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Escape The Summer Crowds! Why You Should Visit These 5 Underrated European Destinations

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As tempting as a summer getaway to Spain, Greece, or Italy might sound, the idea of having to deal with rowdy crowds, littered streets, and overpriced tourist traps can be off-putting, to say the least.

That’s why more and more travelers are favoring smaller, lesser-known hubs that promise a fantastic experience while still maintaining a sense of authenticity – something that was just proved by the latest ETC Quarterly Report.

Woman in Budva, Montenegro

According to the data collected by the European Travel Commission these past couple of months, the continent’s fastest-growing destinations aren’t the heavy hitters we’ve been used to seeing everywhere on the news (as well as our social media feeds).

Instead, these 5 once-underrated countries are leading the way as Europe’s trendiest hotspots:


Golden Bay, Malta

First up, we have a place that I’ve long considered one of my all-time favorite destinations, and let me tell you – no artfully crafted sentence or filtered picture can ever do Malta justice.

It’s actually fascinating to see just how much history, culture, and breathtaking sights have been cramped in the tiny, 316 km² (122 mi²) island (for reference, driving from one side of Malta to the other won’t take more than an hour by car).

Valletta will stun you with its one-of-a-kind architecture and Caravaggio masterpieces, the Megalithic Temples of Ħaġar Qim will take you on a journey to 3600-2500 BCE, the small fishing-village vibes of Marsaxlokk will make you feel like you’re walking on a fairytale, and the white-sanded beaches of Għadira will leave you a little out of breath – it’s the perfect summer getaway!


Aerial view of Belgrade, Serbia

If you’re tired of the same old beach holidays, why not switch things up this year with Serbia?

The gorgeous country is located right in the heart of the Balkans and far away from any big bodies and water, but what the country lacks in dreamy beaches it more than makes up for in incredible cities and untouched nature.

Belgrade, in particular, is a must-see.

The gorgeous capital is one of the oldest cities in Europe, something that’s obvious in unmissable landmarks like the Belgrade Fortress and the Church of Saint Sava – now easier to see than ever thanks to the two brand-new direct flights launched from New York and Chicago just recently.


The Sveti Stefan Island Resort, Sveti Stefan, near Budva, Montenegro,

Intrigued by Balkan’s natural gems and fantastic prices but don’t want to miss out on a good sunbathing session or two?

Why not head over to Montenegro?

A well-hidden gem on the Adriatic coast, this gorgeous country offers everything Croatia does and more, just with fewer crowds and lower prices. 

And while better-known beach hubs like Budva, Ulcinj, and Kotor truly are as good as they say, my favorite town to visit in Montenegro has always been Herceg Novi – there’s no better place to get the most bang for your buck!


A boat traveling up the Moselle River in rural Luxembourg

Going back to yet another landlocked gem – Luxembourg is one of the most consistently overlooked destinations in Western Europe, though considering that it’s just 2,586 square kilometers (998 sq mi) of land, it’s easy to see how it can get overlooked (literally).

Still, if you’re after that iconic European city experience and can’t decide between France, Belgium, or Germany, going to Luxembourg instead is the perfect compromise.

You’ll get to take in the architectural wonders that are the Grand Ducal Palace, the Gothic Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Bock Casemate, while also being able to venture off the beaten path and revel in the fairytale-like views of the Ardennes – talk about the best of both worlds!


Beach in Bulgaria

Long overlooked in favor of its flashier neighbors, Bulgaria is one of those places that’ll exceed even your wildest expectations.

Not only is Sofia, the capital, the perfect budget-friendly alternative to better-known city hubs like Prague and Vienna, but the stunning Riviera that stretches along the Black Sea looks like something out of a postcard, and if you’re looking for beautiful uncrowded beaches that don’t break the bank this summer, this is definitely the place to be.

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