You know that feeling when you want to take a trip but aren’t sure where to go?

Sure, you could hit up some of Europe’s big-name cities like Paris, Rome, Barcelona or Madrid but, maybe you’ve already been there, or you just don’t feel like going somewhere that feels as though everyone visits. Or perhaps it’s that the inflated prices of the popular cities are simply not in your budget (yeah, I hate that). Either way, don’t let that stop you travelling.

In any country there’s always an alternative to the big, popular city where you can wander without fighting your way through those groups of Asian tourists fighting with each other to get the best photos on their gigantic cameras. There’s somewhere else you can visit that is less touched by tourism, doesn’t have the inflated prices and just feels more relaxed away from the crowds.

Check out my pick of amazing alternative cities in Europe to visit…


Instead of booking flights to Rome, Venice or Florence why not take a trip to Bologna in the Emilia Romagna region in the north of the country. Bologna is an incredibly beautiful city filled with historic monuments, great architecture, a bustling nightlife thanks to the large number of students and is considerably cheaper than visiting one of the larger, more touristic cities.

The food in this region of Italy is worth visiting for alone and it’s even affectionately known as ‘La Grassa’ which translates to the fat one! Who wouldn’t want to visit a city that has a gelato museum?!


Split is a beautiful city on the coast of Croatia and is every bit as fabulous as Dubrovnik but much less crowded with tourists during high season.

The city is centred around the imposing ruins of the Roman Palace of the Emperor Diocletian and is filled with labyrinthine streets which are always busy with locals and tourists alike.

One of the best things to do is forget your map and just go wandering around the oldest streets of the city, it’s not big enough that you’ll ever really get lost and, who knows, you might stumble upon a fabulous restaurant or cafe hidden in a little courtyard. That’s pretty standard in Split.

Split has a gorgeous waterfront area lined with chic cafes and there’s plenty of companies offering sailing trips from the city if you want to get out onto the beautiful turquoise waters.


I know I always compare Glasgow to it’s smaller neighbour, Edinburgh, but unfortunately Glasgow is often overlooked in favour of Scotland’s capital city. Sure, Glasgow might not be quite as pretty as Edinburgh but there’s so many great things about the city.

Glasgow is a much more down-to-earth city than Edinburgh and has some of the friendliest locals around. The prices in pubs, bars, cafes, restaurants and hotels are also all a lot cheaper than it’s rival so you’ll get a lot more for your hard-earned cash.

Glasgow is filled with amazing museums, gorgeous parks, great restaurants and definitely has the best nightlife in Scotland. Head to Bath Street, Sauchiehall Street or the West End if you’re looking for a taste of it’s nightlife and if you’re into music then you’ll find live music on in many different venues throughout the city every single night of the year.


If you’ve been to Paris before and want a taste of French life without paying the ridiculous prices of the capital city then why not take a trip to nearby Nantes. It’s located only a few hours outside Paris but is a world away in terms of prices and the number of tourists.
Nantes has plenty of beautiful French architecture, which is so typically found in Paris, and also has a great contemporary arts scene thanks to some recent local programmes in the region.There’s traditional buildings throughout the city and there’s even a majestic castle complete with a moat. Fancy!

If you’re lucky enough during your visit you’ll even get to see the giant mechanical elephant which walks the city on certain days and is part of Les Machines de L’ile. It really is a sight to behold.


If you’re thinking of visiting Spain but aren’t enticed by Barcelona or Madrid then why not check out the city of Murcia – one of Spain’s least visited areas.

Murcia is an absolutely beautiful city – one of my favourites in Spain – but hasn’t been taken over by tourists as they usually tend to all stay along the coast.


Santa Maria Cathedral

The city has some gorgeous architecture, my favourite of which is the Santa Maria Cathedral which stands imposingly in a beautiful square lined with tapas bars.

I’ve also never visited a Spanish city which is anywhere near as cheap as Murcia. During my trips there I was eating so much tapas and washing it down with copious amounts of wine or Tinto de Verrano and it only worked out at around £10. That’s not something I can argue with!


If you fancy a visit to the Cote d’Azur but don’t fancy splashing out on accommodation in Cannes or Monaco then Nice is the place for you.

Nice is pretty much the cheapest spot on the Cote d’Azur and also happens to be a fantastic city with loads to do, see and eat. There is a wonderful promenade which is perfect for walking, jogging or running along when the weather is kind and there are also plenty of adorable streets in the Old Town of Nice.

A trip to Nice also wouldn’t be complete without walking along the Promenade to the most easterly point and then heading up the path to the Colline du Château. Continue on to the top of the hill and enjoy stunning views of the old town and the bay.


Image source

It’s also a great place to base yourself and use to travel to places such as Cannes and Monaco for a day trip rather than taking the hit on your savings and staying in either of these super expensive destinations.

Sure, you probably won’t spot any celebrities wandering around like you might in Cannes, but your bank balance will thank you for it!

What are your favourite alternative cities to visit in Europe? Have you been to any of these cities?