Understandably, there are many cites in Europe that are ‘must-sees’ including Paris, London, Barcelona, Athens and Venice. There are many more that could be mentioned but they are so well-known, their presence is assumed and they almost become a travel cliché. Whether enticed by Europe’s cobblestoned villages steeped in history, its museums filled with masterpieces, its rich and diverse landscapes, or its piazzas full of gourmet food, wine and music, the allure is unmistakable. Yet, by doing more research, moving away from the crowds, means possibly finding European gems that are lesser-known. While it might take more effort, it is worth it.
Ohrid in Macedonia
Situated between Macedonia and Albania, the city of Ohrid is on the eastern shore of Lake Ohrid. It is plentiful in picturesque houses, ancient ruins and monuments. Originally having a church for every day of the year, it now has forty intact, most of which display beautifully painted frescoes and icons. Archeolgical finds indicate that Ohrid is one of the oldest human settlements in Europe. Always popular by fellow Europeans, it is now only becoming known to other travellers.
Kutna Hora in Czech Republic
Easily accessible as a day trip from Prague, Kutna Hora is probably most known for its chapel made almost entirely from the bones and skulls of monks, Sedlec Ossuary. The town developed as a result finding silver deposits back in the 13th century. These findings helped the town win fame and glory for the Kingdom of Bohemia. Still rich in historical buildings and history, it is a lovely spot for a break away from the bigger cities.
Kuressaare in Estonia
Kuressaare, the main town on the island of Saaremaa, rests close to the Gulf of Riga. Saaremaa is the second largest island in the Baltic Sea and is well-known and enjoyed by fellow Finns and Swedes. As with Ohrid, it is only now that other travellers are discovering its many appealing features such as being able to enjoy a luxurious spa at a quarter of the price charged in other Western European countries. The well-preserved castle dominates the city with its historical presence and even offers the chance to explore the moat by a row-boat. There are not many countries that offer that sort of experience.
Cetinje in Montenegro
Much more than simply an honorary capital town, Cetinje is a treasure of Montenegrin cultural and historical heritage. Situated on a small karst plain surrounded by limestone mountains at the bottom of Mount Lovcen, it produces undulating stunning views. Its name is derived from Cetina, the small river that used to flow through the valley and disappear underground at the lower end. The town is littered with palaces and mansions, many of which are now houses, embassies or schools. The Vlaska Church is Cetinje’s oldest existing building, constructed in 1450.
Keszthely in Hungary
Keszthely is the largest and oldest settlement of Lake Balaton in the Transdanubian region of Hungary.Again, this is another familiar holiday spot for locals but not so much for other nationalities. For a mixture of reasons, it is an excellent place for a holiday. It is far cheaper than much of Western Europe, for both food and accommodation; it is easily explored by foot as it is so compact and its baroque-style castle, Festetics Castle is the third largest in Hungary. Additionally, only seven kilometres away, Lake Heviz is worth visiting as it’s the largest thermal lake in Europe.