15 Offbeat Destinations in Europe to be Explored

Offbeat Destinations or places in Europe are something yet to be explored and the beauty of the places can be enjoyed devoid of tourists. I love Europe as a continent however most of the known places are over touristy. Hence before traveling to any country I always search for Offbeat Destinations. Not necessarily I find offbeat destinations before traveling however sometimes I discover offbeat destinations while on the move from the locals.

You can find offbeat destinations in your country too. Once this lockdown is over, travel to an offbeat destination in any country to enjoy the pure form of culture & nature. The offbeat destinations in a country offer you to experience the life, culture and interact with the local from close quarters. If you are in love with photography you will also get to capture some unique photographs at these offbeat destinations.

I took up a personal challenge to find offbeat destinations which are not frequented by tourists in Europe. Why in Europe? Europe is one of the most traveled continents in the world and hence finding offbeat destinations in Europe becomes a challenge.

There are lots of offbeat places in Europe however this list of offbeat destinations in Europe are from the most visited countries and easily accessible from all major cities so that most of the tourists who are planning to travel to the over touristy destinations in Europe can visit these offbeat destinations in Europe

15 Offbeat Destinations in Europe

So let's start with the list of offbeat destinations in Europe where you can travel to on your next vacation.

Mantua, Italy

The first place in the offbeat destinations in Europe is Mantua. Mantua is over 4000 years old town in Italy in the Lombardy region. Mantua is an ancient Italian city that’s so incredible to see.  Mantua is full of history and you can really emerge yourself in this offbeat destination in Italy. 

Mantua remains still undiscovered from the hoards of tourists due to its famous neighbors Venice & Milan. People generally visit the famous cities keeping Mantua untouched and it has become a blessing in disguise. 

Mantua in Italy houses the largest residential building in Europe after the Vatican. The Ducal palace houses 600 rooms. The few areas are accessible to the general public. The rooms of the Ducal Palace are an architectural feast with huge beautiful frescos. You can get lost for hours looking at the beauty of Ducal Palace The three surrounding lake adds to the beauty of Mantua town and you can do a sunset cruise.

Things to Do in Mantua

Head to the Basilica di Sant'Andrea which took 300 years to complete. Head to Palazzo Te which was built 500 years ago is one of the most beautiful palaces in Italy. And the most important one, don't miss Ducal Palace. Mantua has few world UNESCO building and Rotonda di San Lorenzo is one among them.

How to get to Mantua

The nearest airport to Mantua is 1 Valerio Catullo Airport located near Verona, on the Brennero's Highway, just 25 minutes away from the city. You can take a train from Milan to Mantua it takes approx 2hrs 15 mins.

Cuenca, Spain

If you have seen pictures of Spain with houses on the cliffs then you must have seen the pictures of Cuenca. Second, on our list of Offbeat Places in Europe is Cuenca in Spain. This offbeat destination of Spain is listed in the UNESCO heritage. You will surely fall in love with the houses delicately hanging off the cliffs and the cobbled streets.

You can enjoy Cuenca on a day trip from Madrid. But if you are a lover of medieval walled city, hikes and unspoiled nature then Cuenca in Spain has lots of things for you. For you to enjoy the beauty this offbeat destination in Europe has to offer you need at least 3 days.

Things to Do in Cuenca 

Just wander around the walled town of Cuenca or soak yourself in the beauty of Cuenca Cathedral. Don't miss the Casas Colangates or the Hanging Houses.

How to get to Cuenca  

The easiest way to go to Cuenca is from Madrid. It takes approximately 1 hour to reach Cuenca from Madrid by train and can be done as a day trip.

Erfurt, Thuringia, Germany

Probably you have not heard about this place in Germany. This is one of the interesting places which has featured in the offbeat destination in Europe list. 

Erfurt is "in the ideal location, there just has to be a city there."This is how Martin Luther, the great Reformer, once described the city where he himself studied, and which is now the capital of Thuringia.

Erfurt is the capital of Thuringia which is the Free State of Germany. The city is rich with 1200 years of history. One of the oldest intact synagogues is there in Erfurt Germany along with Baroque fortress. It is also the home to Europe's longest passable inhabited bridge.

If you are a foodie like me then let me tell you the sausages are best-rated sausages in Germany. If you want to see German life in the purest form then head to Erfurt.

Things to Do in Erfurt 

Head to Krämerbrücke bridge which is a bridge lined with half-timbered houses crossing a branch of the River Gera. At 79 meters, it’s the longest Medieval bridge in Europe to have inhabited houses. Don't miss going to Erfurt Cathedral which has a Gothic architecture. There’s a stucco retable depicting the Virgin and Child from 1160 and the astonishing Wolfram candelabra from dating to around the same time. Going back as far as the 1000s, Erfurt’s Old Synagogue is one the best-preserved Medieval synagogue in Europe which was constructed in the early 1000s.

How to get to Erfurt  

It takes around 2.5 hrs by Deutsche Bahn Intercity-Express from Frankfurt  Flughafen Fernbf to Erfurt Hbf every 3 hours. Tickets cost 50€ - 70€..

Brisighella, Italy

Brisghella is the hidden medieval village in Emilia Romagna in Italy. Brisighella in Italy doesn't see many foreign visitors at all however it produces one of the best olive oils. Brisighella is a dreamy village dotted with pastel-hued houses, vineyards and tower topped hills. Brisighella is what Italians call a “Borgo”: a charming medieval small village built around a castle or palace, generally surrounded by walls. Borgo is a symbol of Italian culture with cultural heritage and traditions.

This medieval village is a photographer's dream. Just spend your day walking lazily in the village and chat up with the strangers.

Things to Do in Brisighella 

When you are in Brisighella in Italy you just need to relax to get the real feel of the Italian way of life. Enjoy various wine tasting sessions, learn cooking Italian cuisine. If you are adventurous then head to Tanaccia Cave. If you are going to Tanaccia Cave take a guided tour.

How to go to Brisighella   

The best way to go to Brisighella is from Florence. By road, it takes approximately around 2 hours and by Train, it takes around 4 hours. First, you have to go from Florence to Bologna and then again take a train from Bologna to Brisighella.

Nisyros Island, Greece

If you imagine whitewashed houses along the side of the Aegean sea then Nisyros is not a typical Greek island. Nisyros island in Greece is also an active volcano and is the youngest among all islands and has seen 3 major volcanic eruptions in the last 45000 years.

So you must be wondering why I am asking you to travel here. Well in the last 130 years the volcano on the island is dozing off and is going into sleep. However, you can hear few sounds of the volcano. This volcano can be easily visited by driving on Nisyros Island.
The island is more or less circular in shape with a diameter of 8 km. The plain/caldera with seven volcano craters in it is surrounded by hills and mountains. It is situated in the middle of the island and is about 3 to 4 km wide.

If you are thinking that you will miss the whitewashed houses and Aegean sea then let me tell you Nisyros will not make you disappointed and you will be surprised to save a huge amount of money as the cost of stay and food is not high as in Santorini or Mykonos.

You need to stay at Mandraki Village which is also the port of Nisyros.

Things to Do in Nisyros 

The volcano of Nisyros is the most important attraction of the island.
The main town of the island of Nisyros is extremely beautiful. There are picturesque whitewashed houses and also there are two castles: a Venetian fortress on the hill in the village and an old fort called Kastro. The fortress of Kastro is situated at 1-kilometer distance inland and has walls of so-called cyclopean stones (very large) and an entrance that is made of blocks of lava rock. This is the site of the ancient Acropolis. Inside the walls, there is not much more to see. You can reach the fort by taking the road that heads south from Mandraki.

In the village of Loutra in the north of the island, not far from Mandraki there are hot springs that supposedly have a healing power against diseases such as arthritis and rheumatism. These hot springs originate directly from the volcano. Other hot springs can be found in Avlaki, situated in the south of the island.

How to go to Nisyros? 

The only way to go to Nisyros is by Boat.  Ferries depart from Piraeus to Nisyros and there are also connections with Rhodes and Kos.

Segura de la Sierra , Spain

The next one in the 15 offbeat destinations in Europe is in Spain. Segura de la Sierra a small village within the province of Jaén, (Spain), that belongs to the region of Sierra de Segura in eastern Andalusia.

This offbeat destination in Europe is a village with narrow streets and historic corners. It huddles beneath castles which is still surrounded by old walls. This offbeat destination in Europe was declared as the Historic-Artistic Site and Picturesque village. The village of Segura de la Sierra has numerous monuments and architectural details, such as the Town Hall, the Imperial Fountain of Carlos III, the Arab baths, the Parish Church of Nuestra Señora del Collado, Jorge Manrique's House, the House of El Celemí­n, the Arch of Cavalcavia, the Puerta Catena Entrance and the Fuente Mora Fountain.

The major local celebration is that the festivity of the Virgen del Rosario between the 4th and 8th October that mixes religion and culture, those days the town had many of us coming from other close villages.

During the day people enjoy the bull fightings within the Arabian square placed down the Castle and therefore the competition of Bolos serranos. The party filled the night with much music and dancings that was typical pasodoble.

Things to Do in Segura de la Sierra

Visit the castle Castillo de Segura de La Sierra and don't forget to visit the magical shop La Titereria.

How to go to Segura de la Sierra 

Valencia is the closest city from Segura de la Sierra. It takes approximately 4 hours to reach. Just hire a car and drive down the picturesque countryside of Spain.


If you don't want over touristy experience in Switzerland then you should head to Ebnat-Kappel which features next in my list of 15 offbeat destinations in Europe.  This place is surrounded by spectacular snow-clad peaks, amazing hiking trails, and beautiful ski locations. The best part of Ebnat-Kappel in Switzerland is you will hardly find any tourist here.

The entire village of Ebnat-Kappel in Switzerland seems to know each other as the population is just around 5000 people. The village of Ebnat-Kappel is also part of the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites of National Importance. It is also one of the best Ski resorts which are frequented by the locals during the winter.

Things to Do in Ebnat-Kappel

If you are fond of skiing or want to try your hands at then head to Skilift Tanzboden which is less than a kilometer from Ebnat-Kappel station. When in Switzerland having and experiencing Swiss Chocolate is a must, head for Laderach Chocolate Experience. You can hire a cycle and just cycle on the roads.

How to go to Ebnat-Kappel

By Train, it just takes approximately 2 hours from Zurich or else you can hire an Uber or private care to reach in 1 hour to Ebnat-Kappel in Switzerland.

Umbria, Italy

The next in the list of 15 Offbeat Destinations in Europe is the Green Heart of Italy.

Umbria is an amazingly beautiful Italian region bordered by the greenery of Tuscany, Le Marche, and Lazio. Characterized by medieval hill towns, gorgeous lakes, fascinating Roman ruins, and lip-smacking local cuisine, it’s the epitome of holiday heaven.

Forage for truffles, taste fine Italian wines, and uncover the history. Whether you’re looking for a spiritual escape in ever-popular Perugia, or you’d prefer the quieter slow life of Narni, Umbria truly has it all.

Umbria has no access to the Mediterranean but is home to at least one of the most important lakes of Italy.
Umbria is for the laid-back traveler, one who would perhaps wish to sip the uniquely Umbrian wine called Sagrantino is one among the various Umbria Wineries. There are many interesting and historic towns to discover; the regional capital Perugia, Saint Francis's town of Assisi, or the Etruscan city of Orvieto.

Things to Do in Umbria, Italy

Umbria, as I said, is for a laidback traveler, just relax and take a wine tour or learn how to cook Italian cuisine. If you are adventurous then head to  Cascate Delle Marmore waterfall near Terni. You can try your hands on canoeing here.

How to go to Umbria, Italy

The nearest city is Florence and it takes just 2 hours to reach by bus or train. Start your journey from Perugia in Umbria. From Rome, it will take approximately 3 hours to reach Umbria.

Monsanto, Portugal

This is one of the most interesting places in the list of offbeat destinations in Europe to be explored. Here most of the houses are sandwiched between gigantic boulders.

Monsanto is on top off a mountaintop overlooking the countryside of Portuguese. The mountaintop was of historic importance as it was the lookout point of Templar Castle. The castle at the top gives spectacular views, and you can have a lovely walk down the back and over the amazingly huge boulders.

The village of Monsanto has hardly changed over the years and it has become a living museum. You will see beautiful cottages tucked inside boulders and some of the boulders are actually fitted with doors and structures carved into the rocky landscape.

Things to Do in Monsanto, Portugal 

The views from the Monsanto castle are amazing and visiting the castle in Monsanto is a must. To get to the castle, you need to do a little bit of steep hiking up the hill.Make sure you’re wearing suitable shoes. Just below the castle fortifications, you will find the Romanesque Capela de São Miguel (St Michael’s Chapel), surrounded by stone coffins. Head to Praça dos Canhões’ lookout from where you will see the plains surrounding Monsanto, Portugal.
Matriz church shouldn't be missed, this is a well-preserved church with unique architecture since the Roman era.

How to go to Monsanto, Portugal 

The closest airport to Monsanto is Lisbon Airport and it will take approximately 3 hours to reach Monsanto. You will not get any direct public transport to reach the village.

Giethoorn, Netherlands

Giethoorn is also called Venice of the North which is a small town in the province of Overijssel in the Netherlands. It is so beautiful and serene that it had to feature in the top 15 offbeat destinations in Europe waiting to be explored.

The town has no roads and has only a series of canals and wooden walking bridges. The town of Giethoorn is extremely picturesque and most of the houses sit on islands of their own. Hire a canoe which is also called as the whisper boats and enjoy the beautiful sights of this town. Giethoorn was a settlement of peat harvesters in the past. Peat cutting created ponds and lakes, and people started building houses on the islands between the ponds and lakes.

Head to many quaint little cafes where you can enjoy authentic Dutch cuisine. In Giethoorn in the Netherlands, you can see how the Dutch people loved to live on the water.

Things to Do in Giethoorn, Netherlands

The best way to see the sights that Giethoorn offers is by boat. Hire a canoe and just row between the beautiful houses and canals. Giethoorn is home to a couple of small museums so during your leisure time you can visit these museums.

How to go to Giethoorn, Netherlands

 From Amsterdam or Central station, take a train to Steenwijk. There are direct trains available but if you find a connecting train via Zwolle, just get on the train. It will take around 90 minutes to reach Steenwijk from Amsterdam. Once you reach Steenwijk, head to the bus station which is just next to the station. Board the bus No.70 & get down at Giethoorn village bus stop. This journey from Steenwijk to Giethoorn will take around 30 minutes. So in a maximum of 2.5 hrs, you will be able to reach Giethoorn from Amsterdam.

Roquefort, France

If you are a cheese aficionado then you will relate the name of this offbeat destination in Europe. Yes, the famous cheese, Roquefort Cheese with green-blue veins gets its name from this place.If you love cheese, that hits you in the mouth like cheese, and demands a full-bodied red wine to cut its mind-altering strength in half, then you have to taste the Roquefort cheese.

Roquefort in France is the perfect village if you want to get a taste of French life and french cuisine. Roquefort is also famous for its caves where you will find many Cheese cellars. The limestone plateau that is instrumental in the development of the Roquefort cheese.

Things to Do in Roquefort, France

Just book a Cheese tour and learn the history behind the 600 years Roquefort cheese and how it is made. On these tours, you will also get to taste the famous cheese with a glass of wine.
Even if you don’t like cheese, it’s a great opportunity to get underground, where thousands of people earn a living every day.  It’s truly fascinating to see how an entire industry functions, underground, whilst the rest of the world carries on above it.

How to go to Roquefort, France

By Train from Paris to Roquefort, it takes approximately 4.5-5 hours to reach by train or if you love to drive in France then it will take approximately 7 hours to drive down to Roquefort.

Dinant, Belgium

The next destination on the list of offbeat destinations in Europe can be done as a day trip from one of my favorite city i.e. Brussels. Dinant in Belgium is home to the Saxophone and the hardest biscuits in Belgium.

Dinant was a Celtic settlement before it fell into the hands of Romans. The city made huge progress during the medieval period due to its copper industry known as Dinanderie.

Dinant in Belgium is a true picture-perfect postcard town. Dinant provides a spectacular view, when you look across the Meuse and look towards the Citadelle and the onion-domed tower of the Collegiate church, lined by the row of houses and shops running alongside the river. Dinant is set between an amazing cliff and a river which adds to the beauty of the place.

Things to Do in Dinant, Belgium

Don't miss having biscuits here in Dinant which comes in various interesting shapes.  Dinant also has one of the most beautiful caves in Belgium. Discovered in 1904, the caves are known for the clarity of its stalactites and waterfalls. The caves are located within walking distance from the center (10 min) and the guided tour takes you about 40 meters down under the ground for approximately one hour. If you are a heritage lover you will enjoy visiting nearby castles and abbeys.

How to go to Dinant, Belgium

It will take around 1 hour to reach Dinant from Belgium.
There are direct trains to Dinant from Brussels from Luxembourg Station which takes around 1.5 hours.

Dinan, France

This offbeat destination in Europe will give you the fee of the perfect French town straight out of the movies. Dinan is, without doubt, one of the most beautiful and well-preserved towns in Brittany.
Dinan is so beautiful that you will feel whether it is real or not. These kinds of towns exist in Disney movies and fairytales books. 

The medieval town has some finest architecture in Brittany, with buildings dating as far back as the 13th century. Much of the original city walls still exist which will mesmerize the history buffs.
Dinan is designated as a Town and Land of Art and History.

The best location is its Centre Historique, which is filled with well preserved half-timbered houses, cobbled streets, beautiful monuments, and buildings. You can spend days walking on the cobbled streets and enjoy the beauty of Dinan in France.

When it comes to ticking off attractions, taking the rampart walk is a good place to start. The defensive walls were built in the 13th century and today 10 out of the original 14 guard towers are still standing, as are four gates. They stretch for just under three kilometers, and certain portions are walkable. The prized piece of the ramparts is Château de Dinan, built in the late 1300s and today hosting a very interesting museum which houses many exhibits chronicling the history of Dinan.

Things to Do in Dinan, France

There are many interesting landmarks around Dinan and make sure you go to the St. Sauveur Basilica and Saint-Malo Church. St Sauveur church of Dinan France was built in the 12th Century whereas the latter was constructed in 1490. Dinan is also known for artistry thing and one of the best ways to discover this artistic scene is by attending the Thursday morning market at the Centre Ville, or by strolling up from the port along Rue du Petit-Fort which is lined with shops.

How to go to Dinan, France

The best way to visit Dinan France is by driving to the place. However, if you are traveling from Paris, by bus it takes approximately 6.5 Hrs and if you combine both train and bus it takes approximately 4.5 hrs.

Durham, England

The next offbeat destination in Europe will give you the authentic feel of British culture. Look no further and visit Durham which has UNESCO listed castle and a cathedral. Durham is full of hidden gems in terms of history and nature.

Durham is most famous for the castle and cathedrals which will keep you enthralled. There are lots of while cool cafes, river water sports, and historic architecture are close by which you can enjoy at your leisure. Outside the city, there is Durham Heritage Coast which is ideal for hiking and relaxing and plenty of castles. The place is extremely easy to get around as you don't have to rely on public transport. There are loads of local transport and the best way to travel is by walking.

Things to Do in Durham, England

Visit the Cathedral & the castles which Durham has to offer and don't miss to go to the Beamish Museum.

How to go to Durham, England

Durham has connections from London and Edinburgh by train, and Newcastle International Airport is a short drive or public transport connection away.

San Marino

Well, this destination which features in offbeat destinations in Europe is not a place but a country in itself. San Marino is a tiny nation that is surrounded by Italy.  The total area of this country is a mere 62 square kilometers. This is the 5th smallest country in the world. There are in EU but not a part of EU, sounds confusing right, well then let me make it more confusing. They aren't in the EU but use the Euro.

Another interesting thing is at any point they have two presidents who serve 6 months each. The country of San Marino has its own calendar too. People might tell you to visit San Marino on a day trip but my suggestion would be to spend a night there as San Marino offers amazing sunsets. After sunsets, the entire atmosphere becomes really interesting and the nightlife is good.

Things to Do in  San Marino

 Honestly, not much to do but you should visit San Marino just for the uniqueness of the country.

How to go to San Marino

You will find coaches which depart from Rimini station in Italy. From Rome it takes around 4 hours to reach San Marino by car and from Florence in Italy it takes around 3.5 hours to reach.

Please Pin this for a later read!

Did you visit any of these offbeat places or plan to visit then let us know in comments below if you want any help regarding the planning. Also if you want me to include any other places in the list let me know in the comments.


Shoestring Travel


  1. The list looks so enticing, cant wait for things to go back normal, so I can plan to visit these places

  2. Your list is amazing, I do have Monsanto, Portugal on my Bucket list and need to add some more now. What a lovely post.

  3. I've only heard of Durham and San Marino. With this post, you've extended my knowledge on offbeat locations.

    Hopefully I should be able to go to some of these places post the lockdown gets done.

  4. Wow, Europe is the definite destination for me once the lockdown ends.

    Your post has just strengthened my resolve for this trip of my lifetime.

  5. omg...world is indeed beautiful and lot to be explored.

  6. I had never heard of these places before! Wow! I would love to visit these offbeat but amazing places!

  7. Europe has always mesmerized me with its natural beauty, historical monuments and architecture. I wish everything gets better there soon so that tourists can again enjoy Europe.

  8. Such a detailed post about offbit places of Europe. I want to visit all these places soon. Hopefully one day :)

  9. Wow.. An amazing list. Wish I could visit any of the place. Italy was on my list since long, hopefully I get to visit it soon.

  10. Nice post .. Speaks a lot beyond the cliche places of Europe .. Someday I must ..



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