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38 Best Cities to Visit in Europe (Bucket-List Icons, Stunning Small Cities, and More!)

The best cities to visit in Europe are marvelously diverse, brimming with history and culture, sometimes charming, sometimes majestic, but always exciting to explore.

From icons like London and Paris to small gems like Bruges and Strasbourg, you’ll find many cities to discover all over Europe. Whether you seek art and architecture, history and culture, parks and gardens, spectacular views, or delicious food and drink, you’ll find cities in Europe to suit.

We’ve explored many of the best cities in Europe, from the Big Three Italian cities of Venice, Florence, and Rome, to the great cities of central Europe: Prague, Vienna, and Budapest, and smaller but no less captivating cities, like Zagreb, Verona, and Dubrovnik.

Ceiling of Basilica Santa Anastasia in Verona, Italy
Ceiling of Basilica Santa Anastasia in Verona, Italy

We love the lively ambience in the historical centers. We enjoy dining at outdoor tables laid out along alleys and in squares. And most of all, we love wandering the streets and alleys of city centers in Europe, to gawk at impressive monuments and churches.

For this article, we collaborated with other travel bloggers, to bring you a comprehensive round-up of the best cities to visit in Europe. Once you start reading, you’ll want to start planning a trip immediately!

Excited? Here, then, are the most amazing cities in Europe for your bucket list!

Paris

It goes without saying that Paris should make any list of best European cities. With lovely arrondissements, some of the best art museums in the world, and amazing restaurants, Paris is well-known for its beauty and romance. 

Eiffel Tower in Paris France
The Eiffel Tower in Paris

If you’re searching for bucket-list-worthy things to do in Paris, definitely visit its top museums. The Louvre is the largest art museum in the world with famous art including the Mona Lisa. D’Orsay is another famous museum, known for its impressionist paintings. 

While these top museums are definitely worthwhile, also be sure to visit some smaller museums, like L’Orangerie, which is home to the gigantic Monet water lily paintings, Rodin Museum, which has many of his famous sculptures, the Montmartre Museum with history on the romantic neighborhood of Montmartre, and even the Museum of the Romantic Life! 

Aside from museums, a visit to the popular Eiffel Tower and a walk along the Seine is always delightful. Watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night is so romantic. 

Paris is also a city of parks. There are parks and gardens all over the city that are perfect for a picnic. Head to popular parks like the Tuileries and Jardin du Luxembourg or opt for hidden gems like Parc des Buttes Chaumont or even the Bois de Vincennes. 

For a true hidden gem, go up to the Marché Aux Puces de Saint-Ouen, known as the Paris flea market, for the chance to walk along shop after shop of antique furniture, decor, dishware, and more! 

There really isn’t a bad time to visit Paris. However, if you want to avoid crowds and really see the city at its best, then spring is the best time! The city is full of flowers from the florists selling tulips on the street to the parks and gardens bursting with life! 

When it comes to where to stay, opt for a hotel in the Saint Germain des Pres area! This neighborhood, located in the 6th arrondissement, is full of great bars and restaurants! Au Manoir Saint Germain des Pres is a lovely hotel in the area. 

Some must-try restaurants in Paris include Les Juveniles wine bar, Dame Nation, La Jacobine, and L’As Du Fallafel.

Suggested by Kat from France Voyager

London

London is an absolute must-visit city in Europe. Not only is it a multi-cultural hotspot, but it is a dynamic metropolis that is home to world-class restaurants, amazing shows, incredible museums, and vibrant markets.

Big Ben in London, England
Iconic Big Ben in London

Historic London landmarks are always worth a visit, particularly during the Christmas season when all the streets are decked out with festive lights. 

During your time in London, be sure to see a world-class performance in the West End. You can easily find well-priced tickets using the TodayTix app for iconic shows like Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Marvel at the crown jewels and enjoy the complex but always fascinating history behind the Tower of London. Take in the iconic beauty of Tower Bridge before grabbing some delicious street food at Borough Market. 

And if you want a fantastic aerial view of the city, skip the long lines at the London Eye and go to Sky Garden instead. Yes, you will have to make a reservation to visit but tickets are free and the panoramas are truly magical. 

Take a scenic walk along the Thames, being sure to stop and take a look at the stunning beauty of St. Paul’s. Continue downriver and take lots of photos at Big Ben before exploring Westminster Abbey and soaking up all the incredible history there.

Be sure to reward yourself with a deliciously luxurious afternoon tea at Sketch, and don’t forget to take a shameless selfie in the unique bathroom.

Ideally, visit London in the spring and fall, when crowds are less than in the peak of summer. The holidays are an exciting (but popular) time to visit London.

Unwind for the night in one of the luxurious rooms at the well-priced and well-located Tower Hotel.

Suggested by Kelly from Girl with the Passport

Barcelona

In the years since the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Barcelona has emerged as one of the most exciting and dynamic cities not just in Europe, but in the world.

Barcelona is a cultural mecca with art and architecture from world-renowned artists like Antonio Gaudi decorating the city. The architecture alone makes Barcelona one of the best places to visit in Spain!

The foodie scene in this port city is legendary. Go on a tapas crawl on Paseo de Gracia or to the many portside restaurants in Barceloneta serving authentic fare. Wash it all down with the region’s sparkling cava.

Gaudi's architecture at Park Guell in Barcelona, Spain
Gaudi’s architecture at Park Guell

Famous for its lively nightlife, Barcelona offers live music venues almost anywhere you look, from rock to flamenco.

A solid 2-day itinerary for Barcelona should definitely include La Rambla, an important avenue in the old town with restaurants lining the avenue.

Off La Rambla is La Boqueria food market ,with an astounding number of stalls selling everything from fresh seafood to prepared meals. Also off La Rambla is the classically beautiful Plaza Real.

The three must-see architectural masterpieces by Gaudi include Casa Mila, Casa Batllo, and the still unfinished Sagrada Familia cathedral.  

For the history lover, Barcelona is magical. The Gothic Quarter is a medieval town with winding shop-filled streets, looming churches, museums, and surprising little plazas that appear when you turn a corner.

The best time to visit Barcelona is in the spring or fall, when the weather is perfect and the tourists are few. This city should be on everyone’s radar for Europe! 

And if you plan to spend a few days in the city, also consider doing some day trips from Barcelona to explore the surrounding region!

Suggested by Talek from Travels with Talek

Rome

A list of the best cities in Europe can’t be deemed complete without a mention of Rome. The impressive and historic Italian capital city is jam-packed with things to do and every single building here will leave you in awe.

Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy
The Magnificent Trevi Fountain

Gawking at the massive Colosseum is one of the top things to do in Rome. Walk through history in the Roman Forum. Marvel at Michelangelo’s dome at St. Peter’s and climb to the top for unforgettable views. Take in the superb art at the Vatican Museums, in the Borghese Gallery, and in the churches of Rome.

After you visit the most iconic attractions in Rome, take some time to simply get lost in the streets, to savor the greatness of the Eternal City.

Start at Piazza del Popolo, go window shopping in Via del Corso, swing by the famous Spanish Steps, and throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain. Explore the Trevi District Underground before heading to the Pantheon on the way to the picturesque Piazza Navona.

You can also explore underground at Piazza Navona to learn about the Roman games that took place a few feet below the ground. If you have enough time, head to the Baths of Caracalla, walk the Appian Road, and go underground to explore one of the many amazing catacombs of Rome.

The only time of the year it is not recommended to go to Rome is in the summer months. It is just way too hot. Especially in August. Instead, go in the fall or spring for pleasant sightseeing weather.

But even Rome in winter is worth it. With charming holiday lights bringing the city to life on early nights, you will have an unforgettable experience. Days can still be nice and sunny.

Deseo Home is a wonderful place to stay near public transport to get directly to the biggest tourist attractions.

Suggested by Linn from Brainy Backpackers

Istanbul

Bridging the two continents of Europe and Asia, with a rich history that goes back 2,500 years, an incredible food scene and one of the most breathtaking skylines in the world, Istanbul is a must-visit city for every adventurous traveler. 

Istanbul, Turkey
A panoramic view of Istanbul

The former capital of no fewer than four different empires, Istanbul is a history-lovers’ dream and any visit to the city should begin with the major historical landmarks.

Start your exploration in Sultanahmet where you can visit the Blue Mosque, an imperial Ottoman mosque built in 1616, and marvel at the 20,000 gorgeously hand-painted Iznik tiles that decorate the interior of this spectacular building. 

Next, cross over Sultanahmet Square to visit Hagia Sophia Mosque. First built as a church in AD360, the Hagia Sophia was the world’s largest cathedral for almost 1,000 years and is an incredible example of Byzantine architecture. The intricately detailed and well-preserved mosaics in the upper gallery of the building are particularly stunning.

From here, you can also easily walk to the Basilica and Şerefiye Cisterns, majestic Roman-era underground water structures. 

Another unmissable attraction is the Grand Bazaar, the largest covered market in the world. With over 4,000 shops selling everything from jewelry and rugs to beautiful ceramics, this 17th-century market is a shopaholics dream come true. 

Sightseeing and shopping can really work up your appetite, so make sure to try at least one indulgent Turkish serpme kahvaltı (spread breakfast) during your trip. Çeşme Bazlama Kahvaltı is famous for its never-ending breakfast consisting of eggs, various cheeses, honey, salad, olives, freshly baked breads, homemade jams, savory pancakes, and much more!

Whilst this is a great city to visit all year round, it’s worthwhile considering a visit to Istanbul in winter. Accommodation and tour prices are much lower and without the hordes of summer tourists, you won’t have to queue to get into major tourist attractions. Plus, with a dusting of snow, Istanbul looks even more magical!

Suggested by Sasha from Mog and Dog Travels

Venice

Venice is one of the most iconic cities in Europe, and indeed, the world. With its narrow streets running alongside a labyrinth of narrow canals, historic palaces, romantic gondolas, and famous landmarks, visiting Venice is like walking through a fairytale.  

Venice is one of the best cities in Europe for your bucket list
The iconic Rialto Bridge in Venice

One of the classic things to do in Venice to take a gondola ride. It’s easy to find a vacant gondola and hop in. There’s a fixed price. The gondolier stands behind you, gently rowing the traditional boat through the narrow canals and typically out into the Grand Canal as well. It’s a pure romantic fantasy! 

If you enjoy riding in a gondola, you can amp up the experience and learn to row one yourself! Standing up while rowing a moving boat is much harder than it seems when someone else is doing it, but it’s fun to learn. One and a half hour gondola rowing lessons typically go through the working, non-touristy section of Venice, and even out into the lagoon. 

To get an overview of the city, hop on a vaporetto (water bus or ferry). They plow several routes, but Route 1 runs up and down the Grand Canal, which cuts through the center of the city. You will see ancient palaces, and pass under the famous Rialto Bridge. 

A visit to Venice wouldn’t be complete without enjoying a coffee or aperol spritz at an outdoor café in St Mark’s Square. There are several places, often with live music, where you can sit, soak in the views of the Basilica and Duomo, and watch the world go by. 

For a change of pace, hop on a vaporetto or take a water taxi to some of the other nearby islands. Murano is famous for glass blowing and you can buy some beautiful handmade pieces. Burano is home to brightly colored houses that make the perfect Instagram photo.  

A tip for visiting Venice: the streets are truly a labyrinth, following a map is well-nigh impossible, and you will almost certainly get lost. Don’t stress about it. There are small signs near the tops of many buildings pointing to St Mark’s or the Rialto Bridge. There is a commonly plied route between the two, so if you find that route, you can follow the crowd to a known landmark. 

Suggested by James Ian from Travel Collecting   

Amsterdam

Amsterdam is one of Europe’s most popular cities for a great reason: it’s an absolutely gorgeous city with so many things to do! The beautiful scenery of Amsterdam combined with the city’s history make it one of the best cities to visit in Europe.

Canal in Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Amsterdam at Christmas

You can’t visit Amsterdam without taking a stroll through its streets, admiring the gorgeous canals and the canal houses that line them. Simply walking through the city and admiring its beauty is one of the best things to do in Amsterdam.

For an up close and personal tour of the canals, consider taking a canal cruise – you’ll be able to view the gorgeous scenery of Amsterdam while learning about the city’s history along the way. There are many different cruises to choose from, from daytime sightseeing cruises to dinner cruises.

Take a self-guided walk or guided tour of the Jordaan area, where you will find lots of restaurants and cafes, galleries, boutique shops, and bars. The Nine Little Streets area is another fun place to shop.

Amsterdam is full of history, and another must-do is paying a visit to the Anne Frank House. Seeing the home where Anne and her family hid from Nazi persecution during World War II is an incredibly sobering experience. Tickets for the Anne Frank House are required and must be booked online.

In addition, Amsterdam is home to numerous museums on everything from art to science to beer. Some of the most popular museums are the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, Micropia, and the Heineken Experience.

There’s no bad time to visit Amsterdam, but the city really shines during the springtime – especially if you’re in town for tulip season (typically mid-April through early May).

Suggested by Sydney from A World in Reach

Budapest

Budapest is easily one of the best European cities. For starters, the way the city is split into two sides thanks to the lovely Danube River makes it a sightseeing dream. Secondly, there is a quirky edginess to the city that makes it so fun to visit. Ruin pubs, bathhouses, and zany tea shops can be found throughout the city! 

Budapest, Hungary
Budapest is a beautiful city!

If you have four or so days in Budapest, something that you must do is visit some bathhouses. There are thermal springs under the city, so taking the time to relax in nice warm thermal water is a must for ultimate relaxation. Rudas Baths, Széchenyi Baths, and Gellert Baths are some of the best bathhouses to visit.

Exploring Fisherman’s Bastion is another fabulous idea. You can cross the Chain Bridge over from the Pest side of the river and hike up to the top. This amazing fortress offers the most incredible views of the city, especially of the Parliament Building! 

Food lovers should opt to visit the Great Market Hall, where you’ll find ample spices, meats, produce, and more! If you go upstairs, you can even purchase souvenirs and some street food like langos! 

To really appreciate the quirkiness of the city, a visit to some ruin pubs like Szimpla Kert is a must. This place is massive with loads of random objects on the walls as well as things like bathtubs to sit in and more! Also, a visit to Sirius Tea House will be like having tea in an Alice in Wonderland themed setting! 

Lastly, in the evening, definitely take a cruise along the Danube. This gives you the unique opportunity to see everything from the Parliament Building to Fisherman’s Bastion lit up. It is the most romantic thing! 

The best time to visit Budapest is either in the summer or during the holiday season. The summer here is lovely and there are ample spas to visit on hot days. During the holiday season, Budapest has some incredible Christmas markets, and you can’t beat soaking in a hot tub at a bathhouse outside while it snows! 

Budapest is a really fun place to visit in Europe, and for a great place to stay, rent an Airbnb in the Jewish Quarter where you’ll find loads of great eateries and bars!

Suggested by Kat from Worldwide Honeymoon

Vienna

Vienna, Austria’s capital, is a must-visit in Europe. Home to numerous museums and institutions, the city is very tourist-friendly. The public transport system is easy to use and covers the entire city, the buildings are an architecture lover’s dream, and there are many parks to wander.

One of the best places to visit in Vienna is the Schonbrunn Palace. The palace was the main summer residence of the Habsburg rulers, and a visit here will allow you to find out more about Sisi and Franz Joseph, but also to discover interesting facts about the palace. Buy a guided tour of the palace, as it will provide useful information you won’t discover otherwise.

Schonnbrun Palace in Vienna, Austria
Schonbrunn Palace and Gardens in Vienna

Prater is a second not-to-miss attraction in Vienna. This amusement park has more than 250 attractions so you’ll definitely find something to enjoy here. The ferris wheel is an icon of the city and a ride in it will offer you impressive views of Vienna.

The Vienna Museum of Science and Technology offers thousands of exhibits from every branch of technology, from the early 19th century up until the present. Two other unmissable museums are the Hofburg Palace and the Art History Museum, both home to impressive art collections that will mesmerize you.

Finally, another landmark of the city is St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Impressive on the inside, it also has an interesting tour you can take – The Stephansdom catacombs tour – that will allow you to find out more about the city’s history.

Vienna offers great activities year long: in the summer there are outdoor festivals and concerts, and in the winter you have the famous Christmas Markets and ice skating rink.

In the spring there are fewer visitors (and everything is less crowded), and in the fall you can enjoy the nice foliage in the parks. Perhaps the best time to visit Vienna would be early summer or winter, if you can only go there once.

Suggested by Loredana from Earth’s Attractions

Prague

Prague is one of the cities every traveler needs to see at least once in their life. The Czech capital, located in the heart of Europe, is beyond charming and full of history. Some say it’s even romantic, like a smaller version of Paris.

Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is a gorgeous European city

There’s just so much to do in Prague. Sightseeing comes first since there are some amazing historical sights: the Prague Castle, the Charles Bridge, the Astronomical Clock, the Old Town Square, and more. In fact, the whole historical center of Prague has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Enjoying Prague’s dining scene can be done traditionally with a glass of beer in hand (try the local chain of restaurants called Lokál!) or explore the modern bistros and international restaurants that abound in Prague. 

History buffs will be happy to peruse Prague’s museums, especially the National Museum at the Wenceslas Square. There are a few museums dedicated to classical music and a myriad of galleries. Visitors that enjoy modern art should pay a visit to the Dox Gallery in the Holešovice district.

Prague has many wonderful parks and if you have more than a weekend in the city, you should stroll at least through some of them: Riegrovy sady, Havlíčkovy sady, or Letná park are great choices. From Letná, you can observe the most beautiful sunsets.

To see more of Prague from a birds-eye view, head to the Petřín lookout tower: you can reach it by riding a funicular! Right next to the tower there’s a popular mirror maze too.

Prague is wonderful in any season. When visiting Prague in summer, you have to deal with crowds and sometimes the temperatures may rise too high, so ideally, visit Prague in spring or autumn.

Suggested by Veronika from Travel Geekery

Lisbon

The Portuguese capital, Lisbon, has certainly surged in popularity in recent years and has become known as one of the best cities to visit in Europe! This is largely due to the gorgeous sunny weather, incredible architecture and landmarks, delicious Portuguese cuisine, and the warm and welcoming locals that embrace visitors to this stunning city with open arms!

Colorful rooftops in Lisbon Portugal
Lisbon’s colorful rooftops

With so much to see and do, you’ll certainly never get bored here, even if you plan to spend a week in the city! Explore the cobbled streets of Lisbon’s oldest neighborhood, Alfama, also home to the nation’s traditional melancholic folk music, Fado.

Visit one of the city’s most famed viewpoints (since Lisbon is nicknamed the city of 7 hills, there’s no shortage of them!). The viewpoints are called “miradouros,” and a few most popular are the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara, the Miradouro de Santa Luzia, or the Portas Do Sol Terrace, all offering sweeping vistas of the city beyond.

Food lovers will fall in love with the fresh seafood and array of delectable pastries that Portugal is known for, especially the egg-yolk custard tartlets Pastel de Nata. Head on over to the buzzing TimeOut Market (Mercado da Ribeira) where you’ll be able to savor a range of Portuguese delicacies.

If you’re in town for an extended stay, a day trip to Sintra for its famous palaces and castles, such as the eclectic Pena Palace, is an absolute must. The seaside town of Cascais, set on what is known as the Portuguese Riviera, is another excellent day trip option.

Alternatively, you may want to head out to one of the nearby beautiful Lisbon beaches, such as the beaches in Costa da Caparica, or the beaches located close to Cascais and Sintra, all reachable in under an hour by public transport.

The best time to visit Lisbon is undoubtedly around mid-May through the end of June, or mid-September through October, when the weather is not too hot and the crowds aren’t overbearing (as they can be in August!).

Suggested by Marco from Travel Boo

Berlin

Berlin is a must-visit city in Europe due to its unique and interesting past post-WWII. The construction of the Berlin Wall, which split the city into two, fell in 1990, and Berlin was once again reunited. What is left today are reminders of this distinct history and they are some of the must-sees in Berlin for tourists. 

Berlin, Germany
The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin

Check out the East Side Gallery for the graffiti that was created by 106 artists from all over the world. Hop on a vintage Trabant for an informative guided tour.  

Checkpoint Charlie was a landmark boundary marking East and West Berlin. The Wall Museum and Checkpoint Charlie Gallery are on both sides of the checkpoint, for a deeper understanding of the history of the wall. 

Head to the Sony Center, a business district with a canopy connecting seven commercial buildings with entertainment facilities like IMAX theatre, outdoor bars, Museum of Film and Television, and the Legoland Discovery Center.  

Sign up for a visit to Reichstag, the glass dome was designed by the famous architect, Norman Foster. It is an addition to the historic parliament building. The top of the dome offers a panoramic view of the city. 

The Museum Island consists of five renowned Berlin museums: Alte Nationalgalerie, Altes Museum, Bodemuseum, Neues Museum, to Pergamonmuseum. The architecture is beautiful, so you can even just wander about the area if you are not a museum buff.

The best time to visit Berlin is in the spring, when the weather is more pleasant for exploring the city and you’ll encounter fewer crowds at popular attractions.

Suggested by Kenny from Knycx Journeying 

Stockholm

If you’re looking for a European city that offers everything, Stockholm should be at the top of your list! Stockholm has beautiful architecture and you’ll feel like you’re in a fairytale because of the vibrant and classic buildings.

Stockholm, Sweden
Stockholm is a stunning European capital

Also, Stockholm’s landscape is impressive. Stockholm is built on fourteen islands and has so many parks and gardens. Stockholm’s vibe is incredible as well. The locals are happy, friendly, and easygoing.

The best thing to do in Stockholm is to explore Gamla Stan, also known as the “Old Town.” It’s the oldest part of the city and it’s rich in history. Here you will find the Royal Palace, the Stockholm Cathedral, and Stortorget, a colorful and busy square.

Gape at a 17th-century warship at the Vasa Museum. It’s the only one of its kind in the world, and was recovered in its entirety 333 years after it sank on its maiden voyage.

City Hall should also be on your Stockholm bucket list. Built with eight million bricks, City Hall is home to the annual Nobel Banquet. You can take the elevator to the top (or climb the steps) for magnificent views.

Be sure to visit Skansen, Stockholm’s open-air museum. It has more than 150 buildings from all around Sweden and it’s a great way to explore Swedish history and culture.

Learn more about the culture of Sweden at the Nordic Museum, or take a tour of Stockholm subway art at the many subway stations in the city. Or take a day trip to Drottningholm Palace, the residence of the Swedish royals.

The best time to visit Stockholm is from June to August. The weather is perfect and the days are longer. National Day is also in June and the Swedes go all out to celebrate their country.

The best place to stay in Stockholm is the Nobis Hotel. It’s in an excellent location and the rooms are chic and luxurious.

Suggested by Disha from Disha Discovers

Dubrovnik

Sometimes known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” Dubrovnik is one of Europe’s must-visit cities and one of Croatia’s top travel destinations. Its location along the beautiful Croatian coast and its stunning Old Town make it a photographers’ paradise.

A view of Dubrovnik, Croatia
Old Town Dubrovnik from Mt. Srd

And Game of Thrones fans will recognize King’s Landing when they visit: Dubrovnik was the main location for the make-believe city. In fact, taking a Game of Thrones locations tour is one of the most popular things to do in Dubrovnik.

Walking the walls of Old Town Dubrovnik should be on every Europhile’s bucket list. The walk along the ramparts offers magnificent views over the water and the orange rooftops of the old town. It’s a popular activity, so start early for the best experience.

Take the cable car to the top of Mount Srd for panoramic views. If the cable car isn’t running, you can also drive up, take a taxi, or even hike. If you go up in the evening, you can have dinner with a view at Panorama Restaurant. Sunsets here are stunning.

Walking the streets and alleys of Old Town Dubrovnik to admire the architecture is a must. Stradun, paved with limestone, is the main street. There are lots of steps on either side onto narrow alleys that run parallel to the main street.

The waterfront at Old Town Dubrovnik is another big draw. The harbor is bustling most of the day, and you can opt for one of several boat tours. The ride out to Lokrum Island is scenic, and the island small enough to explore in a few hours.

Banje Beach, located near Ploče Gate, is extremely popular because it’s just a short walk from the old town. Soak in the sun, or take a kayak out. Also be sure to check out Buza Bar, for its magnificent location in the cliffs above the sea!

The best time to visit Dubrovnik is in late spring (generally not swimming weather yet though!) or in the early fall. Ideally, you want to visit outside of cruising season, or on a day when no ships are expected in port.

Suggested by us

Seville

One of the most beautiful places to visit in Spain, Seville definitely deserves a place on any list of the best European cities to visit. Its lively historic center features gorgeous architecture, streets lined with sweet-smelling citrus, and delicious cuisine.

Alcazar Gardens in Seville Spain
The beautiful Alcazar Gardens in Seville

Any visit to Seville has to include the magnificent Royal Alcazar palace. Still a residence for Spain’s royals when they visit, the Royal Alcazar is known for its Mudejar architectural style and strollworthy gardens. Exploring Seville’s Alcazar is one of the top things to do in Andalusia.

Nearby you will find the Seville Cathedral, one of the largest cathedrals in the world. The bell tower, called La Giralda, used to be a minaret. Climb to the top for panoramas over the city of Seville.

Wander the alleys of Barrio Santa Cruz, the old Jewish Quarter and today the heart of touristic activity in Seville. The whitewashed walls and orange trees make it a pleasant stroll, and you will find numerous tapas bars and restaurants here.

The Plaza de España, built in 1928, features tile displays for every province in Spain. The buildings here are arranged in a semi-circle, flanked by two tall towers. A moat offers the opportunity to take a boat ride. Also stroll the nearby Maria Luisa Park!

On the other side of the Guadalquivir River, visit the Triana neighborhood, where you can sample local cuisine or shop for ceramics. While in Seville, be sure to take in a flamenco performance!

If you have more than a couple of days in the city, consider taking a few day trips from Seville: the white village of Arcos de la Frontera, Carmona, and Cordoba are popular day trip destinations.

Spring is a wonderful time to visit Seville, but if you visit in April, know that the Feria de Abril draws big crowds to the city. Fall offers good weather as well, and winters here are milder than in most of Europe.

Suggested by us

St. Petersburg

Saint Petersburg is the cultural capital of Russia, and this incredible city offers visitors museums, art, culture, architecture, and food to rival that of Western Europe, but at a fraction of the cost.

Saint Petersburg in Russia is one of the top cities to visit in Europe
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg

The Hermitage, located in Palace Square, should be on top of your things to do in St. Petersburg. Housed in Catherine the Great’s Winter Palace, the palace houses one of the world’s most significant art collections.

Stroll along the main street, Nevsky Prospekt, to shop and to admire some of the city’s most iconic architecture. For the best Russian Orthodox cathedrals, don’t miss the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, the Kazan Cathedral, and St Isaac’s Cathedral. 

St. Petersburg is known as the Venice of the North, and the best (and most relaxing) way to see the city is to take to the water on a canal cruise. Make sure that your cruise goes along the Neva River and the smaller canals. 

One of St. Petersburg’s best experiences is to be found underground. The St. Petersburg Metro is gorgeous, and stations are adorned with exquisite mosaics, crystal chandeliers, art, and marble fittings. 

For the best day trip, head out to the magnificent Peterhof Gardens. Peterhof, or the Summer Palace, with its formal gardens and impressive fountains, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the whole country.

St. Petersburg is a year-round destination, but consider visiting from mid-June to the beginning of July. This is the time known as the White Nights, and it’s the absolute best time to experience the city in all its glory. It never really gets dark, and the whole city celebrates with festivals and events. 

Foodies will want to head over to the Sytni Farmers Market in Petrogradskaya. Here you can indulge in yummy Russian food, stock up on caviar, honey, and pickles, and get the fixings for that perfect picnic in the park.

Suggested by De Wet from Museum of Wander

Krakow

Kraków, in Southern Poland, is a historic and culturally-rich city and it is really full of life. It’s the most popular tourist destination in Poland, and one of the best places to visit in Europe.

Krakow, Poland
Wawel Castle in Krakow

One of the first things to do in Kraków is to explore the medieval old town, including the main square, Rynek Glowny, and the asymmetrical church, St Mary’s Basilica.

If you don’t mind feeling a little touristy, you could take a horse and cart around the old town and around Wawel Royal Castle, another historic landmark you should visit after the ride is over.

Make sure you spend some time strolling in Planty Park, the lush green belt of trees and gardens that surrounds the old town. The park features many statues, plaques, and fountains, and is a shady retreat on a warm afternoon.

And you can’t leave without trying some Polish delicacies including zurek, a hearty soup served inside a hollowed-out loaf of bread, and pierogi, stuffed dumplings that are served boiled.

Many visitors take a day trip from Kraków to visit the Auschwitz Memorial and Museum, which is about 43 miles from Kraków. It’s a somber but powerful experience.

You can visit Kraków year round, but the shoulder seasons of late spring/early summer (May and early June) and early autumn (September) will be warm enough to explore on foot without getting hot, and the city won’t be packed with tourists.

Consider staying at the Aparthotel Oberza. It is located in Kazimierz and it is walkable to central Kraków. It features charming Art Nouveau design. 

Suggested by Martha from May Cause Wanderlust

Florence: One of the Best Cities in Europe for Art

The Renaissance city of Florence is the third most visited city in Italy. This must-see city has enough art, architecture, and history to keep you busy for months. It definitely warrants a spot on your Europe itinerary!

Duomo di Firenze, Florence, Italy
The Duomo dominates the skyline of Florence

Most visitors immediately head to the magnificent Duomo, the Baptistry, Giotto’s Bell Tower, and Brunelleschi’s Dome, and with good reason. You can even climb the Duomo and Bell Tower for panoramic views of the city.

There are lots of things to do in Florence for food and wine lovers, even before venturing out into Tuscany. Head for the Mercato Centrale, located a few blocks north of the Piazza del Duomo. Built in 1874, the historic iron and glass structure houses several floors of traditional food stalls and vendors cooking and selling local fare.

Be sure to visit the Galleria Dell’Accademia to see Michelangelo’s Statue of David and other priceless works of art. And plan on spending a few hours touring one of the most visited art galleries in the world, the incomparable Uffizi Gallery.

No visit to Florence would be complete without walking across the historic Ponte Vecchio. The bridge houses some nice cafes and high-end and historic jewelry shops.

South of the bridge, it’s a short walk to Palazzo Pitti, which you can tour. Also take a leisurely stroll through the lovely Boboli Gardens.

The best times to visit Florence is in the spring and fall, when temperatures are moderate. Plus, you’ll likely encounter fewer tourists in the shoulder seasons.

Purchasing the Firenze Card is a good idea and offers entry into major attractions without the hassle of waiting in long queues. The pass is valid for 3 days and at €72, it is a much better value than paying separately for each site or museum.

Suggested by Lori from Italy Foodies

Read more: The Ultimate One Week Tuscany Itinerary!

Athens

The cradle of Western civilization and one of the most diverse capital cities, Athens is one of the best places to visit in Europe. 

Temple of Parthenon Athens Greece
The Temple of Parthenon at the Acropolis in Athens

With a history that spans over 3,400 years, exciting nightlife, and one of the world’s healthiest and most delicious cuisines, Athens welcomes its guests with a plethora of amazing things to see and do.

Without a doubt, visiting the Acropolis of Athens tops the list of must-dos in the Greek capital. The ruins here include the famous Temple of Parthenon and the Theatre of Dionysus.

However, Athens is so much more than just its ancient history. The city is also renowned for its quaint neighborhoods. Therefore, a stroll around Plaka, Psirri, and Monastiraki is the best way to get to know the authentic side of Athens. 

A visit to the recently opened National Gallery or the Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation shouldn’t be missed for all the treasures of modern art that are found within their walls.

For spectacular views of Athens and beyond, climb up Filopappou Hill. It’s one of the best places from which to snap photos of the Acropolis. Along the way, you can detour to Socrates’ Prison as well. The hill is an especially nice spot to visit at sunset.

And definitely plan to indulge in mouthwatering local delicacies at some of the Greek capital’s many restaurants, among which Seychelles in the neighborhood of Metaxourgeio stands out.  

The best time to visit Athens is in September. The weather is mild, and you can catch a performance at the fantastic Athens & Epidaurus Festival then.

Suggested by Maria from It’s All Trip to Me

Bruges

Few cities can compare to Bruges, Belgium, in the beauty department. With a rich medieval pedigree, romantic canals complete with swans, and UNESCO World Heritage status, Bruges is one of the loveliest cities in Europe. 

Bruges, Belgium
Bruges is charming!

Bruges is an incredibly well-preserved medieval city that is immensely popular, particularly in summer. If possible, spend time in Bruges during the shoulder seasons of fall or spring. All the magic of the city will be there, minus the crowds.

Some of the best things to do in Bruges include visiting the Belfort, or Belfry Tower, in the Grand Place. If you’re not keen to climb the 366 steps to the top of the 272-foot tower, enjoy the daily concert from the 47 bells of the 16th century carillon.

If traveling with kids, take in the Choco-Story Museum to learn all about the fascinating history of chocolate, samples included. The cobbled streets of Bruges make for a pretty stroll.

All ages will enjoy a guided boat tour of the city’s beautiful canals. The 30-minute tour takes place in a variety of languages and covers the architecture and history of Bruges. 

When in Bruges, one must enjoy French fries from the ‘friet kot’ (fry truck), and delicious Belgian chocolate. Some of our favorite chocolate shops are Galler and Neuhaus.

The architecture of Bruges is stunning. Admire the city’s many churches and artworks, including sculptures by Michelangelo. The churches also make for lovely places to simply sit and rest.

Final tip: if visiting during the holidays, be sure to enjoy the Bruges Christmas Market.

Suggested by Claudia from Claudia Travels

Copenhagen

Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, is a vibrant Scandinavian city full of character. Considered one of the happiest cities in the world, it will charm you with its rich history, picturesque canals, and world-class culinary scene.

One of the best things to do in Copenhagen is to stroll along the Nyhavn canal. Lined with colorful buildings and old sailing boats, it is the most photographed place in the city.

Nyhavn in Copenhagen, Denmark
Colorful Nyhavn Harbor in Copenhagen

Another must-visit attraction here is Tivoli, the second-oldest amusement park in the world. It’s a fairytale-like place with fantastic gardens, restaurants, and thrilling rollercoasters.

Make sure to also visit the iconic Little Mermaid statue. Based on the famous fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, the statue is often seen as the symbol of Denmark.

In Copenhagen’s historic center, you’ll find the bustling pedestrian street Strøget. Full of shops, cafes, and street performers, it’s an excellent place to sit back and watch the world go by.

For a taste of the local cuisine, eat some smørrebrød, which is a traditional open-faced sandwich. You can find the largest selection of smørrebrød at the Torvehallerne food market.

The best time to visit Copenhagen is from May to September. That’s when the weather is the warmest and the city truly comes to life. However, in November and December, you can explore the charming Christmas markets and see the festive decorations.

Since Copenhagen is one of the world’s most cycle-friendly cities, rent a bike to get around. It’s often the fastest way to move around and will allow you to experience the city like a local.

Suggested by Marjut from The Smooth Escape

Read more: How to Spend the Perfect 10 Days in Scandinavia!

Edinburgh

Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland and a designated Unesco World Heritage Site for its historic Old and New Town.

With its stunning medieval architecture, narrow cobbled streets, and a castle perched over an extinct volcano, Edinburgh is undoubtedly one of the best cities in Europe. There are plenty of historical and cultural things to do in Edinburgh

Edinburgh, Scotland, is a must-visit city in Europe
A view of Edinburgh, Scotland

One of the main attractions of the city is the dramatic Edinburgh Castle. The medieval castle houses the oldest Crown Jewel in Britain and the National War Museum of Scotland.

Next, visit the St. Giles Cathedral, one of the city’s most prominent medieval buildings on the iconic Royal Mile. Admire its ornate roofs and wood carvings.

Experience the royal grandeur at the Holyrood Palace, the Scottish residence of Her Majesty the Queen. Marvel at the Gothic structure of the Scott Monument. Dedicated to Sir Walter Scott, it is the second-largest monument to a literary figure in the world.

The moody and magical city was the inspiration for the Harry Potter series. All Potter fans must visit the iconic Victoria Street and the Greyfriars Kirk. 

And lastly, no visit to Edinburgh would be complete without a dram whisky and haggis, the national dish of Scotland.

Summer is the ideal time to visit the city to experience the world-famous Edinburgh festivals. But if you are looking for a less crowded time to visit, spring or fall will be perfect for you.

Suggested by Moumita from Chasing the Long Road

Salzburg

The city of Salzburg is often overlooked by tourists in favor of its more famous neighbor Vienna. However, Salzburg is a beautiful and interesting Austrian city, and should definitely be on your list of European cities to visit.

Salzburg, Austria
A view of Salzburg and the Sazach River

It’s nestled among the Alps and is home to stunning scenery, delicious food, and rich history. The old town is charming and full of historic buildings, while the surrounding countryside is absolutely scenic.

Although there are plenty of things to do in the city if you choose an extended visit, one day in Salzburg is the perfect amount of time to see the highlights.

First of all, no trip to Salzburg is complete without visiting Hohensalzburg Fortress. Located high on a mountain overlooking the city, Hohensalzburg Fortress is one of the largest castle complexes in Europe and it offers spectacular views of Salzburg and of the Salzach River below.

Another must-see is Mirabell Palace, which features opulent staterooms and the beautiful Mirabell Gardens next door. On a warm day, it’s an ideal spot for a stroll among flowers and graceful statues.

The Salzburg Cathedral is also a place you can’t miss. The cathedral, which dates back to the 1600s, features beautiful Baroque architecture with twin domes and beautiful interiors. As a bonus, it’s entirely free to visit!

Salzburg is the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, one of the most famous composers of all time. There are several museums in Salzburg dedicated to Mozart, including Mozart’s Birthplace and Mozart’s Residence, that are worth visiting.

The city is also known for its delicious food and coffee culture, so you definitely need to include a few restaurants and cafes in your itinerary. Stop by Cafe Tomaselli to try the famous sachertorte, or spend the evening at S’Kloane Brauhaus sampling classic Austrian specialties such as the wiener schnitzel or the bratwurst.

The best time to visit Salzburg is in the spring or fall, when the weather is mild and there are fewer tourists. However, if you’re looking for Christmas markets, the city is at its most festive in December.

Suggested by Kriszti from She Wanders Abroad

Lucerne

One of the prettiest places to visit in Switzerland is Lucerne, a popular city in the Swiss-German central part of the country. Lucerne is unique as it’s surrounded by a big lake, flowing river, and snow-covered mountains.

Lucerne, Switzerland
A view of lovely Lucerne

The highlight of Lucerne is the covered Chapel Bridge built in 1333 and the water tower from the 13th century. The bridge was damaged by fire in 1993 but has since been rebuilt and fully restored.

You can enjoy a leisurely walk along both sides of the Reuss River to admire medieval architecture. The best time to visit is in spring or summer, to enjoy the many outdoor restaurants along the river.

Don’t miss a peek inside the beautiful and ornate Jesuit Catholic Church. Inaugurated in 1677, it’s the first large Baroque church built in northern Switzerland. 

Another attraction worth seeing in Lucerne is the Lion Monument. The huge statue of a dying lion was designed by Thorwaldsen in 1820. The monument commemorates the death of 26 officers and more than 700 troops of the Swiss Guards, who were killed in Paris while protecting King Louis XVI in the French Revolution in 1792.

One of the best full-day excursions near Lucerne is a trip to nearby Mount Pilatus, which includes a gondola ride to the top (7000 feet), 40-minute descent on the world’s steepest cogwheel train, and a scenic one-hour boat ride back to Lucerne.

Suggested by Jan from JanAdventures

Galway

With its main street of colourfully painted buildings adorned in bunting and twinkling lights, Galway is one of the most picturesque cities in Europe. Located on the west coast of Ireland, Galway has it all.

Galway, Ireland, at night
One of Galway’s pretty streets at night

Galway is a cultural hub and was a European City of Culture in 2020. It draws painters, musicians, and other artists and inspires them to create. Walk down Galway’s main street and you will always find it filled with music.

With great pubs, a vibrant medieval centre, delicious restaurants and a lively atmosphere full of that iconic Irish Craic, the bohemian city of Galway offers the best of Ireland and indeed Europe.

Whether you are only staying for a day, spending a weekend in Galway, or making a more extended visit, you will find plenty to do in the city.

Walk the cobblestone streets of Galway’s Latin Quarter to find an amazing array of pubs and shops. Visit the home of the Claddagh Ring and learn the history of this iconic piece of jewelry.

Explore the colorful Long Walk and Spanish Arch that dates back to 1584 and visit Galway City Museum to learn all about the history of Galway during this time.

Stop by the beautiful Galway Cathedral with its symbolic copper green roof. It used to be the city’s prison and still retains the original prison doors. Or do as the song says and take a stroll along the Salthill promenade.

Arguably Ireland’s most free-spirited city, Galway has a rich and full calendar of festivals and events, including an annual comedy festival in October, the Galway Arts festival in June, a jazz festival, one of the biggest St Patrick’s Day parades in Ireland and, of course, the famous Galway Races.

Galway is a foodies’ dream and is renowned for its eclectic restaurants, especially its seafood, with an oyster festival taking place each summer. Be sure to try Cava, a wonderful tapas restaurant, or Loam, Galway’s Michelin star restaurant. For brunch, don’t miss Ean or Ard Bia by the Spanish Arch. 

Suggested by Nicola from All About Rosalilla

Munich

Munich, the capital city of Bavaria and third largest city in Germany, offers visitors much to see and do. Beyond its world-famous Oktoberfest, celebrated each year in September, Munich is very much a modern cosmopolitan city with a diverse arts, dining and culture scene.

Munich, Germany
Munich’s architecture is impressive

The city’s proximity to the Alps, as well as lakes and rivers, means that hiking, skiing, cycling, and sailing make Munich a must-visit city all year round.

The most popular attraction is Marienplatz, the central square and heart of Munich. Sitting on the historic square is the Town Hall and its famous Glockenspiel. Watch the carousel of 30 dancing figures and 43 bells ring out at 11 am, noon, 5 pm and 9 pm.

Nearby, visit St. Peter’s Church and climb the 306 steps to the viewing platform to take in the best views of Munich.

Visit Englischer Garten, known as one of the world’s largest urban parks. While here, there are some interesting sights to take in, like Munich’s oldest beer garden, a Japanese teahouse, and Chinese tower and Greek temple. The surprising activity in the park that always draws a crowd is surfing, due to the strong currents of the Eisback River.

Lastly, one cannot visit Munich without visiting the city’s two palaces: the Nymphenburg Palace from the 1600s and Munich Residenz, which started as a small defensive castle for the royal family in the 1300s and continued to expand over the centuries to house 10 courtyards and 130 rooms.

Spring is a wonderful time to visit Munich if you wish to avoid crowds. Summer is peak season, and Oktoberfest draws millions of folks that want to party.

Suggested by Renee from Dream Plan Experience

Madrid

Madrid, the capital of Spain, is home to many museums as well as other attractions. Less touristy and more laid back compared to Barcelona, Madrid offers stunning architecture, traditional Spanish cuisine, lots of parks, and a pedestrian-friendly center.

Madrid, Spain
Spectacular architecture in Madrid

Among the best things to do in Madrid is a visit to the Temple of Debod. This Egyptian temple (transported to Madrid during the 1960s) offers spectacular views, especially at sunset.

Explore the Royal Palace of Madrid, one of Europe’s most impressive palaces and the official residence of Spain’s royal family. Built in the shape of a square, the palace features a large courtyard. Inside, there are several thousand rooms!

Watch the world go by at the Plaza Mayor. The beautiful square has a statue of King Philip III, who started the construction of the square. There are lots of shops here, as well as restaurants and bars. Gran Via, Madrid’s most well-known street, is another shopping mecca.

Madrid is a green city and it has some big parks, such as the Buen Retiro Park. You can spend a lazy afternoon strolling around the park. Admire the Crystal Palace and the gorgeous stone fountains.

If you enjoy history and culture, you will love visiting the many museums in the city. The Prado Museum is the Spanish national art museum, where you will find the works of Rubens, Goya, El Bosco, Velázquez, and El Greco. The Riena Sofia Museum houses 20th century art.

For more local culture, catch a flamenco performance or go salsa dancing in the various clubs in the city. Foodies must make the time to visit some of the food markets in Madrid, such as the Mercado de San Miguel.

The best time to visit Madrid is May, just before the summer crowds start arriving.

Suggested by Soumya from Travel Books Food

Cardiff

One of the best European cities to visit is Cardiff. The Welsh capital is a vibrant and bustling city, with something for everyone. Whether you are a lover of food or history, or you simply want to sample the warm Welsh welcomes, Cardiff has it all.

Cardiff Bay, Wales
A view of Cardiff Bay

And Cardiff is only two hours from London by train, you can easily combine two capital cities in one trip!

For the foodies out there, there are a plethora of restaurants across the city and beyond to enjoy cuisine from around the world. From Michelin-star restaurants to great Indian restaurants and the usual chains like Wagamama’s and Five Guys, you won’t go hungry in Cardiff.

For the history buffs, the city is teeming with architecture, museums, and an all-important castle. Cardiff Castle is in the center and close to the National Museum and the Museum of Cardiff.

On the outskirts of the city is St. Fagans, the Welsh Museum of History, a must-visit if you want to get a glimpse into Welsh life centuries ago. There are buildings from across the country, transported brick by brick, and rebuilt at the site. It’s a great place to visit with kids as well.

Cardiff Bay is another area of the city worth visiting. Here you’ll find the Welsh Millennium Centre, the Senedd Building, and the Norwegian Church, all Instagram-worthy buildings.

And there are plenty of bars and restaurants too for relaxing while people-watching. You can also stay in Cardiff Bay at the St. David’s Hotel with its unspoiled views across the bay.

There are often events taking place in the city and one of the best times to visit is during the Six Nations Rugby Championship, especially when Wales are at home in the Principality Stadium. The national sport of Wales is rugby and match days in Cardiff are a unique experience. But no matter what time of the year you visit the Welsh capital you are sure to have a good time.

Suggested by Cath from Wales with Kids

Dublin

Dublin is Europe’s capital city of fun. From the moment you set foot in the city, the energy that courses through the streets is infectious. Its small compact nature means that everything is within walking distance, with the River Liffey splitting the city into two distinct halves. 

A view of Dublin, Ireland
A view of Dublin at twilight

Visitors usually find themselves gravitating towards Temple Bar, a tourist haven complete with traditional Irish music, pubs, cobblestones and great restaurants. True Dubliners will tell you to steer clear of Temple Bar, but it has its charms and should be experienced at least once. 

You’ll find most Dubliners drinking on South William Street, where some of the best pubs and restaurants are located. Spend an afternoon shopping in St. George’s Arcade, grab a coffee from Kaph and spend a small fortune in Powerscourt Shopping Centre. 

A trip to Dublin is not complete without a visit to Guinness Storehouse, home to Ireland’s most famous export. The brewery was established in 1759 and is Dublin’s premier tourist attraction.

The tour of the storehouse includes learning how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness, discovering the brewing process behind the world’s most famous stout, and finally having your face printed on a head of the ‘black stuff.’

The best time to visit Dublin is between the months of May and October. Do be prepared for rain at any time, as the weather in Ireland is notoriously rainy. Dublin is fun any time of the year.

Suggested by Missy from Travels with Missy

Warsaw

Warsaw is the capital of Poland, and its largest city. It is located on the Vistula River in east-central Poland. Warsaw is an important cultural center of Europe and one of the most prominent tourist destinations in Central Europe.

Warsaw, Poland
Square in Warsaw

Visit the Palace of Culture and Science: this imposing skyscraper is one of the most famous Polish landmarks and a popular tourist attraction in Warsaw. You can go up to the viewing deck for panoramas over the city.

Explore the Old Town! This part of Warsaw is full of beautiful architecture, churches and monuments. Stroll Market Square, and visit the Literature Museum or the Historical Museum of Warsaw.

Visit the Royal Castle, home to a historical museum, including Warsaw’s biggest painting collections and royal treasures. The castle used to be the official residence of many Polish monarchs.

Eat traditional Polish foods. Warsaw has amazing restaurants, pubs, and cafes that serve traditional Polish fare like pierogis (dumplings stuffed with meat or vegetables), bigos (a sauerkraut and meat stew), and kiełbasa (Polish sausage).

The best time to visit Warsaw is in the summer, when the weather is warm, and many outdoor events and festivals are taking place.

The Chopin Concerts in Lazienki are a series of classical music concerts each year in Warsaw’s Lazienki Park. The concerts are named after Frédéric Chopin, a Polish composer who is considered one of the greatest composers of all time. The concerts are held in the beautiful Orangery Palace, located in the center of the park.

Suggested by Ania from The Travelling Twins

Reykjavik

Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, is the northernmost capital in the world and one of the best cities in Europe to visit. The city has a vibrant personality and is constantly in a state of reinvention. 

Reykjavik, Iceland
Reykjavik is stunning!

Comfortably situated along the waterfront of Faza Bay, Reykjavik has easy access to some of Iceland’s most famous sights. It’s easy to venture out of the city for the Golden Circle tour or to spend a day at the Blue Lagoon. However, you do not need to leave the city to be impressed.

Reykjavik is often considered an expensive city to visit, but there are plenty of cheap and free things to do in Reykjavik.

An icon of Reykjavik is the Hallgrímskirkja Church. Designed in the early 1940s and brought to life in the mid-1980s, the church looks like a rocket taking off. The cascading columns evoke the basalt landscape of Iceland. It is free to enter, but for 1,000 ISK you can go to the top for breathtaking panoramic views of the city. 

A visit to the National Museum of Iceland transports travelers to the past, with thousands of objects and photographs exhibited over two floors. History lovers will also appreciate the Settlement Exhibition, which is one of the oldest houses in Iceland.

Don’t forget to try a hot dog at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur: these hot dogs are said to be the best in the world and are about 5000 ISK each: a bargain!

Reykjavik is great in any season, so it depends on what you want to see in Iceland. If you’re hoping for the Northern Lights, visit between November and February. On the other hand, if you’re hoping for incredible hikes, then visit in the warmer months.

Suggested by Pamela from The Directionally Challenged Traveler

Strasbourg

Strasbourg, the stunning capital of Alsace, has to feature on any list of best European cities to visit.

The city exudes charm and beauty like no other! One foot in it and you’ll be captivated by the beautiful architecture, which was influenced by both French and German designs, since the city is located on the France-Germany border.

Strasbourg, France
Houses in Strasbourg are a photographer’s dream

Like any other European city, Strasbourg offers a lot of things to do, from admiring the architectural beauty of Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg and its unique astronomical clock, to taking in the beauty of St. Paul’s Church of Strasbourg, and exploring Palais des Rohan, the principal residence of the Bishop-Princes from 1732 to 1742.

Another place not to miss in Strasbourg is Petite France (Little France). With its colorful half-timbered houses along the canal, it sure looks like a picture out of a fairytale book. And just nearby, there are also covered bridges that are worth a visit.

Though Strasbourg is perfect to visit any time of the year, especially on a weekend getaway from Paris, it’s during Christmastime that it shines the most. All the streets are adorned in beautiful Christmas lights, and its Christmas markets are some of the best in Europe! No wonder it’s known as the Capital of Christmas. 

Spring is also a great time to visit, as overflowing flowerpots on windows and streets come to life.

While admiring the beauty of Strasbourg, be sure to taste some of its delicacies! Go to La Maison des Tanneurs for Alsace’s traditional meals or La Potence for its signature la potence de boeuf meal. 

And for a place to stay, you won’t regret staying at Le Grand Hotel if you prefer a budget stay without compromising comfort or at Pavillon Regent Petite France for a Strasbourg luxury experience.

Suggested by Esther from Dreams in Paris

Brasov

Brasov is probably the best city to visit in Romania. You can easily spend a couple of days just exploring Old Town Brasov. Some of the medieval defense systems are still in place in Brasov, so you can imagine how the city looked a few hundred years ago.

Street in Brasov Romania
Street in Brasov at night

The Council Square is at the center of Old Town Brasov, at the heart of things. It is an ample square, lined with restaurants and cafes. Locals and tourists alike go out for drinks and dinner in this area, and it’s a lively place to spend the evening. This is also the place to stop for a coffee, under the mountain and the giant Brasov sign above.

The Black Church is one of the main attractions in Brasov. It’s a beautiful Gothic cathedral that got its name after a fire darkened the walls.

The Weaver’s Bastion is part of the original Brasov fortifications. You shouldn’t miss a visit to this bastion to see the building, but also an interesting exhibit of Old Brasov. From the bastion, go for a great walk up Tampa Mountain.

Catherine’s Gate is the most exquisite part of Brasov’s fortifications system. It’s the only medieval gate in Brasov that is still standing. Also be sure to Strada Sforii (String Street), which used to be a passageway for firemen and is one of the narrowest streets in the world.

Brasov is beautiful in every season. You can plan your visit for the winter months if you like to ski, or in autumn to admire the golden colors of the mountains.

Suggested by Anda from Travel for a While

Lyon

Lyon is known as France’s gastronomic capital, but it has so much more to offer: incredible architecture, a vibrant arts culture, and a wealth of well-preserved historical sites spanning 2,000 years.

Lyon France cityscape
A view of Lyon from the Saone River

Take the funicular up to the top of Fourvière Hill to visit the stunning Basilique Notre Dame. Stroll through the basilica’s esplanade to enjoy the best panoramic views of Lyon.

Take a big step back in time and visit Lyon’s well-preserved Roman ruins. Explore the Gallo-Roman amphitheater and Odeon, which sit on the slope of the Fourvière. 

Explore some of Lyon’s many traboules, secret covered passageways connecting streets through buildings. There are forty public traboules (marked with a special seal) that you can traverse.

Marvel at Lyon’s enormous trompe-l’oeil murals, which take up entire sides of multi-story buildings. ‘Le Mur des Canuts’, located in the Croix-Rousse area, is one of the most impressive in scale and detail.

Film enthusiasts will want to spend some time at the Musée Lumière (portraying the invention of cinematography) or the Musée Cinéma et Miniature (featuring props and special effects models from famous movies).

Lyon holds its famous Fête des Lumières (Festival of Lights) in early December. This festival features incredible illuminations of the city and its monuments.

To get the most out of your trip to Lyon, be sure to purchase the Lyon City Card, which gives you access to all of Lyon’s public transit (bus, metro, and even the funicular), discounts on attractions, and complimentary city tours.

Spring and fall are great times of visit Lyon without the crowds. Summer is peak season.

Suggested by Lisa from Waves and Cobblestones

Porto

Known as the doorway to the Douro Valley, Portugal’s most famous wine region, Porto is an epic city if you want to sample port wine, immerse yourself in Portuguese culture, and visit one of the most famous bookshops in the world!

Porto, Portugal
A view of beautiful Porto

The city’s main tourist draw is the beloved Livraria Lello, a bookshop often referred to as “the Harry Potter bookshop” based on the fact that it is said to be JK Rowlings’ inspiration behind the Hogwarts library.

Another star attraction in Porto, and a destination that should be on every Porto itinerary, is the Clerigos Church. From the 249-foot Clerigos Bell Tower, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views over Porto and the Douro River. 

The area next to the Douro is called the Ribeira, and it’s one of the most beautiful places to visit in Porto. From the Ribeira, be sure to cross the iconic Luís I Bridge to reach the port wine cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia. Here, you’ll get to enjoy tastings of a variety of port wines from numerous world-class wineries.

The best time to visit Porto is in late spring or late summer: during these times, you’ll avoid the crowds and the sweltering heat of summer in Porto. Since Porto is in Northern Portugal, it can get surprisingly cold, especially in winter, so if you want a warm winter getaway, Porto is not the destination for it!

Suggested by Ella from Many More Maps

Riga

Riga is the capital city of the Baltic state of Latvia. The city has a charming old town dating back hundreds of years and is packed with colorful architecture, museums, open spaces, and sumptuous dining options. 

Main Square in Riga, Latvia
Beautiful architecture in Riga

Explore Riga’s charming old town, Vecrīga, famed for its cobbled streets and beautiful churches and cathedrals. Visit Rozena Street, the narrowest street in the city, admire the Riga Dome Cathedral, and enjoy the views from the tower of St. Peter’s Church.

Climb the TV Tower for panoramic views of the city and the Gulf of Riga. At a little over 1,200 feet tall, it is one of the tallest towers in the European Union.

Experience the Latvian National Opera. The LNO has over 200 events each year that are held in the old German Theatre.  

Take a canal boat to the beaches at Jurmala. Not only is this a great way to see the city, but it makes for a great day trip to the seaside.  

Visit the Central Market, one of the largest indoor food markets in Europe. The freshly made juices and smoothies are a must-try!  

There are many more things to do in Riga, including visiting the former home of composer Richard Wagner, sampling the local specialities at Lido or checking out the Museum of Occupation!  

Given the city’s close proximity to nearby beaches, summer is definitely the best time to experience Riga. Winters in the Baltic are harsh and cold, but in summer you can expect plenty of blue skies and balmy days to take advantage of the many outdoor activities.  

Be sure to pick up the Riga Card from the tourist information center, as it can save money on both buses and museum tickets. 

Suggested by Steve from The Trip Goes On

Zagreb

Croatia’s capital is an underrated destination, but travelers that choose to visit Zagreb will find an easily-explored city center that features beautiful architecture, a bustling green market, and the opportunity to experience local cuisine, Croatian coffee culture, as well as beer and wine.

Tkalciceva Street in Zagreb, Croatia
Tkalciceva Street in Zagreb

Zagreb is split into Lower Town and Upper Town. You can walk up to the Upper Town, or take the funicular. In the Upper Town, you’ll find many top sights, including the Zagreb Cathedral, with its twin towers, and St. Mark’s Church, with its stunning tiled roof.

Stop at the quirky Museum of Broken Relationships, and tour the studio of Croatia’s famous sculptor, Ivan Mestrovic. Pass through the historic Stone Gate, where you’ll find a shrine to the Virgin said to possess miraculous powers.

Tkalciceva is a must-stroll street, lively most of the day and well into the evening. It has numerous cafes and restaurants, perfect for experiencing Zagreb’s cafe culture. Also worth visiting is Dolac Market, an open air market with fresh produce, flowers, homemade foods, cheeses, and arts and crafts.

In the Lower Town, stroll Ban Josip Jelačić Square, the bustling main square in the city. The square is surrounded by impressive buildings, and you’ll find lots of cafes and restaurants for people watching.

Walk through Gric Tunnel, a bomb shelter from WWII that is now a tourist attraction. Sometimes you’ll see art exhibits in the tunnel. If you enjoy art, the Mimara Museum is a must-visit, as is the Museum of Contemporary Art.

If you have the time, there are many day trips from Zagreb you can do, from the Baroque city of Varazdin to Plitvice Lakes National Park, one of the best national parks in Europe.

Visit Zagreb between April and October for good weather and the opportunity to fully enjoy the outdoors. Within this time frame, know that July and August tend to be the most crowded months.

Suggested by us

Verona

Romantic Verona is one of the top destinations in Northern Italy: its historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Verona is also the setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and you’ll find lots of touristic activities in Verona built around the famous play.

A view of Verona, Italy
A view of Verona from Piazzale Castel San Pietro

Verona’s Arena, the Roman amphitheater, is one of the top sights to include in your itinerary for the city. The Arena still hosts performances in the summer, and it’s an extraordinary experience to attend a show here.

Piazza delle Erbe is both lively and charming. Here you will find the Torre dei Lamberti, which you can ascend for panoramic views over the rooftops of Verona. Buy some fresh fruit from the vendor stalls in the square, and admire the architecture.

Juliet’s balcony is touristic, but fun nevertheless. You can also visit Juliet’s tomb. Don’t forget to look up as you walk the historic center: there are pretty balconies everywhere, not just at Juliet’s house.

Verona is built on the Adige River, and you must definitely walk across Ponte Pietra for beautiful views of both banks of the river. On the opposite side, take the funicular to Castel San Pietro, where, from the courtyard, you get spectacular views of the city spread out along both sides of the river.

Love touring churches? You’ll find many beautiful churches to visit in Verona. The Basilica of Saint Anastasia has a gorgeous interior. The Basilica of San Zeno has a lovely warm facade and beautiful interior.

Visit Verona in April-May or September-October for nice weather without the crowds. While you can visit the city on a day trip from Venice, you’ll want to spend a couple of days soaking in the charm of romantic Verona.

Suggested by us

*****

We hope you enjoyed this round-up of the most exciting cities in Europe to put on your itinerary. Which one will you pick for your next visit to Europe?

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Discover the best cities to visit in Europe, from icons like Paris and London to small gems like Strasbourg and Porto. Visit for art and architecture, history, and great food and drink.

Dhara

Dhara's travel interests are eclectic, spanning everything from natural wonders to history, culture, art and architecture. She has visited 22 countries, many more than once, plus almost all 50 states of the USA, and has amassed a hoard of cherished travel moments.

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