As Covid restrictions ease in the UK, you can once again dream about the possibility of getting away to a new city.

But, with so much pent-up travel fever left over from the past 18 months, busy tourist spots such as Paris or Barcelona could be heaving with sun-chasing UK holidaymakers.

That’s why it could be worth taking a tip from Robert Frost and choosing the path less travelled.

Here are 10 of the best lesser-known cities in Europe that are low-key holiday gems.

Don’t forget: Covid restrictions can change quickly in any country, which may affect your ability to travel or return home. You may also have to quarantine before and/or after coming back to the UK. Make sure you plan accordingly before you travel.

1. Poznan, Poland

Poznan is a beautiful city located in western Poland on the Warta River.

The Old Market Square features gorgeous Renaissance-style buildings that were painstakingly rebuilt after being decimated during the second world war.

Fortunately, this reconstruction means the stunning architecture is still there to see, as is an incredible mechanical clock in the town square.

Poznan is famously the birthplace of the football-fan-favourite dance The Poznan, a dance in which supporters turn their backs to the pitch, link arms, and jump together.

2. Split, Croatia

The second-largest city in the whole of Croatia, Split boasts picturesque beaches, amazing cobblestone streets, and a wonderful promenade by the sea.

You can take a boat out to the island of Hvar from Split, where you’ll find a beautiful island town with some of the best food you can possibly imagine.

Split became well-known after scenes from HBO’s Game of Thrones were filmed there. If you were a big fan of the show, you could take the Game of Thrones tour to see everything from the city of Meereen to Daenarys’ throne room.

3. Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg sits in the north-west of Austria, right on the German border.

As the birthplace of Mozart, the city is steeped in history and culture, including a museum displaying instruments from his childhood.

Thanks to its location, there’s a stunning view of the eastern Alps from the city. It makes it a perfect location to stay if you fancy a skiing holiday, too.

These Alpine roots also mean Salzburg’s dairy industry is well-known throughout the region. Make sure you try some authentic Austrian cheese, or some freshly baked bread complete with a knob of Alpine butter.

4. Bruges, Belgium

Bruges is located in the north-west of Belgium and is the capital of the region of West Flanders.

Naturally, as one of the finest chocolate-producing nations in the world, Bruges is home to many exquisite chocolatiers.

Bruges is also known for being particularly beautiful, thanks to its canals, cobbled streets, and intricate architecture.

As Ralph Fiennes’s character, Harry, says in the fantastic spy caper In Bruges: “It’s a fairytale town.”

5. Bilbao, Spain

It’s remarkable that Bilbao isn’t already considered to be one of the best places to visit in Spain.

As an industrial port town, Bilbao perhaps has an unfair reputation as not being visually appealing. But, as a bustling hub of activity surrounded by gorgeous green mountains, there’s plenty to do in this rich, metropolitan city.

Bilbao is home to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, one of the most impressive pieces of modern architecture in the world. It’s almost worth visiting the city just to see this remarkable building.

6. Trieste, Italy

Trieste lies on the north-east coast of Italy, a beautiful Italian town with the ocean at its doorstep.

Its largest public space, the Piazza Unita d’Italia, is Europe’s largest square and is set on the seafront. It’s the perfect location for dinner or drinks while enjoying a cool sea breeze in the hot sun.

Trieste is thought to be the centre of coffee drinking in Italy, with an average consumption of 10 kilograms per person per year – nearly double the Italian average of 5.8 kilograms.

7. Cologne, Germany

When you think of Germany, you no doubt think of Berlin, Munich, or perhaps somewhere like Frankfurt. But Cologne is just as much an authentic German city as any of the others.

Cologne’s history stretches back 2,000 years to the time of the Holy Roman Empire. This historical city features remarkable Gothic architecture, including the unbelievably impressive Cologne Cathedral.

Alongside art and culture, Cologne is also home to some of the best nightlife in Europe, featuring plenty of bars serving up local German beers.

8. Belgrade, Serbia

Belgrade is Serbia’s capital, featuring plenty of fascinating landmarks to visit.

Belgrade was a significant military fortress for many cultures throughout history, including the Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, Serbian, and Austrian empires. As a result, the Belgrade Fortress is an incredible sight to behold and a must-visit.

One of the best reasons to visit Serbia is the conversion from British sterling to Serbian dinar. As of August 2021, one pound sterling can buy you 137 dinars. That means a holiday to Serbia can be truly cost-effective.

9. Gdansk, Poland

Gdansk is a port city on the northern coast of Poland.

Much like Poznan, the Old Town of Gdansk was completely destroyed over the course of the second world war and had to be entirely rebuilt. Fortunately, it retains plenty of its original charm, featuring pastel-coloured buildings on the Long Market.

Throughout history, Gdansk has been a key part of the amber trade. As a result, there are plenty of boutiques selling gorgeous gems and jewellery throughout the city.

It’s also home to some of Poland’s finest local food, including pierogi, the tiny dumplings containing all kinds of sweet and savoury fillings.

10. Bratislava, Slovakia

Last but by no means least, Bratislava can make an ideal spot for a city break.

Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia, built on the bank of the Danube. Popular places to visit include Devin Castle overlooking the river and the old town, and Modry Kostol, a stunning Catholic church with a bright blue façade.

The area is also well-known for its vineyards, making it the perfect place to visit for wine tasting.

Don’t forget to try Slovakia’s national dish of “bryndzové halušky”, a plate of potato dumplings with bacon and sheep’s cheese.