Europe is packed with charming off-the-beaten-path destinations, offering ancient architecture for history lovers, diverse landscapes for outdoor enthusiasts and unique culinary options for foodies. Instead of visiting tourist-packed cities like London and Paris, head to these hidden travel gems in Europe where you can escape the crowds, from a quaint medieval town in Austria to an underrated island escape in Greece.
With over 400 million annual visitors to HotelsCombined, we’ve found the best hidden travel gems in Europe that tend to fly under the radar. In addition to highlighting the best things to see and do in each destination, we’ve also added recommendations on where to stay.
Just 25 minutes south of Amsterdam, Utrecht is not only an underrated destination in the Netherlands, but it’s also one of the best travel hidden gems in Europe. Serving as a religious centre in the country for centuries, discover its charming medieval old town, beautiful canals, Christian monuments and 14th-century bell tower with city views.
What to See & Do in Utrecht
- Capture city views from The Dom Tower, a city landmark dating back to 1143.
- Browse railway memorabilia, displays and restored station rooms at The Railway Museum.
- Visit De Haar Castle, the biggest and most luxurious castle in the Netherlands.
Top Hotel in Utrecht
Just five minutes from the city centre, Van Der Valk Hotel Utrecht offers a prime location as well as luxe facilities. Take advantage of the modern wellness centre with its inviting swimming pool, sauna and gym, then dine at V restaurant or enjoy a drink at T-Lounge. There’s also a breakfast buffet, Sunday Brunch and bike rentals available.
Spacious rooms and suites offer beautiful views of Utrecht, as well as free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs and air conditioning. The Wellness Suite boasts a sauna, Jacuzzi and steam room, while the Tokyo Suite has 19th-floor city views.
Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 223 – USD 417
Guest Rating: 9.5
Address: Winthontlaan 4-6, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Rijeka tops our list of best hidden travel gems in Europe because it’s the perfect spot to experience a less touristy region of Croatia. This port city sits right on the Adriatic, near Blue Flag beaches and Risnjak National Park. Famous for its annual carnival, it’s also filled with beautiful Neoclassical architecture and 18th-century homes.
What to See & Do in Rijeka
- Stroll down Korzo, the city’s main promenade dotted with shops, cafes and the City Clock Tower.
- Climb to the top of the historic Trsat Castle along the famed Stairway of Petar Kruzic for sweeping city views.
- Get hands-on at the unique Peek&Poke museum filled with old computers, gadgets and other relics of technology.
Top Hotel in Rijeka
Set in the heart of Rijeka, Grand Hotel Bonavia is a five-minute walk from the port. Start your morning with complimentary breakfast favourites, then unwind in the wellness area, which features a Finnish sauna, Turkish sauna and treatment rooms for massages. It’s on-site restaurant A la Carte Restaurant Kamov is famous for its green pasta.
Classic Single rooms are ideal for solo travellers, while couples can stay in a Deluxe Double room with a balcony that offers stunning sea views. Go all out with a stay in the Presidential Suite, which features notable artwork, whirlpool bath and spacious living room.
Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 147 – USD 281
Guest Rating: 8.3
Address: Dolac 4, Rijeka, Croatia
Austria’s second-largest city, Graz boasts a beautiful blend of Renaissance and Baroque architecture, a medieval old town square and funicular that offers stunning scenic views from the top. Considered one of the best-preserved historical areas and top-rated hidden travel gems in Europe, this city is an important cultural centre and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
What to See & Do in Graz
- Tick off highlights in the UNESCO Old Town Centre, including the Hauptplatz main square and 17th-century Haus am Luegg.
- Take the funicular railway up the 473-metre-tall hill to see the Clock Tower, Turkish Well and Belfry.
- Admire contemporary art of the mid-20th century at Graz Art Museum.
Top Hotel in Graz
Hotel Mercure Graz City offers a convenient location in the city centre, near the old town, farmers’ market and Schlossberg. Relaxation comes easy with the hotel’s sauna and infrared booth. Alternatively, you can relax with a cocktail or glass of wine in the stylish Omega bar.
Cosy Standard rooms feature satellite TV, free Wi-Fi and mini bars, while upgraded Junior Suites add extra space with a stylish living room. Perfect for families or business travellers, the Executive Suites can accommodate up to four guests and boast kitchens equipped with Nespresso machines.
Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 157 – USD 204
Guest Rating: 8.1
Address: Lendplatz 36-37, Graz, Austria
Cassis is a postcard-perfect fishing village in southern France, known for its pebbly beaches, pastel-coloured buildings and centuries-old chateau that towers over the city. Escape to this lovely Provencal town to discover a picturesque harbour and sidewalk cafes serving wine from local vineyards.
What to See & Do in Cassis
- Wander around the moored boats and admire the rows of candy-coloured houses around Cassis Port.
- Take a boat trip from Cassis to the Calanques to explore the small inlets with incredible beaches.
- Visit Cap Canaille to see the highest sea cliff in France that offers mesmerizing Mediterranean views.
Top Hotel in Cassis
Featuring captivating views of Cap Canaille, Hôtel Les Roches Blanches offers a luxury getaway with its 5-star facilities. Upgrade to a Junior Suite for a large private terrace with sea views, and if you’re with the family, stay in the two-bedroom Suite Canaille. For lavish living, upgrade to the Suite Edith Penthouse with a private hammam.
In addition to a posh spa with a hammam, the hotel boasts multiple on-site restaurants, including the elegant Les Belles Canailles with its gourmet menu served on a terrace. Take in the sea views from the infinity pool or pull up a seat at the waterside Le Loup Bar.
Star Rating: 5*
Price: USD 282 – USD 693
Guest Rating: 8.9
Address: 9 Avenue Des Calanques, 13260 Cassis, Bouches-du-Rhône, France
Take a break from the tourist-packed cities in Italy and head to Bolgheri, one of our favourite hidden travel gems in Europe. This tiny village offers a glimpse of Italy’s picturesque countryside and offers travellers a chance to experience local life and some of the best Tuscan wines.
What to See & Do in Bolgheri
- Explore the 8th-century Castle of Bolgheri and enjoy views overlooking the city.
- Take a scenic drive along the famous Viale dei Cipressi surrounded by majestic cypresses.
- Enjoy the outdoors and marvel at the cascading waterfalls at Cascate di Caselli.
Top Hotel in Bolgheri
There are only 12 suites at Resort Il Casale Bolgherese, which makes it the perfect stay for travellers who want to get away from it all. Each suite is spacious and features flat-screen TVs, kitchenettes and living rooms. Select suites have access to a private garden or boast panoramic views of the vineyards.
An oasis set in the Bolgheri vineyards, some of the perks at this hotel includes an outdoor pool surrounded by plush sun loungers, as well as a tennis court and large park. Mountain bike rentals are available, and tasting dinners can be organized and made from the best local products.
Star Rating: 3*
Price: USD 106 – USD 146
Guest Rating: 9
Address: Loc. Ferruggini 158/D, Castagneto Carducci, Italy
Visiting Lavenham is like taking a step back in time, home to half-timbered houses, traditional tea rooms and narrow streets with pastel-coloured cottages. This Suffolk destination is one of the best hidden travel gems in Europe for history enthusiasts who want to soak up its medieval charm and old-fashioned atmosphere.
What to See & Do in Lavenham
- Visit the Grade I-listed Guildhall, considered one of the best-preserved timber-framed buildings in England.
- Step inside the 15th-century St Peter and St. Paul’s Church to admire its beautiful stained-glass windows.
- Harry Potter fans can get a glimpse of his “birthplace” at the photo-worthy De Vere House.
Top Hotel in Lavenham
Swan Hotel & Spa is a haven of tranquility, set within the historic medieval village of Lavenham. Offering an ideal home base for exploring the Suffolk countryside, the hotel boasts a lavish spa with a steam room, sauna and outdoor vitality pool. On-site dining is highlighted by exquisite British cuisine at The Gallery, takeaway fish and chips and afternoon tea.
Unwind in one of the stylish rooms and suites named after charming local villages. Suffolk Bedrooms are perfect for a weekend away with king-size beds and modern furnishings, while spacious Gainsborough Bedrooms are family-friendly. Romantic Constable Suites add fireplaces, living rooms and mullioned windows.
Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 161 – USD 394
Guest Rating: 9.1
Address: High Street, Lavenham, England, United Kingdom
Set in the Northern Sporades, Alonissos is a beautiful Greek island known for its unspoilt natural beauty, laid-back atmosphere and impressive beaches. From the whitewashed buildings in Chora to the largest protected marine area in Europe, this off-the-beaten-path destination is a great place to experience Greek island life without the tourist boom.
What to See & Do in Alonissos
- Wander the charming streets of Chora and soak up the panoramic island views.
- Enjoy the picturesque coastlines at Agios Dimitrios Beach and Leftos Gialos.
- Take a boat trip to the Alonnisos National Marine Park to see the rare Mediterranean monk seal.
Top Hotel in Alonissos
Located by the sandy beach of Chrysi Milia, Alonissos Beach Bungalows And Suites Hotel features luxury facilities. Classic Bungalows feature sea views, Satellite TV and air conditioning, while chic Suites add private swimming pools and Jacuzzis. For extra space, upgrade to a Family Suite for two bedrooms and a large terrace.
Relax at the poolside or beach bar, then explore the private beach area or dine on traditional Greek cuisine at the buffet restaurant. Get pampered at the spa, which features massage rooms, a hammam and beauty salon or visit the game room with ping pong, billiards and table soccer.
Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 124 – USD 497
Guest Rating: 8.1
Address: Chrisi Milia, Milia, Greece
Set in Spain’s beautiful Basque Country, Getaria is a charming fishing village beloved for its high-quality seafood, beautiful beaches and cobbled streets. About 25 kilometres west of the foodie destination of San Sebastian, a perfect day in this sleepy village includes dining on freshly-caught fish from the port accompanied by local white wine called “txakoli”.
What to See & Do in Getaria
- Stroll through the main street of Nagusia Kalea, then stop for a pintxo or pick up local products.
- Sample local wine straight from the source at Gaintza and Txomin Etxaniz
- Browse exhibits highlighting one of the world’s most famous fashion designers at Museo Cristóbal Balenciaga.
Top Hotel in Getaria
Saiaz Getaria Hotela is set in a quiet spot in the historic centre of Getaria, boasting thick stone walls and beautiful sea views. Stylish rooms include exposed-stone walls with sea views, as well as flat-screen TVs and mini bars. Double Sea View rooms add sitting areas with bay views, while Junior Suites boast spacious living room areas.
Start your day with breakfast overlooking the Bay of Biscay, then unwind after sightseeing with light bites and drinks on its open-air terrace of the laid-back cafe/bar. Other hotel perks include free Wi-Fi, pet-friendly amenities and a 24-hour reception.
Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 84 – USD 203
Guest Rating: 9.2
Address: San Roke Kalea, 25, 20808 Getaria, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Located in the Alto Alentejo region of Portugal, Marvao is a fairytale destination with whitewashed stone cottages, home to the towering Marvao castle. It’s considered one of the prettiest villages in the country, set on a hill that offers spectacular views of the region’s surrounding plans, lakes and Serra de Sao Mamede mountains.
What to See & Do in Marvao
- Explore the 13th-century Marvao Castle, which features gorgeous village views and a tranquil garden.
- Step inside the small Marvao Museum to discover quirky artefacts donated by the local community.
- Cool off with a swim at the river beach at the foot of the hill, in a small village called Portagem.
Top Hotel in Marvao
Set on the highest village in Portugal, Dom Dinis Marvão overlooks a picturesque valley. Recently renovated, the hotel aims to preserve the town’s typical architecture while offering modern comforts, including a dining room, bar and furnished terrace. Sit by the fire in the cosy TV lounge, or soak up the gorgeous views from the outdoor Jacuzzi.
Romantic Dom Afonso rooms feature double-size beds and a balcony with castle views, while Dom Jamie rooms offer spectacular mountain vistas. For a spacious outdoor terrace with seating, king-size canopy bed and Victorian bath, stay in the luxe Dom Dinis room.
Star Rating: 3*
Price: USD 89 – USD 121
Guest Rating: 9.3
Address: Rua Dr. Matos Magalhães, 7, 7330-121 Marvão, Portalegre, Portugal
Despite being Lithuania’s capital city, Vilnius is still one of the top hidden travel gems in Europe, featuring a UNESCO-listed Old Town and cobblestone streets that lead to beautiful churches, monasteries and palaces. It’s also home to a collection of quirky museums, bustling local markets and photo-worthy red-brick architecture.
What to See & Do in Vilnius
- Stroll Vilnius Old Town to see its well-preserved historic buildings, then admire the city from above at St John’s Church.
- Visit the Money Museum to see exhibits showcasing currencies from around the world.
- Visit St. Anne’s Church, a masterpiece of the Gothic era with spires that date back to 1501.
Top Hotel in Vilnius
Grand Hotel Kempinski Vilnius offers a luxury city break in Vilnius, set in the centre of the Old Town. Deluxe Rooms with Balcony offer striking Cathedral Square views and cosy sitting areas, while Junior Suites add living rooms and 5th-floor views. Live like royalty in the massive Presidential Suite, which boasts 132 square metres of living space.
Indulge in local flavours at Restaurant Telegrafas or sip champagne at the elegant Le Salon Bar and Lounge, which also serves an elegant afternoon tea lead by a professional tea master. Kempinski the Spa boasts an indoor pool and Finnish and steam saunas, as well as signature spa treatments.
Star Rating: 5*
Price: USD 201 – USD 2,227
Guest Rating: 9.5
Address: Universiteto Street 14, Vilnius, Lithuania
Explore the Best Hidden Travel Gems in Europe
It’s no secret that Barcelona, Rome and Berlin are hotspots in Europe, but what about when you want to get away from the crowds? Planning a trip to Europe’s lesser-known cities can be an overwhelming task with its long list of destinations to choose from, so we’ve done the research for you. From small-town treasures in Portugal to England, these are the top hidden travel gems in Europe that deserve a spot on your bucket list.
What are your favourite hidden travel gems in Europe? Let us know in the comments below.