The Best Lesser-Known Bucket List Destinations in Europe

By David Woutersen

When thinking of bucket list destinations in Europe, Barcelona, Paris, Rome, Budapest, Munich, etc. all come to mind. As they should, those are most definitely some incredibly cities that need to be visited if you’re an explorer and a traveller. The ambience of those incredible Mediterranean cities. A German Oktoberfest in Munich. Parisian nightlife. Oh, the list can go on & on.

Those are all wonderful places in their own rights, but even in the offseason, they can be quite busy. They’re hustling and bustling metropolis after all! In this article, we’re going to look at something completely different. The lesser-known bucket list destinations of Europe.

The Best Lesser-Known Bucket List Destinations in Europe - Padkos.co

These towns and cities may be off the beaten path, or just not as widely recognised as the incredible travel destinations they truly are.

Destinations where you do not have to get up at the crack of dawn to get a great spot on the beach. Or even worse, where you may run into your boss, as they travel there every summer.

Overcrowded areas can be the detriment to a good getaway, in some cases, you may even become claustrophobic. Places with a lot of foot-traffic also tend to hit your purse hard in a very bad way.

Most of these lesser-known destinations in Europe can be a quite lot cheaper than you’d expect and the stunning aspects of nature really encapsulate the European holiday feeling.

Don’t worry, it’s not all outdoors and the middle of nowhere! 😉 Grab a backpack, get your tickets booked, and let’s go on an adventure!

Whilst putting this together we wanted to follow one rule; only one place can be listed from each country. The very best of if you will.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, starting off, here are TWO incredible places you need to visit in Croatia. 😉

Croatia – Starigrad Paklenica

The Best Lesser-Known Bucket List Destinations in Europe

Where mountains and sea become one you’ll find the incredible Starigrad Paklenica. Great for both, swimmers and hikers. The long & beautiful sandy beaches perfect for families with kids or if you’re just looking to relax and tan out in the sun.

45min from the large historical city of Zadar, you will be provided with the best of both worlds.

Croatia – Galesnjak

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For all those hopeless romantics like myself.

This is likely THE perfect spot to pop the question. Galesnjak is the world’s most heart-shaped island. No photoshopping or island creating going here, it’s all natural!
You won’t be surprised to know that it’s also known as Lovers Island.

Now before you go looking for a hotel room, there are none. No tourist facilities… yet that is.
Some people head over on boats for the day and some even camp there.

It is a beautiful natural island with wild pebble beaches and crystal-clear waters, and the magical atmosphere… of love. 😉

Italy – Procida

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Have you ever participated in a colour run festival? Well, this is what it would look like if an island took part and had one heck of a time!

Colourful, joyous, bright, fun & exciting, all things you can use to explain how this Island feels, it’s just screaming happy off of every wall.

In this rainbow town, you will definitely not be feeling glum. The colours even translate to the island inhabitants as well, and how could it not? The locals are all warm-hearted and friendly.

Procida is not yet as touristy as the neighbouring hotspots; Capri and Ischia. So, pack your bags, Avanti, Avanti!

Belgium – Dinant

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This is a must see if travelling to Belgium, much like Ghent, Antwerp, etc. but Dinant… wow!

Nestled on the Meuse River, Dinant rests at the foot of a cliff. Quaint & colourful buildings spread down the river, lying beneath a fortified Citadel at the top of the cliff. They also have a strange obsession with the Saxophone 😉 Although, considering Adolphe Sax was born here, you can maybe start to understand why.

Scotland – Isle of Skye

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Alright, so the Isle of Skye may already be something you’ve come across whilst scrolling through your Nat Geo or Lonely Planet. It may not be a hidden gem, but it definitely counts as a gem with the picturesque landscapes & beautifully roaming slopes.

This picturesque Scottish Isle is definitely a place to visit for all nature lovers. This magical island will enchant you, and you will never want to leave again.

Slovenia – Bohinj

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Slovenia as a country needs to be explored. The country is brimming with marvellous attractions, both natural and man-made & even the capital isn’t as crowded as it really should be. We’re not complaining though, less queues! 😉

Lake Bled is quite synonymous as a well-known tourist destination. Especially during the Summer. In the fall, however, it’s possibly even more beautiful. Thanks to the colourful leaves, snow-topped alps in the distance & the lack of any real tourists to be seen.

What few people know is that there is an even bigger lake, the biggest in Slovenia in fact. The mesmerizing Lake Bohinj.

Peaceful, tranquil, calm… you can sit there, leaving your worries behind and lose track of time… It’s basically Neverland, minus Peter Pan & the fairies. 😉

P.s. David saw two fluffy clouds/Samoyeds there. Long story short, we’re probably going to be getting at least one Samoyed if we move to a cooler climate.

Portugal – Geres

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Olá, are you a wild child? (Olá is about as far as my Portuguese goes 😉)

Home to wolves, golden eagles and deer. The rugged hills and wild waters will greet you and welcome all wild hearts home. The Peneda-Geres national park is an adventure waiting to happen.

Greece – Milos

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This small volcanic island is unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

The turquoise beaches, with luminous lighting, make it the perfect place for your next Instagram photo. The fact that you are not sharing this island with millions of other tourists is also a great bonus. 😉 Why isn’t it so crowded? No idea, but we’re not complaining, and neither are our purses! Oh, and try the seafood. 😉

Macedonia – Ohrid

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Are you looking for somewhere that takes you away from the bustle, hustle and big city life that deafens own voice?

The graceful hills, majestic churches, cobbled streets and lakeside cafes by Ohrid is the perfect getaway.

Forget about your regular routines of life & head to Macedonia.

Switzerland – Thun

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This beautiful town lays on the banks of Lake Thun.

You will have spectacular views of the Alps, the lake & the admirable Swiss landscape. It’s also not far from the more touristy cities of Interlaken and Bern.

Montenegro – Kotor

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Have you ever felt simultaneously speechless and breathless? Woman know how difficult this can be as we’re rarely speechless. 😉

Kotor is an amazing place, the perfect interplay of rustic nature and Romanesque architecture.

Russia – Kizhi

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The Onega Lake is the keeper of one of Russia’s most amazing & picturesque hidden treasures, Kizhi island. Containing some of Russia’s most intricate wooden architecture, this place will leave you in complete awe.

Bulgaria – Rila National Park

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Firstly, Bulgaria is an awesome country to visit. Filled with extremely beautiful landscapes and very friendly on your budget. So friendly that some of the most beautiful attractions are actually absolutely free!

The Rila Mountains are the tallest in the Balkans. Peering up at these huge mountains gives you a true sense of how small we humans really are and the impressive feats found in mother nature.

Hike these beautiful mountains and all your troubles will leave you. In a valley, you’ll come across a monastery from the 10th century, the elegant Rila Monastery.

Germany – Bad Hindelang

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The pearl of Bavaria.

Whether you’re looking for a family holiday, holidaying with your dogs, hiking or a ski-holiday, you’ll find it all here.

If you enjoy hiking, this is also the start of the Schrecksee hiking route. You’ll not want to miss it.

Related: The 8 Best Hiking Trails in Germany, for you and your dogs!

Denmark – Island of Møn

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One of, if not the, most magical place in all of Denmark. The peering white sandstone cliffs, wild mystical sea and beautiful flora can all be found an hour south of Copenhagen. On a warm, summers day you may even think you’re in the Caribbean.

Estonia – Hiiumaa Island

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Estonias second largest island may not have as much to offer visitors as the island of Saaremaa. If you visit, however, you’ll be greeted with the fresh relaxing sea air and the assurance that you’re in the perfect place for your getaway.

Finland – Saariselkä

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You haven’t experienced a winter wonderland until you visit Saariselkä.

I am not the fondest of the cold, to be honest. Whereas David doesn’t know the difference between a normal jacket & a winter jacket. I may not like the cold all that much, but I really do love the snow.

Sparkling snowy landscapes with the sun shining especially, and the peacefulness that comes with it.
It is amazing how snow can affect a landscape, bringing with it calmness and quietness.
Saariselkä is the epitome of this, the perfect snow landscape in northern Finland.

Enjoy a romantic night stay in a glass igloo, with breath-taking views of the northern lights or go on s husky safari in this winter wonderland.

France – Rocamadour

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There is something about mountains that energize me.

I cannot live in flat and featureless areas. I need mountains. Thus, Rocamadour would be a dream village to move to one day. The pinnacle of Rocamadour is the complex of religious buildings sitting atop the mountain.

Rocamadour may be one of the more popular tourist attractions I’ve mentioned, but nevertheless, it is definitely a destination for your French Bucket list.

Ireland – Slieve League cliffs in Donegal

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Ireland has some incredible places, being one of Europe’s most diverse & exciting landscapes. If you only had one stop in Ireland, make it the Slieve League cliffs in Donegal. These cliffs have a sheer drop of 2000 ft into the Atlantic Ocean, making them some of the highest in the world! If you’re lucky, you may also catch a glimpse of dolphins and sea eagles.

Latvia – Cēsis

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Known for its medieval castle, this charming town in Latvia is a real treasure for every traveller that passes through.

Lithuania – Preila

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This small village is actually located in one of Lithuania’s top tourist attractions, the Curonian Spit. If you’d like to visit this UNESCO world heritage site without staying at the more populated Nida, I would recommend the lesser known, yet cosy village of Preila.

Luxembourg – Beaufort

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You can travel through the whole of Luxembourg in a day, and you will find so many beautiful places besides Luxembourg city.

35kms out of Luxembourg City you’ll find the beautiful Beaufort castle, and yes, it’s somehow still in Luxembourg. 😉

Netherlands – Giethoorn

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Another spot that rather busy compared to the rest of the places on this list.

The Venice of the North may not be quite as popular as Amsterdam, but it is incredibly beautiful & makes for a great relaxing time out.

Rent a boat and explore the magical waterways.

Austria – St. Jakob

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Austria is well known for its ski resorts. If you’re looking for a good ski holiday in Europe, Switzerland or Austria are your best bets. A ski holiday can quickly make your wallet lighter though, unless you travel to the less populated places, like in eastern Tyrol at St. Jakob.

Poland – Roztocze National Park

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One of the most beautiful places in Poland. The park is crisscrossed with wild rivers and big waterfalls. Gentle hills roll through the park, it provides truly amazing scenes for all outdoor enthusiasts.

You will find yourself being very relaxed after a getaway to Roztocze National Park.

Romania – Transylvania

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Visit the incredible area that inspired the tales of Dracula & other monsters of the night.

This region has a lot to offer its visitors, from medieval towns, gorgeous churches and scary castles to amazing landscapes and much more.

Sweden – Lapland

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When visiting Saariselkä in Finland, pop over to the Swedish side of Lapland. Same reasons, yet somehow extraordinarily different breath-taking views.

Hungary – Bokod and Esztergom

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Bokod should really not be missed. The old fisherman’s town, or better said, the floating village of Hungary.

If you want to capture peacefulness and beauty, simultaneously in a single photo, stick around until the sun sets.

It may be difficult to find somewhere to stay the night though, which is where the beautiful Esztergom city comes into play.

You could of course also stay in the truly wonderful capital of Hungary, Budapest, as both are just about an hour’s drive away.

Czech Republic – Cesky Krumlov

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If you want a less crowded and cheaper version of the otherwise beautiful capital, Prague, travel to this picturesque location. You’ll find a wonderful old town, a magical castle overlooking the Vltava river, cute cafes and lively bars to make your holiday just perfect.

This isn’t just a summer holiday destination, it’s also incredible during the winter much like Germany.

Related: 10 Things to do in Germany that are even better during Winter!

Bosnia and Herzegovina – Mostar

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The enchanting scenery and the magical feel of Mostar will make you want to stay forever.

This beautiful city has one attraction in particular that stands out quite clearly and also belongs to the UNESCO world heritage site, the Stari Most or Old Bridge. The bridge also symbolizes the peaceful co-existence between Muslims and Christians.

Slovakia – High Tatras

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Another huge mountain range, yet no 2 mountain ranges are the same! Meaning you need to visit this one too. 😉

Waterfalls, rivers, deep cliffs, steep slopes, incredible wildlife and magical views. For hikers & ski-fans alike, this mountain range should be on every bucket list.

England – Lansallos

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South of Cornwall you will find a small village named Lansallos. Home to beautiful beaches and coves nearby, maybe it’s time for British getaway!

Malta – Mgarr

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Simply magical in its simplicity is what this island is. The rough nature and the wild sea together make for beautiful and photographic scenes and thus Mgarr attracts a lot of Photographers. Even though it is quite big it is still considered a countryside town and is guaranteed to give you a magical vacation with lots of sunny days.

These are just a few of the magical lesser-known bucket list destinations in Europe. You’ve got plenty to choose from, so where are you going next on your journey?

If you enjoyed this article & found it useful, share it with someone that may also enjoy it.
Let us know where you’re going in the comments down below, and which you’ve already checked off of your list. 😉

Cheers,
Maike & David

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