The Most Unpredictable Places To Travel To In Europe When You're Studying Abroad
If you're studying abroad, not only are you super excited to continue your education, but you're also probably fantasizing about the prospect of taking weekend trips to glamorous cities. (I mean, who doesn't want to say something like, "I'm headed to Milan, dahling," as you wrap a silk scarf around your head and drive off into the sunset in a vintage convertible?) And while it'll be nice to cross off some of your bucket list destinations — Paris and Rome are at the top, of course — you should also take advantage of the opportunity to visit some of the most unpredictable places to travel to in Europe.
Not only are these cities stunning in their landscapes and architecture, but they let you experience the culture of the country authentically, without having to deal with the chaos of giant crowds of people. Plus, most of them are incredibly budget-friendly. Take a day or weekend trip (depending on where you're studying) to discover some spots you didn't know you needed in your life.
Though some of these cities require a short flight or ferry ride from the mainland, they're all well-worth the journey. If you're looking for ways to diversify your travel bucket list during your semester abroad, make sure to include any of these seven cities.
1. Azores, Portugal
This cluster of islands is the best-kept secret of Portugal. (They are literally hiding in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.) The Azores are filled with a variety of breathtaking sights — including natural swimming pools, towering mountains, volcanoes, and lush green pastures.
With all the charm of small European cities, but without the chaos of touristy hotspots, the Azores make for a perfect weekend getaway from mainland Portugal or major cities in Spain. If you visit the largest of the islands, São Miguel, be sure to hike up to the top of Sete Cidades for a stunning aerial view of the twin lakes.
2. Aberdeen, Scotland
Even though Aberdeen is the third most populated city in Scotland, it's also one of the country's hidden gems. Literally — its buildings sparkle because of the crystal packed into the granite. The coastal city features jaw-dropping cliffs, sandy beaches, tiny cottages, and quaint gardens. You can take a picture in the colorful Duthie Park or catch a show at His Majesty's Theatre.
3. Gothenburg (Göteborg), Sweden
Known for its artsy vibe, Gothenburg is the perfect destination for people looking to experience Swedish culture outside of Stockholm. They have a bustling tourism industry, thanks to the famous Liseberg amusement park, and plenty of museums and street art to make your 'Gram shine. Experience "fika" (the Swedish version of a coffee break) first-hand, or head there in August to check out the Way Out West music festival.
4. Dalmatia, Croatia
Croatia is an underrated European destination, but the Dalmatian Coast is particularly special. Home to historic cities like Split and lively islands like Hvar, there's no shortage of things to do. Dalmatia checks off every part of a perfect European getaway: rich culture and history, delicious food, stunning landscapes, and active nightlight. For a truly unique experience, try taking a sailing trip around the islands. You can jump off the boat into stunning turquoise waters and lay out on the deck to enjoy the Mediterranean sun.
5. Granada, Spain
Granada, which is located at the bottom of the Sierra Nevada mountains, is known for its beautiful architecture. A must-visit is the famed Alhambra, which is a palace that features stunning courtyards and fountains. When you stroll down the streets, you'll immediately fall in love with your picture-perfect surroundings. While you're there, consider signing up for a tapas walking tour that will not disappoint the tastebuds.
6. Ghent, Belgium
A friendly, cozy city, Ghent has so much charm to explore, without the large crowds of travelers. Its rich history and majestic castles make for the perfect Instagram pics, and the city is super bike-able for a fun tour of the must-visit sights. Be sure to hit up the Belfry to see the city's dragon mascot in person.
7. Rhodes, Greece
Sure, Santorini and Mykonos are dreamy, but during your study abroad experience, consider checking out Rhodes for a long weekend getaway. You'll have to visit the Palace of the Grand Master, and hike up to the castle of Monolithos for the most stunning views of the Mediterranean.
Feel free to visit the touristy hotspots while you're studying abroad, but make sure you work these underrated spots into your travels, too.