5 under-the-radar European destinations to visit this summer

Ditch the more popular spots for these locales instead. 

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When one thinks of a fancy European summer vacation, a series of images involving prancing about in Italy in our best sundresses eating gelato, sunbathing in Portugal’s beaches, or going bar-hopping in Spain might come to mind. But what these images don’t include are the throngs of tourists that also descend upon these locales during the season, wanting to experience the beauty that is the European summer. Luckily, there are enough pretty destinations in the continent to go around, meaning you can enjoy all of the picturesque landscapes, delicious food, and pleasant weather without the crowds.

Intrigued? Read on to discover the five spots across Europe that you should holiday in this summer. 

Hay-on-Wye, Wales

Book lovers, this one’s for you. While cities like London, Edinburgh, and Bath are the ones that attract the most travellers in the UK, this small town tucked in Wales definitely warrants a visit, and if you have more time on hand, a short stay as well. Nicknamed the ‘Town of Books’, its cottage-lined streets look straight out of a storybook with art galleries, antique stores, and, of course, book shops everywhere you turn. Grab a cuppa at one of the small cafes as you flip through your book haul. It’s worth timing your trip with the famous Hay Festival, which is one of the largest literary festivals in the world and takes place in end May-early June. Apart from books, there’s rivers to canoe in, trails to explore, castles to visit, and more. 

Granada, Spain

A languid, quiet European vacation in Spain on your mind? Give touristy haunts like Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, or Ibiza a skip and make your way to Granada nestled in the valley of the Sierra Nevada mountains in the south of the country. You’ll find evidence of the region’s Moorish history in the many historical sites, including the famous La Alhambra, a fortified palace complete with sprawling gardens. The Royal Chapel and Basilica San Juan de Dios should be on your list, too. Post the tours, grab a bite at one of the many restaurants that serve up an interesting variety of tapas. To experience the city’s culture at its finest, head to a cave bar for a flamenco show. 

Sardinia, Italy

When it comes to spending summer in Europe, Italy tops the list as the most popular getaway with its promise of delectable food at every corner, sunny weather, pretty streets, and azure beaches. And though we admit that Rome, Florence, Amalfi Coast, and Tuscany get all the hype for a reason, numerous other places in the picturesque country deserve just as much attention. Sardinia, the island west of the mainland, is one of them. A haven for food lovers, its vast coastline means an endless supply of fresh-off-the-ocean seafood, in addition to quality meats stuffed into pies and cooked until tender into hearty stews. And pasta enthusiasts shouldn’t miss the gnocchi, which is an essential part of the region’s cuisine. Apart from feasting on the region’s culinary offerings, explore its imposing lime gorges and cliffs, laze around on the pristine beaches, and take a day trip to Nuraghe Su Nuraxi for a taste of the region’s colourful past. 

Antwerp, Belgium


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Antwerp might have been forgotten for its more popular Belgian counterparts like Brussels, Bruges, and Liege, but the old trading center was an important city during the 15th and 16th centuries, and even today has plenty to offer for those visiting. Those arriving in the city by train get a first-hand glimpse of Antwerp’s heritage—the cavernous art nouveau Antwerpen-Centraal Train Station is a sight to behold. Elsewhere, pay a visit to the Red Star Line Museum that chronicles the difficult lives of those who left Belgium for America, the Cathedral of Our Lady, and for a pilgrimage of a different kind, its many breweries that serve the famed local beer. 

Évora, Portugal 

Though trotting about in Lisbon’s cobbled streets while snacking on uncountable pasteis de nata and marveling at the city’s stunning architecture has its charm, navigating the crowds during peak summer can bristle even the most patient travellers. Instead, drive down to Évora, a UNESCO World Heritage Site about one and a half hours away from the capital. Located in the heart of the country’s agrarian belt Alentejo, and also the region’s capital, it has quite a few gems worth exploring, from historical monuments and delicious regional fare, to expansive vineyards. Don’t miss a visit to the ancient Roman Temple of Évora and the grand Gothic Cathedral. Drop into one of the many boutique stores in the city to take home souvenirs and gifts spanning ceramics, bottles of wine, olive oil, and more. 

Lead image: Pexels 

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