Trekking through Europe’s astonishing natural scenery, exploring thousand-year-old cities, and dining on mouthwatering local dishes with a jug of craft beer in your hand are all things that you should experience at least once in your lifetime!
While you can – and at some point, even should – visit Europe’s most popular destinations (you know: London, Paris & Rome), The Old Continent is filled with hidden gems unbeknownst to most tourists.
So, if you’re ready to take the road less traveled…
…and delve into the real Europe…
…while avoiding all the tourist traps, annoying crowds, and inauthentic experiences…
Then you’re going to love this bucket list of the top unconventional travel destinations in Europe! Whether you want to relax in nature, get lost in a fairytale city, or have the party of your life – buckle up and prepare for take-off!
7 Unconventional Wonders Of Europe
1. Amsterdam (The Netherlands)
Amsterdam isn’t only the capital of The Netherlands…
…I’m sure you’ve heard that it’s the capital of bikes, tulips, weed & hookers.
But in reality, Amsterdam is so much more than that!
While it is true that this fascinating city has the most comprehensive bike road system in the whole world, making it convenient to get anywhere on your rented bike…
…and that visiting the tulip fields of Amsterdam and nearby Keukenhof feel as if you were stepping into a fairy’s dream…
…oh, and that you can smoke a joint legally while wandering around Amsterdam’s old town called the Red-Light District (wonder where it got its name from…).
But in Amsterdam, biking isn’t just a means of transportation! Getting lost in the maze of Amsterdam’s romantic canals while admiring the cute little Dutch houses all across the city is a unique experience on its own!
In “The Venice of the North” tulips and beautiful flowers are everywhere! There’s even an entire street with a flower market – called Bloemenmarkt – where you can shop for the most unique local and exotic flowers & plants.
But when it comes to nature, Amsterdam is more than just flowers…
Amsterdam is full of wonderful parks, lakes, and greenery where locals enjoy biking, reading in the grass, and having picnics with friends & family. Vondelpark is especially astonishing if you’d like a relaxing local experience!
Sure, prostitution and certain drugs are legal in The Netherlands, and the Red-Light district (and the old town in general) is stunningly beautiful…
But so many other experiences await! Being a multicultural metropolis, you can have a gastronomic orgasm by trying the cuisines of almost any country on Earth!
Amsterdam’s museums are also world-famous, and the list is way too long for this post (and your visit too), but the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum are A MUST. The Heineken Museum is also pretty cool if you’ve ever wondered how your favorite beer is made! As for the nightlife, the parties of Rembrandtplein & Leidseplein are out of this world!
Feel like discovering this unique European capital? Here’s our complete Amsterdam guide with everything you need – and more!
2. Prague (Czech Republic)
What if I told you, that there’s a special city in Europe…
…a city with winding cobblestone streets, and a rich history reflected in its architecture…
…a place with some of the world’s best pork knuckles & beer, served in warm taverns…
…and a place so magical, that you might not even believe it’s real!
Well – spoiler alert – the place is real, and it’s the capital of the Czech Republic!
Wandering around aimlessly in Prague is one of the best ways to get to know the city! And once you get to know it, it will steal your heart…
As you walk around, you’ll eventually find yourself on an almost thousand-year-old beautiful bridge – the Charles Bridge – bustling with musicians and street performers, and a fully intact medieval royal castle on top of one of the charming hills of the city.
Try to find the Old Town Square – Staroměstské náměstí – on the other side of the Vltava River with an awe-inspiring gothic cathedral, a medieval astronomical clock, and an enchanting atmosphere that will carve a special place for Prague in your heart!
After a long day of strolling around the city, make sure to check out Prague’s underground night scene – with parties, unlike anything you can come across in any other city!
If you’re ready to start planning your vacation to Prague, check out our complete Prague guide for some inspiration!
3. Transylvania (Romania)
Dracula’s homeland is about as far off the beaten path as you can get, and makes for a great vacation, even if you’re on a tight budget!
Traveling to Transylvania is like traveling back in time, and not just because of all the haunted medieval castles…
As you wander through one of Europe’s last untouched natural locations, you’ll meet friendly shepherds with lives rooted in centuries-old traditions. After getting offered a few bites of local sausage – kolbasz – with a loaf of steaming home-baked bread (obviously accompanied by a few shots of their insanely strong traditional fruit spirit called palinka), you might find yourself in an exceptionally adventurous mood…
And that’s when the fun begins!
You can decide to roam through the thick forests and skinny-dip in one of the clear-watered ice-cold springs…
…or attack the summit of one of the magnificent peaks of the Carpathian Mountains, and enjoy the breathtaking view from the top…
…and then enjoy some well-deserved rest in your remote wooden cabin while your goulash soup simmers to perfection in an authentic cast-iron cauldron.
But whatever you do, just make sure to watch out for the vampires…
…I mean the bears!
If your imagination is already soaring through the Carpathians, then make sure to check out our complete Transylvania guide here!
4. Edinburgh (Scotland, UK)
Men in skirts with funny accents playing bagpipes?
The best whiskey you’re ever going to come across in your life?
Rolling hills, chilling medieval streets, and the greenest grass you’ve ever seen?
If these are the things that press your buttons, Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh, was practically made for you! While roaming the endless medieval streets of the old town, the inviting glow of the countless pubs & taverns will sure to seduce you into having a mug of ale or a classic Scottish steak pie! Step into the footsteps of the feudal knights as you approach the vast castle grounds of Edinburgh Castle overlooking the city.
If you stray just a bit outside the city, you’ll immediately find yourself among Scotland’s mythical green hills, massive cliffs & ice-cold lakes (or Lochs, as they call them… just beware of the monster).
So, if you’re ready to dive deeper into bagpipes, whiskey, and mythical creatures, then make sure to read our complete Edinburgh guide here!
5. Rhodes (Greece)
With two different seas washing her shores, Rhodes is simply THE most beautiful Greek island that you can visit! Crystal clear water, perfect weather conditions, and an abundance of things to discover… sounds like the perfect holiday dream, doesn’t it?
If you start out at the northern peek of the island, you’ll find yourself strolling around the lively streets within the walls of the gigantic medieval castle of Rhodes City. Here, you should treat yourself to some of the finest dishes of authentic Greek cuisine, blow strawberry-vanilla tasting clouds with a traditional hookah, and finally cool off with some freshly made lemonade! The Street of the Knights is a surreal experience on its own, as it throws you straight back to the mythical era of the middle ages!
As you head south from the city, you’ll encounter a monumental mountain range with thrilling serpentines. Take a quick detour to the Butterfly Valley to witness hundreds of thousands of butterflies swarming above a swift creek that cuts right through the middle of the valley!
The next stop is Monolithos Castle, where you’ll get a glimpse of Poseidon’s lost world from high above. Imagine being perched on the ancient ruins, hundreds of feet above the beautiful deep-blue sea washing the green shores of the island, watching the sunset in awe…
As for your final stop, you can just enjoy chilling on one of Rhodes’s many untouched beaches…
Ever fancied riding a donkey on a super-steep cobblestone alley?
What if there were authentic glowing-white Greek houses along your ride?
Oh, and did I mention a badass fortress waiting for you at the top?
Well, if this sounds like something you wouldn’t want to miss, then make sure you visit the village of Lyndos while you’re in Rhodes!
Falling in love with Rhodes already? Wait till you read our full guide here!
6. Salzburg (Austria)
As the birthplace of Mozart (no, not the chocolate… actually, that too!) and the city of the film Sound of Music, you’re in for a cultural treat in the fourth largest city in Austria!
While strolling down the banks of the Salzach River with a cone of homemade ice cream in your hand, let the stunning architecture – ranging from Gothic, through Renaissance, all the way to Contemporary – blow you away!
Don’t miss out on visiting Hohensalzburg – one of Europe’s most monumental medieval fortresses – located right in the middle of Salzburg and offering a 360-degree view of the city’s scenic alpine surroundings.
If you’re more into high-end shopping and fine dining, make sure to visit the city’s historic Getreidegasse – a charming world-class shopping street in the bustling heart of Salzburg’s Old Town.
Getting bored of Salzburg? – Impossible!
Still, if you want something else for a day or two, the magical village of Hallstatt and some of the Alps’ most stunning hiking trails are all just a short drive – or train ride – away!
If you’re serious about visiting Salzburg, we’ve covered you with our complete guide here!
7. Tenerife (Canary Islands)
Imagine climbing to the top of a vast volcano and finding patches of snow…
…only to descend back to the golden sands and clear blue waters of one of Tenerife’s sunny beaches.
Oh, and did someone say cocktails?
By offering a unique mix of Spanish & African cultures, Tenerife is an island that’s bustling with life!
If you’re looking to get active – and I mean really active – on your vacation, Tenerife’s got you covered! After all, they don’t call the Canary Islands the surfers’ paradise for nothing!
But even if you’re not a surfer, you can go diving in the crystal-clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean, hop on a jet ski, or go on a boat tour around the island to see dolphins, whales, and of course the magnificent cliffs of Los Gigantes.
If you get tired of the ocean, visit one of Tenerife’s theme parks!
Plunge down into the deep and pass through a gigantic aquarium full of sharks in Europe’s largest aqua park, Siam Park!
Meet some fascinating wildlife in the best modern zoo in the world, Loro Park, or Tenerife’s huge aquarium, Poema del Mar!
Finally, finish off your day with a crazy party in one of the lively clubs & bars of Playa de las Américas.
If you’re more into a relaxing vacation with a bit of soul-searching, Tenerife shines in that regard too! Hike through terrains ranging from sweeping volcanic landscapes evocative of Mars to rolling mountains that unfurl into the sea! Alternatively, find a remote beach to read your book on, or rent a car to go on a night-time stargazing safari!
Whatever vacation you’re after, you should definitely squeeze some time to pick a one-of-a-kind souvenir from the famous African market – Mercado Nuestra Señora de Africa – in Santa Cruz to make sure you never forget your time in sunny paradise!
Imagine climbing the Teide Volcano already? Check out our complete Tenerife guide here!
There you have it: The “7 Unconventional Wonders of Europe! If you’ve enjoyed reading this article – and if you’d like to receive regular travel guides, reviews & inspirations that you won’t find elsewhere, subscribe to my newsletter!