The Old Continent, as some call it, is an all-time favorite among globetrotters. It’s no wonder: Europe is well-connected, safe, and simply charming.
Each European country has its own personality and unique experiences to offer, from the beach and parties in Spain to the romance of Paris and the culture in Rome.
Europe is also very convenient visa-wise. The whole Schengen area (which includes 26 state members) has adopted the same visa and immigration policy. This means that with just one visa or travel permit, you will be able to enter some of the most visited countries in the world.
One good way to know if your citizenship or passport will need a visa for Schengen is by checking these online passport services, where you can find the visas needed for your passport across the world.
Once you’ve gone through passport control upon arrival, you will no longer need to show your documents at the border between European countries. A great way to save time and visa fee money.
Europe is big, though, and there is much to see. Unless you are taking a gap year or can become a digital nomad, you will have to make choices. In this article, you’ll find out what the most popular cities in Europe are and which ones you should include in your itinerary.
Note: Some of the visitor statistics might have changed a bit since the pandemic, but visitors are rising back to pre-pandemic levels.
London, Capital of the UK (20 Million Visitors)
London is an extremely popular destination for tourists and business travelers alike. As many as 20 million people visit the British capital each year.
However, there should be a disclaimer here: London is no longer part of the EU due to the Brexit vote of 2016. This means that the free movement between London and the Schengen Area has changed. Still, London should be high on your list of places to visit!
The question with London is not what you can do here but what you cannot!
From world-class museums to the shows in the famous West End, from lovely parks and green areas to the punk and underground music scene, there’s something for everyone in London. You simply cannot skip this one.
Paris, Capital of France (15 Million Visitors)
Who doesn’t love Paris? The French capital immediately evokes scenes from romantic movies as well as fancy catwalks. But even if you’re not going to propose nor attend the Paris Fashion Week, there’s still a lot you can do in the city.
Are you an art lover? Then make sure to keep a few days free to visit the gigantic Louvre Museum and the Musée d’Orsay, which is specialized in impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces.
Would you choose dinner over an afternoon in a museum? Paris is one of the gastronomic capitals of the world, and French cuisine is renowned across the planet. From fine wines to unforgettable desserts, let your palate rejoice.
You will soon realize that Paris has its own way of fascinating tourists. The city in itself is an artwork to admire and live; with a simple stroll around its streets, you will be able to take in its unique architecture and atmosphere.
Rome, Capital of Italy (10 Million Visitors)
There is a saying in Italian: “All roads lead to Rome,” and as many as 10 million visitors find their way here every year. Rome seems to never go out of fashion.
Include Rome in your travel itinerary if you want to see some of the world’s most famous landmarks and some of history’s finest artworks. At every roman corner, there is an ancient statue, column, or building to admire. Not to mention its actual museums.
If you like French food, wait until you try Italian cuisine. From some of the best pizzas you’ll ever try to the famous spaghetti alla carbonara, these will be meals to remember.
Believers and atheists alike should also head to the Vatican, which is an independent state within Rome.
You won’t need a visa (if you’re already in the EU), and you will be able to see the grandeur of St Peter’s Square, where the Pope addresses the Christian community every week.
Prague, Capital of the Czech Republic (8 Million Visitors)
Certainly a more affordable option than Paris and London, Prague has gained increased popularity in recent years.
It’s a relatively small city, meaning that it’s the perfect weekend getaway destination, and you can explore most of it on foot (however, take the picturesque tram at least once).
In Prague, you will be able to admire different architectural styles standing side by side, from gothic to baroque to Art Nouveau and Cubism. The Czech capital is also known as the ‘City of a Hundred Spires,’ so make sure to look up!
When you’re done visiting stunning churches and castles, stop for a chilled beer at a local bar: Prague has some award-winning breweries that you won’t want to miss.
Amsterdam, Capital of The Netherlands (8 Million Visitors)
Just like Prague, Amsterdam is very popular among young travelers and is always a favorite stop among people traveling the continent by train. It’s also a city with a great quality of life, and you’ll be able to meet a vast community of expats here.
Amsterdam has a unique way of joining the old and the new. It takes only a few steps to go from the charming canals surrounded by colorful traditional houses to impressive contemporary buildings and artworks.
Amsterdam hosts some of Europe’s most-known museums. At Anne Frank House, you will be able to see with your own eyes how the young girl and her family hid for over two years during World War II.
During that time, Anne wrote a diary that is still read by students around the world to understand the Holocaust.
The Van Gogh Museum hosts masterpieces such as self-portraits, the Sunflowers, the Bedroom, and the Wheatfield with Crows.
Make sure to do what the locals do and rent a bike to move around the city. Trust me; it’s totally worth it.
Barcelona, Spain (6 Million Visitors)
Capital of the region of Catalunya in Northern Spain, Barcelona will surprise you at every corner. This is where you can find most of Antoni Gaudi’s work, from the unfinished Sagrada Familia to the otherworldly Casa Battló.
Although most famous for its architecture, Barcelona really has it all. It’s a tech hub with people from all over the world where you can spend time at the beach or hiking in the mountains.
In the summer, every different barrio organizes its own unique fiesta, and locals flock to the streets to dance and party all night long.
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