Underdogs – 9 underrated cities in Europe

Paris, Rome, Barcelona, ​​Vienna? Beautiful cities, of course, but no longer insider tips and accordingly overcrowded. If you want to explore lesser-known corners of Europe, then you’ve come to the right place! Voilà – here they are, our travel bloggers’ tips for city trips in Europe.

Many of you probably feel the same way as we do: In the meantime, you know every tree personally within a radius of 10 kilometers from your place of residence and even a day trip no longer brings the hoped-for variety. How wonderful it would be to rediscover a still unknown city – to stroll through winding streets, marvel at architectural highlights and hop into a cute café for refreshment! But which place is suitable for this? Do you already know the perennial favorites among the European tourist metropolises such as London, Amsterdam and Madrid, or are they simply too crowded for you? Then see what our bloggers have to offer you: Here are 9 hip, unknown and underestimated insider tips for your city trip in Europe – let’s go!

Parma, Italy – charming streets & culture around every corner

Charming streets, culture on every corner and culinary delights to die for. For me, Parma has everything I need for a successful city trip to Italy – and even a little bit more. A wonderful calmness, for example. Because with much more well-known neighbors such as Milan, Bologna and Venice, only a manageable number of travelers are drawn to the northern Italian university city.

Since Parma is still considered a real insider tip, the hotel rooms in the heart of the old town are surprisingly inexpensive and even in popular restaurants, such as the Trattoria Del Tribunale, there is a chance of getting a seat without a reservation. Is there a better way to end the evening than sitting here in the Vicolo Politi while the setting sun bathes the pretty alley in its soft light? In anticipation of a delicious cena ? How about, for example, a portion of the herb-filled tortelli known for the Emilia-Romagna region, with lots of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano? Meat eaters should of course try the legendary Parma ham, which even has its own museum.

As if the fantastic food wasn’t reason enough to visit Parma, the city surprises with numerous sights. There is the cathedral, a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture, or the Abbazia di S. Giovanni with its beautiful frescoes. You should not miss a walk through the picturesque park of the Parco Ducale with its magnificent Renaissance-style Palazzetto Eucherio Sanvitale. Afterwards you will find a nice place for an aperitivo in the Bar Chiosco  and maybe to take a look at the theater program. The cultural scene in Parma is not to be scoffed at either. Well then, salute !

You can find even more tips for a trip to Parma on Sarah’s blog Itchy Feet.

Sunlight bathes a narrow alley in Italy's relatively unknown city of Parma in bright light.
Parma is wonderfully calm and a real insider tip. Image and text: Sarah, Itchy Feet

Colmar, France – the unknown insider tip in Alsace

I will remember the taste of my first eclair for the rest of my life. This crunchy pastry with a creamy filling that melts in your mouth. Heavenly. That’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Colmar. In the middle of beautiful half-timbered houses I bit into an eclair for the first time.

But not only the culinary delights in the small French town inspired us. It is the French flair paired with town houses from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, small streams that flow through the city and beautiful corners decorated with flowers.

Colmar is the third largest city in Alsace. We start our city tour at the Unterlinden Museum . For us it was a cultural highlight. Not only did we like the ancient building from the 13th century, but also the well-known Isenheim Altar.

Afterwards we take a walk to “Little Venice” – Le Petite Venise. Just like Venice, cute boats cruise the canals that wind their way through the enchanting city. The tours start at the landing stage of the Krutenau restaurant.

The large market hall, the Marche Couvert, is also worth a visit. We push past colorful stands and enjoy the pompous ambience of the hall. Be sure to bring fresh baguettes and delicious cheese with you. France, we love you.

On your stroll through the city, you should also take a look at the large Martinsmünster with the 71 meter high church tower. Then we walk through the Rue des Marchands. We cannot get enough of the historic town houses from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. You shouldn’t miss the artistically made wooden bay window of the Pfisterhaus or the sophisticated old Koïfhus, the department store, with its colorful roof tiles.

Culinary art must not be neglected in Colmar either. The city is located on the Alsatian Wine Route and is therefore also known as the capital of Alsatian wines. So you can’t avoid trying a glass of wine with the Alsatian tarte flambée. Bon Appetit!

You can find the most beautiful places in Colmar on the Phototravellers blog.

The still relatively unknown Stad Colmar in France invites you to linger - canals are reminiscent of Venice.
Colmar, the little Venice in France. Photo and text: Phototravellers

Lodz, Poland – street art and food

You may know Warsaw or Kraków, but have you ever been to Lodz? Not? Then you should make up for it quickly. Lodz, after all the third largest city in the country, is located pretty much right in the middle of Poland and really has a lot to offer! The many beautiful buildings in Lodz are particularly impressive, and you can hardly get enough of the Art Nouveau houses in the city center. If you get hungry during your sightseeing tour, you can satisfy it almost anywhere, because along the Piotrkowska, the city’s most famous shopping street, you will find one restaurant after the other. The cuisine is colourful, diverse, vegetarian, vegan, healthy, funky, simply cool. There are also so many clubs, bars and cafés – you will be amazed!

Franzi was on the road for us in Lodz and shows you culinary highlights, street art and sights in Lodz .

Piotrkowska Street in Lodz in Poland.
Piotrkowska Street is the origin of the textile industry center.
Vegan hot dogs in different colors, a real insider tip at the Lodz Food Festival.
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Pamplona, ​​Spain – a piece of idyll in Navarra

Pamplona is the capital of the autonomous region of Navarra in northern Spain. It gained worldwide fame through the traditional running of the bulls, which takes place here every year in July. The show, part of the festivities dedicated to the patron saint of Navarre, San Fermín, attracts thousands of onlookers every year. When the terrifying oxen and bulls are herded through the narrow streets to the bullring, all hell breaks loose in Pamplona in the truest sense of the word. During the rest of the year, things are rather quiet and contemplative here.

A stroll through the streets leads past colorful house facades, idyllic parks and inviting restaurants with excellent cuisine – the imposing three-aisled, Gothic cathedral is always in view. A special gem is the Café Iruñain the main square, Plaza del Castillo. Built in 1888, it is the city’s oldest coffee house, where Ernest Hemingway once enjoyed a good cup of coffee. You should definitely not miss a delicious selection of typical pinchos (tapas) here! In the oldest part of the city, Caballo Blanco, the Baluarte del Redín viewpoint on the old city walls lures with a fantastic view of the green surroundings. From here you can also see the start of the Camino de Santiago, marked by a stone arch. Afterwards, the beautiful Parque de la Taconera Park is the perfect place for a refreshing drink in one of the shady terrace cafés.

In addition to the city itself, the area around Pamplona also has exciting destinations to offer. Just a few kilometers outside, at Bodega Otazu, you can marvel at over 1,000 wine barrels in its own wine cathedral and taste delicious wines from the surrounding vineyards. The picturesque Roncal Valley invites you to wonderful hikes with breathtaking views over the majestic Pyrenees to the French border. THE highlight of the region, however, is the gigantic, desert-like Bardenas Reales National Park National Park . Bizarre formations of ocher-colored chalk and clay rock take you into a surreal world in which films and series such as “Game of Thrones” have already been shot.

You can find even more tips for Pamplona and the Navarra region in Spain in Nina’s travel report on Good Morning World or at Tourismo Navarra .

Travel blogger Nina enjoys the view from a small balcony in a narrow alleyway in the Spanish city of Pamplona.
The colorful house facades in the narrow streets of Pamplona invite you to dream. Image and text: Nina, Good Morning World

Linz, Austria – the underrated city on the Danube

Everyone knows Vienna and Salzburg, but have you ever thought about a city trip to Linz? The lively provincial capital of Upper Austria, which is still wonderfully unnoticed by tourists, welcomes its visitors to the banks of the Danube with a large helping of calm charm. Of course, feasting on a piece of Linzer Torte is a must when visiting, but there are also many magical places waiting to be explored by you!

Probably the most beautiful spot in the city to watch the sunset is the small park behind the Linz Castle Museum. Sit down on one of the wooden benches and watch the sun set behind the 539 meter high Pöstlingberg. For museum fans: While the history of Upper Austria is told from the beginning of time to the present day in the Castle Museum, the Ars Electronica Center , which is well-known far beyond the city limits, takes you into the future with innovative imagery and fascinating 3D animations.

But back to the Pöstlingberg for a moment: During the day, the historic Pöstlingbergbahn number 50 runs every 20 minutes from the main square in downtown Linz up to the mountain with its picturesque pilgrimage basilica, which was inaugurated in 1748. Both the publicly accessible viewing platform and the inviting terrace of the Jindrak pastry shop , where you can enjoy one of the best Linzer cakes, enchant with a great panoramic view.

On hot summer days in Linz, the small Danube lido in the Alt-Urfahr district with its pretty pebble beach lures you in for a refreshing dip in the river. Just watch out for any ships and the current, otherwise nothing at all spoils the joy of bathing in the approximately 17 to 20 degree warm water. Then spread out your blanket under the shady branches of the poplars and admire the great panorama of Linz’s shore. Every year towards the end of June, the wonderful UFERN Festival takes place here, where you can not only try the delicious fish sticks along the delicacy promenade, but also countless other Upper Austrian delicacies!

Do you want more tips for Linz? You shouldn’t miss these sights in Linz and how about a culinary walk through Linz ? You can also browse the Visit Linz website for more ideas for your city trip!

Travel blogger Melanie sits in tall grass and enjoys the sunset on the Danube, which flows through the beautiful city of Linz.
The evening sun bathes the Pöstlingberg in golden light. Image and text: Melanie, Good Morning World

Vilnius, Lithuania – the hidden pearl of the Baltics

The Baltic States are actually always worth a trip – mainly because Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are still real insider tips. One city that still flies under the radar is the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius. And quite wrongly so: the old town is an architectural work of art, at Christmas a tree made of recycled materials competes with the city lights and in the free artists’ republic of Užupis you are immersed in a strange world.

In Vilnius, even the most visited sights are still insider tips – for example Gediminas Tower, which houses the Vilnius History Museum and at the same time offers a great panoramic view of the whole city. For an entrance fee of €5 you can visit the landmark located on the castle hill.

It is well known that digitization in the Baltic countries is very advanced – and that’s why hip cafes invite you to unusual coffee dates: Steam punk is not a style of music, but a digital form of coffee preparation. Nowhere else can you enjoy the diverse coffee culture of Lithuania as well as in Vilnius!

All tips for Vilnius can be found in Alexandra’s travelogue.

A coffee maker next to a tap.
No, steam punk is not a genre of music. In the Huracán, coffee is prepared with it, controlled by a tablet.
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Birmingham, Great Britain – off to England’s metropolis

Have you ever thought about visiting the second largest city in England? Birmingham, with its 1.1 million inhabitants, is somewhat lost in the shadow of London, but as a modern shopping city it impresses with a special flair.

Birmingham is not only the heart of the West Midlands with its many canals and numerous excursion possibilities. The city is reminiscent of the era of the Industrial Revolution and has used this charm to establish hip cafes and bars as a promenade along the city’s canals.

You should definitely check out the Library of Birmingham in the evenings. This impressive structure is the highlight of Birmingham’s modern architecture, reflected in the large expanse of water in front of the library. When the sun goes down, you can linger a while here. Just like the canals, which exude a special atmosphere and invite you to take a walk.

Birmingham is fairly central in England. From here you also have many options for impressive day trips. One of my highlights for a day trip is Warwick Castle . Dating back to 1068, this medieval castle is ideal to experience medieval life through various shows and a grandiose visit. Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare, is also not far away and is a great travel destination in England. Here you will find the birthplace of the poet William Shakespeare, where you can discover a lot about the history and life of him.

Do you know the Peaky Blinders series on Netflix? This takes place in Birmingham and was mostly filmed at the Black Country Living Museum. An impressive place that is reminiscent of the industrial era and where you can feel the life of yesteryear.

If you also love the mix of the big city and other great sights, then you should definitely visit Birmingham.

There are excursion destinations around Birmingham on Tobias’ blog.

Worth a city trip for this sight alone: ​​The Library of Birmingham sparkles in the sunset.
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Haarlem, Netherlands – Amsterdam’s beautiful neighbor

The sparrows have been whistling it from the roof for a long time: Amsterdam is unique, but completely overrun by tourism. When you’re constantly dodging breakneck cyclists and threatening to trip over wheeled suitcases, it’s hard to enjoy the charming cityscape. Luckily there is an alternative: Haarlem, Amsterdam’s pretty neighbor.

If you don’t dream of having been to Amsterdam once in your life, you can opt for a city trip to cozy Haarlem – Amsterdam in miniature, so to speak, and not just my favorite North Holland town because of its serenity.

Haarlem is quintessentially Holland, but less well-known. It is a charming city with narrow streets, crooked houses, canals, drawbridges, idyllic courtyards and facades typical of the country. Even a windmill (de Adriaan) stands picturesquely in the middle of the town on the banks of the river Spaarne.

Shopping lovers have plenty to do in Haarlem. The streets in the city center are full of boutiques that you can stroll around in for hours and the variety of which has already earned Haarlem the title of Shopping City of the Year.

The center wants to be conquered on foot, because happiness lies on the golden streets, the Gouden Straatjes, around the market square. You can also explore the “Hofjes”, hidden inner courtyards, which are well-known in the Netherlands and which are best found using a map available from the tourist information office.
The imposing Sint Bavo Kerk on the Grote Markt is also worth a visit.

Don’t miss the Frans Hals Museum – the painter was one of the most important portrait painters of the Golden Age – and the Teylers Museum, dedicated to the history of nature and technology, which is also the oldest museum in the Netherlands.

Lanterns dangle in the Korte Houtstraat and the adjoining lanes on the southern edge of the city centre, where elsewhere street lamps stand guard. Plants climb the narrow brick houses, and among the many potted plants there is still a place for a bench and the bicycles. The residents chat in front of the front doors and savor every ray of sunshine. In winter, you look into the comfortably lit and – just as typically Dutch – casually styled living room. With its cozy streets and squares, Haarlem is made for strollers.

Tip for Haarlem : In one of the ugliest buildings in the city, the parking garage De Kamp, there is a cool hotspot on the roof: DeDakKas , a kind of greenhouse with a terrace and a wonderful view over Haarlem. In the Jopenkerk , a brewery based in a former church, you can taste the house beers. When the weather is good, you can end the day with delicious pizzas at Oerkap , Haarlem’s city beach with a hippie feeling. Speaking of the beach: Haarlem has another advantage. The North Sea beaches of Zandvoort and Bloemendaal are just a stone’s throw away and can be reached by bike through the dunes. And if you can’t help it: you can center of Amsterdamreach it within 15 minutes by train.

Some special places to stay can be found in the heart of Haarlem. Colorful and modern, the boutique Hotel Staats is a warm home away from home. The hip Hello I’m Local is a “design hostel” with affordable prices and rooms for two to fourteen people.

A windmill graces the waterfront in the Dutch city of Haarlem, Amsterdam's underrated neighbor.
Haarlem is Holland through and through. Image and text: Eva, HiddenGem Travelblog
Buildings lined up along the river in Haarlem, Netherlands.
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Helsinki, Finland city break in Europe by the sea

Let’s be honest: Whoever hears Finland immediately thinks of lots of snow, loneliness and reindeer. But what about coolness, nonchalance and style? You can find all this and much more in the far north, more precisely in Helsinki.

The nice thing about a city trip to Helsinki. From the many oases with maritime flair, it is never more than a few hundred meters to urban Helsinki. That makes Finland’s capital perfect if you just can’t decide whether it should be the city or sea trip this summer! And what should of course never be missing when visiting Finland: extensive sauna sessions! In the Löyly Sauna you can jump straight into the Baltic Sea after a sauna session and from the Allas Sea Pool you can let your gaze wander over the cathedral – the heart of Helsinki – and forget the world around you while bathing.

Alexandra gives you more tips for a city trip to the sea in Helsinki here on Travelers Insight.

Helsinki skyline from the water.
The orange tents on the market square already glow from afar when you approach by water taxi from Lonna.

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