5 Underrated But Great City Breaks in Europe

A city break in Europe is always a good idea.

But, you’ve already been to Paris, London, Rome and Barcelona?

Forget the big names and explore some lesser-known cities that also offer beautiful architecture, interesting history, fascinating arts, great views and delicious food.

We picked five European cities that aren’t as popular as city-break destinations yet, but they deserve more attention.

We visited all these cities and quickly fell in love with them.

Also, they all represent excellent value for money.

If you are looking for new ideas on where to go next, check out our list:


The Acropolis dominates the cityscape of Athens

We stopped in Athens for three days on the way back from the Greek islands, and soon we realised it was a great idea.

Most people head to Greece on summer beach holidays and only pass through or entirely avoid the capital, which is a big mistake.

Athens is a city where Western civilisation was born, and even if you aren’t into history or architecture, it will intrigue you.

It’s fascinating to see the places you learnt about at school or read about in books.

Athens is a big city so even though most landmarks are situated in the historic centre, get ready for a lot of walking.

The city comes alive in the evening when people go out to the restaurants and bars to have a good time.

We loved exploring the Monastiraki, Plaka and Psyri districts in the evening and enjoying the lively atmosphere.

Gorgeous fresh Mediterranean food, friendly locals and reasonable prices are other reasons why you shouldn’t miss Athens on your next trip to Greece.

Head to the Filopappou Hill for great views of Athens

Must-See: The Acropolis, Ancient Agora, Temple of Olympian Zeus, Acropolis Museum, changing of the guard at the Parliament House

Must-Try: Souvlaki, gyros or kebab in one of the small shops

Best Views: The Acropolis, Filopappou Hill, Lycabettus Hill, 360 Degrees Cocktail Bar on Monastiraki Square


Climb the towers of the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul for the best views of Brno

We have often travelled to Brno and always loved stopping in this vibrant city.

In the eyes of visitors from abroad, it might seem outshined by Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, but the proud city of Brno goes its own way.

Brno is the second largest city in the Czech Republic.

It’s located between Prague, Vienna (Austria) and Bratislava (Slovakia), which makes it perfect for visiting during your next trip to Central Europe.

Brno isn’t as large and touristy as Prague, so the main landmarks can be easily explored in one day.

Also, it’s not as expensive as the capital, so you can get much better value here.

Brno is the main centre of the South Moravian region, whose people are very proud of their heritage and culture (and wine).

It’s also a university city, so many young people are around, which gives Brno its lively atmosphere.

It’s a city where old meets new – you can find contemporary art installations next to stunning historical buildings around every corner.

You can find plenty of romantic corners in the historic centre of Brno

Must-See: Spilberk Castle, Cathedral of Saint Peter and Paul, Cabbage Market, Liberty Square, Villa Tugendhat (needs to be pre-booked)

Must-Try: Local wine, beer (Starobrno), plum brandy (slivovice in Czech)

Best Views: The towers of the Cathedral of Saint Peter and Paul, Old Town Hall, Spilberk Castle


The Old Town in Dresden is full of fairy-tale buildings

We usually go to Dresden a few times a year and always explore the city a little bit.

The city is just about a one-hour drive from Prague, so it can be done as a one-day trip.

Dresden, the charming capital of Saxony, might not be as well known to foreign travellers as other cities in Germany, but it’s worth visiting.

It’s called ‘Florence on the Elbe’ because of its location on the Elbe river – Dresden was also an important centre of the arts and architecture.

The city was heavily bombed at the end of World War II, but (not only) the historical centre has been beautifully restored since.

The Elbe River divides the city – the Old Town (Altstadt) lies in the south, and the New Town (Neustadt) in the north.

Walking in the Old Town feels like being in a fairy tale; the historic buildings are so pretty.

In the New Town, there are fewer tourists, and you can find some great ethnic restaurants and small shops there.

Across the city, you can still find many typical buildings from the East German socialist times.

Dresden is also called 'Florence on the Elbe'

Must-See: Frauenkirche, Zwinger Palace, Fürstenzug, Brühische Terrasse, Kunsthofpassage

Must-Try: Local beer, currywurst, doner kebab

Best Views: Viewing platform at the Frauenkirche


The iconic Old Bridge in Mostar is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

On our road trip to Croatia, we visited Mostar in Bosnia & Herzegovina and immediately fell in love with the city.

You might have heard about Mostar in the 1990s when it made headlines during the Bosnian war when it was heavily damaged.

Mostar went through so much in the past, but it has been rebuilt since. These days, it’s a lovely buzzing city.

It’s where Eastern and Western influences meet, and various ethnicities, cultures and religions mix, creating a unique atmosphere.

A few mosques dominate the cityscape, but churches and a synagogue can also be found here.

The main landmark is the Ottoman-style Old Bridge (Stari Most) that spans the Neretva River.

Today it’s the only UNESCO site where the Red Bull Series takes place – but jumping off this 24-metres (79-feet) high bridge isn’t for the faint-hearted.Mostar is a multicultural city where East meets West

Must-See: Old Bridge, Old Town, Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque, Crooked Bridge, high diving competitions

Must-Try: Cevapi, burek, Bosnian coffee

Best Views: Peace Bell Tower, Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque, bridges


The Upper Town is the historical core of Zagreb

We stopped in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, on our road trip to the Balkans, and we were pleasantly surprised – it’s such an exciting city.

Croatia is well known for its fantastic coast, but it would be a mistake to miss the interior.

The city centre of Zagreb isn’t that big so you can easily explore it on foot in one day.

The Upper Town (Gornji Grad) is the city’s historical core, and you can find most of the medieval buildings here.

Don’t miss the Dolac Market with its lively atmosphere for fresh local produce – you have to try at least the yummy Croatian mandarines (we loved them).

The Lower Town (Donji Grad) is known for its arts, shopping and food scene.

There are also a few interconnecting parks perfect for a picnic, walk, or break.

Take a break in the green space around Strossmayer Square

Must-See: Saint Mark’s Church, Zagreb Cathedral, Stone Gate, Dolac Market, Funicular, Strossmayer Square, change of the guard at Saint Mark’s Square

Must-Try: Pastry and ice cream at Vincek

Best Views: Zagreb 360, the area around the Church of Saint Catherine and Lotrscak Tower


We like to use Booking.com for hotel searches, as they have a great selection, and we usually find the best value there.

Airbnb is another booking engine we often use – it’s excellent for accommodation offered by local hosts, so you can get a more ‘authentic’ experience.


We explored all these five cities, and we loved them all, they exceeded our expectations, and we hope to be back one day.

We recommend visiting them in spring or autumn, when the weather is pleasant, the crowds aren’t there yet and you can usually grab a deal on flights or accommodation.

What city would you like to visit next?

Would you add any other city to our list? Let us know – we are always looking for inspiration.

Did you like this article? Please share it so that more people can experience these beautiful cities.


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