London, New York, Amsterdam, Paris – We all know these cities and we probably all dream of visiting them one day. And sure, these are great places and they have a lot of sights you can see, but that also means there are always going to be a lot of tourists running around, chasing the same picture and doing the same things millions of people have already done before they did. I enjoy traveling a lot, but I’m not always a big fan of crowded touristy places. I like to really get to know the country, the people and the culture and that isn’t always possible in a big city where everything is only made for the huge amounts of tourists.
That’s why I would like to share 7 underrated but beautiful cities with you that everybody should add to their bucket list! As I was able to visit every single one of these cities, hopefully I will be able to help you out if you’re looking for a not-so-busy but still magical vacation!
1. Brighton, England
I visited Brighton in Summer 2015 and I loved it. Brighton (Population: 289,200) is a very colorful and vivid city with a lovely downtown area where you can spend your time walking through neat little stores and shops, admire the Royal Pavilion, which actually looks like an Indian Palace, go to the beach and have some fun at the Brighton Pier! The city is a great place for young people and college/university students, trust me, if I could choose where to go to college, I would definitely choose Brighton!
2. Luino, Lago Maggiore, Italy
Bella Italia! I went to this beautiful lake called Lago Maggiore in northern Italy for the first time when I was 9 years old. My family and I liked it so much, which is why we went back when I was 11. We stayed at a house in a town called Luino (Population: 14,664) which has a nice little market square and an actual market where you can buy all kinds of things – fruit, vegetables, clothes, souvenirs and, of course, ICE CREAM AND PIZZA! You can swim in the clear (but cold) lake – which I enjoyed a lot because there were no jellyfish -, go on a hike up the mountains, visit old Italian cities and go to local concerts! The fashion-capital Milan is only about 1 or 2 hours away if you do want to go to a bigger city. I would recommend renting a car since the mountains are kind of high and you definitely don’t want to hike every day. If you want to visit the other side of the lake there are lots of ferries that will take you there!
3. Remagen, Germany
Remagen (Population: 16,064) is a typical German town right next to the Rhine river, so if you’re looking for an authentic European town: Remagen is your place to go! My American boyfriend loved it, he even said it was his favorite city he visited when he came to Germany! Remagen became famous in World War 2 because of its Ludendorff bridge which was captured by Army troops. There’s a little museum right next to where the bridge used to be if you’re interested in history. Everything is within walking distance and you can also go to two big western German cities (Bonn and Cologne) by just hopping on the train!
4. Bar Harbor, Maine, United States (Acadia National Park)
In my travelmonth, which is the last month you spend in the US after you finish your Au Pair program (I will write a blog post about that as well), I got to see Acadia National Park in Maine. It was one of the most breathtaking places I have ever been to. You can climb up Mount Cadillac and enjoy a wonderful view, you can watch the ocean waves crashing on huge rocks and walk through the pretty town of Bar Harbor (Population: 5,235). There are lots of small restaurants where you can eat their traditional lobster meals, stay at nice little B&Bs and look at local shops and stores. You definitely will need a car for this trip though as the park is very big and there are lots of things to do and see. I definitely want to go back one day and spend some more time there!
5. Edinburgh, Scotland
Ladies and Gentlemen, my favorite European capital: Edinburgh (Population: 495,360). To me, this is one of the most magical places on earth. Let me put it this way: If you want to see a city that looks like someone just took it out of a Harry Potter movie, this is where you have to go. All the houses have the same kind of old, Scottish, castle-like style, there is a little mountain basically right in the middle of the city with an old castle on top of it, there are hidden alleys and there still is every single store and brand you can think of. If you are a huge Harry Potter fan like me you should definitely see a café called ”The Elephant House” which is where J.K. Rowling wrote her first Harry Potter book. Of course, Edinburgh is a little more touristy and crowded than the other places I mentioned, but I promise you it will be so worth it!
6. Strasbourg, France
This neat city in eastern France has two very different sides: A very authentic and typical French side, where you can see old houses, walk through narrow shopping miles, sit down at a café to eat some baguettes or croissants, or go on a ferry ride. The other side is very modern and almost futuristic, since very important buildings of the European Union are located in Strasbourg (Population: 271,782). If you’re interested in history and also politics this would be perfect for you. I would also recommend going there during the Christmas season because the whole city transforms into a gorgeous Christmas village that you usually only get to see in movies!
7. Key West, Florida, United States
Yes my friends, Key West (Population: 24,649) is not just an island, it’s also an island city. Which is why I was able to add it to my list of underrated cities! This is what paradise looks like. The beaches are gorgeous, the water is as warm as your bath tub, the town is absolutely amazing, it looks like a little pirate town! There are many unique restaurants and bars, if you’re interested in literature you can go to the Ernest Hemingway house, if you’re interested in geography you should definitely check out the Southernmost Point and if you just want to have fun you can do lots of activities like jetskiing, scuba diving and snorkeling. Whatever you want to do, you can do it in Key West. I have been to Key West twice already and I would go there right now if I could. But just a little warning: The weather can be extremely hot and also very humid!
I love every single one of these places and I definitely plan on visiting them again. Of course there are many, many other cities on this planet that are worth a visit, these are just some of my favorites so far. Maybe I’ll do a second part in the future, I definitely have a lot more places in mind to share with you!
If you have any questions or want to know more about these places either leave a comment or send me a message!
Have a wonderful day!