London, Paris, Rome. Europe is famed for its cultural cities and countless tourists pilgrimage to these famed destinations every year. Whilst this is great for tourism in these cities, there are some often overlooked European cities that are equally as beautiful, equally as cultural, and equally as steeped in history. Would you consider one of the below for your next adventure?
Croatia, as a whole, has risen in popularity as a holiday destination and potential expat hive over the past few years. Whilst many flock to Dubrovnik (of Game of Throne fame) it’s second largest city, Split, is an overlooked gem. Located on the beautiful Dalmatian coast, Split is famed for its beaches and Diocletian’s Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a remarkable Roman monument.
Part of Split’s charm is it coastal location, with the turquoise waters of the Adriatic sea providing an attractive backdrop. However, look inland to the historical architecture and colossal craggy mountains in the background and you can appreciate whilst Split is so special.
It’s impossible to become bored in Split, there’s countless excursions, museums, shopping opportunities, and water sports activities to keep most personalities enthused. In the evening, the city comes alive. The warm glow of the harbourside streets glow orange and the fantastic restaurants and bars.
Awarded the coveted Green Capital of Europe title in 2016, it is no surprise that Slovenia’s capital and largest city is rich with flora and fauna. Often considered a highbred of Amsterdam and Venice, the emerald Ljubljana River meanders through the city’s heart in ribbons and only pedestrians and cyclists are permitted access. The city is utterly charming; the cobbled streets lined with pastel Baroque and Habsburg buildings and open-air cafes.
Many aren’t aware, but Slovenia is a geographically diverse country. Ljubljana is a perfect base for those wanting to experience it all, with the Julian Alps, limestone mountains, Karst region, coastal towns and provincial style vineyards all within its hinterland.
Many flock to the capital’s old town; the area between the enchanting Ljubljana Castle and the river. The lattice of streets offers the boutiques, historical monuments and bistros that all desire whilst exploring a new city.
For the majority of travellers, considering a break to Portugal can only mean a visit to Lisbon. Whilst the coastal capital is a delight, many canny individuals are breaking the trend and visiting Porto instead. Still nestled on Portugal’s coast and boasting wonderful weather year-round, the medieval centre and jolly aged port are a humbling location to enjoy a Portuguese sunset.
What many love about Porto is its merger of old and new. Whilst the historic heart retains all the charisma of times gone by, contemporary buildings have been added to the city’s skyline. However, it is what lies beneath the city that many visitors are interested in. Porto is famed for its production of port and the vast cellars which snake under the banks of the Douro River are crammed full of casks of aging port. Even non-port lovers enjoy a tour of the maze of tunnels.
With locals hailing Cork ‘the real capital of Ireland’, it is no surprise that the cosmopolitan university city is becoming one of Europe’s most popular city break destinations. Whilst the city is still resplendent with traditional coloured harbour buildings and welcoming locals, it has built itself up after the recession and is now considered trendy due to revitalisation. The city centre is a neat package of waterways from the River Lee, sprawling Georgian avenues and medieval alleys. The streets are rife with eateries and Cork is celebrated as having the best food in Ireland.
The city is home to countless creative chefs and local producers whose quality offerings are snapped up by local restaurants. The centuries-old English Market, which began life in 1788, is full of stalls selling the very best produced Ireland has to offer. The Victorian covered market was once visited by the Queen and is a known stomping ground for many famous chefs.
With the chilling North Sea lapping at its shored, Sweden’s uber trendy city Gothenburg is anything but cold. Already fast becoming a favourite with tourists looking for pastures new, the chilled-out vibe and pedestrian-friendly city go part of the way to explaining why it is gaining popularity.
Gothenburg’s well-preserved history is apparent in the traditional architecture that has remained untouched throughout the city. Home to Scandinavia’s biggest port, huge container ships and cruise liners still chug in and out of Gothenburg daily, not letting visitors away from the city’s industrial past.
However, the city has seen huge changes and buildings of the past have been resurrected as shops, art galleries, bars and restaurants. Due to its coastal location, many of the eateries in Gothenburg are heaven for fish lovers and there are an impressive six Michelin-starred restaurants that visitors can enjoy.