Heading across the pond this summer? We know many of you won’t drop that foodie tour of Italy or your much anticipated island hop of Greece, but take a moment and consider these underrated destinations for a summer vacation to Europe this year.
From charming Baroque towns in South Bohemia to epic hikes for days (followed by a dinner of garlicky soup and dumplings), here are six lesser-known destinations in Europe to consider for your next adventure.
Get to know northeast Europe with a summer trip to Estonia’s cozy capital city of Tallinn. Located along the Baltic Sea, Tallinn is filled with cultural attractions, beautiful historic architecture (the oldest building in Tallinn dates back to 1246!) in the walkable, picturesque Old Town. Tourists can see it all with the Tallinn Card pass, giving users access to over 40 attractions throughout this underrated European city for 24, 48, or 72 hours.
Visiting Estonia in the summer months will also allow you to experience the unforgettable “White Nights“, which are the longest days of the calendar year around the Summer Solstice.
The sun barely sets during these days, and there’s plenty of nightlong activities from sunrise hikes to early morning brunches to make the most of this spectacular time of year in the Nordic region.
The Tatras, Slovakia
With a cultural capital city filled with lots of things to do (and some amazing river views to boot), not to mention historical towns, friendly locals, and amazing food, there are so many reasons to love Slovakia. Because Slovakia borders popular tourist destinations in Central Europe like Czechia and Poland it’s often overlooked, but visitors here are pleasantly surprised once they immerse themselves in this unique destination.
A major highlight of Slovakia is all of the breathtaking hiking opportunities in the Tatra Mountains. Many travelers hike some of this mountain range in neighboring Poland, but the best parts of the High Tatras can be found in Slovakia. And while the winter months offer some great views and challenges for hikers, the summer months are truly the perfect time to explore here.
Trails here can vary from easy to expert, so you can choose an adventure that works for you. Start your trip in the town of Zdiar (just a short drive from the Polish border) where you can rest and rejuvenate in one of the cozy chalets or hostels in town and plan your route. Lots of trails offer rest stops along the way where hikers can refuel with a pint of fresh pilsner, a plate of steaming hot dumplings or Slovakia’s famous garlic soup (česnečka).
České Budějovice, Czechia
České Budějovice is known as the capital of “South Bohemia”, and it’s the perfect place for a quick summer getaway when visiting Prague or Vienna. Nearby Cesky Krumlov is notoriously filled to the brim with tourists during the summer months, so opt for České Budějovice and you’ll be welcomed with fewer crowds and hidden gems to explore.
Start your day here in the town square, which is actually one of the largest town squares in all of Europe. Wander the historic streets, explore centuries-old sights like the Samson Fountain and the Iron Maiden Tower, and get to know the history of the region at the museum of South Bohemia. End your day by seeing a performance at the Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra or the South Bohemia Theatre.
The town is an easy train ride from Prague or cities in neighboring Austria on Europe’s Interrail system, making it an easily accessible city to visit in Europe.
Dordogne Valley, France
This charming region in the south of France was named by Lonely Planet as one of the most underrated destinations in Europe a few years back, and there’s no better time than summer 2022 to explore Dordogne and find out why.
Things slow down here in the Dordogne Valley compared to Paris, so get ready for a relaxing European getaway where you can take a step back and enjoy local culture (and lots of amazing food).
While summer is technically the busy season for Dordogne, you won’t encounter the same level of tourist numbers here than you would in nearby Nice or Marseille. Summer also means that the town will be alive with festivals and things to do that you’ll be making this getaway an annual thing.
Slovenia’s capital city of Ljubljana made our list of top cities to visit without travel restrictions earlier this year. So get ready for summer 2022, where this underrated travel destination is ready to welcome international visitors and show you why it’s worth a visit.
The summer months are the perfect time to explore Ljubljana as its an extremely walkable city, offering river views and outdoor cafes to relax in and take in the vibes for days. It’s also a great base for adventuring to some of Slovenia’s most impressive natural landscapes like Lake Bled, Lake Bohinj, and the Vintgar Gorge.
Fly into the capital city of Warsaw and hop on the train, journeying north to the stunning city of Gdansk. This underrated European destination by the Baltic Sea is seen as one of the most beautiful cities in Poland, and visitors here in the summer months will be blessed with things to do and see when the warmer weather makes for comfortable exploring throughout the day.
Among the best things to do in Gdansk you can visit the beach, wander the Long Market Square, explore the picturesque Royal Way that dates back to the 1400s, and even hop on a tall ship river cruise through the Motlawa River.
A week-long summer trip to Gdansk is a good amount of time to experience the city at a leisurely pace so you can enjoy that much-needed getaway you’ve been waiting to take for over two years.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com