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7 underrated European cities you need to visit

Business Insider Australia logo Business Insider Australia 1/12/2018
a view of a large building with Hungarian Parliament Building in the background: Budapest, Hungary. Budapest, Hungary.

When most people dream of travelling across Europe, they envision hitting the cities that we see in movies and on TV or that we read about in books.

While places like Paris, Rome, and London all have their merits and are definitely worth a visit, there are some seriously underrated places across the continent that have a lot to offer (even if you've never heard of them).

The next time you're ready to pack your bags and head overseas, considering making your way to these seven cities - you might just be amazed by what you find there.

York, England

a group of people riding on the back of a church

When most people think of England, they think of London, but there's an entire country outside of the capital with so much to offer, and York is definitely high up on the list. Located in the north of England - North Yorkshire, to be specific - the city was founded by the Romans around the year 71 AD. It remains a vibrant hub full of beautiful architecture (York Minster, a Gothic cathedral, is a particularly beautiful sight) and narrow, winding streets that truly make you feel as if you've stepped into another era.

Budapest, Hungary

a large body of water with a city in the background

While tourism is on the rise in Hungary's capital city, it's safe to say that it still remains a somewhat well-kept secret. The fourteenth largest city in Europe, Budapest is certainly one of the most beautiful cities in the world, boasting amazing museums, churches, and scenic views of the Danube.

Strasbourg, France

a group of colorful flowers

Paris may be the city of love, but Strasbourg, located just over two hours from the capital by train, serves as the official seat of the European Parliament and showcases the exquisite beauty of the Alsace region. Located close to the German border, Strasbourg's city center is an official UNESCO World Heritage site and features architecture and culture that's a charming mix of both German and French.

Rotterdam, Netherlands

the outside of a building

Amsterdam gets plenty of tourists, and for good reason, but just a quick 36-minute train ride away is Rotterdam, Europe's largest port and the home of the insanely cool Cube Houses. It also boasts the delicious and impressive indoor market, Markthal. The city is currently "riding a wave of urban development, redevelopment and regeneration," according to Lonely Planet, making it an exciting place to check out.

Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad), Czech Republic

a close up of a flower garden in front of a building

Prague has been a long-time favourite of travel lovers, and while you should certainly check it out if you're in the Czech Republic, don't neglect a trip to Karlovy Vary, a spa town in West Bohemia that's every bit as charming as its capital. Founded in 1350, Carlsbad, as it's also called, is famous for its numerous hot springs, which you can visit. It also features "elegant colourful architecture."

Bruges, Belgium

a small boat in a river next to a building

Another city flying seriously under the radar, Bruges - located less than an hour from Brussels by train - serves as the capital of the Flemish region of Belgium and its busy city center is another UNESCO World Heritage site. It's a city rife with canals, making it a beautiful place to stroll around on a sunny day. And, as one of the "best-preserved" medieval towns, you're sure to get a dose of historical education while you're at it.

Gdansk, Poland

a group of people walking on a city street

Poland in general has been growing as a tourism hub in recent years, with its historic city Krakow drawing a record number of visitors last year. However, venture north (roughly five and a half hours via train) to the Baltic coast and there you'll find Gdansk, the sixth largest city in the country. Gdansk is home to the Westerplatte war monument, the Long Market (a square that acts as the "heart of the city"), and a unique ambiance which makes it well worth the trip.

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