Record numbers of travelers are hitting the skies each year, as global tourism continues to boom, and no destination is hotter than Europe. Cities like Paris, London and Barcelona each receive tens of millions of visitors each year and are near the top on the list of world’s most visited cities. But what about Europe’s overlooked countries? The following 10 countries don’t receive 10 million annual tourists combined, with some visited by as few as 11,000 tourists each year. So, if you’re looking for a hidden gem or you just want to impress your friends with your obscure travels, look no further.
This list is compiled using data from the World Bank on international arrivals and the numbers only include overnight visitors. Kosovo is excluded from the World Bank’s data and is one country that might give these countries a run for their money.
[Also see our travel articles “The Ten Most Visited Countries in the World” or “The Ten Least Visited Countries in the World“]
10. Luxembourg with 905,000 visitors each year
In between Germany and France, against all odds, lies the country of Luxembourg. Small and known for its immense wealth, Luxembourg offers an interesting mish-mash between French and German cultures, which is evident in everything from its history to cuisine. Though Luxembourg City is the last place one would go for nightlife or a thrilling time, tourists looking for charming scenery and great wines could do a lot worse than Luxembourg.
9. Serbia with 810,000 visitors each year
Serbia is one of three countries that formerly constituted Yugoslavia to make it onto this list, which reflects how difficult it has been for the countries, outside of Croatia, to bring back tourists after the brutal civil war that occurred when the country fragmented in the 1990s. Still, the fact that Serbia receives less visitors annually than most cities is a shame, as Serbia offers one of Eastern Europe’s most rewarding travel experiences. Start with the hip nightlife scene in Belgrade and go from there.
8. Iceland with 673,000 visitors each year
There’s only so many visitors that a small island (population 320,000) in the middle of the North Atlantic with a name like Iceland can expect to attract, and, all things considered, Iceland has done a pretty good job to get twice as many visitors as residents. For those who do make the journey, Iceland has a slew of attractions awaiting them: hot springs and geothermal spas, waterfalls, whale watching, glaciers and a friendly capital city, Reykjavik. Icelandair connects the country with the rest of Europe and to North America and typically offers some really great deals on flights to Reykjavik.
7. Bosnia and Herzegovina with 439,000 visitors each year
The name Bosnia still evokes images of conflict for many, as the country’s civil war deteriorated into international conflict in the 1990s, but the country has been fairly peaceful in the almost 20 years since. The country is, however, one of the least developed in all of Europe, as its fragile political system reflects how the nation splintered on ethnic lines after the war. Still, if you’re a traveler looking to see a charming capital city that’s patrolled by European Union peacekeepers, there’s no better place than Sarajevo.
6. Macedonia, FYR with 351,000 visitors each year
The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, not to be confused with the Greek region of Macedonia, is slowly emerging out from under the shadow of Yugoslavia. The country, however, is still one of the least visited in Europe. Though Macedonia is home to an interesting ethnic mix of Orthodox-Christian Macedonians and Muslim ethnic Albanians, its lack of key-note attractions keep it from rising to the top of the tourist charts.