The best destinations in Europe are deep-rooted in history, charming vistas, spectacular cityscapes, miles of green countryside, timeless castles, poster perfect Mediterranean beaches, and gourmet cuisine, Europe presents all these on an irresistible platter! Help yourself to history, culture, and charm as every experience brings out memorable European flavors. Since a "best list" of places to visit in Europe can be quite extensive, we've tried to create the quintessential list of the top cities in Europe to visit; especially if it's your first time to Europe.
12. Bruges, Belgium
Bruges is by far the best-preserved medieval town in Belgium. Bruges attracts visitors in throngs for its wealth of natural and man-made attractions. The canals and the narrow streets make you fall under the city’s spell. A must-visit is the Burg with the Basilica of the Holy Blood and the main square with the belfry. Of course, a boat trip on the canals of this Belgian town is essential.
11. Porto, Portugal
Best known for Port wine, this seaside city in Portugal is a character-filled and dilapidated mini-metropolis...and that's its charm. It is also called ‘City of Bridges’ because of the six arches across the Douro River, that rambles along the city’s southern side. Iconic among these bridges is the Dom Luis Bridge which offers the best views of the river and the vistas of the sprawling city. Old churches, contemporary art, and the ramshackle diversity of Porto's cityscape stay with you, as does the taste of its best wine. All of this, combined with the Douro wine region to the East make Porto one of Europe's best destinations.
10. London, England
England's premier city London is a metropolis is full of life and history. Antiquity merges with the contemporary as you watch Shakespearean plays enacted by modern actors. The power of London tea continues to rule but it has also made way for espressos. Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, and British Museum date centuries back, yet don a modern look. Commuting in double-decker buses continues and pub culture remains while making room for cocktail bars. While London may not be much to look at, its cultural influence is unmistakable.
9. Stockholm, Sweden
Fondly called ‘beauty on water’ by natives, Stockholm is a diverse city with one of the best natural settings of any major European city. This capital city of Sweden rests on 14 islands spread out on Lake Malaren. It looks out at the Baltic Sea over the Stockholm archipelago. The grand buildings and palaces speak volumes of the city’s 700-year-old history and the vibrant nightlife presents you with its modern profile. The way Stockholm incorporates natural beauty and a metropolis setting may be the best of any major European city.
8. Budapest, Hungary
Offering a mix of Roman and Turkish architecture, Budapest has a host of cultural landmarks. The gothic parliament building is best seen from the leafy hills across the bridge to the west. In the eastern city are charming boulevards and the Jewish quarter. Renowned for its spas with heated mineral baths and saunas, Budapest is a great place to relax. It doesn't hurt that this Hungarian city's setting is on the beautiful blue Danube River.
7. Florence, Italy
One of Europe’s great art cities, Florence boasts of canvases from the world’s immortal artists; Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Botticelli. Showcased in some of the best galleries like the Uffizi Gallery, art lovers find it hard to make time for the city’s other attractions. But they do not have to be disappointed as the nightlife in Florence is equally vibrating with operas, colorful Italian restaurants, and quirky shops. Visit also the Tuscan hills to experience some of Italy's gorgeous sunsets.
6. Vienna, Austria
Vienna Austria is considered by many to be the cultural capital of the Western World. It makes pages of history come alive. The narrow streets leading through ancient buildings, cobblestoned corners, imposing and aristocratic baroque palaces from the Habsburg period, take you back in time. The Viennese culture seeps into your system as you listen to classical Mozart played in the cafes peppered all around this historic city.
5. Prague, Czech Republic
Character, quirks, and beauty define the largest city of the Czech Republic, Prague. The best part of Prague is you can cover every part on foot. While the city is small, don’t be deceived, this riverside Czech capital is inundated with memorable sights. Every step on these narrow streets seems to lead to some storied church, statue-lined bridge, or imposing hilltop castle. Once a hidden gem, Prague’s popularity is rising, so visit before the tourist season! Few cities are more diverse than Prague.
4. Venice, Italy
Venice has a magical aura to it which persists all through the year, whatever the season. Built on water, this Italian city enchants with its glorious Grand Canal. With water taxis or gondolas that take you along this charming canal, you get to cruise under the Ponte Degli Scalzi or Bridge of the Barefoot. On land, you can cruise along narrow passages for a sight of the Old World storefronts. For a tryst with history and art, visit Saint Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace, Gallerie dell’Accademia and Teatro La Fenice.
3. Madrid, Spain
Madrid is the largest city in Spain. Even in the hustle and bustle of this largest populated city, you will enjoy the culture of Spain. Artists playing the Spanish guitars while the traditional Spanish flamenco dancers swish their skirts is a sight you might find at every other corner in Madrid. While the stunning architecture and paintings inspire, the glasses of sangria help you enjoy and spend a relaxed time. Combine all of these things with a family-friendly environment and you have quite possibly the best city in Europe.
2. Rome, Italy
Also called the ‘City of Seven Hills’. Rome is a city which charms and overwhelms from the word go. Believed to be founded by the twin brothers fathered by a war God and nursed by a she-wolf, this fairy tale is yet another magical attraction for visitors. The memory of a visit to the Vatican City and the Colosseum stays forever; and so does the taste of pasta and other delectable dishes the trattorias are stocked with. The quaint shops, innumerable churches, many piazzas with art and paintings make the days end too fast in this magical city.
1. Paris, France
The ‘City of Lights’, Paris, is one of the most visited cities in the world, drawing crowds by the millions every year. It is the city of romance and this credit goes to the ambiance of the city. Historic churches, evidence of Rocco as well as Neoclassic architecture, stately museums and the naturally lovely trees dotting the city with the River Seine rambling through, who can resist the romance and charm of this city? Talking about romance, the one monument that is famous for it is the Eiffel Tower. Visit it and revel in the panoramic views of beautiful Paris, France.
A bibliophile and travel buff, I love reading as much as writing. Take a special interest in keying travel blogs and children's stories. Maybe that accounts for why every trip is taken with a childlike enthusiasm!
Article by Kanchana Rao
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