What are the best cities to visit in Europe? With vaccinations becoming more accessible all throughout Europe, borders have eased up and the tourism industry is back on track after suffering a major blow from the Covid-19 pandemic. The year 2020 has left many exhausted and ready for a vacation. The European holiday is one that Hollywood has made us all very familiar with. Do not be fooled because there is a lot more to Europe than Moulin Rouge or Midnight in Paris, with destinations that have a myriad of leisure activities to offer. Given the current situation of the pandemic and the emergence of new variants, it is just as imperative to study Covid-19 protocols in these cities, incorporating safety and health into the enjoyment of the experience.
Increasingly, there are multiple transportation services that are being offered which make travel around Europe much more convenient than it used to be. These transportation services include Uber Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: UBER), Gett, Taxi EU, and G7. Uber Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: UBER) allows tourists to book their tours up to 30 days in advance, complete with a price estimate. These services are an excellent way to avoid crowds and travel safely from Point A to Point B.
Food isn’t a problem either. You can either try the local cuisine or dine at one of these biggest fast food chains in the world.
To compile this list of the 25 best cities to visit in Europe, we have scoured Reddit forums for information regarding tourist activities and main attractions within Europe. We have chosen these 25 cities according to the number of overnight stays internationally, ranking them from lowest to highest.
With this context in mind, let’s now discuss our list of the 25 best cities to visit in Europe.
25 Best Cities to Visit in Europe
25. Zurich, Switzerland
Zurich had a total of 214,975 visitor arrivals in Jun 2021, ranking it as the 25th European city on our list. The most famous location to visit in Zurich is the Grossmünster church with high towers and a fantastic view. For a view of the lake and the skyline, catch a train to Uetliberg. For a unique cultural and musical experience, visit Helsinkiklub on a Sunday to catch the band house.
24. Santorini, Greece
A beach vacation destination, Santorini had 140,000 international arrivals in 2020. A good place to start in Santorini is taking a tour of the red and black sands but if you’re not a fan of the beach, you could go for a hike to Ancient Thera and explore the ruins of the fallen Roman Empire.
23. Moscow, Russia
In 2020, Moscow had 800,000 international visitors. The first thing on your list for tourism should be visiting the Kremlin, after which you should catch a ballet performance or an Opera. Take a boat ride along the Moskva River, have a drink in Arbaz Street and visit Pushkin’s Restaurant or Sixty to experience the best of Russian cuisine.
22. Brussels, Belgium
Brussels received 992,289 visitor arrivals in 2020. This city is the heart of arts and culture, with plenty of museums and art centres including Bozar. Visit the Atomium and enjoy the view from the top floor. Stroll through the old town near the Grand Place and be sure to visit the Galeries de la Reine. The European quarter is also a delight if you sit down at Parvis de Saint-Gilles and have a drink or a bite in one of the cafes. If you want to get some shopping in, head to the Marolles on the weekend and go to the flea market and the antique shops.
21. Budapest, Hungary
Budapest had 1 million international arrivals in 2020, ranking it 21st on our list. The city is inundated with museums including the House of Terror, a museum dedicated to the terror of the Nazi and Soviet states in Hungary. Szentendre is an open-air ethnographic museum and Esztergom is a Cathedral and religious centre. An extended trip could be to lake Balaton’s northern shores, with the UNESCO World Heritage site, Tihany peninsula with lush lavender fields.
20. Crete, Greece
In 2021, hoteliers expect two million tourists on Crete Island. Sandy beaches and palm tree forests are what you can expect on the island, especially in Rethymnon or Agios Nikolaos. The island also has a vibrant urban setting. There are a variety of nightclubs and restaurants in Chania and Heraklion, along the northern coast, if you’re looking for a more modern and local experience.
19. Seville, Spain
Seville hosted 2.7 million international tourists in 2020. Seville is one of the most vibrant Spanish cities with plenty of places to see. The Giralda, the Plaza de Espana and the Iglesia Colegial del Salvador are the sites you need to visit before your tour is complete. Catch a Flamenco performance at Casa la Teatro in Triana Market for a traditional and intimate experience.
18. Marseille, France
The second-largest city in France received five million tourists in the year 2019-20. It is reminiscent of the vibrant metropolis of the Mediterranean. Some of the main attractions of Marseille are Fort Saint-Jean, a quaint village and the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations. If you wish to connect with nature, pay a visit to Calanques National Park, with maritime pines and scrumptious local cuisine including baby squid and local pastis.
17. Amalfi Coast, Italy
Located on the coastline of the Tyrrhenian Sea, Amalfi Coast is an incredibly popular tourist destination with approximately five million annual visitors per year. With beautiful sun-baked villages, the best time to visit the coast is between the months of April and June. While on the coast, embark on a hike. The Path of the Gods is the best hike on the coast, stretching from Bomberano to Nocelle.
16. Florence, Italy
Florence had 5.4 million tourist arrivals in 2020, ranking it as our 16th European city. Italian cuisine is famously delicious worldwide and the best sandwiches can be found in All’Antico Vinaio. Edorado, located in the southeastern corner of Duomo, has the world’s best gelato. When you’ve filled up on food, make sure to pay a visit to Palazzo Vecchio, the prominent medieval-era city hall and Basilica di Santa Croce, a church with architecture dating back to the Renaissance.
15. Lisbon, Portugal
According to Statista, Lisbon had a total of 13.82 million bednights in the year 2020. Lisbon has been Europe’s best kept secret, until now, when its wonders are unfolding to the rest of the world. Its quaint architecture and marvelous coastal views make for the complete European experience.
Lisbon is a marvelous reminiscence of colonial architecture, with hilltop vestas at Castelo de S. Jorge and Jeronimos Monastery. A short 30-40 minute trip to Sintra is worth seeing the ornate castles, scattered all over Portugal, including the Pena Palace and Moorish Castle. If you’re travelling on a budget, explore the old streets of Alfama and conclude with a sunset view in Graca. After a long day of travel in Lisbon, make sure to conclude it with some Pastel de Nata, a rich and indulgent Portuguese dessert, preferably in Belem by the waterfront.
14. Dublin, Ireland
It’s no mystery how Dublin ended up on our list, with 14.87 million bednights. Travelling to Dublin as a tourist, it would be a good idea to rent a scooter. Recently, more and more scooters are being seen on the roads of Dublin and they are an excellent way to avoid any train fines.
If you’re a whiskey enthusiast, you will know that there’s nothing better than Irish whiskey. The Jameson Distillery on Bow Street is a great place to start, dating back to the early 18th century. For those who fear the bar lock-ins or would rather not be too tipsy, it would be better to pay a visit to Dublin castle, now a stunning Georgian palace. Of course, a tour of the castle would involve a visit to Ireland’s oldest pub, The Brazen Head.
13. Stockholm, Sweden
Stockholm is a full-fledged metropolis, the cultural and political hub of Sweden. The city had a total of 15.3 million bednights in the year 2020. Whilst in Stockholm, one must take the advantage of winding walks on the cobblestoned streets.
Stockholm is the city that defined coffee culture and the locals call it fika. Sweden consumes 18 pounds of the coffee per capita, per year which is approximately 864 cups per person. Naturally, the cafes in Stockholm are incredibly stylish, influenced by a distinct Scandinavian design. Some of the best cafes for fika include Cafe Pascal, Green Rabbit, Kaffeverket and Mellqvist Cafe Bar. Don’t forget to order kanelbulle pastries!
12. Hamburg, Germany
Move over, Venice! You’re not the only city with wide canals and gondolas. Hamburg’s cultural and historical charm is quite apparent at first glance. The first thing one should do is explore the Speicherstadt warehouse district on the water channels, floating through its rich 19th century architecture. This beautiful city in Germany had 15.43 million bed nights in the last year and analysts only expect this number to grow.
11. Munich, Germany
Every year, Munich holds the event that millions of beer-lovers all over the world flock together for: Oktoberfest. The annual Oktoberfest celebration and its beer halls, including the famous Hofbräuhaus, was founded in 1589. The festival takes place in the months of September and October. Plans for Oktoberfest 2022 are underway and it’s not an event to miss!
10. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam hosted 18.83 million bednights last year. Amsterdam is home to the Van Gogh Museum, housing the famous artist’s most celebrated works. However, if one is looking for a more modern take on Amsterdam, a good place to start would be grabbing a drink at the Droog and dining at Da Kas.
9. Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is known as the city of a thousand spires and rightly so. Prague is the city of churches and castles, its skyline giving away its architectural treasures. Some of the buildings that you absolutely must see are Prague Castle, the National Museum and The Clementinum and National Library. Prague is also inundated with squares, the most famous of which is Wenceslas Square. Prague had 18.48 million bednights in 2020.
8. Vienna, Austria
The capital of Austria has its cultural foundations in music, history and architecture. This city had 18.64 million bednights last year. It would be impossible to take in all of Vienna in just one trip. The best place to start would be the square, moving forward from there. Begin at Heldenplatz and walk to Hofburg Palace complex, making your way to Stephansdom Cathedral. While you’re there, be sure to try some Sachertorte, a local treat, at Vienna’s Cafe Sacher. In the words of Billy Joel, “Vienna waits for you.”
7. Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona isn’t just famous for its unbeatable football team but also its sandy beaches, its glorious food, and gorgeous architecture. Be sure to soak in the cultural sites and visit Barcelona Cathedral, Palau Major, Santa Maria del Mar and the Pedralbes Monastery. To get a taste of modern Barcelona, catch a music festival. Some popular festivals include Primavera Sound, Sonar Festival, Cruïlla and Rock Fest Barcelona. In 2020, Barcelona had 19.85 million bednights.
6. Madrid, Spain
With a total of 28.6 million bednights, Madrid is a popular tourist destination and for good reason. It’s one of those cities that you need to experience on foot rather than from the window of a taxi. One of the best shopping centres in the capital is the El Corte Inglés, inundated with designer stores. If you’re feeling a little thirsty, be sure to stop at the historic bar, La Alemana, to wash away the tiredness of traveling.
5. Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul is one of the most vibrant of Turkish cities and the perfect place to sample Turkish culture. Istanbul had 23.93 bednights in 2020, making it fifth on our list of cities to visit in Europe. The best thing about Istanbul is the Turkish food, with a shawarma vendor at every corner. The best food and souvenirs can be found on the historical Istiqlal Street, a much more modern part of the city. If you’re there to explore the architecture of the Ottomans, take a trip around Old Istanbul where you’ll find Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Sulemaniye Mosque. Stop by at Cafe Dervish for a cup of bittersweet Turkish coffee and a plate of kanafeh, a sweet cream and cheese dish.