Hidden Gems: Off-the-Beaten-Path European Destinations for Canadian Travelers

 ETIAS for Canadians
ETIAS for Canadians
Are you tired of the same crowded tourist hotspots? Do you crave a travel experience that takes you off the beaten path and allows you to discover hidden treasures? If so, you're in for a treat. Europe is brimming with lesser-known destinations that offer a unique and authentic experience for Canadian travelers.
Best underrated places in Europe

Are you tired of the same crowded tourist hotspots? Do you crave a travel experience that takes you off the beaten path and allows you to discover hidden treasures? If so, you’re in for a treat. Europe is brimming with lesser-known destinations that offer a unique and authentic experience for Canadian travelers. So, what are some of the best underrated places in Europe?

From charming medieval towns tucked away in the countryside to picturesque coastal villages untouched by mass tourism, these hidden gems are waiting to be explored. Join us as we embark on a journey through Europe’s off-the-beaten-path destinations, where adventure and discovery await at every turn. Get ready to uncover the secrets of these hidden gems and create memories that will last a lifetime.

This comprehensive guide will cover the following topics:

  • The Appeal of Off-the-Beaten-Path Destinations
  • Eastern Europe
  • Southern Europe
  • Northern Europe
  • Western Europe
  • Practical Considerations


The Appeal of Off-the-Beaten-Path Destinations

Best underrated places in Europe When it comes to travel, there’s something truly enchanting about venturing off the beaten path and discovering hidden gems that are not yet overrun by tourists. These lesser-known European destinations offer a wealth of benefits and a unique travel experience that will leave you with unforgettable memories.


Unveiling Hidden Charms

One of the main appeals of off-the-beaten-path destinations is the opportunity to escape the crowds and immerse yourself in the authentic local culture. Instead of jostling through busy streets and standing in long lines, you can stroll leisurely through charming towns, interact with friendly locals, and experience the true essence of the place you’re visiting.


Discovering Europe’s Hidden Natural Beauty

From serene countryside landscapes to breathtaking coastal vistas, these lesser-known destinations often boast pristine surroundings that will leave you in awe. You can embark on scenic hikes, discover hidden beaches, and witness stunning sunsets in tranquil settings that feel like a world away from the bustling tourist hubs.


Eastern Europe

When it comes to exploring Europe, there is so much more than the popular tourist destinations. For Canadian travelers seeking a unique and immersive experience, venturing off the beaten path to discover hidden gems is the key. In this Part, we will delve into two captivating Eastern European destinations that often fly under the radar but offer an abundance of history, charm, and cultural experiences. Get ready to uncover the secrets of Lviv in Ukraine and the medieval allure of Brasov in Romania.


Lviv, Ukraine

Known as the “Paris of Ukraine,” Lviv is a city brimming with history and architectural splendor. From its well-preserved medieval Old Town to its grandiose churches and elegant squares, Lviv offers a captivating glimpse into the past. Wander through cobblestone streets lined with colorful buildings and take in the captivating blend of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture. Lviv is also home to a wealth of hidden gems, such as hidden courtyards, cozy cafés, and underground museums. Well, Immerse yourself in the local culture by attending a traditional music performance or indulging in Lviv’s famous coffee and chocolate culture. With its rich history, vibrant arts scene, and warm hospitality, Lviv is a destination not to be missed. It is one of the best underrated places in Europe.


Brasov, Romania

Best underrated places in Europe Nestled in the heart of Transylvania, Brasov is a medieval gem surrounded by the picturesque Carpathian Mountains. Step into a fairy tale as you explore the well-preserved city walls, charming cobblestone streets, and the iconic Black Church. Admire the Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture that dots the city, and be sure to climb the towering Black Tower for panoramic views.

Well, Brasov is also the perfect base for outdoor enthusiasts, with opportunities for hiking, skiing, and exploring the nearby Bran Castle, often associated with the legend of Dracula. Delve into the local cuisine by indulging in traditional Romanian dishes like sarmale (stuffed cabbage rolls) and mici (grilled minced meat rolls). Brasov’s unique blend of history, natural beauty, and warm hospitality will make your visit truly unforgettable.


Southern Europe

As Canadian travelers embark on their European adventures, the allure of off-the-beaten-path destinations becomes irresistible.


Matera, Italy

Step back in time as you explore the ancient city of Matera, nestled in the heart of the Basilicata region in southern Italy. Matera is famous for its Sassi, ancient cave dwellings that have been inhabited for thousands of years. Stroll through the labyrinthine streets of the Sassi and marvel at the unique architecture carved into the rocks. Discover the rich history and cultural sites, including the stunning rock-hewn churches. Immerse yourself in the local way of life by savoring the flavors of traditional Basilicata cuisine, indulging in homemade pasta and regional specialties. Matera’s unique charm and fascinating history make it a hidden gem worth exploring.


Kotor, Montenegro

Nestled on the shores of the Adriatic Sea, the town of Kotor in Montenegro is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. It is one of the best underrated places in Europe. Encircled by towering mountains and fortified walls, Kotor boasts a rich history and captivating beauty. Wander through the narrow, winding streets of the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and admire the well-preserved medieval architecture.

Climb the ancient walls for breathtaking views of the bay and the surrounding landscapes. Nature lovers will be enchanted by the rugged beauty of the Kotor Bay area, with its fjord-like scenery and opportunities for hiking, kayaking, and exploring charming coastal villages. Indulge in the local cuisine, featuring fresh seafood and Balkan specialties, and immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of Kotor.


Northern Europe

When it comes to European travel, many Canadian travelers are drawn to the popular destinations like Paris, Rome, and Amsterdam. However, there is a world of hidden gems waiting to be discovered in Northern Europe.


Faroe Islands

Best underrated places in Europe Tucked away in the North Atlantic Ocean, the Faroe Islands are a true hidden gem. This archipelago, consisting of 18 volcanic islands, offers stunning landscapes that will take your breath away. From towering cliffs and cascading waterfalls to rugged mountains and pristine fjords, the Faroe Islands are a nature lover’s paradise. Immerse yourself in the unique culture and way of life as you explore charming villages, meet friendly locals, and experience the traditional Faroese cuisine. Outdoor enthusiasts will find endless opportunities for hiking, bird watching, and even surfing in this remote and untouched destination.


Riga, Latvia

Step into the enchanting city of Riga, the capital of Latvia, and prepare to be captivated by its architectural beauty and vibrant arts scene. The historic center of Riga, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a treasure trove of Gothic, Renaissance, and Art Nouveau architecture. Stroll through the cobblestone streets and discover hidden courtyards adorned with stunning facades. Explore the local markets where you can taste traditional Latvian delicacies and find unique souvenirs. Riga also boasts a thriving arts and culture scene, with numerous art galleries, museums, and theaters to explore. From classical music performances to contemporary art exhibitions, Riga offers a rich cultural experience.

Before visiting any of these countries, make sure to check new travel regulations. Set to be launched in late 2025, ETIAS will enable Canadian citizens to visit the EU/Schengen Area countries (except Ireland) for up to 90 days with just a pre-issued digital travel permit, valid for 3 years. Find out more information on this website.


Western Europe

When it comes to European travel, it’s easy to get caught up in the allure of iconic cities like Paris, Rome, and Barcelona. However, there is a whole world of hidden gems waiting to be explored in Western Europe.


Galway, Ireland

Nestled on the west coast of Ireland, Galway is a vibrant city renowned for its lively atmosphere and rich cultural heritage. Known as the “City of Tribes,” Galway is famous for its traditional music scene, with lively pubs hosting impromptu sessions that will have you tapping your feet in no time. Well, Explore the charming streets lined with colorful buildings, browse the boutiques and craft shops, and sample delicious seafood in the city’s renowned restaurants. Just a short distance from Galway, you’ll find the breathtaking beauty of the Connemara region, with its rugged landscapes, pristine beaches, and opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and kayaking.

As mentioned above, ETIAS is going to change the way people travel around Europe. It will have certain requirements that everyone will have to follow. ETIAS authorization, which enables nationals of 58 countries worldwide, including Canada, will allow you to visit the EU/Schengen area (except Ireland) for up to 90 days per visit for three years.


Bruges, Belgium

Step into a fairytale as you enter the medieval city of Bruges in Belgium. Known as the “Venice of the North,” Bruges is a picturesque town with its winding canals, cobblestone streets, and medieval architecture. It is considered to be one of the best underrated places in Europe. Take a leisurely stroll along the canals and explore hidden corners that reveal charming squares and historic buildings. Visit the renowned art museums, such as the Groeningemuseum, to admire masterpieces by Flemish painters. Indulge in the city’s culinary delights, including Belgian chocolates and world-famous Belgian beers.


Practical Considerations

beautiful placesWhen it comes to visiting off-the-beaten-path destinations in Europe, a little preparation goes a long way. These hidden gems often offer a more authentic and unique experience, but it’s essential to be prepared for the logistics of getting there and finding suitable accommodations. Here are some practical tips to consider for your journey:

  • Research Transportation Options: Off-the-beaten-path destinations may not have direct flights or convenient train connections. Look into alternative transportation options, such as regional airlines, buses, or even renting a car. Be sure to check the schedules and availability in advance to plan your itinerary efficiently.
  • Plan Sufficient Time: Exploring hidden gems takes time, as they are often located away from major transportation hubs. Allow for extra travel time and consider staying overnight to fully experience the destination without rushing.
  • Seek Local Accommodations: Opt for accommodations that reflect the local culture and enhance your off-the-beaten-path experience. Look for guesthouses, bed and breakfasts, or small boutique hotels that offer a more intimate connection with the destination. These accommodations are often run by locals who can provide valuable insider tips and recommendations.
  • Embrace Flexibility: Off-the-beaten-path destinations may have limited tourist infrastructure, including restaurants and shops. Embrace the local way of life and be open to trying local cuisine, exploring hidden cafes, and shopping at local markets. It’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in the authentic culture of the place you’re visiting.
  • Pack Essentials: As you venture off the beaten path, be prepared for different weather conditions and outdoor activities. Pack appropriate clothing, comfortable shoes for exploring, and any necessary equipment for specific activities like hiking or water sports.



Exploring hidden gems in Europe offers a refreshing and rewarding travel experience that allows you to go beyond the well-trodden path and discover the true essence of a destination. From underrated places to off the beaten track beach holidays, Europe is full of hidden gems waiting to be explored. These lesser-known destinations offer a sense of authenticity, tranquility, and a chance to connect with local culture in a deeper way.

Whether you’re seeking mystical places in Europe, planning a winter getaway, or looking for romantic destinations, venturing off the beaten path provides a unique perspective and a chance to create unforgettable memories. From charming villages tucked away in the mountains to hidden coastal towns with pristine beaches, there is an abundance of hidden gems to discover.

So, dear Canadian travelers, embrace the spirit of adventure and explore the best underrated places in Europe. Go beyond the popular destinations and unlock the secrets of hidden gems that will leave you with a sense of wonder and a desire to continue your off-the-beaten-path journeys.

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