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10 of the best undiscovered attractions in Europe

10 of the best undiscovered attractions in Europe

My favourite travel memories aren’t usually the ones where I’ve visited busy tourist attractions.

The times when I’ve found the offbeat areas of a city, discovered something that most tourists don’t know about, or spent time in places where the locals hang out are the ones that often stand out in my memory.

Everyone knows of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Astronomical Clock in Prague, Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and St Mark’s Square in Venice, but Europe has a lot more to offer than these stock standard sights.

If you want to get off the beaten path and discover some awesome but lesser known attractions in Europe, here are 10 that are sure to blow your mind!


Budapest Ruin Pubs

1. Ruin Pubs, Budapest

You absolutely cannot head to Budapest without visiting a few of its Ruin Pubs! What are Ruin Pubs, you ask? If you head into the Jewish Quarter, you’ll find a collection of once derelict warehouses and factories that have been transformed into bars.

These venues will often be decorated with upcycled furniture and wacky decorations that you’d probably find in a scrap yard or buried deep in a box of junk at an antique store. These casual places nightlife hotspots are where all the cool kids hang out in Budapest. Here’s a map and list of Ruin Pubs in the city.

Solheimasandur plane wreck, Iceland

2. Solheimasandur plane wreck, Iceland

This eerie looking wreckage is a US military plane that crashed on the black sand beach in Iceland in 1973. There is no signage for it, only a gravel area where you’ll see a few cars parked by the side of the road.

It takes 40 minutes to walk from the road to the plane wreck (and walking along this sandy wasteland is suuuuuper boring) but it’s worth it! You’ll get some awesome photos and can climb all over the wreckage.

Soviet Arcade Museum, St Petersburg

Soviet Arcade Museum, St Petersburg

3. museum of Soviet Arcade Machines, St Petersburg

We actually didn’t know about the museum of old soviet arcade machines until we found a flyer for it in our St Petersburg hostel. This place has an insane collection of restored soviet arcade machines which you can actually play on. The museum staff will give you actual soviet era coins to insert into the machines.

We thoroughly enjoyed getting into the soviet spirit by driving miniature tanks around a war course, and comparing our strength to a Russian family’s little girl or apparently muscly grandfather by struggling to pull a “turnip” from the ground.

Luxembourg Gardens, Paris

Luxembourg Gardens, Paris

4. Luxembourg Gardens, Paris

Paris has never been my favourite city in Europe, but we did find some fantastic areas off the beaten path that made our visit to Paris worthwhile.

Luxembourg Gardens was such a pleasant surprise – here you can experience the real Parisian lifestyle by watching locals sit and read books, enjoy a spot of sunshine, walk their miniature dogs and eat fresh crepes. What more could you want out of a visit to Paris?

Shoreditch, London

5. Shoreditch, London

In my opinion, Shoreditch is one of the most underrated activities to do in London! This area is sure to satisfy all of your hipster cravings as Brick Lane is known for it’s abundance of vintage clothing, record stores, antiques, and weekend markets.

And if you’re into street art (like I am), then you’ll find the walls of Shoreditch to be phenomenal. Every surface seems to have a massive mural, or political propaganda, or posters, or just a selection of random colours splashed all over it. I tend to go a bit photo crazy with the all the art around here.

Brussels Atomium

6. The Atomium, Brussels

The museum itself isn’t all that interesting, but the Atomium in Brussels was awesome purely because the structure is so damn weird.

Constructed for the 1958 world fair, the Atomium stands a little way out of the city but is easily accessible by train. Once inside, there are numerous exhibitions in 5 of the spheres, connected by stairs or escalators that travel through the long cylinders between them.

Kutna Hora bone chapel, Czech Republic

Kutna Hora bone chapel, Czech Republic

7. Kutna Hora bone chapel, Czech Republic

What if I told you that there is a chapel in the Czech countryside that is decorated with the bones of 40,000 plague victims? Yep, this place actually exists. You can take a day tour to Kutna Hora from Prague to visit this weird and wacky attraction.

It’s a strange feeling walking into this chapel and knowing that there are so many skeletons in there, seemingly watching your every move. The bones are arranged to create strange decorations in the basement of the chapel.

View from Strahov Monastery, Prague

Strahov Monastery, Prague

8. Strahov Monastery, Prague

Many of our favourite places are often beer-related, but this place puts a twist on your average Czech Pils as it the recipe was originally made by monks, and is served in a monastery.

Strahov Monastery is perched on the hill behind Prague Castle and has a fabulous view of the city. The building itself is super pretty and guided tours are available if that tickles your fancy. The on-site restaurant is where you’ll find the local brews served, which is positioned right at the top of a breathtaking walk back down the hill.

Stockholm Subway, Rådhuset Station

9. Subway Stations, Stockholm

The Stockholm subway has been called the ‘world’s longest art exhibit’ as it stretches for 110km. Over 90 of the city’s 100 subway stations are decorated, with installations from over 150 artists.

I did a self guided tour of Stockholm’s best subway stations and was super impressed with the incredible ways in which each station was adorned. The impressive Rådhuset station (pictured above) was my fave from our makeshift tour – the red rock juxtaposed with the modern escalators gave the whole place a surreal look. It felt like we were wandering through a futuristic cave.

East Side Gallery, Berlin

10. east side gallery, Berlin

Parts of the Berlin Wall still stand, and this particular section has been used for artistic expression. The East Side Gallery is positioned along the bank of the river between Oberbaumbrücke (Oberbaum Bridge) and Ostbahnhof station, and stretches for 1.3km (0.8 miles) making it the longest open air gallery in the world.

The artworks on the East Side Gallery portray the feelings of fright, uproar, and relief that Berlin’s inhabitants experienced during these terrifying moments in the city’s history. It’s a truly interesting place to spend an hour or two exploring.


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Ashlea Wheeler

Blogger & Photographer at A Globe Well Travelled
I'm Ashlea, an excitable Australian who loves photography and exploring the world. Find out more about me.

34 Responses to “10 of the best undiscovered attractions in Europe”

  1. Hannah

    Oh I love Shoreditch! Got to check out some of these other ones especially that weird atomic museum?! Great post. 🙂

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks Hannah! Shoreditch was seriously one of my favourite places in Europe. There are some very weird and quirky places to visit in Europe, you should definitely check them out!

      Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Oh Burano looks just gorgeous – your photos of those pastel buildings are fantastic Ali. These kinds of places are my absolute favourite! 😀

      Reply
  2. Inge

    Wow! The ruin pubs, atomium and English garden in Munich sound really great! Definitely something I would wanna go to now. Haha! Thanks for the info! 😀

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      No worries Inge. I’m glad I could inspire you, these places aren’t really on the tourist track but are definitely worth visiting!

      Reply
  3. Emiko

    I love finding undiscovered places, if only to avoid the crowds! And I haven’t been to any of the places you listed, so now I have some places to check out:) Thanks!

    A few of my favorite “less” discovered places that come to mind are: 1. The Saint-Ouen Flea Market in Paris – free and so fun on the weekend. 2. The Leith neighborhood in Edinburgh – beautiful old buildings on the water, great food, and far away from the crowds, and 3. The Rooftop Bar and Restaurant on top of the Neukölln Arcade in Berlin.

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I think avoiding the crowds by heading to some quieter areas is one of the best things to do on your travels! Your suggestions sounds fabulous Emiko, I’ll definitely have to check out Leith and the Neukölln Arcade next time I’m in Europe!

      Reply
  4. Miles of Happiness

    So many things to see in Europe… It’s funny, all my Asian friend know Europe better than me, and I’m traveling much more in Asia than my Asian friend 😀

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      That’s usually the way it works! I’ve been lucky enough to have explored my home country of Australia as I was growing up, but sometimes foreign countries seem so much more exciting!

      Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks Meg, I’m glad you enjoyed it! There are some seriously cool things to see in Europe that are really off the beaten path and definitely worth visiting.

      Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks Vera! You should definitely give Europe a go, I’ve been twice and can’t wait to go back for a third time 😀

      Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      The arcade museum is not widely advertised, so I think most people don’t know about it. You should definitely give it a try!

      Reply
  5. SIlvia @ Heart My Backpack

    This is such a fantastic list! Though Shoreditch is definitely way too hipster for my taste, ha. I’m definitely adding the arcade museum to my St. Petersburg itinerary this spring!

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Ahh not the hipster type? I can’t get enough of it 😛 You should absolutely add the arcade museum to your itinerary – it was an attraction that really stands out in my memory! I’m sure you’ll love St Petersburg Silvia!

      Reply
  6. Dana (Wanted Adventure)

    Hey cool! Something from my former expat home in Prague and my current expat home in Munich made the list 😀 Looks like your photo from the English Garden is from the winter — It’s also really awesome in the summer when everyone’s chilling in the park and the beer gardens are open!

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I’ve heard that the English Garden is amazing in the summer! It was kind of nice when we were there as it had just snowed, but I would really like to head back to Munich for Oktoberfest and to see the city in a season other than winter!

      Reply
  7. Robyn

    I love this!! There’s nothing better than feeling that you’ve really experienced a place further than what the guidebooks offer on the first page! Some brilliant suggestions I must visit!

    http://www.thetechgypsy.com

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks Robyn! I couldn’t agree more, getting into the unknown areas of a city make the visit a much more genuine experience.

      Reply
  8. Esther

    Aaah, I LOVED the ruin pubs in Budapest! There are also still quite a few around in Berlin. I’d like to add ‘The museum of broken relationships’ in Zagreb to your list (I knowwww, who came up with that??) Anyway, I’d love to visit that museum sometime!

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I had no idea Berlin had ruin pubs too! The museum of broken relationships sounds weirdly awesome, I’ll definitely have to get myself there when I head to Croatia next!

      Reply
  9. Jessica Cutrufello

    Hey Ashlea! I saw this post and couldn’t resist! Since I live in Amsterdam now I thought I’d comment on it. While De Pijp gives a nice and different view of Amsterdam outside the Jordaan, canal ring, and the Red Light District (please people, go see the RLD, but move on quickly!), I would also suggest the Old West neighborhood (Oud West), and right across the Amstel river from De Pijp is an up and coming area in the east part of Amsterdam. Just some more suggestions for Amsterdam 😉

    And Shoreditch…I love Shoreditch. Somehow, for 5 days, whenever I went out in London I went to Shoreditch.

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks for your suggestions, Jessica! Always good to get a local’s perspective 😉 And isn’t Shoreditch just the best? I’d go back to London just to stay in Shoreditch again!

      Reply

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