The Least Touristy Places to See in Europe

While seeing some of the most well known locations and landmarks in the world should be on everyone’s travel-related bucket list, avid, more experienced travelers rarely want to visit a place with enormous crowds.

Given the sheer number of popular destinations located in Europe, visiting any country within this continent may seem like a tourist trap. However, if you know where to look, you can find a number of roads less traveled. Below are a few spots to check out that rarely see hordes of people reminiscent of the zombies from World War Z.

Latvia

It’s surprising that this neighboring country of Scandinavia is not visited more frequently given the sheer beauty of its capital Riga. With German architecture boasting some of the most colorful buildings you’ll ever see, the gardens filled with impossibly vibrant flowers are even more accentuated. As an added bonus, hotels and Airbnb’s here are often much cheaper than those within surrounding countries.

The Gauja National Park is another visually stunning Latvian destination that should be included on your European itinerary. Here, guests can see the natural beauty of local nature, take historical tours, ride horseback, kayak or raft, and much, much more.

Calabria, Italy

Visiting Italy to get away from the crowds may seem counterintuitive, but the town of Calabria (otherwise known as the “toe” of the boot) is often left unvisited due to the huge number of must-sees throughout other regions of the country. It is a gorgeous cliff-side city with some of the best beaches in Europe, the only downside being you are less likely to find an English-speaking local within its boundaries. But, the food and ambiance alone is enough to convince you to stay for at least a few days.

Salema, Portugal

This is a fishing village exposed to the Atlantic Ocean that is perfect for travelers that want to experience the reality of life in a quiet town. Salema is unlike its neighboring resorts that attract so many tourists. Its beaches and serene community are a nice break from the noise and liveliness contained within an all-inclusive. Visitors can relax on the sand, dine in local cafes, or hike along the cliffs while enjoying the silence accompanied with the quaint little village.

Lofoten, Norway

Located in the county of Nordland, Lofoten is a visually stunning district with one of the highest temperatures relative to latitude in the Arctic Circle thanks to the Gulf Stream. The amazing weather here is the icing on the several-tiered cake that includes scenic hiking and outdoorsy spots such as Trollfjord, the Lofotr Viking Museum, and an up-close-and-personal look at the country’s nature via the Røst Islands.

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Norway for Newbies

So you’re headed to Norway – congratulations (and, I’m jealous)! If you’ve never been to this beautiful Nordic Country, there are some cultural and logistical factors you should familiarize yourself with before you visit. There’s a great amount of information on the internet out there, but I went and compiled a comprehensive list that breaks it all down really helps when planning the perfect trip. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the top 5 things you need to know before visiting Norway.

#1: The main attraction is big. Really big.

TripAdvisor.com recently reported that, “…the main attraction in Norway is the country itself.” With Norway’s vast array of fjords, mountains, waterfalls, and islands, there’s a lot to take in. The fact of the matter is that you simply can’t see all of Norway in just a few days – it’s a big country. Another experience that many flock to Norway for is the “midnight sun,” which can be viewed in the mid-summer, anywhere north of Bodø.

TripAdvisor’s tip? “Slow down, take time to enjoy areas between the cities. Make flexible and generous schedules.” Noted.

#2: The weather is…weird.

Just like the United States, Norway’s weather varies upon the region you are visiting. Even though they are geographically positioned very north, they experience their own Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter, too. To pack accordingly, map out your trip in advance and match your wardrobe and supplies to the areas you’ll be visiting.

A great tip from TripAdvisor’s knowledge of the Norwegian climate sums this up perfectly, especially if you are looking to visit the mountains. “The nordic sun can burn your skin even if it is not warm, particularly on snow fields, in the high mountains and near water surfaces. Bring sunglasses (UV-filter) and protect your nose and lips in the high mountains.”

#3: Norway is a rich country, but the views are free.

Even though Norway is considered one of the richest countries in the world, every single visitor or citizen has a right to enjoy and explore the great outdoors. TripAdvisor.com states,  “…everyone has right of access to wilderness (including beaches) even if privately owned.”

The best advice is to take advantage of the great appreciation for nature in Norway. People in Norway may have more money and spend more on personal expenses, but the less than 5 million citizens that live there enjoy their land and want visitors to enjoy it too.

#4: Restaurants are expensive, so get creative.

Sadly, taxes and tips are included on the checks at seemingly every restaurant you might want to go to, so visiting the local supermarkets and bakeries are your best bet for saving on food costs.

If you have a sudden craving for something quick and easy, there are plenty of pizzerias for locals and visitors to delight in.

#5: Norway is the happiest country in the world.

According to a recent study done annually by the United Nation, CBS.com reports that Norway has topped the list. Even with Norway given the top honors in the latest report, its Nordic counterparts round out the top of the list as well.

So, in theory, no matter where you go or what you do, you’re going to be really, super happy you did.

As with anything in life, it’s best to do your research before you pack up and head out. With Norway as your next travel destination, you’re in for something quite unique, with diverse experiences. Take your camera, but remember to soak it all in at the same time. There’s no place quite like it.