The 7 Unexpected European Cities

7 Unexpected European Cities To Visit This Year

Sure, Paris is absolutely charming and you’ll find incredible gelato and pasta in Rome -and yes, Berlin really is as cool as everyone says. But Europe is home to so many more destinations than the ones usually ticked off on a whirlwind InterRailing trip.

These under-visited and overlooked cities deserve just as much recognition as more famous ones in Europe. Looking for something different for your holiday this year? Any one (or all!) of these 7 unexpected European cities will do the trick.

1. Gdansk, Poland

This port city on the Baltic coast of Poland has a unique feel from other Polish cities. Colourful buildings, a beautiful market square and a rich history of maritime and military battles make Gdansk ideal for a weekend break.


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2. Skopje, Macedonia

The capital city of the Republic of Macedonia has charming Ottoman and Byzantine features. Beautiful scenery surrounds the city, with canyons and caves to explore. Don’t miss a visit to the leafy Debar Maalo neighbourhood for dinner and drinks. Ideal for a city and countryside break all in one.


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3. Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain

While this city in Spain’s lively Basque region is nowhere near as well known as Bilbao or San Sebastian, it’s just as good. A medieval old town and picturesque cathedrals are seriously pretty. Throw in the fact that the streets are lined with bars and people eating Pinxtos until the early hours and it’s a clear winner.


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4. Leipzig, Germany

Just over an hour’s high-speed train journey from Berlin, Leipzig is one of Germany’s coolest cities. A young and creative generation are currently shaping the city with galleries and clubs in old industrial spaces. Our tip? Visit sooner rather than later before the inevitable gentrification hits.


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5. Nantes, France

Easily one of the best destinations in France for a weekend city break, Nantes is a vibrant city that includes île de Nantes, an island in the middle of the river. Tasty food markets and a great artsy scene will keep you busy here. You’ll wonder why you ever bothered with Paris or Provence at all…


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6. Trieste, Italy

All of the best things about Italy can be found in Trieste – including the food. Tucked inside the Slovenian border, this port city is super charming. There’s a Town Square with a lovely fountain, Viennese coffeehouses and excellent museums. Plus, buzzing bars for Aperitivo.


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7. Aarhus, Denmark

Denmark’s second-biggest city is often ignored in favour of Copenhagen, and it’s a real shame. The European Capital of Culture for 2017, this place is full of good vibes. The skywalk on top of the Art Museum will give you views of the entire city, and there’s also 14th century churches to explore. What more could you need?


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Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out our guide to the world’s most beautiful destinations here.

Sarah Clayton-Lea

Co-founder of Big 7 Travel, Sarah created the company through her passion for championing the world's best food and travel experiences. Before her career in digital media, where she previously held roles such as Editor of Food&Wine Ireland, Sarah worked in the hospitality industry in Dublin and New York.

Contact [email protected]

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