Europe is always a good idea…
Some people like to go back to the same European destination every year for a summer holiday— hey, there’s no shame in that! It’s nice to know what to expect and have a feeling of familiarity so you can relax. However, others (like me!) enjoy exploring new places in their time off.
There are so many amazing places to visit in Europe, it’s a shame not to experience them all! That’s why I’ve written this list— to offer some advice on new places that you may not have thought to visit!
I really do think these are some of the best European cities to visit – particularly in summer AND particularly in 2019. These are the places that I know are getting more popular or have changed since you last heard about them.
All of these places you can visit independently and are good for either a weekend city break or for a longer holiday.
1. Sorrento, Amalfi Coast, ItalyIt’s really hard to go wrong with Italy! Drop a pin and choose anywhere in the country and you’ll be surrounded by good food, good wine, great people, and interesting history. But there is something extra special about the Amalfi Coast, and it has certainly been getting a lot of love from tourists in recent years.
The small peninsula that stretches out from near Naples is covered in a thick forest between its dramatic cliffs and small beaches. You can find places to stay in small villages like Positano or larger towns like Sorrento.
It’s easy to spend the days on the Amalfi Coast lazing by the water, sipping drinks in the cafes, or hiking through the trees. But it’s also a good base for exploring historical sites like Pompeii and Paestum, for climbing Mount Vesuvius, or for catching the ferry to Capri.
2. Athens, Greece
Greece is always a popular summer European destination and it’s easy to see why – the hot dry weather makes it perfect for the island beaches.
But there is more to Greece than just Santorini or Mykonos. In fact, I think one of the best spots in Greece is Athens, even though it has traditionally had a bad reputation.The city has a new lease of life following the economic crisis and there are loads of hip bars and exciting new restaurants that have popped up. It’s also much more affordable than the typical Greek holiday destinations.
And besides the great food and drink, you’ve got millennia of history here. The Acropolis really is one of the most stunning sights you’ll ever see and it’s easy to spend a few days in Athens seeing the other main sights and museums
3. Belfast, Northern Ireland
It wasn’t so long ago that you would be (rightfully) worried about your safety if you were visiting Belfast. But, my, how things have changed! Belfast is now one of the most vibrant cities in the UK, full of fascinating culture and a new food and drink scene.
That’s not to say it’s whitewashed its history – the city still feels a bit gritty and there is plenty of evidence from ‘The Troubles’. But learning more about this by visiting the Peace Wall murals, for instance, is part of what makes a visit to Belfast so interesting.
The redeveloped Cathedral Quarter shows a modern side of the city, though, and there’s plenty to explore, including Titanic Belfast – one of the best museums in Belfast.
And, of course, there are lots of Game of Thrones filming locations that you can visit here.
4. Bruges, Belgium
Although much of Belgium is charming, I think Bruges is clearly the most beautiful of all the country’s cities.
Colourful four-level homes rise up on either side of the canals that cut through the historic centre, while grand Gothic brick structures loom over the central square. Wandering the streets offer stunning scenes around every turn.
You can see all of the historic centres within a day but there are enough other sights, such as the Groeninge Museum, that justify staying for a few nights.
Because Belgium is a relatively small country and has a good train network, you can also base yourself in Bruges and also explore places like Ghent, Antwerp, or Brussels.
I’ve never met anyone who’s been to Budapest who didn’t love it. It’s one of those cities that stays with you – beautiful architecture surrounded by vibrant culture.
The streets of Budapest are full of grand old buildings and there’s a reason that it’s nicknamed the ‘Paris of the East’. But it has what I think Paris is missing – a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
You can spend some time exploring the historic sites – particularly massive Buda Castle and the other Baroque buildings on the Buda side of the river. And you can relax in one of the grand baths of Budapest.
Or you can explore the more bohemian neighbourhoods, such as the Jewish Quarter, which are full of quirky bars and street art. For an insight into modern history, I would also suggest visiting the House of Terror.
Is there somewhere you’ve been that didn’t make the list? Leave me a comment and let me know where it is and why you love it!