Spring in Europe: 30 destinations to escape the crowds

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Spring, especially April, May and early June, is our favourite time to explore Europe. It’s finally warm enough to not shiver while travelling around Northern Europe. And it’s still not too hot to go hiking in Southern Europe. However, with several major public holidays in Europe such as Easter Monday, Labour Day on May 1st, Ascension Thursday, and Pentecost Monday, as well as Victory Day or Europe Day observed in many countries, Europe can get quite crowded in late spring.

 

Since we love slow travel, and want to avoid mass tourism whenever possible, we always prefer to explore lesser-known towns in Europe. This year, we’ve decided to ask our fellow travel bloggers to share their favourite destinations in Europe where we can escape the crowds during late spring. To be honest, we were surprised to receive such a huge amount of suggestions within a few hours after our callout!

 

Many European capitals are crowded during April, May and early June, but the following 30 European destinations are still hidden gems!

1. PIENINY NATIONAL PARK, POLAND

From Joanna from Overhere

 

 

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Pieniny National Park is a picturesque mountain range located in southern Poland, close to Krakow and the Tatra mountains. Many people consider Pieniny as the second most beautiful mountains in Poland (number one are the Tatra mountains). But Pieniny is definitely worth a visit if you are looking for a picturesque getaway, amazing nature and easy hiking trails.

 

The highest mountain in Pieniny is Trzy Korony peak. It reaches 982 metres. The trail leading to Trzy Korony is nice and easy, perfect also for families with children. On the peak there is a viewing platform from which we get to admire spectacular panoramas of Pieniny mountains and the Dunajec river. It is an ideal place to take memorable photos, so all Instagram influencers might want to hike to Trzy Korony. When the weather is favorable, you can enjoy a view of the Tatra mountains as well. And if the weather is not very good, you can see other attractions in the area, such as the medieval Czorsztyn castle, located near the water dam.

 

Pieniny mountains are a great place for nature lovers and people in need of peace and quiet. In 2017 together with my husband we went to Pieniny to celebrate Easter. We wanted to get away from overeating and chatting about unimportant things and we could not choose better. There were hardly any tourists on the trails. We stayed there for four days, but it was not enough to hike all the trails and see all the attractions in the area. One week is the minimum to get to know Pieniny mountains well.

 

2. LLANES, SPAIN

By Talek from Travels with Talek

 

 

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Llanes is a small town of about 13,000 people in the northern Spanish province of Asturias. It sits on the Spanish coast surrounded by expansive beaches, history and a lively culture of feasts, traditions and local festivals. The town is partially surrounded by the original walls dating back to 1206. The city’s central historic district boasts the Basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and many buildings some of which date to the Middle Ages.

 

Llanes is a fishing town with a lively port bustling with ships leaving to fish or returning with the days’ catch to offer fresh seafood to the local restaurants. It is a pleasant sigh to just sit and watch. The local economy is helped with the advent of tourist all year round, but especially in the summer. Some stay in local hotels but there is also a culture of renting catered apartments to stay a week or two. There is certainly enough to do with the beaches and local attractions like the surrounding network of caves.

 

Nightlife in Llanes is especially lively. The Zona de Copas or “Drinking Zone” is a fun spot to club hop and try the local tapas and wine in an environment that has probably not changed since the 13th century.

If you love medieval towns, why not visit Rodemack, a hidden gem in northeastern France?

3. ZELL AM SEE, AUSTRIA

By Helene from Masala Herb

 

 

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Zell am See is a lake town in the region of Salzburg, Austria. It is situated about 1,5 hours from Salzburg city and is close to Kaprun, a popular winter holiday spot in the region. Zell am See is very quaint and rather relaxing. You almost have the place for yourself in Spring. The town makes a perfect base for travelers because of where it is situated.

 

I suggest you stay in Zell am See for about a week. During that time you can explore the town and relax at the lake with the view of the mountains. On other days you can plan a hike or take a trip to the high altitude reserve in Kaprun. I absolutely recommend that you take a road trip to the nearby Hohetauern nature reserve. The toll road will bring you closer to the mountains and nature, which ultimately leads to the highest mountain in Austria. The Krimmler waterfalls, Austria’s highest waterfalls, are a 30 minutes drive from Zell am See.

 

You can also drive to St.Johann in Tirol, Going am Wilden Kaiser and Kitzbühel to visit these world known villages as well as. The drive takes about 45 minutes. I also think that Zell am See makes a great alternative and base if you want to visit Salzburg city without having to stay in the city.

 

4. BUCHAREST, ROMANIA

By Chris from Worthy Go

 

 

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While Bucharest is an interesting town year-round, March is right around the time locals begin to peek their heads out and bundle up a bit less. The high season runs from June to August, and even the ‘shoulder’ season doesn’t really pick up until late April.

 

I’d encourage you to budget at least 3 days in Bucharest to see the best of what’s available: a Kitschy museum, the Spring Palace, and the Dimitrie Leonida Technical Museum, among many other offerings. If you’re interested, be on the lookout for the Tour of Communism, a three-hour tour that takes you through the history of Romania’s Communism through the city’s buildings and other public structures.

 

At night, what Bucharest calls the ‘Old Town’ is a recently created, rapidly changing area. Today, it’s a tourist-friendly zone of hostels, bars, and restaurants, and a decade or two ago it was considered unsafe. As you’ll discover elsewhere in the city, there’s much more going on than you might expect when looking at the surface.

 

5. LYON, FRANCE

By Stefan and Sebastien from Nomadic Boys

 

 

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One of our favourite places to visit in Europe to escape the crowds in late Spring is Lyon – France’s 3rd city (after Paris and Marseille).The main reason is because at this time of year, most tourists visiting France flock to Paris and often overlook gems like Lyon. In addition, in Late Spring, Lyon is not too hot (compared to July/August), nor too cold (compared to December/January)

 

We especially love Lyon because it is famous for being the gourmet capital of France, with some of the best restaurants in the country (called bouchonsin Lyon). It also has some of the best meats, wines and cheeses we’ve ever tried. In the Old Town, look out for food stalls selling freshly made crêpes – always delicious!

 

The Old Town (called Vieux Lyon) is also full of really cute narrow cobblestone streets and lots of bouchons. The Presqu’île neighbourhood of Lyon is always alive and has many cafes, bars and restaurants due to the large student population,.

 

There are also many non-touristy places to visit in Lyon. For foodies, check out Les Halle, which is a shopping district with chain stores along the Rue de Rivoli. For the best views minus the crowds, check out the rooftop gardens at Perrache Station. It’s beautifully maintained by volunteer residents of Lyon, and also offers some pretty impressive views across the city. Cinema geeks will want to head to the Musée Lumière, which is the former home turned museum of the Lumiere brothers who invented the modern day cinema. For visitors to Lyon, we recommend spending at least 3 full days to get the most out of this terrific city.

If you plan to road trip through the Burgundy region after visiting Lyon, make sure to explore the medieval town of Vézelay!

6. NORTHERN LANZAROTE

By Jenn from Travelynnfamily

 

 

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As an adventurous family who prefer an intrepid style of travel, a family holiday in Lanzarote had always been off our radar. I had wrongly assumed it was all package holiday resorts and British pubs, and offered little in the way of culture and natural landscapes. But to escape the British weather and lured by cheap airfares, I took a little holiday with my three year old son, determined to visit a different side of the island – a Lanzarote off the beaten track.

 

The main beach resorts in Lanzarote are Puerto del Carmen, Playa Blanca, and Costa Teguise, and they start to get particularly busy from late Spring. Therefore it makes sense to base yourself away from these areas. Should you wish to experience a more authentic side of Lanzarote then head to the North, which offers the most panoramic views and unspoilt towns on the island, as well as some beautiful secluded beaches.

 

I suggest basing yourself in either Arrieta or Orzola. Both are quaint fishing villages, with a few restaurants and tapas bars, and a beautiful beach (although I prefer the beach at Orzola). Public transport is limited, so I suggest hiring a car to get around the island and see the other sites. We stayed in a luxury yurt at Finca de Arrieta for two weeks. This was the perfect amount of time, although my rubber arm could have been twisted to stay longer.

Fuerteventura is another Canary island, perfect for adventurous travellers who love windsurfing or kiteboarding.

7. MECHELEN, BELGIUM

By Tea from The Culture Tourist

 

 

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Located right between Brussels and Antwerp, the city of Mechelen is one of those hidden Belgian gems. Being as beautiful as its more popular neighbouring cities, it’s however not as crowded with tourists. That’s why it’s a perfect place for a lovely quiet weekend filled with art and culture.

 

Mechelen was the capital of the Low Countries (roughly today’s Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg) during the 16th Century. That’s why it’s packed with history. There are many nice museums you can visit during your weekend in Mechelen, but Hof van Busleyden Museum, located in a beautiful Renaissance palace, should definitely be on your list.

 

Mechelen is also home to some beautiful Flemish architecture. There are many of those colourful historic buildings on its main square – Grote Markt. I especially liked images of different animals in their gables. Most of the city centre is a pedestrian zone, so you can easily walk around the city. The area of the Large Beguinage, with its cobbled streets and buildings under the UNESCO protection, is especially nice to stroll around.

 

Mechelen has an amazing food scene as well. I was surprised by a huge number of great restaurants there. Be sure to ask about local specialties when eating in some of them. Belgian chocolate is something you should definitely try when visiting Mechelen. A great place you should visit for chocolate is Vanderbeek Bakery. Beer is also big in this city, and Het Anker Brewery for Gouden Carolus beer is the place to go. There are so many great things to do in Mechelen, it should definitely be a place you should visit this Spring.

After visiting Belgium, you might want to explore the neighboring Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg, our home sweet home !

8. SIBIU, ROMANIA

By Stephen from A Backpackers Tale

 

 

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There’s something special about Sibiu. Maybe it is because it’s a safe haven from the massive tourist crowds that take over the rest of Western Europe. Or maybe it is because the city is one of the most well-preserved medieval towns on the entire continent? Whatever the reason I am completely in love with Sibiu. And I am not the only one as Sibiu was voted by Forbes as one of the most idyllic places to live in Europe.

 

The well-preserved old town is a huge part of what keeps drawing me back to Sibiu over and over again. It is an incredible maze of stony streets, and small city squares, with a couple towering gothic cathedrals thrown into the mix.

 

Do you ever question if you’re being lied to? Wonder no more because Sibiu has your answer. Just try and drag the accused across the bridge of lies. This bridge bars liers from crossing, or so legend says. Looking for adventure? Well, Sibiu offers that as well. And no adventure is greater than the nearby Transfagarasan Highway. This road is world-renowned for its sharp curves and scenic views. It is hailed as one of the best drives in the world. From the top, you get unparalleled views of the untouched Romanian landscape. Personally, it is my favorite day trip from Sibiu, and worth every penny of renting a car for a couple of days.

Sibiu is also great to be explored during wintertime. If you don’t mind the cold, check out what you can do in Sibiu in February.

9. SIGHNAGHI, GEORGIA

By Pashmina from The Gone Goat

 

 

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Wine, spriggy trees, the rural countryside, a stunning monastery and a view of the Caucasus mountains – these are just some of the highlights of visiting Georgia’s City of Love, Sighnaghi.

 

The City of Love, Sighnaghi in Georgia is often called the Tuscany or Florence of Europe. Couples are known to make their visit to the town to get married and say their final rites. Springtime is the best time to visit Signaghi as the colours of the flowers come alive, and the climate has a cool nip in the air just like the Mediterranean Italianate-like country.

 

There’s also a Bodbe Monastery run by nuns once you walk in the outskirts of the city. What makes the place, lawns and flowers so immaculate is because the place is a nunnery. The 10-15 nuns living here are largely self-sufficient, growing plants and raising animals, as well as selling knick-knacks and other jewellery items in a small shop. After a pleasant walk from the Bodbe monastery, head back to sample Georgian wine. Georgian wine seems to be under the shadow or completely off the radar when it comes to rounding off a meal. It is not a country you think off and definitely not one to be associated with wine.

 

10. DURMITOR, MONTENEGRO

By Ellis from Backpack Adventures

 

 

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One of my favourite places in Montenegro is Durmitor National Park that offers some of the best mountain sceneries in all of Montenegro. Montenegro can be translated as black mountain and in Durmitor it lives up to its name. It’s an area of beautiful nature with a variety of wildlife among its rugged mountain peaks.

 

Durmitor offers plenty of things to do. There are several well-developed hiking trails. Some paths are easy and you will wander past beautiful lakes and meadows. Other trails are more difficult and lead towards high altitude peaks with spectacular views. It’s easy to spend a couple of days in Durmitor doing different hikes every day.

 

Montenegro has become more popular in recent years. In summer it is now extremely crowded with tourists. Durmitor National Park has become a favourite destination for people wanting to escape the heat along the coast, because of its fresh mountain air. Therefore, late spring is the best time to visit Durmitor National Park. In May the snow will have melted, flowers start to bloom and you can enjoy Durmitor’s pristine nature when it is quiet. Travelling off-season means there are less people around, and things are cheaper. It might still be a bit cold in the mountains, but if you come prepared with warm clothes you will be rewarded with some of Europe’s wildest mountains at your doorstep.

 

11. ROTTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS

By Nat and Rob from Love and Road

 

 

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While thousands of tourist flock to Amsterdam during Spring, just a few travels to the edgy, modern and yet traditional Rotterdam. The second largest city in the Netherlands has one of the largest ports in the world, skyscrapers, daring architecture, canals, and Dutch windmills. On top of that, the streets are less crowded, the chance to connect with locals is higher and the prices are cheaper compared to the famous Dutch capital.

 

Spring is the perfect time to visit Rotterdam as the flowers are blooming, the temperatures are comfortable and you can spend long hours outside enjoying the river culture and activities. Four days are enough to cover all the top attractions and things to do in Rotterdam, but if you want to stay longer, do it.  Rotterdam has a lot to offer and it’s a great place to stay and go on day trips around the region. On our itinerary don’t forget to add a visit to the Markthal, the famous Cube Houses, the Erasmus bridge and a boat trip along the Mass River.

 

If you find yourself missing the old charm of the Dutch canals and boat houses, jump on a tram to Delfshaven and get lost at one of the oldest neighborhoods of the city that survived the WWII bombings. Architecture enthusiasts, history buffs and food lovers, Rotterdam has all you need for a great spring getaway.

 

12. COURMAYEUR, ITALY

By Gemma from A Girl and Her Dog on the Road

 

 

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Courmayeur, nestled in the Italian Alps, is a fantastic place to visit in any season.  During the summer, it is busy with seasoned hikers walking the mountain trails, as it is most well-known as a stop-off point on the Tour Du Mont Blanc Multi-Day Trek.  In the winter, it morphs into a popular and rather exclusive ski resort. My favourite seasons are the Autumn and Spring though.  There are very few tourists around at that time of the year, and the area becomes a sleepy, traditional, mountain community again.

 

If you plan to come off-season, the later you can arrive the better it is, as this means the hiking trails will be less snow-covered and more accessible and safe.  My favourite trail is through the beautiful Val Veny and up to Lago Miage, a small glacial Lake.  The mountain huts generally don’t open again until the end of June, so you will have to rely on one of the many hotels or self-catering apartments available in the town.

 

But it is not just the hiking and spectacular mountain views that make Courmayeur a place worth visiting.  You are spoilt for choice when it comes to bars and restaurants.  A favourite of mine is Ristorante Chalet Plan Goret where you can enjoy traditional mountain fare with a modern twist. However booking is advised.

 

And if you are not a hiker, why not take a trip up the Skyway Monte Bianco Cable Car, which is famous for its rotating ability, giving you 360-degree panoramic views. If you want to kick back and relax, enjoy the hot thermal spring waters in the QC Terme Spa in the nearby village Pre-Saint-Didier.  With over 40 stress-relieving activities for you to enjoy, it has a huge outdoor area and you can kick back in a jacuzzi whilst appreciating the surrounding dramatic mountain scenery.

If you travel to the other side of the Mont Blanc, make sure to explore Annecy, where you can find Europe’s cleanest lake.

13. BELGRADE, SERBIA

By Wendy from The Nomadic Vegan

 

 

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There aren’t many European capitals that aren’t completely overrun with tourists these days. But Belgrade, Serbia is the exception to the rule. Belgrade sits at a strategic crossroads between East and West, at the confluence of two major European rivers, the Sava and the Danube.

 

Its location has been both a blessing and a curse, as it has been fought over by many different powers throughout history, including the ancient Romans, the Kingdom of Hungary and the Ottoman Empire. While the city might not immediately strike you as beautiful, its battered walls have many stories to tell.

 

Don’t miss a visit to St. Sava Church, the largest Eastern Orthodox Church in the world. Other places worth checking out include the Belgrade Fortress, the Republic Square and the Bohemian quarter of Skardalija. Join a free (read: name-your-own-price) walking tour of the city to see these sights and more, and hear about the local history along the way.

 

Skardalija is full of bars and restaurants and is a popular nightlife spot. If you want to taste vegetarian and vegan versions of traditional Serbian dishes, time your visit to coincide with Orthodox Lent, when believers follow a mostly plant-based diet. A long weekend is probably long enough to get a good feel for the city.

 

While Belgrade never feels very crowded, if you really want to get away from it all I suggest basing yourself in Zemun, which was once a separate town but has now been incorporated into greater Belgrade. Built on three hills near the banks of the Danube, Zemun still retains its small-town atmosphere but is within easy reach of Belgrade’s attractions by bus or bicycle.

 

14. BOVEC, SLOVENIA

By Katie and Ben from Two Wandering Soles

 

 

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Unlike more popular tourist destinations in neighboring countries like Italy, Croatia, and Austria, Slovenia is a great option if you’re looking to avoid the crowds. Situated in the northeast region of the country, the small mountain town of Boveç is what dreams are made of. Even though this town is full of adventure, beauty and charm, it is still relatively unknown by foreign visitors, making it a perfect place to get away from the crowds of tourists elsewhere in Europe.

 

Surrounded by the towering peaks of the Julian Alps, pine tree forests and waterfalls, this underrated town is perfect for anyone who loves the outdoors. One of this area’s major draws is the shockingly turquoise Soča River. If you’re a daredevil, sign up for whitewater kayaking lessons for an adventure you won’t soon forget! Or set out on a multi-day trek in nearby Triglav National Park where you can spend the night in one of the 50+ mountain huts. Boveç is also a fantastic place to rent a mountain bike and go exploring for the day!

 

And if you aren’t in the mood to get your heart racing, taste the local cuisine in traditional restaurants around town. Admire the stunning architecture and pick out your dream home, or pack a picnic lunch to enjoy on a grassy patch. You could also spend the day relaxing with a good book at a charming guesthouse, or sample local wine.

 

Whatever type of getaway you’re looking for, Boveç is the perfect place to surround yourself with nature and find peace. If that sounds like a dreamy getaway, I’d recommend devoting at least a few days of your trip to Slovenia to explore Boveç and the surrounding area. You won’t regret it!

 

15. BRISTOL, UK

By Amber from With Husband in Tow

 

 

As an alternative to busy London, Bristol is the perfect springtime destination. Tucked away on the Southwest coast of England, across the River Severn from Wales, Bristol is the quintessential English city. Once the most important trading port in England, Bristol has reinvented itself from a port city to a vibrant, often highly independent, home for the arts, aerospace, and gastronomy. With around a half of million residents and connect with excellent walking and bike paths, Bristol is a manageable city to visit for a quick weekend trip or for a week long stay. With more bars and restaurants than one person could experience in a lifetime, you will not go hungry in Bristol.

 

In fact, Bristol is considered to be the home of both England’s food scene and especially Bristol craft beer. Or more accurately, “independent brewers.”  In addition to food and craft beer, Bristol is home to several gin distilleries who produce a wide range of gins, including Bristol’s own, Bristol style gin.

 

Beginning in the spring, Bristol comes alive with several art and food related festivals. Situated on the water, spring is the perfect time to visit Bristol. It allows visitors to wander along its famous harbour, past warehouses once used for commerce. The waterfront is now used for entertainment, with plenty of outdoor restaurants and bars in Cargo and the Waterfront. Also visit the SS Great Britain, once the largest passenger ship in the world. During the month of May, Bristol hosts Bristol Walk Fest, a way to encourage visitors and locals to explore the city on foot. During June, they used the Festival of Nature, celebrating the outdoors. Bristol does offer something for everyone and is a highly recommended alternative to London.

Oxford is another British destination that is best explored during late spring. Make sure to visit the Bodleian Library if you go to Oxford!

16. OSLO, NORWAY

By Chris from Chris Travel Blog

 

 

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In spring there are many long weekends in Europe and I always go to Scandinavia for a break. Oslo, the capital of Norway, is definitely my favorite. The weather is pleasant in spring. The days are getting longer (more daylight) and the flocks of tourists haven’t arrived yet.

 

If you just visit Oslo for a city break, then a long weekend will do. In case you’re looking to make it a week you can extend the trip with a few days in the beautiful nature of Norway. As Norway is expensive, I highly recommend checking Airbnb so that you can keep the costs of living low.

 

In Oslo, I recommend a day to visit the Viking Museum, the Maritime Museum, and the old fortifications. End the day in an ice-bar to have a drink from an ice glass. Do this the day when weather isn’t the best. Spend another day to explore downtown Oslo including the Oslo Opera House, museums as per your liking and end your day in the harbor for a delicious seafood dinner. The Vigelandpark is a must-visit on the last day. It has over 200 stone and bronze sculptures that represent the cycle of life. I’m sure that if you visit Oslo for a city break you agree that it’s a pleasant city in spring!

 

17. PROVENCE, FRANCE

By Nadine from Le Long Weekend

 

 

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There’s no mistaking that Provence is a popular destination in the summertime. But before the schools break up for their mid-year holidays, it’s business as usual in the South of France, making it the ideal time to visit.

 

In late spring you’ll get to experience the fields in full bloom – first with rapeseed and poppies, and in June with the first of the famous lavender fields to flower. The markets are brimming with incredibly fresh and delicious produce. The seaside isn’t crowded, despite the weather being beautifully balmy. And the towns and villages that are bursting in July & August are, instead, bustling but bearable.

 

I’d advise spending at least a week in Southern France getting acquainted with the way of life. Spend some time visiting the gorgeous hilltop villages of the Luberon, walking the calanques near Cassis, and exploring the ruined castles that adorn the landscape.

 

Don’t neglect to visit the larger towns either. Both Aix and Avignon have a lot to offer, particularly for arts, food and culture lovers! If wine is more your thing, tour the region’s vineyards to sample some of the best rosé wines in the world and witness next year’s harvest growing on the vines…

After exploring Southern France, why not have a road trip through the region of Burgundy?

18. LEIDEN, THE NETHERLANDS

By Manouk from Groetjes uit Verweggistan (With Love from Far Away)

 

 

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Do you want to escape the crowds in the Netherlands? Skip Amsterdam and visit the lovely little city of Leiden. It has the same charm as Amsterdam with the famous canals, but it is a small university town with few tourists.

 

Have a stroll along the canals with the students, enjoy the sun on one of the terrace boats or learn some history by doing a walking tour. In a weekend you can see most of the highlights, like the St. Peter’s Church, the views of the castle on the hill and the oldest university of the Netherlands. When it is sunny the city is wonderful. Next to the St. Peter’s Church there are some trees in which you might be able to spot cherry blossoms in spring.

 

A bit more cultural activities include visiting one of the many museums. Leiden is home to the famous National Museum of Antiquities, which has a wonderful collection. In the hall you can visit a free temple. Or you can take a journey through the human body in CORPUS. But Leiden has many more museums to choose from.

 

Leiden is only 30 minutes away from Amsterdam by train, which makes it easy to combine. You could also easily visit other cities in the Netherlands from Leiden, like The Hague, Rotterdam or Utrecht. It makes it a perfect place to escape the crowds and be one of the locals. The inhabitants and students of Leiden love some sunshine and use these days to sit outside with a drink or visit the historic botanical gardens.

If you return to Amsterdam after visiting Leiden, make sure to do some cheese tasting in the Dutch capital !

19. TRAMUNTANA, MALLORCA

By Linn from Brainy Backpackers

 

 

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Tramuntana mountain range in Mallorca is a perfect destination for a spring break. First of all, there are less tourists at this time of the year. And second, it is not too hot. It is just the right time to go on a road trip in Mallorca and explore all the beautiful small villages with magnificent views. You could even go hiking if temperatures are not too high.

 

I love this area of Mallorca. It has so much spectacular nature from the mountains to the steep, breathtaking cliffsides and the numerous hidden beaches beneath the cliffs. Also, the island has some amazing sunrise and sunset spots. Small charming villages with narrow cobbled streets are spread across Tramuntana. Some of them are set on top of the mountain surrounded by lush green fields covered with colorful lemon trees and the deep blue sea at the far end. Others are set at the bottom of the mountain where cliffs meet the sea and make the perfect little beach town.

 

Each town has its own charm and it’s nice to just sit down at a café to look at the street life or views. You could explore most of the villages in Tramuntana area during a long weekend. However, if you like to spend some more time and really immerge yourself in the beauty of this part of the island, I would suggest a week or two. You would love to spend more time in Soller, Fornalutx and Valdemossa. Also, with more time you can go hiking. And the hikes in Tramuntana are well worth it.

While in Mallorca, make sure to visit the majestic architectural wonders in Palma de Mallorca.

20. DE HAAN, BELGIUM

By Sinjana from Backpack and Explore

 

 

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20 km away from the tourist crowd of Bruges lies a quaint little town called De Haan, a coastal paradise of Belgium. Whether you live in one of the tourist hotspots of Western Europe or you are on a well-planned Europe trip, you will enjoy a peaceful break in De Haan.

 

Interesting trivia – Albert Einstein lived in De Haan for a while before he moved to other parts of Europe and you can still see his house. It’s not meant to be a tourist spot as people live in that house, but it’s still a place of interest.

 

The first thing that will strike you in De Haan is the complete lack of tourists and the laid-back lifestyle. The second thing is of course it’s impeccable beauty, almost like someone has painted it. At De Haan you will find picture-perfect houses with incredible architecture nestled in the green pastures. You can see the North Sea in all its glory with cold waves splashing on the longest beach of Flanders. One the one side, the beach is bustling with usual beach activities like paragliding and partying, while the other side remains quiet. The dune woodland is a large natural park covering 152 hectares of coastal nature. De Haan is really a nature lover’s abode.

While you’re in Belgium, you might also want to explore the Remouchamps Caves for an underground boat tour!

21. MINSK, BELARUS

By Iris from Mind of a Hitchhiker

 

 

Even though it’s a European capital city, Minsk is never really crowded. Even from spring till mid-summer – when the weather is the nicest – you won’t be wasting time queueing or hearing people speak your native language. Only Russian and Belarusian!

 

What’s especially great is that the religious holidays in Belarus aren’t non-working days. This means public life continues as usual and you won’t be bothered by closed businesses or altered opening times.

 

Minsk has a lot of things to do for a very reasonable price. Eat out every day, enjoying the Belarusian cuisine such as machanka sauce with blini and a big glass of Lidskaye wheat beer. Stroll around, drink a kvass and enjoy the rides in Gorki Park. In the city center, practice your understanding of the Cyrillic alphabet by spotting the palace of the republic, the president’s residence, the state circus, the KGB building, and the national theatre. Watch the sunset over the city from the rooftop of the National Library. Visit the hip Kastryčnickaya street or the old town for evening drinks.

 

By metro or Yandex Taxi app (the local Uber) you can get anywhere in the city both quickly and cheaply. For most passport holders, flying in and out of Minsk will be visa-free for a maximum of 30 days. Therefore, the recommended option is to go by plane. With more time, you can venture further out the city to the beautiful Mir castle, or another city like Brest or Vitsyebsk combined with an overnight stay. After your trip, you’ll be left wondering why Belarus is so pleasant, yet so unpopular as a destination.

 

22. BAVARIA, GERMANY

By Alexander from Destinavo

 

 

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Bavaria is one of the most underrated destinations in Europe. This German region is home to some stunning scenery, beautiful lake areas and majestic castles. Spring in Bavaria is ideal since the temperature is rising and the weather is generally good. You might still get occasional rain or dull days, but there will also be sunshine. Thanks to the rain that has already fallen by that time, you will be greeted by landscapes full of spring flowers and greenery.

 

Bavaria is quite big and it is perhaps best known for being home to München and Oktoberfest. But visitors can also enjoy the Neuschwanstein Castle, Schönau Am Königssee, Berchtesgarden, Geroldsee, Eibsee, Zugspitze just to mention a few places that are insanely beautiful. During Easter, many popular cities and destinations will become crowded, but Bavaria will still be quite empty. Bavaria is my favorite place because of its scenic landscapes and charming small towns. It’s like time has stood still at some places, and you won’t have a hard time finding those local Bavarian meals that have been cooked by recipes handed down from generation to generation.

 

There are also many places that are known for its air quality, so while others flock to cities, you can escape the crowds and get a fresh breath of air in Bavaria.

If you like Neuschwanstein Castle, you might also want to visit the lesser-known Lichtenstein Castle in Baden-Württemberg.

23. CENTRAL BULGARIA

By Stephanie from Sofia Adventures

 

 

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Central Bulgaria is a fabulous place to escape the spring crowds. Start by flying into Sofia and renting a car. Spend a few days in the vibrant capital, where there will be tourists but not too many. Then pick up a rental car and enjoy the open road.

 

During a 7-10 road trip you can explore the best of Central Bulgaria. Highlights include hiking the Seven Rila Lakes, visiting Rila Monastery, spending a few days in Plovdiv which was named the 2019 European Capital of Culture, and then visiting Buzludzha, Bulgaria’s Communist UFO.

 

If you’re visiting during June, stop in Kazanlak to see the annual Rose Festival. You’ll also want to set aside an hour or two to see the UNESCO World Heritage Site here, the Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak. Here you can choose either to make your way to the Monastery of Troyan and explore more of the Central Balkan National Park, or keep heading toward the coast and see the Lake Atanasovsko, Bulgaria’s pink salt lake next to the Black Sea.

 

Make your way back to Sofia, or drop your car off in Burgas. Either way, I can’t think of a more fabulous (and more peaceful) way to spend a week and a half or two weeks. You’ll see mountains, lakes, two or three UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Sofia, Plovdiv, and miles and miles of peaceful, open road. Bonus points if you see sunflower or lavender fields in bloom.

 

24. ROUEN, FRANCE

By Cazzy and Bradley from Dream Big, Travel Far

 

 

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Late spring time is always a popular time to travel and if you don’t like crowds, then you’re often limited on where you can go. However, one place that’s perfect to escape the crowds is the capital of the Normandy region in France: Rouen. Rouen is only a couple of hours from Paris, which means it’s close enough for a day trip via train if you wish. But Rouen has lots of sights that need to be discovered.

 

The architecture is stunning with its beautiful gothic churches and there are a variety of botanical gardens dotted throughout with stunning spring flowers providing the perfect backdrop for a picnic.

 

Walk along the cobbled streets and discover the Joan of Arc museum, or dine in one of the many French restaurants on offer (for half the price of Paris!). There is so much to discover and the people are super friendly and welcoming. Spring brings with it pleasant temperatures to explore. Rouen isn’t overcrowded and you won’t wait in long queues or battle with people to see sights, you’ll have the beauty of the town to yourself. And you’ll get to experience a more authentic side to France.

Metz in Northeastern France is another lesser-known city you might want to explore. Click here to find out more!

25. FREIBURG, GERMANY

By Cate from International Desserts Blog

 

 

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One of my favorite places in Europe in the late spring is Freiburg, Germany. Located in the Black Forest, just an hour from France and Switzerland, Freiburg is a beautiful medieval university town with lots to do and see on a laid-back long weekend trip.

 

Not only is Freiburg one of the sunniest and warmest cities in Germany, it’s also a “green” city with lots of cyclers, footpaths, and public transportation. During your visit, check out the daily farmer’s market, climb the Münster cathedral tower, enjoy a coffee or la ocal beer at an outdoor café, take a stroll along the Dreisam river (and if it’s a hot day you can even wade into the shallow river) or hike the trail up the Schlossberg for a gorgeous view of the city.

 

Freiburg also has many cobblestone streets to explore but be careful not to fall into one of the city’s Bächle —the old water filled gutter system that runs through the streets! If you do, according to local legend, you’ll marry a Freiburger! If you visit Freiburg, be sure to plan a day or two for day trips. Basel, Switzerland and Colmar, France are only about an hour away. If you prefer something closer, I recommend hiking to the top of Schauinsland (which you can reach by tram from downtown Freiburg) or taking the train to the Titisee Lake area for a hike and a slice of Black Forest Cake, one of Germany’s best desserts!

 

26. HELSINKI, FINLAND

By Jacky and Mihir from Nomad Epicureans

 

 

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Capital cities can be dangerous if you are looking to escape the crowds in Europe. One of the exceptions, however, is Helsinki. While its Scandinavian neighbors are overrun with tourists during spring and summer, Finland retains what it is best known for: peace and quiet. Helsinki is perhaps one of the most relaxed capital cities in Europe and the perfect place to escape the crowds. It’s the ideal destination if you’re looking for a weekend break, but it also makes a wonderful base for a week-long nature retreat.

 

Although Helsinki can seem a little rough around the edges, it has much more to offer than one would think. One of the best things to do in Helsinki is to marvel at the several contrasting styles of architecture, whether it be neoclassical, art nouveau, or brutalist. In fact, Helsinki has more than 600 art nouveau buildings for you to appreciate. Alternatively, go shopping for some classic Finnish souvenirs in the Design District. Or, if you’d rather take it easy, participate in the traditional Finnish ritual of sauna before skinny dipping in the sea.

 

Once you’ve had your fill of city life, head out to the historic fortress of Suomenlinna, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Not only is it popular with tourists for its historic importance, but it’s also a favorite of locals looking for the perfect picnic or sunbathing spot. Then, take a hike at Nuuksio National Park to really get in touch with the pure Finnish nature, only 35 km outside of Helsinki.

If you don’t mind the cold, Helsinki is also an awesome destination in January! Click here to find out what to do in Helsinki during wintertime.

27. BEGUR, SPAIN

By Sudeepta from Moonlite Kingdom

 

 

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A couple of hours drive from Barcelona will bring you to the Costa Brava coastline. Beautiful beaches of sand and pebbles will greet you and the drive will lead you to Girona too. Much before that, perched on top of a hill, lies this gem of a town called Begur.

 

The imposing Begur castle looms over the town protectively and the views from atop will be well worth the short hike up. The Mediterranean never disappoints and to watch a sunset from the castle will surely be a highlight of your stay. The town makes for a great slow travel destination with pedestrian-only streets dotted with tapas bars and nautical souvenir shops. Fairy lit squares will greet you in the evenings with local musicians who mostly put up impromptu gigs. Good food, celebratory evenings, a dramatic coastline and remnants of Spanish and Moorish architecture around the town makes this town pack quite a punch.

 

Your home over the weekend can be family-run boutique homestays, which you will find in plenty in the old town. For those who want to do a little bit more, the beaches in the neighbourhood can make for a great beach day: Sa Tuna, Aiguablava, Platja del Raco, Sa Riera. Girona is not too far with its dose of history and its colourful houses and if you are looking for an adrenalin rush, head to Empuriabrava which is a hub for skydiving. It is located 55km from Begur.

If you like Moorish architecture, we recommend you to visit Toledo as well, starting with the wonderful Toledo train station, where time stood still.

28. FAROE ISLANDS

By Megan Starr

 

 

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One of the absolute best places to visit in late spring is the Faroe Islands.  I have been in the summer and during spring and there was definitely a notable difference traveling during shoulder season as opposed to the Faroes high season.

 

There are far fewer tourists on the islands in spring, making everything slightly more affordable and the Faroe Islands hotels are certainly less packed with tourists during that time of year.  One thing that was really obvious about traveling there during spring as opposed to summer was that the roads were less crowded. This may not seem like a huge deal to most, but if you have been to the Faroe Islands and seen how narrow the roads are and how sheep can take them over at any time, it is a very exciting thing when you have the roads to yourself!

 

However, there are some disadvantages of traveling during the shoulder season- such as the weather’s unpredictability and some of the tours and ferries are unavailable. But most do start operating at the beginning of April in the Faroes, so you may be able to just make them and be able to include them in the itinerary.

 

During this time of year in the Faroe Islands, the food is at its best, in my opinion. Not much grows on the islands and what does is often root vegetables that pair well with some of the meats that make up the local cuisine (notably- lamb).  This is a great time of the year to try the local foods and fare and enjoy them as the seasons change.  The daylight hours are long enough that you will be able to road trip without much of an issue, but short enough that you won’t struggle being able to sleep.  The Faroe Islands are the perfect place to visit in late spring and you will be very thankful that you did!

 

29. RAGUSA, SICILY

By Laudy and Jerome from Travel Boldly

 

 

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Ragusa, Sicily is in fact two towns: Ragusa Ibla and Ragusa Superiore. Before 1693 there was only one Ragusa. It was built on the steep slopes of the ravines that gash through the Mont Iblei. The earthquake of 1693 destroyed many of the cities of Southeastern Sicily and Ragusa was no exception.

 

The powers decided that Ragusa should be reconstructed on a level higher upon the plateau, but they neglected to get the consensus of the town’s people who preferred to rebuild among the ruins. The “new” portion of the city or upper city creeps up the hillside and sprawls across the plateau. This 17th-century divide has left the old town or Ibla relatively unscathed from the blight of modern urban sprawl as the new construction is on the plateau behind Ragusa Superiore.

 

Ragusa, Superiore (the upper town) is certainly worth a visit, especially the hillside portion that is adjacent to Ragusa Ibla. There you will find most of the city’s hotels and everyday shops and restaurants.  The archaeological museum is there and the rail station too. But it is the old town of Ragusa that stole my heart, specifically the piazza near Duomo di San Giorgio. The piazza slopes upwards toward the Duomo and the church makes the perfect backdrop for the piazza. There are a cafe and outdoor tables about halfway up the piazza perfect for an espresso or lunch. I recommend staying at the historic B&B located at the bottom of the piazza and requesting the room with a balcony that looks over the piazza and straight towards San Giorgio.

 

Ragusa has become much more accessible in recent years with the expansion of a general aviation airport in Comiso to commercial aircraft, but it remains largely off the main tourist track of Sicily. It is especially lovely in Spring when it is less crowded.

If you like Ragusa, you might also want to explore Bergamo, another lesser-known “two towns” in Northern Italy.

30. PERTHSHIRE, SCOTLAND

By Nicola from FunkyEllas Travel

 

 

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Perthshire in Scotland is the perfect place to have a relaxing trip. While the tourists flock to the more well-known areas of Scotland, like Edinburgh and the Isle of Skye, Perthshire remains relatively quiet so it’s ideal if you want to escape the crowds. Many tourists land in Edinburgh or Glasgow and immediately head to the Highlands but Perthshire, tucked just underneath the Highlands is equally gorgeous.

 

With miles and lines of walks, through pine-scented woodland forests, along tumbling rivers, up mountains with outstanding views and through charming colourful little villages this region of Scotland has it all. There are Whisky distilleries offering tours and tastings, cute cafes, grand cathedrals and first class restaurants.

 

Castles such as the magnificent white-washed Blair Castle have amazing grounds to explore and you can learn some fascinating Scottish history by taking a tour of the castle itself. It’s a region that never gets too busy, even in the height of summer but in spring, when the historic attractions are opening their doors, the wild garlic and daffodils are blooming in the field and the air is fresh, Perthshire is at its absolute best.

 

Which of these 30 European destinations would you like to explore this spring?
If you need more inspirations, check out the best European places to visit in March, or these world destinations to go in May.
Pin this for later

30 European Destinations to escape the crowds in late spring © Travelwithmk.com

 

Spring in Europe: where to go to escape the crowds © Travelwithmk.com

 

Where to go in Spring: 30 Hidden Gems in Europe © Travelwithmk.com

 

Follow Mei and Kerstin:

Travelers - Storytellers

Travelers at heart, Mei and Kerstin have been roaming the world together since 2002. Expats for over a decade, they used to live in Bordeaux, Paris, Athens, and San Francisco. They recently returned to their motherland to get married, and decided to stay to re-explore Luxembourg in depth. While they both have a full time job, they continue to feed their wanderlust by traveling the world whenever they can.

42 Responses

  1. Fantastic list! We always aim to go to places out of season so that we don’t have to battle crowds and you get the bonus of grabbing cheap flights. Will pin this for future reference for when we’re picking our winter/spring getaways! 🙂

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Thank you, and yes you’re right: you get lots advantages when traveling during the off-season. 😉

  2. Emily
    | Reply

    Some fab destinations to choose from here! I’d love to get to loads of these as spring is my favourite time of year. I think I’d start with Provence…

  3. Alison
    | Reply

    Wow – what a fabulous collaboration post! There are just so many destinations here to get me dreaming! The Faroe Islands in the spring tops the list along with Llanes, as I have always wanted to go to the Asturias. I am going to Provence in June so was happy to read it is bustling but not too crazy!

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Thanks, Alison. Lucky you to go to Provence! It’s among our top bucket list destinations in Europe for now! Let us know how you’ll like it there.:)

  4. Sandy N Vyjay
    | Reply

    Europe is always a pleasure to head to and has so many places known and unknown which enthrall you. Loved this collab because the places here are all off-beat and relatively lesser known gems. Each one of them seems like a perfect getaway, but my attention was especially riveted by Begur, Spain and Bovec, Slovenia. They seem pristine gems for that perfect getaway.

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Yes, Sandy: when we read about Begur and Bovec, we both wondered why we’ve never been there yet! There are so many awesome places in Europe, and just last weekend we’ve discovered a few more lesser-known gems. 🙂

  5. cynthiagraner
    | Reply

    Oh my goodness, I realize there is so much of Europe I have yet to explore, but I’m surprised of all the cities on this list I’ve only been to Bristol! After reading through all of these amazing descriptions I want to just print this off and let this be my itinerary for a 3 month trek! (If only!!) I do love Belgium and France, so would be very interested to visit Provence, Rouen, and Mechelen but that ‘amour’ statue in De Haan looks stunning and I would love to see that in person!

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Hehe… yes, a 3 months trek through Europe would be awesome! You should definitely consider this idea!! Last weekend we’ve found a few more hidden gems in Belgium and France, so we’ll tell you more about these spots soon! 🙂

  6. Michael Hodgson
    | Reply

    WOW what an exhaustive list … and exhausting to read all the way through as I had to keep stopping and making notes 😉 So many we have been to, so many we have not, but that is the beauty of travel … so many places yet to visit. I would add the Harz Mountains and Quedlinburg in Germany to this list … pure magic and fairytales.

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      We’ve just googled Harz Mountains, what a wonderful landscape! We’ve added it to our bucket list now! Actually, we could have added so many more destinations to this list, but it would be way too long! haha…

  7. Nina
    | Reply

    I would love to visit Rotterdam, The Netherlands! Looks so pretty and I have a friend who lives there. Spring is so beautiful when all the flowers are in full bloom!

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Hopefully you’ll get to visit Rotterdam soon, Nina. It’s always best when you know someone local who can show you around. 😉

  8. pinkcaddytraveloguegmailcom
    | Reply

    What an awesome list!! Some of these were on my radar but I didn’t know they were ever not crowded – Like Lyon and Lanzarote. But lots of other places I’ve never heard of and are now on my list!! I too like to avoid the touristy places so it’s great to know these options exist! I’m headed to Scotland in August so I may add Perthshire to the itinerary!

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Thank you! Let us know about Perthshire during summertime! It will probably be a little more crowded, but we’re sure it’s still awesome. And yes, Lyon is certainly well-known, but it’s not always as crowded as one imagines, especially when compared to Paris.

  9. I love posts which tell me more than what wikipedia can… Most of the places in the world are so touristy that the joy of traveling is sometimes lost in the crowd.

    It was interesting to read about Mechelen in Belgium. Brugges is such a picture perfect place. I guess if I had read about Mechelen before perhaps I would have planned a visit.

    Just like you guys, we as a family prefer to go to offbeat destinations to avoid crowd. In India it is rather difficult given the Indian Population and the love of Indians for travel 🙂

    Last year we visited such a Hidden Gem in India. There is this village in the Meghalaya state of North East India where people have no names. They have only tunes to address each other. This village was so pristine and offbeat – it still is one of my most favorite destinations.

    Lovely Post!

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Thanks Richa. We haven’t been to India yet, but from your description we’d definitely love to visit Meghalaya state someday.

  10. What an amazing round up of destinations! So many that now have to go on my bucket list! ~ especially Bodbe Monastery in Sighnaghi, Georgia! Wow!

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Thank you! It seems like Georgia is the next best destination in Europe! So many people want to go there, so it’d be best to visit soon before it becomes too touristy.

  11. Ara Patria
    | Reply

    I want to visit GEORGIA VERY SOON!!! But this article makes me want to visit all these destinations.

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Haha, well one place at a time! And someday you’ll get to visit all these fantastic places, starting with Georgia then! 😉

  12. bye:myself
    | Reply

    What an inspiring list! I’ve been to some of these places, but there is still a couple where I thought, yes, that would be a good place to explore. By the way, we are going to Riga and Tallin for Easter – but I’m afraid these will be two of those places that might get really crowded. If not, I add them to your next year’s list ;-I

  13. Nitin Singhal
    | Reply

    You have listed so many cities. And you have given a detailed description for each one of them. I am really spoilt of choices for my Europe trip. I really liked the picture of Bucharest and Bavaria. I think I would definitely visit them.

  14. Janine Thomas
    | Reply

    What a detailed post with such an interesting list of destinations. I’ve been to a couple of them, but there are a whole lot more that I would like to explore further.

  15. diapersinparadise
    | Reply

    I haven’t been to a single place on this list! Great compilation – some of them are definitely going on the bucket list. Loved seeing all the fabulous Insta posts, too!

  16. ansh997x
    | Reply

    Wow, this is the most detailed and lengthy blog post I have ever read about Europe. Kudos to your hard work and listing down everything important. Singhachi and Bovec are two places surely worth visiting.

    • Su Bha Sun
      | Reply

      I loved this list as I always looking for places less crowded with tourists. Scotland always fascinated me. I like the places mentioned from Italy and Belgium. Apart from that Oslo is must wanna be place. And definitely, it would be amazing to visit Faroe Islands.

  17. Rayner En Route
    | Reply

    What a great comprehensive post! Sibiu looks amazing and Georgia has been on my list for a while now. I also deffo recommend Belgrade as a city! I stayed with a friend there and he showed me around the city and the history is very interesting!

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Thank you, Rebecca! Belgrade is on our list, hopefully we’ll get to visit it soon.

  18. Eunice Tan
    | Reply

    Awesome list of destinations in Europe. I’ve never visited the continent but I can definitely see myself visiting all the places featured in the future!

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Thanks Eunice. Hopefully you’ll get to explore Europe soon then! And let us know if you need any tips!

  19. Jayne
    | Reply

    I would love to go to Minsk and there are some great destinations here! All good to pick from

  20. Danik
    | Reply

    Fantastic range of places here and went through all the instagram accounts, so now following them all. For me in the spring, anywhere in southern europe. Great time to explore in the sunshine and it isn’t too hot 🙂

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Yes we also prefer southern Europe to enjoy the great Spring weather! 🙂

  21. This is a really great places that seem awesome to visit! Belgrade was amazing in late spring last year so I’m very glad it’s on your list

  22. ania
    | Reply

    Pieniny in Poland would be my choice, Its beautiful in there

  23. There are so many wonderful spots around Europe to explore to get away from the crowds. This is a fantastic list, we’ve been to a few, but would love to explore more! We would love to go to Georgia, and Sighnaghi looks lovely. We really enjoyed Heidelberg, Germany!

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Yes! Georgia is also high on our bucket list! Did you see the fireworks at the Heidelberg Castle?

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