Breakaway from the Mainstream: Our Top Underrated Cities

Image by Elena Mozhvilo

Foreword by Alice Clifford

However many countries there are in the world, more often than not I find myself talking to friends and family about holidays I have been on and finding out that the majority of them have been to the exact same places. While this is always then a good conversation point and opportunity to reminisce about an incredible pizza restaurant that we both happened to have been to, there is something extremely exciting about going to a place unknown to the people around you. While hidden throughout the globe there is a whole heap of hidden gems, we thought that it could make for a very long read if we wrote about them all, so below we have chosen three places to inspire your next trip.

Split, Croatia

Words by Pui Kuan Cheah

Nestled along the Croatian coastline, you will find the gorgeous city of Split. I headed here on a holiday a while back, after having been to the more-popular Dubrovnik (of Game of Thrones fame) and capital Zagreb. I didn’t initially think much of the city, but boy was my mind changed the moment I stepped foot in the city centre. The shorefront, lined with yachts and palm trees looked like something straight out of a postcard, and reminded me of some coastal Italian place! Except, because Split is not as frequently found on tourists’ bucket lists, it was way less crowded (though I visited during off-peak season; highly recommend this) and as a result, more enjoyable to experience.

Split is a historically rich city, with some terrific sights and attractions dating back centuries such as Diocletian’s Palace and the Cathedral of Saint Domnius. Thankfully, it’s a fairly compact city as well, which makes it wonderfully walkable, allowing you to easily explore the city on foot at your own pace. My favourite memories here would be getting gelato on a nice cool winters day and walking along the coastline taking in the views, as well as visiting the seafood and produce markets and seeing all the locals go about their daily routines (while picking up some goods for myself, of course).

To sum up, what I love about Split is how it has the best of many other cities worldwide combined into one: a stunning shorefront lining the city on one side, plenty of historical sites to bring out your inner history geek, and a chilled, no-stress vibe. Oh yeah, and the locals are really friendly too which is always a plus in my books. Split is definitely underrated, and I hope more people give it a chance! Once all this Covid-19 madness is over, I’m hopping on a plane and heading there once more.

Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

Words by Summer Griffin

If you’re looking for that undiscovered European travel gem, Luxembourg city might just be the place for you. Capital of a country with a population similar to that of Sheffield, at just 626 000, it is often overlooked by those searching for their next city break.

 Luxembourg city may be small, but there are plenty of sites to see. The city is built on several levels, spanning many hills and two large gorges. The interesting landscape, combined with the old fortifications of Luxembourg castle and the Adolphe Bridge, crossing the Pétrusse river, lend the city a fairy-tale like beauty that sets it apart from the most popular European tourist destinations. All this can be explored through walking tours, or if you prefer a more laid-back experience, via a land train with a handy audio guide.

For those looking for their cultural fix the capital boasts a number of impressive art galleries. The National Museum of Art and History is a must see, but if you want something a little more unusual, the underground Am Tunnel gallery could be the place for you.

Of course, there is more to Luxembourg than its capital, so why not hop on a bus and in 40 minutes you could be visiting the Schengen Museum. Located within walking distance of the borders with both France and Germany, it is the perfect place to brush up on your EU history.

Take a final stop at the small town of Remich. This is the perfect place to hire a bike and cycle along the Moselle river. You can even cycle into Germany from this picturesque border town.

 With return flights from the UK to Luxembourg selling for as cheap as £20, it simply cannot be missed. So, next time you’re looking for adventure, steer away from Paris and Berlin and book a flight to Luxembourg.

Cadiz, Spain

Words by Alice Clifford

While Madrid, Barcelona and Malaga seem to be the tourist hot spots in Spain, it doesn’t mean they are the only places worth visiting. Throughout Spain you can find a multitude of beautiful towns and cities that have slipped under the tourist radar. From the pueblos blancos (white towns) that sit amongst the hills of Andalucía, to the green plains of Galicia, Spain is the home of far more than big cities and tapas.

While the list of hidden gems is endless, the top of it for me is apparent. Cadiz is found on the south west coast of Spain and is just a few hours from Seville. The old port city is an entanglement of both past and present, as the cobbled winding streets can lead you to old watch towers, a grand cathedral as well as Zara and McDonalds. However, the most beautiful thing you will find in Cadiz is the beach. The white sand beaches encase the city, and the beach bars that you can find dotted about the sand means that you can stay there all day!

If I was going to recommend a certain time to visit Cadiz it would be during the spring, so you can enjoy the city without sweating a litre of water ever minute, as soon as June and July come around the weather starts to become slightly unbearable.

I would also recommend spending 3 to 4 days exploring this city because, despite its small size, there is so much to do. And while you could spend the entire time bar hopping, sunbathing and eating the most incredible seafood in the world (granted I may be slightly bias), you must take the time to visit Cadiz’s historic landmarks. The Torre Tavira, one of the old watch towers, for one is a must, as it offers the most amazing views that will get you some great insta photos that will makes the 170 steps to get to the top completely worth it! To top this all off, the locals will be nothing but friendly and helpful, however broken your Spanish may be! So, I fully recommend that you start planning your next holiday to Cadiz now, even if it might not become a reality until 2021, 2022 or 2023!