3 European Destinations You May Have Overlooked when Planning Your Trip
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of amazing places to visit in Europe, including popular destinations like France, Italy, Croatia, or the Netherlands. Each of these countries has plenty to do and see, but if you’re looking to get off the beaten path and try something new, why not plan a trip to Europe with a few underrated destinations on your list? We’ll help stir up wanderlust with some of our favorites – just keep reading!
Finland is a part of the Scandinavian countries which include Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. Finland’s neighbors are constantly in the spotlight – especially cities like Copenhagen and Stockholm, but this country deserves plenty of love as well! It’s well known for its beautiful nature, relaxing saunas, and as the home of Santa Claus.
Let’s start in Finland’s capital: Helsinki. Although this is a bustling metropolis with more than half a million residents, it still retains its Nordic charm. While there, don’t miss drinking a Finnish specialty, hot chocolate, at a hipster-cool cafe, or take a walk around the famous Botanical Gardens. If you have a few days in Helsinki, you can even go island hopping to the half a dozen islands scattered around the mainland. Our favorites are Suomenlinna, which has an epic sea fortress; Kaunissaari and its kilometer-long beaches; or Lonna, a small island with a cozy cafe where you can watch the boats sail by.
For those wanting to escape the busy city life, take a short train ride over to Porvoo, about 50 km from the capital. This city is one of the oldest medieval villages in Finland and has cheerful and colorful houses that are a favorite amongst artists.
Another amazing and off the beaten path destination in Finland is Rovaniemi, better known as Santa Claus’ hometown. That’s right – Santa Claus is from Finland! Thanks to its location in the Arctic Circle, Rovaniemi becomes a magical fairytale every winter. Travelers can meet the man himself at Santa Claus Village, or stroll through the Christmas market to find some gifts for their friends back home. One of the best times to come to Finnish Lapland is between August to April because you’ll have the chance to witness nature’s most beautiful light show: the Northern Lights. Don’t miss it!
If you’re still feeling a little “cold” about Finland, this next destination will have you packing your swimsuit and flip flops in no time.
Montenegro, a small country located in the heart of the Balkans, is another place that’s often overshadowed by its more popular neighbor Croatia – but there are plenty of things to do here as well.
Most travelers will start in Montenegro’s capital, Podgorica. It’s a charming city that small enough that it can be seen in two or three days. It’s also home to the largest unbroken vineyard in Europe, Plantaze Winery, where you can take a tour and enjoy Balkan wine.
Montenegro is a popular summer destination for European travelers thanks to its collection of beaches – there are over 110 scattered around the country! It’s best to visit Montenegro in the spring and summer, when temperatures around the coast reach a pleasant 27 C (81 F). If you want to spend your vacation beach hopping, Budva is your best bet. It’s one of the best beach towns in the Balkans – our top picks are Mogren Beach, Jaz Beach, and Budva Beach.
For one of the most beautiful towns in Europe, look no further than Kotor. Situated less than two hours from the capital, Kotor’s bay is surrounded by sparkling sky-blue water and little houses dotting the nearby hills. Take in the view from St. John’s Fortress or enjoy a quiet stroll along the little streets near the center. To really feel like a local, take a short 10 km ride to the neighboring town of Perast, where the pace is leisurely and relaxed. Here you can enjoy a slow meal overlooking the bay or take a boat ride to the town’s two most famous attractions: the islands of St George and Our Lady of the Rock.
Pastel houses, cheerful trams, and a lively atmosphere are just a few things you’ll see in Portugal.
Lisbon, the capital city, is a great base for exploring what Portugal has to offer. It’s a fantastic place for artists (check out the street art and murals!), foodies (delicious restaurants on every corner); and those looking for a dose of culture (museums, UNESCO sites, and stunning views). Less than half an hour away from the capital is Sintra, whose magnificent yellow and red Monserrate Palace will be the perfect backdrop for your photos.
For those who want to explore Portugal in depth, head over to one of the most underrated but up-and-coming destinations in the country: Porto. Known for its eponymous port wine, Porto is full of historical churches and palaces, waterfront walkways, and beaches. Nature lovers, don’t miss The Azores, where are a group of islands in the Atlantic ocean characterized by rolling green hills, blue crater lakes, and plenty of wildlife.
Have you found any new countries that you plan to add to your European travels? Let us know, and happy wandering!
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