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Are you crossing the pond this summer? We know many of you won’t give up that Italy food tour or your long-awaited Greek island, but take a moment and consider these underrated destinations for a summer vacation in Europe this year.
From charming baroque towns in southern Bohemia to epic hikes for days (followed by a dinner of garlic soup and dumplings), here are six lesser-known destinations in Europe to consider for your next adventure.
Discover northeastern Europe on a summer trip to Estonia’s cozy capital, Tallinn. Located along the Baltic Sea, Tallinn is full of cultural attractions, beautiful historical architecture (the oldest building in Tallinn dates from 1246!) in the picturesque and walkable Old Town. Tourists can see it all with the Tallinn Card pass, giving users access to over 40 attractions in this underrated European city for 24, 48 or 72 hours.
Visiting Estonia during 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 on these days, and there are plenty of nighttime 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 filled with things to do (and great river views), not to mention historic towns, friendly locals, and delicious food, there are so many reasons to love Slovakia. Because Slovakia borders popular Central European tourist destinations like Czechia and Poland, it is often overlooked, but visitors here are pleasantly surprised once they immerse themselves in this unique destination.
One of the highlights of Slovakia is all the breathtaking hiking opportunities in the Tatra Mountains. Many travelers hike part of this mountain range in neighboring Poland, but the best parts of the High Tatras are found in Slovakia. And while the winter months offer great views and challenges for hikers, the summer months really are the perfect time to explore here.
The trails here can range from easy to expert, so you can choose an adventure that suits you. Start your journey in the town of Zdiar (a short drive from the Polish border) where you can rest and rejuvenate in one of the town’s cozy chalets or hostels and plan your itinerary. Many trails offer rest stops along the way where hikers can refuel with a cold pint of pilsner, a plate of steaming hot dumplings or Slovakia’s famous garlic soup (cesnečka).
České Budějovice, Czechia
České Budějovice is known as the capital of “South Bohemia”, and it is the perfect place for a short summer getaway when visiting Prague or Vienna. The nearby town of Cesky Krumlov is notoriously packed to the brim with tourists during the summer months, so opt for České Budějovice and you’ll be greeted with fewer crowds and hidden gems to explore.
Start your day here in the town square, which is actually one of the largest squares in all of Europe. Stroll historic streets, explore centuries-old sites like the Samson Fountain and the Iron Maiden Tower, and learn about the region’s history at the South Bohemian Museum. End your day with a performance at the Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra or the South Bohemia Theatre.
The city is easily accessible by train from Prague or cities in neighboring Austria on the European 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 Europe’s most underrated destinations a few years ago, and there’s no better time than the summer of 2022 to explore the 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 kick back and enjoy the local culture (and lots of amazing food).
While summer is technically the busiest season for the Dordogne, you won’t encounter the same level of tourist traffic here as you would in Nice or Marseille. Summer also means the city will be alive with festivals and things to do so you’ll make this getaway an annual thing.
The Slovenian capital of Ljubljana made our list of the best cities to visit without travel restrictions earlier this year. So get ready for summer 2022, when this underrated travel destination is ready to welcome international visitors and show you why it’s worth the trip.
The summer months are the perfect time to explore Ljubljana as it’s extremely walkable, offering river views and outdoor cafes to relax and soak up the vibe for days. It is also an ideal base for exploring some of Slovenia’s most impressive natural landscapes, such as Lake Bled, Lake Bohinj and the Vintgar Gorge.
Fly to the capital Warsaw and hop on the train to head north to the beautiful city of Gdansk. This underrated European destination by the Baltic Sea is considered one of the most beautiful towns in Poland, and visitors here during the summer months will be lucky enough to have things to do and see when the warmer weather allows for comfortable exploration throughout the day.
Some of the best things to do in Gdansk include visiting the beach, strolling the long Market Square, exploring the scenic Royal Route that dates back to the 1400s, and even taking a tall ship cruise on the Motlawa River.
A week-long summer trip to Gdansk is a great time to explore the city at a leisurely pace so you can enjoy that much-needed getaway for over two years.
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Disclaimer: Applicable Travel Rules and Restrictions may change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm entry of your nationality and/or any changes to travel conditions before travelling. Travel Off Path does not approve travel against government advice