17:51 27 September 2016
With more than 608 million international tourist arrivals in 2015, Europe is one of the leading destinations in the world. The top countries that receive the most visitors include France (84 million), Spain (68.2 million) and Italy (50.7 million). This is not surprising, as these three countries have some of the most popular cities on the continent such as Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Rome and Athens that draw in droves thanks to their world-famous attractions.
However, you don’t have to go to these cities to enjoy the rich culture and history of Europe. There are numerous hidden gems that you can explore to your heart’s content. These can be found in almost every European country if you know where to look. If you are ready to ditch the tourist crowds, here are three overlooked European cities you should visit.
For an authentic Italian experience, forget about Rome or Venice and head to Genoa. This Italian port city will charm you with its narrow medieval streets where outdoor bars and cafes jostle for space with designer shops and restaurants.
Don’t let its quaint appearance fool you – there is plenty to do and see in Genoa. For starters, wind your way through the maze of streets and alleys that make up the Caruggi, Europe’s biggest historic centre. Alternatively, you can head to the Piazzo de Ferrari to rest at the beautiful fountain before heading off to explore the Cathedral San Lorenzo, the Royal Palace Museum and other major attractions. Wind up your tour by visiting the picturesque Boccadasse fishing village near the seafront.
The Alpine town of Innsbruck in Austria is the ideal spot for winter sport enthusiasts. This is the largest ski resort in the Alps, so it’s no surprise that the town hosted the Winter Olympics twice in 1964 and 1976.
Innsbruck has a number of holiday villages designed to help you enjoy your summer or winter vacation in the Alps. You can go hiking, climbing and even mountain biking as long as the weather allows. Take a tour round the city and marvel at the historic architecture of the many churches, cathedrals, castles and palaces or lose yourself in the Bell or Anatomy Museums, among others. Engage the services of an experienced tour company such as Tours 4 You to help create your dream holiday in Innsbruck.
Visiting this city, it is easy to see why it was crowned the European Culture Capital in 2001. Porto is a lively city with a vibrant nightlife that you’re sure to enjoy. Start your trip by touring the historic Ribeira district with its cobblestone streets and family owned bars. You can then book a place on a port tasting tour, where you’ll get to visit local cellars and sample vintage port. At the end of a long day of sight seeing, unwind with a relaxing boat tour on the Douro River. The city is also home to FC Porto, and sports enthusiasts will delight in a visit to the FC Porto Museum or the Dragao Stadium.
As you can see, it’s possible to have a good time away from the popular tourist circuit in Europe. So the next time you are stumped for a holiday destination, choose one of the cities above or another spot that’s slightly off the beaten path and enjoy yourself.