I’m in the midst of planning a trip to Europe (I really can’t keep away) and someone asked me the other day “why are you going to Europe? Don’t you think it’s a bit unsafe now?” And it’s actually a question I’ve been receiving a lot recently. People seem to be confused as to why I want to travel back.
I wont deny Europe has been facing some serious image problems over the past year with a lot of travelers concerned about their safety. There’s been terrorist attacks, refugee issues, and uncertainty from Brexit. Not to mention France took quite a hit as the highest visited country in the world.
But terrorism is a global phenomenon and there is so much that Europe has to offer. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that Europe is completely safe because I don’t have the right to do so. I can’t speak for everyone, I can only tell you why I’m deciding to put aside those issues and continue to travel. Travel is not about lying on a beach to me. It’s about connecting with locals, exchanging views and stories, learning about hope and conquering fears. It’s about coming together with other travelers and communities.
It doesn’t matter where in the world you’re going, there will always be some form of safety concern when traveling. Travel isn’t seamless but it’s the most rewarding thing in the world.
That being said, I know I’ve previously shared Europe’s underrated cities, but over the past few months I’ve done so much research into off-the-beaten-road destinations that I have to share what’s new on my radar. Here are the 5 most overlooked countries in Europe that you wont find on many people’s itineraries.
1. Bosnia & Herzegovina
It was only a few years ago that I really heard about the wonder and delights of this beautiful country. Sadly this place is still recovering from the war that ended over 20 years ago, but I have been urged by bloggers and friends that it’s somewhere I cannot miss. It’s filled with abandoned warehouses, airports, and buildings with sniper rooftops that you’re free to explore (although I have heard rather creepy stories!)
On the other hand, it also boasts awe-inspiring waterfalls, swimming spots, street art, a medieval town that comes alive with market stalls, caves, and the Dervish House that has remained untouched throughout the war. There is still SO much beauty in this country that I personally CANNOT WAIT to see with my own eyes.
Since The War of Independence (1991-1995) and the subsequent break-up of Yugoslavia, Croatia’s tourism has really suffered. I will admit that it’s gaining some attraction recently due to very large foreign investments into the tourism board, but it is STILL one of the most underrated countries. It doesn’t get half the attention and tourism it deserves as most tourists make a quick pit-stop along Croatia’s Adriatic coastline (usually only Dubrovnik) before hightailing it down to Greece. I’d say Croatia is probably my favourite country I’ve visited so far and it offers a lot more than the popular islands of Hvar and Dubrovnik. It’s filled with ancient walled towns, stunning national parks, waterfalls, an incredible nightlife, hidden beaches, and rolling vineyards. If you’re planning a trip, make sure not to miss Plitvice Lakes National Park, Makarska, Mljet, Peljesac Peninsula & Zagreb.
I really have no idea why Malta has only recently come into my interest but I’m so excited to explore this little country next year! I’ve only heard good things about it – friendly locals (apparently they love tourists as it’s not very tourism driven), stunning beaches, prehistoric sites, glistening waters, and a very relaxed lifestyle. And because of it’s small size, you can base yourself in one town and still see the entire country!
Romania is most well-known for it’s fortified churches, monasteries, and medieval towns and castles that stand amid a pristine landscape. I have heard on several occasions that visiting Romania is like stepping back in time. There are villages in Transylvania that have remained almost unaffected by modern civilization, including Brasov, Sighisoara and Sibiu. They still look the same as they did centuries ago! Plus, Romania is a great budget destination as hotel and food prices are incredibly low compared to other European countries.
I do feel like pictures speak for themselves when I mention Slovenia. In particular Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, doesn’t receive nearly as much recognition as it should. I’d easily call it one of Europe’s best kept secrets. You can find towering mountains, underground waterfalls, caves, and elegant cities. And let’s not forget one of it’s most beautiful attractions, Lake Bled, a turquoise lake embellished with a steeped church on a tiny islet, against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains. Such a dream.
Now it’s your turn! Have you visited any of these places or are they of interest? Where in Europe should I be adding to my bucket list that not many people know about?