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Ljubliana, Plovdiv, Turin: Europe’s best under-the-radar cities, according to people who’ve been

Head to Slovenia's capital for its 'unique energy'.
Head to Slovenia's capital for its 'unique energy'. Copyright Canva
Copyright Canva
By Angela Symons
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‘Seriously underrated’: Travellers share the European cities they unexpectedly fell in love with.

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There’s nothing worse than visiting the destination of your dreams only to be disappointed. And there’s nothing better than being blown away by an unknown city.

As Europe’s most iconic destinations grapple with overtourism, many of us are looking beyond bucket-list cities to lesser-known locales.

So where are Europe’s best under-the-radar spots?

These cities are likely to take you by surprise, according to users of Reddit’s r/travel subreddit.

Ljubljana, Slovenia: For a walkable city break

One of Europe’s smallest capitals packs a big punch.

“All of Slovenia is way underrated and Ljubljana is so freaking amazing,” says one Reddit user. “It has such a cool, unique energy and vibrancy that I haven’t found anywhere else,” adds another.

Subreddit members say the city is “scenic, affordable and small enough to all be walkable.”

Prefer staying off your feet? Hop on the urban electric train for a tour of the city's main attractions, from Ljubljana Castle to Križanke outdoor theatre.

Alongside its incredible outdoor culture - even in February, according to one person who visited - Reddit’s travel community praises Ljubljana for its food and proximity to spectacular natural sites like Lake Bled and Triglav mountain.

Plovdiv, Bulgaria: For ancient history

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Plovdiv is one of the oldest cities in Europe.Canva

Plovdiv in Bulgaria is the “ideal European town”, says one Reddit user. The pedestrian-friendly destination is packed with parks and cafes. It also has great train connections with other Bulgarian cities like Varna and Sofia.

With settlements in the area since 6,000 BCE, Plovdiv is one of the oldest cities in Europe. History buffs were delighted to find “scattered archaeological sites connecting it to its ancient past”.

From the cobbled old town to the wonderfully preserved ancient Roman Theatre of Philippopolis, the city is packed with fascinating sights.

“It charmed me beyond my expectations,” says one Reddit user.

Porto, Portugal: For a quieter alternative to Lisbon

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Beat Lisbon's crowds by heading to Porto.Canva

Portugal’s second city is often overlooked in favour of the capital - but it shouldn’t be, Reddit users argue.

“We enjoyed [Porto] more than Lisbon, which felt overrun with people,” says one.

“The way it's built on hills with the river in the middle, the old architecture, the food, it's so beautiful,” adds another.

Porto is walkable, clean and friendly, travellers say - and it draws you in.

“We went there mostly to do a Douro Valley tour, but the city itself was great,” says one Reddit user.

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“We had plans to use it as a hub for day trips, but ended up spending our days just out and about town,” adds another.

From wandering the narrow cobbled streets of the medieval riverside and admiring the lavish baroque São Francisco Church to lounging on sandy beaches, this coastal city ticks all the boxes.

Strasbourg, France: For beauty born of struggle

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Strasbourg offers a blend of French and German culture.Canva

Despite being the seat of the European Parliament, Strasbourg is often overlooked by travellers. But look a little closer and you’ll find a charming city packed with fascinating history and unique gastronomy.

“With a mix of German and French influence, and a history of struggle between Germany and France over the region before WW2, I found it enchanting each moment I was there,” says one Reddit user.

Past struggles have given way to a harmonious blend of German and French culture, with food, language and architecture sitting at the crossroad of the two countries.

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It also has Alsace wine country on its doorstep. “Starting at Ribeauville and heading south to Colmar is a killer route,” according to another Reddit user. “Hunawihr and Riquewihr have super friendly vineyard owners.”

Turin, Italy: For food, wine and views

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Turin is one of Italy's most underrated cities, according to Reddit users.Canva

Italy has no shortage of famous cities - but none as underrated as Turin, according to Reddit users and this is part of its appeal. “It has fewer tourists than Milan and the other more well-known cities,” says one user.

“It's seriously underrated,” says another, who loved the Alpine views surrounding the city. Being in the shadow of the Alps, Turin is a perfect base for hiking trails and vineyard visits.

As well as being “in the heart of one of the best wine regions in the world” - Piemonte - Turin’s cuisine is “the perfect blend of French and Italian,” they add.

“Stunning architecture”, “incredible nightlife” and “fantastic museums” covering everything from the Egyptians to cinematography cement the appeal of this north Italian gem.

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Vilnius, Lithuania: For friendly locals

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Vilnius is Lithuania's friendly capital.Canva

Lithuania’s capital has friendly locals and an abundance of things to do, according to Reddit users.

“I found the people really friendly and approachable,” says one. “I loved the city and its people,” adds another.

From strolling the quaint old town to people watching in the vast cathedral square and enjoying the view from Gediminas’ Tower, “there's something for everyone” in Vilnius, Reddit users say.

History lovers can learn about the country’s 50-year Soviet occupation at The Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights in the former KGB building or take a day trip to the fairy tale Trakai Island Castle.

Foodies can head to Hales Market. And free spirits can explore Užupis, a self-declared independent state that’s home to artists’ studios, hip cafes and boutique shops.

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