Europe is packed with great tourist destinations. There are so many to choose from, you could go away every month and still never run out!
But, sometimes it’s even more fun to visit authentic destinations that have been largely untouched by the travel industry. Read on for five lesser-known European destinations that you can visit in 2022.
1. Setenil de las Bodegas, Spain
This small town is carved into the cliffs of southern Spain. As you approach, the first thing that’ll strike you is the contrast between the dark cliff faces and the white-painted houses underneath. In addition to its beauty, Setenil de las Bodegas has some attractions that are worth seeing.
Nazari Castle was built in the 13th century and can be found right at the top of the hill. Following various sieges, much of the castle is in ruins now. However, the views of the town below alone make the castle well worth the visit.
Another site to go on the list is the Church of La Encarnación. Built in the early 1500s, it’s a beautiful example of late Gothic architecture. The building – and its ambience – is understated and quiet. It offers a taste of olden days’ villages in Spain.
2. Perast, Montenegro
Perast is a small coastal village just north of Kotor. It is certainly off the beaten track, but is peaceful, pretty, and one of Europe’s real hidden gems.
Fewer than 300 people live here and it has only one main road. Given these details, it’s surprising that the Perast was a strategic port between the Venetian Republic and the Ottoman Empire, back in the 15th century.
These days, the few tourists that visit do so for the royal palaces, collection of churches, and islets. The village boasts a whopping 16 churches which, for its size, is no mean feat. Perhaps the most impressive is St. Nikola Church, a 17th-century Baroque work of art.
Another attraction near Perast – just a short ferry trip away – is a human-made island named Our Lady of the Rocks. People say that it was created 500 years ago by sailors, who piled up old shipwrecks and rocks. Incredibly, this mound is home to a small chapel in which you’ll see a 15th-century Virgin Mary and a selection of 17th-century paintings.
3. Brisighella, Italy
Just south of Bologna, lucky tourists will find Brisighella. This little medieval town is lovely and quaint, but not many people have heard of it.
Nestled between three impressive hills, which feature a 14th-century castle (La Rocca), a 16th-century clock tower (La Torre), and an 18th-century church (Il Monticino), the town offers lots in the way of culture and authenticity.
As you might expect, walking in the hills is a top thing to do in Brisighella. In the summer especially, hiking up one – or all – of these hills will reward you with spectacular views and a sense of achievement. If you’re not a big walker, however, you can take life easy in the town’s cafes and restaurants, eating local cuisine and drinking wine.
4. Mittenwald, Germany
Mittenwald is a friendly place with old, colourful houses, snowy mountains, and the very best in Bavarian beer and food. However, this fairy-tale town isn’t popularly spoken about in the tourist industry, so remains relatively authentic.
Mittenwald is, in many ways, a typical German town. While relaxed and historical, it has an undeniable energy. A wander through Altstadt, or Old Town, will give you a flavour of what the town is really about. You’ll see 250-year-old homes and shops, plenty of murals along the streets, and a small stream that runs through the centre.
The town’s heritage in violin making also makes it stand out from other places. In fact, it is frequently referred to as the “Village of a Thousand Violins.”
The Karwendel Alps provide great opportunities for hiking and skiing, depending on the season, and a dramatic backdrop to the town, year-round.
5. Varna, Bulgaria
Varna isn’t a village – it’s actually a cosmopolitan Bulgarian city. One of the great things about Varna is that it’s coastal, boasting stunning beaches and an energetic nightlife.
Varna has plenty of historical attractions, including a huge Roman bath complex and archaeological museum. You’ll also find an array of quirky bars, cafes, and restaurants.
Varna is a great place to visit for a weekend, whether you’re travelling solo or are taking your friends or family along.