European cities – what not to miss

With so many people, cultures and influences all packed into a relatively small area, it comes as no surprise that Europe boasts some of the world’s most interesting cities. Here are some  European cities not to miss. Europe offers a plethora of different towns and cities to explore and enjoy, so how did I choose just the few you see here? The simple answer is that I chose my favourites. We all have different priorities and preferences. These are the things I love about these cities, which are not necessarily capital cities incidentally. Maybe you will agree with my choices, maybe not. Let me know!

Nice, France

The perfect marriage of French and Italian influence is clear in Nice on the south coast of France and Nice Old Town (pictured above) is charming. Exploring the narrow streets lined with cafes and shops is the perfect way to spend an afternoon that has not been dedicated to the beach. Nice is home to many galleries and museums including the Chagall, Matisse, Fine, Asian Art and the Modern and Contemporary Art Museum. Backed by the Alps, Nice is also blessed with a Mediterranean climate. What more could you want?

London, UK

A French friend once pointed out to me that London has a lot of green space, and it is true. Summer in London is glorious as there is always a spare corner of grass somewhere to enjoy the sunshine. London also has a wide variety of markets (read more about London markets here), which are well worth exploring. If celebrity-spotting is your game of choice then London is the place to be. Soho, West and North London are the best areas, although it depends which celebrities you are hoping to see. Leicester Square is frequently abuzz with movie premieres, so it is worth knowing your film release dates if you want to catch some movie action.

Summer in Hyde Park, London. Photo credit: vilartoni

Barcelona, Spain

If you want colour and quirkiness then Barcelona is the place. Gaudi’s influence is evident in the many creations he left in the city. His most famous work, the Sagrada Familia is fascinating. Parc Guell above the city offers fantastic views down to the sea, if you can take your eyes off all the mosaiced features of the park itself. Las Ramblas is the main avenue that runs through Barcelona. It is lined with cafes and hotels and all sorts of things can be seen there including street performers, artists at work, crafts and animals for sale.

Barcelona. Photo credit: Johane Deslandes

Istanbul, Turkey

The city of Istanbul is unique for linking Europe and Asia by spanning the two continents. Practise your haggling at the Grand Bazaar. The enormous labyrinth of narrow twists and turns is packed with carpets, ceramics, jewellery, glassware, books, toys, souvenirs and more. A more indulgent afternoon can be spent in the turkish bath, sweating, being scrubbed and massaged. For an authentic experience, get to Ortakoy on a Sunday morning and wander around the market before enjoying lunch in a restaurant on the shore of the Bosphorus. (For other ideas on things to do in Istanbul click here).

Rome, Italy

The opulence of Rome greets visitors at every turn. Marvel at the faded grandeur of the Colloseum and enjoy the magic of throwing a coin into the Trevi Fountain (apparently it guarantees your return to Rome one day). On Wednesdays you can have an audience with the Pope in St Peters Square. Otherwise enjoy the lavish surroundings of Rome hotels, restaurants and cafes. 

Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy. Photo credit: Tony Woof

Do you have a favourite European city, and if so, why is it your favourite?


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