Most people equate the continent of Europe to places frequented by tourists, such as Paris, Rome, London, Amsterdam and Prague. As a result, popular tourist spots in these areas tend to be crowded, and, prices of food and accommodations tend to shoot up due to high demand.
There are, however, equally-beautiful towns in Europe that are also worth visiting. These places also offer the best of what this continent has to offer, but with a little touch of their own eccentricities. Here are some of the quirkiest towns in Europe you should try to explore.
- Berlin, Germany
Perhaps you’ll be surprised to see Germany’s largest city which is also frequented by tourists on this list. Unknown to many, however, Berlin still has many parts waiting to be discovered. Away from the usual tourist spots like the Berlin Wall and the Holocaust Memorial are other interesting places like the Mauerpark flea market, where you can buy quirky items like trinkets and other keepsakes. For something a little creepier, head to Spreepark, an abandoned dinosaur park just outside Berlin. The remnants of the amusement park like the roller coaster and the Ferris wheel are hauntingly beautiful.
- Skopje, Macedonia
For the past years, the government of Macedonia has been embarking on a massive construction frenzy to attract more tourists in its capital city. Huge fountains and marble-clad museums have sprouted in Skopje, and these may be good points of interest when you visit this place. What’s more endearing about this city, however, is its soul: sights dating back to the Ottoman and Byzantine empires like 13th century Stone Bridge, and the Old Bazaar lined with teahouses, mosques and craftmen’s stores.
- Pripyat, Ukraine
Looking for something more grim and macabre? You may want to check out this ghost town in northern Ukraine. It was built in the 1970s for the personnel of the ill-fated Chernobyl nuclear power plant, but because of the disaster in 1986, the town’s 50,000 residents were forced to abandon their homes. What remains in this place are objects left behind by former occupants: from shreds of mattresses to haunting children’s toys. Trees have also begun to grow in the different structures of the ghost town, showing how nature can reclaim what was once part of it.
- Tallinn, Estonia
If you’re looking for a compact European city which you can explore for the weekend, then Tallinn is the perfect for you. Although it is small in size, Tallinn is big on surprises. It has the right mix of the modern and medieval, where ancient church spires meet shiny shopping malls, and where baroque palaces are just a stone’s throw away from chic cafes. Make sure to visit Tallinn’s walled Old Town, one of the best preserved Hanseatic town centers in the world.
- Elista, Russia
Going to this part of Russia will make you feel lost, but you will also be in awe of what you will find. Tourists might find this city confusing because it does not exude a Russian vibe, but its uniqueness its beautiful in itself. It has a mix of Russian and Buddhist influences, owing to its rich history. The most conspicuous display of the beauty of this culture clash is the Buddhist temple called The Golden Abode of the Buddha Shakayamuni, which is covered with pure gold and encrusted with diamonds. Also try taking a stroll around Lenin Square, where there are interesting fixtures, including a giant chess board.
- Piran, Slovenia
Imagine shrinking Venice into a place which you can fully explore in less than an hour and you will get Piran. The cobblestone streets are lined with structures that are unmistakably showcases of Venetian Gothic architecture. Make sure to check out the iconic St. George Cathedral and the Tartini Square. Also explore this small town’s winding alleyways to find hidden seafood restaurants that offer great food.
- Riga, Latvia
This huge metropolis in the Baltics is where eastern Europe meets northern Europe. The amazing architecture and fantastic facades of buildings in this underrated destination are testaments to the place’s eight centuries of turbulent history, which saw German knights and Swedish kings and Soviet commissars ruling the area. You’ll see rich collections of Art Nouveau when you walk down Riga’s boulevards. Aside from being a feast for the eyes, Riga is also a feast for the stomach, with the freshest food like cheese, black bread and sausages.
- Albarracin, Spain
A visit to this sleepy Spanish town two hours away from Valencia feels like getting sucked into a time warp. The bricked structures with 17th century architecture will surely transport you to the Middle Ages. The El Castillo de la Ciudad, for instance, showcases how royalties lived backed in the day. Aside from these, the town is also rich in hidden natural wonders that evoke a feeling of serenity. Try a morning hike at the Guadalaviar River or at the Pinares de Rodeno to see the wealth of natural resources in Albarracin.
Europe is not just about the big, flashy capital cities. It is usually in these small towns that you will discover what more this continent has to offer.
Originally posted 2017-04-24 05:40:44.