What do you think of when you hear “Europe”? London, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, Barcelona….
There are so many incredible places to visit in Europe - it could take a lifetime to truly see and experience them all. For me, the most memorable European trips have been to the lesser-known corners of the continent. After all, the most memorable travel experiences are the ones that are the little moments that occur when you are truly outside of your comfort zone. They are the conversations in a smokey bar about “what is freedom?”. They are the funny “charade” like interactions when there is a language barrier. They are the first bites of a new favorite dish that you never knew existed.
So without further ado here are some of my favorite hidden gem cities within Europe.
My sister and I call Kraków the city of music because everywhere we went we heard people playing music. Kraków often gets overshadowed by neighboring Prague, but trust me when I say this is not a city you will want to miss. I love Kraków for it’s well preserved (and very Instagram-worthy) old town, restaurants, and fun bar/jazz scene. Kraków is easy to reach from most major European cities, and there are also nonstop flights from the US, making it a perfect place to kick off a Euro trip from.
Tallinn is a real-life fairy tale, but there is much more to this city than colorful buildings and cobblestone streets. Tallinn has no shortage of amazing breweries, local designers, and great restaurants. One of the things that really stands out about this vibrant city is the amount of young and innovative restaurants - from the food halls to fine restaurants, it’s hard to find a bad meal in Tallinn.
Tbilisi is one of those cities that I cannot stop talking about. Before visiting Tbilisi, I had no knowledge of Georgia (the country) and no expectations. Tbilisi has had a turbulent history marked by periods of Russian and Persian rule which has resulted in an eclectic mix of architecture throughout the city. Modern-day Tbilisi has a vibrant bar and restaurant scene and entrepreneurial culture.
Looking to go off the grid and unplug? Tórshavn is the place for you. The colorful capital of the Faroe Islands is quaint, unpretentious, and one of the most pleasant places that I’ve ever visited. The people of Tórshavn are incredibly welcoming, the town is picturesque, and best of all there are no tourist traps. I recommend spending a few days in Tórshavn and using it as your base to explore the rest of the Faroe Islands.
You’re going where? That is the reaction you should expect when you tell your friends and family that you are going to Vilnius, Lithuania. Trust me when I say that I have this feeling that Vilnius is about to be the next IT destination. The feel of Vilnius is vibrant and young. There are trendy boutiques, creative restaurants, and no shortage of cute cafes and bars. Despite the “young feel” the city of Vilnius was founded in the 14th century and looks straight out of a Disney movie.
What are your favorite “hidden gem” cities in Europe?