Prettiest cities in Europe

Prettiest cities in Europe to add to your bucket list in 2021

With its dreamy landmarks and fairy tale cities, Europe is on almost every traveler’s bucket list, but choosing where to go and planning your European trip can be pretty overwhelming. To help you pick which cities to visit, travel bloggers share their favorite European cities worth seeing. From gorgeous Mediterranean towns to cosmopolitan capitals, discover the prettiest cities in Europe to add to your bucket list.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on any links and make a purchase, I’ll get a small commission, at no cost to you.

Prettiest cities in Europe

Before any international travel, make sure you have a good travel insurance.

Geneva – Switzerland

Geneva, Switzerland

By Jasmine from Kiwi Talks Travel

While most people head to Zurich and Zermatt, Geneva is a gorgeous city on the western-most side of Switzerland on the France border.

Nestled between mountains and situated on Lake Geneva, Geneva is by far one of the prettiest cities in Europe. From cobblestone streets to picturesque lake views, there isn’t a lot to complain about when it comes to the beauty of this city.

Like any other major city in Europe, Geneva has its own airport making it easy to get there. If you don’t have a car, you can always catch a taxi to the city center or even get the airport bus, either way, driving into the center is magical.

The best time to visit Geneva is in the peak season of July and August. Although, if you don’t want to be touching elbows with tourists, head there in the spring when the weather is still bearable. If you want a magical experience and don’t mind the crowds, Geneva is also breathtaking during the winter months (December – March).

Geneva may be a small place, but it is packed full of amazing things to do, such as:

  • Wander around Lake Geneva;
  • Gaze at the St Pierre Cathedral;
  • Catch the scenic train to Château de Chillon;
  • See the flags through the gates at Palais des Nations;
  • Have a dip in the public baths, Bains des Pâquis;
  • Catch the cable car to the top of Mont Salève and take in the sensational views;

Geneva is definitely a pretty European city you have to go to at least once in your life.

For a unique experience stay at Les Armures in the heart of the old town, set in a historical building. If you want to stay by the lake the Four Season and the Ritz Carlton are good options as well. For a more budget-friendly option, check out Hotel des Tourelles.

Hallstatt – Austria

Hallstatt. Austria

By Jürgen & Martina from Places of Juma

Hallstatt is probably one of the most famous villages in Europe and certainly one of the most beautiful places in Austria. Situated in a breathtaking setting on the shores of the black Hallstatt Lake and with the imposing high mountains in the background, this little village of 800 inhabitants is a real magnet for visitors.

Tourists from all over the world come here to see with their own eyes this picture book scenery, which is really only known from Instagram pictures.

Strolling through the village, you will discover many small highlights. One of the most important sights in Hallstatt is the historic market square, where a Christmas market takes place in winter and, in summer, is decorated with countless colorful flowers.

Also interesting is a visit to the Bone House, up by the cemetery, which houses a collection of 600 brightly painted skull bones. If you like photography, you should definitely also visit the Hallstatt Viewpoint, where the best pictures are taken. Also worth seeing are the Salzwelten, an interactive museum on the mountain with breathtaking views over the lake and down to Hallstatt.

Hallstatt can be visited at any time of the year! If you want to stay for a night, you should spoil yourself with a room at the Heritage Hotel Hallstatt.

Tübingen, Germany

Tübingen, Germany

By LeAnna Brown from WanderinGermany

It’s really hard to pick the most picturesque towns in Germany, but one that often is at the top of the list is the quaint Tübingen, which makes a perfect day trip from Stuttgart.

While the town itself is known for being a “University” town, there are plenty of things to do for the day for tourists passing by. Germany’s quaint towns are basically made for wandering, where, every few steps, your camera is begging for another click, and Tübingen is no exception. 

This is the perfect town to sit in the Altstadt on the Marktplatz sipping a cappuccino or beer and just people watching.  Wander around the old cobblestone alleys to get lost in time. Go into the old church or see the city from the castle above. 

However, one of the highlights of most people’s afternoon in Tübingen is taking the iconic boat ride down the river.  What feels like an oversized gondola, complete with a captain that steers the vessel with a long, giant, stick, you can sit back and watch the colorful pastel buildings pass you by. 

If you are planning on staying a day or two in Tübingen, check out the charming Am Schloss Hotel.

Nuremberg – Germany

Christmas Market in Nuremberg

By Rich from RJ on Tour

Located in the Bavaria region of Germany, the city of Nuremberg features a beautiful old town area with stunning city walls, a castle overlooking the town, and a selection of interesting churches to visit. Strolling around the cobbled streets will take you back in time, don’t miss the historic timber-framed buildings, you’ll find the nicest one on the road leading to the Imperial Castle.

The views of the city from the castle are stunning, you can see the old town and many of the city’s spires. There are also many historically significant sites in the city from the Roman era to more recent times. The Pegnitz River runs through the old town, make sure to take a walk on its banks.

The best time to visit Nuremberg is while the Christmas markets are on. The city is known as one of the most Christmassy places on earth, and it’s not for nothing. During the Christmas season, the entire town is very festive and decorated accordingly, with lights and decorations everywhere. When exploring the markets, the smell of cakes from various stalls, mixed with the vibrant atmosphere, is a unique thing to experience.

There are several options for accommodation, however, Invite Hotel, just outside the city, is good value, has pleasant rooms and a fantastic sauna for guests.

As you can see, there are plenty of things to see and do in Nuremberg, it truly is one of the prettiest cities in Europe.

Munich – Germany

Munich, Germany

By Steph from A Nomad’s Passport

With its historic buildings and many parks, Munich is definitely one of the prettiest cities in Europe. It is a city that can be visited year-round as every season offers different highlights that make a trip to Munich worthwhile.

Munich offers a seemingly endless number of things to do, but some of the highlights are the ‘Viktualenmarkt’ with its permanent food booths, the Frauenkirche, the ‘Marienplatz’ and the New Town Hall that is home to one of the best viewpoints in Munich. The ‘Englischer Garden’ in the city center is bigger than Central Park and another place visitors should not skip. Be sure to drink a Bavarian wheat beer at the Chinese Tower within the park while listening to traditional Bavarian music.

There are a lot of amazing local festivals in spring and summer, so it is always a good idea to check out the advertisements in subway stations. Around mid-September, the famous Oktoberfest starts, while winter brings around the Winter Tollwood Festival and the many Christmas markets of Munich.

If you do not mind splurging, you can stay in the historic hotel Bayrischer Hof. It is where celebrities stay when they visit the city and a unique experience.

Lisbon – Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

By Kat from World Wide Honeymoon

Lisbon is easily one of the prettiest cities in Europe. With tilework sprawled across buildings and streets, orange roofed buildings, an ancient fortress, and breathtaking hills, this city is truly stunning to visit. 

If you have 2 days in Lisbon (or more!), definitely check out Belem Tower (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), cruise along the Tagus river, listen to heartbreakingly beautiful fado, take the Santa Justa Lift for great views over the city, and definitely end at least one day watching the sunset from Sao Jorge Castle

Another wonderful thing you have to do in Lisbon is to explore it through the food and drink. Time Out Market has plenty of options with some of Lisbon’s best food featured here. Plus you’ll want to try world-famous Portuguese wine like vinho verde, or green wine, port wine, and Madeira wine.

This city is perfect for those on a budget too, as prices are fairly inexpensive for tourist attractions and dining out. Also, Lisbon is known for having some of the best hostels in the world! Lisbon Lounge Hostel is a fantastic place to stay! 

As for the best time to visit Lisbon, temperatures are rarely cold, so spring and fall are perfect times to avoid crowds and enjoy the pleasant weather.

Lisbon easily makes the cut for prettiest cities in Europe, and don’t be surprised if you find yourself longing to return after your trip! 

Seville – Spain

Seville Spain

By Stéphanie from Bey of Travel

No other city in Spain will make your heart beat faster as Seville. 

Seville is the capital of Andalusia and traditional Spanish Flamenco. The city attracts annually 3 million visitors and is without a doubt one of the prettiest cities in Europe. With pleasant temperatures all year long, you can visit the city during every season, although the summer months can be extremely hot.

Seville has the largest historic center in Europe and the most stunning architecture. Make sure to visit the Seville Cathedral and the famous plaza d’España. The Royal Palace, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, should be high on your Spanish bucket list as well.

The Metropol Parasol is the perfect spot to enjoy a beautiful sunset over the city, a ticket costs only 1 euro.

Book a stay in Hotel Boutique Casas de Santa Cruz, located in the historic center, to enjoy your trip to the fullest. 

You will find traditional local markets and Spanish tapas restaurants everywhere you go. The city is relatively small so you can discover everything on foot! 

Barcelona – Spain

Parc Guell, Barcelona

By Katie from You Me Under the Palm Tree

Barcelona is an incredible city full of Gothic architecture and a backdrop of amazing green mountains that contrast with the impressive skyscrapers. There is so much to do in this magical city.

Barcelona is famous for its Gothic quarter and Gaudi masterpieces. Visiting Park Guell is simply a must. We would strongly recommend a before-opening hours tour to catch the sunrise and experience some of the best views over the city skyline.

The best time to visit Barcelona is in the spring before the tourist season starts in the summer or in the winter when you can experience the beautiful Christmas markets and escape the crowds.

We have visited this city many times, and our favorite hotel is Hotel 1898. The rooftop bar here is simply stunning, with the most incredible views spectacular rooftop pool. The hotel is located on La Rambla, the main street in Barcelona, with the city’s heart right on your doorstep; this hotel is perfect.

Barcelona is also home to the most incredible vegan restaurants, with our favorite being BarCeloneta Sangria bar. This restaurant serves vegan calamari and the best sangria in all of Barcelona. For other fabulous vegan restaurants, check out our guide to the best Vegan restaurants in Barcelona.

Madrid – Spain

Plaza de Cibeles, Madrid, Spain

By Nina from Lemons and Luggage

Madrid is without a doubt one of the prettiest cities in Europe. The architecture and avenues display a subtle elegance that often surprises people as the city tends to get overlooked in favor of other cities. The best time to visit is probably the fall when you won’t encounter huge tourist crowds while still enjoying a mild climate.

Because it is the Spanish capital, there’s an array of things to see in Madrid, such as the Royal Palace, various squares (Plaza Mayor, Plaza de Cibeles, Plaza de España, Puerta del Sol), and world-class museums (Prado, Reina Sofía, and Thyssen-Bornemisza).

But Madrid has more to offer than sightseeing. Like many Spanish cities, Madrid is home to beautiful parks such as the popular Parque del Retiro. And don’t miss out on the city’s food and nightlife scene. Madrid has one of the highest densities of bars in the world! Vegans don’t have to worry as there are many vegan eateries in Madrid offering everything from fast food, to Peruvian cuisine, and doughnuts.

If you’re ready to book your trip to Spain’s capital and looking for central accommodation that isn’t expensive, Hostal San Martín, a guesthouse just off Gran Vía, is a good option.

Cadiz – Spain

Cadiz - Spain

By Joanna from Andalucia in My Pocket

Cadiz is one of the most beautiful Mediterranean cities in Europe. Located in the South of Spain, Cadiz is the oldest continuously inhabited city in Europe, being established over 3000 years ago by the Phoenicians. The archaeologists have found remains of walls seven meters below today’s street level of Cadiz.

Even though it is such an old city, Cadiz has a very young and vibrant spirit. You can best see this in the local market, where the locals gather at lunchtime to enjoy tapas and cold drinks at one of the restaurants adjacent to it.

Being an island, Cadiz is surrounded by beautiful sandy beaches. From the promenade, you can see a beautiful panorama of the city on one side, and the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean on the other. Here is the best place to watch the sunset from as well. One of the prominent buildings which you can admire in Cadiz is the Cathedral. This beautiful building has its crypts under sea level, which makes it a unique monument.

You can visit Cadiz year-round, both in summer and in winter. Being in the south of Spain, the city receives over 300 sunny days each year, which makes it a perfect destination for winter sun. If you are on a road trip around Andalucia, allocate at least two days in Cadiz.

If you want to treat yourself to a nice hotel, yet affordable, check out Hotel Casa de las Cuatro Torres, set in an historic building in the heart of the old town.

Reykjavík – Iceland

Reykjavik, Iceland

By Tristan from Traxplorio

The northernmost capital in the world, Reykjavík is one of the most beautiful capitals you’ll find in Europe. People interested in art and architecture will fall in love with the city, strolling through its streets, you’ll find street art and cute stores in wooden huts at every corner.

You can either explore the city by yourself or book a guided tour to learn everything there is to know about Reykjavík and discover hidden spots.

The city center has its own charm with wooden huts and colorful houses. Stroll around the small street and shop for local crafts and treats to bring home some souvenirs. Don’t miss Hallgrim’s Church, one of the tallest structures in the country featuring a unique architectural style. In winter, the city center almost looks like Santa’s village – you can even take a trip to visit Santa’s house! As you can see there is a lot to discover in Reykjavík.

If you’re looking for something fun to do, head to the Penis Museum and visit this bizarre museum.

If you need some snacks afterward, we recommend you go to one of the numerous small bakeries. The baked goods in Iceland taste really excellent and are a good alternative to the expensive restaurants.

Of course, on a visit to Iceland’s capital, you must also take advantage of the hour and visit at least one of the breathtaking waterfalls in the vicinity. Iceland is not called the land of fire and ice for nothing. Reykjavík is the ideal starting point for your Iceland adventure but also perfect for a city trip.

Reykjavík is definitely worth a visit! If you want to visit Reykjavík, check out this Iceland Travel Guide for more inspiration.

Hotel recommendation: Castle House Luxury Apartments – This apartment has the perfect location. Moreover, it is in front of a small lake, so you can also enjoy a beautiful view. It offers great value for money and is even equipped with its own kitchen. This way you can buy groceries in the nearest supermarket and save some money.

Best time to visit: Reykjavík is absolutely recommendable at any time of the year. In winter, however, it feels very special. A little winter wonderland.

Venice – Italy

Venice, Italy

By Miriam from Miry Giramondo

For the prettiest city in Europe, Venice needs no introductions. It’s one of the most visited travel destinations in the world and for good reasons! Venice has history, culture, landscape, good food, and is one of the most unique places in the world.

Venice has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987 and what really makes it beautiful is the fact that it’s built entirely on canals, so there’s no traffic or bus exhaust, and along many canals, all you can hear is the lapping of the water! The main means of transport are boats and ferries. The nice thing is to walk and get lost through the calli and the small streets, always discovering new corners.

The biggest attraction in the gorgeous city of Venice is the architecture which is enhanced by the ancient canals that surround it. As well as Piazza San Marco and St. Mark’s Basilica, the city is home to the Gothic masterpiece Doge’s Palace.

The city is also famous for its bridges, the most beautiful one is the Rialto Bridge. This ornate structure hangs over the Grand Canal and from there you can go on a gondola ride.

Among the free things to do in Venice, visit the libreria Acquaalta and the Terrace of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi where you’ll get a beautiful view of the city.

To make the most of Venice’s tranquil side, consider going in autumn. If you are planning a trip to Europe, Venice has to be on your list!

Rome – Italy

Rome, Italy

By Jiayi from The Diary of a Nomad

The Eternal City of Rome is definitely one of the prettiest cities in Europe. Filled with ancient history and delicious food, it’s truly hard to run out of things to do there. Visit Rome for 3 days at the very least to give yourself enough time to cover all the most unmissable sights and activities.

Some of the top things to do in Rome include visiting the Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, and of course, the Vatican Museums and the St. Peter’s Basilica. There will be a lot of walking, so be sure to bring some comfortable shoes. If you get tired, you can relax at Villa Borghese, a beautiful park in central Rome, or have a snack at Piazza Navona.

Make sure to visit Trastevere for some of the best food in town. It’s also a very picturesque neighborhood with fewer tourists than the historic center, so it’s a great place to get away from the crowds. There are some great hotels in the historic center of Rome, and one of them is Hotel 87, which has a stunning terrace with a hot tub.

To avoid the insane crowds of the summer, visit Rome between March and May or between September and November to enjoy a relatively quieter atmosphere. With that said, though, this is Rome. So it’s going to be quite busy with tourists no matter which time of the year you visit.

San Marino

San Marino Castle

By Pamela from The Directionally Challenged Traveler

An amazing beautiful city in Europe is the tiny micro-country (and city) of San Marino – the oldest country in the world. It boasts breathtaking views of the Italian countryside while being home to an impressive castle. 

The best thing to do in San Marino is to explore the towering castle on the peak of Monte Titano. There are three towers looming over the city- dating back to the 11th century! The First Tower, Guaita is the oldest tower built in the 11th century and most famous. The Second Tower, Cesta, is on the highest peak and is home to a museum holding over 1500 weapons dating back to the Medieval Era. The Montale, the third tower, is on the smallest summit and is not open to the public.

You can take a cable car that can take you up and down the steep mountain. You can truly appreciate the precipitous location of San Marino. There are also plenty of museums to intrigue you. The National Museum dives into the rich history of San Marino. The beautiful Basilica de San Marino, opened in 1838, is a beautiful piece of architecture and a step back in time. If you prefer more unusual items – visit the Torture Museum.

The museum is right across the street from Hotel Cesare. This hotel is ideally located at the top of the mountain and has a patio with incredible views. Sunset over the countryside is a breathtaking view in Europe.

Killarney – Ireland

Killarney, Ireland

By Bradley from Dream Big, Travel Far

Killarney is a lovely town in County Kerry of southwestern Ireland. It’s an incredibly photogenic location with a very particular tinge of dreaminess to it. Perched amidst rolling hills and lakes, even the drive here is an experience in itself. In fact, one of the best ways to get to Killarney is doing the entire Ring of Kerry – it is the starting and endpoint of this popular route.

With that said, it really is the gateway into the natural wonders of Ireland, including the Kerry Way walking trail and Killarney National Park. There are many things to do in Killarney, like experiencing traditional Irish music in local pubs. We recommend Murphy’s bar and O’Connors for some authentic Irish vibes and excellent drinks.

Muckross House is a must-visit, a beautiful Tudor-style house that teams with a fascinating yet bloody history. It was built back in 1843 and is located near the lakes of Killarney. Speaking of which, these lakes offer sweeping views of the jagged mountains too. When the mist comes rolling in, the scene is something quite magical!

Other quintessential Killarney sights to see include the Torc Waterfall, Ross Castle, and Ladies View, a stunning viewpoint frequented by Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting.

Unfortunately, Killarney does tend to be quite busy as it attracts a lot of tourists. The best time to visit would be during the off-seasons, or anytime outside of summer unless seeing the town basked in sunlight is something you really don’t want to miss.

If you are thinking of visiting the country, you can also plan to take a scenic drive through Ireland’s most stunning places.

Copenhagen – Denmark

Copenhagen - Nyhavn

By Ben from Ticket 4 Two Please

Copenhagen is consistently ranked in the top 10 for best cities to live in around the globe and when you walk around the city, it is easy to see why. 

The mix of modern, nordic architecture, with the classical Danish buildings, makes Copenhagen a uniquely beautiful city. Couple this with the fact that you are never far away from the water when in the Danish capital, and you begin to see why this city is so popular to visit. 

The best way to explore and appreciate the beauty of the city is on two wheels. Copenhagen rivals Amsterdam for the title of ‘World’s friendliest bike city’ and it is hard to disagree. Renting a bike is a sustainable way to experience the allure of the city and make the most out of your time there. 

Begin your adventure at the world-famous Torvehallerne Market, sampling cuisines from all around the world. A number of vegan-friendly market stalls offer an incredible array of treats and desserts, as well as a beautiful assembly of fresh fruit and juice stands.

After the market, head to the highlight of any Copenhagen stay, Nyhavn. The 17th-century waterfront and canal district is lined by brightly colored townhouses, bars, restaurants, and cafes. 

Round off your stay in one of Europe’s most beautiful cities by paying an evening visit to Tivoli Gardens. The amusement park and pleasure garden was opened in 1843 and remains one of Copenhagen’s flagship attractions to this day. At night the rides and attractions are lit up and illuminate the sky over Copenhagen – it is truly stunning!

Ghent – Belgium

Ghent - Belgium

By Cecilie from Worldwide Walkers

Ghent is one of Europe’s prettiest cities. It’s a beautiful Medieval city that’s often overlooked in favor of the more popular Brussels and Bruges in Belgium. While it’s a shame, it also means that there are fewer tourists and more space to explore.

In the Middle Ages, Ghent used to be one of the largest cities in Northern Europe, which has left the city full of history. You can find several old historical buildings, cathedrals, and towers in the cobblestone streets of Ghent. And to make things prettier, there is also a beautiful canal that twists through the city.

The best thing to do in Ghent is to explore the old Medieval buildings. You can visit Gravensteen Castle, go up the Belfry Tower, or see the famous “The adoration of the mystic lamb” altarpiece in St. Bavo’s Cathedral.

You can visit Ghent all year round. Although, it’s more popular in the summer than in the winter. In July, there is a massive festival in the city named “Geentse Feesten”, which turns the city center into one big music scene. So, make sure to book your hotel in advance if you plan to stay during this festival in July.

It’s easy to get to Ghent from Brussels – the train takes about half an hour, and a tram takes you directly from the train station into the city center. Once you reach the city center, you can start the exploration of this pretty city in the heart of Western Europe.

Bruges – Belgium

Bruges, Belgium

By Izzy from 24 Hour City Guides

The gorgeous medieval city of Bruges makes a perfect day trip from Brussels and packs a real punch with its atmospheric and medieval old town crisscrossed by canals, where every street is lined with beautiful and historic Flemish architecture.

Bruges is ridiculously photogenic, from the buzz and color of the market squares to the whitewashed hues of the Princely Beguinage of the Vineyard, founded in 1245, and home to lay religious women for centuries. Bruges is a city made for meandering – from chocolate shop to chocolate shop, with perhaps a waffle thrown in on the way. You’ll also find cool independent boutiques and stylish interior design shops as you wander the old town. Don’t forget to look up and spot the distinctive gables of the medieval houses.

Head just out of town on your bike for Bruges iconic windmills, another Insta worthy spot. The three windmills, the last standing of the original 23, are real eye-catchers, lining the canal ramparts between the Dampoort and the Kruispoort. 

The best time to visit is in spring, when daffodils carpet the courtyard of the Beguinage and canal-sides, or in winter when the Christmas market creates a wonderful atmosphere across the city, and there may even be a dusting of snow.

Stay at the Canal Deluxe Bed and Breakfast. This gorgeous pair of canal-side historic houses is a five-minute walk from the center of Bruges and offers luxury decor with a modern twist. To continue the foodie theme, the breakfast here is legendary, with local and homemade produce being top of the list.

Athens – Greece

Athens, Greece

By Chrisoula from Athens and Beyond

Athens is an amazing city to visit – especially during the late spring where there are wildflowers growing everywhere. The weather is warm and sunny, so pack some comfortable shoes as you can explore much of the city on foot. If you need to travel slightly further afield, there are buses, trams and the Metro.

The first day you are in Athens, you will want an early start to beat the crowds visiting the Acropolis! You can explore the Parthenon and other key monuments when it isn’t too busy and by the time it is warmer, you will be ready to visit the air-conditioned National Archaeological Museum – one of the most important museums in the world.

For those who love the rich history of the city, there are countless monuments to visit, but if you want a change in tempo, there is the colorful flea market in Monastiraki and Ermou Street – the main shopping street. Later in the day, head for Psiri as it has small family-run tavernas, larger restaurants overlooking the floodlit Acropolis, and great bars with live music. The Athens Gate Hotel is situated in the heart of the historic city with stunning views from many of its guest rooms and rooftop terrace.

Rethymno – Greece

Scooter in a small paved street in Crete, Greece

By Nichola from Family Hotel Expert

Rethymno is one of the prettiest towns in Crete, if not Greece or Europe. Winding streets are overhung with balconies where tumbling, colorful flowers cascade down. It’s a lovely place to get lost in the back lanes and just enjoy being there.

There’s plenty to do here, aside from just soaking up the atmosphere. Visit the 15th-century fortress which still stands looking strong and formidable. The Venetian old town with its beautiful harbor is also worth visiting and it’s the perfect place to sit with a cold drink and watch the fishing boats come in from.

The Archaeological Museum of Rethymno is also worth a visit. While small, it is packed full of ancient delights and gives you a wonderful insight into a lost world.

There are many great family resorts in Crete based around Rethymno including the atmospheric Thalassa Boutique Hotel, once the summer residence of a local Turkish lord.

Fly in to Chania or Heraklion airports in Crete and make your way to Rethymno or take the boat from Athens if you have the time. Visit at any time of the year, off-season, particularly in spring or autumn will give you the chance to be away from the crowds and really experience the beauty of this most picturesque of towns.

Gammelstad Church Town – Sweden

Gammelstad, Sweden - best towns in Europe

By Ellis from Backpack Adventures

Gammelstad Church Town is one of the prettiest places in Sweden. It is located far north in the sparsely populated region of Swedish Lapland. An area of vast evergreen forests where people live far in between. So far, that going to church wasn’t easy. 

That’s how the history of church towns in Sweden developed. People simply couldn’t travel to church and back in a single day. Therefore small homes were built around the church where people could sleep during the night. 

Gammelstad church town is one of the best-preserved church towns left in Sweden. The 15th century medieval Neder Lulea church was one of the largest and wealthiest churches in northern Sweden. The original red wooden cottages that surround the church are still there as if nothing has changed. 

The picturesque village feels like an open-air museum, but the homes are still private property. A lot of Gammelstad’s traditions are still alive. The town still becomes an exuberant affair during the weekends and religious holidays when the owners return. Just like before, Gammelstad is a place where people meet and celebrate. 

Gammelstad is an easy day trip from the city of Lulea. It is a year-round destination, but the season has a large influence on what you can do. Winter is all about the northern lights and snow activities like snowmobiling. Summer is about hiking and nature in the nearby gammelstadsviken nature reserve. Lulea has an international airport, but you can also take the night train from Stockholm. The Amber Hotel is a great place to stay.

Norwich – England

Norwich Cathedral from bridge

By Anisa from Norfolk Local Guide

Norwich is a historic city where you can still find Tudor-style buildings, medieval churches, and a colorful market.

There are plenty of things to do in Norwich and it’s a lovely place to visit especially during the warmer months. Elm Hill is known as one of the prettiest streets in England. Nearby, you will find Norwich Cathedral, the most complete Norman Cathedral in England and one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in Europe. It’s free to go inside.

Another popular attraction in Norwich is the Castle which was founded by William the Conqueror. You can go inside the keep and see additional displays in the exhibition space next door. They also offer tours of the dungeon and battlements.

To get to Norwich, you can take the train directly from London’s Liverpool Street Station. It takes about two hours. You can visit as a day trip or if you want to stay longer, the Assembly House is a historic place to stay in the city center.

London – England

London Bridge, England

By Dymphe from Dymabroad

London is one of the prettiest cities in Europe. There are lots of great things to do in the city and one of the best activities is to go to Big Ben and the London Eye. These sights are some of the most famous ones in London, and everyone who visits the city should see them.

Another great thing to do is to walk through the colorful streets of Notting Hill. You’ll find there very charming houses in all kinds of colors. These make for some of the most Instagrammable places in London. Besides that, when you are in London you should definitely visit Tower Bridge, the most famous bridge in London and maybe even in the whole world!

Make sure you also pay a visit to the City of London, a very modern part of the city, where you will find large skyscrapers and lots of businesses.

If the weather is nice, you can also take a walking tour of London, a great route is via the South Bank to Westminster Abbey.

For some shopping and a glimpse of one of the best markets in London, check out Camden Market, along Camden High Street and Chalk Farm Road. 

London is always great to visit, but the city is very magical during winter and especially at Christmas.

Paris – France

Eiffel Tower, Paris, France Travel Guide

By Alice from Adventures of Alice

Paris, the City of Lights is a cultural hub and one of the most visited cities in the world. With so many museums, galleries, parks, markets, and architectural landmarks it’s hard to know where to start. But if you’re spending a week in Paris, or even 3 days in Paris, there’s plenty to tick off your French bucket list. 

Paris is a mecca of culture and art. With its rich history, culture, and must-see landmarks like Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre Museum, and the Arc de Triomphe it’s no wonder people flock to this city year after year. As well as these, make sure to visit the Sacré Coeur, the Champs Elysées, and (even though it’s mega touristy) the Eiffel Tower

Despite the Eiffel Tower’s fame, and whilst you will get incredible views from the top, for the best views in the city, head to the Arc de Triomphe. Plus, this way, you will actually get the Eiffel Tower included in the picture. 

There are many other things that Paris has to offer that you might not know about or even be aware of until you visit: the Sainte-Chapelle for some of the most stunning stained glass you will have ever seen, the Paris Catacombs for a creepy trip beneath the city and the Musée d’Orsay for a great museum and a historic clock. Either way, if you’re looking for a fun-filled European getaway, Paris is the place to go.

Rouen – France

Rouen, France

By Constance from A Well Read Wanderer

When in France, don’t miss one of the best-preserved Medieval towns in Europe, Rouen in the Normandy region. It’s a stunningly beautiful town of gothic and medieval architecture, history, and fun.

Rouen is the place where Joan of Arc was held and tried in 1430 and, spoiler alert, where she was burned at the stake for treason. While in Rouen, you can visit the place of her martyrdom, where she has been memorialized with a statue and a unique modern church dedicated to her. You can also learn more about her story at the Historial Jeanne d’Arc and climb the stairs in the medieval tower where she was held prisoner.

Rouen is also known for its incredible architecture. The streets are lined with half-timbered houses (now mostly turned shops), some of which have been around since the 1400s. Victor Hugo described Rouen as “the city of a hundred spires.” The most famous church to visit in Rouen is the Cathedrale Notre-Dame, a gothic cathedral of enormous proportions considering the tiny town in which it’s located. Monet famously painted the façade of this cathedral more than thirty times, and some of these paintings can be viewed in Rouen’s Museum of Fine Arts.

Rouen is a great town to wander, shop, and play. As you wander enjoying this university town’s unique architecture, you’ll find a diversity of shops, markets, and nightlife.

Rouen is about 2 hours driving from Paris. Alternately, you can take a speed train from Paris for between $10-$30. Once in Rouen, the town is very walkable.

Strasbourg, France 

Strasbourg, France

By Anuradha from Country Hopping Couple 

Strasbourg is a perfect concoction of everything that is France and Germany. Sandwiched between their borders, Strasbourg is a perfect base for exploring the Vosges Mountains and Alsace Wine Route, all of which make Strasbourg a compelling holiday destination in Europe. 

One of the best things to do in Strasbourg includes visiting Strasbourg Cathedral, a 15th-century gothic cathedral, and a UNESCO Heritage Site. Highlights of the cathedral include rich interiors, stained windows, a suspended pipe organ, and the astronomical clock.  If that isn’t enough, climb up 300 spiral steps and enjoy the stunning views of the city and beyond.

Take a stroll in the picturesque La Petite France located on Grand Île and a popular instagrammable spot in Strasbourg. 

Strasbourg is also home to 20 European Institutions including the European Parliament. Due to this, Strasbourg is often called the Capital of Europe.  You can take a boat tour around the canals to enjoy the city, or walk at your own pace and admire the stunning half-timbered houses and French mansions. 

In Strasbourg, being influenced by the cultures of two countries, the culinary options here are a treat if you are a foodie.  There are restaurants that serve a vegan version of Flammekueche, a must-try food in the Alsatian region. For a decent vegan cafe, Harmonie Bowl and Juice in Rue St Étienne is the place to be!

Avignon – France

Avignon, Southern France

By Elisa from France Bucket List

Avignon is one of the prettiest towns in Southern France and all of Europe! This lively city is well known for the Palace of the Popes – the world’s largest Gothic palace and home of several Catholic Popes in France – and the Festival d’Avignon, the most important theater festival in France.

Avignon has a beautiful historical center from medieval times and also stunning private mansions from the Renaissance. Other interesting places to explore during your stay in Avignon are the Halles, with a typical provencal market, and the picturesque Place de l’Horloge, with the town hall.

The city is also a good base for exploring some of Provence’s hilltop villages and the lavender fields when it is the season (July – August).

Avignon is very easy to reach by TGV train from the main cities in France. Count on it taking 3 hours from Paris and only 1 hour from Lyon. The Hotel Central is a good option, located within the medieval walls, only 300 m from the train station.

Paphos – Cyprus

Paphos Sea Caves

By Elina from Empnefsys & Travel

Paphos is a great destination in Cyprus for your next vacation. This pretty seaside city is known for its beaches, historical places, and natural wonders.

Paphos is good to visit year-round, but the best time to go is in late spring or early autumn. This time usually has milder temperatures compared to the summer months and plenty of sunshine.

It is very easy to reach Paphos, especially during the summer, as it has its own international airport. Alternatively, take a flight to Larnaca and get the shuttle bus there. Note that due to poor public transport around the island, it is best to rent a car. This way, it will be easier for you to explore both the city of Paphos, as well as the wider region.

While in Paphos, do not miss visiting one of its crystal beaches, like Coral Bay and Alykes. Other popular places to visit include the Archaeological Park and the Tombs of the Kings. In terms of natural wonders, head to Aphrodite’s Rock and the Sea Caves of Pegia. If you have a 4×4 car, try to explore the rough terrain of Akamas National Park and even visit the famous Lara Beach.

Accommodation-wise, you can stay in one of the many luxury resorts along the beach, like Leonardo Plaza Cypria Maris Beach Hotel and Spa. However, if you want a more budget option, go for an inland rental apartment.

Amsterdam – Netherlands

Amsterdam, Netherlands

By Sidney from A World in Reach

Amsterdam is an incredible city full of history, culture, and beauty. The picture-perfect canals lined with historic canal houses, churches, and other beautiful buildings put Amsterdam on the list of the prettiest cities in Europe.

A trip to Amsterdam isn’t complete without visiting the city’s museums. Art lovers will enjoy a trip to the Van Gogh Museum or the Rijksmuseum while history buffs will love the Anne Frank House and the Jewish Historical Museum. Make sure to add at least one of these museums to your Amsterdam bucket list. Other top things to do in Amsterdam include exploring the Red Light District, taking a canal cruise, and visiting the Heineken Experience.

Amsterdam is home to tons of amazing restaurants, many of which are vegan-friendly. Mr. & Mrs. Watson is a great restaurant with an entirely vegan menu. The Happy Pig Pancake Shop is a great vegan-friendly place to try traditional Dutch pancakes.

For the best experience, choose a hotel in the city center that’s within walking distance of Amsterdam’s top sights. A great budget-friendly option is Hotel Nadia, which is just a 7-minute walk to Dam Square and 10 minutes to the Red Light District.

Giethoorn – Netherlands

Giethoorn - Netherlands

By Frans from Ask the Dutch Guy

Looking for a place to enjoy nature at its best when in the Netherlands? Giethoorn is perfect for you. This enchanting, car-free medieval village offers complete serenity and bliss to visitors. Enjoy strolling, cycling or boating around to see centuries-old thatched-roof houses, cottages and 180 lovely wooden bridges.

When in Giethoorn, take a sip or dine at cozy little cafés nestled in nooks, or look for cottages that are actually hidden museums and churches. The most popular destinations here are the De Oude Aarde museum, which is well-loved for its precious gemstones, Olde Maat Uus Museum, which is actually a typical farmhouse from hundreds of years ago, and the nearby De Weerribben-Wieden National Park.

This fairy-tale-like village is best known for its tranquility. Visit historic buildings, old churches and ancient castles, or ride one of Giethoorn’s “whisper boats” along the lovely canals.

Giethoorn is located in the northeastern Dutch province of Overijssel. To get there from Amsterdam, take the train to Zwolle and rent a vehicle from there. Or, you may take the train from Amsterdam Zuid/Centraal Station to Steenwijk and then ride Bus 70 to the Dominee Hylkemaweg, which is only 10 more minutes away on foot to the village. The whole trip will take about 2 hours. 

The best months to visit are April, May, June, and September. Come on a day trip package, but if you wish to stay longer, there are several hotels in the village to house you.

Edinburgh – Scotland

Edinburgh castle, Scotland

By Anjali from Cheerfull Trails

Gloriously well-preserved architectures, picturesque landscapes, vibrant cobbled streets, and a bustling center, Edinburgh is one of those prettiest cities in Europe that can never fail to impress you.

The iconic Royal Mile stretches between the city’s significant landmarks, the Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace. Visitors can find many enthralling museums, cute boutique stores, interesting cafes, and restaurants to see throughout the Royal Mile. Take a short hike to Arthur’s Seat for the mesmerizing views of the city.

Some of the other best places to visit in Edinburgh that you should not miss out visiting are the Giles Cathedral, Leith waterfront, Royal Yacht Britannia, the Scottish Galleries, and the Carlton Hill.

The best time to visit Edinburgh is June till August when the climate is pleasantly cool and perfect to enjoy the amazing attractions of the city. Stay at the award-winning Tigerlily Boutique Hotel located on George Street very close to the city’s center.

Valletta – Malta

Valletta at sunset Malta

By Ciara from Wellness Travel Diaries

Valletta is one of the most picturesque and prettiest cities in Europe. Situated on the island of Malta, amongst the Mediterranean Sea, Valletta is the capital of this beautiful island. Known as one of the smaller capital cities in Europe, Valletta is a hub of rich history steeped into every corner of the city.

Here you’ll find UNESCO sites, elegant sculpted statues, green gardens, and beautiful fountains. Meander through the narrow streets to stumble across tasty vegan restaurants in Valletta such as Soul Food where you can dive into yummy Buddha bowls or the vegan special of the day. 

Grab vegan and gluten-free desserts at Theobroma for a chocolatey ball of goodness, or head over to Piadina Café. After, take a stroll through the Upper Barrakka Gardens where you can see a live demonstration of the Saluting Battery, or relax in the Lower Barrakka Gardens.

For museum lovers, there are several museums and historical buildings to visit — the National Museum of Archaeology, the National War Museum, The Malta Experience, Saint John’s Cathedral Museum, and more.

Even though Valletta doesn’t have an airport, the main airport is only about 20 minutes away by taxi.

Did we miss anything? What about you? What’s your favorite European city? Let us know in the comments below.

Like it? Save it for later:

Prettiest cities in Europe

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to Top