There are places well known for their unique charm, quirky architecture and chic vibes like London, Amsterdam and Paris. But there are tons of hidden gems in Europe that just wait to be explored. Discover a fine selection of the best secret places in Europe that are incredibly attractive and worth a visit.
Table of Contents
- 1. Ohrid, Macedonia
- 2. The Albanian Riviera, Albania
- 3. Girona, Spain
- 4. Lake Bohinj, Slovenia
- 5. Tbilisi, Georgia
- 6. Bremen, Germany
- 7. Zell am See, Austria
- 8. Hydra, Greece
- 9. Hunyad Castle, Romania
- 10. Lednice Park, Czech Republic
- 11. Bosa, Italy
- 12. The Isle of Arran, Scotland
- 13. Den Bosch and North Brabant, The Netherlands
- 14. The Magic Mountains, Portugal
- 15. Antiparos, Greece
1. Ohrid, Macedonia
One of Macedonia’s best-kept secret is called Ohrid. It’s located in the southwestern part of the country by the picturesque Ohrid lake. Despite being not that popular destination, the town blooms with life and energy.
When we are talking about things to do in Ohrid, going up the hill and visiting the Old town with its unique architecture and narrow cobblestone streets is a tempting decision. Furthermore, if you climb the hill to the top you’ll witness an awesome 360-degree view above the town and the surrounding mountains.
Eve / Little Big Traveler
Without any doubt, Ohrid is one of the finest hidden gems in Europe. It’s crammed with beautiful orthodox churches to explore and rich ancient history to discover. Besides sightseeing, Ohrid can offer other activities as well. Walking along the lake at sunset or having a picnic there definitely worth a try.
Moreover, there are tons of nice lakeside cafes to rest while enjoying the view and quality restaurants offering fresh fish from the lake. Going to the beach is always a good idea if you want to relax and collect some Macedonian sun. One of the best things to do in Ohrid, tho, is renting a boat or joining a lake cruise and head straight to the water. With all that being said, Ohrid is one of the secret places in Europe that absolutely deserves your attention.
2. The Albanian Riviera, Albania
Everyone and their mother knows about Croatia. What if I tell you that you could enjoy that same coastline for a fraction of the price and double the adventure?
Enter Albania, one of Europe’s most underrated gems. The Albanian Riviera is the perfect summer spot, full of beaches with beautiful, turquoise blue waters and not many visitors. This is a place where lush green mountains meet the sea, and views everywhere are stunning.
Allison / Eternal arrival
The waters you’ll find are some of the warmest and saltiest in Europe. That makes it a wonderful place to swim and relax during the hot summer months. The food is delicious as well, with a focus on fresh seafood. Albanian food is also influenced by Greece, its neighbor to the south, which you’ll see by its delicious Greek salads, gyros, stuffed grape leaves, and more.
More travelers are discovering Albania by the day, so I’d recommend you to go soon before the secret is totally out.
3. Girona, Spain
Girona is one of the lesser-known destinations in Spain. That’s why you should definitely include it as part of your trip to Spain. This small city an hour outside of Barcelona is a beautiful and fascinating city deserved its place along with other hidden gems in Europe. It’s an old medieval city with lots of interesting buildings to explore. Perhaps, none more so than the imposing cathedral. It has been used in the TV series and is an impressive sight when you first lock eyes on it!
Tom / The Travelling Tom
One of the best things to do in Girona is to walk around the walls in the inner city. Once you make your way to the top, there are numerous viewpoints which give you an impressive overview of the city and its surroundings. After you’ve made your way back down to base level, there are lots of cool cafes and shops to explore. Sampling the local cuisine is something you should definitely do while you’re in Girona, as the food is delicious!
It may not be one of the well-known places in Spain, but Girona is definitely worth a visit!
4. Lake Bohinj, Slovenia
Lake Bohinj is the largest permanently lake in Slovenia and only half an hour’s drive from the famous Lake Bled. With most tourists only going as far as Bled, the Bohinj region is relatively unspoiled with its small villages and proximity to Triglav National Park, the only national park in Slovenia.
Nam / Laugh Travel Eat
You can walk the perimeter and enjoy the beauty of Lake Bohinj, or rent a kayak or SUP to explore the water. You can also hike up to the nearby mountains for spectacular views, or go chase the beautiful waterfalls in the region. While having a car is ideal, there is sufficient public transport particularly during the summer months, with a Bohinj Guest Pass that grants you many perks and entries in the area. Guaranteed, one of the most attractive hidden gems in Europe.
5. Tbilisi, Georgia
Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia (the country) is one of my favorite underrated destinations in Europe, even though it is getting more and more popular every year! There are so many things to do in Tbilisi, including quirky and unusual places to see, and not just the usual combo of museums/monuments/churches – for example, did you know that in Tbilisi you can taste wine made from the ‘original recipe’ dating over 7000 years? You can also enjoy hot sulphur baths even at night, and party in some really cool techno clubs, including one in a Soviet swimming pool!
Margherita / The Crowded Planet
The architecture of Tbilisi is also very nice, especially the Old Town with its wooden houses with colorful façades, some of which date back over 200 years. Outside of the Old Town, there are great examples of Art Nouveau architecture, especially around Liberty Square. Yet, you can’t recommend people to visit Tbilisi without mentioning Georgian cuisine, which is absolutely delicious!
There are so many great restaurants in the city that you won’t go hungry for sure. One of my favorites was Sakhachapure n.1. There you can have different kinds of khachapuri, Georgia’s national dish made with pastry and cheese!
6. Bremen, Germany
Sometimes I cannot believe that Bremen, my hometown, is still one of the hidden gems in Europe.
I mean, we Germans know it is one of the most beautiful cities in Germany and with about 500,000 inhabitants it is not even small. However, it seems to be less known among non-Germans. Though you might see and hear tourists from all over the world, I still consider it somehow an off the beaten path destination in Europe – though one of the most beautiful ones.
Arzo / Arzo Travels
There is tons to do in Bremen. If you are interested in culture, Bremen is home of two UNESCO World Heritage sites. The Town Hall – known as the Rathaus – and the Roland Statue. We also have some great museums like the Überseemusueam.
As if it’s not enough, Bremen has a gorgeous old town with extremely narrow streets and colorful houses. Moreover, we have some vibrant districts for the people young at heart.
If you think this sounds boring because you prefer nature then I am happy to tell this place has also a river. That makes Bremen perfect for nice strolls and parks! A lot of parks which are perfect relax.
As you can see Bremen has a lot to offer and it can easily keep with well known German destinations.
7. Zell am See, Austria
It is already known that Austria is a very beautiful country. It worth visiting for its history, rich culture and beautiful nature. In addition to the well-known places in Austria, such as Vienna, Hallstatt, Innsbruck, and Salzburg, there are others that are well worth discovering.
One of them is surely Zell am See, better known as Zell am See-Kaprun. It’s a picturesque and very beautiful village, sprinkled with chic cottages, narrow streets, and old churches. You can get there by plane (the nearest airport is 80 km away), by car in a fun road trip, or by train (the train station is located right in the center of the resort).
Bella / Whisper Wanderlust
The main attraction in Zell am See is the gorgeous and huge 4.7 square kilometers lake. It is surrounded by the Austrian Alps, offering a splendid landscape in all seasons. In spring, the meadows are completely green, and in winter, everything is covered in white.
Zell am See is the ideal place for practicing winter sports, hiking, nature walks, or boat rides on the lake. However, my favorite activity here is the 1600 meters mountain slide. It gives you great sensations while enjoying the stunning scenery around you. I had great fun here, and I warmly recommend the experience to everyone.
8. Hydra, Greece
Hydra island in the Saronic Gulf is probably one of the best hidden gems in Europe. It is definitely an off the beaten path destination and a must visit when in Greece. It is considered one of the most beautiful of all Greek islands. Its proximity to Athens (it takes only two hours to get there by ferry from the port of Piraeus) makes it an ideal European getaway.
Hydra is unique because it does not allow any cars or motor vehicles on the island. The method of transportation are mules, donkeys, and water taxis. It is great to ride a donkey or horse on Hydra and explore the island and its nature with rough mountains and wildflower fields. You can also hike the paths of Hydra. It also has a rich cultural and historical significance.
Chrysoula / TravelPassionate
In the past, Hydra was incredibly prosperous because of its commercial fleet. The island also played a major role in the Greek War of Independence. Do not miss the museums and monument honoring this heritage. Nowadays, Hydra hosts many cultural institutions, art galleries, and world-famous artists. Creatives, musicians like Leonard Cohen and celebrities like Sophia Loren have always been attracted to Hydra.
This cosmopolitan character is complemented by a number of top quality restaurants and cocktail bars. Finally, the beaches, turquoise waters and beautiful sunsets of Hydra island make it a very romantic destination, great for couples.
9. Hunyad Castle, Romania
There’s this castle in Romania which is called the Hunyad Castle. Its Gothic style, its beautiful details rate it next to other hidden gems in Europe. If ever wanting to visit Romania, besides Dracula’s Castle and Peles Castle you must also visit the Hunyad Castle and its surroundings. It has a great history and it is said that even Vlad the Impaler was held here as a prisoner by John Hunyadi.
Paula / Her Travel Story
More than that, there is a lake nearby that is called Cincis Lake which is said to have been built over 5 villages. So besides beautiful landscapes, delicious food, and kind people, Romania has some of the best history stories that you can enjoy. One of them is held in the Hunyad Castle and all you need to do is visit it if you’re looking for off the beaten path destinations in Europe.
10. Lednice Park, Czech Republic
Lednice Park is part of the Lednice-Valtice World Heritage Area in the eastern Czech Republic. While these days the area is located in the Czech Republic, right next to the border with Austria, up until WWII it was the principal residence of the House of Liechtenstein. These days they rule and live in the microstate of Liechtenstein, a good 700km to the west. When the Nazi regime invaded the area in 1939, the family fled. After the war was over, the then Communist government of Czechoslovakia weren’t interested in restoring the lands and castle to their previous aristocratic owners, meaning it ended up belonging to the state and open to the general public.
Shandos / Travelnuity
While the larger and principal castle is located in the town of Valtice, I prefer the castle of Lednice and its surrounding parklands. This Neo-Gothic castle was built as the family’s summer residence, and as such the parklands are extensive and magnificent. Next to the castle is a small formal garden in the French style, while the rest of the park is in the English garden style. A large lake forms the centerpiece, with boat rides regularly offered. One of the main destinations is the Minaret, a tower built in a Middle-Eastern style. Further afield there’s also a mock-ruined medieval castle, built as a hunting lodge.
Despite being one of the hidden gems in Europe, Lednice Park is only an hour’s drive from the cities of Brno, Bratislava and Vienna. While tours of the castle don’t run often over the winter, the park is open year-round, with free entry.
11. Bosa, Italy
Not many people from outside of Italy visit Sardinia. In fact, most people outside of Europe hardly know where Sardinia is and often confuse it with Sicily. Yet, this island, at the heart of the Mediterranean of which it is the second largest city, has a lot to offer.
Visitors typically crowd the most famous beaches and cities such as Alghero. Yet, at around 15 minutes drive from Alghero, there is the lovely Bosa. It’s a small city perched on the hills, with an old castle that offers splendid views over the coast and the city, showing the Temo river as it makes its way from the country, then through the village and the sea.Claudia / My Adventures Across The World
Bosa may not have all the tourist sites that other more famous places have, but it retains all of the local charms. Picturesque cobbled streets, lovely restaurants, cafés where the locals enjoy meeting for a morning latte or afternoon drink. It’s a lovely place to spend a few days just soaking in the relaxing atmosphere in a true example of the hidden gems in Europe.
12. The Isle of Arran, Scotland
When people think of the islands of Scotland The Isle of Skye is usually the first and usually the only island they know. I, though, love the Isle of Arran. Situated further south, within easy reach, if you are arriving in Glasgow with a direct rail link to Adrossan so you can board the ferry, Arran is nicknamed “Scotland in miniature”.
The Highland Boundary Fault crosses the center of the island. As in the north, you can explore dramatic mountain ranges and in the south, you can relax on beautiful white sand beaches. There are miles and miles of coastal pathways to explore and cute whitewashed cottages to stay in.
Nicola / FunkyEllas Travel
The main village of Brodick sits in the shadow of Arran’s tallest mountain, Goatfell. It’s home to independent cafes and shops where you can eat the amazing Arran cheese, oatcakes and ice cream. You can also visit the mystical Machrie Moor stone circle and Brodick Castle and grounds.
Brodick Castle has an outstanding collection of period porcelain and paintings. Driving around the island itself will take your breath away, the scenery is absolutely stunning. In winter the hills are capped with a dusting of snow and the chestnut brown rugged landscape below makes for some pretty special photos. In summer the beaches in the south, especially Kildonan Beach, could easily be mistaken for an exotic beach in foreign lands.
13. Den Bosch and North Brabant, The Netherlands
Most of the tourists visiting the Netherlands do not look further than Amsterdam. Yet the Netherlands has so much more to offer. The capital of the Dutch province North Brabant – Den Bosch (‘s-Hertogenbosch) is one of those hidden gems in Europe, waiting to be discovered by the independent tourist. The city has rich cultural and historical heritage. When in Den Bosch do not miss the famous St. John’s Cathedral and the Noordbrabants Museum. Try a boat trip on the Binnendieze and visit the Jheronimus Bosch Centre, dedicated to the most famous medieval painter Hieronymus Bosch.
Daniela / Ipanema Travels To
Den Bosch is a vibrant city to go out, with lovely cafes and fancy restaurants. North Brabant is famous among the Dutch for the so-called “Burgundian” lifestyle. Joie de vivre, good food, good wine, shared with good friends. If in North Brabant, you will notice this special atmosphere combined with the unique hospitality of the people there.
Den Bosch is perfect for a city break. The International Eindhoven airport is only 30 km away. There is also a direct train connection to the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam (it takes just an hour).
If you decide to stay a bit longer and discover the whole province of North Brabant, you won’t be disappointed either. There are quaint little villages (Heusden, Willemstad, Oisterwijk, Woudrichem), lovely castles (Dussen, Heeswijk, Helmond, Maurick), amazing natural parks (De Biesbosch, Loonse and Drunense Dunes, De Zoom), and two theme parks (Efteling and Beekse Bergen).
14. The Magic Mountains, Portugal
When talking about Portugal, I am pretty sure that Lisbon, Oporto, and Algarve come to your mind immediately. The Azores islands could also ring some bells in curious travelers as well as the stunning coast of Alentejo.
However, I am pretty positive you have never heard of Montanhas Magicas (Magic Mountains). And that’s why I’d love to bring this unique destination within Portugal mainland to your attention. Now you can put it on your list of the best hidden gems in Europe.
Inma / A World to Travel
Stunning villages, waterfalls, geoparks, archaeological sites on top of the renowned Portuguese gastronomy, its wines, the traditions, and the warmth Portuguese people are known for await you in Montanhas Magicas, a region barely 1 hour away from Porto.
What are you waiting for? Check everything the Magic Mountains of Portugal offer and get ready to experience them soon. Enjoy!
15. Antiparos, Greece
There are hundreds of islands in the Cyclades, and most of them are swarmed by tourists. Perhaps that’s why Tom Hanks and Madonna chose to call Antiparos home, one of the few places left where you can experience true privacy and seclusion. With whitewashed stone paths, blossoming bougainvillea trees and crystal clear water, it has all the charm of Greece and none of the commercialization.
Jen / Jen On A Jet Plane
There are no major department stores here, just mom and pop shops and corner markets. Cars are not allowed in the city center, so it’s best to walk or rent an ATV to get around. The island boasts one of the biggest cave systems in Greece, as well as a famous campground and even a nude beach. It’s the perfect place to get away and let it all hang out-literally!
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Here they are, 15 perfect examples of hidden gems in Europe. Moreover, these are 15 great ideas for your next getaway. There are many undiscovered places out there waiting to be seen. Have you visited some of these sites? Or maybe you can add more places to this list to inspire other fellow travelers. Share your thoughts in the comments.