When I was a kid, I used to look thru the National Geographic magazines and picture what it would be like to visit some of the faraway places that I saw on those pages. Many of those places that I dreamed of exploring were beautiful cities and small towns throughout the continent of Europe. Among the things that Europe is not in short supply of are beautiful cities with a rich history and enchanting small towns that look like they come right out of storybooks. Throw a dart at a map of Europe and chances are that you will hit one. Better yet, make sure you follow this series of articles as I am going to countdown the 50 Best Destinations in Europe to Visit.
In the first installment of my list of the 50 Best Destinations in Europe to Visit, I covered a range of European cities that I would recommend visiting. There was everything from small Nordic villages to iconic European capitols for you to consider. For this installment, I will be covering cities 31-40 on my list and my guess is that you will recognize quite a few of these names. Again, I really could make this a Top 200 list and still not get thru all of the cities that I would like to visit in Europe. However, for the purposes of this countdown, I am going to focus on my Top 50. If you feel like there are cities and towns that I have left off my list that would be in your Top 50, I would love to hear from you in the comments. More importantly, I am sure that other readers would love to hear from you as well.
|The Top 50 Cities in Europe to Visit (41-50)|
|The Top 50 Cities in Europe to Visit (31-40)|
|The Top 50 Cities in Europe to Visit (21-30)|
|The Top 50 Cities in Europe to Visit (11-20)|
|The Top 50 Cities in Europe to Visit (1-10)|
The iconic Rome, Italy is another city on my list of the 50 Best Destinations in Europe to Visit that really doesn’t need much of an introduction. Few other places on this Earth are you able to walk down a street lined with cafes, coffee shops, and five star restaurants, all next to ruins that date back thousands of years. As one of this world’s most renown cities, and one of Italy’s most travelled places, the city of Rome has it all. If you are into history, then you will love touring the fabled Colosseum, Pantheon, Roman Forum, and the wonders of Vatican City. For those who love beautiful architecture, then the illustrious Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, and the Altar of the Fatherland will take your breath away. And not to forget the foodies out there, the city of Rome is filled with world-class cuisine, tasty trattorias, and some of the most delicious pizza you will taste in this world.
Visiting Rome is like taking a step back into time, and if you haven’t had the experience of visiting this amazing city, then I would definitely add it to your bucket list of places in Europe to travel. Regardless of your travel budget, visiting Rome can be quite easy. Even though the city is filled with five-star hotels, it is also a very popular backpacking destination with some of the best hostels in Europe. For more information on how to visit Rome, when to plan your trip, and what to see when you are there, make sure you check out my Quintessential Rome, Italy Visitor Guide linked below.
While Crete is technically an island and not a city, there is no way that I could leave this breathtakingly beautiful place off my list of the 50 Best Destinations in Europe to visit. This captivating and mysterious island is one of the most beautiful of the Greek Islands, with stunning beaches, beautiful mountains to explore, and crystal blue waters that will take your breath away. Most travelers who visit Crete are in search of some relaxation by the ocean, and it is not difficult to find tranquility here. However, Crete is a wonderful place for outdoor adventure travelers to visit as well. It is one of the best places in Europe for snorkeling, mountain biking, sailing, and fishing.
It’s no secret that the island of Crete has a long history, but that history is much longer than many travelers realize. Before the days of of King Minus and even Zeus, the island of Crete was ruled by the Minoan civilization. Their civilization pre-dated the Greek civilization, and you can still see some of the Minoan ruins on the island to this day. So if you are into history, there is plenty of that to be seen on this beautiful Greek island as well. For those who don’t have Crete on their travel bucket list, it may be time to add this amazing island with beautiful coastline and some of the most hospitable people on Earth to your list.
If you love fairytale castles and beautiful old towns, then you are going to absolutely love the quaint German town of Füssen. The Bavaria region of Germany is well-known for its picturesque small towns and incredible castles and Füssen certainly is no exception. This tiny town is located about a kilometer from the Austrian border and is just a short 2-hour train ride from the city of Munich. While there is a seemingly endless number of things to see and do in the Füssen area, most tourists who visit come to see the infamous Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles. If the Neuschwanstein, perched high up on a mountain side looks familiar, it is probably because it is the castle that the Walt Disney castle was modeled after. This breathtakingly beautiful old fortress is one of the world’s most renown castles and is reason enough alone to list Füssen on the 50 Best Destinations in Europe to Visit.
In addition to visiting the famous nearby castles, the Füssen area has many other attractions that are popular with tourists. It’s alpine setting makes it a wonderful place for hiking, mountain biking, and climbing. Not to mention, its very short distance from Austria makes it literally one of the easiest places on Earth to visit two countries in one day. If you plan on staying in Füssen, I wouldn’t miss a chance to check out the town itself. The Old Town section of Füssen is absolutely breathtaking. For those who travel to eat, the outdoor cafe’s and restaurants will definitely not disappoint you with their food and beer selections. Just be aware, once you visit the town of Füssen, you may never want to leave.
There are so many amazing cities to visit in Spain that the wonderful coastal town of Valencia often gets left off of traveler’s bucket lists. I hope the fact that it has made my list of the 50 Top Destination in Europe to Visit convinces you to not overlook this Spanish gem. In addition to having some of the most breathtaking beaches in Europe and one of the most chill atmospheres out of any city that I have visited in Europe, Valencia has a wonderful blend of fascinating history and beautiful cultural. Founded by the Romans all the way back in 138 BC, the city of Valencia is much older than many visitors realize. Visitors can experience this history first-hand by touring the likes of the Torres de Serranos or the Valencia Cathedral, which is the alleged resting place of the Holy Grail.
Today, Valencia is Spain’s third largest city and one of Europe’s most popular winter travel destinations for Europeans looking to escape the cold and dreary winters. In addition to its incredible beaches, Valencia’s futuristic buildings such as the L’Oceanogràfic aquarium and the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia opera house offer a wonderful contrast to the city’s historical streets. However, no review of the city of Valencia would be complete without talking about the city’s superb cuisine. As the birthplace of Paella, it is one of the best places in Spain to try this renown Spanish dish. There are plenty of splendid restaurants and street cafes around the city for foodies to explore. Not to mention, there is some incredible wine produced in the Valencia region. It may not get the press that the city’s Paella and citrus fruits get, but the the people of Valencia have been producing wine for thousands of years and make some of Europe’s tastiest Moscatel. Just another of the many reasons to put this incredible Spanish city on your list of places to visit in Europe.
|Travelor’s Guide to Valencia|
The city of Vienna, Austria is often referred to as both the “City of Music” and the “City of Dreams” because it was home to many famous composers like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the renown psychologist Sigmund Freud. They are both fitting nicknames to this delightful capital city of Austria and its wealth of museums, palaces, coffeeshops, and infamous opera houses. It’s a city that will tickle your imagination and leave you thirsty for more. One thing that Vienna is certainly not in short supply of is amazing things to see and do. If you are into insanely ornate and beautiful palaces, you have the Schönbrunn, Hofburg, and Belvedere Palaces to explore. For those who prefer museums, the renown Kunsthistorisches and natural history museums certainly will not disappoint.
However, the two things that no visitor to Austria can leave without experiencing are the city’s music and its food. With iconic opera houses like the Vienna State Opera House and the Theater an der Wien, you would be missing out on one of Austria’s cultural treasures by not experiencing a show in person. When the show is over, you can stop by one of the city’s many exceptional restaurants to experience the wonderful local cuisine. After all, you really haven’t experienced Austria until you try the schnitzel, which comes from Vienna. Best of all, the city of Vienna is only a short train trip from Bratislava and neighbors one of the most amazing wine regions in the world. These are all wonderful reasons why visiting the city of Vienna is one of the most amazing cultural experiences you can have in Europe and why the city is on my list of the 50 Best Destinations in Europe to Visit.
With its charming, maze-like streets and its breathtaking canals filled with gondolas, the city of Venice, Italy has long been considered one of this world’s most romantic cities. Therefore, it should come as no surprise to you that it is one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations. Unlike some of the destinations on my list of the 50 Best Destinations in Europe to Visit, I probably don’t have to do much convincing to get you to put Venice on your travel bucket list. My guess is that this iconic European gem is on almost every traveler’s list, and for good reason. In addition to being one of Europe’s most beautiful and romantic cities, it is also one of Europe’s most fun destinations to explore.
While the city’s canals and its renown festival known as Carnival get most of the headlines, there is plenty more to Venice than romantic boat rides and party masks. The Basilica di San Marco, which is one of Europe’s most renown Cathedrals, is just one of the many historical buildings in the city for visitors to explore. Other notable landmarks in Venice that are popular with visitors include the beautiful Rialto Bridge, the Ponte dei Sospiri, and the incredible Doge’s Palace. Not to mention, the city is also recognized around the world for its spectacular cuisine, unparalleled leather products, and my favorite, its delicious gelato. If you have dreamed about crossing Venice off of your travel bucket list and would like some tips on how to visit, what to see when you are there, and when to do, I would recommend checking out my Venice, Italy Travel Guide linked below.
|Venice, Italy Travel Guide|
Though France and Germany may get most of the accolades from travel guide books, the country of Belgium is every big as beautiful and exciting as its larger neighbors. The cities in Belgium are incredibly charming, the food is fantastic, and the people could not be any nicer. One such city that I absolutely love in Belgium is the stunningly beautiful city of Ghent. When I started putting together my list of the 50 Best Destinations in Europe to Visit, it was one of the first cities that I thought of. Because of its location at the confluence of the Scheldt and Leie rivers, the city is built around numerous beautiful canals. Just like in Venice, these canals filled with tour boats give the city much of its charm. However, Ghent’s charm goes much deeper than that. In addition to the city’s winding roads and busy canals, the city’s beautifully shaped buildings and wonderful restaurants and cafes will win your heart as soon as you arrive.
The medieval Gravensteen Castle, the breathtaking Saint Bavo’s Cathedral, and the intricately designed Saint Nicholas’ Church are just some of the many gorgeous old buildings that make the city of Ghent so beautiful and interesting. Another thing that sets the city of a part from other cities in this region of Europe is its fantastic cuisine. For those who are a fan of Belgian waffles, Chocolate, and fondue, you will absolutely love eating your way across the city. When I visited, I couldn’t get enough of the delicacies. If you are interested in visiting Ghent and would like to know more about when to visit, how to get there, and what to see during your visit, I would suggest checking out my Visitor’s Guide to Ghent, Belgium linked below.
|Visitor’s Guide to Ghent, Belgium|
Northern Europe has a bounty of beautiful and interesting places to visit, and many of those places are on my list of the 50 Best Destinations in Europe to Visit. One of the most underrated cities to visit in Northern Europe is undoubtedly the city of Kraków in Poland. Kraków is one of Poland’s biggest university cities and one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. For decades, Kraków has been a favorite amongst backpackers traveling throughout Europe because of its stunning medieval architecture, magnificent castles, and great food and drink at an affordable price. Set on the banks of the Vistula River, the city of Kraków is renown for its incredible art scene, rich history, and stunning architecture. Even though it is a big city, Kraków feels much more like a small town than most large European cities. This mix of big and small city feel is one of the many things that make it such a unique and appealing destination for many travelers.
For those into history, you will be intrigued to learn that Kraków was the hometown of the infamous Oskar Schindler, who’s deeds during the Second World War inspired the motion picture “Schindler’s List”. When you visit Kraków, you are able to tour his old factory and learn about his incredible life and his bravery during the war. I would also suggest taking a walk thru the city’s beautiful main square, known locally as Rynek Glowny. It is Europe’s biggest market square and is often filled with vendors selling beautiful flowers, bagels, and other delicious food and drink. If you have the time, you can take a horse-drawn carriage ride thru the square and admire the beautiful architecture of the old buildings. One of the most stunning of these old buildings is St. Mary’s Basilica, which was built in 1397 and is renown for its wooden Veit Stoss altarpiece and breathtaking painted ceiling that looks like the night sky. However, my favorite thing to tour while in Kraków is undoubtedly the infamous underground ruins. They are unlike anything you will see elsewhere in Europe.
Like many travelers, I was an avid follower of the late and great Anthony Bourdain. I used to look forward to watching new episodes of his shows in anticipation of learning something new about a place I had never visited, or sometimes even heard of. One of the places I was first introduced to by Mr. Bourdain was the city of Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal. The beautiful tiled houses, incredible food, and breathtaking coastline seemed to call to me from the television screen. The city has a very old look, but that is just because it has a ton of character packed into each city block. Situated along the coast in the south of the country, Lisbon has an incredible collection of museums, beaches, and cafes and restaurants for visitors to enjoy. Best of all, it’s a relatively inexpensive destination to visit, which along with its charm and beauty is making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Europe.
For those who love beautiful, old buildings, you will love touring the Belém Tower, Jerónimos Monastery, Castelo de S. Jorge, and the Praça do Comércio. The ornate details in these breathtaking buildings will absolutely blow your mind. When you are done admiring the city’s architecture, you can spend some time relaxing on one of the city’s many amazing beaches. The Praia do Guincho beach is popular for water sports, while the Praia dos Galapos beach in the Parque Natural da Arrábida is popular for its gorgeous coastline. No matter where you are in the city, you don’t have to travel too far to find an amazing beach to enjoy in Lisbon. Beyond the beautiful beaches and buildings, Lisbon has also become one of the most popular gastronomic tourist destinations in Europe as well. Which brings me back to Anthony Bourdain, hopping from restaurant to restaurant, enjoying salted cod and great wine, looking like he was having the time of his life. I couldn’t help but to fall in love with Lisbon then, and I am sure you will too when you experience it.
If you have read my article on the Top 15 Cultural Festivals and Events to Attend Around the World, then the city of Munich, Germany probably sounds familiar to you. As the home of the annual Oktoberfest beer festival, Munich is on the travel bucket list of many travelers. However, there is far more to the beautiful city of Munich than just beer gardens and steins of beer. The city is renown for its incredible parks, wonderful food, fabulous art scene, and its very kind and generous people. Thankfully, the city of Munich wasn’t as damaged by bombing as other cities like Berlin was during the Second World War, so much of the historical city center of Munich (known locally as the Marienplatz) survived the war and is still there to be enjoyed by travelers today. This includes the gorgeous New Town Hall, the Rathaus-Glockenspiel, and the Marienplatz column. In addition to being the home of some of Munich’s most beautiful buildings, the Marienplatz is also a great place to do some shopping and grab a bite to eat for lunch.
While the city is beautiful, the food is fantastic, and the people are incredibly kind, I would be seriously remiss if I didn’t discuss the city’s most popular festival in more detail. Let’s face it, the Oktoberfest festival is one of this world’s most infamous cultural festivals and is a huge tourism draw for the city. Even if you don’t like beer, visiting Munich during Oktoberfest is an amazing experience. This festival alone would land any city on my list of the 50 Best Destinations in Europe to Visit, but the fact that Munich is such an incredible city to begin with just cements its place on my list. If you are planning a trip to the Bavaria region of Germany, I would definitely suggest carving some time out on your itinerary to visit this iconic German city and enjoy its fantastic beer festival. You certainly won’t regret it.