11 Places in Europe to Head This Summer if You Want to Avoid the Crowds

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A Famous Tourist Attraction in Rome – photo credit Moyan Brenn

I understand, truly I do.

You take a break from work and the last thing you want to do is be surrounded by crowds of people, getting in your way, causing long queues, getting in the frame of that all-important selfie that you have tried to take for the fiftieth time. 

We have all been there; everyone has wished at some point that they were on a deserted island somewhere, in the hope that they could achieve the impossible – peace and quiet.

Well what if we were to tell you that there are still places in Europe that are undisturbed by tourists. 

Seriously, they still exist, I promise.

Don’t get me wrong, I still want to see the iconic landmarks that have helped to make a country famous – I still don’t understand why some people visit Paris without heading to the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame for example – but I also acknowledge the fact that, on occasion, we all need to break free from the masses.  We all have a desire to visit somewhere unknown to others, somewhere unique.

So where in Europe is still relatively untouched by the roaming hordes?

Where Are Europe’s Hidden Gems?

Trying to find somewhere unique is difficult.  No matter where we travel we try to find somewhere to visit that others we know haven’t.  Why?  We like to do something different.  We want to have a different experience to that of our friends and family that have potentially visited a destination before us.

For example, when we visited Thailand recently not only did we visit the main cities of Bangkok and Chiang Mai, we also took trips to Kanchanaburi (The River Kwai) and Koh Sok National Park.  When we visited Morocco, yes we haggled in the souks of Marrakech but we also explored Fez and the relatively undisturbed area of Tamdaght, so it is fair to say that we now know a thing or two about finding those hidden gems.

But where in Europe is still relatively untouched by tourism?

Trying to find places that are still relatively unknown to tourists is becoming increasingly difficult but with the help of Getours.com we are now able to share 11 locations that, for the crowd-adverse, are definitely worth considering.

#1 Snæfellsjökull National Park, Iceland

We visited Iceland a few years ago now, but absolutely fell in love with this wonderful country.  From the ice caves to the hot springs this really is a stunning place to visit.

Snæfellsjökull National Park is the first national park to be established in Iceland with its boundaries reaching from the sea to the foot of a volcano and a glacier, and was once the setting for Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth.

At 170 square kilometres it is not a small area to visit but it is one of the most beautiful with rocky coves, black sand beaches, waterfalls, lava fields and high mountains all teeming with a variety of wildlife, including whales. 

This is an area of Iceland just primed for people to explore.

#2 Isle of Skye, Scotland

The Isle of Skye, known for its rugged landscapes, picturesque villages, and grandiose castles, has always intrigued me.  The largest of the Inner Hebrides Islands, connecting to the mainland by bridge, is a place full of history dating back to the Mesolithic period and includes a time of Norse rule, surely a pull for any Game of Thrones Fans.

If you decide to visit this Northern Isle you are going to have to battle with the extreme weather, and if you are someone that likes sunny locations, this may be a difficult choice for you, it is said to be one of the most beautiful places in all of Scotland.

It’s time to get hardy to the harsh Scottish weather people.

#3 Kylemore Abbey, Ireland

Founded in 1920, this Benedictine Monastery can be found in the grounds of Kylemore Castle in County Galway on the west coast of Ireland.

Surrounded by well tendered gardens and a large lake that reflects the grand buildings on this estate, this is a place where fairytales are made. 

Nestled into the countryside this is a place where peace and tranquility reign and hordes of tourists are all but a distant memory.

#4 Mont Saint-Michel, France

Located 1 km off the coast of Normandy in France, the little Island of Mont Saint-Michel is actually home to more than 40 people. 

This iconic landmark on the French Coast may be a UNESCO World Heritage Site but in fact sees no more than about 3 million visitors a year which may still sound like a lot, but when you compare this to the 7 million visitors that descend upon the Eiffel Tower each year, this is a historical site that seems relatively quiet.

Perhaps the low visitor numbers are due to the fact that people are unaware that you can now wander across the waters pretty much any time of the year, except in extremely high tides.

#5 Cuenca, Spain

What do you mean you have never heard of Cuenca?  This spectacular old, walled town perched high above the river upon the limestone cliffs is a stunning sight.  With narrow cobbled streets and well preserved hanging houses it is easy to see why this is on the UNESCO list.  Although, don’t be fooled- in recent years it has also established itself as a home for abstract modern art.

#6 Lake Maggiore, Italy

For anyone that has a love-affair with Italy, Lake Maggiore is a must visit location.  Quieter than its sisters – Lake Como and Lake Garda – Lake Maggiore transports you back in time to the Italy of old. 

Head to this northern lake and you are guaranteed to succumb to their slower, more genteel pace of life without even realising it.

#7 Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

Located along the Romantic Road in Bavaria, Rothenburg is a well-preserved medieval town full of splendid old buildings to explore, representing what, at one time, was considered quintessentially German.

This is a town where you can recharge your batteries, enjoy the town’s history and culture before taking time to explore further into the Tauber Valley and the many pilgrimage routes and cycle tracks it has to offer. 

#8 Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic

Dominated by a 13th century gothic castle, Cesky Krumlov’s centre piece is dwarfed only by the castle of Prague and is a masterpiece of renaissance architecture. 

Located on the River Vltava, this is a little town of maze-like passageways, beautifully decorated burgher houses and attractive gardens free for all to wander through. 

Not only has Cesky Krumlov been a UNESCO World heritage site since 1992, it has also been named by Lonely Planet as one of the most picturesque towns in all of Europe, and wandering around the narrow streets it is easy to see why.

#9 Lake Bled, Slovenia

Lake Bled is set in a charmingly, scenic environment, surrounded by some of the highest mountains and thickest forests in all of Slovenia. 

The emerald green waters of this perfect picture-postcard location which comes complete with its own islet and medieval castle which dominates the northern shoreline is currently drawing everyone from honeymooners to hikers to it and so it is only a matter of time before Lake Bled disappears from a hidden gem list such as this one.

#10 Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

If you enjoy the water, you will love Plitvice Lakes, a natural wonder of 16 lakes all connected by waterfalls and extending into a limestone canyon.

Located between Zagreb and Zadar, this is the perfect location for hikers and nature lovers – for those that would love to see deer and boar roaming freely and for budding ornithologists with a desire to spot a rare bird or two. 

This is one of the largest national parks in Europe and with over 18 km of wooden footbridges to wander across it may take a couple of days to see the entire park in all its galore.

#11 Göreme, Turkey

Located within the region of Cappadocia, this town has long been known for its ‘fairy chimney’ rock formations and frescos that date back to the 10th century.

If you fancy time out of the sun this is the place to visit, with churches, villages and subterranean cities all hidden within the rock formations making it one of the world’s largest cave-dwelling complexes.

It is also a place where, should you wish to explore this unique crater style landscape from above, you can take an early morning hot-air balloon ride to watch the sun rise up over this unusual town.

So, as you can see, there are still numerous places relatively untouched by tourism in Europe, it is just a case of researching and seeking them out. 

As with any location, however, the more they are publicised the more popular they become, so take our advice and visit these hidden gems before it is too late.

Where in Europe would you recommend to others?  Is there a hidden gem that, whilst you would love for it to remain off the tourist track, you feel others should know about?

 

 

17 Comments

  • K.C. Dermody says:

    Kylemore Abbey is overrun by tourists, especially in the summer, but the parking lot is always nearly full and packed with tour buses throughout the year. Isle of Skye has gotten so bad they are now recommending people don’t come. Plitvice and Lake Bled are packed with tourists too. Might be time for an update?

  • Nisha says:

    Thanks for this. These are truly beautiful and less trodden by the tourists. I think St Michael is the most striking of them all. I have book marked this for my Europe trip .

  • Aubrie says:

    This was such a great list! I have actually been to a couple of these places and absolutely loved them! I need to definitely head to the others before more people find out about them!

  • These all look like wonderful places to visit and I would like to see all of them. The only one I have been to is Mont St. Michel. It really wasn’t that crowded because I arrived at night and spent the morning with the whole place to myself before the tour buses arrived. It truly is a gorgeous place.

    • What a great tip. I love trying to out run the tour buses to places I want to see. There is nothing worse than following a tour group around the whole time getting caught up and not being able to take photos when I want. 🙂

  • These places are truly worth a visit. Europe has long been penned on my bucket list and with these places you have suggested, I’ll surely bear them in mind if I visit Europe soon. Thank you so much for sharing about all these. You have captured all these places beautifully as well.

  • It is indeed a pleasure to get away from the maddening crowd and get some quality and rejuvenating time in a relatively unknown and pristine place. Europe has so much to offer here. All the places listed out by you are wonderful to get lost in. However I would prefer an unknown and picturesque village or small town in Switzerland.

  • Hallie says:

    What beauty! I definitely want to visit Ireland and Scotland. The photos are always just stunning from there.

  • Wow, what a beautiful list of places! And amazing pictures to tempt everyone who is reading this beautiful article. I have visited Snæfellsjökull National Park in Iceland and I do agree with it. The remaining places I will definitely add them to my bucket list and will refer back to them as and when I try to cover off those countries. Thanks for this list. I totally loved it.

    • I love the fact that these beautiful places are still not as popular as other locations – there are probably thousands more out there as well we just haven’t found yet. 🙂

  • Megan J says:

    Great list of destinations – can totally vouch for Iceland – we were really actually very surprised – we travelled to Iceland during the middle of summer, so peak tourist season, and while Reykjavik was always busy, the minute we drove out of the city limits and hit the national pars and countrside, all tourism seemed to disappear. We had the whole landscapes to ourselves for as far as the eye could see it was incredible! Definitely a spot to skip the crowds … just don’t go to the Golden Circle .. we found out they all congregate there lol!

    • I agree – move away from the city and it’s like you are the only one sometimes. Did you visit when the sun never set? I want to travel back to Iceland to experience this.

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