A selfie in front of the Eiffel Tower, a gondola ride in Venice, or a shot by the Leaning Tower of Pisa --- sure these are must-do’s when in Europe. But there is definitely more to this stunning region than the ever-famous European countries such as France, Italy, or Spain. Check out these “off the beaten paths” around Europe which may pack lesser crowds (which is actually a good thing) but are definitely big in charm, history, and scenery:
Most notably known to be the birthplace of famed musical composer Ludwig van Beethoven, Bonn is becoming one of Germany’s attractive and engaging cities. Tucked along the Rhine River south of Cologne, its riverside setting provides a romantic yet vibrant atmosphere. You can find here amazing museums dotted around the city, top-quality orchestras and of course the famous Beethoven-Haus. It is hailed as a cultural hotspot with a history dating back 2,000 years. Its streetscene is most alive and lovely during summertime and because of its many cafes, beer gardens and squares, Bonn has been compared to charming Italian towns even earning the title of being “Italy’s most northern city.”
Dublin may undoubtedly be Ireland’s most popular spot but Galway takes the cake when it comes to charm, coziness and craft beers. The bohemian vibe cannot be unseen: Galway is filled with independent shops and cafes, old-fashioned yet brightly-coloured pubs and a live music culture that is alive and vibrant. Enjoy sumptuous oysters or fresh salmon from the waters of Corrib River or Galway Bay in alfresco restaurants as you listen to buskers along its medieval streets. While the city is rich in history and folklore, Galway is beaming with energy and eclecticism --- thanks to a good number of students making up this university city. Visit during the summer to experience the Galway Arts Festival and soak up the music, dance and literature Galway has to offer and understand exactly why it has been named European Capital of Culture 2020.
A place that can easily be plucked out from a colourful children’s storybook or an imaginary fantasyland turned into reality: welcome to Leiden, Netherlands. Often overlooked and missed out by tourists, this town halfway between Amsterdam and Delft is certainly worth a visit when in Europe. Enjoy a day out watching glistening canals with swans basking around, 17th-century buildings on the sides and huge windmills you only saw in storybooks. The town has great markets that sell fresh fish, delectable dairy and colorful flowers. The American Pilgrim’s Museum should not be missed as well --- take a little piece of history about the Pilgrim settlers of America before you move on to the rest of your European sojourn.
Historic medieval town with a modern flair --- no wonder why this town is becoming a regular in “top cities to visit” lists. Tallin in Estonia is often referred to as a “diamond in the rough.” It is remarkably the best-preserved medieval city in Northern Europe with a charming Old Town, historic churches, cobblestoned streets and grand merchant houses. All these paired with tall skyscrapers, shopping malls and contemporary hotels make up for a town brimming with enchanting old charm but simultaneously embracing 21st-century development. Spend the day visiting museums, enjoying honey beer in artsy cafes and ancient church spires in Estonia’s cultural capital.
In this city that sits on the Baltic Sea, architecture is the name of the game. Riga in Latvia holds the title of having the largest and best collection of Art Nouveau buildings in the entire world. It is considered one of the most beautiful and historic cities in Northern Europe, many thanks to its flamboyant buildings adorned with goddesses, cobblestone streets and medieval landmarks so much so it was named European Capital of Culture in 2014. It is an energetic metropolis with concept cafes and modern bars dotting the city and a booming nightlife scene. Spend your afternoons cozying it up in charming souvenir shops, century-old pavilions and incredible architecture in this North European gem.
Grayson Yañez is an Integrated Marketing Communications graduate and brand strategy consultant from the Philippines but mostly likes to be known as (Gray)son of the beach. He is also a content developer, cat lover, and marine conservation advocate. He shares his images, experiences, and realizations through Graysonofthebeach and @graysonofthebeach