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  • Ine Vandenwyngaert

Best European Cities to Visit (2021)

Updated: May 24, 2022

Are you planning to travel to Europe and don't know which cities to cover on your trip? This article highlights the 15 best European cities to visit, together with information on when to go and the type of trip you can expect. From France to Italy and Spain, Europe is full of beautiful cities with unique characteristics. Whether you love culture, history, art, or simply a sunny place to relax, you will find it all on this interesting continent. Use this list to inspire your next visit to Europe.

I grew up in Belgium and have visited a large number of cities within Europe. This list includes my personal favorites, but also other opinions have been taken into account. And of course, there are tons of other great cities that aren't listed here. A brief list of other great European cities to visit can be found at the end of this article.

For more European cities and places to visit, download our FREE 100 bucket list destinations list.

Granada, Spain

Granada is the best European city to visit
The magical Alhambra

Located in the province of Andalusía in Southern Spain, Granada is one of the pearls of Europe! Once the capital of Moorish Andalusia, this charming city is now known for its Arabic influences. Granada’s highlight is undoubtedly the Alhambra, a glorious, historical palace and UNESCO World Heritage site. But this is not the only reason why Granada is one of the best European cities to visit! The downtown area is filled with stunning architectural styles, fascinating historic buildings, cozy squares, and delicious (and very affordable!) restaurants. Add to that the lovely year-round weather and the mountainous scenery surrounding the city. The Sierra Nevada National Park is only a 20-minute drive from Granada and is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts.

The best time to visit Granada

As the city enjoys a pleasant climate, Granada can be visited all-year-round! However, the best time to visit Granada is in May and June as well as September and October. During these months the temperatures are pleasant and the flowers are blooming. The summer can get uncomfortably warm with temperatures rising over 40°C (110F). This was also the case when I visited in August!

Perfect for: Backpackers, Budget Travelers, Foodies, Adventure Seekers, Sun Seekers

>>> Get your Spain Pocket Guide

London, United Kingdom

London is one of the top cities to visit in Europe
St. Paul's Cathedral

Whether it’s for a short weekend trip or a week-long holiday, London will never bore you! It’s a truly cosmopolitan city filled with iconic landmarks. From the Tower of London to the London Bridge, St. Paul's Cathedral, and Westminster Abbey, there is so much to explore. But aside from architecture and history, London truly has something for everyone! Watch a musical at the West End Theatre District, admire art at the Tate Modern Museum, stroll around the famous Nottinghill neighborhood, or go shopping at the world-famous department store named Harrods. And if the weather allows, visit one of the many beautiful parks in the city, such as Hyde Park and the Kensington Gardens. Even though London is considered one of the most expensive European cities to visit, it does boast a range of attractions that are free to visit, including ALL of the museums around the city! I spent 6 months in London and absolutely loved it. I still feel like I haven’t explored it all.

The best time to visit London

Thanks to its vibrant scene, London is an all-year-round destination. Whether you come for shopping, sightseeing, or for entertainment. The city enjoys cool winters and warm summers, with frequent rain all year round. Yet, the mildest weather is from March through November, with large crowds in the summer. My favorite time to visit London is December, right before the Christmas holidays. This is when the city lights up and becomes cozier than ever!

Perfect for: First-time visitors to Europe, History and Art buffs, Fashionista's, Party Goers, Musical Lovers

London best city to visit travel guide

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Lonely Planet’s Best of London

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Prague, Czech Republic

Prague Old Town, a magical European city to visit
The Old Town of Prague

Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic, is one of the best European cities to visit for many reasons! Not only is it one of the most budget-friendly destinations in Europe, but it is also home to a number of renowned cultural attractions. Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, and the Old Town Square with the Prague astronomical clock to name a few. And best of all? All these historic monuments can easily be explored on foot. But Prague is not only known for its day activities. The city also has a lively nightlife with a large number of jazz clubs, live music, busy pubs, and modern clubs. The perfect combo if you ask me!

The best time to visit Prague

Prague is best explored from the spring to the early fall. While the summers are generally warm with temperatures hovering between 20°C (70F) and 30°C (90F), the spring and fall are mild. However, most travelers visit during the summer months, which also means larger crowds and higher prices. I visited during September, which was a lot quieter. But on the downside, it was also rainy. So be prepared!

Perfect for: Backpackers, Budget travelers, History buffs, Party Goers

>> Get your Prague Pocket Guide!

Bergen, Norway

Bergen is one of the top European cities
The cute Bryggen area in Bergen

Bergen is a fascinating historical and cultural city on the southwestern coast of Norway. Even though it's the second-largest city in Norway (after Oslo) it retains much of its small-town charm and welcoming atmosphere. Visit the colorful houses in ‘Bryggen’, learn about the city’s historic importance at one of the museums, or discover one of the art galleries. And once you’ve had enough of the city life, explore its surrounding nature. Hike to one of Bergen’s 7 peaks to soak in the spectacular views of the city, the fjord, and the ocean. Or go on a cruise to observe the fjords up close. Bergen is the gateway for fjord cruises and a nature lover's favorite!

Learn more about Bergen and its attractions in our Western Norway Road Trip Itinerary.

The best time to visit Bergen

Bergen is known for its unrelenting precipitation, with an average of 239 rainy days a year! And although the weather is very unpredictable, we’d recommend visiting during the summer months between June and September. This is when the temperatures are the most pleasant and the fjord cruises are running.

Perfect for: Adventure and Nature Seekers, Road Trippers, Cultural Tourists, Outdoor Enthusiasts


Porto, Portugal

Porto is a romantic European city you should visit
Porto at sunset

Porto is one of the upcoming hip cities to visit in Europe right now - and for a very good reason. Located along the picturesque Douro River, Porto is famous for its delicious port wine. But it is not only the alcohol that makes this city a must-visit. Portugal’s second-largest city offers one of the best sceneries and shopping in the country. Add to that a stunning Old Town with six bridges that give this city a romantic look, it's no wonder that the historic center of Porto was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I totally fell in love with Porto on my visit and I am sure you will too!

The best time to visit Porto

Don’t confuse the weather of Porto with that of southern Portugal! Porto doesn’t enjoy year-round warm weather. Instead, the climate is considered temperate oceanic with mild, rainy winters and pleasantly warm, sunny summers. Hence, the best time to visit is from May to September. Even in the middle of the summer, temperatures are high but bearable because of a constant cool ocean breeze!

Perfect for: Romance Seekers, Foodies, Budget Travelers, Backpackers, History buffs

Porto travel guide

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Lonely Planet Pocket Porto

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Ghent, Belgium

Ghent is the one of Europe's best cities to visit
Beautiful houses along the canal

Ghent is a charming city located in the heart of Belgium and Europe! Lesser known and visited than the capital of Brussels and tourist-ridden Bruges, Ghent will exceed all your expectations. This laid-back city is filled with public squares, cobblestone streets, lively bars, and medieval architecture. It is one of the most popular university towns in Belgium, which explains the large crowds of young people! The Castle of the Counts is the highlight of the city, offering an audio-tour that is both funny and interesting! But besides that, it is worth just strolling around the city center and the canal. You’ll feel like you're taken back to medieval times. And don't forget to try the delicious Belgian beers and cuisine.

The best time to visit Ghent

Even though Ghent doesn’t get extremely cold (meaning below 0°C/32F), the best time to visit is probably during the spring and summer. This is when the city is most alive and the weather is warm. You’ll find many locals hanging around the canal and the public squares, creating a welcoming atmosphere.

One of our favorite times to visit Ghent is during Christmas time! In the month of December, the Christmas market takes up the whole neighborhood. It’s the most wonderful time of the year for many Belgians (including me!) as they gather around the stalls that are selling local food, mulled wine, and authentic crafts. Watch our video of our visit to Ghent during Christmas time.

Perfect for: History Buffs, Romance Seekers, Weekenders, Party Goers

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik is one of the best European cities to visit
the bay of Dubrovnik

Also called the Pearl of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik is located in sout