Romania.
There are other cities in Romania with important communism histories as well, but Timișoara’s is extra interesting. You’ll understand it more once you get there and start learning about the history.
Timișoara is one of the most vibrant cities I’ve visited. The sights and colours are intoxicating, and if you’re anything like me, you want to spend all your time walking around or sitting at a café soaking up the atmosphere.
Be sure to bring your camera and lots of extra batteries!
Plus the food in Timișoara (and all of Romania) is to die for. Pack your stretchy pants because you’ll be eating a lot!
Top 3 Things to do in Timișoara
- Visit Victory Square
- Tour the Communist Consumer Museum
- Walk through Roses Park
|Best Time to Visit||March-June|
3. Kaunas, Lithuania
Raise your hand if you’ve heard of Kaunas before. Ah, yes, I’m not surprised most of you haven’t!
I guess that’s why it made the list of top underrated cities in Europe!
I honestly hadn’t heard of Kaunas until a few days before I arrived in the city. I was backpacking through the Balkans and wanted to see more of Lithuania than just Vilnius.
A short Google search later, and I found myself booking a hostel in Kaunas, and it was one of the best hidden gems I visited on that entire three-month trip.
Kaunas is located in central Lithuania and is only 1.5 hours away from Vilnius by bus.
It is a fairly quiet town, but there is still lots to see and do.
There is one long promenade in the old part of town where most tourists flock to. It is full of life, and is a must-do for anybody visiting the city.
But it isn’t the only thing to do in Kaunas.
A lot of tourists miss the heart and soul of Kaunas because they stick to the old part of town and don’t venture out to the more local areas.
There is a ton of great artwork painted on the buildings around town. Even just wandering around aimlessly for a few hours will result in you finding more than one piece of artwork to snap a picture of.
You can (and should) also explore the historical part of Kaunas by visiting the old castle and fortress.
And, of course, there are a few churches you can wander through and marvel at.
However, I must admit my favourite part of Kaunas was the Devil’s Museum. It is a museum dedicated to just collecting artwork, sculptures, and trinkets that depict the devil.
When I was there, it boasted that it was the only devil museum in the world. I visited in 2017, so I’m not sure if it is still the only devil museum in the world, but it was certainly the first.
I know this is an odd thing to recommend to you, but it was honestly so much fun. The museum is multiple stories tall, and it is just so wonderfully odd that you can’t not visit.
I would 100% go again the next time I’m in Kaunas.
But, if devils aren’t your thing, there is still plenty to keep you occupied while you’re in Kaunas.
Top 3 Things to do in Kaunas
- Visit the Devil’s Museum
- Explore Kaunas Castle
- Tour the Ninth Fort of Kaunas Fortress
|Best Time to Visit||May-September|
4. Brighton, England
Brighton is one of the most underrated cities in Europe for sure. It is popular with people in the UK, but I’ve never met anybody else in my personal life who has visited Brighton.
Even though it is only 1.5 hours away from London by train!
Brighton couldn’t be more different than London, and it gives you a completely new peak inside what England has to offer.
The city is super laid back, and you get out of the hustle and bustle of London for a while.
The weather is delightful, the food is outstanding, and you can walk to pretty much any tourist attraction you want to visit.
And they have world class tourist attractions!
The whole city is a breath of fresh air compared to London.
Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely adore London, but it is nice to get outside the capital city and explore a different part of England.
You can visit Brighton as a day trip from London, but I personally recommend spending at least two days there.
There is plenty to see, do, and eat. You don’t want to be rushed or feel like you’re missing out on what Brighton has to offer.
Just be sure you try out the food! There are plenty of fresh seafood restaurants along the seafront, but my personal favourite is going to The Lanes to eat.
The Lanes is an old section of the city where narrow streets twist and turn. You walk around and get lost in the streets.
There are plenty of small spots, cafés, but, more importantly, the best restaurants in the city. You can eat at pretty much any restaurant and be guaranteed a good meal!
Top 3 Things to do in Brighton
- Visit the Royal Pavilion
- Get an unbeatable view of Brighton at the British Airways i360 Viewing Tower
- Explore the iconic Brighton Palace Pier
|Best Time to Visit||June-September|
5. Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Sarajevo was a travel experience unlike any other. You immerse yourself in the history and tragedy of the Bosnian Muslims during the Bosnian War, and you can’t help but be emotional during your entire trip to Sarajevo.
It is without a doubt one of the most underrated cities in Europe. There is so much modern history that everybody should experience in the city, and you should definitely add it to your bucket list.
Not only does Sarajevo teach you a lot about the Bosnian War and what people went through, but it also teaches you a lot about resilience.
The city is vibrant and full of life. If you weren’t aware of the city’s past, you would think it was like any other city in the region.
One of my favourite things to do is stand outside around noon to listen to the church bells and the Adhan (the sound that notifies Muslims it is time to start praying) sounding off at the same time.
It is the perfect representation of what the city of Sarajevo has become.
The city is welcoming to everybody and anybody.
Not only does Sarajevo have an interesting (and tragic) modern history, but you can also stand on the bridge where the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated and where WWI began.
There are certainly still some issue with corruption, which is the big reason why BiH hasn’t been allowed in the EU yet, but it is slowly but surely getting better.
In a few years, I’m sure Sarajevo will not longer be one of the most underrated cities in Europe and tourists will be flocking to it.
Top 3 Things to do in Sarajevo
- Visit Gallery 11/07/95 and learn about the tragedy of Srebrenica
- Walk along the 1984 Winter Olympics bobsleigh track
- Wander through the Old Bazaar
|Currency||Bosnia and Herzegovina Convertible Mark|
|Best Time to Visit||May-June and Early September|
|Days Needed||3-4 (if you want to make a day trip to Mostar)|
6. Sofia, Bulgaria
There is so much to see and do in Sofia. It is an unassuming capital city, but it is definitely one of the most underrated cities in Europe.
It has an interesting mix of modern culture and history. You want see street artwork right next to old ruins.
The city is truly unbeatable, and if you’re lucky enough to be in Sofia during a holiday, you’ll experience the history and culture of Bulgaria that locals still take seriously.
No trip to Sofia is complete without taking a day trip to Rila Monastery.
It is the largest and most well known Orthodox Church in Bulgaria, and you can even crawl inside a cave where the St. Ivan of Rila spent 20 years of his life praying in solitude.
It is an experience you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the world!
To top it all off, the food in Sofia is incredible! I doubt you could find a bad meal in the whole city even if you were trying to.
Top 3 Things to do in Sofia
- Visit Rila Monastery
- Tour Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
- Visit the Museum of Socialist Art
|Best Time to Visit||April-May or September-October|
7. Zagreb, Croatia
Croatia is quickly becoming one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, but people tend to focus on the coastal towns and completely ignore Zagreb.
I love Zagreb and was blown away by the city.
When I visited Croatia in 2015, every single blog I read about where to go in the country said don’t bother visiting Zagreb. It is boring and not worth visiting.
Well, there was one specific thing I really wanted to do in Zagreb, so I ignored the advice of all the blogs I read and spent three days in Zagreb.
Let this be a reminder that you shouldn’t take what bloggers say (even me) as the absolute word of truth. We’re all just sharing our own opinions. Do lots of research and make the travel decisions that suit you best!
Zagreb is colourful, full of life, yet homey and small at the same time.
You can walk pretty much anywhere in the city within half an hour and be treated to beautiful sights along the way.
One of the most popular things to do in Zagreb is take a day trip to visit Plitvice Lake. It is a gorgeous lake, but I prefer Krka National Park.
Krka National Park is located just outside the small town of Šibenik and is a short bus ride from Zadar, which is where I recommend staying if you want to visit Krka National Park.
In any event, Plitvice Lake is well worth visiting, but you should spend a few days exploring the city as well.
You’ll be thankful you did. I know you’ll fall in love with Zagreb!
Top 3 Things to do in Zagreb
- Visit the Museum of Broken Relationships (Seriously! It is phenomenal!)
- Spend an afternoon exploring Mirogoj Cemetery
- Wander around Upper Town and take a million photos
|Best Time to Visit||April-September|
8. Lviv, Ukraine
Lviv is a city I wasn’t planning on visiting but used it as a transfer point from Ukraine to Poland.
Unfortunately, I was only in the city for a day and a half, but it was long enough for me to fall in love with it!
I was debating whether I should include Lviv or Odessa on my list of underrated cities in Europe, but Lviv won out by a hair because I think there is more to do there.
But, if you’re in Ukraine, you can’t go wrong with visiting Odessa as well.
Lviv is by far the brightest and most vibrant city I visited in Ukraine. It feels like a small town but is actually quite a large city.
Even as a tourist, when you walk around the centre of Lviv, you can’t help but feel comfortable and at home.
But be sure to get outside the centre of the city and explore everything else the city has to offer!
And please, please, please come with an empty stomach.
As I’m sure you can guess, the food in Lviv (and everywhere in Ukraine) is outstanding. You’ll want to eat and eat and eat until you’ve made yourself sick and can’t stuff another bite into your mouth.
Yes. I’m speaking from experience.
A lot of people don’t think to visit Ukraine while they’re in Europe. Whether it is misinformation that Ukraine is unsafe or they don’t realize how much the country has to offer.
Either way, you’re missing out on a lot of amazing sights and experiences if you don’t visit Ukraine.
Kyiv is outstanding, but you should also visit Lviv while you’re there.
Top 3 Things to do in Lviv
- Climb city hall for the best views of the city
- Visit the Armenian Cathedral
- People watch at Rynok Square
|Best Time to Visit||May-September|
9. Dundee, Scotland
Dundee is overlooked and is one of the most underrated cities in Europe. Not many people know about it, but it is the perfect addition to any Eastern Scotland road trip.
It is in an ideal location and the best city to spend a few days between the lowlands (a.k.a. Edinburgh or Glasgow) and the highlands.
I mean technically Dundee is part of the highlands, but it isn’t too north and isn’t what people picture when they think of the highlands.
Dundee is the perfect mixture of a modern town with deep historical roots.
I’ll admit that the only reason I planned to spend a few days in Dundee the first time I was in Scotland was because I wanted to visit the RRS Discovery.
Anybody else weirdly interested in Shackleton’s expeditions or is it just me?!
But, I’m so glad I planned three days in the city as a way to break up the driving and moving from hotel to hotel every day or two.
The city is so much more than just the RRS Discovery, and I wasn’t bored for a moment the three days I spend in Dundee.
The city is young and hip, which I didn’t expect. It has a great vibe, wonderful pubs and restaurants, and tourist attractions that suit anybody’s interests.
If you’re planning a road trip in the eastern part of Scotland, Dundee is a must on your itinerary.
Top 3 Things to do in Dundee
- Learn about Arctic expeditions on the RRS Discovery
- Visit The McManus Art Museum
- Tour Glamis Castle (a short drive or bus ride outside Dundee)
|Best Time to Visit||May-August|
10. Wrocław, Poland
Just like Lviv, I used Wrocław as a transfer point. I was in northern Poland and had to get to Prauge.
I didn’t want to go all the way from the north of Poland to Prague and decided to find somewhere to stop along the way, and that place was Wrocław.
For a city I didn’t think much of when I booked my stay, it ended up blowing me away.
It is such a unique city.
Wrocław has the same architecture as the rest of Poland, but it quirky.
There are over 400 statues of gnomes all over the city. Most of the are small, but a few of them are larger.
The gnomes started popping up around the city in the 1980s as a satirical and funny protest against communism.
Since them, gnomes have been popping up all over the city, and many of them are wearing unique and silly costumes or props.
It is weirdly addicting to spend hours wandering through the twisting streets of Wrocław trying to find as many gnomes as possible.
I have pictures of dozens of different gnomes, and it makes me giggle every time I go through my photos from my trip to Wrocław.
In addition to gnomes, Wrocław has what is known as the Cathedral Island. It is the oldest part of the city that is home to a number of different cathedrals and churches. The island is accessible by three different bridges and is surrounded by water.
Other than the gnomes, Cathedral Island is the most unique part of Wrocław. You’ll be hard pressed to find anything like it anywhere else in Europe.
Be sure to check out Hala Targowa when you’re in Wrocław. It is the best place to find fresh food, unique gifts, and cheap treats to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Top 3 Things to do in Wrocław
- Go gnome hunting
- Explore Cathedral Island
- Visit the The Royal Palace and the Historical Museum of Wrocław
|Best Time to Visit||March-May|
A Friendly Reminder About Internet Safety While Travelling
You rely extensively on public wifi when you travel. Unless you have your own pocket wifi, you’ll 100% be relying on free wifi.
Public wifi is great because it allows you to connect to the internet without spending any money, but it comes with its risks.
Public wifi is just that. It is public, so anybody can connect to it.
And before you tell me that your hotel wifi has a passcode, it is still considered public wifi because anybody can access the passcode!
With so many people using public wifi, it puts you, your devices, and your privacy at risk.
All it takes is one person with bad intentions, and your European vacation is ruined because someone stole your banking information.
You do not want to have to go through the hassel of canceling debit and credit cards while you’re abroad.
It takes a lot of the fun out of your trip, and it leaves you in the difficult situation of trying to fund the rest of your trip without your normal cards.
I’ve had a few banking issues while abroad, and I can tell you that it is a major headache to deal with. I haven’t had my information stolen, but I can only imagine how much worse that would make it!
The only way you can protect your online data and information when using a public wifi network is installing a VPN on your devices.
A VPN essentially puts a forcefield around your devices that makes it impossible for anybody else to access your information.
A VPN makes using public wifi just as safe as using your home wifi where you’re the only person who knows the passcode.
My Favourite VPN
As you can imagine, I’ve used a lot of different VPN providers during my years of travel. Honestly, I hated all of them and cancelled my subscription after the first year.
VPNs are notorious for slowing your phone down, and I would often find myself putting my privacy at risk by not using my VPN just because my internet access was so slow.
That all changed when I discovered NordVPN.
I’ve been using them since 2018 and have no plans of ever switching to a different VPN provider.
The reason I love them so much (and why I recommend them to my fellow travel lovers) is because they are the fastest VPN on the market.
You can’t notice a change in your internet speed when you’re using your NordVPN, which is basically unheard of in any other VPN.
One subscription protects up to six devices, so you can protect all your devices (and possibly the devices of a friend or family member) for one low, low price.
Seriously! The cost of a two-year subscription is less per month than the cost of a single latte.
It is a tiny price to pay to protect your online data and have peace of mind when travelling.
My philosophy is that if you can afford to travel, you can afford to protect your online data and privacy.
Are you inspired to check out any of the underrated cities in Europe on this list?!
Again, this isn’t an extensive list. There are countless other cities and towns in Europe that are underrated.
I wanted to add cities to this list that had a little something for everybody and were easy to get to.
Use it as inspiration for your next trip. Even if you don’t visit any of the cities on this list, find a hidden gem in the part of Europe you’re travelling to and take the time to visit that city.
You’ll never be disappointed that you stepped off the normal tourist trail and experienced something that most tourists don’t get to!