13 unknown countries in Europe you really should visit

13 European countries you should totally visit

Figured you knew Europe inside and out? And that you’d pretty much seen everything on that whirlwind trip of the continent three years ago?  Sure, we all know France, Spain, Italy and Scandinavia. But Europe has lots of lesser known countries that deserve a little time in the spotlight too! You should totally visit these 13 unknown countries in Europe!

8992925915_85a3813fcc_k1. Albania

Size: 28,748 km2
Inhabitants: 2.8 million
Language: Albanian
Currency: Albanian Lek

Albania lays on the coast of the Balkans, a region I visited last year. It’s highly recommended for the beautiful, deserted beaches, the incredibly cheap costs of traveling there, and the friendly people. It’s probably easiest to fly into Tirana, and be sure not to miss the beaches at Dhermi, Himara, and Ksamili. The ‘Blue Eye’ is incredibly Pinterest-proof, and also be sure to look out the window when traveling inland to the cute village of Theth, and traversing the many mountains of the country for epic views.

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2. Andorra

Size: 468 km²
Inhabitants: 85.458
Language: Catalan
Currency: Euro

This micro-country is wedged between Spain and France, high in the mountains, and offers the ultimate country for people who like epic vista’s and rugged mountain tops. The best advice is just to relax and enjoy nature… considering it’s micro-size there isn’t really much else to do. It’s the perfect stop for when traveling in Spain and France.

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3. Bosnia and Herzegovina

Size: 51,197 km2
Inhabitants: 3.8 million
Language: Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian
Currency: Bosnian Mark

Bosnia and Herzegovina was one of my favourite visited countries of 2015. It deeply impressed me with not only it’s stunning natural beauty, yummy cuisine, friendly locals, but mostly it’s heart-wrenching history. The Balkan-war (twenty years ago) is still omnipresent in a country littered with graveyards and gunshot-damaged buildings. The country is a mixture of cultures, religions and languages which makes it a very interesting country. Also the natural beauty was absolutely beyond everything I expected. Don’t miss the old bridge of Mostar, the vibrant Sarajevo and the gorgeous northern region.

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4. Estonia

Size: 45,339 km2
Inhabitants: 1.3 million
Language: Estonian
Currency: Euro

Most people find it hard to separate the three Baltic countries from each other. Estonia is the northern country of the three, and it’s capatical Talinn is a very popular destination in combination with a visit to Helsinki (only a 2hr ferry ride away). Estonia is actually a very developed and quite wealthy country. Capital Talinn is definitely not hard on the eyes, with it’s gorgeous medieval buildings, but also don’t forget to venture out to Lahemaa National Park and university city Tartu.

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5. Kosovo

Size: 10.887 km²
Inhabitants: 1.8 million
Language: Albanian
Currency: Euro

Another formerly war-torn country, but very safe nowadays. Its existence however still is controversial as Serbia refuses to acknowledge it’s independent nature, but most of the other countries in the world do. Capital Pristina doesn’t have the best reputation, but there are plenty other things to see in the country, such as Decani monastery, a 700 year old monastery. Another monastery is the bright red orthodox one in Pec. The most famous natural sight is the Rugova Gorge, a gorgeous canyon with breathtaking views.

Riga Square HDR, Riga Latvia

6. Latvia

Size: 64,589 km2
Inhabitants: 1.9 million
Language: Latvian
Currency: Euro

Latvia is the middle of the three Baltic-countries. Out of the three capitals, Latvia’s capital Riga is usually the most beloved, so if you’re looking to only visit one city in the Baltics, let that be the cute and colorful Riga. But also don’t forget to move out of the city and visit Gauja Natural Park for example. The medieval town of Cēsis is considered one of the cutest towns in the country. Castle-lovers should definitely not skip Rundāle Palace in the south of the country.

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7. Liechtenstein

Size: 160 km2
Inhabitants: 37.313
Language: German
Currency: Swiss Frank

Another micro-state, of which Europe has four, Liechtenstein is one you’ve probably never heard of. It is located between Switzerland and Austria and is tax heaven for companies. But it’s also heaven for anyone who loves the Sound of Music, and would rather live in a mountain village in the Alps. Marveling over the beauty all around you is really all you can -and should- do.

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8. Lithuania

Size: 65,300 km2
Inhabitants: 2.8 million
Language: Lithuanian
Currency: Euro

The southern country out of the three Baltic countries, with Vilnius as its capital. The old town of Vilnius is a UNESCO World Heritage site with it’s winding streets and old churches. Kaunaus is another cute city with its bright white churches, which once even used to be the countries capital. Don’t forget to escape the cities in Lithuania’s most favourite national park Aukštaitija National Park. The quirkiest thing about Lithuania is definitely its hill of crosses, in the north of the country, a protest against Soviet occupation.

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9. Macedonia

Size: 25.713 km²
Inhabitants: 2 million
Language: Macedonian
Currency: Denar

If this picture above doesn’t convince you, I’m not sure what will. This is Ohrid bay, one of the most picturesque (and touristic) places of the country. Capital Skopje has a very good reputation in the party scene. It also houses 284 statues… do with that information what you want. It’s also one of the cheapest countries in Europe, with guestrooms going from lower than 10 dollars a night.

1024px-Orhei_Vechi,_Moldova_-_Flickr_-_Dave_Proffer_(13)10. Moldova

Size: 33,846 km2
Inhabitants: 2.9 million
Language: Romanian
Currency: Leu

Located right next to Romania, the small Moldova is the least visited country in Europe. I would assume it’s because of it’s middle of nowhere-location for pretty much everyone on the continent, but it seems very undeserved. The capital Chisinau is definitely worth a visit, with it’s gorgeous parks and blue churches. The Capriana Monastery is one of the oldest in the country. Orheiul Vechi is an ancient settlement that is also worthy of your visit as it holds a monastery in a cave!

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11. Montenegro

Size: 13,812 km2
Inhabitants: 620,029
Language: Montenegrin
Currency: Euro

I was a little bit torn about how much I enjoyed my time in Montenegro, as when I visited it was 40 degrees, and the people weren’t exactly friendly either. But I honestly felt it was one of the naturally beautiful countries I’ve ever been to. I’ve never been to Norway but I figure it can give it a run for its money. We skipped the capital city due to not hearing great reports about it, and decided to visit the beautiful Durmitor national park in the north of the country (surreal, out of this earth beautiful) and the Bay of Kotor, which was absolutely beautiful (but too busy in summers).

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12. Serbia

Size: 77,474 km2
Inhabitants: 7 million
Language: Serbian
Currency: Serbian Dinar

I have lots of friends that are all crazy about Serbia. I’ve only passed by it, and didn’t have time to visit, but I still want to! I hear very good stories about the party atmosphere in Belgrade. Serbia is the largest country in the Balkan area (which also meant it had a very great role in the Balkan war…). Partiers flock to Exit festival every year, but if you’re into nature you should head to Devil’s town, a peculiar rock formation in the south of Serbia. The highlight of culture can be found in Belgrade, a city chock full of history and interesting museums.

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13. Slovenia

Size: 20,273 km2
Inhabitants: 2 million
Language: Slovene
Currency: Euro

Slovenia was definitely one of the most surprising countries from 2015 road trip trough central Europe and the Balkan. I was expecting it to be quite Balkan-esque… but it was super developed. It constantly reminded me of neighbour Austria, which is never a bad thing. Ljubljana, the capital, is one of the cutest capitals I’ve ever visited. The city is riddled with brigtly coloured houses, hipster café’s and lots of students, which makes it a cheap place to visit too. If you’re into nature, definitely head over to Lake Bled, which definitely lives up to its expectations.

Some well known airlines that fly throughout Europe are easyJet, Ryanair, KLM and Lufthansa. And if you are looking for a hotel, I recommend checking out booking.com!

What is your favourite lesser known European country?

Photo source: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,


19 comments

  1. Hannah

    I haven’t been to any! Although I am headed to Slovenia in April so at least that’s one I can tick off!

    Reply

    1. Explorista

      Slovenia really is Austria’s little brother, so green and beautiful, you’ll love it :)

      Reply

  2. Jenny - ikreis.net

    Still four missing…

    My visit to Albania was just a short one, I’m gonna explore the country more thoroughly in April. Looking forward to it!

    Reply

    1. Explorista

      I have loads missing still, but can’t wait to go explore more, as I adored my trip trough the Balkans :)

      Reply

  3. Amy Trumpeter

    I totally agree! I loved Riga (Latvia) and Tallinn (Estonia). I off to Serbia and Bosnia in a couple of weeks and really looking forward to it.

    Reply

    1. Explorista

      Lovely! Where are you going in Serbia & Bosnia??

      Reply

  4. LisaLDN

    Such a great list! I particularly agree with Lithuania and Montenegro! The latter borders to Croatia, so you can easily do a day trip to the famous Dubrovnik :) I also love all the Scandinavian countries, all though they aren’t exactly unknown.

    Reply

    1. Explorista

      I ADORED Dubrovnik, so gorgeous! I haven’t seen much of Scandinavia yet, but probably will this summer :)

      Reply

  5. Wesley Pechler

    I wholeheartedly agree with Serbia, Bosnia, Liechtenstein, Latvia & Lithuania! Such gorgeous gems of countries and (except for Liechtenstein) so much cheaper than Western-Europe. Excited to be ticking off Estonia in May!

    Reply

  6. Lucy

    I love Tallinn in Estonia it’s like being in a fairy tale! Also enjoyed visiting Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia & Montenegro. I need to visit the others they look beautiful!

    Reply

  7. Ricarda Christina Hollweg

    Very nice collection. I love rather unkown places and travelled to Albania and Montenegro for the first time this year. I also went to Macedonia, which I had already been to as a child. I was happy to learn something about Moldova, which is still on my list.

    Reply

  8. holly

    Strausborg France , Beautiful architecture and a fantastic christmas market

    Reply

  9. Sofkyr

    All beautiful countries and well presented by you , but allow me two comments. Kosovo is not a country, is an area of Serbia and what you call Macedonia is FYROM.

    Reply

    1. Explorista

      You are more than welcome to share your opinion on the topic, but I am afraid we will have to politely disagree on this topic. I see you are Greek and Greece recognises neither countries as independent. The majority of countries, however, recognise both Kosovo and Macedonia. I wrote my article from my viewpoint (being from one of those countries that do recognise them), and that of the majority of the world. Thank you for sharing your view!

      Reply

  10. this dick

    all of these countries are indeed very beautiful and i hopefully would like to go explore them one day.
    but my favorite just by looks is Macedonia its so cute i can’t wait to go, who knew the world had such great places.

    Reply

  11. Romà Massot

    I agree with your comments about these small beautiful countries.
    Not so small, but really unique is Iceland… sure you know this land!!
    Romà Massot
    Catalonia

    Reply

  12. Fern

    This might be a losing battle, but would it be too much to ask for these turist ads to spell the possessive correctly? It’s *its* beaches, no apostrophe. It only carries the apostrophe if it means the verb. *it is*. I know it’s confusing.

    Reply

    1. Explorista

      Thank you for your correction Fern. You might be interested to know that English is not my first language. I actually know the difference between its and it’s, but that doesn’t mean I never make typos like that.

      Reply

  13. Paars7

    I really like to travel. But I can’t see which country I like the most. We traveled 24 countries with a small car, camping in our pretty big tent in the last 7 years. Next year we will visit all countries of the Balkans and Greece.
    The Faröe Islands are very special and Iceland too!!

    Reply

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