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Matera, Italy
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10 emerging European cities to check out in 2021

These up-and-coming European destinations should be top of your travel wishlist for the coming year

By Ellie Walker-Arnott
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There are many classic European city breaks – arty jaunts in Paris, food comas in Rome, big ones in Berlin. But the continent also holds hundreds of off-the-beaten-track cities – buzzing with culture, historic architecture, incredible food and diverse communities – that are, for a lot of us, still waiting to be discovered. Here are ten such European cities, all nominated at this year’s World Travel Awards for the title of Europe’s Leading Emerging Tourism Destination. From the capital of Azerbaijan to an ancient cave town in southern Italy, these are the European city breaks that should be top of your wishlist for 2021. 

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Up-and-coming European destinations to visit

Batumi, Georgia
Batumi, Georgia
Photograph: Shutterstock

1. Batumi, Georgia

This Black Sea resort town should be top of your list to visit. The second largest city in Georgia is a modern metropolis surrounded by stunning countryside and dotted with unique historic landmarks. 

Baku, Azerbaijan
Baku, Azerbaijan
Photograph: Shutterstock

2. Baku, Azerbaijan

The capital of Azerbaijan is a dynamic coastal city where a medieval walled city and ancient buildings sit neatly alongside modern high-rises. And it’s hosted Eurovision!

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Bydgoszcz, Poland
Bydgoszcz, Poland
Photograph: Szymon Mucha / Shutterstock.com

3. Bydgoszcz, Poland

A pretty city in northern Poland, Bydgoszcz has a city centre dominated by rivers and waterways and dotted with unusual architecture.

Derry, Northern Ireland
Derry, Northern Ireland
Photograph: Rolf G Wackenberg / Shutterstock.com

4. Derry, Northern Ireland

There are decades of history to be discovered in Derry, Northern Ireland’s second city (sometimes known as Londonderry). A walk around the outside is a good place to start – it’s the only completely walled city in Ireland.

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Kutná Hora, Czech Republic
Kutná Hora, Czech Republic
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5. Kutná Hora, Czech Republic

A beautiful town east of Prague, Kutná Hora holds Unesco World Heritage status thanks to the gothic Church of St Barbara and baroque cathedral.

Ljubljana, Slovenia
Ljubljana, Slovenia
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6. Ljubljana, Slovenia

The capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana is a green and lively place crowned by an imposing medieval castle.

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Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
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8. Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The draws here are cobbled streets, beautiful old stone buildings and the Stari Most: a medieval bridge that’s one of the country’s most visited attractions.

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Sibiu, Romania
Sibiu, Romania
Photograph: Shutterstock

9. Sibiu, Romania

Found in Romania’s historical region of Transylvania (don’t be scared!), Sibiu is known for its Germanic style, eclectic architecture and annual Christmas market, which is due to return in 2021.

Sofia, Bulgaria
Sofia, Bulgaria
Photograph: Shutterstock

10. Sofia, Bulgaria

The capital of Bulgaria is an appealing and intriguing mix of old and new, right at the foot of the Vitosha mountain.

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Stairwells in Bugis
Photograph: Blue Sky Studio / Shutterstock

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