Have you ever visited a city and felt it was consumed by tourists? You’re not alone, writes Twice The Baggage.
Cities like Paris, Rome, and London are popular for a reason, but they can be a lot to handle. We love finding less-touristy cities and exploring all they have to offer.
We’ve picked out five European cities that might fly under your radar but that you shouldn’t miss, all of which are easily accessible for those flying from MSP if you connect via London, Paris, Amsterdam or Reykjavik.
Bruges is one of our favorite day trip destinations, and we wished we had more time to spend there.
Located about 1 hour, 15 minutes northwest of Brussels by train, you’ll find the capital of West Flanders, which is best known for its cobblestone streets, canals around every corner, Trappist beer, and medieval buildings.
But our favorite part? Hands down, the Old Chocolate House. We also enjoyed a boat tour, walked the old city center, and wandered to the outskirts to see the official entrance of the city and its surrounding windmills.
Other must-dos include climbing the Belfry Tower, visiting one of the local breweries, and the Basilica of the Holy Blood.
Tips: If you venture from Brussels to Bruges, make a stop in Gent, another gem of Belgium.
Prague, Czech Republic
Looking for a European city to chill out and relax? Prague is 100 percent for you.
Prague is the type of city that has cheaper beer than water – we’re not exaggerating. Of the 15-plus countries we have visited, the Czech Republic was the cheapest by far, and one of our favorites.
But there are plenty of sights to see in Prague after you’ve had your fill of beer. Head across the Charles Bridge to the castle district for a day. Old Town Square is a must to grab a coffee and watch street performers, and be sure to head up the Astronomical Clock Tower for beautiful views of the city and the castle district in the distance.
If you’re looking to relax you can wander past the Lennon Wall and up to Petrin Hill via the funicular for parks and views of the city. Otherwise, you can sit in historical Letna Park, which was once home to a 51-foot tall Joseph Stalin statue.
Tips: The city tram is the best way to get around. You can purchase a 24-hour or 3-day tourist pass from a kiosk or from local tobacco shops.
Budapest is a combination of two cities: Buda on one side of the Danube River and Pest on the other. We spent three days exploring both sides and still felt we didn’t see everything we wanted.
Must-see sights include: Fisherman’s Bastion, Chain Bridge, the view atop St. Stephen’s Basilica, Hungarian Parliament, the Shoes on the Danube Bank memorial, and a Hungarian thermal bath. We recommend spending a day hiking up Gellert Hill and checking out Gellert Thermal Bath. Otherwise, you can hop on the metro for a quick ride to Szechenyi Thermal Bath.
Tips: Hungry in Hungary? Try Langos and Goulash, two traditional Hungarian dishes.
Copenhagen is well known for having more bikes than people. We fell in love with Copenhagen for its diverse culture, laid back vibe, and all things hygge.
Head to Carlsberg Brewery, Tivoli Garden amusement park, and visit the Little Mermaid statue. For a unique experience you could tour the alternative neighborhood of Christiana – just do your research beforehand. Lastly, a trip to Copenhagen would not be complete without a day in Nyhavn. Filled with colorful buildings, Hans Christian Anderson’s home, and amazing boat shops, Nyhavn is worth exploring.
Tips: Hop on a train form Copenhagen to Malmo, Sweden for a day!
Krakow is the epitome of an under-the-radar city that you should visit. There are some beautiful parts of the city itself, and is a city to immerse yourself in World War II history.
The Old Town and Wawel Castle are popular visitor spots – you could spend half the day exploring both locations. For a somber, meaningful day of reflection and learning, a day trip to Auschwitz Concentration Camp should be on your list. The site of some of the worst atrocities of the Holocaust, Auschwitz was a place of remembrance.
Another attraction not-to-miss is the stunning salt mines of Wieliczka. Be sure to book ahead of time and plan the entire day around this excursion.