City Breaks – 10 of Europe’s lesser-known cities

These B-side cities are absolute bangers.

Cast your gaze beyond the familiar postcard hits to a collection of Europe’s unsung urban destinations.

If the term ‘city break’ once conjured images of the iconic skylines of London, Paris, or the winding canals of Amsterdam, then over the last decade many tourists have been gracefully turning the trend. The well-trodden cobblestones of Berlin, the thermal baths of Budapest, and the spired silhouettes of Prague no longer hold a monopoly on a European getaway.

Lesser-known cities are quietly stepping into the limelight, offering a treasure trove of architectural marvels, serene landscapes, culinary delights, and cultural richness that rival their more famous counterparts.

Basel Where tourists seldom tread — More of Europe’s less-visited cities Kim Wright battleface.com

Basel, Switzerland

Nestled on the banks of the Rhine, Basel is Switzerland’s cultural heart, a city where medieval heritage and contemporary art coexist harmoniously. The city’s museums and galleries are a testament to its artistic legacy, showcasing works from the likes of Picasso to Klee. Basel’s vibrant cultural calendar, featuring its renowned carnival and Christmas market, adds to the city’s charm. It’s a place where tradition is celebrated, and innovation is welcomed, offering a rich, multifaceted experience for the discerning traveller.

Tal Where tourists seldom tread — More of Europe’s less-visited cities Kim Wright battleface.com

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, with its immaculately preserved medieval old town, is a jewel in the Baltic crown. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it offers a window into the past with its Gothic spires and enchanting cobblestone streets. Yet, Tallinn is equally celebrated for its forward-thinking attitude, embracing digital innovation and a vibrant creative scene. It’s a city where history is honoured and the future is embraced with equal fervour, offering a unique blend of old-world charm and contemporary cool.

Porto Where tourists seldom tread — More of Europe’s less-visited cities Kim Wright battleface.com

Porto, Portugal

Porto’s (Oporto) terraced streets, adorned with azulejo tiles, cascade down to the Douro River, creating a stunning urban landscape. This city, Portugal’s second largest, is synonymous with its eponymous wine, but its cultural offerings are just as intoxicating. From the grandeur of its baroque churches to the intimate charm of the Ribeira district, Porto is a city that delights the senses. It’s a place where tradition is woven into the very fabric of city life, offering a rich, textured experience for any visitor.

ghent Where tourists seldom tread — More of Europe’s less-visited cities Kim Wright battleface.com

Ghent, Belgium

Often overshadowed by its more famous Belgian neighbours, Ghent is a revelation – a city where medieval architecture meets a progressive, eco-conscious ethos. The city’s car-free centre is a haven for pedestrians and cyclists, while its cultural scene pulsates with energy, from the Castle of the Counts to the vibrant nightlife. Ghent is a city that doesn’t just preserve its past; it reinvents it, making it relevant and exciting for today’s traveller.

Krakow Where tourists seldom tread — More of Europe’s less-visited cities Kim Wright battleface.com

Krakow, Poland

Krakow’s storied past as a royal capital is evident in its architectural treasures, from the grand Wawel Castle to the poignant Jewish Quarter. Yet, Krakow is more than a historical showcase; it’s a living city with a youthful energy, affordable eateries, and welcoming locals. It’s a place where the past is not just remembered; it’s felt in the vibrant squares and the lively Kazimierz district, offering a rich tapestry of experiences.

val Where tourists seldom tread — More of Europe’s less-visited cities Kim Wright battleface.com

Valencia, Spain

Valencia, where the Turia River meets the Mediterranean, is a symphony of experiences. Its architectural wonders span centuries, from the Gothic Silk Exchange to the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences. Valencia is a city that celebrates its heritage while boldly embracing the new, a place where the traditional paella is as much a draw as the avant-garde cuisine. It’s a city of contrasts, where every corner offers a new delight.

riga Where tourists seldom tread — More of Europe’s less-visited cities Kim Wright battleface.com

Riga, Latvia

Riga, the capital of Latvia, is a Baltic gem that shines with architectural splendour. Its old town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a treasure trove of historical landmarks, while the art nouveau district is a visual feast. Riga’s cultural scene is as vibrant as its café culture, offering a warm welcome to visitors in its myriad of cozy nooks. It’s a city that marries its storied past with a dynamic present, creating a rich, layered visitor experience.

lyon Where tourists seldom tread — More of Europe’s less-visited cities Kim Wright battleface.com

Lyon, France

Lyon sits at the meeting of the Rhône and Saône rivers, a gastronomic capital that tantalizes the palate with its culinary prowess. Its history is as rich as its cuisine, with Roman amphitheatres and Renaissance old towns offering a feast for the eyes. Lyon’s cultural vibrancy is palpable, with festivals and events that showcase its status as a UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts. It’s a city that invites you to indulge in the art of living well.

zagreb Where tourists seldom tread — More of Europe’s less-visited cities Kim Wright battleface.com

Zagreb, Croatia

Zagreb, Croatia’s capital, is a city where Central European charm meets Mediterranean vitality. Its streets are a patchwork of historic and cultural influences, from the striking neo-Gothic cathedral to the quirky Museum of Broken Relationships. Zagreb is a city that buzzes with life, its markets and pubs brimming with local flavour and conviviality. It’s an ideal launching point for exploring Croatia’s natural beauty, from the Plitvice Lakes to the Adriatic coast.

knossos Where tourists seldom tread — More of Europe’s less-visited cities Kim Wright battleface.com

Heraklion, Greece

Crete’s vibrant capital, Heraklion, is a tapestry of ancient history and contemporary Cretan life. Here, the ruins of the Knossos Palace stand as a testament to the Minoan civilization, Europe’s earliest recorded society. The city’s streets, a mosaic of bustling markets and lively tavernas, invite you to indulge in the island’s rich gastronomic and cultural offerings. Heraklion is not merely a stopover; it’s a deep dive into the heart of Greek antiquity, with all the comforts of the modern age.

Where Tourists Seldom Tread: Europe’s Less Visited Cities

Ten of Europe’s best alternative city destinations  

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