7 Epic European Towns A Stone’s Throw From Your Favourite Cities

7 Epic Towns In Europe Everyone Should Visit (That Aren't The Big Cities)

While getting to Europe’s major cities has never been easier, uncovering the hidden gems around them is usually a lot trickier. And, sure, the big cities are always an exciting choice, but with so much to discover in Europe, those amazing tucked-away destinations are really worth uncovering.

To give a little guidance, we’re taking a trip through some of the most excellent less-touristy destinations not too far from the big cities you’ve experienced and loved. Read up, get inspired, and start planning your next unforgettable Euro adventure.

#1 Golfo Paradiso, Italy


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They call it “the other Cinque Terre”, and for good reason: Golfo Paradiso is one of the most charming Italian seaside nooks you’ve never heard of, a near-replica of the well-visited coastline a little further to the north.

Situated along the Ligurian Riviera, just a half hour drive from Genoa, the towns of Golfo Paradiso – Camogli, Recco, Sori, Pieve Ligure, and Bogliasco – make for a breathtaking alternative: another gorgeous yet totally unique five-town stretch with all the dazzling sights you’d expect from a pastel-skied Mediterranean coastline.

#2 Schaffhausen, Switzerland


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To be honest, you’re hard pressed to find anything that isn’t gobsmackingly stunning whatever direction you head once you get to Switzerland. From Zurich to Lucerne to Geneva, Swiss cities are gorgeous, rivalled only by the cute towns and little hubs in the countryside surrounding.

For a change of pace, head north for Schaffhausen, a gorgeous town not far from the German border, where medieval fortresses meet the raging waters of the Rhine Falls. Life couldn’t possibly get any more beautiful or relaxing.

#3 Český Krumlov, Czechia / Czech Republic


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A castle with bears living in an old moat? Cobblestoned lanes and delicious Czech beer with sumptuous sizzling Bohemian fare? If these sound like the sort of things you’re into, then head for Český Krumlov, one of the Czech Republic’s most spectacular historical spots. Located two-and-a-half hours or so south of Prague, Český’s fusion of Gothic, Renaissance and baroque architecture makes a superb alternative to the busy summer action of Prague’s Old Town.

In a word: magical.

#4 Spreewald, Germany


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Berlin will always hog the headlines when it comes to must-visit north-German hubs but, thankfully, it’s also close to Spreewald: one of the most scenic yet under-the-radar Berlin day trips. Though landlocked, the surrounding Brandenburg region is home to a system of stunning forests and lakes, to which locals flock in the sweaty summer months.

Located within an hour by train from Berlin, Spreewald is one of the more unique of these natural spots: a UNESCO-protected network of inland lagoons and waterways, where you can while away a day or two in the tranquillity of a private “punt” boat or a hired kayak – it’s an amazing way to break up the hectic nightlife and big city buzz of Berlin.

#5 Vila Nova de Milfontes, Portugal


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Portugal might be yesterday’s secret (and Lisbon and Porto are finally getting the props they deserve), but past the main hubs, there’s a wonderland of hidden Portuguese delights yet to be experienced. Start with Vila Nova de Milfontes, a delightful authentic sleepy coastal town just two hours’ drive south of Lisbon.

On the western Alentejo coast, in a region known for excellent wine and fresh seafood, Vila Nova is a gorgeous and charming spot to kick back for a few days and set the chill level to maximum. Expect cobblestoned lanes, whitewashed houses, and the raging whitewash of the Atlantic against dramatic cliffs. There’s great beaches here, too: an ideal, and far less frequented, stop off en route to the popular southern Algarve coast.

#6 Utrecht, Netherlands


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Amsterdam might get the press, but if you’re searching for something a little more on the down-low, with just as much charm as the port city, Utrecht is the place to be. The vibe in this scenic university hub is the perfect mix of action and relaxation: fantastic nightlife, affordable accommodation choices, gorgeous parks, gardens and canals, and delicious dining options. In Utrecht, you’ll find all the free-ness of The Netherlands, without the fuss and foot traffic of the big smoke.

#7 Plovdiv, Bulgaria


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Plovdiv, out on the far reaches of Eastern Europe, is one of Bulgaria’s best-kept secrets. It’s also one of the oldest – though the stunning Ancient Theatre of Philippopolis here dates back to the Roman era, folks have been living in this part of the world consistently for around 8000 years.

Surrounded by seven hills (and definitely more of a city than a town these days) Plovdiv is a lovely spot: lose yourself in its ancient mystique, its remarkable fusion of Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman influences, and take in an ultra-unique slice of Eastern European life.

(Lead image: La So / Unsplash)

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