Underrated and overlooked – 7 cities which deserve a second try

I come from a very oft-overlooked city here in Perth, Western Australia – I’d say 99% of the time I meet someone abroad who has been to Australia, they haven’t stopped by Perth! I get it, it’s far away from everywhere else, but is still a place very much worth visiting. But that’s why when my bloggy friends Agness and Cez from etramping offered to write a guest post about underrated and overlooked cities, I just couldn’t say no.

Underrated and overlooked cities around the world

It’s tough being an aesthetically challenged city. When you’re up against the likes of Barcelona, Paris, or Edinburgh, you’ve got to try that much harder for attention, competing with some of the most popular and beautiful cities on the planet. However, we think that there’s more than meets the eye to these ugly ducklings, and armed with a little bit of knowledge, patience, and time to do a bit of digging and surface scratching, you can find some real diamonds in the rough.

Underrated and overlooked cities around the world

Bratislava  

At first glance, the Slovakian capital doesn’t exactly illicit gasps of awe, and this isn’t helped by the fact it’s usually featured in Hollywood movies as being the rubbish dump of Europe – an accolade that is justly unfair. It’s got a charming, medieval centre – which is especially magical during winter months with the Christmas markets. An imposing castle overlooks the city, there’s a wealth of historic buildings and churches to explore and plenty of curious statues and art installations scattered around to keep people intrigued. Not to mention the jumping nightlife and hospitality of the Slovaks – Bratislava is a city in the ascendancy.

Underrated world cities - Bratislava Slovakia

Glasgow

Scotland’s second (but largest) city is regularly overlooked in favour it’s stunningly beautiful and more “European” counterpart, Edinburgh. But Glasgow has got character in spades, with arguably the best shopping and nightlife outside of London. There’s the fabulous Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the dramatic Cathedral and Necropolis, a rejuvenated waterfront and café culture and one of the finest music scenes in the UK. Then there’s the people – who are among the most hospitable you could hope to meet on the planet. Add in a mix of cutting edge and classic architecture and you’ve got a city you’d be mad to miss. Take an umbrella though.

Detroit 

There’s a renaissance happening in motor city as artists flock to abandoned factories and buildings, rejuvenating the metropolis and dragging it out of the gutter. Gardens are springing up across the concrete jungle too, and surprisingly it’s becoming something of an outdoor town with biking and hiking trails, river walks and kayaking. There’s even a beach! Detroit also has a thriving craft beer scene, as well as some seriously underrated gastronomy. Its people are pulling in the right direction to lift the city back to booming heights but it’s still very much a work in progress. Don’t let that, or your ESTA application, stop you from paying it an interesting visit.

Underrated world cities - Detroit

Adelaide

Often forgotten for more popular tourist spots down under, Adelaide – the capital of South Australia – is fighting back. It’s hailed as an award-winning wine region, with a blossoming food and drink scene and vibrant bar culture. Get lost in the city centre’s side streets to discover some amazing eateries and bustling nightspots.  Visit the beautiful Botanic Gardens, the Migration Museum for important history lessons or simply relax on Adelaide’s abundance of beaches. And if you’re there from February to March, don’t miss some world class festivals – for arts and music and everything in between. Move over Melbourne.

Skopje

Where?! – Is usually the first response regarding the Macedonian capital – nestled deep in the Balkan region in south-east Europe. As unknown as it may be, it’s well worth a visit to discover one of the most unique and bizarre capital cities on earth. Leveled in 1963 from a 6.1 earthquake, the centre is a real phoenix from the ashes with marble buildings, fascinating statues and art installations, and some really unique décor. It has a beautiful Ottoman-style old town with delicious Balkan restaurants, as well as gaudy fountains and lighting that will leave you wondering if they fired the designer. Surreal, off-the-wall and downright oddball – Skopje is nevertheless entertaining, and needs to be seen to be believed.

Underrated world cities - Skopje

Valencia 

Yet another city to fall victim to the charms of the big boys on the block (Madrid and Barcelona), Valencia is still holding its own, and definitely deserves a second try. You’ll find some top-quality museums; stunning architecture and lengthy beaches from which to soak up your vitamin D. Don’t miss the City of Arts and Sciences museum which has something to keep everyone happy, including the largest aquarium in Europe. Take a stroll through the Turia Gardens and mingle with the locals, perfect for jogging, biking and blading. But do not leave without sampling the best Paella in Spain – probably because this is where it was invented.

Zagreb

Used as a transport hub to get to the Adriatic coast delights of Zadar, Split and Dubrovnik, the Croatian capital merits a second try. Its home to the charming (and the original) Museum of Broken Relationships, which is as funny as it is poignant and emotional. The old town is delightfully quiet, there’s an abundance of green space, some simply beautiful baroque architecture, and a bustling café bar scene. Zagrebians are friendlier than their coastal cousins too – and you’ll more than likely be invited out to see the city from the eyes of a local. With an excellent hostel infrastructure, there’s always something going on here – so don’t skip it.

Underrated world cities - Zagreb

There are plenty more underrated cities out there to be discovered should you choose to divert from following the crowds. And that is one of the best things about these overlooked delights – not many people go there! Perhaps we shouldn’t have said anything at all!

Do you have a favourite underrated city? Tell me in the comments.

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