Paris, France, London, United Kingdom, Barcelona, Spain, Venice, Italy, the first thought to enter our mind is “Travel Destinations”. Part of my yearn to travel is seeing new things and experiencing that country’s unique culture. While culture is country-specific and the tourist destinations are popular for a reason, these lesser-known gems are extremely comparable with great views and more time to enjoy the landscape without the crowds.

  • Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Gothenburg, Sweden
  • Salzburg, Austria
  • York, United Kingdom
  • Valencia, Spain
  • Plzeň, Czech Republic

1. Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana, Slovenia
Ljubljana River with Triple Bridge

*Alternative to Paris, France and Venice, Italy

Ljubljana (pronounced lyoo-BLYAH-nuh, locals pronounce it “Lublana” keeping the “J” silent instead of the classic pronunciation where “J” is pronounced as a “Y” but per their wish, use which pronunciation is easier for you), the capital of Slovenia. The Ljubljana River curves through town and separates the old town from the commercial side of town. Outdoor cafes overlook the river.

The Ljubljana River flows right through town. Like Venice, boating down and walking along quaint canals and like Paris, Ljubljana won’t disappoint with delightful cafes, quirky art nouveau building construction, and cobblestone streets.

Historic Triple Bridge; Opening in 1842, this bridge replaced an old medieval bridge. In 1929, the side bridges were added for pedestrians. The original part of the bridge was used for vehicles and pedestrians to cross but was very narrow. Renowned Slovene architect, Joze Plecnik designed a way for pedestrian bridges to build on the side of the bridge. This area is now closed to vehicles, so pedestrians now have a choice of which part of the bridge to use.

2. Gothenburg (Göteborg), Sweden

A view of Feskekôrka - indoor fish market in Gothenburg
A view of Feskekôrka – indoor fish market in Gothenburg

*Alternative to Stockholm, Sweden

Less popular than Stockholm, Gothenburg, Sweden is full of historic charm. Walk through Haga Nygata, one of the oldest neighborhoods of Gothenburg. You’ll see charming cobblestone streets, wooden houses, boutique shops and cafés.

As quaint as this city is, it has a modern section. In fact, Volvo’s headquarters out of Gothenburg. Take a tour over to Långgatorna or “Little London”. Långgatorna is the vibrant and modern part of the city with restaurants and bars. Its newest addition is Auktionsverket – a former auction house converted into restaurants, wine bar, café and a gallery.

Of course, one of Gothenburg’s main attractions is Liseberg Amusement Park. Be sure to check out the Liseberg Wheel where you can witness some of the most terrific views of the city. In addition to having the tallest free-fall ride in Europe, Liseberg Amusement Park boasts regular concerts and a Christmas market.

3. Salzburg, Austria

Travel to Salzburg, Austria
Salzburg, Austria

*Alternative to Vienna, Austria

Salzburg is a place full of art, culture and history but on a smaller scale than Vienna. Not only can you tour Mozart’s birthplace, take some time to visit Bibliotheca Mozartiana; the most extensive library in the world.

Stunning baroque architecture fills the historic city center. For a fascinating tour of Salzburg, check out some of their theme routes allowing tourists to see the city in a new light. For a modern look, follow the Creative Walk or if you’re looking for exquisite pictures, follow what has been deemed “Instagrammable Salzburg Foot Path” with the Hohensalzburg Fortressin the backdrop. The video below explores the Hohensalzburg Fortressin from an aerial view.

4. York, United Kingdom

Travel to York, United Kingdom
City of York, UK

*Alternative of London, United Kingdom

Picture a town where cobblestone streets, Georgian architecture, chocolate, Romans, macabre ghost stories, superior museums and attractions. This is York, United Kingdom.

Reveling in the natural history of York is Castle Howard; a historic house built over 300 years ago and still remains home to the Howard family. Guides are there to answer any questions, but the tour is purely at your own pace. View the breathtaking architecture and interiors and then spend time viewing roughly 1,000 acres of Grade 1 parkland and gardens. The grounds are not the only stunning part of this landmark as the countryside views are up to par with the grounds and house.

Spend some time at Burnby Hall Gardens & Museum where lakes are covered in lily pads. Elegant landscaping includes walkways surrounding both lakes, an ornamental bridge, a Victorian Garden, an Aviary Garden, an Edwardian Rock Garden, a Stumpery and the recently planted Birch Walk. The on-site Stewart Museum reveals a fascinating collection of artifacts collected by Major Stewart on his eight world tours between 1906 and 1926.

The Shambles is a lane that is the best-preserved medieval street in the world. Many buildings on this street today date back to 1350-1475. Historically, The Shambles was mainly houses and butcher shops complete with a slaughterhouse. Wooden framed fronts of buildings were partly designed to protect butcher’s meat from direct sunlight. Some of these wooden framed fronts are so close together that a person with their arms outstretched could touch both sides of the street.

5. Valencia, Spain

Valencia, Spain
Aerial View of Valencia, Spain

Valencia, Spain: A city on the Mediterranean Sea with golden sand and a historic old part of town.

Valencia’s old town is filled with classic street art, quaint cafés, and beautiful architecture. Explore the maze-like cobbled alleys and backstreets to find pretty squares, tiny churches, street art and eccentric cafés.

During your exploring, you may come across La Lonja de la Seda or “Silk Exchange”. Originating in the late 15th century, La Lonja de la Seda is now held as the Masterpiece of Valencian Gothic architecture and listed as the finest monument of Valencian golden age. The décor inside is to be admired – the twisted dainty columns in the main hall and the exquisite detail of the vaulted ceilings.

Construction of the octagonal bell tower of El Miguelete began 1381 and was finished around 1430. In the late 1400s, construction began to connect the bell tower and the Valencia Cathedral. While the Valencia Cathedral has had some modifications over the years – some renaissance, baroque and neoclassical – and is beautiful, El Miguelete has the best view of Valencia. Of course, 207 steps up a slightly risky staircase will not only give you the best view of Valencia but at the top is Miguel, the prominent bell cast in 1432 which ways over ten tons.

6. Plzeň, Czech Republic

Travel to Plzeň, Czech Republic (Pilsen)
Plzeň, Czech Republic

Despite that Plzeň may be more well known for Pilsner Beer, its distributor Plzenské Pivovary and the beer museum, some of the best bits of history remain here.

Plzeň’s Historical Underground remains untouched since medieval times. Taking a tour of these will walk you through a maze of tunnels and cellars. While the historical underground was used in the early beer-making process, it was also a big part of the city’s defense during times of siege using approximately 20 wells and pits.

The Museum of West Bohemia boasts two million items in its possession. Among those is Pilsen City Armoury which has war paraphernalia dating back three centuries. Making this collection very unique is the wide range of firearms – some designed to break through castle walls to genuine muskets from the 30 Years’ War. This museum also holds numerous first editions in its art nouveau library.