10 lesser-known cities in 10 popular countries for British tourists


young woman walks through an airport with her suitcase

The world is starting to open up once more, and you might be itching to travel abroad and experience something different after the last two years. Perhaps you’re planning your post-Covid holidays now, or maybe you’re simply gathering ideas for a future getaway?

Instead of travelling to the most popular tourist destinations, like Paris, Barcelona, and Florida, you could consider experiencing something new and exciting in 2022. Read on for an alphabetical list of 10 lesser-known cities to visit in 10 of the most popular countries for British tourists.

1. Busan – South Korea

Seoul often steals the show when it comes to South Korean tourism, and rightly so, but the country offers so much more outside the capital. Busan is South Korea’s second most populous city, and brings with it a rich mix of scenery, tradition, and technology.

Busan could even be the location of your next seaside holiday, as the coastal city is revered as one of the best locations for domestic tourism. Long stretches of sandy beaches adorn its sparkling coastline, and the city acts as a base for plenty of hiking opportunities in the nearby mountains.

2. Cuenca – Spain

Cuenca is a quiet, ancient city built atop the mountains of east-central Spain. Famed for its unique architecture and “hanging houses”, which dangle precariously over the side of the mountain cliffs, Cuenca is a sight that must be seen to truly understand its beauty.

Cuenca has a rich history, with a cathedral that dates to the 12th century, a palaeontology museum, and a network of tunnels running beneath the stone streets. Over the years, said tunnels have operated as aqueducts, crypts, and most recently, air-raid shelters.

3. Gdańsk – Poland

Gdańsk is one of the oldest cities in Poland and harbours a stunning port on the Baltic Sea. The town centre is filled with traditional buildings and markets, most notably the Golden Gate and The Main City Hall (currently the Gdańsk History Museum), which marks the beginning of the “Dlugi Targ” or “Royal Route”.

History isn’t the only thing Gdańsk brings to the table, though. You can enjoy stunning views of the city from the bell tower of St Mary’s Church, browse the waterside walkways full of modern cafes and shops, or peruse one of the many museums Gdańsk has to offer.

4. Hángzhōu – China

Hángzhōu is most famous for its West Lake, not only for the serene views, but also thanks to its popularity in many traditional Chinese love stories. Poets and painters from across the country have travelled there for inspiration through the years, and it is easy to see why.

Though not one of China’s largest cities, Hángzhōu offers plenty to see and do. From the almost sci-fi-looking skyline to the traditional architecture of the Lingyin Temple and Leifeng Pagoda, Hángzhōu offers a perfect blend of old and new to experience.

Plus, Hángzhōu will be hosting the 2022 Asia Games in September.

5. Kobe – Japan

The port city of Kobe is a perfect mix of scenery, history, culture, and modernity. Essentially rebuilt from the ground up after the Great Hanshin earthquake in 1995, Kobe is now one of the most vibrant and youthful cities in all of Japan.

Nestled between the Sea of Japan and the Rokko mountains, Kobe harbours stunning views from both the portside promenades, and the mountaintop botanical gardens.

The earthquake museum, the longest suspension bridge in the world, Sannomiya shopping street, an underground shopping centre, and of course the revered Kobe beef: this city truly has something for everyone.

6. Pittsburgh – Pennsylvania, USA

Within American borders, Pittsburgh’s reputation is similar to that of Detroit. What was once a grim, industrial metropolis has been revitalised and modernised into a top tourist destination.

Pittsburgh sits at the mouth of three large rivers, offering beautiful scenes from the city’s 446 bridges, and gorgeous views of the city skyline from nearby vantage points. One such example is Mount Washington, complete with a working cable car to take you straight to the top.

From touring the city streets to ghost hunts and museums, there’s plenty to keep you happy in the now vibrant “Steel City”.

7. Stavanger – Norway

One of the main reasons to visit Norway is for the breathtaking scenery that is unlike anywhere else on Earth. Stavanger delivers on that front, neighbouring both a fjord and a mountain range, and brings with it the added bonus of a classic Nordic town with museums and a medieval cathedral.

Lysefjord can be viewed by boat in the form of a cruise, or by taking a hike to Pulpit Rock, which overlooks the staggering scenery and nearby mountains. Stavanger is also close to the world’s longest wooden staircase made of 4,444 steps, if you like a challenge.

8. Syracuse – Italy

The southern Italian island of Sicily houses plenty of remarkable places to travel, and Syracuse is no exception. A mix of Greek and Roman history and culture fills the 2,700-year-old city, including an ancient Greek amphitheatre, a cave known as the Ear of Dionysus, and the Temple of Apollo.

Syracuse is situated on the Ionian coastline of Italy and has access to the sparkling blue waters of the Ionian Sea. Temperatures in the summer can reach heights us Brits can only ever dream of, so Syracuse might be one to check out if you’re a fan of warm, seaside holidays.

9. Toulouse – France

Toulouse may not be considered hidden away or unknown, but most holidays don’t include it in their itinerary, despite it being the fourth largest French city.

Toulouse is packed with a varied list of things to do. Historic and archaeological sites like the city hall, Basilica, and stone bridges over the river come twinned with a modern Japanese garden and a space centre for a fulfilling travel experience.

France is also known for its food and is probably one of the reasons you chose to visit in the first place. Luckily, Toulouse is not short on options for fancy cuisine and French fine dining, either.

10. Trier – Germany

Trier is Germany’s oldest city and was founded in 16 BC by the Roman Emperor Augustine. To this day, Trier retains much of its Roman history. It houses the Black Gate (the largest Roman gate north of the Alps), Germany’s oldest church, and the Imperial Baths – a traditional Roman bathhouse.

Throughout the city, you will find a beautiful mix of Roman and German architecture, and it is situated near the Luxembourg border. Indeed, it’s close enough that you can catch a bus between the two if you fancy a day trip away.

Also, Karl Marx was born here, and you can visit his house which has since been turned into a museum.