5 Underrated European Destinations

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Imagine a vacation with all the appeal of Rome or Paris without the crowds and high prices. We’ve compiled the most underrated European countries to visit, complete with dramatic coastlines, stunning architecture and fantastic cuisine. From Alpine skiing in Slovenia to scuba diving in Malta, there’s more of Europe to enjoy than standing in line at the Louvre.

Here are five underrated European destinations you need to visit before everyone else catches on.


Mountainous Georgia sits between Turkey and Russia and has vineyards as far as the eye can see. Anthony Bourdain calls the cuisine “excellent,” and the local liquor, chacha, is strong — friendly locals are always willing to share a glass. Spend a beach day along the Black Sea; wander the vibrant city streets of Tbilisi and marvel at Persian architecture, ancient churches, and ultra-modern glass buildings; or ski Shkhara, the second-highest slope in the world, beating Mont Blanc by about 1,200 feet.



As an archipelago nation in the Mediterranean, Malta has all the appeal of neighboring Italy and Greece but with a lower price tag and fewer crowds. One of the five smallest countries in Europe, it has centuries of influence from all over the continent, and the second official language is English, making it easy to communicate with locals. Explore ancient churches and sip limoncello in the palazzos of the capital, Valletta; scuba dive in turquoise seas off the rugged coast; and devour Sicilian-style seafood in Scoglitti.



The capital city of Riga is a major port of call for Baltic Sea cruises, with great restaurants and art nouveau architecture; outside Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, there’s even more to discover. Latvia is full of, picturesque medieval towns, centuries-old castles and untouched, natural beauty. Explore the Rundale Palace gardens, modeled after Versailles; spend the day swimming in stunningly blue Baltic waters after a night on the town in Liepaja; and visit a Cold War era radio telescope at Irbene Radio Astronomy Centre.



Sitting along the Adriatic coast, Montenegro is a less crowded and cheaper alternative to Croatia’s beaches. Its nearly 200 miles of coastline make sailing and hiking popular pasttimes, including the awe-inspiring trails of Durmitor National Park. From coastal medieval villages to great seafood and a thriving nightlife in Kotor (hello, castle-top cocktails), this tiny country packs in a lot of fun.


This Central European country, snuggled between Croatia and Austria, gets the best of both worlds — skiing in the Alps and sunbathing along its short strip of Adriatic coast — without the crowds. The natural beauty of this country is worth the trip alone, along with its historically beautiful yet modern capital, Ljubljana. Because of Slovenia’s neighboring countries, the cuisine is diverse (think Italian meets Eastern European), but the prices are affordable. The gorgeous Lake Bled and surrounding caves and hiking trails are a must-do.

Gabby Peyton is a writer based in Toronto. A photographer, dabbling archaeologist, and Champagne aficionado, Gabby’s travel is dictated by food; her favourite places are Istanbul, Bologna and St. John’s, Newfoundland.

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Show 14 Comments
  • Judith Esme Irlacher

    All excellent spots, add the Northern Italian Lakes to ts list………………………..start in Stresa for a full tour of these gorgeous lakes with Mediterranean climates!

  • Mona Biblow

    Georgia is not Europe.

    • CarolinaGirl

      I guess you could argue it is part of the Middle East but I believe Georgia says it is part of Europe.

      • Mona Biblow

        It’s Eurasia! Split the difference. Googling it led me to a world of history and pros and cons of the Europe / Asia choice. Georgia prefers Europe, so Europe it is. It’s complicated apparently. The Caucasus area is kind of on the break point of Europe /Asia. My dream is to go to the cities of the Silk Road. On the list. Happy travels.

  • MWT

    Some great ideas for travel, but I’d also like to know the location of the lead picture in the article. It isn’t labelled. Looks like the Alps, perhaps?

    • highwaybox

      Looks like Hallstatt Austria to me.

    • http://www.travelzoo.com/blog/ Travelzoo Blog

      The lead image is from Boka
      Kotor bay in Montenegro.

    • OJ

      Its Perast, a small town near Kotor.

  • Donna Cafora Shepard

    Anyone know where the top picture was taken?

    • Jouette Travis

      I think it is Brunnen, Switzerland.

    • http://www.travelzoo.com/blog/ Travelzoo Blog

      Thank you for reading! It is Boka Kotor bay in Montenegro.

    • OJ

      its in Montenegro – a small town called Perast in near Kotor.

    • pieces of eight

      Looks very much like Lake Como in Italy. But I think its a painting…

      • brainistheretobeused

        They did use too much of color enhancer, but in the real life is as beautiful as a painting. It’s in Montenegro (ex-Yugoslavia), on Adriatic sea, Boka Kotorska fjord, town of Perast.