07:40 | 12/05/2022 Print
|Top 10 Least Popular Places in Europe That You Want to Visit|
France, Spain, Italy, Turkey, and Germany are the top 5 countries in Europe that receive the most number of travelers every year — and I bet this doesn’t come as a surprise to you because apart from the rest of the world, I bet that you want to see these places too!
There are still a LOT of ‘hidden gems‘ in Europe that can give you exactly what you want: an out-of-the-ordinary destination with a fewer number of visitors abound. c
Of course, these destinations will be busy because this is still Europe after all, but nonetheless, they offer fewer crowds, less expensive flights, and, most importantly, present an opportunity to discover a place you haven’t already seen a million photos of. These are the 11 most overlooked European countries that not enough people visit and that you should plan your next trip to ASAP.
And through this post, I have partnered up to bring to you 10 “off the beaten path” countries in Europe that are least visited!
One guaranteed way to ruin your trip is being denied entry into the country you are visiting because you don’t have a tourist visa. While most countries in Europe don’t require a visa for short visits, it’s best to know which countries do.
Prior to your trip, a quick search online will find tourist visa requirements and whether you need to acquire a visa upon arrival at the airport or online prior to arrival. There are several websites online that list visa requirement, so find out ahead of time.
While you might dream of sunbathing on the Mediterranean beaches during the summer months, so does the rest of Europe — causing overcrowded beaches and long queues at tourist attractions.
Traveling during the off-season is the best way to avoid the crowds and save money on accommodations, airfare, train tickets, and tours. Most of the main tourist attractions are open year-round, just make sure to check closing times as some might have shorter hours during the off-peak travel season.
With more than a dozen budget airline carriers throughout Europe, you can fly to almost anywhere on the continent for cheap when booking with a budget airline. Airfare will often be cheaper than train tickets, but the least expensive seats tend to sell out the fastest.
While you might be getting a bargain on airfare, make sure to check for additional fees and taxes which are often not included in the advertised rate. Also avoid sizeable baggage fees by researching each airline’s rules on hand baggage and luggage size. Packing light will help you avoid baggage fees and let you ease through the airport!
Making reservations in advance is the best way to secure accommodations and tours, especially in peak travel season. Booking airfare, hotels, train tickets, and tours in advance also ensures that you are getting the best price.
As one of the best ways to explore a city, you will do lots of walking during your European vacation, therefore having a pair of comfortable walking shoes is a must. After a long day of walking around the city, your feet will thank you!
Staying in one place longer can allow you to experience the city or neighborhood like a local. Making friends with locals, finding local restaurants and venturing off the beaten path, can make for exciting travel stories and often the most memorable experiences.
By all means, seeing the popular attractions in a city is a must. While your heart might be set on visiting the most popular attractions, you should make it a point to visit lesser-known sites. Ask the locals for recommendations, often you will get a better glimpse at the local culture when doing so. You can also research off-the-beaten-path experiences in travel books and online.
3. San Marino
4. Faroe Islands
6. Bosnia and Herzegovina
8. North Macedonia
The world’s 2nd least visited (with Kiribati as the first) and Europe’s least visited country, one would wonder why Moldova isn’t a hit with the tourists… and well, there are a number of reasons why: it’s ‘remote’, it is located between Ukraine and Romania, and it’s still struggling after it gained its independence from the disassembly of the Soviet Union in the 90s (the country’s tourism efforts haven’t taken off that much).
But if you’re a traveler who wants to explore an unspoiled ‘off the beaten path destination, Moldova is the place for you! Though the cities aren’t much of a hit, they have great vineyards and wineries here, so it’s a haven for winos too.
This landlocked Balkan nation may be little-visited partly because it was so hard to see for so long. During the Cold War, Serbia was part of the larger state of Yugoslavia, a decidedly Communist place. In the 90s, the region was roiled by ethnic violence as Yugoslavia splintered up into many smaller autonomous countries. But today, Serbia is plenty safe and pleasant to visit, though it has yet to really make a name for itself in the world of tourism.
Visitors report that the capital, Belgrade, rivals Berlin in terms of fun and nightlife. If history is more your thing, you’ll find ruined castles aplenty. Also, more Roman emperors were born in Serbia than anywhere else aside from Italy, and most of them left some statues and relics behind.
Entirely surrounded by Italy, tiny San Marino is the fifth smallest country in the world. The microstate is just 23.6 square miles in area, so it gets overlooked by many tourists—which is a shame, because there is so much to explore within its borders. Take a cable car up Titan Mountain, stroll through the historic city center dating back to the 13th century, or enjoy Italian cuisine on a visit here.
San Marino is an enclaved microstate located completely within the borders of Italy. It covers an area of only 24 square miles in the Apennine mountains. Of the roughly 2 million tourists who visit annually, the vast majority are Italians. San Marino has much to offer the rest of the world as well. Some of the popular attractions here include tours of the 11th century Fortress Guaita (which overlooks the capital), the Palazzo Pubblico (a medieval-style town hall) and the Cathedral of San Marino. Tourists can also stroll along medieval alleys, which are abundant throughout the city.
The ethereal Faroe Islands are a true gem of Europe, tucked away in the North Atlantic Ocean. The islands, located between Iceland and Norway, are an autonomous region of the Kingdom of Denmark. It is quite long and expensive to get to this place, so not all tourists dare to make such a trip. However, it is worth every minute and penny to get to know the Faroe Islands. The archipelago amazes with the richness of cosmic landscapes, mind-blowing scenery, and a huge variety of flora and fauna. If you want to escape from the whole world, be alone with the wildlife and get the maximum impressions from the trip, you should think about buying tickets here.
|Photo: World Nomads|
Macedonia declared its independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991 and is now on the verge of joining the E.U., so visit now before it gets too popular or expensive. The current exchange rate of 52 Macedonia denar to 1 U.S. dollar means that you can score a luxury hotel room for less than $50 a night, and a three-course dinner for under $20.
The Balkan country’s capital, Skopje, underwent a massive government project in 2014 aimed at rejuvenating the city and drawing in more tourists—so now you’ll find a bizarre number of brand-new monuments and statues scattered amongst more historic structures. Although a landlocked country, Macedonia has plenty of waterfront in the form of big, beautiful lakes like Lake Ohrid, as well as pristine mountains and national parks that attract adventurers.
|Photo: World Nomads|
Like Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina is a former Yugoslav republic that descended into chaos in the 90’s as that country disintegrated. While things are much calmer today, B-H remains largely overlooked in favor of its far more popular neighbor, Croatia.
One possible reason is that Bosnia-Herzegovina is almost entirely landlocked, with only a 12-mile coastline on the Adriatic. The rest of that coast — rich with beaches, villas, and ideal for sailing — is now part of Croatia. Another potential reason few travelers venture here is the lack of infrastructure. Bosnia-Herzegovina has few highways, and landmines (a relic of wars in the 90s) remain a genuine concern. Despite vigorous efforts to find and remove them, there may still be as many as 80,000 mines dispersed throughout the country.
Those who do visit will find a diverse, mountainous terrain, and a fascinating population that’s almost equal parts Christian and Muslim.
Belarus is still a dictatorship (the last one in Europe), and that’s the primary reason why it is one of the least visited European countries. Despite the controversial political system, the country’s safe for visitors. Nevertheless, it’s isolated, and tourist attractions aren’t abundant, so few people decide to go there. Those who do though are welcomed by the beautiful nature, lovely villages and local hospitality. European countries usually have lots in common, at least when it comes to basic cultural and political principles. Belarus is as different as it gets. Judgments aside, it’s definitely an interesting place to visit.
The modern incarnation of Alexander the Great’s homeland (contrary to common misconception, he technically was not Greek), Macedonia was once a great power of the ancient world. Today, it’s far less famous (and less visited) than its historic neighbor to the south — Greece. But all that may be about to change.
North Macedonia (formerly Macedonia — its name was officially changed in 2019) has been a candidate member of the European Union since 2005. These days, it looks like it’s about to perform a reverse-Brexit and attempt to join the EU as a full-fledged member. That could mean a major influx of tourists from elsewhere on the continent, so we may be witnessing the last of the country’s sleepy, undiscovered days.
Although landlocked, this relatively small country has a number of beautiful lakes. It’s characterized by its hills, valleys, and historic architecture — mainly inspired by Orthodox Christianity but influenced by its Albanian Muslim minority as well.
Another gem of a place but less-visited travel destination in Europe, Malta is the largest and most well-known of islands that form an archipelago.
Holding a strategic position in the Mediterranean Sea, the country has been under different rulers in its long history with each one having left a mark somewhere on the cultures, traditions, and beliefs of this island nation.
The ancient architecture, archaic temples, and relics that hark back to a bygone era represent the kind of setting that history buffs would love to find themselves in.
Beach lovers will also consider Malta to be among the most underrated destinations in Europe. Summer by the Mediterranean Sea offers unparalleled entertainment for deep-sea divers and swimming enthusiasts, making it the perfect setting for various summer festivals.
The spring or autumn seasons are the best times to visit as the sun turns friendlier during these periods compared to the harsh conditions during summer.
Landlocked between Switzerland and Austria, the Principality of Lichtenstein is undoubtedly the micro-nation with the most entertaining name. Still, with a population of less than 40,000 people living in an area about 60 miles squared, it’s not hard to imagine why few visitors come to call. The relative isolation is heightened by the absence of an airport, which means the best way to visit Liechtenstein is probably via train or bus.
The last surviving vestige of the Holy Roman Empire, Liechtenstein will surely make you feel like you’re in an old world principality, with its castles and sweeping alpine scenery. But in other ways, it’s a very modern place. Residents have a standard of living comparable to any neighboring country, and a vibrant financial sector that has made the them rich. In fact, Liechtenstein is known for it’s ask-no-questions banking, and is a popular place to set up sketchy holding companies.
You know. Just in case you were hoping to launder some money while you’re in town…
San Marino & COVID
Meanwhile, if you are interested in visiting any of these countries, feel free to go there irrespective of whether they are not widely recognized or not. After all, the aim is to gain new experience and have a feel of these countries.
These are the least visited countries in Europe. However, if you notice in the list, San Marino, which is among the least visited countries in Europe, was excluded and this is because of the high number of same-day visitors (111,000 regular visitors in 2019, but as many as 1,793,000 same-day visitors).
These data were gathered prior to the COVID period. It's because as of 2020, there were lots of restrictions on tourists visiting different countries which greatly reduced the percentage of people traveling across the world. Number of visitors per year based on UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization) data.
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