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The 10 Absolute Best Cities to Visit in Europe (Our Picks)

The 10 Absolute Best Cities to Visit in Europe (Our Picks)

Since you can’t see them all in one go, what are the 10 best cities to visit in Europe? Plan your European itinerary around these stunning, historic cities offering the most incredible experiences on the continent.

From the swoon-worthy art and food in Florence to the affordability and historic charm of Budapest, these 10 European cities are places you should plan to visit at least once in your life.

Let’s take a look at the 10 best cities to visit in Europe and what makes each one stand apart in a land of famous architecture, ancient history, famed nightlife, and world-class food.

The 10 Absolute Best Cities to Visit in Europe

If you had unlimited time and money, it would be amazing to visit every city in Europe to experience the differences in language, architecture, food, and culture of each one. 

But since time and money are finite for most travelers, it’s a good idea to start your search with the 10 best cities to visit in Europe. You’ll get a varied sense of Europe’s diversity and charm in each city.

Narrowing down some of the world’s most famous and visited cities isn’t easy, but some clear winners emerged in our analysis of the top choices. The best European cities to visit are:

  • Florence, Italy
  • Paris, France
  • London, England
  • Lisbon, Portugal
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Athens, Greece
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Budapest, Hungary

Keep reading to discover what makes each city special and decide which ones will make it to your European travel itinerary!

1. Florence, Italy

Cityscape view of Florence, Italy with bridges over the Arno River at sunset to show the #1 best city to visit in Europe

Dennis van de Water/Shutterstock

If you were expecting to see Rome topping the list of the best cities to visit in Europe, hear us out. Florence is uniquely picturesque, filled with historic architecture, and a bit more well-rounded than Rome. 

Renaissance art and architecture is everywhere, classic Italian culture is apparent in the food, wine, fashion, and music floating through the city, and the city is 100% walkable. 

If you want to feel like you’ve been transported to another time and place, Florence is the city for you. Surrounded by the peaks of the Apennine Mountains and vineyards on the rolling hills of the Tuscany region, its beauty is unmatched.

Don’t miss the Duomo – the jaw-dropping Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore – and the Accademia and Uffizi Galleries to see Michelangelo’s David and Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. 

Seasoned travelers rank Florence as a better city to visit than Rome and Venice, which can both feel a bit overrun with tourists and don’t have the same relaxed Italian charm and food quality as Florence. 

April through June is the best time to visit Florence (though not the cheapest) and you’ll find a range of places to stay in Florence for different budgets.

And don’t lament missing out on Rome if you’re so inclined – day trips from Rome to Florence take just an hour and a half by train or 3 hours by car. 

2. Paris, France

Aerial view of the heart of Paris with the Eiffel Tower and bridge over the Seine for a list of the best cities to visit in Europe

Beautiful landscape/Shutterstock

The tired descriptions of Paris, France are completely accurate – that’s why they become so cliche. It’s truly romantic with an air of class and culture that makes it so alluring to visit. 

Paris’ focus on architecture, fashion, food, art, and history are apparent wherever you wander in this sprawling city.

From tasting a fresh pastry with an espresso or glass of wine at a cafe to sightseeing around the city to check out all the well-known landmarks, it’s impossible to have a bad time in Paris. 

The 1st arrondissement will take care of most of your bucket list sightseeing, with the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, Tuileries Garden, and Palais Royale.

Don’t miss iconic The Louvre, right on the banks of the Seine River in the 1st arrondissement, or the Pompidou housed in the 4th where Warhol and Pollock works are displayed.

Head out into Paris’ beautiful neighborhoods for a better look at life as a Parisian, especially around Montmartre and Le Marais. You can’t see all of Paris in one day, so plan a 4-5 day trip to get a feel for this classic European city.

Spring and summer are the best time to visit Paris, and once you know the sights you’re interested in seeing, it’s easy to narrow down where to stay in Paris.

3. London, England

London landmarks Big Ben and Westminster Bridge at sunrise to show one of the best cities in Europe for a visit


A list of the best cities to visit in Europe would be incomplete without London, England – a bustling cultural melting pot with palaces and amazing architecture, incredible food, and top-notch museums. 

London’s appeal is broad, making it a great place to go as a family or group because there’s something for everyone. You have to hit the usual sights, like Buckingham Palace and Tower Bridge to the London Eye and Big Ben.

But it’s the places and spaces in between the major landmarks that make London truly stunning. Shopping is excellent, with everything from thrift shops to luxury fashion brands on Oxford Street competing for your attention here.

From delicious Michelin-starred restaurants serving International cuisine to cozy pubs with affordable, perfectly-greasy eats, you won’t be hungry in London.

London’s neighborhoods are charming and classy, offering perfect places to take a stroll or check out bustling markets like Borough Market. Transportation is easy with the city’s public transportation options. 

March through May is the best time to visit London, with spring flowers, greenery everywhere, and less crowded conditions in the city.

Figure out where to stay in London by considering what you’re looking for – Soho’s nightlife, a well-rounded visit in Westminster and Covert Garden, shopping and dining in the City Center, or historic museums and architecture in Kensington. 

4. Lisbon, Portugal

Skyline view of Lisbon, Portugal at sunset with colorful Baroque buildings on the coast for a list of the best cities to visit in Europe


Head to the coast of Portugal to experience the eclectic beauty and laid-back vibes of its affordable seaside capital city, Lisbon. Pastel-hued buildings, castles, and beautiful tilework will welcome you to the time-warp that is Lisbon. 

The city is hilly and walkable with lots of trams to shuttle you anywhere you want to go if you find the hills a little too steep. The 10th-century Sao Jorge Castle in Santa Maria Maior is impressive and one of the most iconic Lisbon landmarks. 

Stroll through the ancient cobblestone streets of the Alfama District, see the Cristo Rei statue overlooking the colorful city, and take time to wander through the National Azulejo Museum. 

You’ll be near beaches (just 15 miles away) that make excellent day trips while you’re exploring and enjoying the relaxed vibes of Lisbon. The city’s even better with glass of port wine from Porto or ginginha (sour cherry liqueur). 

Lisbon’s food scene is one you’ll fall in love with, gobbling up pastries, seafood, and tasty sandwiches that fuel your walks up and down the hilly streets. 

Visitors appreciate that Lisbon is cheap to visit, filled with sightseeing opportunities, and perfect weather in the spring and fall – the best time to visit Lisbon.

Deciding where to stay in Lisbon comes down to the sights you want to be close to and the vibes you’re looking for, whether it’s relaxed cafes or historic architecture.

5. Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona skyline indicates this is one of the best cities to visit in Europe with Sagrada Familia and the coast visible from an aerial view


Barcelona earns a top spot among the best cities to visit in Europe because it offers stunning golden beaches, thriving Spanish culture and history, and jaw-dropping architecture that stirs the soul. 

Amazing food is a sure thing in Barcelona – the City of Seven Meals – where a nonstop parade of tasty tapas, paellas, seafood, and desserts will tempt your palate. 

You can’t visit Barcelona without admiring La Sagrada Familia, a stunning example of Art Nouveau, Spanish Late Gothic, and Modernista architecture that makes even agnostic visitors say they felt the presence of God. 

Barcelona’s vibrant love of life and social focus means the people are friendly and the nightlife is incredible. Wander around the bustling city, enjoying a coffee and croquette, and check out Park Guell and Casa Mila. 

The busy period from May to June is the best time to visit Barcelona. Pinpoint where to stay in Barcelona by considering your trip goals – sticking to a budget, entertaining your family, seeing historic sights, or enjoying nightlife. 

6. Prague, Czech Republic

Prague's Old Town Square and Tyn Church seen from the ground level on a spring morning to highlight one of the best European cities to visit

Andrew Mayovskyy/Shutterstock

The capital of the Czech Republic, Prague, makes an incredible European city to visit. It’s called the “City of a Hundred Spires” and is one of most delightful, walkable cities (complete with cobblestone streets) you’ll travel to. 

Seasoned travelers often rank Prague as one of their favorite cities in the world and it’s easy to see why. Colorful buildings done in the Baroque style, the spires of Gothic churches rising above the city, and ancient bridges and clocks make it stand out. 

Don’t miss Orloj, Prague’s astronomical clock from medieval times, chiming on the hour with a 13-second “show” called the Walk of the Apostles. 

Walk across the 13th-century Charles Bridge, stopping to admire the statues of Catholic saints situated along the way. In the Old Town Square, you’ll be taken with the colorful buildings and transported to another time in history.

The 9th-century Prague Castle, the largest ancient castle in the world, will be a highlight of your trip along with the Saint Vitus Cathedral inside the castle complex. 

Prague’s New Town is packed with places to grab tasty food, beer, and desserts. You’ll stumble into shops and boutiques on the street, relaxing in the peaceful vibe of the city. Oh, and Prague is very safe to visit!

The months of May and September are generally the best time to visit Prague, thanks to fewer tourists, excellent weather, and affordable prices (though Prague is always relatively budget-friendly). 

7. Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Amsterdam canals with bridges crossing and colorful buildings on the edge show why it's one of the best cities to visit in Europe

Veronika Galkina/Shutterstock

Amsterdam is a fascinating place to visit – the whole city feels like a vibrant college town set in a gorgeous space with canals winding through the city, bike paths everywhere, and friendly people who will welcome you with open arms. 

Trams throughout the city make it easy to travel around without getting lost or fighting traffic. You’ll pop into quaint cafes and enjoy pannenkoeken (pancakes) and beef-stuffed bitterballen with a big mug of beer. 

Rent a bike or hit the pavement on foot to make your way through Amsterdam like a local, stopping to take in the scenic views around the canals or overlook the architecture of this bustling city. 

You’ll find tons of museums where you can step back in time to learn about Amsterdam’s history, excellent nightlife that can be as mild or wild as your taste, and mild weather that perfects your visit. 

Amsterdam is uniquely perfect for first-time world travelers. Many of the locals speak fluent English, making language barriers less of an issue and enhancing your enjoyment of the city. 

April and September are generally the best time to visit Amsterdam, offering great, dry weather and plenty of festivals.

Deciding where to stay in Amsterdam means considering how close you want to be to attractions, who you’re bringing along, or how much you’ll be taking advantage of the nightlife.

Read Next: The Best Dutch Food to Try in 2024

8. Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece aerial view of Monastiraki Square and Acropolis at sunset, shown as one of the top cities to visit in Europe

Nick N A/Shutterstock

Every trip to Greece should begin in Athens, the capital city and home to some of the world’s most famous landmarks, ruins, beaches, and architecture. The food is worth writing home about, too!

Athens marries the charm of the Aegean coast with the long, storied history of Greece and its stunning architecture. One day, you can relax on the beach, wandering through the Acropolis the next. 

Situated on rocks overlooking the Aegean Sea, the ancient Greek buildings and ruins of UNESCO Heritage Site, the Acropolis, demand your attention.

This is where you’ll find the Parthenon, Old Temple of Athena, Theatre of Dionysus, and Erechtheum. The Acropolis Museum will help you decode and appreciate the ruins with a fuller understanding. 

Wander through the National Archaeological Museum, the Panathenaic Stadium, and the Temple of Zeus to get your fill of Athen’s majestic past. 

Exploring Greece’s roots will leave you hungry, and you won’t wait long to find amazing restaurants and cafes serving up authentic Greek dishes and boozy Greek ouzo, distilled from grapes. 

The month of May is the best time to visit Athens if you can swing it – the weather is mild and warm and tourism levels are not yet at their summer peak. 

Not sure where to stay in Athens? The City Center is where you’ll find the most nightlife, Plaka puts you close to the ruins and sights, Kallithea is ideal for parks and shops, and Glyfada has incredible beaches. 

9. Berlin, Germany

Aerial view of Berlin's skyline, boats on the river, and Berlin Cathedral at sunrise for a list of the best cities to visit in Europe


Too often ignored, Berlin more than deserves a spot on a list of the best cities to visit in Europe. Diverse cultures, thriving nightlife, and trendy eateries and shops make it a must-visit. 

Berlin will impress even the most skeptical traveler with just how cool it is. Everything feels modern and hip, from the restaurants and shops to the ever-present music and arts scene. 

The vibes here will have you joyfully sipping German beers in huge steins, hanging out in quaint street front cafes, and grabbing German food on the street when your stomach begins to rumble at the delicious aroma of currywurst and kebabs in the air. 

Berlin’s vibrance is due, in part, to an overcoming spirit in the face of its long and sometimes painful history as the capital of Germany.

Historic buildings, World War II museums, and chances to visit to former concentration camps offer a somber perspective of Berlin’s past for visitors looking to get to know the real Berlin, not just its modern-day vibrance.

Public transportation is excellent and a cheap way to get around the city. You’ll want to check out some of Berlin’s lush and beautiful parks to relax on a bench or stroll through Teufelsberg and Tiergarten.

The best time to visit Berlin is between May and September for warm weather and plenty of festivals and events. On where to stay in Berlin, Mitte is nice for first-timers, Friedrichshain is cheap, and Kreuzberg has unbeatable nightlife. 

10. Budapest, Hungary

Skyline aerial view of Budapest, Hungary, which ranks as one of the top 10 cities to visit in Europe, along the banks of the Danube River


Travelers seeking fun, gorgeous architecture, and excellent food in an affordable city should consider Budapest, Hungary. The Danube River winds through this spirited city that dates back to ancient times. 

As the capital of Hungary, Budapest’s history begins when the hilly city of Buda (Hungary’s old capital, called Budapest Old Town today) was merged with the flat city of Pest. 

Unforgettable sights include the Széchenyi Chain Bridge that links the Old Town with the modern parts of the city across the Danube, the massive Parliament Buildings, Trinity Square’s ancient Matthias Church, and St. Stephen’s Basilica. 

Budapest’s indoor and outdoor thermal baths and spas are a major draw for tourists seeking ultimate relaxation in warm waters with incredible, historic surroundings. 

The food is incredible, from street food vendors serving Kürtöskalács, or sweet chimney cakes, to Michelin-starred restaurants. The nightlife is awesome in Budapest if you’re up for bar-hopping or dancing at a club.

Go between March-May or September-October if you’re looking for the best time to visit Budapest with mild weather and smaller crowds. 

As far as where to stay in Budapest, most visitors will appreciate District I (Buda) for proximity to landmarks, the downtown District V, or District VI for thriving nightlife and budget-friendly hotels.  

Frequently Asked Questions

View of Barcelona from Park Guell with colorful tiles visible in the foreground for a list of the 10 best cities to visit in Europe

Georgios Tsichlis/Shutterstock

Hitting the best cities to visit in Europe might leave you with a few questions about the sights and cities you can’t afford to miss. Check out the most common questions about visiting top cities in Europe below! 

What are the top 3 cities in Europe?

Florence, Italy, Paris, France, and London, England are the top 3 cities in Europe to visit. Some travelers will rank Rome above Florence, but Florence offers picturesque views and a less hectic vibe with classic Italian food, architecture, and art.

If you can only visit 3 places while in Europe, Florence, Paris, and London will give you an excellent, varied experience that encompasses the heart of Europe in a nutshell.

What is the #1 tourist spot in Europe?

Paris’ Louvre Museum and Eiffel Tower are two of the most-visited tourist attractions on the continent of Europe. Both are iconic tourist spots that even seasoned travelers say are well-worth seeing.

Which country has the most beautiful cities in Europe?

Italy and France are known for having some of the most beautiful cities in Europe overall. Italy’s most beautiful cities are Rome, Florence, Venice, and coastal towns along the Amalfi Coast and Italian Riviera.

France is home to stunningly romantic Paris, Marseille, Bordeaux, Nice, and Lyon. These cities span metropolitan sophistication, coastal bliss, and historic charm.

Where should we go on vacation in Europe?

Italy is the perfect place for a European vacation where you can choose to be among the mountains and hills, on a sunny beach, or among ancient ruins and famous architecture.

France makes an excellent European vacation, with Paris being the linchpin of any trip here and plenty of smaller cities and beaches around to experience the fullness of France.

What is the #1 vacation country?

France is one of the most-visited countries in the world with nearly 118 million annual visitors clamoring to see and experience the beautiful cities here. Paris gets most of France’s visitors, welcoming over 15 million travelers every year.

Plan a Trip to the Best Cities to Visit in Europe

From the Chianti region’s rolling hills and world-famous art museums in Florence to still-standing ancient architecture on the banks of the Danube in Budapest, the best cities to visit in Europe do not disappoint. 

You’ll get a feel for the richness, culture, and scenery found across the European continent when you visit any of the 10 best cities here. 

With a solid list of the cities you shouldn’t skip in hand, there’s no time like the present to start searching with Google Flights to land on affordable trip dates and start planning your trip!

Get a rough idea of what a trip to Europe costs and best time to visit Europe next to begin the process of travel planning.