You are living in Europe and are thinking which city might be perfect for your next week-end trip? You are living outside of Europe and were wondering which cities to include in your itinerary on your next Euro trip? Then you are right here!
18 locals have followed my call to introduce the beautiful city they live in to the rest of the world.
This required a minimum time of three months they must have spent in that particular city – although I believe all of them have spent at least one year there, some many years, others all their lives. What you will see in what is to follow is their personal attachment to the city:
- why they love it
- where to eat
- where to drink
- where to hang out and
- from where to take the best picture for a memory.
Their insights give you the perfect opportunity to start off right in a new destination and to not end up in a tourist trap.
Since they lived in the city, I did not ask them for recommendations on where to sleep. (Feel free to add your recommendations in the comments.) For the real backpackers among us, there is of course Couchsurfing, which is free of cost and brings you closer to the life of a local. (I only recently published an article on how to get your couchsurfing request accepted.) If you like more privacy, then my boyfriend and I have made good experiences with AirBnB in the past. Their advantage is that they might be located really central and often are furnished in a modern style.
For newbies (or cheapsters clever enough to sign up with a new email-address): If you haven’t used Airbnb yet, I would love to invite you to the community. As a thank you, you will get €35 off your first trip.*
We are now about to start with our list. For reasons of clarity, I ordered the cities from North to South. I did not wish to make any city better than another, so I used Roman numbers as enumeration.
Here are the prettiest cities to visit in Europe. Lean back, learn and enjoy!
I. Bergen, Norway
Atle Rasmussen from atleihagen
The residents of Bergen are known all over Norway for patriotism and how much we love our city. Bergen is called the city among the seven mountains, and these mountains cause the rain we are widely known for. The hikes up the mountains are short and give an amazing view over the city. When the sun finally shines, there is no place like Bergen with its many beautiful places.
My favourite place to eat: The restaurant “To Kokker” at Bryggen has great fish!
My favourite place to have a drink: The bar “Baklommen” at Bryggen.
My favourite place to hang out: Bryggen with its several cafés, bars and restaurants.
II. Tallinn, Estonia
The special value of Tallinn lies in its Old Town, which has remained its medieval milieu and structure – winding cobblestone streets, medieval churches, Merchant houses etc. There are many platforms that give grandious and majestic views of the city. Next to the Old town you can find yourself in the middle of Creative Centre and Hipster district or modern architecture. Tallinn is versatile and quite green, as Estonia overall, where are a lot of parks. Considering the relatively small size of the city, everything is in walking distance.
The most instragammable place in Tallinn: the Kohtuotsa viewing platform.
III. London, England
Daniela Stoian from The Lost Romanian
I love London because it’s one of the most diverse cities I’ve been to. I like to say it’s the whole world in one city. One can go from one neighbourhood to another and experience a different culture. I have a long list of places to explore and restaurants to try, and it’s not getting any shorter. There is always something happening. In London, you get bored only if you insist to.
My favourite place to eat: Persian Palace – really nice Persian food, cosy, oriental atmosphere, huge portions.
My favourite place to have a drink: Notch – rooftop bar with view over Oxford Street. Every summer they change the name and the theme.
My favourite place to hang out: Shoreditch area – street art, street food, lots of different bars.
The most instragammable place in London: London Eye view from Westminster Bridge.
IV. Ghent, Belgium
Liza Dirix from Lizzie’s world adventures
Ah Ghent, a beautiful little gem quite often overlooked between the famous cities of Brussels and Bruges, Belgium. It’s a city that has just about everything. A perfect mix between students and locals, old and new city and parks makes it a great city to live in with a little bit of anything for everyone.
My favourite place to eat: A place I like to have lunch is “Potatolicious“, where the dishes are built around the potato.
My favourite place to have a drink: Ghent has countless good cafes with more different beers you could ever imagine but as I do enjoy a bit of blues every now and then, I like to head to the Missy Sippy for a drink or two. This blues and roots club does free acoustic and electric blues jams every first and third Wednesday of the month.
The most instragammable place in Ghent would be the entire historic area of the city, but the Castle of the Counts in particular.
V. Prague, Czech Republic
Amanda Bell from Prague Off The Map
Prague is a magical city, no doubt about it. It will charm you from the get-go with its jaw-dropping architecture and well-preserved historic sights. There’s just something about walking across a nearly empty Charles Bridge at 2:00 in the morning when it seems like you have Prague all to yourself. Prague, though, is a haven of tourists. And a lot of times, it can be pretty crowded. One of the reasons I love Prague is that it is a small city with a lot of hidden gems scattered throughout the center and nearby districts. It’s actually pretty easy to get off the beaten path in Prague.
My favourite place to eat: have a bite to eat at lovely Bistro 8 on Veverkova Street, quickly emerging as Prague’s hippest street.
My favourite place to hang out: In the spring and summer, you’ll find locals sipping good Czech beer at one of the city’s many beer gardens (see a list of lesser known ones here).
The most instragammable place in Prague: Vysehrad is a historic fortress with a basillica, breathtaking cemetery, and amazing views of the city. Luckily it hasn’t been discovered by tourists yet.
For more tips on getting off the beaten path in Prague, get a downloadable copy of Prague Off the Map’s city guide here.
VI. Heidelberg, Germany
Marisa Martin from The Traveling Storygirl
Heidelberg is everything that a quaint medieval German town should be. Its formidable castle is perched on a hill overlooking the town and river and the city has such a deep history. Cobblestones line the streets and the main pedestrian zone is chock-full of old world charm and history. If you want a picturesque and amazing location (with delicious) food, then Heidelberg is the perfect place to go.
My favourite place to eat: Well, there are two. First, there is Perkeo. Perkeo has amazing food. From spaghetti with mushroom cream sauce to massive salads, it does not disappoint. Second, right along the main street is Café Schafheutle, an adorable little café. This café opens in the morning for coffee and pastries and in the afternoon has more substantial food. In the warmer months, Schafheutle allows guests to sit outside in the back patio amidst the flowers.
My favourite place to have a drink: There are so many great options for drinks because Heidelberg is a college town and college students love to drink. One of my favorite places is Regie’s, a cocktail heaven. In the daytime, Regie’s is a mellow, hip restaurant that just happens to sell delicious drinks. Once the sun goes down, Regie’s transforms into one of the coolest places to hang out and enjoy drinks that are bigger than your head!
My favourite place to hang out: Anywhere along the main street (Hauptstraße) is the perfect spot to meet up with and hang out with friends. It’s a pedestrian zone only and is lined with shops and cafes. The Hauptstraße is the life of the city and there are always lots of people there!
The most instragammable place in Heidelberg: The Neckar River winds through Heidelberg and provides the perfect backdrop for pictures and the castle. If you walk across the old bridge to the side away from the old city, there is a long grassy hill with some benches. In the springtime there are even beautiful yellow daffodils! No matter what time of year you go, the river, old town, and castle make the perfect backdrops for the perfect Instagram.
VII. Colmar, France
I live in Colmar since I was born. The architecture is very typical: old colourful, partly half-timbered houses with lots of flowers. You can take a boat ride through the city like in Venice. In winter, there is the famous Christmas market, it’s an amazing time to be in Colmar. In summer, the weather is very hot, you can go for so many walks in the nearby mountains. In July and August, each week, a different village opens the cellar for a party. It’s Wine festival!
The city is clean and quiet in the evening. It is not very large, so I think two or three days are enough to visit the town, but if you want, a lot of villages around Colmar are waiting for you.
My favourite place to eat: Restaurant “Le Petit Schlossberg“. The owner is very friendly and it’s not a trap for tourists.
My favourite place to have a drink: Brasserie “L’Amandine“. I recommend to sit outside, it’s close to the cathedral, and you can see all people because it’s a strategic place and everybody passes in front of you.
My favourite place to hang out: Parc Rapp. It’s the main place close to the station ‘Le champs de Mars’, very easy for meeting.
The most instragammable place in Colmar: “La Petite Venise“. Most people take a photo here on the bridge when the night is coming. I also like the market hall, and, especially in winter, the “Grand Rue” with its decorations. It’s a pretty sight with old houses and many different lights.
VIII. Bled, Slovenia
Tina Klemenc from Tina Klemenc
Bled, one of the most touristy places in Slovenia, each year attracts lots of people from all over the world, while us locals usually come to Bled for a casual stroll around the lake which usually ends with having a coffee at one of the cafes. However, I can never get enough of the “postcard” view which Ojstrica viewpoint above lake Bled offers – an easy 20 minute walk is well worth the sweat which awards you with the reflection of the sky and Karavanke mountains in the lake.
My favourite place to eat: Restavracija Sova.
My favourite place to have a drink: Villa Prešern.
IX. Venice, Italy
Eleonora De Riu from __myvenice__
Why do I love Venice? Well, It’s easy: Venice is love; Venice is art; Venice is unique. I was born here but when I walk among these endless little streets I always feel like a tourist during his/her first visit in this amazing city. It seems like the time has stopped: buildings appear from the water as in a magic fairy tale, there are no cars and children can still play in the street and every time you turn your face, there is a new glimpse to admire. One last thing? Silence. Despite the great number of tourists you can always find a place where you can listen to the sound of nature.
My favourite place to eat: Thanks to its proximity to the sea, the typical dishes in Venice consist of fish. There are a lot of restaurants where you can taste the local specialities but, if you want to try something really typical, I suggest you to go to a “Bacaro”. In Venice, a “bacaro” is a little tavern where local people meet up to drink and eat something together. One of the best is named “Al squero”, in the Dorsoduro district, where you can try some delicious “cicchetti”, small snacks or side dishes, which normally include seafood, sandwiches, olives, meatballs and many other typical products.
My favourite place to have a drink: The typical drink in Venice is the “spritz”, an alcoholic cocktail made with prosecco, Aperol (or Select or Campari) and sparkling water. Everyone in Venice drinks spritz and one of the most peculiar places to have one is the bar/restaurant “Al timon”, in the Cannaregio district. It is just in front of a little canal and, during sunny days, you can sit down on a boat docked there.
My favourite place to hang out: “Campo Santa Margherita” is, without doubts, the meeting point for young people in Venice. It is a wide square surrounded by bars and pubs with outdoor terraces where people usually meet up to drink something during the day or the week-end nights. It is very close to the Ca’ Foscari university so a lot of young students love this place also during their breaks.
The most instragammable place in Venice: It would be predictable to say the Saint Mark’s Square or the Rialto Bridge, probably two of the most photographed places in the world. So I’ll give you some tips in order to take amazing photos in Venice, but in some different places. One of them is the “Accademia Bridge” for the amazing view from its top. Another one is the “Acqua Alta” bookshop, a very peculiar place where thousands of books are collected in bookshelves but also tanks, boats and a real gondola; furthermore, you can also climb a “books stair” and admire the view from the top. Finally, as Venice is a proper open air museum, the best photos are taken among its streets and canals. The perfects area is the “Castello” district, as it has maintained its typical features and it is the less beaten by tourists.
X. Belgrade, Serbia
Milica Kolarov from The Balkan Cook Book
Belgrade is a city full of life! No matter what time it is, the streets are always crowded with young people relaxing in coffee shops, night clubs or just shopping around having fun. On the other hand, Belgrade has been a cradle of so many cultures such as Celtic, Roman, Turkish… Their influence is very visible in city’s architecture and monuments.
One of them is the statue of Duke Mihailo Obrenovic who has liberated the city from Turks, located on Republic square. It’s common to see lots of people waiting exactly in front of the statue, because it is the favorite meeting spot in the town. At the same time it is the starting point to discover Belgrade: just a few minutes away from it you enter Knez Mihailova street which leads you straight to Kalemegdan fortress and the old part of the city called Dorćol. So, if you want to enjoy nice food and wine, meet kind and friendly people and fulfill all your senses – come to Belgrade, the city of true hedonism.
The most instragammable place in Belgrade: You can pick the best places among: Kalemegdan fortress, Savamala, Ada Ciganlija (a.k.a. the sea of Belgrade), Avala (the mountain near Belgrade), Republic Square, Terazije square, Tašmajdan park, Hotel Moskva, Skadarlija street…
XI. Modena, Italy
Stefania Fregni from My Modena Diary
Modena is my lovely city, located in Emilia Romagna region in Italy. It’s the place were I was born and where I still live. – Modena is known worldwide for its excellences as cars (e.g. Ferrari), singers (e.g. Pavarotti), delicious traditional foods (e.g. Balsamic Vinegar) and restaurants (e.g. Osteria Francescana by Massimo Bottura) as well as architectures (its Cathedral has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site together with Piazza Grande and Ghirlandina tower). What I love most about the cathedral is that looking at the it makes me feel at home. I love my city for all these reasons but especially because I think it’s one of the most authentic and people-friendly place in Italy, where visitors can get in touch with a true Italian experience.
My favourite place to eat: Da Enzo (traditional food of Modena).
My favourite place to have a drink: Mon Café.
My favourite place to hang out: Giusti Café.
XII. Florence, Italy
Catalina Todd from Miss Adventures Abroad
I fell in love with Florence when I studied abroad and enjoyed it so much I felt compelled to move back! The city is incredibly charming and has so much history around every corner. Everywhere you go there is something new to discover! As a lover of art, I really couldn’t have chosen a more perfect place to live. It sometimes felt like I had gone back in time to the Italian Renaissance. The city has such a unique energy, it is no wonder that so many tourists visit each year and fall in love too!
My favourite place to eat: This is such a hard question! My favorite panini is from Salumeria Verdi, my favorite cafe is Ditta Artigianale, and my favorite place for a delicious Italian meal is La Giostra or Osteria Santo Spirito!
You can find my top 30 places to eat and drink in Florence here.
My favourite place to hang out: I really enjoy simply grabbing a bottle of wine and heading to the nearest piazza, or dining al fresco near a street musician. Another place I really enjoy heading is the Piazzale Michelangelo. The view of the city here is stunning, and it is the perfect place to catch the sunset with friends!
The most instragammable place in Florence is probably from the top of the Duomo or the bell tower – you’ll get a stunning shot of the iconic cathedral as well as an amazing panoramic view of Florence.
XIII. Aix-en-Provence, France
Bea Dominguez from Bea Dominguez
Located about 20 miles from Marseille, Aix is known as the city of a thousand fountains. A moniker that is not far from the truth, as the first thing you notice about Aix is the beautiful “Fontaine de la Rotonde”. Your visit to Aix should start there, looking at la Rotonde and preparing for a stroll in the “Cours Mirabeau,” one of the most popular and lively places in the town.
Although Paris is the typical French destination, Aix-en-Provence and the charming south are not to be missed! I hope you fall in love with Aix’s charming streets, gorgeous architecture and delicious food as much as I do.
My favourite place to eat: For lunch or dinner, you can walk to nearby Place des Cardeurs where you will find dozens of amazing restaurants. I’m particularly fond of Le Poivre d’Ane, Chez Nous and L’epicurien. However if you are tired of French food (although we all know that is impossible) there are a couple of amazing Moroccan restaurants nearby.
My favourite place to have a drink: Walk around the Cours Mirabeau and have a glass of Bandol rosé at Les Deux Garçons, an Aixois institution, this cafe dates back to 1972 and has served dinner and drinks to the likes of Pablo Picasso, Jean-Paul Sartre, Winston Churchill, and Édith Piaf. (If your budget is a bit more relaxed get the prix fixe dinner.)
My favourite place to hang out: If you are tired from shopping, relax with a café at the Place de l’Hotel de Ville and let the green umbrellas shade you from the summer sun.
Or check out the Musee Granet, for some contemporary art in a gorgeous setting.
The most instragammable place in Aix-en-Provence: “Fontaine de la Rotonde,” an impressive fountain surrounded by bronze sculptures of twelve lions, sirens, swans, and angels on the backs of dolphins.
XIV. Rome, Italy
Milica Kolarov from The Balkan Cook Book
Since the first moment I arrived (four years ago), I fell in love with this city – it was love at first sight! What I really like about Rome is when you wander around the ordinary streets and you turn a corner, suddenly you get hit by the little pieces of great beauty. It’s incredible how many historical monuments and amazing churches are located in the Eternal City. My favorite places are Piazza Navona, Villa Borghese and the breathtaking Fontana di Trevi. Each time I visit them I get astonished, because they’re too beautiful to be true!! I bet there is nobody who didn’t like Rome, or hasn’t thrown a coin in Trevi Fountain hoping to be back here again soon. Once you see it, it’s impossible not to be enchanted by the city. It’s magic! Or how Dean Martin once said: “That’s AMORE!”
My favourite place to eat: “Cacciani”, a traditional Roman restaurant situated in Castelli Romani, with the best panorama of Rome, and “Fratelli la Bufala”, a traditional Neapolitan restaurant (but they have pizza, too) with a twist of modernity.
My favourite place to hang out: Trastevere, an old part of Rome with many pubs and wine bars. Also check out “Caffe Letterario”.
The most instragammable place in Rome: It’s impossible to pick only one in Rome. Here are some of them: Lungotevere, Isola Tiberina, Pincio, Fontana di Trevi, Villa Borghese, Colosseo, Piazza Navona, Piazza Venezia, Gianicolo, Roseto Comunale di Roma, Giardino degli aranci, La bocca della verità, Tivoli…
XV. Tbilisi, Georgia
Michelle Gavin from Mangolass Travels
I love Tbilisi because it’s innately charming. As a photographer I am constantly wandering the city looking and observing. Although I have lived here nearly two years, I am always discovering a new street, cafe, or building that I hadn’t noticed before. In addition to the beautiful architecture, the food is different from any other combination of spices and ingredients I’ve ever had. Even as a vegetarian, I can eat here quite easily and happily, and within 1-2 hours outside the city I can visit wineries. Finally, it’s incredibly affordable for Europeans. I feel proud that this small nation has survived, despite their turbulent history and current occupation by Russia.
My favourite place to eat: Samiktno Machakhela is a Georgian restaurant chain that is cheap, everywhere, always crowded, and the food is tasty. For a great atmosphere, Keto and Kote is a lovely fancy hidden upmarket downtown restaurant.
My favourite place to have a drink: Vino Underground is my favorite place to drink natural wine. The staff is incredibly knowledgeable about Georgian wine and lets you taste first. Their food menu has expanded but still limited as it’s not a full restaurant.
My favourite place to hang out: Wandering Old Town and Sololaki neighborhood streets with friends and my camera.
The most instragammable place in Tbilisi: the view from Mtsaminda Park.
XVI. Barcelona, Spain
Àlex Carné from alexcarne
I love Barcelona for its colours and light, for its weather and for its architecture, for its people and food and drink. I think Barcelona is a perfect combination of all of that, and finally it’s not a very big city compared with other Europe capitals, so you can go through a lot of places just having a walk.
My favourite place to eat: Parking pizza is a very nice place to eat a good pizza. For a great and custom burger, you can go to Oval. To have a coffee, i recommend you Granja PetitBo or the terrace of Chez Coco. Also Casa Ametller is very beautiful and you are beside Casa Batlló by Gaudí.
My favourite place to have a drink: Clearly Libertine, the cocktail bar of Casa Bonay.
My favourite place to hang out: Plaça Reial is always a great idea.
The most instragammable place in Barcelona: There is a small house, full of plants, inside the Born district. It’s clearly one of the best hidden place in Barcelona. But i will tell you it’s in the Allada Vermell Street.
XVII. Palma, Balearic Islands, Spain
Nabeeda Bakali from World of Nabeeda
There are many things to love about Palma; from the sandy beaches to the warm weather and the ever so friendly people. But the one thing that makes Palma special to me is the hidden sights. There is always a corner you can turn and stumble upon a beautiful sight. The inspiring view of the Cathedral from the park, the palm trees giving you a cosy feeling, the bustling markets livening up the streets and architecture that just lows your mind away. Palma is a place with history and magic that binds you and makes you never want to leave.
My favourite place to eat: Wine Industry.
My favourite place to have a drink: Cappuccino San Miguel.
My favourite place to hang out: the beach.
The most instragammable place in Palma: Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma.
XVIII. Córdoba, Spain
Lindsey Zimmerman from Viatic Couture
Córdoba is full of history at every turn, having been an important city for the ancient Romans as well as for the three major religions. It’s well situated within southern Spain, making it a perfect trip from Seville or Madrid, and there’s no shortage of historical wonders, natural beauty, and fantastic food hidden among its ancient cobblestone streets. From the famous striped arches of the 1,000-year-old mosque to the sleek and modern bars that dot the riverfront, there’s something for everyone in this charming city.
My favourite place to eat: La Siesta Lounge Bar, Calle Enrique Romero de Torres at Plaza del Potro.
My favourite place to have a drink: Casa Madriles wine bar, Calle Alhaken II.
My favourite place to hang out: Mercado Victoria, Paseo de la Victoria s/n.
The most instragammable place in Cordoba: Interior of the Mezquita-Catedral (mosque-cathedral), Calle del Cardenal Herrero 1.
This was: The prettiest cities in Europe and what to do when you are there. If you have questions on individual cities, please feel free to contact the contributor directly via their mentioned page.
I do agree that this list is not complete (and never will be). There are so many beautiful cities out there that just seek to become renowned. If you think I missed your city and it should absolutely be mentioned, then please contact me, so I can include you in the second edition 🙂
Since this post is a bit different from what I normally do, I would like to know: Did you enjoy this post? Would you wish more of this?
* If you haven’t yet used AirBnB, I would appreciate if you used my affiliate code to sign up. As you see, I do not monetize this site with ads. With the code, you and I both get a travel credit. While you receive 35€ for the first time you travel, I will get 20€. Please not that the credit can only be used for a booking of €65 or more.
** Header picture: Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence.