These Are The Top 5 Small Cities To Visit In Europe Right Now

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As millions of tourists flock to Europe in search of that perfect autumnal city break, the continent’s biggest hotspots are starting to feel a bit chaotic and overcommercialized. 

Luckily for those looking to avoid the crowds this fall, some of Europe’s most authentic and captivating experiences lie in its smaller, lesser-known destinations.

woman sitting on a bridge near the river in Bruges, Belgium

According to data collected from several studies and reports released these past few months, these are the best small cities to visit in Europe right now:

Dubrovnik 

Nestled along the stunning Dalmatian coast, Dubrovnik is a severely underrated destination that boasts the kind of idyllic views and soft-sanded beaches you’d expect from a much more popular (and expensive) hotspot.

Panoramic view of Dubrovnik Old Town, Croatia

With that said, the “Pearl of the Adriatic” is so much more than just a pretty beach town, boasting a rich history that dates back to the 7th century.

Temperatures this time of year range between 53.6°F and 62.6°F (12°C and 17°C), which, while low for a sunbathing session, are just perfect for a long day exploring the city’s main attractions, including Fort Lovrijenac, Pile Gate, Sponza Palace, and The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.

Don’t forget to also explore the well-preserved Baroque buildings, marble streets, and old squares that offer a glimpse into Dubrovnik’s medieval past.

View of the old town with Baroque building of St Blaise Church Dubrovnik, Croatia

There’s no better way to end a day in Dubrovnik than going to a local eatery to enjoy some fresh seafood and a glass of aromatic, locally sourced wine.

Porto

Portugal’s second-largest city sits proudly on the banks of the Douro River, exuding that old-world charm that most travelers strive to experience during their European getaway.

Aerial view of Porto, portugal

Once an overlooked destination by tourists trying to find their way to Lisbon, Porto has now become a teeming hotspot beloved for its stunning views, natural allure, and reasonable prices.

The historic Ribeira district, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the region’s most prized attractions. 

Here, the colorful, narrow houses perched on the riverbanks create the type of picturesque setting that feels like something you’ve read about before but never actually seen in real life.

Porto, Portugal old town skyline from across the Douro River.

The city’s most famous export, though, is arguably its wine. Those looking forward to indulging in a Porto wine-tasting tour will love visiting the famous cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia.

Bruges 

Belgium’s best-kept secret, Bruges, is a city straight out of a fairytale. 

Between the unique medieval architecture, winding canals, and cobblestone streets, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported a few centuries back.

Bruges canals and medieval architecture in autumn, Belgium

Architecture enthusiasts will have the time of their lives here – Bruges is a treasure trove of Gothic buildings that gives even Barcelona a run for its money.

The iconic Belfry of Bruges and Basilica of the Holy Blood, in particular (situated right across from one another), are not to be missed. 

Once you’re done admiring the local architecture, you can take a well-deserved break and roam through Burges’ gorgeous little chocolate shops and craft beer pubs – I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Reykjavik 

Out of all the destinations that made today’s list, Reykjavik is arguably the best pick for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers.

Between the abundant geothermal hot springs, majestic waterfalls, and volcanic landscapes, it’s hard not to feel connected to nature during your time in the Icelandic capital.

Northern lights Reykjavik, Iceland

Whether you want to soak in the healing waters of the Blue Lagoon, marvel at the mesmerizing Northern Lights, or embark on thrilling excursions to explore glaciers and volcanoes, Reykjavik is the place to be.

San Sebastián

Though often overshadowed by the likes of Barcelona, Madrid, and Ibiza, San San Sebastián is a stunning Spanish hotpot whose cultural significance and natural allure deserve far more recognition.

Foodies will absolutely adore the Basque city since here you’ll find a remarkably high concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants and pintxos bars, which just serves to highlight the local world-class cuisine.

Customers Being Served In A Pintxo Bar In Donostia, San Sebastian, Spain

Beyond its mouthwatering dishes and exceptional wines, San Sebastián is also known for boasting stunning beaches (Concha and Zurriola), an abundance of outdoor activities, and idyllic Belle Époque architecture.

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