I’m Planning a Trip to Europe. What Cities Should I Visit and Why?

Visiting Europe is often a bucket-list item for travelers from around the world. While heading to Europe is an obvious choice, choosing where to visit in Europe is a much harder decision.

There are many countries and cities worth exploring, and ultimately the best itinerary will be the one that best suits your budget, your style and your passions. However, there are some cities that are widely ranked as some of the best in Europe for travelers. Take a look at the top picks for 2018, and then dig deeper to explore some up-and-coming destinations just right for 2019 travel.

Tallinn, Estonia

  • 2018 is the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia. While in Tallinn, you can expect plenty of celebratory events and cultural festivals highlighting the local culture.
  • The Old Town is on the UNESCO Heritage Site List, and the architecture in the area is beautifully preserved.
  • Climb to the top of St. Olaf’s Church for one of the most incredible and popular photography spots in all of Europe.
  • Tallinn is one of the nightlife capitals of the world. It’s the ideal place to stay out late, dance until dawn, and drink for surprisingly low prices.
  • Average cost for one night of accommodation in Tallinn is €36, or $43 USD.

London, England

  • If you’re a fan of the royal family, you can get up and close and personal Buckingham Palace. The changing of the guard is an iconic event that happens several times each day.
  • Along with Broadway in New York, London’s West End is perhaps the most important theater destination in the world. Come for the endless, high-quality shows every night of the week.
  • London is a shopping heaven. Go upscale on Oxford Street or pick through the markets on Portobello Road for more affordable options.
  • It’s incredibly easy to get around London on the underground, trains, and buses.
  • The average cost for one night of accommodation in London is £92, or $123 USD.

Bilbao, Spain

  • Art lovers won’t want to miss the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, a spectacular art museum housed in a stunning structure designed by architect Frank Gehry.
  • Bilbao is the gateway to Spain’s Basque culture. On your visit, you’ll be able to explore the Basque Museum, see Basque dancing, delight in Basque cuisine, and see a completely different side to Spanish history.
  • Sure, you’ve had tapas. But have you tried Pintxos? While sipping local wine or evening cocktails, bars set out hearty appetizers on toothpicks called Pintxos. At the end of your visit, just count up your toothpicks and pay for what you’ve eaten. This is a culinary tradition unique to the Bilbao area.
  • Sports fans can check out San Mames Stadium, home to the soccer team Athletic Bilbao. There’s tons of hometown pride here, and players can only join if they are from Basque Country or have lived and trained there.
  • The average cost for one night of accommodation in Bilbao is €48, or $57 USD.

Prague, Czech Republic

  • The architecture in Prague is unparalleled. In a single neighborhood you can see Baroque castles, Gothic cathedrals, and Art Nouveau buildings side by side. A number of contemporary buildings can also be found, including works like the Dancing House by Frank Gehry.
  • While other European cities like Munich might have a reputation for beer, those in the know recognize that Prague is a serious beer city. You’ll find breweries with centuries of tradition as well as up-and-coming craft breweries right in the heart of the city.
  • Prague looks and feels like it is straight out of a fairytale. There are over 1,000 towers and spires in the city, hundreds of parks and gardens dating back to the Middle Ages, and more than 30 bridges spanning the picturesque waters of the Vltava River.
  • Prague has become increasingly popular over the last 20 years. While it is still an affordable city, prices are on the rise. Going now means you can explore the city before it gets too expensive.
  • A typical night of accommodation in Prague costs Kč1,250, or $57 USD.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

  • Amsterdam is a capital of art history. Art collections at the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum are unparalleled and contain works by many of the classic European masters.
  • The beautiful canals that crisscross the city add an element of peace and stillness to the bustling destination. It’s also easy to get around on foot or on bike, just like the locals.
  • Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport is a major airport in Europe, which means that flights to and from the city are often very affordable. Direct flights from North America, European capitals, and even Asia are readily available.
  • Although there’s plenty to see and do in Amsterdam, the city is also a gateway to trips throughout the Netherlands. Use the city as a home base for exploration in the region.
  • The average cost of accommodation for a night in Amsterdam is €73, or $86 USD.

This list captures just a few of the top cities worth exploring. As you start planning ahead to 2019, add some up-and-coming destinations to your itinerary. Wroclaw in Poland and Bohinj in Slovenia are increasing in popularity, but they are still culturally rich and affordable spots you won’t want to miss.