The truth is, many European cities can be described by “hidden gems.” Almost every capital in Europe has a history of several hundred years, and culture, architecture, and cuisine to match that. It is no secret that every one of them deserves your visit, as the experience will never be less than overwhelming. Still, with so many of them, which one should be your top priority for your next break? Here are the top five cities that should make it to the top of your list!
1. Budapest, Hungary
With the perfect amount of everything, Budapest easily tops this list. It will have something to offer to each traveler and will not fail to become one of the most memorable experiences you have ever had.
Budapest is full of contrasts. Here, rich historical heritage is in perfect harmony with urban art, which is unavoidable in the streets. Breathtaking architecture and mouth-dropping buildings are hosts to huge murals and ruined bars that decorated with nick-knacks. The city has many world heritage sights that will have you snapping pictures at all times, and on the other hand, it hosts numerous world-class festivals and cultural events for the party seekers.
The Danube divides this city in two, with one of the best city parks, Margaret Island, in the middle. One half of it, called Buda, is home to the slow-paced, culture-filled days, perfect for long walks, relaxing and sightseeing. Buda is famous for the Royal Palace, which is a sight to behold, and Mathias Church, one of the most notable religious buildings in Europe. After a long day of sightseeing, relax in one of the Ottoman-era thermal baths.
Pest is faster-paced, and this sightseeing tour could be much longer. It is filled with Art-Noveau architecture and is home to many museums. There is also the St Stephen Basilica and House of Parliament. Take a stroll through the recently restored Jewish Quarter and Palace district, or take one of the day and night sightseeing cruises on the Danube to be able to appreciate this beauty.
2. Lisbon, Portugal
The sunshine and seaside lovers will find this city the one they want to move to someday. With the almost constant presence of the sunlight, and river Tagus reflecting Lisbon throughout the day, it is easily one of the best sights you could get.
Lisbon’s history spans throughout over a thousand years, and the city itself spans over seven hills, each of them having several breathtaking viewpoints. It also has the architecture to match it: from neighborhoods where Lisbon originated to the castle De Sao Jorge, it doesn’t lack in sightseeing spots. Pena Palace is another must-see, and Jeronimos Monastery will leave you speechless. You can see all these from one of the famous Lisbon trams.
Still, the truth about Lisbon lies in people. Make sure to visit a market or two to feel the city’s vibe. Head on to the restaurant to taste the exquisite cuisine, and grab a chance to listen to Fado live.
3. Amsterdam, Netherlands
With every single street being a place to feast your eyes on, Amsterdam is undoubtedly a must-visit. Some would say must-feel, as thanks to the overall vibe of the city, it is as much a “state of mind” as it is a “piece of art.”
It could be the incredible maze of canals that are creating the atmosphere, or cobbled streets and bicycles are to blame for a fantastic laid-back and tolerant atmosphere. Amsterdam is perfect for a stroll through narrow streets, historic city center, or one of the 30 gorgeous parks and public gardens throughout the city. Take your time crossing the 1200 bridges in this beautiful city!
If you are planning a romantic getaway or the perfect place to de-stress, skip the Venice and head on to Amsterdam! One tour on the canals, a visit to Rijksmuseum or Van Gogh’s museum is all it takes to create a relaxing and pleasant holiday.
4. Reykjavik, Iceland
For a unique experience and some bragging rights, you should head on to Reykjavik. Don’t be fooled by its size or presumed cold weather. This city has just too much to offer.
The nature lovers will enjoy every second spent in Reykjavik. Just breathing the pristine air, and getting a gulp of one of the purest water on Earth is enough here. Still, the city is in the middle of astonishing nature, glaciers, and volcanos. Another miraculous nature wonder is the Aurora Borealis, brightening the streets of Reykjavik during winter days.
The city itself, while being one of the smallest capitals in Europe, has a lot to offer. Many different cultures met here, from Vikings to contemporary artisans, numerous museums, galleries, and theaters, speak for the astonishing culture. While maintaining the small-town feel, Reykjavik offers some of the unusual activities, such as whale watching, and thermal pools for relaxation.
Don’t forget to try out the legendary nightlife this city has to offer. After all, the land of ice is, not shockingly, the friendliest place on Earth!
5. Geneva, Switzerland
The city in the heart of Europe was bound to make this list, but describing Geneva is somewhat tricky. It is called a thousand delights in a single place, and for a good reason: there is so much to do, see and try, it is impossible not to be astonished by it.
Both the city itself, and local surroundings offer so many activities; it is impossible not to find anything to your taste. You could spend the day climbing all 157 steps of St Peters Cathedral to get the perfect selfie overlooking the city, or rent a bike and enjoy beautiful countryside and vineyards. Being showered by Jet d’Ean, the most famous water fountain in west Europe is also an option.
Those adventurous can enjoy hiking or mountain biking or the nearby Saleve Mountain, or try cross-country skiing in the winter. Tasting and learning about the origins of swiss cheese, or fine watchmaking are not underwhelming, either!
Europe has something for everyone
Not all cities in Europe are the same. Each is rich in the culture, which differs from others, creating too many opportunities. While it is somewhat a shame that some other notable cities are not on this list, each of these is for sure a great place to start!