The best lesser-known places to visit in Europe
In the midst of European explorations, some cities remain less frequented by the throng of tourists yet hold an abundance of cultural wealth, natural beauty, and a compelling history. This guide aims to spotlight these unassuming gems, spanning from the Baltic shores to the alpine landscapes of Austria, the warm Mediterranean climates and the chilled Northern reaches.
While many opt for the iconic European cities of Rome, Paris or London, our chosen destinations include the Latvian beach city of Jūrmala, the Lombardic town of Bergamo, the Czech Republic's student city Brno, and Leipzig - a city of music and intellect in Germany. In Scandinavia, the charm of Å, a village in Norway's Lofoten archipelago, and Öland, a Swedish island. Closer to the Mediterranean Sea, Sankt Gilgen in Austria, Port d'Andratx in Spain, and Italy's seaport city Trieste await discovery. Lastly, we will explore Elsinore, a Danish city known for its prominent castle that inspired Shakespeare.
These places are not just geographical coordinates on a map; they are living narratives of human civilizations, enriched with tales of past epochs, filled with architectural gems and offering authentic local cuisines that have evolved over centuries. They provide a less trodden path for those who seek a unique travel experience away from the usual crowd.
Jūrmala, a coastal town in Latvia, has historically been a restful haven for city-weary folks from nearby Riga. Its charmingly languid pace and long stretches of sandy beaches draw visitors who seek respite from the fast-paced rhythm of city life. The Baltic Sea, often calm and quiet, sets the mood for leisurely days.
However, it's not all sun, sea, and sand in Jūrmala. The town is also known for its wellness offerings, particularly its mineral-rich mud sourced from the nearby Lielupe riverbed. Several spas in the city offer treatments utilizing this local resource. A unique cultural blend of Latvian and Russian influences also characterizes the town's culinary scene. Local eateries serve everything from Latvian rye bread to Russian pelmeni.
Visitors should be aware that the town can get quite crowded during peak season. Moreover, a small entry fee is charged for beach access during summer. While English is widely spoken in hotels and restaurants but less so among older locals.