Europe Hidden Gems Attract Japanese Travellers

Japanese travellers are increasingly choosing lesser-known European destinations, enticed by the cultural richness and historical charm of hidden gems. These off-the-beaten-path locations provide an authentic and immersive experience, aligning with the adventurous spirit of Japanese tourists. The allure of Europe's hidden treasures remains strong, resonating with the discerning preferences of Japanese explorers as they consider their travel options.

Europe Hidden Gems Attract Japanese Travellers

Japanese Favour Europe's Iceland, Finland Getaways

The top 5 destinations for Japanese travellers in fall 2023 are Iceland, Finland, Latvia, Netherlands, and Greece. These destinations were chosen for their unique cultures, beautiful scenery, and affordability. 







It is also worth noting that 28% of Japanese respondents have yet to finalise their European travel destination, a significantly larger proportion compared to travellers from other markets. This suggests that there is still a lot of potential for growth in the Japanese travel market to Europe.

Here are some of the reasons why these destinations are so popular with Japanese travellers:

  • Iceland: Iceland is known for its stunning natural beauty, including glaciers, volcanoes, and waterfalls. The country is also home to a number of popular tourist attractions, such as the Blue Lagoon and the Golden Circle.
  • Finland: Finland is a Nordic country with a rich history and culture. The country is known for its saunas, its forests, and its lakes. Finland is also home to the Northern Lights, which can be seen in the winter months.
  • Latvia: Latvia is a Baltic country with a beautiful coastline and a number of historical cities. The country is also known for its amber, its forests, and its folk traditions.
  • Netherlands: The Netherlands is a country with a rich history and culture. The country is known for its windmills, its tulips, and its canals. The Netherlands is also home to a number of world-class museums, such as the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum.
  • Greece: Greece is a country with a long and rich history. The country is known for its ancient ruins, its beautiful beaches, and its delicious food. Greece is also home to a number of popular tourist attractions, such as the Acropolis and the Parthenon.

ETC Reveals Japanese Preferences for Europe

A recent survey by the European Travel Commission spotlighted the top European destinations Japanese travellers aim to visit, providing valuable insights for the tourism industry. France and Italy lead as the most favoured countries, each selected by 23% of respondents. Germany followed closely behind at 19%, reflecting its strong popularity. 

The United Kingdom and Austria share third place with 13% each, while Spain takes 9% of the vote. Markets like Czechia, Croatia, the Netherlands and Sweden trail with 5% apiece, signalling untapped potential.

Varied Transit Choices for Japanese Explorers

The ETC study revealed Japanese travellers leverage a mix of transportation modes to optimise explorations across Europe. While most trips are under a week with air travel preferred, low-cost carriers and full-service airlines split preferences. Additionally, 38% plan to buy individual train tickets, and 29% consider passes to visit multiple cities, showcasing rail's appeal. 

Buses garner 15% interest, while only 6% opt for motorhomes. This diversity highlights Japanese travellers' savvy in maximising destinations within limited time in Europe. The findings provide insights for providers to tailor booking options and streamline multimodal trips. By tapping varied transport, Japanese visitors can enrich experiences, from targeted destinations to multi-country European odysseys.

Japanese Travellers' Preferred Activities in Europe

Exploring Europe, Japanese travellers showcase a diverse range of preferences, embracing cultural immersion and culinary delights. These insights illuminate the distinctive interests that captivate Japanese tourists as they navigate the rich tapestry of the European landscape.

  • A Deep Dive into Cultural Immersion

Nearly half (46%) of Japanese travellers to Europe prioritise cultural and historical exploration, reflecting their deep fascination with the continent's rich heritage and historical significance. They are drawn to Europe's ancient civilizations, renowned art and architecture, and diverse cultural traditions

  • A Culinary Odyssey

Culinary experiences rank second among Japanese travellers' preferences, with 41% expressing a keen interest in exploring Europe's diverse gastronomic landscape. Japanese travellers are eager to expand their palates with authentic local dishes, traditional cooking techniques, and unique regional specialties. Europe's culinary tapestry, from French pastries and Italian pasta to Spanish tapas and German sausages, offers a symphony of flavours that delights Japanese travellers.

  • The Allure of Slow Travel

Slow travel, an approach that emphasises savouring the journey and connecting with the local culture, appeals to 38% of Japanese travellers planning trips to Europe. Japanese travellers appreciate the opportunity to explore charming towns on foot, navigate scenic cycling routes, and engage in immersive cultural experiences. They embrace the slow travel ethos, allowing themselves to fully absorb the atmosphere, interact with local communities, and uncover hidden gems off the beaten path.

  • Unleashing Artistic Expression

Creative art activities provide a unique way for 15% of Japanese travellers to engage with Europe's artistic heritage and natural beauty. Photography workshops, painting classes, and other hands-on art experiences offer a deeper connection to the continent's artistic spirit and natural wonders. Japanese travellers are drawn to the opportunity to capture the essence of European landscapes, architecture, and culture through their own artistic expression, transforming their journey into a personal artistic odyssey.

  • Material Possessions vs. Cultural Experiences

Luxury shopping holds less appeal for Japanese travellers, with only 14% expressing interest in this activity. This preference reflects a general mindset that prioritises cultural experiences and authentic interactions over material possessions. 

While Japanese travellers appreciate high-quality goods and craftsmanship, they are more inclined to seek out local artisan products, handmade crafts, and unique souvenirs that represent the cultural essence of their European destinations.


What are the hidden gems in Europe attracting Japanese travellers?

The hidden gems in Europe that attract Japanese travellers vary, ranging from lesser-known destinations with rich cultural experiences to off-the-beaten-path natural wonders. These places often offer a unique and authentic atmosphere that appeals to those seeking distinctive travel experiences.

Why are Japanese travellers drawn to hidden gems in Europe?

Japanese travellers are drawn to hidden gems in Europe because they offer a break from mainstream tourist destinations, providing a more intimate and authentic experience. These lesser-known locations often showcase local culture, traditions, and natural beauty, contributing to the appeal for Japanese travellers seeking novel and immersive adventures.

How can Japanese travellers discover these hidden gems in Europe?

Japanese travellers can discover hidden gems in Europe by conducting thorough research, exploring travel blogs, and seeking recommendations from fellow travellers. Engaging with local tourism boards, using travel forums, and relying on social media platforms can also provide insights into lesser-known destinations that align with individual preferences.

Are these hidden gems suitable for all types of travellers?

Yes, hidden gems in Europe cater to a variety of traveller preferences. Whether someone seeks historical sites, serene landscapes, or vibrant cultural experiences, these destinations offer a diverse range of attractions, making them suitable for solo travellers, couples, families, and adventurers alike.

How does visiting hidden gems contribute to sustainable tourism?

Visiting hidden gems contributes to sustainable tourism by distributing tourist traffic more evenly, reducing the environmental impact on popular destinations. Supporting local businesses in these lesser-known areas also aids in the economic sustainability of the community, fostering a more responsible and balanced approach to travel.

Are there language barriers for Japanese travellers in these hidden gem locations?

Language barriers may exist in some hidden gem locations, as English may not be as widely spoken as in more tourist-centric areas. However, many locals in these destinations often appreciate efforts to communicate in their language, enhancing the overall travel experience for Japanese visitors.

What travel resources are available for Japanese tourists exploring hidden gems in Europe?

Japanese tourists exploring hidden gems in Europe can use travel resources such as dedicated travel websites, guidebooks, and apps that provide information in Japanese. Additionally, leveraging travel agencies specialising in off-the-beaten-path destinations and seeking advice from travel communities can enhance the planning process.