Home to some of the world’s most popular travel destinations, Europe has always made its way into our travel bucket lists, and by “always” I truly mean that ever since leisure travel became a thing, the continent’s gorgeous hubs have been coveted by millions.

Right now, though, the number of people flocking to these cities has become so ginormous that it’s starting to negatively affect not only the overall traveler experience but also the lives of locals having to deal with all the economic and environmental challenges of mass tourism.

In these past couple of months alone, there’s been major pushback in countries like France, Greece, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands in an effort to mitigate overtourism and preserve a sense of authenticity.

Crowded street in Rome, ItalyBetween that and the fact that going somewhere at the exact same time as millions of other people can put a damper on your fun, too, 2024 travelers are being drawn more and more toward smaller, lesser-known destinations – but how do you find these?

To help you out, European Best Destinations just released its latest ranking of Europe’s top hidden gems, and the list, while unexpected, is guaranteed to provide you with some much-needed inspiration.

5. Naantali, Finland

Naantali, FinlandLocated 14 kilometers west of Turku, this charming Finnish resort town is everything you’d hope for and more – it has everything from a darling old town and colorful wooden houses to a lively yet intimate-feeling harbor filled with fishing boats.

In Naantali, you’ll also find the famous Kultaranta estate, which is the official summer residence of the country’s President and a must-see for everyone looking to take in the local architecture, marvel at the panoramic views, or just enjoy a refreshing walk along the scenic paths.

Keep in mind that this is a very quiet town.

Specialty establishments like souvenir shops, for example, are usually one-of-a-kind and close their doors by 4 PM, so try to get all your shopping done before then.

4. Bokodi Floating Village, Hungary

Bokodi Floating Village, HungaryFew people actually grasp how fairytale-like the Hungarian countryside can be, and this criminally underrated village is the perfect example of that.

Right over the tranquil waters of Lake Bokodi, you’ll find a handful of colorful wooden houses built on stilts, which gives the illusion that the whole place is – you guessed it – floating.

Before you pack up your bags, though, I do want to note that this is a pretty remote place, and you’ll only get to admire the houses from afar; after all, they’re private property.

But the views at sunrise are just so dreamy and surreal-looking that, in my opinion, coming here is still well worth the time.

3. Primosten, Croatia

Primosten, CroatiaIf you’ve been wanting to explore Croatia for a while but don’t want to deal with the Dubrovnik crowds, Primosten might just be the perfect place for you.

Don’t worry; you’ll still get to lounge on the powdery sands of the Dalmatian Coast and swim in the azure waters of the Adriatic – you’ll just get to do it all somewhere far quieter and more private.

And with all the stone houses, medieval churches, and winding cobblestone streets, that old-world charm is extra strong here.

2. Ares del Maestre, Spain

Ares del Maestre, SpainDespite what most of us are led to believe, Spain has much more to offer than just dreamy beaches, and this rugged hilltop town is just the perfect example of that.

History buffs, in particular, will find Ares del Maestre to be their haven.

Home to ancient stone houses and an iconic 13th-century castle, the town truly has a way of making you feel like you’ve been transported back in time.4

1. Villajoyosa, Spain

Villajoyosa, SpainComing in at first place is yet another Spanish gem – this time, though, you’ll get to indulge in that typical beachy experience.

Found on the sun-kissed shores of Costa Blanca, Villahoyosa is exactly what you’d imagine when hearing about a quiet seaside town.

All the colorful seafront houses, palm-lined promenades, sandy beaches, and cheap yet mouthwatering food will make you feel like you’re living in your very own summer paradise.

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