Instead of The Amalfi Coast, visit Montenegro: although the coast deserves all its fame it gets, the mass swarm of tourists can be a deterrent. The coastline of Montenegro offers some serious competition, complete with high mountain ranges, scary windy roads, and colorful houses. The little tourists and cheap prices compared to the Amalfi coast give it serious brownie points. Waiting for buses in Amalfi to return to Sorrento can sometimes take 5 hours in peak season, so skip the stress and have the Montenegro coastline to yourself.
Visit Albania: The small forgotten country of Albania is one of the most beautiful. Just the drive alone through Llogara National Park in Albania is one of the most beautiful drives in the world. I sat in awe as we hitchhiked our way through this enchanted forest, small villages, and crazy scary roads. This is a must do for nature lovers, although it isn’t right on the coastline I would have a hard time deciding if here or the Amalfi coast is more beautiful. On the plus side hitch hiking is the easiest form of transport here, so you save buckets of money, meet locals and don’t have to sit on an over crowded bus like in Amalfi.
– Himare, Albania
Visit the south-west coast of Albania: as mentioned above the drive through the national park is some of the most beautiful scenery in Europe, and the small coastal town of Himare is just as beautiful. Although when I visited a lot of the town was under construction, it was clear its going to be a small but popular holiday destination soon. Surrounded by mountain ranges there are numerous hikes, the water is crystal clear and off the beaten track of most people’s travels.
Skip Santorini and find an island more suited to you: I haven’t been shy about expressing my dislike for this island, but I’ll say it again just in case you missed it. I hated Santorini. The famous island is a tourist trap full of wealthy holidayers and locals ready to take your money at very turn. Skip it entirely, there are about a thousand other islands through Greece that offer more beautiful nature and scenery. I visited the island of Milos thanks to a friend’s recommendation and loved it. With hardly any other tourists, small local shops and no fancy wanky hotels it was the perfect spot for me. Hiring a motorbike or quad is more fun with more untouched nature to explore, and wild camping was relatively easy. Do some research on the islands, and find one tailored to your interests. There is literally an island to suit anyone, from climbing, camping, hiking to partying.
– Milos Island
D-tour Dubrovnik: unless you are a die-hard Games of Thrones fan, Dubrovnik can be skipped (shocked gasp!). It does have an incredible old town, but so does almost every city in Europe. I found town of Kotor in Montenegro far more beautiful, with a cliff face as its background, a small bay, and significantly fewer tourists, and so much cheaper, it was a far more enjoyable experience.
Don’t travel in summer!: if you still want to visit all the famous touristic spots, simply avoid the months of July through to September. The summer is overrated anyway, it’s too hot and sticky, and the tourists are a pain the butt, pushing and shoving and making it impossible to see anything anyway. Visiting in the off seasons allows you to have popular spots all to yourself. In May and June, the weather is perfect, the tourists are on the lower scale and the prices are cheaper due to it still being off season. Plus, spring is one of the most beautiful times in Europe, everything is bursting with greenery and bloom.
– Bucharest, Romania in Spring
Visit Romania and Bulgaria:
To be honest, Romania and Bulgaria were never high on my ‘must travel to’ list. However, as I crossed the border from Moldova into Romania, I was instantly taken back by its breathtaking beauty. Rolling hills of greenery, tiny colorful villages on cliff faces and rivers entwining their way through the hidden valleys.
Not only is the wildlife breathtaking, the capital of Romania, Bucharest, was one of the most beautiful cities I have visited. An old European town with cobbled streets, curvy and confusing with small cafes and restaurants. People sitting around enjoying the spring weather, drinking coffee and cocktails at all hours of the day and smiling in the sunshine. Once again, lower prices less tourists, nicer locals and nature were all bonuses for these incredible countries.
Skip the Capri island, there’s plenty of other Italian Islands on offer: you know the saying ‘when in Rome, do as the Romans do!’ Well, the Romans holiday at the island of Ischia. Capri has been well and truly taken over by tourism, so the rest of Italy just bound together and decided to give it up, the tourists had won, it was theirs. I was really keen to visit Capri on my trip, however, the more I researched into it, the less excited I was. From word of mouth from locals and a quick google search I found two other Islands, equally as beautiful, half the tourists and cheaper. Win. We visited the large island of Ischia and had a fantastic time. The old volcano offers a more authentic Italian experience, the island is more untouched, and you can even bath in the hot spring of the volcano while boiling eggs. We made friends with some locals who showed us around, but public transport is really easy.
– Italian Island of Ischia
Stick to East Europe: the flood of tourists tend to stick to the hot spots around Western Europe, so staying East eliminates a lot of traffic. Also staying out of the Contiki and organized tour group routes is an easy avoid. Eastern Europe has some amazing spots to visit, like Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Romania and Bulgaria, all some of my favorite countries on my trip. For some reason, they aren’t as popular on people’s euro travel plans, which also adds to their appeal. Also their incredibly low prices, friendly locals who are still excited by tourists and fantastic food make them unforgettable.
– Lviv, Ukraine
Visit Scandinavia: Although it might not be the best place to visit to save your pennies, it is definitely an amazing experience and a perfect place to keep out the way of others. I spent six months living in Denmark, and it only made me eager to explore more of what the north of Europe has to offer. How could you not love a country where there are more bikes than people? Scandinavia just seem to do it all right, Denmark is constantly being named the happiest place in the world, and you can see why when you are here. The bright, colorful, adorable houses, incredibly good-looking locals, incredible sense of style, culture, untouched nature and way of life make Scandinavia my favorite place in Europe. But, for some reason, it seems to always be left off everyone’s euro trip. For this very reason, it means you can escape the tourists and explore this amazing part of the world relatively tourist annoyance free! Denmark, Sweden, Finland were some of the most incredible places I’ve ever been to, the nature in Finland is just breathtaking. Sadly, I didn’t make it to Norway, but friends have raved on about its mountains and hiking opportunities.
– Copenhagen, Denmark