European Getaways: Underrated Cities
The Eiffel Tower, Trevi Fountain, Big Ben and La Sagrada Familia are just some of the iconic sites and monuments to marvel at when you first arrive in Europe. However, what happens when you’ve proudly crossed these experiences off your bucket list? Though paying a visit to these sites are a must, be sure you make the time to getaway and explore a side of Europe you haven’t seen before by embracing these underrated cities.
The city that is divided by the Danube River is not only known for being Hungary’s capital, but is also a city filled with grandiose buildings and lavishing experiences. Those who like to pamper themselves while on vacation can take pleasure in the many affordable activities Budapest has to offer.
History buffs can appreciate the fascinating story behind how Budapest came to be. In 1873, three cities that have been separate for centuries — Buda, Pest and Óbuda, were unified, forming the city we know today. To put the pieces of history together, walk across the Chain Bridge, the famous bridge that connects Buda and Pest. Other iconic and historic sites include the Buda Castle, the Hungarian Parliament Building, St. Stephen’s Basilica, Heroes Square and the Great Synagogue.
Living in the lap of luxury isn’t too hard in Budapest when you have experiences such as cruising down the Danube River, eating like royalty in the New York Café and of course, taking a dip in the popular Széchenyi Baths, the largest thermal bath in Europe. For the foodies who want to experience living like a local, try goulash – a stew made with meat and potatoes, lángos – deep-fried dough topped with any topping of your choice and somolói galuska – sponge cake, for dessert. Be sure to wash your food down with palinka, fruit liquor, at one of Budapest’s can’t-be-missed ruin bars.
Situated in southern Poland near the Czech Republic is the overlooked, but never disappointing Krakow with its unruined beauty that survived World War II. Aside from ornate pottery, Poland has more to offer such as welcoming people, stunning architecture, and of course, delicious pierogis. However, in Krakow, you’re sure to find the best hidden gems in Poland such as authentic polish cuisine that can be found in Bar Mleczny – a milk bar which is an affordable way to get Polish classics such as kielbasa sausage.
Along with picturesque cities, visiting an Eastern European country has its perks as they are known for being wallet-friendly, meaning you won’t have to break the bank during your travels. In Krakow, visit Wawel Castle and Cathedral, the Galicia Jewish museum and the Museum at Market Square for just under 38 Polish złoty.
Since this city has a colorful past, visiting sites to include Market Square, Planty Park, Barbikan, St. Florian’s Gate, The Sukiennice and the Wieliczka Salt Mines are a must! Be sure to also grab craft beers at Florianska Street and the Jewish Quarter which not only provides refreshing beer but also offers a bohemian vibe.
A northern-French city filled with culture and brick town houses, Lille remains an underestimated gem waiting to be discovered. What actually started out as a Flemish city, Lille is an industrial city, yet has rich history with Baroque buildings at every corner. In the old part of the city, you’ll find Palais des Beaux-Arts, a museum which size is just shy of the Louvre. Be sure to visit the Arc de Triomphe of Lille known as the Porte de Paris where the Belfry can be seen in the background.
One can’t go to France and not devour French cuisine so before leaving this beautiful city, sink your teeth in a pain au chocolat – chocolate bread, tartine – bread with any spread of your choosing, raclette – that famous wheel of cheese making appearances in fancy restaurants and last but not least, merveilleux – a mountain of meringue with whipped cream rolled in chocolate shavings. Whether you’re stopping by during your trip to Belgium, visit this off-the -radar city that won’t disappoint.
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