Europe, in addition to having a great history, is home to many of the most beautiful cities in the world. Cities that bring together everything a traveler could wish for: monuments and historical buildings, parks to relax, shops and original premises, museums, shopping streets, historical centers to get lost, areas with a good atmosphere to have a drink, good gastronomy and all kinds of cultural and entertainment activities, with which to spend unforgettable days.
We have made a list of the 25 essential cities to visit in Europe to enjoy all kinds of experiences. Let's get started!
The city that is located between Asia and Europe, forming a perfect mix between the cultures of the East and the West, is one of those cities that captivates you as soon as you set foot in them.
The best thing about Istanbul is strolling the streets, getting lost in its spice markets and bazaars, such as the spectacular Grand Bazaar, touring the Bosphorus by boat or entering in silence some of its magnificent mosques.
We recommend you go up to the Pierre Loti hill at sunset and listen to the call to prayer while having a mint tea. We assure you that you will not regret it. There is also another worldly wonder and widely knows and visited by thousands Cappadocia tours. Don't forget to ride in Cappadocia Hot air Balloons.
This list of the best things to see and do in Istanbul will help you not miss out on one of the most impressive cities in the world.
Known as the city of a thousand mosques, one thousand and one nights, the seven hills and the bridge between Asia and Europe, Istanbul is a perfect combination of the best of the cultures of the East and the West, to which you have to travel to the least once in life.
Feel the call to prayer in the mosques, visit Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, haggle in the bazaars, enter grandiose palaces, watch a sunset from the Café de las Alfombras, get lost in the Asian district of Üsküdar or cross the Bosphorus, These are some of the many things to do in Istanbul that we will go through throughout the post.
Based on the experience of the days we spent in this city during our trip to Turkey, in which we wrote this list of tips for traveling to Istanbul and this Istanbul guide, we have made this list of the 50 essential things to see in Istanbul.
1. Enter the Süleymaniye Mosque, the largest in the city, to see the beautiful tiles that are illuminated by the light that passes through its many stained glass windows and the garden in which are the mausoleums of Suleiman I the magnificent and his wife.
2. Take shelter from the heat and look for the two heads of Medusa among the 336 9-meter-high columns of the Basilica Cistern, which was built to supply drinking water to the Ottoman palaces in case of siege.
3. Look for a typical souvenir such as the Turkish eye, the lanterns or the carpets in the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest covered markets in the world, with more than 4000 shops distributed in 58 streets. Do not forget to haggle as much as possible for any piece, as this is one of the most common and stressful things to do in Istanbul.
4. Eat a good kebbab and drink Ayran, a famous drink in Turkey, at the Galata Kitchen or the F&B Culture, two restaurants located near the Galata Tower.
5. Enter the basilica-turned-mosque of Hagia Sophia, one of the most essential places to visit in Istanbul, to see the impressive dome and its precious mosaics.
More places to visit in Istanbul
6. See the best sunset in Istanbul at the carpet cafe in the Üsküdar neighborhood, next to the Bosphorus shore.
7. Get to Taksim Square, place of celebrations and demonstrations and one of the most important squares to see in Istanbul.
8. Cross the symbolic Galata Bridge located on the Golden Horn, which joins the west with the east and has many fishermen with large rods trying their luck on the Bosphorus.
9. Enter the Dolmabahçe Palace, a 19th century imperial residence and another must-see in Istanbul, to see the luxurious interior and manicured gardens.
10. Take a boat to Anadolu Kavağı village, the hour and a half drive will be worth it for the views and for eating fresh fish in one of its restaurants.
11. Visit the Church of San Salvador in Chora, which although it is far from the center, its Byzantine frescoes and mosaics are considered the best preserved in the world.
12. Walk the shopping and pedestrian street Istiklal Caddesi, full of shops and cafes and another of the best things to do in Istanbul.
13. Find the Sarcophagus of Alexander from the 4th century in the Archaeological Museum, one of the best in its field and another of the wonders to see in Istanbul.
14. To learn more about the history of the city and not miss anything important, it is advisable to book this free tour or if you are a group, this private tour in which you choose the itinerary, both with a guide in Spanish.
If you have more time, you can book this full Istanbul tour in two days that includes a guide in Spanish, a walk through the Bosphorus, entrance fees, food and hotel pick-up.
15. Cross the European side by boat at sunset from the Eminönü pier to the Üsküdar pier on the Asian side, or vice versa. In addition to the views of both banks, you will pass near the beautiful Maiden Tower.
No city can compare its history with that of Rome, in which time seems to have stopped there. Visiting places like the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Roman Forum or the Pantéon de Agrippa is like going back in time and entering the bowels of history.
One of our favorite places in the city is the Trastevere neighborhood, where in the afternoon strolling through its narrow streets and eating in one of its trattorias, we assure you, is one of the best experiences you can have in the Eternal City.
Prague, considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world, with a historic center that you will remember and to which you will want to return many times.
A walking route starting from the Old Town Square with its spectacular Astronomical Clock, continuing through the Jewish quarter and then crossing the Charles IV Bridge and going up to Prague Castle, through the bohemian Mala Strana neighborhood, is one of the routes that you cannot stop doing.
Lisbon, that romantic city with a decadent air, that falls in love as soon as you meet it and that is another of our favorite cities in Europe.
Getting lost in the Alfama neighborhood at sunset and entering a tavern to listen to a fado or have a good cod for dinner is one of the best experiences the city offers and that we advise you not to miss. Nor can you leave Lisbon without trying its delicious Bélem Cakes or seeing the city from one of its magnificent viewpoints.
Of course, we warn you: Lisbon hooks a lot.
Barcelona is the city that we have visited the most times and where we always find a place, restaurant, shop or place that surprises us.
A city with kilometers of beach, with good gastronomy, especially its rice dishes, fish and tapas, with the Ramblas and neighborhoods to get lost like El Born, el Gótico or Gracia, good weather and with the best example of modernism thanks to the genius Gaudí. Do you dare to meet her?
Saint Petersburg, former capital of the Russian Empire, former Leningrad and one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Full of famous museums, palaces, churches, well-kept parks and monuments, which will surprise you in a city with only 300 years of history.
Some of its essentials include attending an opera or ballet in one of its theaters, strolling along Nevsky Avenue, visiting the Hermitage Museum, taking a cruise on the Neva River, or gaping at the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood.
Paris will always be at the top of the best cities to visit in Europe and the most beautiful cities in France. A romantic city where you can walk along the banks of the Seine, visit neighborhoods such as Le Marais or Montmartre, see the Eiffel Tower from all possible viewpoints or have a croissant with a coffee on one of its beautiful terraces.
You also can't stop going into the beautiful churches of Sainte Chapelle or Notre Dame, see all of Paris from the Montparnasse Tower, get drunk on art at the Louvre and keep naming things until you have an endless list of experiences.
Venice, one of the best cities to visit in Europe
Venice, the city of canals where getting lost in its alleys is almost an obligation and one of the most essential cities in Italy. Traveling the Grand Canal by vaporetto, admiring the beauty of St. Mark's Square with its Basilica, visiting the Doge's Palace, riding a gondola, crossing the Rialto Bridge or reaching the beautiful neighboring island of Burano, are just some of the moments that you will live in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and the world.
Due to these characteristics, Venice is also one of the most visited cities in the world, and many Venetians even have to go to live abroad. Although this should not overwhelm you, if you move away from the most famous areas, you can walk with the greatest tranquility and get to know that other Venice.
Dubrovnik, located on the Dalmatian Coast, is known as the Pearl of the Adriatic. The city, a World Heritage Site, stands out for its medieval historic center and its incredible 13th-century walls. Despite the large number of tourists that invade the city, it is a key stop of the cruise ships, we can still find moments of the day in which to visit places with tranquility.
Walking Stradun Street, visiting the Sponza Palace and the Church of San Blas, or taking a ferry to go to the Lokrum Islet, are some of its essentials.
Dublin is a friendly city that welcomes you with open arms. It does not stand out for having to spend a lot of time visiting large buildings or monuments, the best thing you can do in the city is to enjoy its atmosphere. One of the best ways is to have a pint of black beer in the Temple Bar area. We also recommend visiting the Trinity College Library, walking through O'Connell Street, entering St. Patrick's Cathedral, relaxing in a park or seeing the Jail from Kilmainham.
Known as the Jewel of the Danube, Budapest is one of the essential cities to visit in Europe, without any doubt.
Both by day and by night, the city is spectacular, where you can make a route visiting the part of Pest with its magnificent Parliament, visit the Central Market and relax in its spas.
At sunset you can't stop crossing the Chain Bridge and going up to Buda Hill, where the Fisherman's Bastion is located, the best viewpoint in Budapest.
Just to see the Acropolis, with its impressive Parthenon, it is worth a trip to Athens because the city where democracy and the origin of Western civilization arose, is a marvel despite its chaotic traffic.
In addition to investing hours in the Acropolis, you cannot leave Athens without walking through the Monastiraki and Plaka neighborhoods, the oldest and most lively of the city, visiting the Agora and the Temple of Olympian Zeus, or having a panoramic view of the city from Mount Lycabettus.
There are many things to do in Athens, one of the oldest and most interesting cities in the world, full of life and charming places, which we are sure will surprise you and make you fall in love in equal measure.
The capital of Greece is a city that has improved a lot after the last Olympic Games and nowadays, against which we can often read, it is a clean city, with more orderly traffic, within a certain chaos that characterizes the city, as well as safe. If you add to this the large number of archaeological sites that are preserved, the old neighborhoods full of charm, museums with great collections, local markets, spectacular viewpoints, a delicious gastronomy and the friendly character of the Athenians, we have to say, without fear To be wrong, that Athens becomes one of the most incredible destinations in Europe.
Based on the 3 days we spent touring the city during our trip to Greece, in which we wrote this Athens guide, we have made a list of what we think are the 50 things to do in Athens. We started!
1. Find on the slope of the Acropolis, next to Plaka, the small neighborhood of Anafiótica, which will take you to the beautiful villages of the Greek islands while you walk through its narrow streets and its white painted houses.
2. See the 15 of the 104 impressive 17-meter-high Corinthian columns, which still preserve the Temple of Olympian Zeus, one of the most essential places to visit in Athens. An interesting option to learn about the legends of the city and that starts from this temple is to book this mythological free tour of Athens for free!, One of the best free tours in Athens.
3. Go up one hour before sunset to Mount Lycabettto, to enjoy the best sunset and the best views of Athens.
Madrid is another of the cities that we have visited more times, and in which we feel at home. Once you are here you cannot stop walking the Gran Vía full of theaters, visit the Prado Museum, go see the sunset at the Temple of Debod, look for a bargain at the Rastro, relax in the Retiro park, drink a beer on one of the terraces of La Plaza Mayor or immerse yourself in the atmosphere of any neighborhood by day, and especially at night.
A perfect visit to the capital usually begins with a delicious hot chocolate with batons for breakfast at the historic Chocolatería San Ginés or a homemade Neapolitan in La Mallorquina, and then go to Puerta del Sol.
In this square there are several points of interest such as the statue of the Bear and the Strawberry Tree (symbol of Madrid), the famous advertising poster of Tío Pepe and the equestrian statue of Carlos III, located right in the center.
Although the most emblematic place in this large space, active 24 hours a day, is the Casa de Correos, whose clock strikes the popular New Year's Eve chimes, and which has right next to it a small granite plaque that marks the « kilometer 0 »of Spain.
Near the Puerta del Sol, going down Calle Mayor, you will reach the Plaza Mayor, our favorite and another of the most beautiful places to visit in Madrid.
This beautiful rectangular square measuring 129 meters long and 94 wide, is surrounded by important buildings such as the Casa de la Panadería and other jewels such as the Arco de Cuchilleros and the Statue of Felipe III, a gift from the Duke of Florence.
After visiting all its corners, one of the best things to do in Madrid is to sit on one of its terraces to have a drink and watch the daily bustle of tourists or eat the traditional squid sandwich at the popular Bar La Campana.
If your visit to Madrid is at Christmas time, you cannot miss the Christmas market that is located in this square, where in addition to the typical Christmas stalls you can find the joke articles so characteristic of these dates, in the Spanish capital.
San Miguel Market
Located right in the center, the Mercado de San Miguel, is a meeting point for lovers of good gastronomy and one of the most emblematic markets to visit in Madrid.
This covered market is characterized by its fantastic iron architecture and by its more than 30 stalls that allow you to try many of the products and typical dishes of Spain such as Iberian ham, seafood from Galicia or Manchego cheeses, all of the highest quality .
Although you can go to eat at noon, the most common is to go for tapas at dusk when there is more atmosphere.
When you leave the market, you can take a walk through the streets of what is known as Madrid de los Austrias, where the beautiful Plaza de la Villa stands out.
This square is one of the few corners of the city that preserves its medieval appearance with several constructions that recall that time such as the House and Tower of Lujanes and the House of the Villa, which was the seat of the City Council and houses the Mariblanca, one of city icons. Other interesting spots in this area are Plaza de Santa Cruz, Plaza de San Ginés and Calle del Espejo, the narrowest in the city.
Royal Palace, one of the places to visit in Madrid
Right in front of the Almudena Cathedral, in the Plaza de la Armería, is the entrance to the Royal Palace, the official residence of the kings of Spain until they moved to the Zarzuela Palace, and which is also another of the best places to visit in Madrid.
This huge palace, the largest in Western Europe, is currently used for tourist visits and is closed for state ceremonies and official events and before or after entering the complex we recommend you go to the Plaza de Oriente and above all, to the Sabatini gardens, to take good photos of the palace.
Once inside, you can visit the luxurious salons and royal rooms, the Royal Pharmacy and the spectacular Royal Armory, with one of the most important collections in the world.
Next to Malasaña is the Chueca neighborhood, one of the benchmark neighborhoods for the LGTB community in all of Europe and another of the essential places to visit in Madrid.
In addition to the great and good atmosphere that is breathed at all hours, especially after sunset, in this neighborhood it is impossible to get bored thanks to its endless offer of bars, restaurants, art galleries, tattoo workshops and even sex shops.
Among the sites that you should include in a route through the neighborhood are the Plaza del Rey, with its House of the Seven Chimneys, the emblematic Plaza de Pedro Zerolo, the Plaza de Santa Bárbara with its famous Santa Bárbara brewery, and the Plaza de Chueca , a perfect place to have a drink on one of its terraces.