5 Overlooked Destinations in Europe (and What To Do There)

September 17 , 2018

If you’re planning your program in Europe and want to visit destinations that are overlooked or less ‘touristy’, we understand and we’ve got you covered. We’ve compiled a list of 5 destinations in Europe that you may not have considered before, but are just as incredible as the more frequented cities.

1. Budapest, Hungary

Hungarian Parliament Building
Hungarian Parliament Building

Although Budapest is becoming a more popular destination amongst Europeans, it is still a less common destination in Europe for American tourists. With a storied history, Budapest has connections dating back to the Roman Empire. The city as seen today was formed through the joining of Buda, Pest and Old Buda, in 1873. The story of the city does not end there, as Hungary was involved in World War II during which time Budapest was severely damaged.

Can’t Miss Sights

  • Hungarian Parliament Building – The world’s third largest parliament building and an example of stunning Neo-Gothic architecture.
  • Heroes’ Square The monument features the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars, who are thought to have led the Hungarian people from central Asia to the Carpathian basin.
  • Memento Park – Established in 1993, the park is home to many of the cities Communist era statues.
  • Citadella – Built by the Hapsburgs and sitting atop Gellert Hill, the former fort is now home to a museum.

2. Split, Croatia

St. Domnius Tower and Split
St. Domnius Tower and Split

If you’re looking to go to Croatia, check out Split instead of Dubrovnik. The city, situated on the Dalmatian coast, is home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Diocletian’s Palace. A tumultuous history led Split to once be held during various periods by the Roman Empire, Venice, Austria, and France. Part of the former Yugoslavia, Split became an official city of Croatia in 1992.

Can’t Miss Sights

  • Diocletian’s Palace – The 1700 year old palace is one of the most important architectural heritage of the Roman Empire.
  • St. Domnius Tower – Climb the tower 13th century tower for unbeatable city views.
  • Day Trip to Trogir – Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Trogir shares a storied history that is intertwined with that of Split.
  • Temple of Jupiter Originally, this was an ancient Roman temple dedicated to the king of the gods, Jupiter.

3. Bologna, Italy

Bologna, Italy
Bologna skyline

The capital of the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, Bologna, is often passed up for the more famous cities of Florence or Venice. Not to discredit how amazing Florence or Venice are, but Bologna is a must. This incredible region is home to parmigiano-reggiano and prosciutto. The history of this city dates back 3,000 years and has been touched by the Greeks, Phoencians, Etruscans, Gauls, Romans, Byzantines, Visigoths, and Lombards, so you could say there is a bit of a history to modern-day Bologna.

Can’t Miss Sights

  • Asinelli Tower – Standing taller than the Leaning Tower of Pisa, this 11th century tower is worth the 498 steps to the top.
  • ArchiginnasioThis famous site is home to the first seat of the University of Bologna, which is the oldest university of the Western world, founded in 1088.
  • Basilica Santuario della Madonna di San Luca – Perched atop San Luca, this sanctuary was built in the 18th century. It is connected to the city walls by the world’s longest portico, held up by 666 arches, beginning at Piazza di Porta Saragozza.

4. Valencia, Spain

Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe
Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe

The capital of both the province and autonomous community of Valencia, this less-popular Spanish city is located on the Mediterranean coast. Once a flourishing Roman colony, this city saw many rulers throughout its history and many of these influences can still be seen today.

Can’t Miss Sights

  • City of the Arts and SciencesPictured above, the ultra-modern structure was completed in 2005 and designed by Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava. It is the largest complex of its kind in Europe.
  • El Miguelete – Climb the tower to visit Miguel at the top, the famous 10-ton bell.
  • La Lonja de la Seda – A UNESCO World Heritage Site and beautiful example of Valencian gothic architecture.
  • Valencia Cathedral – Inside the cathedral you will find the Chapel of the Holy Chalice. The altar has a chalices that allegedly was used by Jesus to institute the Holy Eucharist at the last supper.

5. Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg, Austria
Salzburg skyline

Smaller and less popular than Vienna, Salzburg is just as incredible and you should know about it. The city is home to world-famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, born there in 1756. Like many European cities, Salzburg was not exempt from the impacts WWII and was heavily damaged during the conflicts, with over 50 percent of residences destroyed. You might recognize the city from its fame brought on by The Sound of Music, which was filmed here in the 1960s.

Can’t Miss Sights

  • Hohensalzburg Castle – Otherwise known as the Salzburg Fortress, the castle was originally built in 1077 and sits atop the city.
  • Mirabell Palace and Gardens – The beautiful gardens are open to visit and admire the Baroque masterpiece.
  • Mozart’s Birthplace – Now a museum, take a tour lasting about an hour through original rooms documenting Mozart’s life.
  • Salzburg Old Town – A UNESCO World Heritage Site, also called Altstadt, contains a large number of the city’s sights.

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