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Updated by Ali O'Neill on Aug 29, 2014
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Ali O'Neill Ali O'Neill
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Ten Not-So-Obvious European Cities to Visit

While London, Paris and Rome definitely live up to the hype they receive, there are countless other European cities well worth a visit. While these ten picks are not exactly unheard of, they're certainly a bit more off the beaten track.

6

Galway, Ireland

Galway, Ireland

Tourists travel in droves to Dublin, but this vibrant city in the west of Ireland also has a lot to offer: its bustling city centre has a lively cultural scene (arts festivals, cosy pubs with live traditional music, and quirky shops), but still retains a medieval feel thanks to its cobblestoned streets and historical buildings.

4

Canterbury, England

Canterbury, England

A compact little city about an hour from London by train, Canterbury boasts the best of old and new, with charming streets in which medieval buildings stand alongside high street favourites, several gardens perfect for picnics, and a winding river ideal for a boat tour. And, of course, there’s the legendary cathedral that presides over it all.

10

Verona, Italy

Verona, Italy

Not too far from Milan and Venice, this northern Italian city is definitely one to check out if you’ve covered the country’s more renowned cities. The heart of the city is its Piazza delle Erbe, but other attractions to check out are the Roman amphitheatre, and Juliet’s house—the inspiration for Shakespeare’s tragic heroine.

7

Lyon, France

Lyon, France

France’s third largest city, Lyon is a sophisticated destination with attractions to rival that of the capital, including a rich gastronomic heritage and many sites of historical significance (it was founded by the Romans and is regarded as the birthplace of cinema).

9

Seville, Spain

Seville, Spain

Located in the Andalusia region of southern Spain, Seville is rich in culture (it is the home of bullfighting and flamenco, after all), and has a host of historical sites to see, including the Cathedral, with its Giralda tower, and the Alcazar, the oldest royal residence still in continual use.

2

Bruges, Belgium

Bruges, Belgium

Once considered the world’s chief commercial city, the picturesque Bruges now moves at a more relaxed pace. Take in the sites on a leisurely boat trip around the city’s canals, or watch the world go by while indulging in a waffle or fries in the Grote Markt (“the big square”).

5

Dresden, Germany

Dresden, Germany

Once described as “the most beautiful city in Germany,” Dresden suffered much damage during the Second World War. The city has been largely restored to its former glory, however, making it an ideal spot to visit, with plenty of museums, art galleries, churches, and gardens.

1

Basel, Switzerland

Basel, Switzerland

Often overlooked in favour of other Swiss cities such as Lucerne, Bern, and Zurich, Basel has enough charms of its own to make it a worthy destination for tourists. Culture vultures will love its many museums and theatres, while sporty types will appreciate its dedication to football, and the medieval Old Town and world-renowned zoo will be sure to delight everyone.

3

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest, Hungary

The capital city of Hungary, Budapest is by no means off the beaten track, but it has yet to achieve the hype of some of the other European capitals (although its profile is definitely on the rise). With its majestic buildings, abundance of thermal baths, cultural events year-round, and lively nightlife, there are plenty of reasons to visit this engaging city.

8

Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavik, Iceland

The world’s most northerly capital, Reykjavik is not, for obvious reason, on the traditional backpacker’s tour of Europe, but if you want to visit somewhere truly unique, you should consider the Icelandic capital. Its compact city centre is perfect for exploring, while the landscape surrounding it—featuring geothermal spas, glaciers, and volcanoes—provides countless more opportunities for adventure.