Europe

Europe’s top 18 cities for absolutely everything

Old cities, drinking cities, seaside cities, cheap cities and stuff-your-face-full-of-cheese cities.

Sometimes it’s wrong to put labels on things. However, Europe is home to so many beautiful and diverse cities, that it would be impossible to know which to visit without them. And the winning categories for the best of Europe are…

BEST FOR DRINKING

Berlin

We all know someone who’s queued for hours to get into Berghain only to be turned away for wearing the wrong socks. But beyond this debauched, leather-friendly techno club is a weird and wonderful world of great drinking spots.

Wonder-bars!

  • Klunkerkranich: A community roof garden on the top of a car park with cracking skyline views.
  • Kneipe Klo: Toilet-themed bar where you drink beer from urine bottles and eat currywurst from bedpans.

 

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Dublin

Chatty, affable and reliably pickled, the best thing about Dublin is the people. And where do you find them? The pub.

Finding the craic

  • The Brazen Head: Historic pub dating back to 1198.
  • The Long Hall: Victorian bar with old muskets and traditional snugs.

 

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Prague

Pulling pints of the world’s finest brews since 1842, you can’t pass through Czech Republic’s cobbled capital without having a beer. Sure, the gothic architecture and unexpected city sculptures are cool but do you know what else is cool? 1 Euro pints. That’s what.

Czech this out

  • T-Anker Bar: On the roof of a Communist-era shopping mall with sublime views of the Old Town.
  • Hangar Bar: Aviation-themed bar dedicated to stunt pilots and WWII pilots of the 40s and 50s.

 

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BEST FOR YOUR INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT

Bergen

Despite the stubborn drizzle that falls almost all year round, Bergen’s well-applied make-up doesn’t budge. The beautifully preserved wooden houses of Bryggen are a photographer’s dream, especially in the white of winter.

Instagram hotspots

  • Bryggen: Colourful wharf buildings lining the eastern side of the harbour.
  • Nordnes: Pretty neighbourhood of brightly-painted houses.

 

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Stockholm

With a storybook Old Town and a natural talent for industrial design, Stockholm is no stranger to the camera. Careful though, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a local that won’t make you want to pack it all in, confess your love, and open a flat-pack furniture store in their name.

Instagram hotspots

  • Prästgatan: Medieval jumble of pretty pastel houses on a cobbled street.
  • Radhuset Metro: If the Flintstones had a metro station it would look like this.

 

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Dubrovnik

The setting for countless soft-porn scenes in Game of Thrones, the city of Dubrovnik is quite literally a fantasy backdrop for photographers. Mediterranean and medieval, the stone houses just get better with age, like a fine Croatian wine, or Helen Mirren.

Instagram hotspots

  • Peline Ulica: Steep stone alleyways lit by old school lamps in the evening.
  • Ulica Od Kastela: Maze-like quarter of the Old Town with brightly coloured laundry hanging from the shutters.

 

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BEST FOR BUDGETS

Budapest

Not only will you pay next-to-nothing to stay in apartments fit for Beyoncé, Budapest is full of free culture. Public transport is cheap, fixed priced menus are very reasonable and you can get sloshed with pocket change!

Freebies:

  • Go snacking at Great Market: Ornate, multi-floored market with free Hungarian tasters.

 

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Tallinn

Medieval to the core, Estonia’s trendy capital is full of fairytale prices. Rumour has is that if a street performer hands you an old coin, you should enter the nearest boozeria, hand it over with a smile, and gratefully accept a free pint of cinnamon beer.

Freebies

  • Viewpoints on Toompea Hill: Million-Euro views of the city for completely free.

 

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Belgrade

You won’t need much Serbian Dinar to have a good time in Belgrade. The city itself is a charming mess of socialist blocks and delicate Art Nouveau structures, but none of this will matter when you see the price on the cocktail menus…

Freebies:

  • Hike in Avala Forest: Shaded mountain forest overlooking the city of Belgrade.

 

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BEST FOR OLD STUFF

Istanbul

Everyone’s had a pop at Istanbul, the Romans, Greeks, even the Ottomans with their incredibly practical storage beds. For this reason, it’s a really confusing place, like your nan’s living room.

How Bazaar

  • Hagia Sofya (532AD): Elaborately beautiful church-come-mosque, now museum.
  • Grand Bazaar (1455): The oldest covered market in the world.
  • Topkapi Palace (1453): Court of the Ottoman Empire and subject to many frivolous goings-on.

 

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Athens

You don’t get much older than Athens, it was like totally around when democracy first became a thing. Athens is a heady mix of classical Greek architecture and gritty modern life, and still very much a social forum for open-air debate and late-night drinking.

Woo woo, it’s the sound of the Acro-polis!

  • Acropolis (460BC): Ancient, attention-seeking hilltop temple.
  • Parthenon (447BC): Temple built for Athena, goddess of wisdom, craft and war.
  • National Archaeological Museum: Home to the world’s finest collection of Greek antiquities.

 

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London

London might not compete with the geriatrics of Europe’s mainland but it’s still pretty old. The tube system dates back to at least the Dark Ages (probably). Add in a couple of ‘ye olde’ pubs and stately Victorian architecture, and you’ve got yourself a Dickensian doppelgänger.

Keeping up with the Thames

  • Tower of London (1078): Former treasury, zoo and children’s prison.
  • Westminster Abbey (1245): Crowning spot for every monarch since William the Conqueror.
  • The Mayflower (1620): London’s oldest riverside boozer.

 

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BEST FOR FOOD

Copenhagen

As well as being one of Europe’s most trendy and user-friendly waterside capitals, Copenhagen is also a culinary powerhouse. Check it’s markets and cafés for affordable and wonderfully simple Scandi menus.

Taste of Copenhagen

  • Smørrebrød: Unpretentious open sandwiches with fresh fish, cold cuts and spreads.
  • Wienerbrød: Sweet Danish pastries.

 

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Florence

Forget those overpriced cones of whipped cream you funnelled into your gob as a van-chasing toddler, this is the land of gelatos… and wine.

Taste of Florence

  • Bistecca alla Fiorentina: Famous T-Bone steak cooked over roasted chestnuts.
  • Gelato: Homemade ice cream, the best in Italy.

 

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Seville

Whoever said there was no such thing as a free dinner obviously hadn’t been to Seville. Order enough tumblers of beer and the complimentary tapas you receive should amount to an Andalusian banquet.

Taste of Seville

  • Espinacas con Garbanzos: Popular tapas of spinach and chickpeas.
  • Torrijas: Deep fried bread covered in sugar syrup or honey.

 

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BEST FOR WATERWORKS

Amsterdam

Reclaimed from the sea, Amsterdam’s well-used waterways are at the core of city life. Top tip, jump on a cruise and let someone else navigate the hunchback bridges for you.

Our favourite canal

  • Keizersgracht: Widest canal lined by pretty pastel gable houses and monuments.

 

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Reykjavik

We know what you’re thinking, you don’t want to go anywhere near the water in a country that contains the word ‘ice’. That’s smart. However, this cool capital has a bunch of thermal pools where you’re positively encouraged to strip down to your Speedos and play footsie with a stranger.

Our favourite pool

  • Seltjarnarneslaug: Quiet and cosy out-of-towner with mineral rich waters.

 

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Venice

Venetians have learnt to totally dominate the water, audaciously building elaborate marble monuments wherever there’s an empty piazza. For the ultimate Venice experience, take a gondola ride down the Canal Grande for a wide-angle view of the Palazzo Ducale and Basilica di San Marco.

Our favourite island

  • Burano Island: Colourful fishermen houses and casual eateries.

 

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