6 Underrated and Affordable Weekend Trips in Europe

The old town of Annecy is pictured here with pink flowers in the foreground, green canal waters are lined with traditional French houses and a small building like a castle stands in the centre. People are seen at cafes adjacent the canal in this underrated European city.

If you’re looking for a getaway far away from selfie sticks and tour buses, try this list of my favorite underrated and affordable places for weekend trips in Europe.

A lot of students flock to their bucket list cities; the top places students go, according to College Tourist and Student Universe, are Paris, London, Amsterdam, Dublin, Barcelona, Munich, Prague, Berlin, and Copenhagen. This list leaves out some of the most breathtaking places in Europe and definitely shows that students forget to go to the more underrated European countries. For your weekend trips in Europe, please go to at least one place that’s not a Western European capital.

I’ve specially curated my list for study abroad students on a budget – all of these weekend trips in Europe should cost between 100-350$CAD.

For more of my Study Abroad advice, read these next –5 Things You Need to Do in Your First Month of Study Abroad and  5 Perfect Apps for Study Abroad Students

1. Utrecht, Netherlands

Canals in Utrecht with Picnickers and lush green trees, boats in the distance are floating down the peaceful canal, sky is blue with no clouds. A weekend Trip in Europe would be perfect here.

I think the Netherlands is one of my underrated European countries simply because travelers flock to Amsterdam when the country has so much more to offer.

And for the record, I liked Utrecht better than Amsterdam. As soon as we got off the train in Utrecht, we were in the middle of a market square. We spent the whole day just walking through the cities canal streets, shopping, and lounging at one of the bars.

What makes Utrecht special is that it is much less busy than Amsterdam, the canals are nicer and cleaner, and you can actually have a drink at a pub right at the canal level since there is a little balcony area (see the picnickers in my picture).

Thanks to my Dutch friend, Julia Marthaler, for reminding me to include Utrecht on my list and thanks to our family friend Rene for showing us around the Netherlands!


2. Split, Croatia

I only need three words to convince you to go to Split – Krka. National. Park. This is one of the most breathtaking places in Europe, the waterfalls seem to be never ending and flow through a fairy tale forest. A Krka tour from Split will take all day, for weekend trips in Europe you’d have to make it two nights or have your return flight very late.

From hiking Krka National Green and blue water, lush forest, and cloudy sky over a rocky waterfall in Croatia. Park on a weekend trip in Europe. The Waterfall at Krka National Park in Croatia, swim in the summer or avoid the crowds and go in the winter. Croatis is an underrated country and this waterfall is beautiful, truly a breathtaking site that fills a valley.

The main old town of Split was used in Game of Thrones and the Dalmatian architecture is unique to Croatia -a definitely underrated European country. For a perfect night in Split, hike ‘Park suma Marjan’ at sunset and then get some classic Croatian ice cream afterwards. Croatia is affordable, I spent 300$ at maximum and I was in Split for 5 days.

When to go – Off season (not May-August) equals less crowds but potentially rainy weather, and no swimming near the main waterfall. It can get very busy in the summer but swimming in the waterfall is permitted.


3. Mdina, Malta

This is another friend recommended place, Dannie Starr says this is her idea of the best hidden gem in Europe. I couldn’t agree more – the pictures speak for themselves. Dannie recommends simply walking the streets of Mdina and doing a wine tasting in Valletta. The Comino Blue Lagoon is what really makes Mdina one of the most naturally breathtaking places in Europe, although it can get a bit touristy.

Mdina old city seen from a viewpoint, blue water and just one boat in the foreground, sunny skies with a few clouds, a perfect place for a weekend trip in Europe

In general, the islands of Europe (Sardinia, Corsica, Ibiza, etc.) will give you a culture experience unique from the mainland and away from large tourist groups. They are very underrated in Europe, I guess people overlook them because they aren’t in the main “Fortress Europe” mainland.

If you can go and experience a firework filled Festa, do it for sure! From May to August, each village celebration brings a cultural experience with amazing firework shows. For more information on when Festas are happening, check out Malta’s tourism site.


4. Krakow, Poland

My friend Emily Dietrich’s exact words when I asked her to describe Poland – “you feel like a QUEEN”. Needless to say, Krakow is affordable and allows travelers to walk everywhere because of it’s small size. Poland is on my list of underrated European countries but it’s affordable prices, significant history, and quaint old town are why it also makes the list of the best hidden gems in Europe.

In all seriousness, the reason I put Krakow on the list was because of Auschwitz. In this list of underrated places for weekend trips in Europe, it would be easy to just talk about the amazing beaches and picturesque old town streets. But that’s not Europe.

Poland, as with most of Europe, still has evident scars from World War 2. I think it’s important for travelers to go places with unpleasant histories, to learn what these people have gone through and what they continue to remember. So, to get from Krakow and experience Auschwitz, Emily did a 30$ 3 hour tour that included transportation. Emily didn’t feel the same after visiting and really felt impacted by seeing the realities of Auschwitz in front of her.


5. Annecy – “The Venice of France”

I’m guilty of just going to Paris and saying “I love France!”. France is like the Netherlands – it’s an underrated European country because everyone, like me, just goes to Paris.

The old town of Annecy is pictured here with pink flowers in the foreground, green canal waters are lined with traditional French houses and a small building like a castle stands in the centre. People are seen at cafes adjacent the canal in this underrated European city.

I asked my French roommate, Loïc Iss, to give me a list of places in France that he thought were some of the best hidden gems in Europe. At the top of his list was Annecy, a mountain and lake town where you can ski on the Alps, do some water sports, and hike to incredible views.


The French Alps in Annecy are lush green mountains around a lake. This is a relaxing and breathtaking place for a weekend trip, there are many boats in the bluey green water.


The old town is quaint and the natural scenery provides a relaxing backdrop. Just look at the pictures he took – this is clearly one of the most breathtaking places in Europe and I really hope to visit one day.

He also said that Chamonix is more popular but more expensive than Annecy. In Annecy, you’ll find those same Alps views with less crowds and more affordable prices.


6. Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

Luxembourg is hard to spot on a map – it’s only 2,600 square kilometers. I’ve been to Luxembourg twice and would go again – the country side is beautiful, the castles are magnificent, and the streets of the main city are clean and easy to explore. On weekend trips in Europe, make sure to do the museums on a Friday or Saturday as some close on Sunday and Monday. Vianden castle in Luxembourg, a breathtaking place in Europe that blends German and French influences. Luxembourg castles are a hidden gem and must visit on a weekend trip.

If you’ve got more time in Luxembourg, my cousin Ferdy runs Bike tours of the country side. Ferdy showed us around in Luxembourg, he’s a fun and knowledgeable tour guide!

Must See in Luxembourg: Vianden Castle and Museum (there’s a hostel right at the base if you want to wake up to castle views). Luxembourg’s castles are some of the best hidden gems in Europe. Like the country itself, they are similar to German and French style castles but have their own unique Luxembourg history and flare.

So, where to first?


If you enjoyed this, and want more advice for your weekend trips in Europe, follow my Instagram! My DMs are always open to help fellow student travelers make the most of their money and time while abroad.

4 images from Malta, Utrecht, Croatia, and Annesy are in a grid across the image. In the middle is the post title, 6 underrated and affordable weekend trips in Europe

33 Replies to “6 Underrated and Affordable Weekend Trips in Europe”

  1. Richard Brooks says: Reply

    Very appealing and inexpensive.

    1. Thanks grandpa!

  2. Ahh I’d love to visit most of these! Definitely the Netherlands, Croatia, Malta, and Luxembourg! What an amazing round trip that would be!

    Claudia xo

  3. Omg, some of these places I really want to go this year, like Split and Malta! I think you just gave me a sign I need to book my Euro trip soon 🙂 Great ideas for weekend trips.

    1. Malta looks amazing I would love to go as well! Thanks for reading xx

  4. My daughter is a student and will love reading this list as she is slways looking for new places to visit that are affordable!

    1. Oh awesome! Please pass it on to her and let me know what she thinks. If she has any other questions or tips, I’d be happy to help her out. It can be hard to travel as a student but definetly doable. Thanks for reading and happy travels Tracy!

  5. thanks for the suggestions! Now that I am in Europe I am definitely looking to explore more. It helps that these are affordable. I would love to start with Malta.

  6. Oh a couple of my favourites on there (especially Krakow) and some great inspiration for more. I really, really, really, really, want to go to Annecy!

    1. I still need to visit Krakow. Annecy has been getting loads of comments! It looks amazing and it’s high on my list as well!

  7. Good idea to remind people that there are so many incredible and affordable places to go in Europe.

    1. Yea, people don’t often realize how cheap it can be to see some really breathtaking places in Europe. Thanks for reading Cassie!

  8. I loved visiting Luxembourg City! It’s such a beautiful city to walk around and they have some amazing parks! I’d really love to get back there again soon and visit these other destinations on your list!

    1. Yes, I’ve also visited Luxembourg twice and found totally new things the second time around. Happy Travels!

  9. What great recommendations! I’ve been to all of these places except Utrecht and Annecy (and Annecy is super high on my list!).

    1. Hey 4/6 is pretty good – you’ve made the honour roll haha I definetly want to visit Annecy as well!

  10. I love the picture of Annecy., it’s making me want to go there. It looks like such a peaceful town, might be its closeness to the mountains!

    1. Yes, I had to ask my friend if the picture was from a postcard it’s so breathtaking! The lake is also lovely too, the water would be so calming. Thanks for reading!

  11. I’ve only been to one of these and that’s Krakow! Definitely saving and using this for future travel plans! I’d really like to go to Malta!

    1. Glad you liked the post Kylie! When you live in the UK, it’s easy to do all of these in a weekend. Thanks for reading xx

      1. Typically I now live in America and I miss my European weekend city breaks so much!!!

  12. That’s a great lust. I have never heard of these locations. But would love to visit them some day !saving the list.

    1. Thank you ! I’m glad to hear they really are underrated, definitely add them to your list when you visit europe.

  13. All great destinations, especially because you listed my home country Malta :P! My top in the list is Annecy in France, which I hope to be able to visit soon 🙂

    1. Wow, so cool to have readers from Malta!! Enjoy your trip to Annecy, Lenise.

  14. These pictures are gorgeous! We live in Italy and are always trying to venture out to the smaller towns in the off season to avoid tourists! This is a great list. Thanks for the info 🙂

    1. Europe has so many hidden gems! My favourite from italy was Sardinia, especially the beaches there. Enjoy your travels!

  15. Only place I’ve been on this list is Mdina, Malta and it blow me away. In fact Malta as a country is amazing and highly underrrated. Will definitely be adding the others here to me ever-growing list.

    1. Yes! When my friend sent my Mdina I knew I had to include it. Will be going someday forsure!

  16. I wish I had read this before I visit Luxembourg. I basically wandered around like a lost fool the entire time that I was there, having no idea what there was to see or do ha ha. I didn’t know about the castle!!! Ahh so sad but I guess I will have to go back. The photo looks amazing.

    1. Yea it’s still a lovely city to wander around in but I prefer the country side, there are so many castles to explore a public transit makes it easy. I’ll be returning as well! Happy travels

  17. Stunning your all pictures and article too really nice n such a informative post ! thanks for sharing n keep it up thanks a lot….!

    1. Thank you!!

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