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5 Lesser-Known European Destinations U.S. Travelers Should Visit This Summer

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It’s not a secret that Americans are traveling to Europe in record numbers this summer, with flights selling out, accommodation booking up, and crowds squeezing into the top attractions across the continent. 

While hotspots such as Rome and Paris are without a doubt deserving of their popularity, keep in mind that for every mega-popular destination Europe has, there are countless underrated places to check out as well. 

Ulcinj view of town in montenegro

So, if elbowing your way for hours to sneak a peek at the Mona Lisa or cramming through the Acropolis with half of America while the sun bakes down on you is not your vibe, consider some lesser-known places instead.

Note: While these places are certainly no secret to Europeans, it seems they don't make American travelers’ radar. 

So if you are looking to avoid crowds, beat the heat, or just be more original and get off the beaten path, these destinations all offer a more unique trip than the overdone European itinerary of Rome, Paris, and Barcelona.

the ancient bulgarian  town of velinko tronovo

Here Are 5 Lesser-Known European Destinations That U.S. Travelers Should Visit This Summer:

Bergen, Norway

Norway's second-largest city is in no way a secret destination, as it sees over 2.5 million tourists each year. But for some reason, Americans seem to miss it completely, as only 6% of the city’s tourists hail from the U.S.

Despite being a big city, Bergen keeps a small-town charm about it. Set in Vestland County on the western coast of Norway, stunning Bergen is known as the Capital Of The Fjords.

Don’t miss taking the Funicular Fløibanen up the hill for the views, seeing the friendly mountain goats, and checking out the curious troll statues.

Take a day trip on a hydrofoil boat among the fjords, and afterward, eat at some of the historic clapboard houses in the fishing harbor before your evening stroll.

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Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria 

The Balkan country of Bulgaria has been increasing in popularity lately, with many digital nomads and travelers coming to explore both the cities and the charming Black Sea coast.

One area that doesn't see a lot of international tourists, however, is the historic town set amongst the hills along the Yantra River named Veliko Tarnovo. 

Veliko Tarnovo is known as the City Of Tsars and served as the capital of the second Bulgarian Empire. One famous attraction here is the Tsarevets Fortress, where you can wander around the grounds for some epic views.

Stroll along the streets with rolling views along the valley, and enjoy the many guesthouses and restaurants with hillside views.

Gdansk, Poland

Poland has been increasing its tourism profile with international visitors as of late, and while Krakow and Warsaw seem to get all the attention, there are many other cities worth a look as well. 

One such place is the storybook riverside city of Gdansk. Having served as the cradle of the Solidarity Movement, and an important factor in World War II, this place is steeped in history. 

Gdansk’s appeal is all about the tall narrow, colorful buildings lining the streets and the boats and restaurants along the river banks. Take a boat trip over to Westerplatte for a dose of history, or hit up the nearby seaside town of Sopot for some beach time. 

@sandymakessense Don’t make these mistakes in Gdansk Poland 😉🇵🇱 To me, Gdańsk is a beautifully modern city, that hasn’t forgotten its historical roots at the same time: ⛱️ Visit 100cznia for sunset beach vibes, street food, vintage shops & more 🏘️ Stroll through the stunning and colourful old town of Gdańsk and don’t miss: Neptunes Fountain, Mariacka Street for Amber shopping and The Green Gate ☕️ Have coffee, matcha tea and pastries at Drukarnia cafe 🍽️ Eat a fine dining dinner or lunch at Canis 🥗 Eat delicious vegan food at Manna 68 🥟 Have the most fun pierogi at pierogarnia mandu 🍻 Try Polish craft beer at browar pg4 🍸 Have fun cocktails at mala sztuka 🚶🏼‍♀️Climb the 400 steps of St. Mary’s Church for the best views of the city 🛥️ Take a boat tour and learn about the history of the city and it’s harbour 💭 Visit the European Solidarity Centre to learn about an important part of Polish history 💎 Visit the Amber museum (free entry on Mondays) The easiest way to get around Gdańsk is by foot. The whole city is easily walkable ❤️ Ready for your affordable European city break in Gdańsk? 😀 Places to see in Gdańsk, what to do in Gdańsk, Gdańsk travel tips – I’ve got you ❤️ Want more city break ideas? #gdansk #gdańsk #gdanskoldtown #thingstodoingdansk #gdanskcityguide #gdansk2023 #visitpoland #visitgdansk #traveltiktok #wheretotravelin2023 #europetraveltips #europeplacestovisit #citybreakideas ♬ Dance The Night (From Barbie The Album) – Dua Lipa

Ulcinj, Montenegro 

While Montenegro has finally started to gain some much-deserved international attention from tourists, most of it has been focused on the beautiful Bay of Kotor and its surrounding areas. One southernmost town that should be added to any traveler's radar is the stunning coastal town of Ulcinj. 

Home to an impressive UNESCO World Heritage Site Old Town with killer views and restaurants clinging to the sides of cliffs, you can also find one the longest beaches in Europe, appropriately named Long Beach.

The city makes a great stopping point if you are traveling between Albania and Montenegro, as it’s not far from the border. 

montenegro coastline with Ulcinj town with trees

Brac Island, Croatia

As there is no shortage of islands in Croatia, choosing which one to stay at can be quite a task. While some of Croatia's hotspots can see record crowds, there is plenty left to explore without fighting for space. One island worth a look lies just off the coast of Split, connected via a convenient and short ferry ride. 

Brac Island is home to the famous golden horn beach, Zlatni rat, and Vida Gora, the highest point in Croatia. While it might not have the big name appeal as nearby Hvar, there is much to love about Brac. 

For those looking to stay in a quieter, more authentic fishing village, head to the other side of the island, and look for Supetar or Sutivan.

Both offer a laid-back island life with cobblestone streets and local flavor. If the vibe is too chill for you here, you can easily pop on over to the mainland and enjoy a variety of nightlife in Split. 

@ciaobellatravel The perfect laidback, chill addition to your Croatia island hopping #traveltips #croatia #summer2023 #summer2023loading ♬ How could we ever just be friends – 🪐

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