Of course, there's only so much you can do to venture off the beaten path in cities that welcome millions upon millions of eager tourists. Another option for some solitude? Ditch the most popular cities altogether, and head to places where visitor counts are relatively low but there's still plenty to do.
Bucharest, Romania; Kyiv, Ukraine; and Minsk, Belarus are among the 15 most-populous cities in Europe. But as of yet, they remain primarily cherished by locals.
In Bucharest, check out the private mansion of Nicolas Ceausescu, the country’s last dictator. Or get a taste of culture at the Romanian Athenaeum concert hall (dating back to 1888) or National Museum of Art of Romania.
In Kyiv, the 11th-century St. Sophia’s Cathedral and bustling Independence Square beckon. A walking tour to admire the city's amazing street art, painted by local and international graffiti artists, comes highly recommended as well.
In Minsk, the massive KGB headquarters in Liberty Square, Russian Orthodox churches and massive national library are the main draws. For a more somber, but important, excursion, visit the Zaslavsky Jewish Monument, which commemorates the 5,000 Jewish men, women and children from Minsk that were killed by Nazis on March 2, 1942. And make sure to pencil in a day trip to Zaslawye, a city founded all the way back in 985. It's located less than a half-hour outside the city.