The world-famous cities of Europe dominate the tourist landscape. London, Paris, Rome, Berlin and Madrid are responsible for more than 50% of hotel stays every year. London and the wider UK attracted an estimated 41.7m tourists in 2018, but Europe has so much more to offer off the beaten track. Not only will you get more for your money in the cities we have listed below, you will also have a better chance of experiencing a holiday that is less touristy and more authentic.
Wroclaw, may not be the easiest European city name to pronounce, but it’s easily one of the easiest to fall in love with. This fantastic Polish city is a cultural hub and was named the European Capital of Culture in 2016. The pedestrianised old town is romantic and enchanting, with cobbled avenues leading you to the city’s delightful central market square. When visiting Wroclaw it is worth attempting to walk along many of the city’s 100 bridges over the river Oder before immersing yourself in the world-famous arts and music scene. The Opera house plays host to world-class productions every year, while the National Forum of Music is a stunning modern venue. The National Forum was opened towards the end of 2015 and is one of the best, most acoustically pristine performance spaces in Europe.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this 16th-century walled city is a spectacular place. It was named European Capital of Culture in 2018. With a remarkable history, stunning architecture, and gorgeous hidden coves, Valletta is an idyllic city far away bursting with character. The city is one of Europe’s smallest capital cities in Europe, but despite its size, it packs a real punch. The Fort St Angelo which is Malta’s oldest fort is the dazzling centrepiece of the city. Strait Street is where Valletta’s nightlife comes to a delightful crescendo. Expect to find live music and lots of fantastic places to eat. The Guze restaurant is an excellent place for delicious local cuisine in a wonderful setting.
Paris understandably dominates when it comes to attracting tourists heading to France. But Marseille is a fantastic city break in its own right and the weather in the south is often much better for most of the year. The historic Quartier du Panier is stacked full of charming street-side cafes and shops selling a fantastic array of gifts. The Notre-Dame de La Garde is a spectacular neo-Byzantine church to visit. Read our blog post on how to spend 48 hours in Marseille, for tips and advice on the best things to do and see.
Dubrovnik is one of Europe’s most picturesque cities, with its terracotta rooftops, spectacular monastery and the endless blue of the Adriatic everywhere you look. There is so much to enjoy here, and if you want the best views of the area you can take a cable car up to the top of Mount Srdj. The Homeland War Museum is a fantastic way to learn more about the war-torn history of the city and may explain many of the bullet holes you see in the walls as you walk around. The city is much safer nowadays, of course! In recent years Dubrovnik has also become well known for being the main filming location in Croatia for King’s Landing, the capital of the Seven Kingdoms in the TV show Game of Thrones. This makes this picturesque city a must for any Game of Thrones fans.
This medieval city on the Baltic is another hidden European gem. Tallinn’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its spectacular cathedral of St Alexander Nevsky. The Kalamaja district is the city’s creative hub and is packed full of fantastic exhibitions, shops and cafes. The beer is cheap and plentiful, and the food is varied and better than you might expect. A perfect place for a romantic break or a holiday with friends.
To book your tailor-made holiday to one of the quieter cities in Europe, contact our friendly travel experts.