10 Best Overlooked European Destinations

  • Bergen, Norway

    Surrounded by snow-capped mountains and Norway's dramatic glaciers and waterways sits the fishing town of Bergen, about 310 miles from Oslo. The self-proclaimed "Gateway to the Fjords" enjoys a 900-year history filled with viking exploits and medieval merchant guilds, all centered around the historic harbor front.

    Photo courtesy of P?l Hoff/VisitBergen - Visitnorway.com

  • Belfast, Northern Ireland

    Belfast – located 103 miles north of Dublin – has come a long way to repair its less-than-stellar reputation as a city of terrorism in the 70s and 80s, and today, it's a peaceful city filled with narrow streets, historic Irish pubs and Victorian architecture. The city hosts the United Kingdom's second biggest arts festival and makes a perfect base for exploring the rest of County Antrim and its beautiful scenery.

    Photo courtesy of Iker Merodio

  • Basel, Switzerland

    Basel, Switzerland's oldest university town, is only the third largest in the country. Dotted with antique bookshops, chic boutiques, historic monuments and plentiful green spaces, Basel has a cultural richness begging to be savored. It's also home to nearly 40 museums, including the internationally renowned Basel Art Museum, giving it the highest concentration of museums in the country. It's also conveniently located only 53 miles from Zurich.

    Photo courtesy of Andrew Evans

  • Cologne, Germany

    Walking the streets of Cologne is akin to taking a survey course on the history of architecture as you pass ancient Roman landmarks, Gothic cathedrals, austere post-war structures and postmodern art galleries. The fourth-largest city in Germany, found 117 miles northwest of Frankfurt, has a history dating back more than 2,000 years. When the sun goes down, Kölsch beer comes out – the city's beer of choice is always brewed locally.

    Photo courtesy of KölnTourismus GmbH / Dieter Jacobi

  • Bologna, Italy

    The city of Bologna – only 66 miles from Florence – is a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds. Foodies with a taste for Italian cuisine will recognize this city as the home of mortadella, spaghetti Bolognese and tortellini. If that's not enough reason to visit, the walkable city's streets and medieval alleyways are filled with beautiful red brick buildings, plazas, churches and museums.

    Photo courtesy of Tiberio Frascari

  • Kotor, Montenegro

    The stunning natural scenery surrounding the town of Kotor, located on Montenegro's deepest fjord, is matched in beauty only by the charming architecture of the town itself. The cobbled streets, squares and red-roofed buildings of Kotor's Old City date back to the 12th century – an area that's been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The best part? It's located only 38 miles from Dubrovnik, Croatia's capital.

    Photo courtesy of batintherain

  • Strasbourg, France

    The seat of the European Parliament and home of the oldest Christmas market in France is also one of the country's most overlooked destinations. Located 300 miles southeast of Paris, the charming Strasbourg Old Town is the birthplace of fois gras and the capital of the Alsace province, filled with canals, cobbled alleyways and loads of charm.

    Photo courtesy of Nelson Minar

  • Porto, Portugal

    Porto, Portugal's second largest city after Lisbon (195 miles away), often gets written off by tourists due to its industrial past, but the hilly, historic city has a lot to offer. The UNESCO World Heritage Ribeira District's steep, maze-like alleys and streets beg to be explored on foot, while the waterfront promenade comes alive after dark as some of Europe's top DJs hit the turntables.

    Photo courtesy of amaianos

  • Antwerp, Belgium

    Antwerp, the fashion capital of Belgium, is also a playground of art nouveau architecture, like the "Railway Cathedral" that is Antwerp's train station. The trendy, young population of Belgium's second city has triggered the development of a thriving culinary scene, complete with over half a dozen Michelin-starred restaurants and countless street-side cafes. You'll find this fashionable city 32 miles north of Brussels.

    Photo courtesy of FaceMePLS

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