Wednesday, May 23, 2018 Edition: U.S. & World | Regional

Your Guide to Europe’s Most Underrated Countries

Let me guess . . . when you think of Europe, your mind automatically jumps to images of Italy, France, England, and Spain. Perhaps Germany, Greece, and Switzerland come to mind as well. While those are all beautiful countries that you should absolutely visit (if you haven’t already!), there are plenty of other wonderful places in Europe to see as well! In fact, Europe has 50 countries in total! Below, you’ll find several countries in Europe that you may have never even heard of. While the below places may not be as trendy as Iceland is at the moment, they’re definitely worth a visit.
 
Montenegro

Home to just over 600,000 folks, Montenegro is a lovely country located in the Balkans. The Balkan Peninsula is located in southeastern Europe and is named after the Balkan Mountains. Situated on the Adriatic Sea, sandwiched between Bosnia and Albania, Montenegro is a land unlike any other. From the turquoise beaches to the stunning mountains, this country is a dream for nature lovers and sun worshippers. If you visit, be sure to head over to the Njegoš Mausoleum. Sure, you’ll have to climb nearly 500 steps to reach the top but boy is it worth it! You’ll be rewarded with amazing views of the Bay of Kotor that will leave you wondering why you didn’t run up the stairs to see it sooner.
 
Montenegro
Macedonia

This tiny, landlocked country in the Balkans is home to just over 2 million people. While this European country doesn’t sit on the coast, it sure doesn’t lack in beauty. Filled with mountains, lakes, and ancient cities, Macedonia is the perfect destination for any history buff. From the Ottoman and European architecture to the 15th-century Turkish bath complex, you’ll wonder why this country wasn’t on the top of your travel list from the beginning. Due to its location, Macedonia provides tons of adventure opportunities for those who love the outdoors. If you’re planning to visit, don’t miss Lake Ohrid and Lake Prespa! Be sure to visit Golem Grad island as well.
 
Macedonia
Slovenia

Yet another European country located in the Balkans, Slovenia is known for its majestic mountains and awe-inspiring emerald-green lakes. Did you know Slovenia is one of the greenest countries in the world? In fact, lush green forests cover over 65 percent of Slovenia’s national territory! It’s no wonder this country is nicknamed, a land of forests. You’ll notice from this list that many countries in the Balkan region are truly outdoorsy destinations. If you’re looking for a sleek, modern city escape, Slovenia is not the spot for you. Rather, it’s a country that offers plenty of skiing, walking, and hiking in the mountains, as well as dramatic castles and rustic farmhouses to admire. For a taste of art and culture, visit the National Gallery of Slovenia located in the capital of Ljubljana.
 
Slovenia
Finland

Home to nearly 5.5 people, Finland borders Sweden, Norway, and Russia. Often overlooked as a random European country to the north, Finland actually has plenty to offer its visitors. While everyone else is rushing to Iceland to get a look at the Northern Lights, hop over to Finland instead! Pick up a few lines of Finnish and Swedish, and pack your bags! Looking for a truly unique adventure? Book one of these glass igloos and sleep under the Finnish stars. For a city escape complete with chic eateries and hip bars, don’t miss Finland’s capital, Helsinki. Do you love a good winter vacation? Be sure to visit Lapland. It’s a magical area in Finland’s northernmost region; in fact, it’s said to be Santa’s homeland! It’s no wonder this Nordic country is the happiest in the world, according to the 2018 World Happiness Report!
 
Glass Igloos In Finland
Belarus

Where the heck is Belarus?! If you’re asking yourself that, don’t worry! Many folks have never heard of this unique European country. In fact, this country is a bit of an outlier for many reasons. It borders Russia and sits on top of Ukraine; so, it’s not surprising that Belarus takes more of its culture from the Soviet Union rather than the European Union. While this landlocked country is sometimes referred to as “Europe’s last dictatorship”, don’t be alarmed. You might be surprised to learn that 9.5 million people actually live here (millions more than Finland!). Belarus actually offers a simple respite from the other, busier countries and cities peppered throughout Europe. With beautiful cornflower fields, lush forests, and quaint villages, Belarus is a photo op just waiting to happen!
 
Belarus
Are you ready to book your next trip to one of these underrated European countries? While it’s nice to visit the popular countries (see: France, Spain, etc.), sometimes it’s even better to go off the grid for a bit! The Balkan region is incredible if you’re looking for an outdoorsy getaway, while Finland provides a winter escape for the more cold-blooded. Of course, if you’re really looking for a new adventure, there’s always Belarus. Have you been to one of these countries? Any other countries you’d consider underrated in Europe? Let us know in the comments below!
 

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