When life is somehow both busy and boring (there’s always work to do, as well as commuting and keeping on top of the chores and admin), it can be nice to have a change of scenery. In fact, a change is as a good as a rest, so how about spending time somewhere new? Europe is home to numerous beautiful, interesting, and vibrant cities, and the good news is that they’re all close enough to one another that you could easily travel abroad from one to the next if you’re on the continent.
While there are more than five fabulous cities to explore, here’s just a taster of where to consider when you’re booking your next trip.
Paris – France
If you’ve never visited Paris before, get ready to fall head over heels for a city that’s been stealing hearts for hundreds of years. It’s a destination that boasts wide boulevards and sugar-scented patisseries, and it’s true that Parisians are some of the most stylish people on the planet. If you fancy seeing the old and “authentic” version of the city, Montmartre is the perfect place to spend some time in for its romantic architecture and cobblestone streets.
What to do: Tick off the tried-and-tested tourist hotspots (they’re popular for a reason, after all), including the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Notre Dame. See the Mona Lisa for yourself, stroll through the Champs-Élysées, and climb the 284 steps to the top of the Arc de Triomphe.
Try this too: Want to do something a little bit different? Head to the Père-Lachaise Cemetery – Chopin, Edith Piaf, and Oscar Wilde are all buried here.
Venice – Italy
Italy is home to some of the most captivating cities in the world: from the grandeur and bustle of Rome, to the high fashion and architecture of Milan, and the lesser-known (but incredible) cuisine of Turin, you’re spoiled for choice. But how about making Venice your first port of call? This “sinking city” (its beautiful old buildings are slowly slipping beneath the waterline and will be underwater within a century if global warming isn’t slowed) is very romantic – and never more so than first thing in the morning when the dawn light illuminates the city’s numerous waterways and bridges.
What to do: Book a gondola tour for first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening as the sun is setting: the golden light is perfect for photographs and feels very atmospheric. Stand in the center of the San Marco Piazza to admire the Basilica, the Palace, and the Clock Tower, too – and don’t miss the chance to sample of some of the best gelato in the country!
Try this too: Venice is famous for its seafood cuisine, so make your way to the Chioggia and Rialto markets to see the unusual choices on offer. Then, sample it in some of Venice’s best restaurants, including Osteria Alle Testiere (a great place for a special anniversary), Antiche Carampane, and L’Osteria di Santa Marina.
Reykjavik – Iceland
Without a doubt, there’s nowhere else on earth like Reykjavik. This Icelandic capital has steadily been growing more and more popular over recent years, and that’s not surprising when you consider the fact it’s an interesting city with incredible architecture, a cool café scene around the harbour, and some unexpectedly buzzing nightlife. Best of all, you’ll be close to some of the most breathtaking natural wonders of the world if you stay in Reykjavik, with the Blue Lagoon, waterfalls, and glaciers just a short drive away.
What to do: Visit the Hallgrímskirkja church, see the Settlement Exhibition Reykjavík 871 +/- 2, and explore the Einar Jónsson Museum.
Try this too: If you have a little more time, take a tour of the South of Iceland – it departs from Reykjavik and some tours include a trip around the Golden Circle, too.
Dubrovnik – Croatia
If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you’ve already seen parts of Dubrovnik on screen – a mesmerising ancient coastal city that’s been used to film scenes that take place at “King’s Landing.” With its high walls, terracotta rooftops, and pedestrian-only Old Town, expect to be charmed by this UNESCO World Heritage site – and keep an ear out for tales of sailors, diplomats and merchants from years gone by. It’s best to visit this city outside of the summer (otherwise, you’ll have to contend with swarms of tourists), but whatever time of year you visit, you’re sure to be bowled over by its baroque palaces and renaissance buildings.
What to do: Walk the ancient city walls, meander through the Old Town, and take a trip up the Gornji Ugao Tower. Consider taking the cable car for amazing views of the city – you won’t forget the perspective it gives you, and the photos you’ll snap will be excellent too.
Try this too: Fancy getting on the water? You can take a speedboat tour from Dubrovnik, cutting through the deep blue of the Adriatic Sea on your way to the Elaphiti Islands.
This Hungarian city is split in two by the Danube River, dividing it into Buda and Pest – which is excellent, as you’ll find that you’ll essentially get to visit two cities for the price of one: one half is home to historic landmarks for cultural ventures, whereas the other half is more cosmopolitan and geared up for shopping, entertainment, and leisure. It’s also one of Europe’s hottest party destinations, with top DJs and interesting venues making it a fantastic place to dance the night away.
What to do: Drink and dance in Budapest’s famous “ruin bars” (dilapidated buildings that make excellent watering holes), dip into the thermal springs, and admire the largest synagogue in Europe on Dohány Street.
Try this too: Fancy wine tasting with a twist? Descend the steps to the wine cellar beneath the Buda Castle District to taste Hungary’s famous wines: the flickering candles against exposed stone make it a particularly romantic way to spend an evening.
Of course, Europe is home to many more incredible cities that are well worth exploring. So, are you considering booking a plane ticket to visit one of the places listed above, or do you have somewhere else in mind? Let us know.