Why go: With its interesting mesh of Catalan and Spanish cultures, its amazing food scene (tapas, wine), insane “Gaudi” architecture, huge nightlife scene and even beaches (albeit not very nice beaches), Barcelona is an eclectic destination and makes for a very fun and cultural experience. Accommodations range from backpacker hostels to über-modern hotels, which right now aren’t too expensive, especially when compared to other European destinations.
Why go: Paris is a no-brainer, really. A picturesque city split by the River Seine, Paris is filled with museums like the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay, with gardens like the Tuileries or Luxembourg, with monuments like the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, and with churches like the Sacre-Coeur and Notre Dame, as well as chic shopping and renowned restaurants galore. To say that it might appeal to a wide array of travelers is an understatement. And although the City of Lights has a reputation for très cher hotels, budget options are available, too.
Why go: The capital of Germany, Berlin can be likened to the other major cosmopolitan and cities of the world like London and New York. But in addition to all its urban charms — buzzy nightlife, fine dining, seriously original fashion, museums and cultural experiences — Berlin also offers visitors a history lesson, albeit a very difficult one to swallow, with Holocaust memorials and remnants of the Cold War. 2012 Tours to Berlin | Hotels in Berlin
Why go: Although it might be fading as the “it” European city to visit, we still think that fairytale Prague is an excellent city for a vacation. Prague’s charming architecture and quaint streets are added to the city’s love of music, (from jazz to rock), local lagers, ambient trams and an awesome café culture, (many of the cafés sidle the picturesque Vltava River), giving Prague its place as one of the top ten European cities.
Why go: There’s so much more to this city than just the Red Light District and the weed; Amsterdam actually offers lots for families to do together (museums for kids, bike riding, pancake eating). It’s also a great place for romantic getaways, (canals at dusk, fine restaurants, cute neighborhoods to explore, tulips), and several world-class attractions, including the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum. Although the accommodations tend to be short on space (converted canal homes), the views are picturesque.
Why go: Touring a world-class museum (Tate Modern, British Museum), seeing a West End musical in Leicester Square or a mime in Covent Garden, enjoying high tea at Claridge’s, touring Parliament or the Tower of London, gorging on fish ‘n’ chips at a local pub and partying at one of the city’s top nightclubs are all things you can do here. Plus, there’s no language roadblock, and there is a great public transportation system. While London might be one of the best cities in the world to visit, its high prices edge it out of our top three. 2012 Tours to London | Hotels in London
Why go: Roma is another ‘duh’ city. It’s a huge, busy and cosmopolitan city, but like Madrid, it abounds with Italian culture. Authentic Italian cooking wafts from the city’s many restaurants, locals stalk the street wearing Italian designs (Versace, Gucci, Prada) and gorgeous architecture lines Rome’s streets, giving visitors a taste of Italian culture, which is also filled with more than a week of things to do. However, it gets bumped off the top 10 because its peak season fills with throngs of tourists (ever tried to maneuver the Vatican Museums in the summer? not fun!) and sends hotel rates skyrocketing. 2012 Tours to Rome | Hotels In Rome
Why go: The capital of Spain is filled with marvelous examples of Spanish culture, including bull fights, flamenco, museums (Prado, among others), and delicious tapas and local wines. And because it’s one of Western Europe’s must-hit cities, travel to and from Madrid (by plane or train) is relatively pain-free (to your credit card). Once you’re in the city, you can get around easily on Madrid’s efficient public transportation system; and room rates won’t break the bank either.
Why go: Zürich is a city that offers its visitors a breath of fresh air. Yes, there are the requisite churches (Chagall did the stained glass), museums and the historic old town of cobbled streets, but there’s a modern city with a vibrant nightlife centered in Zurich West, amazing chocolate and pastry shops, retail therapy (the Bahnhofstrasse), as well as an active populace who enjoy spending warm days swimming in the city’s lake and hiking the nearby mountains. Hotels tend toward the expensive side, but budget accommodations are available.
Why go: Budapest, nicknamed “the Paris of the East” is an intriguing place to vacation — and is even exotic with its thermal baths. Although it’s not top-of-mind for many Americans traveling to Europe, travel aficionados say it should be for its beauty, cheap eats (and drinks for that matter) and its raging nightlife. And right now, even Budapest’s nicer hotels are offering reasonable rates — but this could change as more and more travelers “discover” this Hungarian city.
- Rail Deal: This Winter, Austrian Airlines Offers Three Different ‘Train Trio’ Vacation Packages Through Europe (prweb.com)
- My first visit to Prague – Prague, Czech Republic (travelpod.com)
- Five Reasons that Make Prague a Prime Travel Destination this Fall (savings.com)