Americans are flying to Europe in droves now that travel curbs have been lifted and the continent is again allowing unrestricted tourism, and the one thing they have in common?
According to the Wall Street Journal, instead of the holiday classics, namely Paris, London, Rome, or Barcelona, they’re heading to lesser-known destinations other U.S. nationals, especially first-time visitors to Europe, do not visit.
Europe is being overrun by tourists once more, with Greece going as far as urging Americans to explore off-path destinations instead of the overcrowded Cyclades or Corfu and Venice mulling over introducing a ticketing system to keep day-trippers out.
Luckily, these five European countries receive far fewer tourists, and your chances of running into obnoxious, uneducated fellow citizens with their rude manners and inappropriate behavior are significantly reduced:
Located at the Easternmost edge of Europe, where the continental border with Asia is still hotly disputed, Georgia is a tiny Caucasian nation boasting sweeping natural vistas, alpine peaks that will make you feel as if you’re in Switzerland, and Black Sea beaches that rival the Mediterranean in beauty.
More importantly: as it is the most remote out of any destination featured here, it does not rank high on the average American’s list of places to go.
Unless, of course, geography isn’t their forte, and they’re thinking Georgia the U.S. state.
Whether you’re visiting in summer or early fall, you should definitely take your time exploring Tbilisi, the intriguing capital, where medieval landmarks and Soviet architecture exist side by side.
Batumi, a bustling coastal city and casino hotspot, and Kakheti, Georgia’s little Tuscany and a wine region dotted with centuries-old vineyards, are not to be missed as well.
In case you haven’t heard, wine may well be an 8,000-year-old Georgian creation.
Perhaps your best bet for a budget European summer, Bulgaria is an Eastern Balkan nation best known for its Black Sea Coast, with an endless stretch of sand interspersed with quaint historical villages and bustling port cities, and medieval heritage.
Bulgaria’s number one beach destination, the aptly-titled Sunny Beach, is an up-and-coming resort town lapped by an azure ocean, offering low-cost vacation deals and enjoying long hours of sunshine and balmy temperatures over summer.
Traveling down the Bulgarian coast, you should pay Sozopol and Nessebar a visit, the former a medieval fortified town, and the latter an ancient Greco-Roman settlement sitting on a manmade peninsula, a short 4km from the resort zone in Sunny Beach.
Packed with UNESCO-listed monuments and with numerous cobblestoned streets to be explored, it is the Black Sea’s most emblematic postcard. The airports in Burgas (BOJ) and Varna (VAR) are the main gateways to the province.
A paradisaical island torn between its Turkish and Greek roots and the birthplace of the Greek Goddess Aphrodite, at least according to Greek mythology, Cyprus is the next trendy summer hotspot for American travelers – except they don’t know it yet.
The South-Easternmost European nation, it is a tried-and-true sunny getaway among Europeans, who flock to its seaside resorts every July for some of that laid-back Mediterranean living, but surprisingly, it is largely ignored by sunseekers from across the pond.
U.S. nationals rank nowhere in Cyprus’ Top 10 foreign visitors by nationality, as many will either perpetuate a common misconception that it is a part of Greece, or they may not even be aware it exists in the first place, much to the delight of their anti-American American counterparts.
Cyprus’ best tourist destinations are Limassol, dubbed the ‘Mini Dubai’, with towering skyscrapers and a modernized marina, Paphos, on the West coast, and Cape Greco, the island’s easternmost point and the gateway to the resort towns of Ayia Napa and Protaras.
Albania is currently Eastern Europe’s fastest-growing summer destination. Having gone viral on TikTok, where its unspoiled Adriatic beaches and turquoise waters amass millions of views daily, it is far from being a secret spot waiting to be discovered.
At the same time, only an insignificant minority of Albania’s faithful returning visitors hail from the States. Although beach areas like Vlorë, Sarandë, and Ksamil are often brimming with Europeans over summer, American accents are usually nowhere to be heard.
Other than gorgeous beaches, Albania’s rugged nature, its Ottoman-structured cities, fairytale castles, archaeological complexes dating back millennia, and the flavorful Albanian cuisine add to the country’s inherent Balkan charm.
If you’re an American Digital Nomad, you’ll be pleased to know Albania grants you a one-year stay visa-free.
On top of that, it has no entry requirements whatsoever, as long as you carry a valid American passport that is not due to expire soon.
The last and only country on this list not to straddle a coastline, Serbia finds itself at the heart of the Balkan Peninsula, with nature so diverse and a History so fascinating it makes you ponder whether traditional beach breaks are overrated.
Once the capital of the defunct communist state of Yugoslavia, the city of Belgrade houses important architectural elements from that period and an enviable collection of medieval, Orthodox relics set to attract museumgoers.
Belgrade’s social scene is also hard to match: Knez Mihailova, the busy, pedestrianized main street, overflows with revelers at sundown on their way to the nearest, edgy nightclub.
As Serbia’s second-largest city, Novi Sad is yet another gem flying under the American radar.
A certified Cultural Capital, it sits on the shores of the Danube River, which flows through its traditional Central European cityscape.
Other noteworthy attractions in Serbia include the imposing Golubac Fortress, near the border with Romania, and the vast Fruška Gora National Park.
Interestingly, Serbia is the only country on this list to host nonstop flights from the United States, with regular service to Belgrade operated by AirSerbia, the national flag carrier, from Chicago-O’Hare and New York-JFK with AirSerbia.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com