Top 20 Cities to Visit in Europe
With all the history, beauty, and tradition Europe has to offer, it can be overwhelming to try and decided where to go first. That’s why we’ve rounded up a list of popular cities to consider visiting on your trip abroad.
It has been said that if you see just one city in Italy, perhaps even one city in all of Europe, make it Rome. With ancient treasures such as the Pantheon, Colosseum, and famed Trevi Fountain, there’s almost more to see and do here than a single trip will allow. In addition to the Roman Forum and the Vatican, you’ll also want to leave time to explore modern Rome through its outdoor markets and restaurants. The Eternal City is the ultimate European destination throughout the year, offering visitors a different experience in every season.
If you see just one city in Sweden, make it Stockholm. The cultural, political, and economic center of the country, the city is one of the most beautiful capitals in all of Europe. Stroll along the cobblestone streets and beautiful waterfront in the medieval city center, or hop a boat and explore the surrounding 14 islands that comprise the archipelago. Don’t miss the renowned Nobel Museum and fascinating Vasa Museum, which houses an intact 16th-century ship that was recovered from the ocean floor.
From the royal family to the iconic phone booths of yesteryear, London is a land that perfectly pairs history with modern times. Often draped in a misty fog cloud, this isle offers something for everyone. Fashion and shopping fans will enjoy time spent on Oxford Street while the foodie in your group takes in the legendary tea time at Harrod’s. Abbey Road is an epic spot for music and quaint bookshops, and who can travel to London without a trip by “Big Ben”, the London Bridge, and Buckingham Palace?
From hilltops to beaches, this vibrant city on the Mediterranean Sea offers the perfect blend of historic charm and modern convenience. Street art tours and a visit Sagrada Familia Church reveal the influence of names like Gaudi and Dali. To experience a taste of Barcelona’s modern culture, be sure to take a stroll along the bustling La Rambla boulevard, visit the enormous outdoor Boqueria market, and sample a variety of tapas at the city’s many bars and cafes.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Best known for museums, bicyclists, pancakes, and canals Amsterdam offers a delightful glimpse of Dutch culture. Don’t miss the city’s top three attractions, the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, and the historical Anne Frank House.
Prague, Czech Republic
Known for its chic Bohemian attitude, Prague entices travelers with its unique cultural offerings and mixture of historic and modern sites. For a taste of local living, stop by one of the city’s cozy locales; most of the best pubs are hosted in cellars where you’re sure to find a vibrant nightlife year round. Prague is also a popular destination for its general affordability and ease of accessibility to top sites.
There is no easy way to sum up all that there is to see and do in Paris. From art treasures at the Louvre to the world famous Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame, there is too much to see here to skip the chance to visit. The best way to experience Paris is to plan wisely and explore the city’s main attractions with local experts. History, art, and culture blend together seamlessly in this city that sparkles in every season, and the best gems are found during a leisurely stroll along the banks of the Seine. Take your time of lunch at a Parisian bistro, stop for a café au lait, and take in a show at the Moulin Rouge, but whatever your fancy, don’t do it in a hurry. Paris is meant to be savored.
A celebrated capital city by the sea, Lisbon is famous for its museums and historic sites. Explore the city’s maritime past at attractions such as the Tower of Belem, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Monument of Discoveries. Other cultural highlights include St. George’s Castle, Santa Justa Elevator, and the Feira da Ladra flea market.
Did you know that Guinness beer tastes better here? Of course, there’s much more to do in the Emerald Isle’s most popular city. Highlights not to miss include St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Trinity College, the National Museum of Ireland, and Dublin Castle. A vibrant shopping scene offers the change to shop for souvenirs while taking in Dublin’s traditional folk music, literary influence, and traditional dance.
Spain’s elegant capital is best known for its artistic treasures, from the Egyptian Temple of Debod, which was donated to Spain in 1968, to the great bear statue located in the central Puerta Del Sol. Take in the city’s neo-Gothic architecture and don’t miss a visit to the expansive Royal Palace. Madrid is unlike any other city in Spain and is not to be missed.
The home of Greek mythology is beloved by travelers for its ancient history and epic cultural offerings. Highlights include the Parthenon and Acropolis, as well as an array of delicious culinary specialties.
Perhaps not the first city that comes to mind when you think about great architectural capitals of Europe, but indeed, Budapest is home to some of the world’s greatest examples of Art Nouveau. Experience the grandeur of the Széchenyi Chain Bridge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as you walk across the famed Danube River. The Central Market, Heroes’ Square & Statue Park, and St. Stephen’s Basilica are attractions not to miss on a visit to Budapest.
Lose yourself in Turkey’s most populous city as you soak in the timeless history of the Grand Bazaar and Spice Market in the square, or enjoy a local brew in one of the city’s many taverns. Istanbul is famed for its many open-air markets complete with open haggling for the best price. Of course, there are many other cultural sites you’ll want to see including the Galata Bridge and the famous Blue Mosque.
This medieval capital conjures up images of kings and castles. The second most visited city in the United Kingdom, Edinburgh offers an exciting glimpse of Scottish culture. Immerse yourself in traditional art, music, theater, and culinary specialties. A visit to a Scotch whiskey distillery completes any trip here, and you’ll also want to save room for some of the local fares. If you’re seeking a world capital that has it all, from history and culture to picturesque panoramas, Edinburgh is where it’s at.
The city built on canals is known for offering some of the best culinary experiences in Europe’s Nordic countries. The city is famously progressive, noted for their dedication to being superbly pedestrian and cyclist friendly. Danes are regularly ranked among the “happiest” people in the world, a fact that could be due in part to the significant emphasis on “comfort” as a lifestyle. While many popular tourist activities are free, including a trip to the city’s famed “Little Mermaid” statue, the cost of living here regularly tops the list of most expensive cities in the world.
A city that always feels on the edge of something exciting, Berlin is steeped in a rich history that is both romantic, modern, and controversial. While here you can visit the remains of the Berlin Wall, now covered in street art, or the official Weltzeituhr world clock. Or stop by the old stomping grounds of Napoleon and Beethoven for a traditional meal at the 16th century “Zur Letzten Instanz” restaurant, a traveler favorite.
While much of Italy is synonymous with romance, Venice offers the ultimate romantic getaway. The city welcomes visitors with its meandering streets, crooning gondoliers and ancient historic sites. For a typical Venetian experience, stop by the ever populous Grand Canal before enjoying a gondola ride through the city’s side canals. You also don’t want to miss a performance at the famed opera house, a trip through Doge’s Palace, and a chance to observe the local art of glassblowing.
Prepare for an immersion into food, art, music, and culture when you travel to this Alpine gem. Austria’s largest city features a former royal residence as well as a number of modern coffee shops. According to UNESCO, drinking espresso while in Vienna is an official cultural pastime! That means you’ll absolutely want to carve out time to rub elbows with the locals over a cup of hot coffee. And when it comes to the best views in town, Vienna’s architecture gives the surrounding mountains a run for their money. Be sure to take a walking tour that routes you by the Imperial Palace, the State Opera House, or the Kunsthistorisches Museum.
Often dubbed the Land of Fire and Ice, Iceland is a geological wonder that has so much natural beauty it is hard to comprehend until you’ve seen it in person. One of the world’s safest cities, Reykjavik is known for an active nightlife and music scene as well as the milky blue colored geothermal hot springs, “The Blue Lagoon.” Venture outside the city to see some of Europe’s most incredible natural wonders, including hundreds of waterfalls and volcanoes. Despite being the world’s northernmost capital city, Reykjavik remains temperate year round and is a delightful destination any time of year. Travelers who wish to see the Northern Lights will want to plan a visit in winter.
St. Petersburg, Russia
Russia’s second largest city, St. Petersburg is the cultural heart of this intriguing destination. The city sprawls over a large area and offers an impressive array of art and museums. In the evening the city comes alive with a vibrant nightlife scene. Highlights include the Winter Palace and Kazan Cathedral.
We have now used Grand European for three wonderful trips. Each itinerary has been packed full and given us the flavor of the places we visited. The tour guides have been informative and friendly. Accommodations were lovely. Optional experiences were fabulous. Looking forward to future adventures!