If you’re still dreaming about the trip across Europe that you promised yourself you would take many years ago, then it’s time to stop dreaming and start planning. 2017 is the perfect year to get out there and start exploring the world, and all the beauty that Europe has to offer. Whether you’re looking for relaxation, delicious food, incredible history, or great culture, Europe has it all. The only thing you need to worry about, is deciding which city you should visit first.
To help you narrow down the countless great choices that are available across the globe today, we’ve put together a list of the 10 must-see cities that you should cover on your first adventure around Europe. Take a look, and you might just find the inspiration you need for your next trip.
Rome has a somewhat mythical background. The city of the seven hills started with Romulus and Remus – twin brothers who were fathered by a god of war, and nursed by a she-wolf, according to legend. Although historians are understandably a little skeptical about this apparent discovery of Rome, most travelers will agree that there’s something undeniably magical about the city. Whether it’s the historical beauty of the Colosseum, or the Vatican City, or even an afternoon lunch in one of the local cafes, Rome is sure to enchant everyone who goes there.
The capital city of Italy, Rome is also known for an incredible history that dates back to the eras of Julius Caesar, Octavian, and Hadrian, among others. Here, you’ll discover incredible structures like the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, and dozens of other historical churches and creations too. Art enthusiasts are sure to enjoy the trove of artwork housed within the Vatican museum, while food lovers will appreciate the incredible Italian meals. Rome is also a fast-paced and modern city, with sleek hotels and fantastic designer stores.
Would any list of places to visit in Europe be complete without some mention of Paris? The beautiful city of light attracts millions of visitors every year with it’s incredible ambiance. The vast art collections and incredible cuisine deserve some credit too, and the gentle River Seine streams through the city, flanked by centuries-old churches, stately museums, and blocks of Neo-classic design architecture. There’s plenty of glowing streetlamps and charming trees to enjoy too. Peppering the cobbled walk way are the chic Parisians, showing off their sense of style.
Paris is rich with world-class fashion, museums, culture, and a unique atmosphere that’s all its own. It’s also known as the city of “Many splendors”, thanks to Ernest Hemingway’s memoir “A moveable feast”. Visit the Centre Pompidou, enjoy a host of delicious gourmet pastries, or hit the boutiques in Les Halles. Of course, you’ll need to set aside some time to visit the Eiffel Tower and grab a couple of selfies during your stay.
Famously, the English writer Samuel Johnson was known for saying “You’ll find no man, at all intellectual who’s willing to leave London.” Although there’s been more than two hundred years of development within the streets of London since Johnson’s era, his words continue to ring true today. Life in London is an invigorating and exciting experience for everyone involved, and travelers often discover that one visit is not enough to experience everything that the unique city has to offer.
In London, the hand of tradition clasps with the contemporary. You’ll find everything from the stunning Tower of London, to the beautiful Tate Modern, both of which are considered to be huge must-see experiences. Shakespeare’s sonnets are still being performed by modern actors, and Londoners show respect for the Royals, and the latest trends too. While the British still praise the power of tea, they also make room for a touch of coffee here and there, as well as delicious pressed juices too!
Venice is a wonderfully enchanting place. Although that might seem like a cliché, once you’ve seen the incredible city floating on the water for yourself, you’re sure to agree. Simply drop by the Santa Lucia train station and check out the breathtaking Grand Canal. You’ll see a host of water taxis coasting along, passing beneath he Bridge of the barefoot, and you might hear the hint of a violin too. Romantic gondolas are everywhere you look, carrying happy couples through the city’s web of waterways. On dry land, you’ll discover old storefronts, narrow passageways, and unique bridges too. There are a million ways to get lost in the magic that Venice offers.
This city, brimming with canals, draws adventurers in with it’s amazing atmosphere, but you’ll also still find plenty of great things to do while you’re there. For instance, there are tour guides all over that are willing to give you plenty of amazing historical insight, and galleries to visit if you’re feeling artistic. You can also travel to the nearby islands like Murano, or Lido if you’re feeling like a change.
It’s important to start this particular section by saying that you shouldn’t believe everything that you hear about Amsterdam. Sure, this city in the Netherlands takes a more relaxed view of the things that go on in the Red-Light district, and the coffee shops that sell unorthodox things to their clientele, but those things only scratch the surface. When you visit Amsterdam, you’ll find that somewhere between the delicious meals, and the twilight canals, you’ll discover that there’s far more to this incredible city than your stag-night friends had you believe.
While the loose laws on certain vices throughout Amsterdam are well-known for attracting a largely male and college-age crowd, the area also acts as a unique and exciting romantic getaway for two lovers, or an educational place to discover history with the kids. There are countless attractions to enjoy, including bike trips along a maze of different canals, to explorations of the horrors of the Holocaust through the eyes of Anne Frank. There’s even a chance to catch up on your love of art, by checking out the swirling colors of impressionism introduced by Vincent Van Gogh, or chilling out in the amazing Vondelpark.
A beautiful and bustling city full of culture and history, Prague attracts more tourists to its gates today than ever before. Its stunning downtown scene is a veil to a dark legacy of history, and also a resilient past. Dating way back into the early centuries, Prague has withstood numerous invasions, floods, fires, and overflows, to remain an incredible place to visit today. It’s the reputation that the city has generated for its survival and perseverance that’s helped to make it so fascinating for tourists. Today, the narrowed streets and storied churches, combined with statue-lined bridges and haunting castles create an urban fairytale for all who visit. No matter how jaded you are, you’ll have a tough time getting over this city’s charms.
Once, Prague was simply a hidden gem, overshadowed by some of the flashier cities in the West. However, it couldn’t keep it’s incredible background a secret for long. Now, the city has become a haven for travelers in search of awe-inspiring experiences at affordable prices. Today, top attractions throughout the city, including the historical Prague Castle and Charles Bridge offer free admission to visitors. What’s more, you’ll find that you can get a hotel room at the fraction of the cost you would pay at other European cities.
At the heart of Vienna is a world of history that’s often overlooked by travelers. The stunning narrow streets of the inner-city dance around antiquated buildings, providing a unique and authentic atmosphere that’s so potent you expect to hear Mozart playing in the background. There are countless unique sights to visit, including baroque palaces such as the Habsburg monarchy, which looms over the city.
If you’re looking for culture, then you’re sure to find it hidden within the streets of Vienna. However, it’s important to note that there’s more to this incredible location than monarchs and music. Vienna also sets itself apart as a wonderful place to spend your hard-earned cash, with a range of independent bookstores competing for the attention of customers, alongside haute culture. There’s also a surprising range of attractions for youngers to visit, including a zoo and an amusement park. Although most Viennese retire early, that doesn’t mean that you have to sleep early too. You can check out one of the bars along the city’s Bermuda triangle, or visit a local wine tavern in Vienna woods.
While certain Europeans are known for basking in haute cuisine and haute culture, Danes relish something that they believe to be the absolute height of sophistication “Hygge”. Defined as comfort, this value is reflected throughout the whole of the city, from the beautifully restored antique furniture, to the incredible meals served throughout Danish restaurants. When it comes to experience in Copenhagen, quality of life is a given, as the Danes are frequently named the happiest people in the world, so while you’re visiting, make sure that you experience life as the Danes do. Take a bike tour through the inner-city and visit a café to munch on a Danish pastry. On the other hand, you could always simply take a wander around the city and discover for yourself why this is one of the most appealing places in Europe.
Most tourists are drawn to Copenhagen for a number of three reasons. They either want to move through the Tivoli gardens and explore the incredible blossoms, visit the little mermaid statue at the Langelinie Pier, or buy a few antiques along the Stroget. Just remember that the fun doesn’t stop there. There’s also gallery hopping to do, beer sampling, and a range of other exciting experiences to have.
If you haven’t been to Budapest yet, then drop all of your other plans and start looking for your next holiday. This incredible city appeals to so many different people that you’re sure to find something that’s close to your heart. You can step directly out of a thermal bath and into a local nightclub, then unwind in the bath once again. In a city that dates all the way back to the stone age, history buffs can enjoy neo-gothic, renaissance, and roman architecture at sites like Fisherman’s Bastion and Castle Hill.
Budapest is a lot more than just the political capital for Hungary, it’s also the cultural nexus of the area. From a beautiful restaurant scene to a rich heritage of cultural backgrounds, you’re sure to find plenty of amazing things to explore. Budapest is known for combining ancient architecture and modern conveniences, all combined with grassy parks. Whether you’re looking for museums, shopping, or cuisine, everything you need waits for you in Budapest. What’s more, the prices are fair enough that you can indulge in just about everything.
Last but not least, Edinburgh is uniquely situated alongside dormant volcanos and green moorlands. It’s known throughout the world for it’s incredible landscape and historical background. Known by some as the Athens of the North, Edinburgh has a rich collection of names under its belt, including the tragic Mary, Queen of Scots, James Bond actor Sean Connery, Braveheart, wordsmith JK Rowling and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
A lot of people restrict their views of Edinburgh to little more than tartan, bagpipes, kilts, and crests. However, the truth is that it’s much more than that. This beautiful location is the second most-visited city in the United Kingdom, straight after London, and it offers a wide range of different things to do and explore. Those who are looking for a way to simply live like the locals do for a while will appreciate the retail bliss of New Town, the range of neighborhood pubs, and a collection of free artwork to explore in the National Gallery of Scotland. No matter where it takes you, Edinburgh is a place brimming with beauty and culture.