Get off the beaten path and you’ll discover the most beautiful places in the world, and an array of awe-inspiring hidden gems throughout the continent in Europe. These are places that go beyond the typical stops on a European travel itinerary—such as Paris, Rome, and London. Accordingly, below are 14 beautiful and shocking places you never knew existed in Europe.
14 Most Beautiful and Shocking Places in the World
Travelers should consider visiting these destinations for their natural beauty, historical significance, or unique allure. Therefore, these are some of the most surreal places in Europe. How many have you visited?
1. Lake Ohrid, Macedonia
Life is always better at the lake. Now imagine a scenic mountain backdrop and an assortment of adventurous activities to fill your day. From thrilling mountain biking to sunset cruises, Lake Ohrid is the perfect destination for any traveler.
2. Kravice, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of Europe’s least-visited countries, but it holds a natural gem that some refer to as the “mini-Niagaras.” In particular, Kravice Falls is a series of about 20 waterfalls that accumulate into a large swimmable lake. However, the water is quite chilly but could be refreshing on a hot Bosnian summer day.
3. Civita di Bagnoregio, Italy
Sitting perched upon a plateau of volcanic rock, this medieval Italian hill town is unlike anything in the world. With a population of around 12 inhabitants in the winter and about 100 in the summer, those who seek solitude may consider Civita worthy of an overnight stay.
4. Paestum, Italy
A short train ride away from Salerno, Paestum has one of the best-preserved Greek temples in the entire world. Climb over the ruins, enjoy a picnic lunch in the forum, and relax in the shadows of the beautiful temples. Visitors can visit the beautiful grounds and the modern museum across the street. Unlike nearby Pompeii which receives over 2.5 million tourists a year, Paestum is often quiet and free of mass tourism.
5. Rummu Underwater Prison, Rummu, Estonia
Just outside the small town of Rummu, lies the ruins of the old Soviet Prison with a very dark past. In the 1940s, this limestone quarry served as an active labor camp. As a result, prisoners toiled the land as guards watched from the buildings and towers. Today, the site is truly mesmerizing with the dramatic limestone dunes and clear, turquoise water.
14 Most Beautiful Places in the World
6. Salona, Croatia
Many tourists visiting Split will often skip visiting the ruins of the Roman city of Salona, even though it’s only about 3 miles away. For the most part, the ancient city has become overshadowed by the much more popular Diocletian’s Palace. The highlight of visiting Salona is the magnificent remains of a 2nd-century amphitheater. The capacity for the amphitheater is estimated to be about 20,000 spectators.
7. Cetina Spring, Cetina, Croatia
Veliko vrilo, also called the Glavaš spring, is the underground start of Croatia’s Cetina River. The spring starts here and eventually runs out into the Adriatic Sea in Omiš. Seen from above, it’s a miraculous sight! Divers have investigated it to a depth of 150 meters.
8. Oradour-Sur-Glane, France
On June 10, 1944, 642 men, women, and children of the small French village of Oradour-Sur-Glane were viciously massacred by Nazis. The charred remains of the village still stand as a memorial to all who died in this horrific event.
Walk among the rubble to get a visual image of this war crime which historians claim still has no understandable motive. As this is the site of the worst Nazi massacre of civilians carried out on French soil, it surprising that this memorial is not better known throughout the world, which is why it’s one of the most shocking places in the world to visit.
9. Black Sand Beach, Vík, Iceland
Iceland has become one of the hottest must-see countries in the world. Many travelers have become drawn to its dramatic landscapes, the quirky vibe of Reykjavik, and the chance to experience the elusive northern lights. However, the Black Sand Beach, in the city of Vík, is a reminder that the most beautiful beaches may not always be found in tropical destinations.
10. Blue Cave, Biševo, Croatia
One of Europe’s most treasured natural wonders is the Blue Cave on the island of Biševo? Entering into the Blue Grotto can be quite the feat. To enter, visitors have to perfectly time the weather, sea, and tides to make it through the narrow passageway which brings people into the famous Blue Cave.
11. Skull Tower, Niš, Serbia
The Skull Tower (Ćele Kula) is a unique and shocking monument. It’s visited by only about 30,000 people per year. It is a tower made of human skulls, built after the battle for the liberation of Nis in 1809, as a warning to anyone rising up against the Ottoman Empire. Originally, built into the tower were 952 skulls. Today, 59 skulls remain and they still illustrate the horrors of the original tower. It’s one of the most shocking sites we’ve seen in Europe.
12. Red Beach, Santorini, Greece
Santorini’s world-famous Red Beach looks spectacular but is quite dangerous to visit due to the danger of landslides and falling rocks. The deep red color comes from the iron-rich rocks from a volcanic eruption that took place on Santorini thousands of years ago.
13. Plitvice National Park, Croatia
Often considered Europe’s most beautiful National Park, Plitvice is one of the highlights of a tour in Croatia. The elevated boardwalk over the running waters, flowing water grass, aquatic life, and waterfalls simply melt the stresses of daily life away.
14. Corvin Castle, Transylvania, Romania
Corvin Castle is considered one of the largest medieval castles in Europe and one of the most inspiring fairy tale destinations in the world. Many people will see a photograph of the dreamy castle and wonder, “where is that?,” it’s located in the Southwest Transylvania region in Romania, in a city called Hunedoara. The drawbridge and turrets are visually impressive, helping to rank it as one of the seven wonders of Romania.
These are the destinations that rank high on our list of the most surreal places found around Europe. What destinations are on your list? Let us know in the comments section.