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Best locations outside of "major" cities to visit?

I'm always interested in exploring cities outside of the well-known ones. Is there a great small town in France worth a day trip? A city in Morocco besides Marrakesh that isn't talked up enough? Looking for any sort of city/town in any part of the world that might not be on the tourist map that has a unique charm.

15 Answers

top answer by
Tiffany from Corvallis

Outside of Rome, see Tarquinia.

Outside of Paris, see Pierrefonds.

Outside of Brussels, see Leuven or Bruges, or Ghent.

Outside of Budapest, see Tihany.

Outside of Valencia, see Sagunto and Bejís.

Outside of Seville, try the sherry in Jerez de la Frontera and watch the horse races on the beach in Sanlucar de Barrameda.

Outside Washington, DC, collect shark teeth at Flag Ponds Nature Park or hike at Great Falls (Virginia).

Outside of Portland, drive up to the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area to see the waterfalls or go skiing at Mt Hood.

Outside of San Francisco, explore Muir Woods National Monument or drive along Highway 1 as far as Monterey and explore the towns and beaches inbetween.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Rome (city)
  2. Tarquinia (city)
  3. Paris (city)
  4. Pierrefonds (city)
  5. Brussels (city)
  6. Leuven (city)
  7. Bruges (city)
  8. Ghent (city)
  9. Budapest (city)
  10. Tihany (city)
  11. Valencia (attraction)
  12. Sagunto (city)
  13. Bejís (attraction)
  14. Seville (city)
  15. Jerez de la Frontera (attraction)
  16. Sanlucar de Barrameda (city)
  17. Washington, DC (city)
  18. Flag Ponds Nature Park (attraction)
  19. Great Falls (Virginia) (attraction)
  20. Portland (city)
  21. Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area (attraction)
  22. Mt Hood (attraction)
  23. San Francisco (city)
  24. Muir Woods National Monument (attraction)
  25. Monterey (city)
5 thanks

answered by

Hi Jaleh,

I found several places as you described in my travels. Might I suggest Weiden in der Oberpfalz, Vilseck, or Grafenwöhr in Germany? I found for the most part the people kind and polite and the food spectacular. I also found many historical places of significance through out the region dating from WWII to the pre Roman era. Public transportation is excellent and inexpensive.

Good Luck

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Weiden in der Oberpfalz (city)
  2. Vilseck (attraction)
  3. Grafenwöhr (attraction)
3 thanks

answered by
Julie from York

Hi Jaleh,

Here are a few of my thoughts:

Essaouria in Morocco. It's about 3 hours away from Marrakech so more than a day trip. It's also used to seeing tourists, but none-the-less is a beautiful spot.

In Scotland - try Stirling instead of Edinburgh. It has a beautiful castle.

In England, Warwick (England) is a pretty alternative to the Shakespearean hotspot of Stratford-upon-Avon

In Italy, I agree with the previous suggestion of BolognaSiena or Lucca are other options.

In Spain, there's something magical about Cadiz.

Enjoy your travels!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Essaouria (city)
  2. Stirling (city)
  3. Warwick (England) (city)
  4. Stratford-upon-Avon (city)
  5. Bologna (city)
  6. Siena (attraction)
  7. Lucca (attraction)
  8. Cadiz (city)
3 thanks

answered first by
Ben from London

If you travel the south of France there's loads of little villages you can visit.  I love Eze on the French Riviera. It's stunning and amazing in Summer. Around the same area but on the other side, Arles is nice too and has a great Colosseum!

Dijon is worth a visit if you're around central France

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Eze (city)
  2. Arles (city)
  3. Dijon (attraction)
3 thanks

answered by
Eloise from Pittsburgh

Most of my traveling has been in Italy. I like to rattle around mid-size and small places and explore at a slow pace.  

Verona is gorgeous.  You can easily stay there and take day trips to larger cities and it's a bit less expensive.  My favorite time of year to be there is in December, when the stella di natale and the mercatino are set up in Piazza Bra.  This is a great web cam, if you want to take a peek:

Another favorite is Pitigliano, which is a small town built on a cliff.  As you approach from the highway, it looks like it's carved out of the rock.  Pici is the local pasta--fantastic.  

Amalfi itself is wonderful.  We stayed there, and I'd do that every time, rather than stay in Positano.  Positano is wonderful, but Amalfi is more my speed.  There's a really cool little paper museum and, further up the hill, if he's still alive, an old man who makes paper in the traditional way.  He's been written up in several papers around the world.  

In Sicily,  Taormina was my favorite of our day trip cities.  We stayed in Syracuse (Siracusa), which is being rediscovered and fixed up.  It was an amazing blend of pristine new renovations right next to dilapidated structures.  The contrast is striking, to say the least.  

We stayed in an agriturismo (bed and breakfast) in Tuscany.  Not sure where it was.  There are a ton of them now; it's easy to drive down the highway and pop into one at the spur of the moment.  Many have been renovated and include meals.  Ours had a beautiful pool, stunning view of the hills and farmland, and a loooooong dinner at sunset with all of the guests.  Wonderful.

Hard to go wrong in Italy.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Verona (attraction)
  2. Piazza Bra (attraction)
  3. Pitigliano (city)
  4. Amalfi (city)
  5. Positano (attraction)
  6. Sicily (island)
  7. Taormina (attraction)
  8. Syracuse (attraction)
  9. Tuscany (state)
2 thanks

answered by
Sandy from Memphis, Tennessee

Riocamahout,Megeve,Chamonix-Mont-Blanc,the American cemetery in Normandy to name a few !

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Megeve (city)
  2. Chamonix-Mont-Blanc (city)
  3. Normandy (region)
2 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Justin from Edinburgh

Imperia One of the best little diamond-in-the-rough towns in Italy. Has a beach but no tourists. BEST pizza I ever had seriously like back in the country side at a horse ranch that also had a locals pizzeria it was amazing. Has its own little market during the week and even a little shopping district . Love this place and will be going back again hopefully this next year.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Imperia (attraction)
2 thanks

answered by
Declan from Dublin

Not a city or town, but Newgrange, co Meath, Ireland is a great place.  It is a neolithic passage tomb, at least 30,000 years old.  the oldest building in Europe.  It is truly amazing and well worth a visit.   

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Newgrange (attraction)
2 thanks

answered by
Jinny from Los Angeles

My favorite is Lyon or Annecy. Lyon is a bit of a major city in France, but Annecy is definitely a charming little boarder city of France and Geneva, Switzerland. It's beautiful because of its alps background and huge lake. I highly recommend going there. 

Both places are very easy to get to by train. Lyon is about 2 hours south of Paris (around 20-90 Euros per train ticket) and Annecy is about another hour train ride from Lyon.

You can check out more pictures on my blog here and read about Lyon, Annecy and Beaune here

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Lyon (attraction)
  2. Annecy (attraction)
  3. Beaune (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by
Kamel from Paris

Ghent in Belgium. A wonderful medieval city not so turistical like Bruges.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Ghent (city)
1 thanks

answered by
Elaine from Norfolk

Check out the hidden city of Eze... very quaint winding path up a hill with shops and businesses hidden in the walls and mountain path nooks and crannies.....near Monaco...

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Eze (city)
1 thanks

answered by
Jacey & Scott from Fort Collins

If you are specifically looking at France, I lived in Dijon in college for a semester and fell in absolute love!  Classic Burgundian roof tops (think colored, patterned tiles), a gorgeous lake, beautiful parks, great dining (fondue, pizza, kebab and of course, french)...and you are centrally located to do some excellent wine tasting.

In Germany, my husband and I drove around for 2 weeks and loved Rothenburg-but it is a little bit of a tourist haven-but entirely worth it.  We also enjoyed the village of Fussen even though it is the gateway to Neuschwanstein Castle and we stayed 2 nights and could have stayed much longer in Lindau, which was right on the Lake Constance.

Morocco-check out Essaouria along the water!

And even though it is well know in golf circles, the town of St Andrews is adorable!  Loved the waterfront settting and the approachability of the whole village!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Dijon (attraction)
  2. Rothenburg (attraction)
  3. Fussen (city)
  4. Neuschwanstein Castle (attraction)
  5. Lindau (city)
  6. Lake Constance (attraction)
  7. Essaouria (city)
  8. St Andrews (city)
1 thanks

answered by
Michael from New Jersey

Tain-l'Hermitage, the Cité du Chocolat Valrhona Valrohna chocolate factory is there alone with the some of the best Rhone valley wines every. 

Its just south of Lyon 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Tain-l'Hermitage (city)
  2. Cité du Chocolat Valrhona (restaurant)
1 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Melissa from Massachusetts

When visiting Italy for the first time, many people just hit the big three of Venice, Florence, and Rome.  I'd recommend a trip to Emilia-Romagna - Bologna is the gastronomic capital of Italy and the food there is unbelievable.  The city is also covered with beautiful porticoed sidewalks, and stunning red buildings meet you at every corner.  The nearby towns of Ferrara and Modena are also well worth a trip.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Bologna (city)
  2. Ferrara (attraction)
  3. Modena (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by
ALLANE from France

Albi (DEPARTMENT 81), Albi Cathedral, Toulouse Lautrec Museum(famous painter during "les années folles"), the old houses

Montauban (DEPARTMENT 82), interesting views as ALBI

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Albi (city)
  2. Albi Cathedral (attraction)
  3. Toulouse Lautrec Museum (attraction)
  4. Montauban (city)

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