Top 20 cities to visit in Europe
Looking for La Dolce Vita? From its picturesque and colourful mountainside architecture to charming coastal towns and scenic beaches this is a haven for every type of traveller. As the official starting point Sorrento offers access to day trips for attractions like Pompeii and Naples and offers rare glimpses of A and B list celebs. If you are keen on the viewing the world-renowned pastel houses, make sure you visit Positano and for you beach lovers Priaiano and Conca dei Marini are a must. If you are on a budget Amalfi is a great option if you are wanting to avoid the VIP nightlife and high prices. Wherever you stay don’t forget to try the limoncello liqueur – an Amalfi Coast speciality. Stretching for only 48kms the Amalfi Coast is a mixture of idyllic beauty and Italian luxury.
Famous for its canals, beautiful architecture, “coffee shops” and Red-Light District, Amsterdam is often referred to as the Venice of the North. At almost 1000 years old Amsterdam boasts an impressive range of medieval, renaissance and modern architecture. For beer lovers– visit one of the many breweries in the city including Heineken and other smaller breweries for a world class pint. For lovers of art there are numerous museums and design initiatives to keep you busy including works from Rembrandt, Vermeer and Van Gogh. While you are there be sure to hop on a bike and explore the city and its sites including the famous Anne Frank House. For a more relaxed experience take a canal cruise on the central canal belt – a protected World Heritage Site. A small city with great attractions Amsterdam should be a must on anyone’s travel list.
An attractive modern metropolis with unrivalled charm, Athens is the historical capital of Europe and a rare historical gem boasting centuries of significant history. From ancient 5th century BC landmarks to excellent roof top bars Athens is a mish-mash of old and new – it has something for everyone. Visit the world-famous Acropolis, the most important ancient site in the Western world. Visible from almost anywhere in the city this ancient citadel contains the remains of several ancient buildings of great architectural and historic significance. Included in these are the Parthenon a former temple dedicated to the goddess Athena. If you are interested in Greek Mythology the Temple of Olympian Zeus is a not to be missed – the largest temple in Greece. From walking tours to open top bus tours, the options to explore Greece speak to any type of traveller. Oh yes, don’t forget to grab yourself a Souvlaki while you’re exploring.
Packed full of amazing food and creative people Barcelona is one of the best cultural hubs. As one of the oldest cities in the world, Barcelona dates back over 2000 years and boasts some of the most magnificent architecture in the world. For inspiration take a stroll through the Gothic Quarter which is something out of a fairy tale. Not limited to this quarter though Barcelona was awarded the RIBA Gold medal for architecture in 1999 for its world-famous architecture. LA Sagrada Familia is a religious site that attracts over 3 million visitors per year – it is still under construction more than 100 years on. For our night owls there is a massive nightclub scene – pop into any one of the big clubs open until 6AM on most nights. For our nature lovers Parc de la Ciutadella is the NYC Central Park equivalent and boasts a world-famous fountain. As Europe’s second largest city, Barcelona has a lot to offer visitors no matter what your taste.
Offering one of the best climates in the world for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle, The Canary Islands offers a wide choice of 7 islands to explore including Lanzarote and Tenerife. Offering diverse experiences each island has a unique characteristic. From wave riding in Tenerife to vibrant Gran Canaria, the beautiful Fuerteventura to the moon landscape of Lanzarote – whatever your flavour The Canary Islands deliver. A nature lovers paradise The Canary Islands offer beautiful beaches, amazing surfs, vibrant nature for hiking and mountain biking and is the perfect spot for snorkelling and diving. As one of the more affordable spots to visit in Europe you can also find great cheese and wine here. Stay calm, visit The Canary Islands.
Booming with tech giants like Google, Twitter and Facebook, with all its busyness Ireland still manages to maintain its village like charm with a throwback to gentler, slower-moving times. Whether you hanker for modernity or yearn for days gone by, Ireland has something for everyone. Take the famous Guinness Factory Tour or original Jamesons Whisky distillery, visit the Ernest Hemmingway Statue, take a stroll through Trinity College and check out St Patricks Cathedral. After a long day visit one of the numerous pubs new or old. If you have a love of the mystical and folklore visit the Leprechaun Museum. For those who have the time there are plenty day tours out to the mountains and cliffs to enjoy. Not one to forget their history you will find plenty memorials to the famine including the Jeanie Johnston Tall Ship, The Famine Memorial and EPIC – The Irish Emigration Museum.
Easily one of the most charming cities in the world, Florence will take you in with its rich history, beautiful architecture and art as well as small town feel. As the birthplace of Renaissance, Florence is a real treat for art lovers both new and old. Famous pieces by Raphael, Michelangelo, Da Vinci and Botticelli are a mere few examples of artists housed in the Uffizi Gallery. Must see include the world-renowned Statue of David and the Ponte Vecchio Florence’s most popular bridge. If you are up for it climb the stairs of the Duomo an ancient and ornate church for magical views. Take a tour and learn about the hidden secrets and scandals of Florence and once you are done indulge in the amazing food and wine on offer and don’t forget your gelato. Before you leave give Porcellino’s snout a rub for good luck.
Neatly tucked away in the dramatic landscape of the Alps Mountain range, Innsbruck is a real gem known worldwide for its ski resorts and its traditions of holding winter sports events. Innsbruck offers a variety of attractions including historical churches, breath-taking views and scenic cable car rides. Explore the old town centre of Altstadt – standing for over 500 years enjoy a meal in one of the restaurants while marvelling at the beautiful architecture. The Innsbruker Nordkette is a 20-minute cable car ride to Nordkette – part of Austria’s largest natural park. For a bit of history visit Ambras Castle – once home to Archduke Ferdinand II or the Imperial Palace which offers five themed museums. For a magical experience be sure not to miss the Swarovski Crystal World – a haven for anyone who loves sparkling crystals and vibrant displays. There are plenty more attractions to view which makes it easy to understand why Innsbruck is Austria’s prime destination.
Mix the remnants of empires, different cultures, amazing food and a youthful vigour together and you get Istanbul. Take a journey through time back to powerful sultans and their harems by exploring the striking Dolmabahce Palaces and Topkapi. For art lovers Istanbul is home to Turkey’s most important art galleries and museums displaying artefacts from Turkey’s amazing history. Find remarkable remnants from the Byzantine Empire in the form of the Chora Church and Hagia Sophia. And be sure to indulge in a Turkish Bath. With a history that is so alive in its architecture it is a must for even the most seasoned traveller. When you are done exploring dive into the exquisite cuisine by visiting the many food bazaars. To end your day of exploring take a Bosphorus Cruise to experience the amazing views of the city – be sure to reserve a table at one of the cities iconic seafood restaurants.
One of the most popular destinations in Italy Lake Como offers picturesque Victorian gardens and lakeshore restaurants. Of the five lakes that compose the Italian Lakes region Lago di Como is the most popular. In ancient Roman times couples flocked here to escape from the heat with the cool mountain air. With beautiful beaches Lake Como offers a paradise for water lovers and is the perfect place to sail or windsurf. For explorers there are no shortage of picturesque towns to discover including Bellagio, Como, Menaggio and Tremezzo. If you do find yourself in Bellagio keep your eyes peeled for George Clooney who has a home there. If nature is not your thing there are no shortages of other attractions to explore including the Basilica of Sant’Abbondio, Duomo of Como and Forte di Fuentes.
Whether you are looking for relaxation or a constant vibe, Lisbon has something for everyone. A capital like no other, Lisbon has everything within easy reach be it museums, the seaside or charming villages. It is also recommended that for new travellers Lisbon is a great starting point if you are not used to navigating busy fast paced cities. Inspired by the Brazilian statue Lisbon offers a smaller statue named “Christ the King” – climb up to it and experience one of the best views in Lisbon. Experience the traditional Calcada – or Portuguese pavement made up of different and original patterns. For food lovers don’t miss out on the Mercado da Ribeira and while you are there grab a Pastel de Belem and drink ginginha – both Portuguese specialities. For those on a budget Lisbon is also one of the more affordable destinations.
Easily one of the best-known destinations on this list London is a hive of activity with something for everyone. From Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey, the London Eye to the London Dungeons there are no lack of options to explore. Take a walk to West End and take in a play from newbies to long running musical but be warned popular shows will need to be booked in advance. London is also home to a range of free museums where you can easily spend hours. For our shopaholics Harrods is a not to be missed attraction and if you love nature there are no shortage of parks to kick back and relax in. If you are not sure what to do hop on a red tour bus and let them do the work for you. 2019 saw London overtake Paris as the most instagramed city in the world.
For world class food and exquisite art Madrid is the place to be. Home to world class galleries (including the Prado) which are home to Goya, Picasso and Dali to name a few this is a mecca for art lovers who find themselves returning to the city. Having evolved into one of the culinary capitals of Europe Madrid has everything from tapas to sit-down meals. For great nightlife Madrid is hard to beat – a combination of night clubs and cocktail bars explain the appeal of after-dark Madrid. For lovers of architecture be sure to check out the Royal Palace and Puerta del Sol – home of the famous New Years Eve clock. For a great overview a stroll through the Gran Via will not steer you wrong. Visit the Plaza Mayor – a cool art nouveau marketplace and end of your day at San Gines for churros and Spanish hot chocolate.
Dubbed the most romantic city in the world there are no shortage of reasons to visit this iconic city. With a rich and opulent history France’s capital offers bucket list attractions including the Eiffel Tower, Arc De Triomphe and the famous Notre Dame Cathedral. For art and movie lovers the Louvre is a must see as home to the Mona Lisa and heavily featured in the movie The Da Vinci Code. For shoppers a stroll down the Champs Elysees is a great way to pass the time. While out and about you will also come across the Moulin Rouge. For any history lover a visit to the Palace of Versailles is essential as are the D Day Landing Beaches. For something a little different why not explore the Catacombs of Paris built centuries ago but not for the squeamish. Before you leave do not forget to visit one of the Seine bridges and lock a padlock to it to symbolize your love for your partner.
Known as the City of a Hundred Spires Prague is known for its colourful baroque buildings, Gothic church and medieval Astronomical Clock- at 600 years old the oldest operating clock of its kind in the world. Prague Castle is a must do– it is currently in the Guinness World Book of Records as the largest castle complex in the world. Due to little damage in World War 2 Prague is home to many stunning architectural buildings offering a mix of Baroque, Gothic and Renaissance architecture. The Charles Bridge is one of the biggest attractions and is decorated with 30 statues representing saints. Known as one of the cheapest capitals in Europe you will get bang for buck in Prague. Lastly Prague is home to some great festivals so if this is your thing then check out what’s up and coming.
If you are looking to experience unparalleled history along with breath-taking architecture, then Rome is the place to be. With almost 3000 years of cultural, architectural and art on offer it is no wonder it is the third most visited city in Europe. Visit the Colosseum and imagine how gladiators fought against the odds, check out the Circus Maximus – home to the legendary chariot races and get a feel for the old Roman ways in the Roman Forum. Known as the Eternal City Rome is home to the Trevi fountain – an architectural masterpiece forever immortalised in the movie La Dolce Vita and located near the Spanish Steps, another masterpiece. Located within Rome is the Vatican City which is home to St. Peters Square and Basilica. Located in the Vatican City is the Sistine Chapel which houses the work of Michelangelo on the ceilings. A quick day trip will take you to Pisa – home of the leaning tower. Rome is a definite for anyone keen on travelling and diving into beauty and history.
A volcanic island in the Cyclades group of the Greek islands, Santorini is famous for dramatic 360-degree views, beautiful sunsets and of course its active volcano – the only one with its crater located in the sea. Considered to be the most sought-after romantic getaway in Greece Santorini offers stunning beaches – some with unique black, white and red sand – with crystal clear waters. Experience the spectacular rock formations and lunar landscapes. Beautiful and colourful houses adorn the island and the food offers a gastronomic delight. Try traditional cherry tomatoes and the famous white eggplants, indulge in “hloro tyri” a special type of goat’s cheese and then wash it all down with a glass of wine. The grapes are grown in volcanic soil which produces exceptional wines. For lovers of myth it is said that Cousteau looked for the lost city of Atlantis here.
With its famous gondolas, historic buildings and famous canals, this floating city is one of Italy’s most visited attractions. Hot spots include the Piazza San Marco – the principal public square of Venice. Referred to by Napoleon as the drawing room of Europe and forms part of the social, political and religious centre of Venice. While you are there visit St. Mark’s Basilica. Prepare yourself for long lines though and pigeons en masse. Explore the Riva degli Schiavoni – a lively waterfront and find your way to the Bridge of Sighs – once used to lead prisoners to their cells. The most popular bridge is the Rialto Bridge the location of many Instagram worthy snaps. For unique views visit the Doges’ Palace – once the prison of Casanova. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987, Venice is the perfect place to go if you are looking to get lost.
Located on the banks of the Danube river, Austria is one of Europe’s most visited cities. Attracting visitors with its rich historical and musical heritage as well as glittering palaces and artworks it is also home to fantastic architecture. Marvel at the Hofburg – Austria’s most historically significant palace – offering mixtures of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo movement. Not the only palace – The Belvedere and Schonbrunn Palaces are also worth a visit. For more beautiful buildings plan to visit the Vienna State Opera House and Vienna City Hall. For horse lovers the Spanish Riding School offers performances regularly but book in advance. For amazing views take a ride on The Giant Ferris Wheel – a Viennese landmark- located in Prater Park. After a long day be sure to visit the coffee houses or cosy wine taverns for the famous pastries and very special Viennese charm.
Made for exploring and strolling Zagreb is a vibrant, cultural and historical gem. Unlike other heavyweights Zagreb is not an instantly recognisable hotspot. Offering interesting architecture and nearby nature havens Zagreb has something for everyone. For coffee lovers the Croatian capital offers a range of Italian, Turkish and Austro-Hungarian influences. For outdoor lovers hike up to Mount Medvednica for amazing views of the city. A day trip to the Plitvice Lakes is a must if you have the time. For a unique experience visit the many quirky museums in the city especially the Museum of Broken Relationships. A walk through its historic Upper Town will reward you with picturesque medieval murals and architecture as well as great views over the rest of the city. After sunset the city comes alive and transforms into an open-air party offering locally crafted beers.