Europe off the beaten path
Collected by Becca Blond , AFAR Local Expert
From Riga to Cork to Zagreb, Europe is filled with culturally vibrant cities that don't sit on the well-beaten European Grand Tour path. Though often overlooked, they contain charming Old World tableaux, quirky markets and pubs, and immersing activities (a plunge into a fjord, anyone?). So, come summer, hit up these destinations and enjoy a more local experience of Europe.
Nordnesparken, 5005 Bergen, Norway
It was August, so it seemed a perfectly sensible idea. I'm in Norway, land of the fjords—let's go for a splash in one! Bergen has a lovely little lido that offers you just that opportunity. Sure, you can swim in its heated outdoor pool, but the...
Skārņu iela 19, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia
For the best 360-degree view of Riga, head to St. Peter's Church in Old Town and take the old, clanky elevator to the church's observation platform, the highest point in the entire city. The ride to the top is slow but your patience will pay off...
Tirgoņu iela, Jūrmala, LV-2015, Latvia
My mouth is watering just looking at this picture. If you had told me that one of the most enjoyable pizzas I would eat would be cooked in the rear of a bus and eaten on its upper deck, well, frankly, I wouldn't have believed you. But Jurmala, the...
Südalinn, Tallinn, Estonia
The view of Tallinn from the Toompea Hill is a nice one. Tallinn is a quaint town. I enjoyed walking and biking around, and stopping occasionally for an A. Le Coq, an Estonian beer that I especially enjoyed. I met Kalev and Ulane, the partners...
Budapest, Állatkerti krt. 9-11, 1146 Hungary
It's an unforgettable experience: Getting up at the crack of dawn in mid-winter, walking through the large municipal park on the Pest side of town, checking in to the Széchenyi Thermal Bath (mostly with Hungarian pensioners because tourists...
Budapest, Kazinczy u. 14, 1075 Hungary
An edgy crowd gathers at Szimpla Kert, a wacky ruin pub in the old Jewish Quarter. On entering, you’ll be overwhelmed by the maze of rooms, where you might find recycled computer monitors, towering piles of books, hookah pipes, or live...
English Market, Grand Parade, Centre, Cork, Ireland
This covered food market dates back to 1786 (there has been a market on the site since 1610) and today it’s a bustling indoor food market with everything from fresh fish to spices, cheeses, oils and homemade cakes on sale. It's also a hub of...
Corso Pietro Vannucci, 19, 06123 Perugia PG, Italy
Like any destination worth seeing, Italy is more than meets the eye. Sure, you could visit on a cruise and see some highlights and landmarks in the big cities, but to experience authentic Italy, it takes time and a willingness to leave the...
05018 Orvieto, Province of Terni, Italy
Orvieto is one of the most interesting villages of central Italy and one of the principal sights of the region of Umbria. From the first moment it comes into view, it shows all its magnificent beauty. The city sits high on a tuffaceous cliff on a...
11 Place Antonin Poncet, 69002 Lyon, France
How is it possible to combine the savoir-faire of a Michelin-starred chef, the conviviality of the typical French brasseries, and a check that won't require you to remortgage your house? While this would be called pretty much impossible anywhere...
Lukomir, Bosnia and Herzegovina
From Sarajevo, book a day trip to visit Lukomir, one of the last semi-nomadic villages in southern Europe. Tin-roofed stone houses stand on the edge of the half-mile-deep Rakitnica Canyon, with spectacular views of the Dinaric Alps. 387/(0)...
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