Some European capital cities have been visited for centuries, having, subsequently, developed a multicultural image that can no longer be separated from their modern everyday life.
London, Paris, Rome, Madrid or Berlin are some of those cities, whose airports welcome millions of travellers each year. Despite the growing number of people arriving, some surrounding smaller cities and regions are not often visited, which allows them to remain traditional and strict to their own culture.
The following eleven cities convey this exact message. Although generally known by the majority of travellers, these towns – there are some capital cities as well – are still not crowded, providing a truthful experience and plenty of places to explore.
- Aix-en-Provence, France
Just a few miles away from Marseille, Aix-en-Provence is a small scenic town in southern France. In the XIX century, famous painter Paul Cézanne and writer Émile Zola grew up together here and brought the city to the spotlight.
Furthermore, if travelling in summer, the famous purple lavender fields can be admired on your way to – or nearby – Aix-en-Provence.
- Angra do Heroísmo, Azores, Portugal
Angra do Heroísmo is the main city of Terceira island in the portuguese archipelago, Azores. Angra has an historical significance and has been recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1983.
The city is just a brilliant excuse to discover the whole island, whose landscapes are absolutely breathtaking. Serra do Cume, Biscoitos and Praia da Vitória are just a few of the many mandatory stops in Terceira island.
- Bratislava, Slovakia
The capital city of Slovakia is often forgotten while travelling between Hungary, Austria and Czech Republic. However, Bratislava offers a wide range of interesting places to visit and an entertaining way to do so, while wandering around in the city’s streets.
Moreover, a full day might be enough to walk around the Danube banks, explore Bratislava’s castle and visit the Blue Church in the old city quarter, while taking pictures with the many statues, which can be found at every corner.
- Calvi, Corsica, France
With just over 5000 inhabitants, the town of Calvi is located in what is called, the Haute-Corse region – Corsica’s northern area. The town itself resembles the traditional towns of Tuscany and, according to a legend, it is believed to be the birthplace of Christopher Colombus.
In summer, Calvi becomes a popular destination among the French looking for relaxing vacations at the beach during spare time.
- Dresden, Germany
Located in the German state of Saxony, Dresden is a charming city lying on the bank of the river Elbe. There are countless landmarks worth to visit and it does not even seem that World War II left the city completely destroyed!
The renowned Frauenkirche (in the image) is the city’s ex-libris, but Dresden displays a marvelous baroque and rococo city center – take a look at the Semperoper or the Cathedral, both great examples of these styles.
- Évora, Portugal
Settled in the northern Alentejo, one of the largest Portuguese regions, Évora is a cozy and lively city holding an impressive historic heritage. From the Roman temple of Diana to the unmatched Capela dos Ossos – the Chapel of Bones – there are unique alleys to walk around during this excellent day tour from the capital city, Lisboa.
Moreover, if you decide to stay overnight, the region offers some more great treasures, such as Estremoz, Vila Viçosa, Arraiolos and Evoramonte.
- Livorno, Italy
Often called the “Little Venice” by its inhabitants, Livorno is a small city that has been constantly living in the shadows of its neighbours Pisa and Lucca.
Nevertheless, whether you are planning to go to Pisa or your cruise ship stops at Livorno, give the city an opportunity to surprise you, while wandering around the typical Italian-style streets.
- Oslo, Norway
The Norwegian capital is usually said to be the least interesting Nordic capital city, but we strongly disagree. Oslo is a renewed city, which mixes the old and new as few cities do. Among its major landmarks, the Oslo Opera House – in the image – is the proof of how a building can bring a whole city to the spotlight.
Furthermore, the city offers a broad range of activities to do and places to see. Visit the Vigelandsparken, the National Gallery to witness Munch’s Scream and, of course, the Vikingskipshuset – a museum whose main attraction is the ancient Viking culture.
- Palermo, Sicily, Italy
Palermo is the biggest city in the Italian island of Sicily, though it does not make it Sicily’s most iconic place. The Etna volcano, Siracusa, the amazing beaches and the Strait of Messina are undoubtedly the main reasons of why travellers arrive here.
Despite all these places, in the western part of the island, Palermo is still a treasure waiting to be found. Following the excitment of this chaotic city, also home to the famous Cosa Nostra – Sicilian Mafia – is the best way to experience the city’s daily life. Do not forget to visit the Cathedral, both main theatres – Massimo and Politeama (in the image) – the Quattro Canti square and the terrifying Capuchin Catacombs.
- Segovia, Spain
The old city of Segovia has been awarded the UNESCO World Heritage City certificate long ago, which makes this a must-visit in Spain.
Not too far away from Madrid, Segovia guards a wonderful historic treasure and both the Roman Aqueduct of Segovia and the Gothic-style Cathedral are great examples of the legacy carried by the city. But it is the Alcazar (in the image) that keeps up calling for travellers attention, since it was, according to some people, Walt Disney’s inspiration for the Disney castle.
- Thessaloniki, Greece
Located in the North of Greece, Thessaloniki is a completely different destination within Greece. Being off the beaten track, the city enjoys and delivers the authenticity that some parts of the country cannot.
Therefore, since the historical and cultural heritage comes from the Roman Empire, the Byzantines, the Macedonians and so on, there are countless landmarks in the city to witness – the White Tower, the Arch of Galerius (in the image), the Rotunda and the Aristotelous Square are just a few.
- Warsaw, Poland
Warsaw is one of those cases of a capital city that has been surpassed by some other landmarks in the country. We are talking about the Auschwitz concentration camps and subsequently, the nearby Krakow.
However, the Polish capital city has a brand new image. The city’s skyscrapers are just as amazing as the old city, boosting the quick development Warsaw has been witnessing over the past couple of decades.
Nobody will ever get to discover all European treasures. The old continent likes to keep its own secrets and there are always cities, towns and villages ready to reborn. Some of these faced tough wars in the past century, but the willingness to preserve the historical and cultural heritage has proven to be the main focus.
How many of these cities have you visited? Which ones would you add to this list?