Europe is a beautiful continent to explore from Iceland to Cyprus to Russia. It holds medieval era cities, turquoise-blue beaches, snow-clad Alps, and nature’s mysteries beautifully intertwined in her diversified culture. So, it’s easy to get lost amidst so many choices. But if you are like us and enjoy exploring unique places, then say no more! Because we along with travelculture and thepeppygirl have curated, this travel list of ten unique places in Europe.
Also, the best part about visiting these hidden gems is the mode of transportation. Extensive rail and roads connect even to smaller destinations in Europe. You can have your dream holiday planned and explore from the museum, the castles, summer-music festivals, grassy hills to natural Thermo-geysers.
The different cultural groups in the region offer a unique experience in food, customs and crafts. That’s why it’s important to travel to such unique places in Europe and not just get carried away with well-known places.
So, Here goes our Top 10 list of unique places in Europe:
Table of Contents
- Regensburg, Germany
- Sighisoara, Romania.
- St. Gilgen, Austria.
- Bilbao in Basque Country, Spain.
- Wengen, Switzerland.
- Colmar, France.
- Sintra, Portugal.
- Normandy, France
- Zadar, Croatia.
1. Regensburg, Germany.
Ideal for? history and architecture lovers, a taste of traditional food and beer.
Our first pick in the list has to be from Germany because we love this country. Also, one cookie point as we live here. The unique aspect that amazed us about Regensburg is its preserved medieval heritage mixed with modernity.
The winding streets of Regensburg’s old city bring back the nostalgia of “Alice in The Wonderland”. Regensburg will amaze you by its medieval-era richness. Also, all the hat lovers out there, let us tell you a secret about the old city. The first hat used in the movie “Alice in the wonderland” was from Regensburg. (Did you know about that? :))
Regensburg is home to Europe’s longest river, Danube. A walk by the river during sunrise or sunset will soothe your soul. Apart from nature and architectural grandeur, Regensburg boasts some of the oldest cafes and breweries in Europe. How lovely would it be to take a sip of the hot coffee, reminiscing about past King and Queens?
On top of that, you can also indulge in the lives of Kings and Queens at THURN & TAXIS Castle. If not this, what else can top the ranks in the list of unique places in Europe? Learn more about this UNESCO heritage city Regensburg here.
2. Sighisoara, Romania.
Ideal for? Slow travel and architecture photograph lovers.
Sighisoara in Romania is a 900-year-old colourful citadel. It is one of Europe’s last inhabited medieval citadels, instantly making it one of the unique places in Europe! We could honestly stop there, but there’s more.
You’ll find Sighisoara deep in Transylvania, nestled among its lush green forests and the jagged Carpathian Mountains. Sighisoara gives you a perfect look into the past because it’s so well preserved. You’ll find remnants of medieval architecture like fortress walls, guard towers, and stone-paved lanes, but you’ll fall in love with Sighisoara for all of its unique features.
Right before entering the citadel through the main entrance, you’ll see its sky-scraping clock tower topped with a dragon-scale roof. If you look closer, then you can see it’s wooden and metal details from medieval times. Fun fact: If you stick around long enough, two wooden drummers pop out to tell you 15 minutes passed. Just like the elf dobby from Harry Potter.
Once you’re ready to enter, you’ll find the vibrant, candy-coloured architecture inside it. Every corner of the street is Instagram worthy. Roam the lanes leading up to the staircase to School Hill. It is a 176-step staircase that local children use every day since medieval times for school, and adults every Sunday for Saxon mass. We know you wouldn’t want to miss travelling through times, would you?
Find out what else makes Sighisoara one of the unique places in Europe on travel cultures Sighisoara blog post.
3. St. Gilgen, Austria.
Ideal for? Hiking, Picnic, Kayaking and nature lovers.
There are endless opportunities to see and experience something new in Europe. One such hidden gem in Austria is the St. Gilgen. It is home to fresh summers with occasional rain, salted and juicy grasslands, turquoise blue lakes and cultural heritage.
The picturesque landscape of Salzkammergut begins, just a few kilometres away from Salzburg, and St. Gilgen is one of the beautiful towns in the region. It is a paradise for hiking and nature lovers. It’s charming untouched mountain peaks, and post-glacial lakes will leave you enchanted.
Strolling around this lake town will make you forget about the famous Disney village Hallstatt. In recent years, Hallstatt has experienced the toll of over-tourism. Whereas, St. Gilgen has fewer crowds, and that is its biggest advantage. Along with smaller crowds, you will find stunning wooden buildings decorated with elaborate flower arrangements.
You can wander around the beautiful town and across the lakes, without bumping into anyone, just the stunning views. Alternatively, you can curl up with your favourite book on the pier and enjoy the lake’s whispering waves. Now, you know why St. Gilgen is one of the unique places in Europe?
4. Bilbao in Basque Country, Spain
Ideal for? Culture and language enthusiast, sea-food lovers.
What do you picture when you think of Spain? Maybe tapas, flamenco, and bullfighters. You won’t find any of those things in Bilbao. Instead, you’ll find Basque culture. A culture so unique, its language, Basque, differs from any other language in the world. How is this possible? You ask.
The Basque people are one of the oldest Indo-European ethnic groups. Already, the region proves itself as one of the unique places in Europe. Geographically, it is cut off from the rest of southwestern Europe by mountains. Hence, it survived invasions from the Ancient Romans, Visigoths, Moors, French, and even the Spanish until the medieval ages! If its unique culture isn’t enough to pique your interest, get ready to eat because Bilbao is a foodie-paradise.
Basque Country even sits ahead of Paris in Michelin-star restaurants! The most well-known Basque food is pintxos, small pieces of fresh bakery bread topped with succulent vegetable, meat, and fish combinations. The best part? They lay them all out on the bar for you to pick out as per your choice. If you’d like a step up, indulge in some decadent seafood dishes like squid in its own ink or codfish with garlic and paprika.
When you’re done filling up on delicious bites, stroll past the mix of contemporary buildings to the museum quarter where you’ll find the world-famous Guggenheim Museum. Isn’t that sound a lovely holiday?
5. Wengen, Switzerland.
Ideal for? Ski and golf lovers, landscape Photographers, hikers and nature lovers.
For Indians, Yash Chopra introduced scenic Switzerland through his movies, but that is only a minuscule part of Switzerland’s landscape. You will be in awe of its jagged mountain blanketed in snow, shimmering lakes, quaint fairytale villages, and a melting fragrance of gooey chocolate and cheese.
One of such fairyland sitting on the sunny shelf of Lauterbrunnen valley is Wengen. The best part about this tiny village is that it’s a car-free zone. So, you can walk from one corner to another without dealing with traffic. The timber-clad chalets, hair-pin bend by-lanes, green rolling hills, morning mist rising from the snow-peaked Jungfraujoch will leave you intoxicated.
You will be full of love in its soothing atmosphere. Every lane will make you stop and capture its hidden beauty, making it one of the unique places in Europe. Even if you want to just relax and sip the hot chocolate admiring the beauty, worry not! Because the cafes in Wengen will satisfy this urge of yours.
End your beautiful day with the beautiful orange sunset at the eastern mountains from your hotel balcony. Don’t forget to grab the bottle of wine along with cheese. And take a sip along with the slipping beauty behind the mountains. What a lovely way of ending the day, isn’t it?
6. Colmar, France
Ideal for? post card perfect town, food and wine lovers.
List of unique places in Europe can not get complete without visiting France, right? Colmar in France is a beautiful city that sits near the France-Germany border in the Alsace region. This region has an extensive history of switching between the bordering nations. It’s what makes the city so unique!
Where you can expect to see typical French styles, you’ll find half-timber houses common in Germany. The influence doesn’t stop with the architecture. You can also enjoy delicious food like yummy sausages with a cold brew.
We know another memorable part of this town as “Little Venice”. From the name, you can imagine its canals weaving through colourful streets. Beautiful potted flowers of various colours have covered the canal railings. These match the vibrant facades of the timber-framed houses surrounding the canals. Many even believe this town inspired the village in ‘Beauty and the Beast’
Moreover, the Alsace wine region will leave your taste buds satisfied. They produce mostly white wines. You can always feel the German influence here. Grapes from this region include Germanic grape varieties like Riesling and Gewurztraminer. Now, you won’t want to miss this beautiful combination of wines, won’t you?
Perfect for? Nature and Excursion lovers, UNESCO world heritage and history enthusiasts.
Luxembourg is a charming piece of Europe. It is one of the smallest countries in Europe. The “Grand Duchy of Luxembourg” is famous for its wealth and wine consumption. But it doesn’t end there.
Once you step your foot on the mesmerising rolling forested hills, beguiling villages with medieval castles; there is no going back. The wizard-crafted bridges will transport you to the Harry Potter world. Not just this get ready to hike through the enchanted trails to the medieval era castles. And feel the nostalgia among the twittering birds and dancing river in the mysterious dense woods.
The walk around Chemin de la Corniche and three towers offers the most spectacular views of the Luxembourg city. Chemin de la Corniche is famous as the most beautiful balcony in Europe. The churches, iconic bridges and theatre square are a must-visit in the town. If you are an adventure seeker, Mullerthal Trail, also known as “Luxembourg’s Little Switzerland” is one of the most popular hiking regions in east Luxembourg.
Landlocked between Belgium, France and Germany; Luxembourg has the best of all three countries in terms of food. So, get ready to spoil your cravings by the Parisian-love bakeries to Michelin-star restaurants. Now, you can imagine why a quick stroll across the city will leave you satiated.
On top of all these, photographers can get a real inspiration from the work of famous Edward Steichen at the castle of Clervaux. His photo collection, “The family of Man”, is registered with UNESCO and showcases “the unity of the people”. Doesn’t this make Luxembourg one among the unique places in Europe?
8. Sintra, Portugal.
Perfect for? Landscape photographers, history lovers, outdoor activities.
Imagine getting on a train, leaving behind the city views of Lisbon and riding right into a magical forest. You get off at the station to realise you’ve just travelled right into the pages of a real-life fairy tale. Lush landscapes, endless gardens and a picturesque historic centre–you’ve just arrived in Sintra. The first sight you will see in the centre is a stunning white-walled palace with beautifully matched yellow details and orange-tiled roofs. You can’t miss the seamless mix of architectural styles: Gothic, Manueline and Mudéjar.
Now, look off to the top of a nearby hill. You will notice the outline of a 10th-century castle that offers views of both the town centre and over the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park that hugs this town. Then climb over stone steps and walk across the length of the fortifications. You will also spot the Pena Palace, another magical place.
A perfect example of 19th century Romanticism, Pena Palace will probably be a palace unlike any you’ve seen before. It sits right on a hill and is surrounded by its precious gardens. While standing in the back of the palace, look over the green landscape to catch glimpses of yet another stunning palace, Quinta da Regaleira.
Yes, I know. It’s kind of ridiculous. Everywhere you look there is a palace or a place worth visiting. As if there weren’t enough to earn this town a spot in this list of unique cities, there are many other places to discover in this fairy tale getaway.
Check out travelculture’s blog post to plan your perfect visit to Sintra here.
9. Normandy, France
Ideal for? History Lovers, Landscape Photograph Inspiration, Fresh Seafood and Wines.
Normandy is the best kept hidden gem of Europe. The region has always held a special place in the heart of European history. From King William attacking the English throne to allied troops storming the beaches, Normandy has always been a shining star on the Geo-politics. If history gets on your nerves, then don’t worry. Because Normandy has beautiful landscapes, that will take your breath away.
Take a detour through the charming VEULES-LES-ROSES, one of the most beautiful villages in France. You will understand the source of inspiration for French painters and writers. Half-timbered houses lined up along the scenic canals will leave you mesmerised.
Much like the rest of France, food culture is unique in Normandy. Expect fresh plates of seafood and organically grown vegetables in the restaurants. The local speciality boasts of creamy Camembert cheese and traditional Calvados- an apple based liqueur that serves as a delicious digestive.
Unlike famous cities, people in Normandy are friendlier. It would surprise you how easily you will build a friendship with these people. Every time, we think of Normandy, faces of Mathis and Pierrick just flashes before our eyes. We have learned so much about Normandy from them. So, without further ado, add Normandy to your list of unique places in Europe.
10. Zadar, Croatia
Ideal for? Slow Travel, National Park activities, Local Scrumptious food.
If you picture the perfect summer destination, what do you see? One of our favourites is Zadar, a unique coastal town filled with culture and history. As soon as you enter the historic center, you travel to a time long gone.
There are ruins everywhere you look seamlessly woven into the more modern city that sprawled around them. Some newer constructions even incorporate the historic ruins.
Time moves slower in this town. The links to the past are still thriving. It also gives you a sense that you are visiting a living museum. Usually, these ruins are housed in buildings behind glass or railings, but not here. Here, they are part of everyday life.
Now to a much newer design. The sea organ is one of Zadar’s more unique spots to visit. And yes, it is precisely what the name implies. When the waves lap against the shore, the sea organ makes a beautiful sound. It faces the western side of town, so it’s the perfect spot to catch the sunset while the sea plays a soft lullaby. Nearby, you’ll find the Greeting to the Sun. It is an enormous circle because lights up with dancing colours as the sun disappears behind the horizon. Now, you understand why this comes in the list of unique places in Europe.
And I have yet to mention the beaches. There is one right by the town, but you also have a ton of options just a short drive away, like Nin’s Lagoon. Right across the water, there are also a couple of islands like Pag. Another great option nearby is the Paklenica National Park.
Maite Echeverria and Ambar Mejia best friends. Even after living in two separate continents, they are chasing their common interest, Travel. Their travel blog focuses on Sustainable travel, which is a linking factor between us. Read more about them, here on Travelculture.