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Taking a trip to Europe means a little something different to everyone. Although Europe is a small continent compared to many others, it is an incredibly diverse place with many countries to explore. Each of these places has its own unique history, culture, and traditions, which entices travelers to keep coming back for more.
Many travelers start their journeys in the big cities and then branch out to explore the small towns and the countryside when they get more familiar with the area. If you haven’t traveled extensively in Europe, these are the cities to add to your bucket list right now. Once you see the sights, consider heading outside of town to really get a feel for life in each European country!
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Rome is an ideal place to visit if you are interested in history, religion, and architecture. And the entire region around Rome is known for beautiful nature, delicious food, and local vineyards. Rome’s architecture gives travelers insights into why our buildings are designed like they are today. Many of the famous structures are found in the Roman Forum, where the Colosseum is located. Vatican City is a top destination for people who are interested in the Catholic religion and want to see St. Peter’s Basilica. There is no fee to see the church, and the beautiful artwork and mosaics inside are fascinating to see even if you’re not religious. Other top sights to see in Rome include the Sistine Chapel, Trevi Fountain, and the Pantheon. And don’t forget about the shopping district of Campo de’ Fiori.
Not only is Budapest a beautiful city, but it’s also emerged as a hipster capital of Europe and a favorite destination among budget travelers. Many of the famous sights to see in Budapest are free, and there are lots of farmer’s markets that sell local fruits, vegetables, and pastries. Also, come here for the natural hot springs to take a dip in the soothing pools and thermal baths. Other top sights to see here include the Margit Island floats in the Danube, the castle district, and the Great Market Hall. The nightlife scene is also really unique, especially the ruin bars which are neglected buildings transformed into bars and clubs mostly in the historic Jewish quarter. There are also many family-friendly things to do in Budapest, including the zoo, botanical garden, and Holnemvolt Park.
Athens’s rich and fascinating history includes the first marathon and Olympic games and dates back 3,50 years. This is the capital of Greece and one of the oldest cities in the entire world. But it’s not all a history lesson when you visit Athens today. Here you can explore up-and-coming neighborhoods, local art galleries, and an exciting nightlife scene too.
Amsterdam is world-famous for quite a few things: the beautiful canals, the Red Light District, the coffee shops, and the bicycle culture. The seedier side of Amsterdam is something that you just don’t experience in many other places around the world, yet the city is very safe and friendly to tourists. Dam Square is an iconic public gathering place surrounded by lively restaurants and bars. Amsterdam also has some amazing museums, like the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum, and lovely parks like the famous Vondelpark. Rent a bicycle when you arrive in town and explore Amsterdam like a local.
London is packed with famous sights and attractions that are definitely worth seeing if you’ve never traveled to the capital of Great Britain. To start, there’s Buckingham Palace to see where the royal family has called home for many generations. Several of the museums here are free, including the British Museum, Tate Modern, and the Natural History Museum. You can get panoramic views from the London Eye, catch a live performance at one of the city’s many theaters, shop at iconic department stores like Harrods, or even watch a game of cricket or tennis. Hyde Park and Richmond Park are two of the city’s best green spaces for a relaxing afternoon, and you can take a tour on the River Thames.
To feel the energy and spirit of the Spanish people, head to Barcelona for your next vacation. This is an ideal place to spend time on the beach, eat tapas to your heart’s content, and party until the sun comes up. Barcelona is a bike-friendly city, so rent a bike to explore the area. You can check out the Olympic Port of Barcelona, which is a celebration of the 1992 Olympic Games that took place here, learn about the art of Antoni Gaudi, explore the creative district of the Gothic Quarter, and spend days in the art museums. There are many live music venues here to catch a show, and you can climb up Montjuïc Mountain to appreciate the nature of the region.
Just the name “Paris” fills our hearts with romance and passion. Famous for landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triumph, and the Louvre, Paris is also the perfect place to watch the world go by in a café. Art and culture lovers will quickly feel at home here, and it doesn’t get much better than Paris for foodies. When you visit, you can learn about all the visionary architects and leaders from the past and what the city is doing to innovate and promote sustainability today.
Many people who are looking to travel to Europe don’t consider the small country of Latvia, but this is a mistake. The city of Riga, for example, was recently named the European Capital of Culture because it’s packed with museums, architecture, events, and festivals. This is the most populous city in the Baltic States and a favorite place among budget travelers and nightlife lovers. Don’t miss the Central Market, which is a haven for foodies, the large collections of Art Nouveau, the lovely river views, and all the convenient Wi-Fi hotspots with free internet access around the city.
For natural beauty, it doesn’t get much more pristine than Norway, and its capital, Oslo, is a lovely place to visit. Although a trip to Norway can be on the expensive side compared to some of the other European destinations, you can come to Oslo on a budget if you plan your trip for the off-season and find cheap accommodations. When you visit, make sure to check out the city’s museums, such as the Nobel Peace Centre and the Viking Ship Museum.
Another great place to visit in Europe is Brussels, which always has something exciting going on for visitors to check out. Take a walk through the city streets to sample the local specialties: chocolate, waffles, and beer. The city also has a classic café culture, many historic sites, and diverse neighbors that have a culture all their own.
The city of Prague has gotten nicknames like the “golden city” and “city of a hundred spires,” and it’s a beautiful place in the heart of Europe. You can start your exploration of Prague in the historic center of town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but also explore the neighborhoods to understand what life in the Czech Republic is like. Český Krumlov is another place in the Czech Republic worth checking out and located about two hours from Prague. Here you’ll find historic castles, riverfront cafes for relaxing, and canoeing and rafting opportunities to get active.
Dublin is known as a great place to grab a pint and have a conversation with new friends at a pub. But there’s a lot more to Dublin than its famous pub scene. Dublin also has a rich literary history, which you can learn more about at the National Library and the Old Library at Trinity College. Other can’t-miss places in Dublin include the Guinness Storehouse, the National Gallery of Ireland, and Christ Church Cathedral. The city has a nice public transportation system too, which makes it easy to get around without a car. But if you do plan to drive, take a day trip out to the Wicklow Mountains for a healthy dose of nature and hiking.