A vast continent rich in historical landmarks, Europe is the number one place to be this season if you’re a culture buff.

This is especially true now that temperatures are rising and a host of nonstop flights are relaunching to several of its trendiest destinations, but there’s a catch.

As demand grows, the cost of vacations increases dramatically, and they may well be stunning, but cities like London, Paris and Milan wouldn’t be at the top of our summer wishlist: we’ll leave them for those with a hefty budget and who don’t mind the crowds.

Instead, you can find us in these 4 medieval gems that not only are just as fascinating but are quieter and far easier on the wallet:

Honfleur, France

Cobbled Street Lined By Half Timbered Houses In Honfleur, Normandy, France, Northern Europe.jpg

Only two-and-a-half hours from Paris, Honfleur is a historic harbor town on the Normandy coast that locals successfully managed to hide from most foreigners who visit France: whether it’s peak or off-season, they all tend to bypass it altogether.

Interestingly enough, this is one of the best-preserved and prettiest medieval settlements in France.

It is famous for its Vieux-Bassin, a picturesque waterfront lined by 16th-century buildings, Église Sainte Catherine, the largest wooden church in the country, and cobbled alleys.

Wooden Church In Honfleur, Normandy, France, Northern Europe.jpg

It has also posed as muse for none less than Claude Monet, who painted its sandy beach in the summer of 1864, as well as Rue de la Bavole, an impressionist effort depicting a narrow street in Honfleur that is still flanked by colorful cafes and half-timbered houses.

Despite being in France, one of the most expensive countries in Europe, Honfleur is relatively affordable, with lunchtime menus in local restaurants costing $15-17—make sure you try local dish Coquille Saint-Jacques—and hotel overnights starting from $76.

Granada, Spain

Defensive Walls Of The Alhambra, Moorish Citadel In Granada, Andalusia, Spain

Tucked away in the hinterlands of Andalusia in Spain, the Moorish Granada is one of the top destinations for soaking up the culture in Europe in the warmest months, and it’s only a 1h20 train ride from jam-packed coastal resort Malaga.

Granada is characterized by a whitewashed, hilly Old Town, dating back to the period of Islamic rule in Spain, when the country succumbed to the rule of Muslim dynasties from North Africa, and other than its eclectic architecture, it’s best-known for its Alhambra Fortress.

Albaicin District Of Granada, Andalusia, Spain

The bucket-list palace was built by the invading Moors in an attempt to assert power over the territory, and it remains one of the most important Islamic monuments to have survived in Spain following the Reconquista, when the Christians took back control.

Lucky for the budget-conscious, Granada, and Andalusia as a whole is pretty affordable to visit: a lunch consisting of Andalusian salmorejo, deep-fried fish (pescaito frito) and a drink can cost $17, and booking a single room in the city center will set you back by $50-69.

Gdansk, Poland

Aerial View Of Gdansk Old Town, Poland, Central Eastern Europe

Straddling the Baltic Coast, Gdańsk is a rare example of a medieval port this far northeast in Europe that’s re-emerged as glorious as it once was, in spite of being showered with bombs in World War II, and if you’re asking us, it’s easily Poland’s most beautiful.

The Old Town is an absolute marvel, with a long, pedestrianized main street (Długa) bordered by tall, skinny façades, coming in varying tones of muted green, yellow and red, as dictated by Northern Mannerism, and tall towers and spires piercing the otherwise-low skyline.

Dluga Street In Gdansk, Poland, Central Eastern Europe.jpg

If you’re a Middle Ages aficionado, some of Gdańsk’s main points of interest you shouldn’t miss are the Basilica of St. Mary, one of the three largest brick structures in the world, the ornate Golden Gate, and the iconic wooden ‘Crane’, dated to 1367.

As it is yet to adopt the euro, and thanks to the lower cost of living, vacationing in Poland is a lot more affordable compared to Western Europe: there are spa hotels costing from $64 to book per night, and you can definitely get by on $55 per day on average.

Varazdin, Croatia

Varazdin Castle, Varazdin, Northern Croatia, Europe

Tucked away in the hinterland of Croatia, miles away from the jam-packed coast, and near the tripoint border with Slovenia and Hungary, Varazdin is a historic city first referenced in the 12th-century, distinct for its Baroque wealth and whitewashed citadel.

Strolling the pastel-colored Old Town, you’ll find a myriad of casual cafes, textile shops, which produce Varazdin’s most prized export, and traditional Slavonian restaurants where you can sample food native to this part of Croatia, namely meat stews and pork sausages.

Varazdin, Croatia

As you might have guessed, Varazdin exists in a different world altogether than Dalmatian cities like Dubrovnik and Split: while they are strongly Italian in character, owing to centuries of Mediterranean trade and values, this 40,000-people-strong settlement is distinctly Slavic.

You can see it in the architecture, which is clearly Central European-leaning as opposed to Venetian, the ethnic makeup of the local populace, less tanned than their average Dalmatian counterparts, and, of course, the verdant plains surrounding the town and its milder climate.

Aerial View Of Historical Town Of Varazdin In Northern Croatia, Central Europe

Varazdin is a short one-hour bus ride from Zagreb, the equally-underrated, non-coastal capital of Croatia, and if you’re wondering about prices, a 3-night stay in a central, moderately-luxurious hotel will cost $269 on average, while meals in local restaurants are 31% cheaper than in the touristy Dalmatia.

Credit: Source link