Europe is a treasure trove of picturesque cities with stunning architecture, rich culture, and breathtaking natural landscapes. From the romantic streets of Paris to the charming alleys of Bern, the continent boasts some of the most beautiful cities in the world. Whether you’re a history buff, art lover, or simply in search of a scenic destination to explore, there’s no shortage of options to choose from. In this blog post, we’ll take you on a tour of some of the most enchanting cities in Europe that are sure to leave you mesmerized and inspired. So, sit back, relax, and let’s embark on a journey of discovery together.
Prague, Czech Republic
The capital of the Czech Republic has been selected as one of the world’s best cities time and time again due to its beautiful architecture, breathtaking vistas from the city’s many hills, and quaint local shops and restaurants. To soak up the city’s enchanted ambiance and the air of expectation before the rest of the tourists arrive, it’s recommended that you visit the Old Town between 6 and 7 in the morning.
Bern is not only the capital and largest city of Switzerland, but also one of its most beautiful cities. The city’s location on the Aare River means that it offers stunning panoramas from almost any vantage point. The city’s covered walkways and quaint Old Town only add to the experience (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Be sure to visit Bern Münster (Bern Cathedral) and the beautiful Zytglogge from the 13th century (clock tower).
Athens’ world-famous ruins are like a time machine, transporting visitors to ancient Greece where stonework from 400 BC supports temples adorned with sculptures of deities. Visit the Acropolis to get your fill of history and see the Parthenon up close as well as sweeping vistas of the city below. Lykavittos Hill, accessible via cable car, offers similarly expansive vistas.
Italy is home to several stunning urban centers, but none can compare to Florence in terms of Italian Renaissance history, art, and architecture. The city’s spectacular Santa Maria del Fiore (The Duomo) and Cathedral of Santa Maria Novella are only two examples of the many places where Renaissance aesthetics can be seen and appreciated (Firenze was the origin of the 14th-century movement, after all). In the meantime, the Ponte Vecchio and the Uffizi continue to be must-haves for any tourist’s camera.
Bruges’ canals and alleyways are surrounded with trees and are so quiet and picturesque that the city is often likened to a fairytale. The city’s 12th-15th-century historic core is largely responsible for its allure; to really appreciate it, find a cafe near the Markt (the historic center square) and settle in for the better part of a day.
Budapest features some of Europe’s finest examples of Art Nouveau architecture, so there aren’t many poor places to look. Like the city’s well-known thermal spas, or the gilded, mildly extravagant Café Gerbeaud. Yet, if you want to see the Hungarian Parliament lit up above the Danube River from the best vantage point, a stroll across the Széchenyi Chain Bridge after dark is your best bet.
Edinburgh is beautiful year-round because to its rolling green hills and rich history. Beautiful Gothic structures, a cobblestone Royal Mile, and a castle from the 12th century stand guard on a hill; an extinct volcano is also located within the city limits. Is it true in your hometown, too?
Travelers looking for a dose of adrenaline will find it in Innsbruck, a city surrounded by ski runs in the winter and mountain hiking paths in the summer. There’s more to do in the capital of Tyrol than merely sleep between days of hiking and mountaineering; the city’s museums, medieval old town, and Alpenzoo (Europe’s highest zoo) are all worth a day trip.
A visit to Norway’s second-largest city, Bergen, is a must. With its picturesque waterfront, colorful rows of wooden cottages, and expansive views of the surrounding fjords and mountain range, this town has all the makings of an idyllic Scandinavian community (known as the Seven Mountains).
This is a given: Paris is a city where the past and the present coexist. Every area seems to have its own distinctive sight, whether it be the Notre Dame, Sacré Coeur, or Eiffel Tower, and cafés line the narrow alleyways that wind through the city’s historic center. Wander the magnificent Luxembourg Gardens among the statues and picture yourself living the good life despite the throngs of other tourists.
Whether it’s the frantic activity of the Grand Bazaar or the old-meets-new charm of Karaköy, Istanbul never ceases to captivate us. Large domes, colorful mosaics, minarets, and intricate Islamic calligraphy are just some of the hallmarks of the architecture at the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, two of the city’s most famous landmarks.
Though it’s known for its abundance of trendy eateries and lodgings, Copenhagen’s timeless appeal will have you planning your return trip before your current one is done. The bohemian hamlet of Christiania is a dreamy, lush dreamland, while the whimsical, 1800s Tivoli Gardens puts all other amusement parks to shame. Nyhavn’s seaside homes are indeed as lovely as they appear in photographs.
York, with its ancient walls, cobblestone streets, and picturesque views of the River Ouse, is the quintessential English city. The Chapter House of York Minster features one of the world’s finest collections of stained glass, with enormous windows ringing the octagonal room and bathing the building in a gentle, ethereal glow.
Vienna was selected the best city in Europe in this year’s Readers’ Choice Awards, and this comes as no surprise, given the city’s artistic and elegant nature. Don’t miss Schönbrunn Palace, the historic summer house of the Habsburgs and Vienna’s top tourist destination, on your way to the opera and Sachertorte. Despite the crowds, the palace’s Baroque architecture and stunning gardens are well worth the visit.
The capital of Slovenia is as picturesque and charming as they come, and it’s also exceptionally clean, earning it the title of “Green Capital of Europe 2016” from the European Commission. Wander the cobblestone streets of the pedestrian-only Old Town, enjoy a cup of coffee on the riverbanks of the green Ljubljanica, and gaze at the city’s baroque buildings and Ljubljana Castle, which dates back to the 16th century.
As effortlessly as its famous flamenco dancers stamp their feet, Sevilla fuses modernity and history throughout the city, from its Old Town (the third-largest in Europe) to its world-famous tapas scene. The fifth and following seasons of Game of Thrones filmed extensively in the Andalusian capital, putting the opulent Alcázar of Seville on the map.
The picturesque city of Tallinn, Estonia, is filled to the brim with a fairytale quality because of its picturesque setting on the Baltic Sea and its many brightly colored buildings and castles with towers. Several of the city’s medieval churches and merchant homes are under UNESCO protection, making its historic core one of the best preserved in Europe. Regardless of the weather, the sights of the city from Toompea Castle are stunning.
St. Petersburg, Russia
In spite of Dostoyevsky’s and Tolstoy’s literary legacies, St. Petersburg is a fascinating place to visit in its own right. The Winter Palace, considered by many to be Russia’s best example of Baroque architecture, and the Building of the General Staff may be seen in all their glory from Palace Square. Moreover, the city is home to a number of stunning Orthodox churches, including the five-domed Church of the Saviour on the Spilled Blood.
Nuremberg is one of the most beautiful cities in Germany because of its contrast between old and new. Known now for its Christkindlesmarkt, castles, and museums, Nuremberg was once the “unofficial” capital of the Holy Roman Empire and an early city of science and invention.
We know you’re disappointed that Lisbon isn’t here, but hear us out before you send us hate mail: The second largest city in Portugal is experiencing a boom. Though oenophiles have known about Porto for some time, the city has recently attracted the attention of artists and designers who are drawn to the city’s beautiful architecture (yes, there are lots of tiles) and public art. The concrete Piscinas de Marés (Tidal Pools) in Leça da Palmeira stand in stark contrast to Porto’s famous beaches and granite coastline and are not to be missed. The opulent Lello bookshop is said to have been an inspiration for J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.