Europe may well be one of the smaller continents on the planet but it has a massive array of cultures, identities, countries and places to explore. We’ve all heard of the likes of Paris, London, Barcelona and Venice which are well-trodden places for us to explore but what about the massive amount of other regions and towns that are sometimes forgotten in lieu of the big hitting destinations?
Recently, the guys at Mastercard got in touch to ask for some of our favourite more lesser-known, value for money, treasures in Europe – you know, the ones that might not automatically think of but really should visit. Naturally, my list became very long but I managed to whittle it down to 11 firm favourites you should think of visiting this year.
1.) Tromsø, Norway
Visiting the Arctic Circle is incredible, especially in and around the beautiful city of Tromsø. We recently got to visit Tromsø and it was soooooo dreamy There’s not really a wrong time to visit but obviously seasons are quite different due the midnight sun in summer.
Make sure to try the cities spa boat that leaves the harbour, attend the Tromsø International Film Festival and the Northern Light Festival, or head out to spot some whales. Oh, don’t forget to grab one of the biggest burgers ever from Burgr in the city centre… just visit with an empty tummy!
2.) Calabria, Italy
Calabria is a beach lovers dream! One of the best things about Calabria is that you can spend the whole morning basking up the sun and waves, whilst in the afternoon, exploring some of the tiny villages in the region.
Make sure to also visit Pollino National Park which is Italy’s largest protected area. It really is stunning and a little cheaper than places like Tuscany or Umbria, too.
3.) St. Michael’s Mount and Marazion, England
St. Michael’s Mount is one stunning historic site to see in England. Not to be mixed up with Mont-Saint-Michel in France, it’s the perfect place to explore alongside its beautiful neighbour, Marazion where you can pick up some typical Cornish fudge.
St. Michael’s Mount really is the perfect place to explore when tides are low, just make sure to keep an eye on when the sea comes back in… no one likes to be stranded!
4.) Grundarfjörður, Iceland
Iceland has become increasingly popular over the last few years and it’s easy to see why! Although most visitors head towards the south-west of the island, places like Grundarfjörður are well worth a visit.
The whole area around Grundarfjörður is just stunning. Make sure to visit Kirkjufell Mountain during a hike around the area – you might also spot some puffins too! It’s the perfect place to explore Snæfellsnes National Park. In the summer months, locals build a replica Viking Village in the centre of Grundarfjörður that’s really worth a gander at.
5.)Tarn canyon, France
Definitely, one of Europes most beautiful canyons, Gorges du Tarn (or Tarn Canyon) is most certainly one incredible place to explore. Rent a kayak or canoe and head through the canyon itself.
Make sure you also visit Castelbouc, a small village that is perched between the gorge and the river. It really is a stunning spot to rest after a long kayak.
6.) The Azores, Portugal
This bunch of Mid-Atlantic islands are one of the most breathtaking set of islands to visit in Europe, Think volcanoes, huge craters, stunning Portuguese village and a UNESCO protected Biosphere Reserve.
It’s a stunning place to visit some of Europe’s unspoilt natural beauty.
7.) Perast, Montenegro
Persat is a little old town in the Bay of Kotor and arguably one of the prettiest in the area. This gorgeous town has a strong Venetian history that dates back many hundreds of years that is well worth seeing. Make sure to visit some of the nearby islands, too; St George and Our Lady of the Rocks, which houses a quaint little church that has been there for over 500 years.
Prices are cheaper than other destinations than the likes of Greece and Spain, so you’ll save a few pennies too!
8.) Lednice-Valtice, Czech Republic
We’re all familiar with the beauty of Prague but travel a little further south-east from the city and you’ll eventually hit Lednice-Valtice. It’s one stunning place you have to see in the Czech Republic. Make sure you visit Lednice Castle and the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary for some of the grand gothic architecture.
Alternatively, for a relaxing afternoon, hop onto one of the many little boats that stream down the river – it really is gorgeous.
9.) Slovak Paradise National Park, Slovakia
The Slovak Paradise National Park certainly lives up to its name. Filled with over 300km of marked trails and hiking routes, it’s one of the best places to come and experience the nature here in Slovakia. Make sure to visit some of the impressive caves whilst you’re there, too! You won’t be disappointed.
After working up an appetite in the national park, grab yourself a traditional dish of Bryndzové pirohy, there little cheese parcels or dumplings that are sent from the heavens… I loved them on our last trip to Slovakia.
10.) Pag Island, Croatia
Croatia is one of my favourite coastlines to explore in Europe (shhhh, don’t tell the others), its stunning islands and coastline are just so dreamy, with the island of Pag being no exception. Once there, make sure you take a dip off Simuni Beach, see the Pag Lace Gallery and visit the Olive Gardens of Lun which has some of oldest olive trees in Croatia.
11.) Gotland & Visby, Sweden
Sweden has a massive amount of thing for us travellers to experience, from the Ice Hotel in the North, Stockholm, Swedish Lapland and Gothenburg in the west, it really is a diverse country. One place that doesn’t immediately spring to mind is Sweden’s largest island, Gotland. Make sure to visit the historic city of Visby and see the incredible Visby City Wall, St. Nicolai Ruin and sample some of the city’s seafood in one of the harbour front restaurants.
If you’re feeling extra adventurous, head for a tour of Lummelunda Cave, which is Sweden’s longest cave system!
Looking for more?
If you’re hankering for some more amazing places to visit, make sure to head over to this list of 44 of the top value for money destinations voted for and chosen with Mastercard.