The 10 most underrated cities in Europe

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When we think of Europe…

the likes of Paris, Rome, and London come to mind. These capital cities are synoymous with the idea of a “trip to Europe”. But even since my first trip to Europe I was determined to go beyond the tourist hotspots and venture further East, so I visited the likes of Poland and Ukraine to get a taste of the East.

6 years later, I’m still fascinated by Europe’s various offerings – in the East, West, Central, Baltics, Balkans… you name it. I’ve been there.

So where are the most underrated cities in Europe located? Read on for more…

budapest at

1. Budapest, Hungary

Ever since I first visited Budapest back in 2012, I have been telling anyone and everyone to put this city on their ‘must visit’ list when considering a trip to Europe. Located in the centre of Europe, Budapest to this day remains completely underrated, despite having a massive influx in tourism over the past couple of years. But you wouldn’t know it. The city is so large that you can’t simply walk everywhere, which means you are less likely to notice the other tourists and more likely to feel like a local in this bustling city. Highlights include a trip to the spa at the Four Seasons Gresham Palace, a luxury stay for less at the Corinthia Hotel Budapest (Hungary is not currently on the Euro, making it very cheap for foreigners), and some of the cheapest quality food money can buy. There’s no way to pinpoint what it is about Budapest that earns it the top position as the most underrated city in all of Europe, you’ll just have to head there yourself to find out for yourself! More: 5 must see sites in Budapest.


2. Edinburgh, Scotland

Centuries-old architecture, Scottish culture and heritage, the gateway to the Scottish Highlands…. Edinburgh has it all. As the second largest tourist destination in the UK outside of London, Edinburgh is the perfect alternative for travellers wishing for a more laid back city escape to its’ neighbor. But why pick and choose? You can now travel between the two for a very low cost and in under an hour with Virgin Atlantic, or take the Virgin train overland. More: Top 10 places to visit in Scotland.


3. Ljubljana, Slovenia

It’s no wonder anyone who has stepped foot in the Slovenian capital will tell you this is the prettiest city in all of Europe (even competing with Paris!). The picture speaks for itself, but there truly is no city like Ljubljana, earning it third position on the list.

mostar bosnia

4. Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina

It’s a picture-perfect-postcard you see either in store or online and proclaim “I MUST GO HERE!”. Well, you can. And you should. There are many reasons why you should visit Bosnia & Herzegovina, but Mostar is reason alone.

belgrade serbia

5. Belgrade, Serbia

A turbulent history? Yes. An exciting future? Most definitely. When discussing with fellow travellers where I should visit ‘off the beaten path’ on my Euro adventure this year, Belgrade consistently kept coming up as a ‘must visit’. So what did I do? I went there. And I now understand! Belgrade is like stepping inside a time warp that is slightly moving forward, but holding on to the past. It’s a very eclectic city with a great vibe for 20’s and 30 year olds.

Cesky Krumlov

6. Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic

I’m kind of cheating by including Cesky on the list – it’s not a city, but it sure is one of the most beautiful towns you will ever visit in your life. Located just a couple of hours drive south of Prague, Cesky is an absolute must visit if you find yourself in the Czech Republic or neighbouring Austria.

First views over the city from the black tower

First views over the city from the black tower

7. Brasov, Romania

Brasov is your gateway to nearby Dracula’s castle and Europe’s ‘most beautiful castle’, Peles Castle. But it’s also quite the charmer itself. When I first arrived in Brasov it was a dark, foggy day and the mist surrounding the mountains was incredibly eery. But once the sun had arrived, the city completely changed. -The people were warm, welcoming and incredibly Romanian (there’s a distinct Eastern European culture – interesting in itself).

Gent Belgium

8. Ghent, Belgium

Belgium has a pretty bad reputation for being ‘boring’, ‘uncultured’, and ‘reserved’… but it couldn’t be further from the truth. Ghent has been described as a hipster hub, but again – not true. If there was something cooler than being cool (other than ice cold), it would be Ghent. The city is bustling with students during the weekdays, but on the weekend they all return home and empty the city for a more casual, relaxed daily life. It’s an absolute must visit.

lake bled slovenia

9. Bled, Slovenia

You’ve probably seen the pictures and heard the hype, leaving you to wonder why I would claim Bled is ‘underrated’… well, it still is. A visit to Lake Bled should be on everyone’s bucketlist and this picture should show why. It is effortlessly beautiful and not attracting tourists too much outside of the ‘tourist season’ (I suggest you visit in April).


10. Moscow, Russia

If there’s one place I wanted to go my entire life and couldn’t contain my excitement when I finally arrived at 22 years of age, it was Moscow. There’s such an incredibly backstory to Russia that it is impossible not to want to visit it and see it first hand. Don’t miss nearby St Petersburg (much more tourist-heavy but certainly worth a visit).

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    Scott Howie
    July 9, 2015 at 5:45 am

    I am an uneducated buffon. I do apologise. Go to Liberia. That has some REAL culture.

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    May 20, 2015 at 9:16 pm

    I loved Brasov and was also quite impressed with Bucharest!

    May 18, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    Sorry you are wrong about Belgrade. True that there is alot of destruction still visible from being bombed by the US in order to cover up Clinton’s affair with Monica. But if you looke beyond those destroyed buildings you see some of the best architecture in Europe. You see some of the most welcoming, warmest People that you have ever encountered. The history on Serbia is facinating. And the fact that the Serbian people have not only survived years of occupations by invaders but thrived is a statement to the kind of people living there. If you cant look beyond a little car in that picture, please stay home. Educate yourself before you speak.

    Liesbeth Van Mechelen
    May 18, 2015 at 2:53 am

    Hi! Happy to read that you liked Ghent. But there is so much more to see and to discover in Belgium! We will be happy to show you around when you visit Belgium again. 🙂 greetz

    May 17, 2015 at 5:41 pm

    Oh my god, I really can’t believe there are people who are saying Moscow is not in Europe…the biggest part of Russia is in Asia, but Moscow deinitely belongs to the European part…

    May 17, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    I’m sorry, but Belgrade is awful. There’s not much to see there except the remains of a war-torn city, emptiness and poverty. And it’s completely fine if that’s what you are after, but it is a completely different thing to Edinburgh or Moscow, which, sure, can be classified as hidden gems. I think putting Belgrade into this list is slightly strange.

    May 17, 2015 at 5:38 am

    My country will enjoy Schengen visa free travel in a few months. Can’t wait to visit Europe properly next year !

    May 17, 2015 at 4:55 am

    Thank you for another great article! I would definitely also add to the list Sofia and Plovdiv, both in Bulgaria.

    May 17, 2015 at 4:27 am

    I advise you to visit Sibiu, Sighisoara, Cluj and Timisoara, but also Bucharest. They’re all worth seeing in Romania!

    Tim Kersher
    April 20, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    “Spout. Handle. Lid of Metal. What’s inside the Singing Kettle?”

    April 15, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    Joy, beautiful sparkle of god,
    Daughter of Elysium,
    We enter, fire-drunk,
    Heavenly one, your shrine.
    Your magics bind again
    What custom has strictly parted.

    April 8, 2015 at 10:20 pm

    When I look at Mostar, my penis goes hard. Please do not moderate comment. The world needs to know!

      Scott Howie
      April 9, 2015 at 5:33 am

      I’m with you bro. But I too find Belgium uncultured. Russia is not in Europe either, don’t you know!

    Christine | The Backpacking Executive
    April 7, 2015 at 10:22 am

    Wow! I’m going to Europe for the first time this June and came across your site. Nice compilation! I’ll definitely check them out. Thanks!

    calitu ioana
    March 23, 2015 at 5:39 am

    well there are definetly a lot of amazing cities in Romania- and you should visit Cluj, Sibiu, Constanta or the Maramures area..

    March 16, 2015 at 11:53 am

    Belgium uncultured? I don’t know where you got that stereotype, but it’s got more culture and history than many other European countries…

    February 26, 2015 at 11:00 am

    I’ve been to Budapest and passed through Brasov on way to Bran Castle. Live a couple of hours from Edinburgh. Slovenia looks interesting with Ljubljana and Bled, may have to give them a visit :). For me Budapest is the most scenic city in Europe when viewing on top of hill, Paris and Vienna are the the most beautiful architecturally, that I’ve been to so far…

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    January 10, 2015 at 11:34 pm

    you want an underrated european destination? Here’s one: Malta. A small country which you can easily fill in a week’s holiday. So much to do, so much history, party, culture and nightlife. Yet, no one ever talks about it. Shame

    July 17, 2014 at 6:29 am

    Too bad I didn’t follow your blog when you were in Belgrade, my hometown 🙁

    The Queen of Dreaming
    June 30, 2014 at 12:46 am

    The only city I’ve been to on your list is Edimburgh, I actually lived there for a period to improve my english when I was in high school! I loved the city so much, it was one of the happiest period of my life (even if it was raining or snowing every single day ahah!)

    Chelsea Pearl
    June 19, 2014 at 2:43 am

    Wow, great list — I’m totally making travel plans now! I might also recommend Zagreb as somewhere slightly off the beaten path.

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    Kate @ SeeKateTravelTheWorld
    June 14, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Wow, that picture from Mostar took my breath away! What a great list, I need to add some of these to my list.

    Izy Berry - The Wrong Way Home
    June 13, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    Yes to Ceske Krumlov. I actually think Budapest gets a lot of attention and rightfully so it’s a lot of fun.

    June 13, 2014 at 11:47 am

    I have the travel bug so bad! Three year old twins can backpack through Europe, right? 😉

    Sofia Bak
    June 11, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    You’ve been to Kiev and it didn’t make your list? I think you need to go back to Kiev and see what you didn’t see…it’s undoubtedly the most beautiful city in Eastern Europe.

    • worldofwanderlust
      June 11, 2014 at 7:26 pm

      I absolutely loved Kiev but the list is limited to 10 – so I went with what was fresh from my recent trip! Hopefully return to Kiev one day soon 🙂

    richard lash
    June 11, 2014 at 12:22 am

    Dear Sir
    I am very interested in traveling to the 10 most underrated cities
    in Europe – do you have a tour that covers this area of travel?

    Mr. Lash

    The slow pace
    June 10, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    Edinburgh is amazing! I totally agree with you! I’ve been travelling for two weeks with almost no connection to internet, so I still have to read all our posts about it!
    I know you have a thing for Eastern Europe 😉 but there are more underrated cities in Spain too! You should visit Salamanca, Orense or Oviedo. The north of Spain is beautiful yet not very visited by travellers or tourists!

    June 10, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    I’d also add Cracow, Poland to the list 🙂
    I was in Mostar a year ago, the bridge is quite interesting, streets around it are full of tourists, but the rest of the city is still in ruins after the war…

    June 10, 2014 at 4:11 am

    Hey! I just found this great website and I’ve looked around a bit and I saw that you’ve visited Riga. If you liked this city, I definitely recommend you to visit Vilnius if you get the chance. It’s the capital of Lithuania and my hometown and it is really a very beautiful city, especially the old town. It would be awesome to see my city featured on this website! 🙂

    June 10, 2014 at 3:16 am

    I adore your list and it actually resembles mine to the detail! There are a few more gems in Europe on the road less traveled, though many of these sites are actually quite turisty, not that there is anything wrong with that, however Budapest, Belgrade and Bled are filled with turists.
    I love it that you actually added two places from Slovenia on the list – perhaps not the most obvious choice for a non-European traveler, but splendid and amazingly beautiful! Among my favorites, next to those you mentioned are also Sarajevo, Piran and Ohrid (I’m a sucker for the Balkans) as well as Rotterdam, Barcelona, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Berlin. Quite random, but good times guaranteed!

    Keep up the good work!

    June 10, 2014 at 2:31 am

    Oh dear… my bucket list just got longer! Thanks for these suggestions!

    June 10, 2014 at 12:59 am

    OH MY GOSH i’m in love :O

    June 9, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    Cracow, Wroclaw and Warsaw in Poland are definately must-sees. Also Polish mountains, sea and lakes are amazing. The country is more modern and way safer than, for example, Balkan countries. Plus it’s also cheap!

    June 9, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    you guys, moscow is not in europe. it’s in russia. which is its own thing entirely. definitely NOT part of europe!
    this is super misleading for the ones who might not be as schooled in geography. you might want to correct that.

    • worldofwanderlust
      June 9, 2014 at 9:44 pm

      Russia is in Eastern Europe……. I studied history….. it has always been part of Europe. Russia is in Eastern Europe AND Northern Asia.

    June 9, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    YES GHENT! I can’t even begin to say how quickly I fell in love with this city. So authentic and incredible to be in.

    June 9, 2014 at 9:10 am

    Liked the variety offered as well. Making a note of the Edinburgh one especially.

    June 9, 2014 at 5:58 am

    I would add Split and dubrovnik in Croatia, definitely a MUST!!

    June 9, 2014 at 4:58 am

    Agree and Agree! I would add Vilnius, Lthuania, to the list 😉

  • worldofwanderlust
    June 9, 2014 at 3:17 am

    That was a very long and critical way of saying something that could have been said in a sentence but will be sure to consider it next time!

    June 9, 2014 at 2:51 am

    Nice list 🙂 You just totally forgot Northern Europe!

    June 9, 2014 at 1:41 am

    C’mon, where is Warsaw, where is Cracow? Poland is such a beautiful place!

    June 9, 2014 at 12:32 am

    I’m living in Asia now, but I know I need to travel around Europe sometime in the next few years. This post really encourages me want to make it happen!

    June 8, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    Hi, thanks a lot for this exciting list. I just sent it to my editor in chief at a travel magazine to check for our next city reports. I perfectly agree on putting Edinburgh 1st or 2nd, but I wonder wether it is really underestimated. The city is always packed with (mainly young) tourists.
    I think, there are more great underestimated places missing. 1st of all Riga, then Tallinn, Gothenburg (Sweden), Marseille, Nantes, Rennes and Lille (France), Valencia (Spain) and many others…. looking forward to your next list, yrs Robert

    Isa Dione
    June 7, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    Bratislava has to be up there as well, I think.
    Beautiful post!

    June 7, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    Nice collection! Can’t wait to visit Budapest later this year 🙂

    June 7, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    Great post! They all look like such beautiful cities – would LOVE to visit them someday!

    June 7, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    Great post Brooke! I’m definitely adding some of these to my travel bucket list. Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina sound amazing.

    June 7, 2014 at 7:54 am

    Lovely! I really love Boedapest and i’m going to Ljubljana and Bled this summer 🙂 (also to Prague)..

    Quaintrelle Georgiana
    June 7, 2014 at 6:15 am

    I love Europe and its cities. There are so many things to discover. To be honest, I am a bit sad that it is not in man´s power to see it all and live there for some time to enjoy it and get to know it better.
    PS: I am glad you included Český Krumlov, I am from the Czech Rep. and Krumlov is definitely one of the nice places to visit here (it´s also on the UNESCO list). If you come back someday and have time for that, the theatre in the chateau´s gardens is unique and beautiful.

    June 7, 2014 at 4:15 am

    Edinburgh is great! I’ve been, I’ve seen. Would love to go to Moscow one day! In the meantime, what about Dublin? If you’d like to visit, have a look at:

    Jana CM
    June 6, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    Hello from the Czech republic and thank you for mentioning Český Krumlov (better way how to shorten its name is “Krumlov” because “český” is pronoun)! 🙂 I have visited also Budapest and Edinburgh and I have to say I totally fell in love with Scotland! Jana

    June 6, 2014 at 7:14 pm

    Great post! There are so many more beautiful cities in Europe than those that people instantly think of (although I do absolute adore Barcelona), I’m desperate to get over to Budapest sometime soon.

    So glad I just discovered your blog, taking my first trip in 10 days and loving reading your posts.

    Rachel x

    June 6, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    I’m planning to visit Budapest next year! Train ticket from Croatia isn’t expensive and why not 🙂

    June 6, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    I just want to visit ALL of Europe please! those are such beautiful photos! Thank you for sharing!

    June 6, 2014 at 7:08 am

    I love Edinburgh, one of my favourite places I’ve seen so far! Going to Lake bled and Budapest this summer. This post has made me even more excited! x

    June 6, 2014 at 5:36 am

    Great list. I love Europe but haven’t had the chance to explore many cities. I’ll all these cities to my list. I think our next stop will be Moscow since my fiancee speaks the language – easier for us to get around.

    June 6, 2014 at 2:59 am

    This februari I was in Budapest. Despite de cold and a robery, I loved it and the poeple are really nice!

    June 6, 2014 at 1:33 am

    I visited Mostar last year and absolutely loved it! It is so stunning. As someone who grew up in Scotland, I also have a soft spot for Edinburgh.

    June 6, 2014 at 12:36 am

    Too long time to vacation. Too far away

    June 5, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    The ones I’ve been to, Budapest, Ljubljana, Belgrade, Brasov, and Bled, are insanely amazing, so I have a feeling I’d agree with you on the rest as well. The Balkans are unbelievable.

    June 5, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    So with you on Budapest – I went there for a weekend last year and had an awesome time! Definitely high on my recommendation list x

    June 5, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    Love this post! Definitely a few to add to my list – thanks!!

    June 5, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    These all look like beautiful cities. Europe has such a rich culture and every country is different. I should know, because I live in Europe!

    Lisa - Wee Wanders
    June 5, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    Fab list, Bled is my Dad’s favourite place int he world and definitely somewhere I want to visit!

    If you are looking for a no.11, I would say Glasgow, Scotland is underrated (I am biased seeing as it in my hometown) but it is a real gem!

    June 5, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    I knew Belgium had the reputation for being boring, but reserved? They are very polite and friendly people, is my experience. I also have no clue about how Belgium could be boring, but I live in The Netherlands and grew up close to the Belgian border so I’ve been there more times than I could count 🙂 I was just in Gent last month. I adored it!