11 Best Countries to Study Abroad in Europe

A lot of students who prefer to go out for their Masters’s degree face this dilemma of which country they should prefer for their master's education. Various points need be to borne into consideration when you select a country for your education such as cost of the course, the reputation of the college/university, duration of the course, geographical location, quality of education imparted, return on investment and the job prospects after completing the course.

US has always been a preferred destination for ambitious students as US colleges present superior academic excellence, wide-ranging support services for international students, copious funding, flexible curriculum, and an extensive array of educational options. US has some of the leading universities across the globe so it is regarded as one of the best countries to do MS. You get a stay back of 1 year in US post your masters but in case of a STEM Program you get a stay back of 3 years.

If you opt to study in Canada, you will get the highest standard of education at remarkably low cost as compared to the US. Further, a post-graduation work permit for Canada holds validity for the same duration as your program of study if it is less than 16 months. In case your program is more than that then you get a stay back of 3 years.

Australia and New Zealand also attract a lot of international crowd. The immigration laws in Australia are pretty simple but the education cost and the cost of living is very expensive in Australia. So students have to keep this in mind before opting for universities in Australia and New Zealand.

Study Trip through Europe

1. Germany

Education in Germany is both high-quality and either free, or dead cheap. As an international student in the USA, expect to pay up to $45–50,000 per year of undergraduate college tuition.

Believe it or not, education in public universities is absolutely free! There is no trick to this like some people might think. You just have to understand what the word “free” implies here. Free means that there is no tuition fee and the only fee you will be paying every semester will be for your semester ticket and administration which is just €300–500 depending on the university.

This is nothing compared to the thousands of dollars you have to pay in the states and frankly, you can even cover it yourself with a part-time job.

German Public Universities MS programs are quite popular because these universities levy no tuition fees. The Criteria for selection of students for public universities is academic excellence that is documented via your academic certifications. Also, a lot of Erasmus scholarships are available that students can apply for where they can get a stipend per month.

Well, there are a lot of perks of being a student in Germany but the best part is the vast variety of cheap travel options within Europe. I can understand as a student, it might still not be affordable as you’ll have a lot of other expenses to worry about every month and might not be able to save enough for such luxury.

What if I told you there are some free travel options as well? Yes, that’s right! As a student in Germany, you get a semester ticket from your University which allows you to travel free of cost within your city but there’s more. Based on your city, your semester ticket also gives you free access to some intercity travels. For example, I live in Bremen and here’s the list of cities I can travel to that are part of my semester ticket.

Sprechen sie englisch? (Do you speak English?) This is probably the one sentence you’re going to be needing the most outside of your university because it’s true, language is going to be a barrier for any non-German speaker living in Germany. Now you can either spend a fortune on your degree in an English speaking country just because of this language barrier or realize that eventually, one would learn enough German to get around.

As a student, you’re officially allowed to work 20 hours/week with your studies and the minimum wage here is ~ €11/hour which means that even if you get the worst job ever, you’ll still be making €880/month which will be more than enough for you to cover your living expenses. Think about it. You can be financially independent and afford a decent lifestyle. That’s how great Germany is.

Germany has large cities and peaceful nature, relatively cheap rents, excellent healthcare, good job security, and is a fantastic place to live.

2. UK

London is the financial capital of the world and has a lot of top-ranked universities. UK allows graduates the chance to stay for two years after graduation. This makes UK a much-preferred option for higher education. The UK is one of the most preferred countries by international students — also the education system in the UK offers high-quality research and academic integrity.

The two years post-study work permit allow international students to look out for the employment opportunities in the UK. The students can even work full-time during this period in any domain regardless of their studies.

Once a student gets a job, he/she needs to find a tier-2 sponsor who can sponsor the work permit post this PSW time frame is over. One must work in the UK for at least 5 years on tier-2 visa in order to apply for indefinite leave.

3. France

But do not imagine my study holiday in one of those huge campuses that you see in the leaflets of language schools, were still in the nineties. The college where we were housed was a French public school with beds in dormitories for out-of-town students in the French countryside. The organization resembled more that of a summer camp, but I was in Europe alone, and the important thing was that.

Part of the epic nature of this study vacation was my first air travel. In practice, it was like traveling alone because I did not know anyone. In any case, during the flight, I was too excited to look out the window than to socialize. I never understood who is afraid of the plane. I immediately could not wait to see the landscape below me become small and capture the clouds!

The first myth to debunk during the study holidays is that one really studies, at least during adolescence. As adults, it is certainly easier to stay focused on studying, especially because it requires a sacrifice of time and money. But before the age of twenty, I think especially the adventure of a trip alone and the multicultural environment. What remains is the sense of freedom and independence rather than grammar.

In my two weeks, I had spoken very little French and the lessons were just a great review of grammar already studied at school. I was tired of listening to romantic songs like Dis Lui Toi Que Je T'aime by Vanessa Paradis that our English teacher, who earlier was teaching in Spain liked so much. Unfortunately, my romanticism was non-existent. Even then I did not feel at all the suffering of the love inherent in the song.

My study holiday was spent between trying to familiarize myself with the other classmates and play ping pong. It is the only sport that at the time I managed quite decently. The best part, however, were the trips to discover France. We were loaded on a bus and taken around Paris, Strasbourg with obligatory stop at the Chateau de Chambord castle in the Loire Valley.

In the following years, I have been several times to Paris. I have also stayed for work, but my first meeting with the city of lights was a coming of age story during this study holiday. Instead of the city sightseeing bus tour, we had taken a ride on our bus, with the guide to show us all the main monuments and bridges in Paris. We have a boat ride on the Seine while having a macaron in France.

After the tour, we had come down to continue the visit to the city watching live the Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysees, Notre Dame, Place de la Concorde, Luxembourg Gardens, and the Louvre. Here I suffered my first tourist disappointment due to the small size of the Mona Lisa.

In front of Notre Dame, I had instead bought a keychain with the words Paris written perfectly. I also buy a series of postcards to send home and to all my pen pals to show that I was really in France and precisely in Paris. In the days before low-cost flights, Paris was only a dream journey for many.

Another beautiful trip, whose footprints I retraced in Reims, was the one at the Champagne sites. The city of Reims is, in fact, famous for its establishments open to the public where it is also possible to book a tasting or a visit to the champagne caves. These are the cellars where the wine is produced and bottled according to a well-established tradition. This visit transmitted the French passion for wine and a love for fine champagne that will hardly disappear over the years.

In Strasbourg instead, we were greeted by the local administration with a party during which the mayor had told us about the history of the city. Unfortunately for him, we were all more interested in refreshments than to follow his speech. I'm still more interested in pastry than in a political discourse. But at least over the years, I've learned to keep a fake-interested expression on formal occasions.

Our stay in Paris
is nearing the end. Our first return flight was canceled. So after a few hours of waiting at the airport, they arranged for us the first available flight. That was how I also felt the thrill of flying with another airline where everything was practically the same except for the colors of the graphics and uniforms of the hostesses. The following year I flew really alone to England, but that's another story.

4. Malta

This island nation is simply magical. It’s like going back in time to the Middle Ages, with its stone walls and structures older than the Egyptian pyramids. Cathedrals, temples and medieval architecture - Malta is an island with many cultural treasures. During the Easter weekend organized parades in Birgu and Qormi takes place, when the Maltese recreate biblical scenes in costumes. Fascinating to see!

To travel to Malta is to delve into the history of Baroque Europe. The first of the cities you will find if you travel to Cottonera from Valletta is Senglea. Go through the main street, Settembru, until you reach the end where is the Forti San Mikel, a fortification built between 1551 and 1565 that offers an impressive beauty. In addition, from there you can see magnificent views of the city of Senglea, Valletta and Vittoriosa.

Triq It Tarzna borders the sea. Visit Forti Sant 'Anglu and the Inquisitor's Palace. The latter, built in 1530, is one of the oldest and most interesting buildings to see in Malta. Go to the Forti Rikazoli. This impressive fort has been the scene of numerous films like Gladiator or Troy.

Insider Tip: Cospicua, also known as Bormla, is the largest of the three. Take a Maltese gondola that takes you to navigate the Mediterranean to see from another perspective the spectacle offered by the three cities.

5. Hungary

Hungary is an amazing country and needs no introduction! Go beyond the capital Budapest! Eger is a beautiful town in Hungary with some amazing winery! Hungary has always been the object of a dispute between great powers, and its monuments show this. One of the most beautiful countries in the world for sure! The ottomans history and the communist history is across to be observed and seen!

It was the border between the western world and the Ottoman Empire and, in more recent times, between Western and Eastern Europe. its turbulent history has endowed the country with a very important cultural heritage.

Hungary also has a tourist destination of great importance in Europe. The rest of the country is full of castles, baroque cities and small charming towns. Hotels are cheap in Hungary but, outside of Budapest, they do not offer all the amenities that would be desirable. Winters are freezing and not very suitable for sightseeing.

Insider Tip: One of the most famous ruin bars in Budapest is the Kőleves Kert. Very near there is Anker't, in the VI district, also well known in the Hungarian night. On the festive Király Street, is another famous Ruin Bar, so is Fogas ház, on Akácfa Street. In recent years they have multiplied, not only in Budapest, other Hungarian cities such as Szeged or Pécs also have their ruinbars.

Balkans is diverse and vast area that provides sharp, exciting, vibrant and always unexpected experiences. Each country will be unique. People here have profound temper, the talking style may feel bipolar, summers here are scorching hot (+40°C and up is normal) and rains are rare.

Balkans are sunny, you will see less forests, more sky and endless, never ending corn fields, sunflower fields, vineyards. Balkan foods are colorful and spicier, on top of that the major food will be corn and corn polenta offered everywhere. Baltic foods are not spicy at all (black pepper is as spicy as you go, everything else - special demand), they eat potato foods, fish like herrings or salmon, and instead of grapevines they produce herbal liqueurs or balsams, as well as wines made of apples.

While Balkans are mostly not in EU, none of them is using euro (which is not the most important thing but you will have to deal with learning currencies all the time), less matching and unanimous, some Balkan places may feel rough around the edges and sometimes even wild - you will have to watch out!

6. Serbia

This country is really beautiful with an amazing capital city! It has abundant cafe houses spread across! The cafe culture is amazing here! This country is a lot cheaper too compare with its European neighbors! But it's a lot rich in history, culture and is a gem of the Balkans! Serbia remains underrated considering the options for nature, events such as the Guca Festival, and Belgrade is more vibrant than you imagine.

Drvengrad is an ethnic village with a small wooden church, a square paved with wooden cubes and surrounded by wooden houses. The wooden houses are authentic, and were brought from various parts of Serbia and Bosnia. There is also a gallery of paintings, a library, a cinema called "Underground", a bakery with homemade biscuits, a national restaurant and a local craft shop.

The Zagaj Hills are a region on the northeast rim of the Deliblato Sands. They cover just over 250 ha. The Zagajicka Brda represent the highest region of the Deliblato Peščara. The Zagaj hills are ancient sand dunes, partly forested and partly covered with steppe vegetation. The highest peak is 256 m above sea level.

The highest point of the Zagajicka Brda is marked by an obelisk built during the Austro-Hungarian period. A tall meteorological pole was also placed next to the obelisk to measure the wind speed. Novi Sad is another city to visit. Kablar Mountain is located 13 km in the air route (23 km via) from Čačak, and 155 km from Belgrade via the road and exactly 100 km in the air line.

If you thought of the place as a city, the advantage of Šumadija lies not in the cities but in nature, green forests and mountains.

Đerdap National Park in eastern Serbia is located on the border with Romania, on the Danube river. It is beautiful in the spring and summer with the colours that appear and the nature is absolutely marvellous. You have a lot of activities you can spend your time on - but the most famous choices are either hiking or going for a cruise on the Danube.

Depending on your abilities, you can hike for 3 to 6 hours (and less). The view when you get to the top is very well worth the effort and time - you can see the whole park and its surroundings. The cities of Golubac and Donji Milanovac are not too far from the park. In that part of the country you have the Silver lake.

It has a beach (if you can call it like that) and you can swim in it (however, it’s not very clean) or you can just visit it on your way to the Đerdap NP. You can also visit the Lepenski Vir - if you are into archaeology.

Uvac Canyon in western Serbia is one of the most beautiful places in the country. While getting there might be a bit complicated due to the horrendous condition of roads, the trip is worth it. Spring/summer are the best options since that is when the colours show themselves in the fullest and when you’ll be able to enjoy the nature.

From there you can visit the cities which are nearby or continue to the Golija Nature Park, located to the east from Uvac. Stara Planina in eastern Serbia - located near the city of Pirot is also not a touristy place. If you go there doing the winter, you can pick any winter sport that suits you, and if you visit it during the spring/summer, you have the options to hike or just have very long walks during the day.

And the Zavoj lake is located just as you get down from the mountain. It is one of the least contaminated lakes in Serbia, and you can easily swim in it (during the summer) or just camp there/visit to see how it looks. If you stay around the south and go to the west, near the city of Kuršumlija you have the Đavolja Varoš.

Again in western Serbia, you have the Tara mountain and the Tara river. You can go for a rafting on the river (there are camps there in which you can stay) and they have a website for the rafting - but you can also go for a safari, canyoning and hiking besides the rafting.

You also have Vojvodina - in the northern part of the country. You can easily visit cities such as Novi Sad (the biggest city), Subotica, Sombor, Sremska Mitrovica, Apatin, Senta, Vršac etc. In the summer, you can go to the city of Bela Crkva (near the border with Romania) and visit the lakes which are located near it. They are usually full during the summer since they are clean and fit for swimming.

7. Bulgaria

A true mix of Southern Slavic, Turkic, Russian, Romanian and unique Bulgarian elements make up its unique culture. Bulgaria gets infamously snowy winters like a winter wonderland. If you don’t like cold however you can always journey to the Black Sea where it is warm and lovely. Bulgaria is not completely devoid of infrastructure.

Sofia is one of the oldest cities in Europe at over 6,000 years old. It’s ancient yet has a young energy to it. It doesn’t have an “old town” like most European capitals. It is instead built in layers. You can still see remains from 4 A.D. in the Metro, next to 21st century construction. There is a place to fill up water bottles in the city center with thermal water that flows year-round.

It is one of the only European capitals that’s not on a body of water like a river or port. Instead, it’s at the base of Vitosha Mountain, where you can hike or ski - depending on the time of year. It is a city of contrasts: old and new, rich and poor, young and old, quiet and dynamic. It can be quite calm and serene, especially in the winter or on weekends, but full of traffic and congestion during the work week.

Also, the buses run 24 hours and some of the nightclubs run until dawn. You’ll find all of the mainstream brands like Starbucks and H&M, but at the same time it could be next to a historical site or museum, a traditional restaurant, an underground club, or a hidden restaurant. There is even a hotel and casino in the presidential palace.

There is a lot of amazing food, wine, and cocktail bars, at very affordable prices compared to Western Europe. Much of the food seems homemade. There are museums, art galleries, and even thermal baths. Hotels are very affordable compared to most European capital cities. Probably around 25% of the price of other cities.

Local people like to enjoy - you’ll see them having a coffee or smoke break and spending time with family and friends. There is a lot of graffiti, freedom of expression, and hipster shops and places to check out. There are quite a few parks throughout the city.

Sophia is a wonderful and interesting city FULL of cathedrals. Visit the Rila Monastery or take a walk through the Bulgarian capital of Sofia. It’s capital, Sofia feels as developed as any large European capital, complete with trams and subway systems.

Bulgaria's capital is famous for its many picnic friendly parks. Mineral water sources surrounding the city and flows into the beautiful fountains. Klek shops are a special sight here, a kind of basement shop where you bend down to buy everything from beer to candy.

The Tzarevets or Tsarevets fortress is one of the great symbols of the city and possibly of Bulgaria. The street that leads to the Varosha district is possibly a good dividing line between what is the modern part of Veliko Tarvono and the old town and Sveta Gora. The Maika Bulgaria Monument, located in the center of the city is next to the Marno pole park.

It’s second largest city Plovdiv is calmer. The mountainous town of Veliko Tărnovo is a nice getaway to quaint city life even within Bulgaria itself while Rila monastery, a UNESCO world heritage site where entry is free, gives established religious sites like Mont St Michel in France, a run for their money.

Razlog, a neighbor of Bansko, is the largest city in the interior Pirin. It is located in an open valley, at the foot of high mountains. Razlog is at the same distance from the summits of Rila, Pirin and Ródope. It is right in the center of the crossroads. You decide which mountain massif you want to go and, in twenty minutes, the mountain is yours.

The center of Razlog is very lively, green and super nice. The central esplanade invites to walk. The market and the stores attract attention. It is a pleasant city, with very lively traditions and cradle of folklore. Many people come during their festivities. See during the New Year's carnival, when Kukeris (men disguised as spirits) are protagonists of a pagan ritual.

The Razlog parade is reputed to be the best in the country! The city is also home to the Pirin Pee Folklore Festival. Razlog is often overlooked in favor of its more prestigious neighbor: Bansko, the tourist capital of the Pirin, with a ski resort.

Bansko is not just a ski trip. It has a natural privileged enclave practically virgin, with dense forests of trees over 40 meters high that make up an idyllic landscape for nature lovers. The skiing is varied and for all levels, the snow comes through the storms that come from Russia so it is guaranteed almost since the beginning of December. It has hosted several World Championship events.

Besides enjoying good wine in one of its castle cellars, you can also enjoy the gastronomy in its more than 300 Mexanas (typical Bulgarian tavern) some of them centenary old.

Varna, one of the most affordable resort cities on the Black Sea Coast boasts with culture and places for entertainment. The centre and the sea coastal alley are full of amazing bars, restaurants and cafes that you can visit any time of the day. The drinks are cheap - 3-4 euro for a cocktail and even less for a coffee or a glass of delicious local wine.

The food is great as you would expect from a country with so many influences. The country is not expensive by the standards of more western European countries and the people were incredibly friendly. The only downside was that Bulgarian is a hard language to understand to the uninitiated.

Its written in Cyrillic and only really Bulgarian young people or people who work in tourism will speak good English. A few of the older folk could speak Russian and some folk could speak Turkish.

Insider Tip: Veliko Tarvono, the most beautiful city in Bulgaria or at least that was thought by several media outlets when, years ago, it was awarded this award and was even named capital of cultural tourism in the Balkans. Veliko Tarnovo is also considered as the capital of the medieval tsars of Bulgaria, between wooded hills and divided by the river Yantra, a true medieval city that today has lively nightlife.

The Baltics can offer many interesting venues and local historical sites, regardless of if a traveler is on a shoestring budget. These small countries offer easy access, nice small surprises and unique places for casual observers. Bear in mind, that price levels are always a bit higher in capital cities and vice versa in peripheral areas. Overall the Baltics are quite affordable and safe for tourists.

You don’t really go to Baltics for golden sunshine and endless vineyards. In fact, you may spend parts of your trip under the rain, even in Summer. Temperatures will not go extra high. Countries will be similar for a foreign tourists with matching landscapes, architecture and with calmer, reserved local people who are usually not into your face.

Anyway, in the Baltics all capital cities are interesting and worth visiting. All of these feature an Old Town, with attractive local flair and good restaurants. Interestingly, they differ quite a lot, but in different ways. Vilnius is special, Riga is grand and Tallinn has very old historical buildings and stunning views from elevated terraces.

But capitals are only part of the story, so do not miss the rural scenery and towns. In the countryside, prices are often a bargain and restaurants can be surprisingly good. Sea coast areas are completely flat as a board which makes it easy for cycling. Forests, lakes (thousands of them!) - this is what you are going to see when in Baltics.

All three Baltic states are part of European Union, Eurozone (euro is the currency) and are easy to travel to, no borders, their passports are good passports for travel too and countries are more matched up to European standards in many aspects.

8. Estonia

Next to the Baltic Sea and below Finland there is Estonia. A very underrated country and another unique one often missed off of Europe travel guides. It has verdant forests, glorious Baltic beaches and a medieval walled citadel for its capital city Tallinn. It’s language is unique, only vaguely related to Hungarian and Finish but pretty much a world apart from every other EU language.

Also they are the most internet heavy country in the world and apparently they were planning on making public transport and internet access free for all citizens, which is pretty cool! Keep an eye on them, they may out Nordic the Nordic countries one day.

By entering to Estonia you will feel similarly like in Scandinavia (prices will rise significantly as well like in Scandinavia). Estonia previously was part of the Swedish Empire and Estonians are genetically and linguistically close to the Finnish, so it certainly has the strongest Scandinavian vibe.

Located in the Northern Europe, Estonia is worth visiting. If you want to get the Nordic vibes, come to Estonia, because it’s cheaper here. Estonia’s neighbors are Finland from North, Russia from East, Latvia from South and across the sea Sweden from West. During summer, the daylight lasts for more than 18 hours. A stay in Estonia naturally includes a visit to its capital.

Tallinn is a wonderful city that you have to discover. The city and country are certainly well known to people in the area, especially in Sweden, but as the distance from the Baltic's increase, Tallinn and Estonia seem to become more and more obscure and mysterious. The islands of Saaremaa and Hiiumaa are unique and certainly worth a visit, especially if you like biking.

Estonia’s capital city is Tallinn, where you can see historic Old Town which is UNESCO world heritage. The oldest buildings are from 1200s. There are numerous of churches in Tallinn (actually in a whole country), one more beautiful than the other. With that being said, Tallinn is the best preserved medieval city in Northern Europe. The Christmas market in Tallinn is magical! Definitely worth seeing.

Tallinn is a truly lovely city that combines the modern with the ancient. The old part of town is like slipping into medieval times, although with plenty of modern vendors and cool stuff to spend your modern euros on. Depending on where you live, Tallinn and Estonia aren’t really underrated, but the lovely country isn’t nearly as well known and visited as it should be.

There are a whole bunch of very friendly people, and lots of very weird stuff just waiting to be seen. For three euros you can climb to the top of St. Olav’s Church. But beware, this is one spooky climb. The stairs are tiny, and worn by centuries of use, and all you have is a rope to help pull yourself up. Assuming you survive the climb to the top of St. Olaf, incredible views await you. All kinds of old things to look at.

Rotermanni quarter is a modern district that has a lot of good places to eat. Kalamaja has lovely wooden buildings, quite a hipster place with cafes/bars, etc. Kadriorg Palace and park is a lovely and beautiful place. Tallinn is quite walkable with many cultural charms and a nice old town district, then head for an island along Estonia’s Baltic coast.

Spend some time outside the capital and discover national parks such as Lahemaa National Park or explore the surrounding islands such as Saaremaa, Hiiumaa or Vormsi. Submerge yourselves in the waters of a lake and whipped ourselves with juniper branches. In Estonia, Pärnu town is a favorite for summer activities, spa and golf.

Parnu is an old and picturesque city, a well-known spa with well-developed infrastructure. Apart from comfortable hotels and inns, it has a large number of sanatoriums and nursing homes, so one can at the same time improve health. The City Hall often hosts concerts and festivals, everyone can attend. The history of the place can be known during the excursion to the Parnu museum, which has been in operation since 1895.

Through the center of the historical district of Pärnu, is the charming Rüütli street. It is famous for its architectural monuments, the variety of good restaurants and souvenir shops. Beautiful old houses from different eras have survived here. The red brick houses of the nineteenth century look especially spectacular. In summer, the facades of many buildings are decorated with fresh flowers and ornamental plants.

The most beautiful monument of architecture is Villa Ammende. The most unusual sight of Pärnu is its mole, whose length is approximately 2000 meters. It is built from huge rocks and extends to the sea. This picturesque place is considered one of the most romantic in the city. There is a good tradition of lovers kissing in the middle of the mole. They believe that the separation will not affect them.

Fans of historical excursions should definitely see the beautiful castle of Paide. The first castle in its place was built by the Knights of the Teutonic Order. Originally, it was called Weisenstein.

Estonia is a wonderful place, the summer is short but wonderful, winters are long and cold, it is easy to get to other places on the ferry for a day or two holiday. The drive south to Poland and into mainland Europe is long but the scenery is great and you drive through.

Insider Tip: The snow-covered landscape of Scandinavian winter postcards also exists here. Especially the Christmas market, is a true magical decoration. In summer, on the contrary, the days are eternal and at the end of June the night does not even fall. It is the period of barbecues and smoked fish to the firewood.

9. Lithuania

Lithuania is a country full of natural and artificial surprises, with a history forged by the fusion of pagan roots with Catholic fervor. In Lithuania, remember to visit the Hill of Crosses. The Hill of Crosses near Šiauliai is a mountain where, since the 19th century, the population has placed crosses as an offering or to ask for a favor.

It survived the Soviet era and it is estimated that, to date, there are more than 50,000 crosses in the place. You can stop near it when travelling from the Curonian Spit to Latvia.

If when you are traveling you want to take a break and give yourself a thermal bath, those of Lithuania are unparalleled. You have to go to Druskininkai, the spa is located next to Lake Druskonis, surrounded by woods, in a beautiful spot. By being in the Lithuanian cities of Vilnius and Trakai (near Vilnius) you will get a glimpse at the past glory of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Bathed by the rivers Neris and Vilnia, the beauty of Vilnius is complemented by its wooded hills. Vilnius has a hippie-like “independent city-within-a-city” at its center, then go to the beach at Klaipeda or the arts capital in Kaunas.

The resplendent Vilnius Cathedral stands proudly in the central square of the old city. It resembles a classical Greek temple more than a Christian church. Near the Castle of Gediminas rises a hill crowned by three crosses. In addition to the Europa Park, from Vilnius you can go to Gruto Parkas, a very original theme park, full of statues from the Soviet era. You will see mostly Lenin or Stalin carvings.

Another peculiarity of Vilnius is that within the city itself there is a bohemian zone that is self-styled as the Independent Republic of Uzupis, with its own constitution. The best time to visit Vilnius is in summer. In contrast, in winter, temperatures are freezing, almost always below zero degrees, and there are very few hours of light. Before each meal, you can taste the typical Lithuanian soup.

For dessert, the Lithuanians have mostly the sakotis, a pie in the form of spruce, as well as the honey donuts. To drink, the typical Lithuanian beers are the Utenos and the Kalnapilis. After lunch, try the midus liqueur, which can be drunk in the coffee. Whatever your taste, in Vilnius you can choose from design bars, casinos, discos, more traditional bars and dance halls.

In summer there are many outdoor terraces in the center, especially on Pilies and Vokieciu streets.

The Curonian Spit and Nida is located about 400 kilometres from the capital city Vilnius, so you will have to spend one extra night in Klaipėda or Nida/Juodkrantė. However the nature views and old style wooden houses are definitely worth to see.

Insider Tip: The Lithuanian coast is made up of immense beaches. The best ones are near Klaipeda, in the narrow strip of sand that forms the Curonian Spit. Trakai is the place to which everyone who visits Lithuania ends up going. A large lake in the center of which is an island and a medieval castle that currently hosts concerts and exhibitions.

10. Latvia

Even in Europe most people do not really know where Latvia is nor do they care. Most people in Italy know the word Lettonia but they really do not know anything about it or where it is. Some British people know about Latvia because it is a popular place for men to go for pub crawls and stag parties. But it is not really on their radar.

A flight will take you directly to a rich café life, nightlife and fresh 4 star properties that offer spa treatments and good food. From your arrival in Riga, the capital of Latvia, you will notice the tranquility of a capital that contrasts with the turmoil of the great cities of Western Europe.

By being in the Latvian city of Riga and Sigulda National Park nearby you will get a glimpse at the Livonian Brothers of the Sword and at the Teutonic Order grace which were a fierce enemies of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (they were mostly German/Prussian, so their heritage is absolutely different from the Lithuanian one). Latvian heritage is a mixture of Baltic, German and Scandinavian.

Riga is a destination in Eastern Europe that everyone should visit for an immersive sightseeing experience. When we heard that Riga was a hidden gem were sold, as we try to avoid crowds as much as possible and to visit more under the radar destinations. In Riga you will see tourists but not as much as other European destinations such as Rome, Madrid or Paris.

Riga is a paradise for travelers who love architecture, art, and especially Art Nouveau. The city has interesting museums and is easy to walk around. You will be surprised by the trolleybuses of public transport, the famous Art Nouveau architectural style inscribed in UNESCO or the wooden houses of some neighborhoods of the city. Riga in Latvia likewise has a great old town district, and a blossoming arts scene. Then maybe see a castle in the countryside at Sigulda or Cesis or Rundale.

The trains that transport you from one point to another in the country will remind you of a Soviet period that you thought was past. You will perceive that the Latvians are certainly colder and more closed than the inhabitants of the west, in a fairly matriarchal society.

Dotted with beautiful villages and epic forts, the Gauja National Park in Latvia is fascinating. The tower of the Turaida Castle rises majestically over the pines. Turaida Castle is located near Sigulda and was built by the Livonian Order as well upon directions given by Albert, Archbishop of Riga. In Latvia, visit the Jurmala beach, famous for the vast scale of white sands, reaching towards the horizon.

Jūrmala was once the spa and the most prestigious coastal destination of the former Russian Empire. While the Lithuanians enjoy the dunes of the Curonian Spit and the Estonians delight in the island life of Saaremaa and Hiiumaa, there is the intermediate Latvian coast of Kurzeme.

Conveniently located in northeastern Europe, the size of Latvia allows you to make a quick visit and offers globetrotters the possibility of arriving in just a few hours to Lithuania and Estonia. You can visit as well as to Saint Petersburg (only 7 hours away by car) and Belarus, or even make a trip for a weekend in Finland, Sweden or Lapland itself.

Insider Tip: Did you know that Riga has its own Beer Spa - a spa where you can immerse yourself in a wooden tub filled with warm beer! You may sip a chilled beer at the same time? Latvia loves beer, so to speak, so get ready for an unusual beer experience.

11. Netherlands

West-Friesland is in the north of North Holland, which is in the west of the Netherlands while Friesland is in the north of the Netherlands. You can easily pay a visit to West-Friesland if you use the Afsluitdijk to travel between the northern Netherlands and North Holland.

Hopefully you have found something to inspire you in our whistle-stop trip around some of Europe's less visited places.
Kalyan Panja

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