Paris, London and Barcelona and well-known and well-loved travel destinations, but these 10 European cities are just starting to show up on tourists' radars.
Surely, Paris would be a lovely vacation. Or Barcelona. Maybe Vienna. Beautiful and charming, these popular destinations are also expensive.
There has to be a happy medium between spending a fortune on a European vacation and heading to one of the cheapest cities that may be rife with corruption and crime. Just like finding a neighborhood to live in, tourists want to find that up-and-coming city — nice and safe and not overpriced, yet.
VirtualTourist compiled a list of European destinations that are just starting to show up on travelers’ radars, so you’ll be able to get in before the crowds.
10. Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
With the ethnic struggles of the 1990s behind it, Sarajevo is becoming a popular destination thanks to its cultural history and successful rebuilding.
The Latin Bridge, where Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, starting World War I. Another popular spot is Bascarsija, the Turkish area of the old town, with the Sebilj Fountain and the Bascarsija Mosque.
9. Riga, Latvia
The Baltic cities are becoming popular and Riga has one of the greatest collections of Art Nouveau architecture in Europe, according to VirtualTourist.
Photo by David Holt
Old Riga, the historical center and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is on the right bank of the Daugava River, plus there is St. Peter’s Church, the House of the Blackheads. For architecture enthusiasts, the Three Brothers trio of buildings reflects the changing trends.
8. Budapest, Hungary
Initially two cities split in half by the Danube, both the Buda and Pest sides of the city have destinations for tourists to visit.
Danube River splitting the city in half
The Buda side has the Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion and Trinity Square, while the Pest side offers the Parliament Building and Gresham Palace.
7. Valletta, Malta
Located in the Mediterranean just south of Sicily, Italy, the island of Malta had strategic significance in the past. Valletta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been named the European Capital of Culture for 2018.
Skyline including St. Paul’s Pro-Cathedral and Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
The Co-Cathedral of St. John, which has a Baroque interior and two Caravaggio paintings.
6. Zagreb, Croatia
Typically, Croatian cities along the Adriatic Sea are more popular tourist destinations. Mainly, the city’s visitors are from Austria, Germany and Italy. Visitors can ride the funicular get from the city’s Lower Town to the Upper Town.
Ban Jelacic Square. Photo by Miljenko Hegedic, www.hegedic.net
Zagreb Cathedral and Lotrscak Tower in Upper Town, and Oktagon shopping passage in Lower Town.
5. Porto, Portugal
The city’s wine is renowned and its historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Porto is built into the hillsides by the Douro River. Porto is the second-largest city, after popular Lisbon.
Waterfront at Foz do Douro.
The Ribeira district on the waterfront, the Cathedral and Rem Koolhaas’ Casa de Musica, which hosts classical music Sunday at noon for less than 10 Euros.
4. Valencia, Spain
A unique combination of historical sites and modern attractions, Valencia is just a short train ride from Barcelona. The city has many religious landmarks, such as the Catedral, which holds the Holy Chalice that Christ used during the Last Supper.
La Plaza de la Reina. Photo by Francesco Crippa
Llotja de la Seda (Silk Exchange), City of Arts and Sciences complex and Europe’s largest aquarium.
3. Vilnius, Lithuania
The capital of Lithuania, Vilnius has the largest Baroque old town in Eastern and Central Europe, according to VirtualTourist. Architecture enthusiasts will have plenty to see in Vilnius.
Old Town. Photo by Wojsyl
The nearly 2,000 stucco figures inside the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, the pink façade of the Church of Saint Catherine and the Gates of Dawn, a shrine within the only surviving gate of the city’s original five.
2. Hamburg, Germany
The city was named one of the hottest travel destinations for 2012 by Travel + Leisure, so people are already discovering Hamburg. Typically, it is overshadowed by Berlin, but Hamburg provides small-town qualities with big-city growth.
Alster Lake, the buzzing neighborhood of HafenCity and Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, a concert hall in the making.
1. Lviv, Ukraine
This city in Western Ukraine has become a modern business hub and was named the top European city to see. According to VirtualTourist, Lviv’s compact central area makes it easy to explore in one weekend.
Old Town. Photo by Jan Mehlich
Rynok Square, Korniakt Palace, Lviv Opera House and the “Night Lviv” festival in July.