Budapest is Europe's most underrated capital in my opinion and also in close proximity to a lot of other great cities including Belgrade, Bratislava, Vienna, and Zagreb which are each worth seeing and distinct from eachother. You can travel cheaply by train to all these cities and see the countryside on the way.
Eastern Europe is filled with well-hidden countries like Slovenia, Slovakia, Romania, Latvia. These indeed are gems of Europe. I have read many articles where the travel experts believe that Eastern Europe will be more popular in 2013.
Just to let you all know I arrived back from a trip to Ghent on Sunday and it was lovely. Thank you for all the suggestions, I would strongly recommend Ghent – it is well worth a visit!
Glad you enjoyed it Steve - I was wondering how you'd got on. Hope it went down well with your girlfriend too! Did you see anywhere else in Belgium while you were there?
My girlfriend loved it thanks Bex! We went into Brussel on our way in and had a look around, but that was it really, the rest of our time was filled up looking round Ghent!
I think that even on "mainstream" tourism destination countries you may find lots of hidden gems if you look beyond the usual destinations. For example parts of Greece such as mountain villages of Parnassos, Giona and Evritania or Western Greece around Ioannina or even Northern-Eastern Greece such as Evros area have a lot to offer. Although more popular nowadays, places such as South Peloponnese are incredibly unspoilt too. Google Methini,Koroni, Voidokoilia beach for example or Metsovo, Ioannina and you will see absolutely beautiful towns and landsapes outside the large tour operators randar! There are many low key islands too, for example Lemnos, google Platy LEmnos and you'll see a great sandy beach that gets 1% of a similar beach on popular islands would get!
Visit one of the nicest gems of Sebia, the Tara mountain and national park Mokra Gora.....there you will come across "Drvengrad" made by Kusturica! The nature is to die for...
If you are interested in night life- Belgrade is the right choice!!!
When it comes to Tara you can also go rafting....if you are up to adventure. Zlatibor mountain is also nearby Tara mountain...great place for sightseeing!
Thank you for your recommendations, if you are interested I did start up a ‘Hidden Gems – Part Two’ thread just a couple of weeks ago:
[ Edit: Edited on 13-May-2013, at 01:39 by Steve79 ]