Iceland – Far from the madding crowd

Our top 10 guide to some of Europe’s best undiscovered gems for your next break away from the tourist hoards

One of life’s great conundrums is that popular destinations only become popular in the first place because they have something to offer a lot of different people — whether that ‘something’ be atmosphere, friendliness, cheapness, accessibility, safety, culture or any number of other attributes.

Destinations don’t become popular out of the blue or by accident; there is always a very definable reason for their popularity. The conundrum occurs when the very things that made the destination popular in the first place, succeed in becoming the same reasons why a whole other cohort of people decide to give them a wide berth.

These are the people who abhor crowds, noise, commercialism etc. Do you fall into the latter category? If so, then you may be interested in these, the least visited destinations in Europe!

Being the least visited destination in Europe doesn’t necessarily mean that the destination has nothing to offer the adventurous tourist; its lack of popularity could be down to something as simple as lack of accessibility so don’t necessarily write the following off before considered reflection.

If you want to get away from it all (and that’s a relative term anyway) then some of the following places may well be right up your alley, or down your boreen!

Starting at number 10, we have Luxembourg, sandwiched between France and Germany and which exhibits aspects of both countries and their respective cultures which received just 905,000 visitors last year.

One position below Luxembourg at number 9 is the former Yugoslav republic of Serbia. Whereas Croatia has rebounded well in recent years, following the Balkan wars of the 90’s, Serbia hasn’t fared so well and last year received just 810,000 visitors which is a real shame as the country has quite a lot to offer, particularly its capital Belgrade whose nightlife is much renowned.
Curiously, Iceland, one of the hottest destinations in the world now sits in 8th position with 673,000 visitors in 2017 but that figure needs to be put into context as it is nearly double that of the entire population of the country. Certainly not a place where you are likely to experience overcrowding, that’s for sure.

Position 7 in this Top Ten league goes to Bosnia & Herzegovina, a stablemate of Serbia in that it experienced terrible privations during the war in the 90’s and the jewel in its crown — Sarajevo with 439,000 visitors last year! Macedonia comes in at 6th position with 351,000 visitors.

Perhaps even more surprising than seeing Iceland occupying position 8 on this list of least visited destinations in Europe is the surprising fact that world-famous Monaco, which boasts the highest concentration of millionaires in the world, is in 5th position, having received just 292,000 visitors in the past 12 months whilst San Marino received just 139,000. At just 60 square kilometres in size, very few tourists overnight in the country which is one of the main reasons why it doesn’t rank high in visitor numbers as an overnight is one of the criteria by which such records are compiled.

Being the least visited destination in Europe doesn’t necessarily mean that the destination has nothing to offer the adventurous tourist

Meanwhile, Belarus which is almost 3,500 times larger than San Marino saw even less visitors with just 119,00 arrivals in 2017. Occupying the 2nd and 1st positions in this list of least visited countries in Europe are Liechtenstein with 54,000 visitors (located between Switzerland and Austria) and Moldova with an embarrassingly low figure of 11,000. The fact that Moldova is sandwiched between the Ukraine and Romania may account somewhat for its less than impressive annual roll call of visitors so in fairness, it’s not the easiest place to get to and even part of Moldova itself — Transnistria — is a defacto breakaway republic of its own!

So, there you have it; unless you want to decamp to the Gobi or Atacama deserts, or just couldn’t be bothered travelling all that way, the above destinations are where you need to skedaddle off to if you’re looking to avoid other annoying tourists like yourself!

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