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28 Amazing Underrated Cities In Europe You Have To Visit

Europe really does have a lot to offer and there are a lot of magical places to see. However, most travelers always head to the mainstream locations, like Amsterdam, Paris, and London and many of them aren’t even aware that Europe has even more beautiful places that aren’t that famous (many people don’t even know they exist). And that’s why I wrote this article. To show you some must visit underrated cities in Europe you probably won’t find on the tourist map.

Ronda, Spain

ronda underrated cities in spain

We’re starting this list of underrated cities in Europe with Ronda, a Spanish secret that’s hiding in plain sight, perched high in the mountains of Andalusia. Imagine a city split in two by a jaw-dropping gorge, like something out of a dramatic love story where the two halves just can’t seem to get along. But Ronda isn’t just about dramatic landscapes and vertigo-inducing bridges.

This city is a slice of history served on a scenic platter. It’s the birthplace of modern bullfighting, but before you raise your eyebrows, let’s just say the bullring here is more of a museum piece these days. And speaking of history, the old town, La Ciudad, is a charming maze of cobblestone streets that will surely win you over.

Santiago De Compostela, Spain

santiago de compostela

Santiago de Compostela is the jewel of Northwestern Spain that’s often overlooked in the mad dash to the beaches. This city is like that one friend who’s quietly cool without even trying – rich in culture, history, and, let’s not forget, the final stop on the legendary Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. Yes, people have literally walked across Europe to get here. The city’s main highlights are the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral – an architectural marvel that’s been wowing visitors since the Middle Ages and its old town with its winding streets and quaint squares, that has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Cordoba, Spain

cordoba spain

This Andalusian charmer is like the cool, intellectual cousin in Spain’s family of cities, often overshadowed by its flashier relatives, Madrid and Barcelona. star of the show in Córdoba is undoubtedly the Mezquita. It’s not just a mosque, and it’s not just a cathedral – it’s a mesmerizing blend of both. But Córdoba isn’t a one-trick pony. Oh no! The city is a smorgasbord of cultural delights and home to 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites (Medina Azahara, the Old Town, and the Festival of the Courtyards).

Évora, Portugal


Nestled in Portugal’s sun-drenched Alentejo region, this city is like a fine bottle of local wine – rich, a bit under the radar, and with layers of history to uncork. Known for its well-preserved Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Évora is a mosaic of cultural influences, from Roman roots to Moorish flair. Imagine strolling through narrow, cobbled streets that open into charming squares, where the pace of life moves as leisurely as a lazy afternoon siesta.

Menton, France

menton france

This list of underrated cities in Europe couldn’t be complete without Menton, one of our favorite hidden gems in France. With its pastel-colored buildings, lush gardens, and a sea so blue it puts sapphires to shame, Menton is a slice of paradise. This town doesn’t just bask in the Mediterranean sun; it revels in it. In addition to being a walking Instagram reel, the city is also home to a few art galleries, museums, modernist buildings, a large port, and one of Europe’s quirkiest lemon festivals.

Enjoying this post? Then you may also like our list of secret places in Paris.

Heidelberg, Germany


Heidelberg is a university town that’s been schooling students since 1386. Nestled along the banks of the Neckar River, Heidelberg is a patchwork of cobblestone streets, bustling with the energetic buzz of its youthful population. It’s a city steeped in history and charm, the kind that makes you want to write poetry or at least Instagram some sonnets. The Heidelberg Castle, perched proudly above the city, is like something straight out of a fairy tale, albeit one where you don’t have to worry about dragons. This majestic ruin offers a panoramic view that’ll have your jaw dropping quicker than you can say ‘ach du lieber!’

Volendam, Netherlands


A charming fishing village that also gets forgotten by travelers. As a matter of fact,  Volendam is only 45 minutes away from Amsterdam! The authentic looking houses in this city are neatly arranged in rows that form a straight line. They look incredibly similar and even their windows are more or less at the same height. Just like in a fairytale!

Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

luxembourg bank

Let’s dive into Luxembourg City, the capital of the Grand Duchy that’s often skimmed over in the grand European tour itinerary. This city is like a secret garden in the middle of Europe – small, serene, and packed with surprises. It has striking modern buildings sitting comfortably next to historic fortifications, a UNESCO-listed old town, a charming riverfront next to Alzette River, and a couple of Michelin-star restaurants.

Manchester, UK


Next on our list of underrated cities in Europe, we have Manchester. First off, Manchester is the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, so it’s got street cred. This city changed the world, and you can feel that history in the old mills and warehouses. But it’s not stuck in the past – these buildings have been repurposed into cool lofts, quirky shops, and bustling eateries. In addition to this, Manchester has a rich culinary scene (check out Curry Mile if you have the chance), a Northern Quarter filled with street art, and of course, two of Europe’s finest football stadiums (Etihad and Old Trafford).

Lofoten Islands, Norway


These islands are located in the picturesque tundras of Norway, just around 100 miles from the Arctic circle. This is probably one of the most photogenic places you will ever see in your life. Literally, anyone can be a photographer at Lofoten. This hidden gem of Norway is filled with jaw-dropping landscapes, If you like the mountains and you’re a fan of trekking, then Lofoten islands will blow you away.

Helsinki, Finland


This list of the most underrated cities in Europe couldn’t be complete without Finland’s capital. Nestled by the Baltic Sea, with an archipelago of around 330 islands, Helsinki is a blend of modern flair and natural charm. The city feels like walking into a live Pinterest board. From Alvar Aalto’s iconic architecture to Marimekko’s vibrant prints, the city is a feast for the aesthetically inclined. Then there’s the sauna culture cause nothing beats sweating out your worries with locals, followed by a brave plunge into the Baltic Sea. Yes, even in winter. It’s the Finnish way of saying, “Relax, you’re doing great!”

Krakow, Poland

Krakow underrated cities in europe

Next on our list of underrated cities in Europe, we have Krakow. Poland’s not-so-hidden gem that somehow still flies under the radar. It’s like that indie movie everyone raves about, but you haven’t seen yet. Once the royal capital of Poland, Krakow is a blend of the ancient and the artsy, a place where history rubs shoulders with hipsters. Krakow is home to Europe’s largest medieval town square, Wawel Castle, one of the world’s largest castles, and many other important historical sites and beautiful buildings that look like they came out of a fairytale.

Kaunas, Lithuania


Often overshadowed by Lithuania’s capital (Vilnius), Kaunas is a beautiful and often underrated city nestled at the confluence of the Nemunas and Neris rivers. The city is famous for its imposing medieval architecture, charming cobblestone streets, and a myriad of interesting museums that showcase the city’s glorious past. The city’s highlights include the iconic Kaunas Castle, a 9th-century frotress that’s still standing, one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Baltic Europe, and a few quirky museums like the Devils’ Museum and the KGB Museum.

Lucerne, Switzerland


Lucerne, often overshadowed by the likes of Zurich and Geneva, is the ultimate Swiss hidden gem. The city is famous for its iconic Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge), the oldest road bridge in Europe, the Spreuerbrücke with its “Dance of Death” roof panels, the atmospheric cluster of medieval houses in the Old Town, cobbled squares like Mühlenplatz and Weinmarkt, and the Jesuitenkirche, dominating the riverside with its twin onion-domed towers

Graz, Austria


Nestled in the heart of Europe, Graz is Austria’s second-largest city, but we feel it really doesn’t get the attention it deserves. This city is a bit of an urban chameleon, effortlessly blending its Renaissance courtyards and baroque palaces with cutting-edge modern architecture. Graz is also home to a handful of fabulous museums, galleries, six universities, and to top things off, it’s located in the middle of Styria, known as Austria’s ‘green heart’, so expect a bounty of fresh, local produce.

Bologna, Italy


Bologna, ah, where do I start? This Italian charmer, nestled in the heart of the Emilia-Romagna region, is like that unassuming restaurant you wander into one day and discover it serves the best meal you’ve ever had. Known as ‘La Grassa’ (The Fat One), Bologna is Italy’s foodie paradise, but its menu of delights extends far beyond the culinary.

Bologna’s medieval center, one of the best-preserved in Europe, is an enchanting tangle of narrow streets, lined with buildings in hues of deep terracotta – giving it the nickname ‘La Rossa’ (The Red). And those porticoes! Miles of arcades make strolling around an architectural treat, rain or shine. Then there’s the University of Bologna, the oldest in the Western world, making the city a bustling hub of student life. But let’s not forget the food (how could we?). Bologna is the birthplace of ragù, the meat sauce the world mistakenly calls ‘Bolognese’.

Civita di Bagnoregio, Italy

Civida hidden gem Italy

This list of underrated cities wouldn’t be complete without Civita di Bagnoregio, one of the most remote towns in Italy. This ancient small town managed to keep its identity and remain relatively isolated from the rest of the country throughout the years and visiting will make you feel like going back in time. Today, the town has only 14 permanent, year-round residents! The only way to reach the town is by taking a 30-minutes hike up to the hill. If you want to find out more about underrated cities in Europe, check out my articles about places in Italy off the beaten track, this list of hidden gems in Spain and these secret places in France.

Piran, Slovenia


Located somewhere where the Alpine and Mediterranean world cross, Piran really has it all. This is just one of the few cities on the short Slovenian coastline, and it’s certainly worthy of the nickname ‘The Pearl of the Slovenian coast. The city is so beautiful that a lot of people say it’s the most amazing city in the Mediterranean.

Enjoying this post? Then you may also want to see which are the most haunted places in Europe?

Zagreb, Croatia


Even though a capital (of Croatia), Zagreb deserves a mention on this lits of underrated cities in Europe. The Old Town is dotted with charming cobbled streets and is home to several important landmarks like St Mark Church, St. Mark Square, and dozens of beautiful examples of Habsburg Architecture while its more modern part (Lower Town) has bustling streets, chic boutiques, and an array of parks that make you wonder if you’re in a city or a giant outdoor art gallery.

Sarajevo, Bosnia And Herzegovina


Tucked in the heart of the Balkans, Sarajevo is like that hidden track on your favorite album – unexpected, deeply moving, and something you’ll want to revisit again and again. It has a vibe that’s hard to pin down and it’s the place where the East truly meats the West (even though a few other cities in Europe claim the same). Strolling down Baščaršija, Sarajevo’s old bazaar, feels like time traveling – one minute you’re sipping Turkish coffee, the next you’re eyeing up Austrian architecture.

But Sarajevo isn’t just about picturesque streets and a rich history; it’s a city with soul. It’s been through a lot, no denying that. The scars of the 90s siege are still there, but so is the resilience. The people? They’re the kind who have seen the worst but still offer you the best – expect warm smiles, hearty food, and stories that could fill novels.

Novi Sad, Serbia

Novi Sad

Novi Sad in Serbia is like taht Indie coffee shop you discover one lazy afternoon – a blend of chill vibes, rich history, and cool, artsy energy that makes you instantly feel like you’ve stumbled upon something special. Novi Sad doesn’t have the imposing grandeur of some European cities, and that’s exactly its charm. The star of the show in Novi Sad is the Petrovaradin Fortress. Perched on the banks of the Danube, this old sentinel has been keeping watch for centuries but there are a few other notable attractions including the Danube Park, the Novi Sad Synagogue, Saint George’s Cathedral, and last but not lest, the legendary Exit Festival.

Plovdiv, Bulgaria

why visit bulgaria

This list of the most underrated cities in Europe couldn’t be complete without Plovdiv, one of the oldest cities in Europe (and in the world for that matter). Like Rome, Plovdiv is also perched on seven hills and is home to a myriad of ancient Roman sites, but also important medieval monuments, and a vibrant modern district located at a walking distance from some of the city’s most beautiful historical sites.

Ohrid, Macedonia

underrated european cities

is the jewel in Macedonia’s crown. Not only the amazing lake is one of the oldest ones in Europe (over 2 million years old), but the city is also really amazing with a rich history. Known, as the Jerusalem of the Balkan, at one point in history, Ohrid had 365 fully functional churches.

Related: check out some more hidden gems of the Balkan Peninsula

Thessaloniki, Greece


If you think all there is to see in Greece is Athens, beaches, and a bunch of islands, you’re wrong and Thessaloniki is a prime example of this. Thessaloniki is a beautiful city that offers a bit of history and culture with a dash of Mediterranean zest. The city has a rich history, it’s home to some of Greece’s most iconic monuments like the White Tower, a few interesting museums and galleries, like the like the Museum of Byzantium and the Museum of Illusions, several lively vibrant districts, including Ladadika, Ano Poli, and Toumba, and one of the best nightlife experiences in the region.

Nicosia, Cyprus


As the world’s last divided capital, Nicosia is a city with a tale to tell, straddling the line between its Greek and Turkish influences like a diplomatic gymnast. The city is home to medieval Venetian walls (that are still standing), a handful of interesting museums, a labyrinth of streets where Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities coexist, and The Ledra Street checkpoint which serves as a portal between the two worlds.

Tbilisi, Georgia


The first thing I noticed while living in the Georgian capital is that Tbilisi is like a patchwork quilt of history. You’ve got cobbled streets and old buildings with wooden balconies that look like they’re straight out of a fairy tale. Then, turn the corner, and boom – you’re faced with some ultra-modern structure that looks like it’s been teleported from the future. It’s this blend of old and new that gives Tbilisi its unique charm.

Enjoying this post? Then you may also like this list of beautiful places to visit in Georgia.

Yerevan, Armenia

must see places in Yerevan

This list of underrated cities couldn’t be complete without a city that most people probably don’t even know belongs to Europe. Yerevan is the capital of Armenia and a beautiful city that offers an intriguing mix of Soviet-era architecture and modern vibes. The heart of the city is Republic Square where you’ll find the Armenian Genocide Museum, the iconic Cascade Complex, and the Matenadaran Institute of Ancient Manuscripts. Also, interestingly, many of the city’s buildings are made from tuff, a pinkish volcanic rock that glows warmly at sunset, earning Yerevan the nickname the ‘Pink City’.

Vatnajokull, Iceland


Even though technically not a city (cities are loosely defined in a country as remote and unpopulated as Iceland), a list of the most underrated cities in Europe can’t be complete without at least mentioning the Vatnajokull and its ice caves. This wonder of nature is located inside an Icelandic glacier. The caves are older, but the ice first appeared a few centuries ago. 

After that, the weight of the ice has pressed out all the air of the cave, resulting in texture and colors that are out of this world. The interior of the cave, filled with ice shaped like jewels gives a sight that you couldn’t even imagine seeing in a fairy tale. Just one of the many reasons to visit Europe in the winter.

If you are planning a trip to Europe soon and are looking for some interesting places to visit also check this comprehensive Europe itinerary. Also, check out this list if you’re looking for some more fairytale-like looking towns in Europe.

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Did you like this of underrated cities in Europe? Do you have some more places to add to this list? Share your thoughts in the comments!


Tuesday 17th of September 2019

Such a useful post! thanks for sharing your amazing experience. I am planning a trip and seek for some hidden around Europe now. Definitely should add some of these stops to my list. Love this article!

Passport Symphony

Sunday 22nd of September 2019

Thank you, Mai, I'm glad you could get some inspiration from this article

Sinjana Ghosh

Thursday 17th of January 2019

What a fantastic list. Each of the places look straight out of fairytale. Volendam was initially on our list for Netherlands but we had to let go of it because of my bad health on that day. Hope to visit again.

Passport Symphony

Monday 21st of January 2019

Thank you, Sinjana and I hope you get the chance to visit Volendam again. It's a lovely town.


Wednesday 16th of January 2019

I’d never heard of any of the places off the beaten path in Europe. There really are so many amazing places in Europe that I can’t even imagine how you chose these ten. I’m fascinated with Iceland and I want to visit in winter. But even the gorgeous town in Russia with its church and the monastery in Greece show some amazing churches. I like that some of these places are hard to get to, meaning they won’t be overrun with visitors. I can’t imagine living in a town with just 14 people though!

Passport Symphony

Thursday 17th of January 2019

I'm glad you learned about some new places from this post, Annick. I hope you get the chance to visit some of them in the future

Jane Dempster-Smith

Wednesday 16th of January 2019

Oh No. My bucket list just grew by 10 more destinations. This is a great article and one that I will definitely bookmark for future reference. Now which one will I travel to first? Thanks for sharing.

Passport Symphony

Wednesday 16th of January 2019

I'm glad to hear that, Jane. I really hope you get the chance to visit some of these places soon


Tuesday 15th of January 2019

Superb list! Searching for the best underrated places, isn’t that what most travelers and bloggers do the most? Lofoten is the one on your list that I’d add to my ever growing bucket list, thanks!

Passport Symphony

Wednesday 16th of January 2019

Thank you, Per and I hope you make it to Lofoten soon. It's spectacular!