Europe is well-known for its deep history, great architecture, and natural beauty. I’ll be honest with you, making this list about the most beautiful cities in Europe was one of the hardest articles I’ve ever written, just because it was so hard to choose between the countless gorgeous and unique cities.
In the end, I decided to only list the cities I’ve visited myself so I can assure you from a first-hand experience that they are truly the prettiest cities in Europe. So here goes the list of the best cities in the continent that you need to put on your Europe bucket list right away!
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Most Beautiful Cities in Europe
1. Paris, France
Paris is not only one of the most beautiful cities in Europe but it’s also one of the most breathtaking dream destinations in the world. You can easily spend there weeks without getting bored but spending 4 days in Paris is a good start to discover the best of the city.
If you’re visiting Paris for the first time, seeing the famous Eiffel Tower must be on your itinerary. No pictures do justice to how incredible the Iron Lady is in real life! Paris is home to many world-class museums and while many people decide to visit the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa, the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée Rodin are also worth exploring.
The best things to do in Paris include shopping on the Champs-Elysées, eating countless macarons and croissants, visiting the Sacré-Coeur, wandering through the cute streets of Montmartre, and seeing a show at the famous Moulin Rouge. In the City of Love, everyone will find their favorite type of activity!
2. Barcelona, Spain
Nestled between the beautiful mountains and the inviting coastline, Barcelona is definitely one of the most popular cities to visit in Europe. The capital of Catalonia is mostly known for the famous La Sagrada Familia and the many colorful and breathtaking works of Antonio Gaudi across the city. Starting from the gorgeous architecture to the most amazing local food, there are just so many things to love about Barcelona!
Although you can see almost all the must-see spots in just 24 hours in Barcelona, it’s worth spending at least 3 days in the city to truly experience its unique vibe.
Walking through the Las Ramblas and the Gothic Quarter, admiring the unique architecture of the La Sagrada Familia, visiting Casa Batlló and Casa Mila, and seeing the sunset in the Park Güell is a real must when visiting Barcelona!
If you have more time in the city, you can go up to Mount Tibidabo where you can spend a fun day in the amusement park and have an amazing panoramic view over Barcelona.
Since Barcelona is really popular among tourists, it usually gets very crowded during the summer. If you want to visit without the crowds, try to plan a trip to Barcelona in the off-season. Since the city is blessed with mild temperatures during winter, it’s also one of the best winter sun destinations in Europe if you want to escape the cold.
3. Oia, Santorini
Santorini (officially known as Thira) is part of the Cycladic island group on the Aegean Sea, located roughly halfway between Athens and Crete. Santorini is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful islands in Greece – seeing the white-washed cliff-side towns, the deep blue roofs and the endless views of the shimmering sea is a true bucket list experience.
Sitting in the northwest corner of the island, the city of Oia is the most famous place in Santorini thanks to its postcard-perfect views. If you’re visiting Santorini for the first time you should spend at least one night in Oia to be able to witness one of the best sunsets in Santorini.
Oia is packed with many amazing hotels, blue-domed churches, and great local restaurants so there is no shortage of things to do in the city.
4. Rome, Italy
No Europe trip is really complete without visiting the Italian capital, Rome. It’s full of ancient ruins, historical sites, and amazing landmarks and it’s undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in Italy.
The Eternal City is also home to one of the new seven wonders of the world, the Colosseum, which makes it a must-see destination on every traveler’s bucket list. While you can visit the city all year round, the best time to visit Rome is definitely in the shoulder season when the weather is still mild but the crowds are thinner.
Being one of the most interesting and historically important places in Europe, you can easily spend weeks exploring all the beauties Rome has to offer. Even if you only have one day in Rome, you need to explore the Vatican City and admire the St. Peter’s Basilica, visit the Pantheon, throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain, and see the inside of the Colosseum.
Of course, spending longer in Rome means you get to explore more sights and get a better feeling of the city. If you’re a first timer, it’s best to spend at least 3 days in Rome. To maximize your time, I would recommend staying in Centro Storico, which is one of the best areas to stay in Rome for sightseeing and for finding the best Instagram spots in Rome.
If you want to avoid the crowds during the day, join a Rome by night tour which is one of the most unique ways to discover the Italian capital. Oh, and while you’re at it, don’t forget to try some of the best food in Rome! Pizza, pasta, gelato – do I need to continue?
5. Budapest, Hungary
Budapest is definitely one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and trust me, I’m not just saying that because I’m a local! If you’re looking for gorgeous architecture, fairytale castles, world-famous thermal baths, cool ruin bars, and delicious cuisine – and all of that for a reasonable price – you need to put Budapest on your Europe bucket list right away.
Spending a weekend in Budapest will give you the chance to visit the most famous Hungarian landmarks such as the Hungarian Parliament, the Buda Castle, and the Fisherman’s Bastion, which is undoubtedly one of the most instagrammable places in Budapest. If you have more time, spending 4 days in Budapest is even better, as you get to see more sides of the city!
Whatever time you choose, taking a walk along the Danube river and seeing the majestic buildings rising on both sides will be an unforgettable memory. If you’re visiting Budapest for the first time, try to stay somewhere in or close to the city center (District V-VI-VII) which is definitely one of the best areas to stay in Budapest for sightseeing.
6. Prague, Czech Republic
Prague became a very popular hotspot for hen and stag parties recently due to its laid-back vibe, vibrant nightlife, and affordable prices. Don’t worry, even if you’re not a big party person there are many other things to do in the city! The historical center of Prague is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and exploring the charming little streets in the Old Town is a really unique experience.
Walking across the charming Charles Bridge is one of the best romantic things to do in Prague and if you’re traveling with your significant other, you can also put up a lock on the Love Lock Bridge.
Other great things to do in Prague include taking a walking tour in the Jewish Quarter, admiring the unique Astronomical Clock in the Old Town Square, visiting the Prague Castle and trying the delicious Czech cuisine.
The Czech Republic is also famous for its world-class beers so if you’re a beer lover you can go for a beer tour or visit the Prague Beer Museum as well. If you want to see one of the best Christmas markets in Europe, visiting Prague around the holidays is a great idea!
7. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Often referred as the Venice of the North due to its hundreds of canals, Amsterdam has a truly unique vibe and it’s definitely one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. The city is mostly known for the Red Light District and its world-famous coffee shops (which basically means weeds shop in Amsterdam) but it has many more things to offer.
Amsterdam is home to many great museums like the Rijksmuseum or the Van Gogh Museum and if you’re interested in Jewish history you can visit the Anne Frank House as well. It’s worth scheduling your visit in spring to see the tulip fields in full bloom and enjoy the mild weather.
8. Dubrovnik, Croatia
Lying on the shores of the Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik is definitely a city not to be missed. Often referred to as the Pearl of the Adriatic, this charming city has recently become quite famous amongst visitors as it was the main filming location for King’s Landing in Game of Thrones. Even if you haven’t seen a single episode, you need to put this city on your Europe bucket list right away!
The city is quite small so spending 3 days in Dubrovnik is enough to discover the best places but if you have more time you can easily spend up to one week in the city. Even if you have only one day in Dubrovnik you need to go up to the city walls – the view is just incredible from up there!
If you have more time, you can take a ferry ride or a kayak tour to the nearby Lokrum island, go for a Game of Thrones walking tour, relax at the beautiful beaches or take a day trip to Kotor (Montenegro) or Mostar (Bosnia-Herzegovina).
9. London, United Kingdom
London is one of the most iconic and well-known cities in Europe, attracting millions of tourists every year. Home to the British royal family and many historical landmarks, London is definitely a city that needs to be on everyone’s Europe bucket list.
Apart from the historical landmarks, there are many unique things to do in London. If you’re a Harry Potter fan you definitely need to go for a Warner Bro’s Studio Tour where you can explore the wonders of the Wizarding World.
You can also visit the Madame Tussauds wax museum and the London Dungeon or watch a musical at one of the famous theatres in London. Don’t forget to try an authentic English breakfast and fish and chips while you’re in the city!
10. Venice, Italy
Venice is not only one of the most beautiful cities in Europe but it’s also one of the most unique places in the world. Known for its hundreds of canals, gondolas, and footbridges, it’s no surprise that the city is really popular amongst foreign visitors.
The summer is almost unenjoyable due to the millions of tourists so it’s better to go in the shoulder seasons or off-season.
The St. Mark’s Square with the Basilica is so iconic that it has been the inspiration for The Venetian Resort in Las Vegas and for the largest casino in the world, The Venetian Macao. Venice is quite small so it’s a totally walkable city, although it’s easy to get lost in the canals and narrow streets.
Spending 2 days in Venice is the perfect amount of time to visit the best places in the city and enjoy some of the best Italian foods!
Taking a gondola ride is one of the best ways to see the city but be prepared to pay big bucks for that, as a 30-minute long gondola ride typically costs around 100 EUR (120 USD). If you love photography, you’re in for a real treat as you can find countless instagrammable spots in Venice, such as the Rialto Bridge, the Bridge of Sighs, or the Scala Contarini del Bovolo.
11. Kotor, Montenegro
Kotor gets way less attention than the above-mentioned cities but if you’re looking for some off-the-beaten places in Europe I can only recommend visiting this beautiful gem. The city is located in a gorgeous scenery, right next to the Adriatic Bay and the limestone cliffs of Mount Lovcen. It’s also a great base if you want to explore some other parts of Montenegro or take a day trip to Dubrovnik.
The Natural and Culturo-Historical Region of Kotor is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes the Old Town, the fortifications, and the bay. Inside the city walls, you will find a maze of cobbled streets with many stone houses and piazzas.
If you’re not afraid of a little workout, you can climb up the 1,350 steps to the Castle of San Giovanni where you can have an amazing panoramic view over the city, the bay, and the mountains. Taking a boat tour and visiting the Lady of the Rocks on an artificial island is another great thing to do in Kotor.
12. Vienna, Austria
The capital city of Austria is located in the eastern part of the country, close to the borders of Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. Vienna was also the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and it has always played a major role in the European world.
The city is packed with majestic palaces, churches, beautiful parks, and gardens and it still has an undoubtedly royal vibe. Although you can see a big chunk of the city in just a weekend, it’s easy to spend up to one week in Vienna as well. It’s also a great starting point for a wider Austria road trip!
Vienna is often referred to as the City of Music thanks to its world-famous residents like Mozart, Beethoven, and Sigmund Freud. The Vienna State Opera is one of the must-visit places in the city along with the St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the Schönbrunn Palace, and the Rathaus.
The city is also home to one of the best Christmas markets in Europe so it’s definitely worth scheduling your visit to the winter months.
13. Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina
If you’re planning to visit the Balkans you definitely need to put Mostar on your itinerary. The city is located in the southern part of Bosnia-Herzegovina and it’s mostly known for the iconic Stari Most (Old Bridge). The bridge is 24-metres tall and if you’re an adrenaline junkie, you can even jump off the bridge!
Mostar can easily be visited in one day, many tourists are only going there as a day trip from Dubrovnik or Split. However, it’s worth spending at least one night in the city to experience its charming vibes and soak in the beautiful views.
Mostar can be extremely crowded during the day (especially in the summer months) but if you are staying the night you can explore the city the next morning in a much calmer way.
14. Stockholm, Sweden
Stockholm is widely known as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe due to its unique location. The Swedish capital is mostly surrounded by water as the city is comprised of 14 islands connected by more than 50 bridges. The colorful buildings on the waterfront will definitely steal your heart in no time!
The Gamla Stan (Old Town) is the beating heart of Stockholm and it’s packed with many cute restaurants, cafes, and boutique shops.
Stockholm is home to many interesting museums like the Fotografiska Museet or The Vasa Museum, where you can see a real-life battleship that sank in 1628 and has been restored 333 years later.
If you would like to know more about Swedish history you can visit the Skansen Open Air Museum which is known as the oldest open-air museum in the world.
One of the most unique things to do in Stockholm is seeing the beautifully decorated metro stations. There are more than 100 of them and at least 90 have different and unique art installations. The most popular ones are the T-Centralen with the blue leaves, the Stadion Station with the rainbow, and the Solna Centrum Station with its red and green paints.
15. Milan, Italy
Milan is the capital city of the Lombardy region in Italy and it’s also known as the fashion and design capital of the country. If you’re into shopping there is no shortage of shops and boutiques in the city!
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is probably the most famous shopping center in the world and seeing the breathtaking interior design of the hallways is a true bucket list experience.
The most famous landmark in Milan is undoubtedly the Duomo di Milano, otherwise known as the Milan Cathedral. It looks majestic from the outside as well but it’s worth checking out the interior too. Furthermore, you can also go up to the roofs from where you can have an amazing view of the city.
Spending 2 days in Milan will give you plenty of time to visit the main attractions in the city and try to most delicious Italian dishes. Milan is also a great starting point for every Northern Italy road trip as you can easily reach Lake Como, Lake Garda, or even the Dolomites from the city.
Europe is home to many amazing cities and the list of the best places to visit is practically endless. I will continue updating this list whenever I manage to see a new city so keep checking back for new inspiration once in a while!
I hope you liked this post about the most beautiful cities in Europe and you got a big dose of inspiration for planning your next European trip. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below or send me an email, I always love helping you out! Which city would you like to add to this list? Let me know in the comments!
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