What’s more important to you when you travel – finding hidden spots no one’s every heard of or checking off the more well-known ones? For us, it’s a combination but we tend to gravitate towards more up-and-coming areas than the established tourist hot-spots. Not that there is anything wrong with them! There are reasons why the most popular places have earned their top spots and most of them need to be seen at least once. But there is a special charm to less-known places and sometimes they are just as beautiful as the town next door everyone’s flocking to. Here is our list of some of the most underrated instagrammable towns in Europe.
1. Menton, France
The entire area of Cote d’Azur is full of picturesque French towns. Each of them has its own character but we loved Menton’s old town not only for its narrow streets and charming cafes but also for its beautiful beach. We’ve heard it could get crowded but we had a very easy-going beach day here with not that many people right in the middle of high season at the end of June. It is located near France’s border with Italy just a little further west from Monaco. We took a day trip here from Monte Carlo with a taxi.
2. Monopoli, Italy
Apart from having a really fun name, Monopoli is also an adorable town located in the provence of Bari, in the south-eastern part of Italy. It has a few nice white sand beaches, a maze of beautiful narrow streets to get lost in, and so much good Italian food! We suggest you walk around the old town and pay a visit to the Monopoli Cathedral.
3. Naoussa, Paros
Santorini and Mykonos are amazing but the island that took our hearts in Greece was Paros. Naoussa is the place to be in Paros. It has just the right combination of old + new that we love in European towns – it’s a small old town with traditional Cycladic architecture that has a very authentic Greek vibe but also a lot of cool cafes, restaurants and shops. It’s quiet, almost idyllic during the day but it comes alive at night when all the cool kids come out. Read more about our trip to Paros here.
4. Villefranche-sur-mer, France
We loved this town in the South of France. It’s located in one of the most popular areas for tourism in France but the town itself is less popular than Nice, Cannes. etc. There are still plenty of bars, shops, restaurants and charming small hotels to stay at, but no loud party crowds and fancy places where people go to show off (at least for us, that’s a draw).
We recommend you stay near the marina. Waking up with this view every morning and having breakfast by the water was an unforgettable experience. Plus you’d be right near the old town where evening walks are most romantic.
5. Alberobello, Italy
This is one of the most unique places we’ve visited lately! It is famous for these unique trullo houses that you can only find in this area of Italy. One of the interesting facts about these buildings is that they were built using dry stone masonry, without any mortar. So the stones are basically being held in place just by gravity and pressure against each other. We heard many different theories on how this design came about but our favorite one was that villagers just wanted to be able to dismantle their houses quickly when tax collectors came, in order to avoid paying property taxes. Seems pretty genius huh!
We did not stay in this town as we didn’t think there would be much to do other than visit the historical old town, which you can do in a day. We were staying in nearby Polignano-a-mare and drove to Alberobello with our rental car for a day trip.