Where to go in Europe? Europe is a map of countries that are ripe with culture, history, and adventure. When you find yourself planning your dream vacations, it can be overwhelming to sift through your European bucket list.
European capitals are some of the prettiest cities on the continent.
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Most beautiful cities in Europe
In this article, you will find twelve of the prettiest cities in Europe along with some of the highlights that the city is known for and tips for making the most out of a trip to that city.
This coastal capital of Portugal is filled with historic cobblestone streets and architecture that juts right into the ocean.
Lisbon is located near a string of beautiful beaches along the Atlantic Ocean.
If you want to hit the highlights of this European capital, you will need at least five days to fully immerse yourself in the wonders that Lisbon has to offer to visitors.
Be sure to visit the National Azulejo Museum in order to view five centuries of decorative ceramic tiles that the region is known for and the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum to admire the collections of notable artworks.
You will also want to be sure to pay a visit to Belém Tower, one of the best places to watch the sunset in Lisbon, and Jerónimos Monastery along the waterfront to witness the gorgeous and ornate sixteenth-century architecture that defines them.
Take the time to wander the narrow and winding streets of the Moorish Alfama district while you visit the city of Lisbon.
Check out our complete 3-day Lisbon itinerary to discover more about this beautiful city.
London, England, United Kingdom
London may be one of the most famous capitals in the entire world and easily draws attention from a variety of travelers.
With a history that stretches back to Roman Times, you will definitely want to include a visit to one of the many museums that explore the local history and art as well as international history and art, such as the Tate Modern, National Gallery, Tate Britain, or The British Museum, that is free to visit.
Here you can find a complete list of free things to do in London.
London is also home to the English Royalty, and a visit to Buckingham Palace and the infamous Tower of London is well worth your time.
You should reserve at least a week in a city that has a skyline decorated by not only modern skyscrapers but also includes the iconic clock tower known as Big Ben and the whimsical London Eye.
To pamper yourself take the time to see a show at one of London’s fabulous West End Theaters during your stay.
Prague, Czech Republic
One of the most beautiful cities in Europe, Prague has a skyline decorated with numerous spires that give it its nickname of “the City of a Hundred Spires”.
With beautiful baroque buildings and Gothic churches, the city of Prague is absolutely alive with history.
It will take a bit of planning, but you should be able to visit the highlights of Prague in around five days.
Be sure to witness one of the hourly animated shows at the gorgeous and intricate medieval Astronomical Clock.
You will also want to make time to visit both St. Vitus Cathedral and the Old-New Synagogue to witness the blending of architecture and faith. The gorgeous old-world architecture is perfectly complemented by the beautiful art-nouveau architectures that decorate the area of Prague known as New Town.
Prague is a city of delightful architecture, multiple faiths, and a fantastic liveliness blended with the everlasting history that helps to define the city of Prague.
Because there is fewer crowds, and a fabulous Christmas market, Prague is also one of the best places to visit in Europe in winter.
Scotland’s compact and hilly capital of Edinburgh is an inviting and magical place to visit.
Although this is a relatively small capital you will quickly spend six days visiting all of the highlights of Edinburgh.
You will probably want to start with the crowning Edinburgh Castle that contains both Scotland’s crown jewels and the Stone of Destiny which is used in the coronation of Scottish rulers.
Read also: hidden gems in Europe
From the castle, you can continue your way by walking down the Royal Mile past a variety of shops to the royal residence of Holyrood Palace.
The palace dates back to the sixteenth century.
When visiting the palace you can see Calton Hill with its numerous monuments and memorials or to the sweeping views of the imposing peak called Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park.
Edinburgh is a city that is happy to celebrate art and culture in a setting that is as hardy as Scotland’s history.
This city is part of the European bucket list for many travelers.
This city of love and lights will likely take you at least eight days to fully explore, and boasts highlights like the internationally famous Eiffel Tower.
Art seems to be the lifeblood of Paris, and some of the museum highlights include the famous Louvre that houses the enigmatic Mona Lisa painted by Leonardo da Vinci and the Musée d’Orsay that holds works by Impressionist masters like Monet, Degas, and Renoir.
If you like a bit of history with your monuments, then visit the house that once belonged to alchemist Nicolas Flamel.
Paris is a city that blends history, art, and knowledge with a lively, bohemian style. Paris is a map of open-air cafes and historic architecture. Fashion-forward and steeped with culinary heritage help to define this iconic city for visitors.
You are bound to sate your appetite for food and culture with a trip to this gorgeous European capital.
Oslo is nestled on the southern coast of Norway at the entrance of the eponymous fjord.
Known for ample green spaces and museums, Oslo is one of the most naturally gorgeous European capitals.
You will want to spend at least a week exploring the highlights of the city which include museums like the waterside Norwegian Maritime Museum and the Viking Ship Museum with Viking Ships that date back to the ninth century.
If you are impressed by what you see in this last museum, you should definitely make a small detour to the nearby Kon-Tiki and Fram museum. Fram is the nineteenth-century polar exploration ship, and the Kon-Tiki is the log raft that Thor Heyerdahl used to cross the Pacific Ocean in 1947.
Both have been thoroughly restored and are now on display in these museums.
You can wade into the culture of the city at the iceberg-like Oslo Opera House that houses national opera and ballet companies.
Oslo is a delightful blend of a variety of history and unexpected surprises.
Let yourself get lost in the streets of Oslo during your vacation, and admire the beautiful blend of contemporary architecture and historical beauty.
If after reading this you are keen to visit Oslo, check out this Oslo hotel guide.
Home to the European Union headquarters, Brussels unifies historic architecture with modern wonders.
You will want to spend at least five days in the city so that you can explore everything from ornate guild houses that date back to the seventeenth century to the towering and iconic Atomium that was built for the World’s Fair held in 1958.
There are multiple museums throughout the city for visitors to explore, such as the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium encompassing art from Old Masters as well as new ones, the Magritte Museum dedicated to hundreds of works from the surrealist, and the Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée that is dedicated to the art of comic strips.
Art, history, and science blend together in this fascinating city that offers almost fairy tale views no matter what direction you fix your gaze in.
For a stunning panoramic view over the city of Brussels head to the Groot-Bijgaarden castle.
Sweden’s capital is spread across fourteen islands. The cities residents make use of an extensive system of ferries and tourists have the choice of various sightseeing boats.
Cruising the Stockholm archipelago, which consists of about 30000 islands, is a definitive highlight.
You will want to spend at least a week in Stockholm so that you can explore the numerous isles and alleyways that make up the city.
Make sure to visit the Nobel Museum, which focuses on the Nobel Prize as one might suspect from the name, while you are in the city.
Drottningholm Palace and its gardens are open to the public. It is one of the most well-preserved castles in Sweden and thanks to that it has earned a place on UNESCO’s world heritage list. A visit to what is today still the residence of the royal family provides an excellent opportunity to catch a glimpse of the royal lifestyle.
If you would like the opportunity to get up close and personal with history, then a visit to the Skansen open-air museum that boasts over one hundred rebuilt dwellings dating as far back as the sixteenth century is a must.
Another popular historical museum is the Vasa Museum which houses a seventeenth-century warship.
Vienna is one of the prettiest cities in Europe.
Crossed by the Danube River, Vienna has crafted an artistic and intellectual legacy that includes wide-known names such as Mozart, Beethoven, Gustave Klimt, and Sigmund Freud.
You will want to spend at least five days in Vienna so that you can have ample time to visit the houses that belonged to some of the more famous residents of the city, as well as the elegant Hofburg Imperial Palace. The latter used to house the Habsburg dynasty rulers and is today the official residence of the President of Austria.
Here you can find ideas on how to spend one beautiful day in Vienna.
You can also explore the numerous museums that populate the MuseumsQuartier district during your stay in the city, and find any number of delightful exhibits.
Romantics need to pay a visit to the Prater park in order to ride on the Wiener Riesenrad. This Ferris wheel offers a breathtaking bird’s eye view of the historic and beautiful city. Built-in 1897 it is very different from modern-style Ferris wheels such as the London Eye and it is the oldest still operating Ferris wheel today.
Vienna’s streets are a maze of fantastic architecture and glorious gardens that welcome visitors to embrace the deep-rooted culture that helps to make Vienna unique among European cities.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Amsterdam is a city that is most known for its nightlife but do not let that reputation keep you from seeing the numerous highlights that the city has to offer. A maze of roads, bike paths, and canals guide you through the city.
You should spend at least four days in the city to experience your selection of the numerous delightful museums in the city, such as the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum.
De Wallen is the medieval city-center of Amsterdam. The name has become synonymous for the city’s world-famous red-light district. If you want to walk on the more salacious side while on your visit to Amsterdam, then a visit to the Erotic Museum in this neon-lit district is right up your alley.
The (in)famous Dutch coffee shops can be found all over Amsterdam. Those curious about this Dutch tradition can take a moment to relax at one of the numerous coffee shops and drink in the unique atmosphere that Amsterdam is sure to provide to you.
If that sounds somewhat too adventurous you can also taste another Dutch specialty at the various jenever tasting houses in the city.
Art and history live among the streets and canals of Amsterdam and are sure to guide you on an unforgettable adventure.
The city of Dublin in Ireland is a popular destination for many travelers and is worth spending at least five days in.
While you wander the iconic streets of Dublin, make sure to take the time to visit the Guinness Storehouse and the Old Jameson Distillery to trace the history of these notable libations.
Dublin is the birthplace of authors such as Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, and Samuel Beckett and works to immortalize them in the Dublin Writers Museum.
While in the city, you should also make time to visit the historic Dublin Castle and St Patrick’s Cathedral. Trinity College hosts the beautifully illuminated Book of Kells that dates back to the ninth century.
Dublin is a labyrinth of history and green spaces that tangle perfectly with the lively nature of both the day and night in the city.
Berlin, one of the most beautiful cities in Germany, bears a lot of history, some parts are scars but a lot is also about celebration.
Take at least a week to fully drink in the gravitas that the capital city of Germany possesses.
Be humbled by history by paying a visit to the Holocaust memorial and the graffitied remains of the Berlin Wall. Today, the eighteenth century Brandenburg Gate is a symbol of reunification.
History lovers can spend several days in the numerous museums covering artifacts of Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Islamic origin.
Wander through the Tiergarten district and marvel at the nineteenth century Reichstag, which is the seat of Germany’s parliament.
Despite having a dark and frightening time during the twentieth century, Berlin has flourished into a city with a bustling nightlife, a vibrant culture, and a tenacity that is impossible to ignore.
A visit to the streets of Berlin will enable you to view a city that fell from a great height, only to rise from the ashes once again.
When it comes to exploring the most beautiful cities in Europe, one can’t go wrong with the European capitals.
These are twelve of the prettiest cities in Europe, and hopefully, they provide you with an excellent starting point when it comes to planning your dream vacation to the European continent. each of these illustrious cities can act as their own gateway into their country, and the surrounding countries as well.
You can not go wrong when you choose to explore one of the cities on this list.
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