Discover 11 Underrated Summer Travel Ideas in Europe

From River Beaches to Outdoor Art Trails, These Summer Trip Ideas Offer Great Alternatives to Crowded Coasts and Congested Cities

When planning a summer vacation in Europe, many travelers flock to well-known destinations like the French Riviera, the Amalfi Coast, and the Greek Islands. While these locations are undeniably beautiful, they can also be crowded and expensive during peak season. If you’re looking for unique experiences away from the usual tourist spots, consider these 11 underrated summer travel ideas in Europe. From serene river beaches to captivating outdoor art trails, these destinations offer a refreshing escape from the hustle and bustle.

1. Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital, is a hidden gem that perfectly balances urban charm with natural beauty. The Ljubljanica River winds through the city, offering picturesque river beaches where you can relax and soak up the sun. Stroll through Tivoli Park, a lush green space ideal for picnics and leisurely walks. Explore the vibrant Central Market, where you can sample local delicacies and fresh produce. Visit the enchanting Ljubljana Castle, which provides panoramic views of the city and hosts various cultural events. Don’t miss the unique outdoor art installations scattered throughout the city, contributing to Ljubljana’s creative and inviting atmosphere.

2. Riga, Latvia

Riga, Latvia

Riga, Latvia’s largest city, is a treasure trove of Art Nouveau architecture and rich cultural heritage. The city’s central market, housed in old zeppelin hangars, is a must-visit for food lovers, offering an array of local produce and delicacies. Head to the Daugava River beaches for a peaceful retreat or explore the lush Mezaparks, a large urban park perfect for outdoor activities. Riga also boasts an impressive array of outdoor art, including murals and sculptures that add a modern twist to the historic streets. The city’s vibrant nightlife and cultural scene, with numerous festivals and events during the summer months, make it an exciting destination.

3. Gdansk, Poland

Gdansk, Poland

Gdansk, located on the Baltic coast, combines stunning architecture with a fascinating maritime history. Stroll down the iconic Long Market street, lined with colorful facades and historical buildings. Visit the Gdansk Crane, a symbol of the city’s trading past, and relax on the nearby beaches of Sopot and Gdynia, which offer golden sands and clear waters. The European Solidarity Centre provides deep insights into Poland’s modern history, particularly the Solidarity movement. Gdansk’s waterfront area, with its charming restaurants and cafes, is perfect for a leisurely evening. The city is also home to several outdoor art installations, including murals that reflect its dynamic cultural scene.

4. Ghent, Belgium

Ghent, Belgium

Ghent is a vibrant city that seamlessly blends medieval architecture with contemporary culture. The city’s Gravensteen Castle, a medieval fortress, offers a glimpse into the past and spectacular views from its battlements. Take a leisurely boat ride on the canals to see Ghent from a different perspective, and visit the Saint Bavo’s Cathedral to admire the world-famous Ghent Altarpiece. The Graslei and Korenlei, historic streets along the river, are perfect spots to enjoy Belgian cuisine and local craft beers. Ghent is also renowned for its street art, with the Werregarenstraat (Graffiti Street) being a living canvas for local and international artists.

5. Tromsø, Norway

Tromsø, Norway

For an extraordinary summer experience, visit Tromsø, known as the Gateway to the Arctic. During summer, you can experience the Midnight Sun, where the sun never sets, providing endless daylight for outdoor activities. Tromsø offers unique river beaches and outdoor activities like hiking in the surrounding mountains, fishing, and whale watching. The city is home to the Arctic Cathedral, a striking piece of modern architecture, and the Polar Museum, which provides insights into Arctic exploration. Tromsø’s outdoor art, including installations and sculptures inspired by the Arctic landscape, adds a cultural dimension to your adventure, making it an unforgettable destination.

6. Bratislava, Slovakia

Bratislava, Slovakia

Bratislava, Slovakia’s charming capital, offers a compact and walkable old town filled with history and culture. The imposing Bratislava Castle, perched on a hill, provides stunning views of the city and the Danube River. Discover hidden river beaches along the Danube, perfect for a tranquil escape from the city bustle. The UFO Observation Deck on the SNP Bridge offers another unique perspective of the cityscape. Bratislava’s street art scene, particularly in the Old Town, showcases the city’s creative spirit and contemporary edge. Wander through the narrow streets, enjoy local Slovak cuisine in traditional eateries, and experience the city’s vibrant café culture.

7. Valletta, Malta

Valletta, Malta

Valletta, the capital of Malta, is a UNESCO World Heritage site teeming with historical landmarks and stunning architecture. The city’s narrow streets are filled with historic buildings, museums, and churches. Explore St. John’s Co-Cathedral, home to Caravaggio’s famous painting, “The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist.” The Upper Barrakka Gardens offer breathtaking views of the Grand Harbour, making it a perfect spot for relaxation. Take a ferry to the stunning Blue Lagoon, known for its crystal-clear waters, ideal for swimming and snorkeling. Valletta is also home to various outdoor art events and installations, enhancing its vibrant cultural landscape and making it a captivating destination.

8. Bled, Slovenia

Bled, Bled castle, Slovenia

Lake Bled is a fairy-tale destination with its emerald-green waters, an island church, and a cliffside castle. Rent a traditional pletna boat to visit the island and ring the wishing bell in the Church of the Assumption. The surrounding Julian Alps provide excellent hiking opportunities, and nearby Vintgar Gorge offers stunning natural beauty with its wooden walkways and waterfalls. Relax at one of the lakeside cafes and try the famous Bled cream cake, a local delicacy. Bled also features outdoor art installations that blend seamlessly with its idyllic scenery, enhancing the magical atmosphere of this picturesque destination.

9. Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Mostar, Bosnia, Bosnia and herzegovina

Mostar, renowned for its iconic Stari Most (Old Bridge), offers a rich blend of history and natural beauty. The bridge, a symbol of resilience, spans the beautiful Neretva River and is a focal point of the city. Walk through its cobblestone streets, visit historic mosques, and try traditional Bosnian cuisine at local restaurants. The nearby Kravice Waterfalls provide a refreshing natural retreat, perfect for swimming and picnicking. Mostar’s outdoor art, including powerful murals reflecting its tumultuous history, adds depth to the city’s cultural experience. The Museum of War and Genocide Victims offers a sobering insight into the country’s recent past, making it a poignant destination.

10. Perast, Montenegro

Montenegro, The adriatic sea, Bay

Perast, situated in the stunning Bay of Kotor, is known for its baroque architecture and serene ambiance. The town’s waterfront is lined with historic palaces and churches, reflecting its rich maritime history. Take a boat trip to the island church of Our Lady of the Rocks, an artificial island with a fascinating legend and beautiful views. Enjoy fresh seafood at local restaurants and explore the bay’s clear waters, perfect for swimming and kayaking. Perast also features art installations and cultural events that celebrate its maritime heritage, making it a unique and tranquil destination away from the crowds.

11. Piran, Slovenia

Piran, Slovenia

Piran, a picturesque coastal town on the Adriatic Sea, is famous for its Venetian architecture and charming old town. Climb the bell tower for panoramic views of the town and the sea, and explore Tartini Square, named after the famous violinist and composer Giuseppe Tartini. Relax on the town’s scenic river beaches or visit the nearby salt pans of Sečovlje, where you can learn about traditional salt production and its ecological significance. Piran’s outdoor art, including sculptures and installations, enhances its historical and cultural appeal, making it a captivating destination for art and history enthusiasts alike.

Tips for Planning Your Trip

  1. Best Time to Visit: Late spring to early fall is ideal for visiting these destinations, with pleasant weather and fewer tourists.
  2. Accommodation: Book your accommodations in advance, especially during peak summer months, to secure the best deals.
  3. Local Cuisine: Don’t miss out on trying local dishes and delicacies unique to each region. From seafood in coastal towns to hearty stews and pastries inland, European cuisine is diverse and delicious.
  4. Transportation: Research the best modes of transportation. Trains and buses are often convenient for exploring Europe, and renting a car can provide more flexibility for off-the-beaten-path destinations.
  5. Cultural Etiquette: Be mindful of local customs and traditions. Learning a few basic phrases in the local language can go a long way in enhancing your travel experience.


These 11 underrated summer travel ideas in Europe offer a perfect mix of culture, history, and natural beauty. By venturing off the beaten path, you’ll discover hidden gems that provide memorable experiences without the crowds. Start planning your European adventure today and explore the road less traveled!

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