VACATION IDEAS

30 Most Beautiful Cities in Europe

From Iceland to Istanbul, from Scandinavia to Sicily, the European continent spans a mind-boggling multitude of cultures, languages, and styles. What all of these 30 knockout cities share, however, is a distinctive look and appeal that have kept visitors swarming—and swooning!—for centuries.

  1. Nice, on the impossibly blue French Riviera, offers an enchanting Old Town that's tailor-made for strolling, exploring parks, and, of course, soaking up France's delicious and luxurious cafe culture.

    (Courtesy SteveRose/myBudgetTravel)
  2. Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic, but is also the largest city in the region known as Bohemia. The Charles Bridge, St. Vitus Cathedral, and Old Town belong on your to-do list here.

    (Courtesy BethanieKay/myBudgetTravel)
  3. Amsterdam is best known for its magical canals and distinctive architecture, but it boasts one of the greatest collections of art on earth, including a museum dedicated to Van Gogh.

    (Courtesy broughtonr/myBudgetTravel)
  4. London isn't just Europe's biggest city—it also boasts unforgettable architectural wonders like the Tower, the Houses of Parliament, the Tower Bridge, Hyde Park, the gently winding Thames, and more charmingly meandering old streets, alleys, and courts than you could explore in a year of happy wandering.

    (Courtesy teachertraveler/myBudgetTravel)
  5. We love Birmingham for its first-rate food scene, lovely parks, and the fact that J.R.R. Tolkien and Ozzie Osbourne are both from the UK's "second city."

    (Angie Smith)
  6. Porto, Portugal, is the center of an up-and-coming wine scene that goes way beyond the city's namesake port. It also offers a nice juxtaposition of old-world landmarks and modern street art.

    (Ashok Sinha)
  7. With medieval churches and monasteries, beautiful public spaces, and cobblestoned streets, Lisbon gives you the chance to savor a major European capital and feel as if you've stepped just a bit off the beaten path at the same time.

    (Courtesy billnorman/myBudgetTravel)
  8. Madrid is home to one of the world's most important art collections, Museo del Prado, not to mention a mind-blowing array of restaurants, palaces, and public parks. From the moment you wake up to the moment your head hits the pillow late in the evening (hopefully after lingering over plates of tapas with friends), Madrid will inspire you to carpe diem!

    (Courtesy Rentz/myBudgetTravel)
  9. Barcelona pulses with a rhythm and energy all its own, with architecture and public spaces that make you feel as if you're lost in a fairy tale.

    (Courtesy Olney20866/myBudgetTravel)
  10. Get your waltz on in beautiful Vienna, where some of the finest classical music can be heard just about everywhere. Even if you're not a music lover, the city's cuisine, architecture, and beautiful parkland will entrance you.

    (Courtesy charley1965/flickr)
  11. Yes, Venice really is as beautiful, enchanting, and unforgettable as everyone says. While its museums, squares, bridges, and canals are amazing, our favorite thing to do here is get lost on its winding streets. (Don't worry—you're never far from a landmark that'll help you get your bearings back!)

    (Courtesy BethanieKay/myBudgetTravel)
  12. Whether your taste runs to gargoyles, stained-glass windows, or the treasures of the Louvre, Paris holds something for everyone. As Audrey Hepburn says in Sabrina, "Paris is always a good idea."

    (Courtesy dbozzi/myBudgetTravel)
  13. Seville is home to Alcazar, a royal palace that was once a Moorish fort. The city is a vibrant and stylish gem that belongs on any Spanish itinerary alongside Madrid and Barcelona.

    (Courtesy nancyb926/myBudgetTravel)
  14. When it comes to beautiful cities, Florence has a bit of an edge over most, with notable buildings like the Duomo designed by major Renaissance artists.

    (Courtesy Ceilidh/myBudgetTravel)
  15. Don't let its political importance fool you into thinking Brussels is all business. It may be the capital of the European Union, but this Belgian city, founded as a 10th-century fort, knows how to entertain visitors.

    (Courtesy ateliercypher/myBudgetTravel)
  16. Once divided during the Cold War, and sometimes considered a haven for hipsters, Berlin has actually become one of the most family-friendly cities in Europe. Cycle, visit the zoo, and just enjoy the amazing works of public art and dazzling spaces.

    (Courtesy MPayne13/myBudgetTravel)
  17. Hamburg may be Europe's greenest city, with a host of eco-initiatives in progress. It's also where the Beatles got their first taste of fame outside the UK, and it remains one of the world's most thriving ports.

    (Tomtsya/Dreamstime)
  18. Munich offers visitors the chance to taste the Platonic ideal of beer, and visit castles that feel as if they stepped out of a Disney film.

    (Sborisov/Dreamstime.com)
  19. Whether you crave a literary tour dedicated to spots, such as Temple Bar, immortalized by James Joyce, or a good old-fashioned pub crawl, Dublin delivers. Don't miss a chance to ogle the beautiful illuminated manuscript, the Book of Kells, and a stroll across the Liffey.

    (Courtesy Rosemary Debiak/myBudgetTravel)
  20. Edinburgh brings you face-to-face with Scotland's dramatic history, with castles and other medieval structures that still welcome visitors after all these years.

    (Courtesy pjrichard1016/myBudgetTravel)
  21. Warsaw boasts an old town like no other, where you can commemorate the city's heroic uprising against Nazi occupation.

    (Courtesy melpilgrim/myBudgetTravel)
  22. Krakow isn't always as spooky as this image suggests, but the Polish city, founded in the 7th century, remains a sobering stop for visitors. The Oskar Schindler Factory is one must-see not just for history buffs but for anyone who seeks to understand Poland's turbulent past.

    (Courtesy lprice/myBudgetTravel)
  23. Budapest, the capital of Hungary, is home to St. Stephen's Basilica, the beautiful Chain Bridge, and a friendly, inviting culture that spans Western and Eastern European traditions.

    (Courtesy cspaid/myBudgetTravel)
  24. Split, Croatia, is not only a gorgeous city on the Adriatic, but also home to some of the finest Roman ruins in Europe.

    (Tupungato/Dreamstime)
  25. Rome, as the saying goes, wasn't built in a day, and its stately ruins (such as the Colosseum and Forum), Renaissance palaces, churches, art museums (including the Vatican collections), and make-a-wish fountains can't possibly be seen in a day either.

    (Courtesy StanBike/myBudgetTravel)
  26. Some people forget that Istanbul is a European city! Of course, it famously straddles Europe and Asia, not just geographically but in just about every other way, too. Explore amazing open-air markets, churches, and ruins in the city so nice they named it thrice (Constantinoople, Byzantium, and Istanbul).

    (Courtesy ricolo/myBudgetTravel)
  27. Reykjavik delights and surprises visitors with its colorful buildings, but its far-north locale doesn't put a damper on the city's friendliness and willingness to have a good time. We heartily recommend a stopover in Iceland on your way to or from the Continent!

    (Courtesy SusanHalay/myBudgetTravel)
  28. Some of the best designer bargains in Europe? Da Vinci's Last Supper? A cathedral to rival those in Rome, London, Paris, and Florence? Milan has it all—even a gorgeous train station turned into an upscale mall!

    (Piero Cruciatti/Dreamstime)
  29. Palermo, in the northeastern corner of Sicily, dates back to 734 BC and has at various times been part of Carthage and Rome, an independent Sicily, and most recently, of course, Italy. Its perfect location on the Mediterranean, traditional Southern Italian cuisine, and churches spanning a thousand years of architectural styles make it a one-of-a-kind destination.

    (Courtesy nancyb926/myBudgetTravel)
  30. Copenhagen is sometimes considered the most beautiful city in Europe, and its Tivoli Gardens are one of the main reasons.

    (Courtesy lavenderdays/myBudgetTravel)

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