Most tourists on a European trip flock to the capital cities looking for history, culture and beauty. Paris, London and Rome are among the most popular tourist cities in Europe attracting thousands of visitors each month. The popularity of the capitals however can limit the amount of sights you see and increase the amount you spend. To avoid the higher than average prices and increased queuing times, avoid the capitals and try these cities:
Known by many as the ‘Texas of Germany’, Munich is the capital of Bavaria and one of Germany’s most famous cities. This unique city boasts stunning surrounding landscapes of mountains, lakes and forests, a fine climate and a wealth of history.
The majority of Munich’s tourist attractions can be found in the Old Town. These include the Rathaus Town Hall with its stunning viewpoint and St Peterskirche, parish church of the current Pope. The beautiful nearby Englishcher Garten is a great place for a stroll or a picnic.
Each October, Munich is host to Oktoberfest. This is a world famous two-week festival that is attended by six million people. Beer plays a lead role in the event with each festival beginning with a keg of beer being tapped by the Mayor of Munich.
Geneva is the second largest city in Switzerland and is known as the Capital of Peace. This modern city is the European base for the United Nations and has a unique, multicultural character.
The city is surrounded by the Alps and is one of the greenest cities in Europe with over 20 parks and a beautiful lake; its renowned lakefront is the city’s centre attraction.
Many visitors are attracted towards the city’s Old Town where cobblestone streets and alleyways filled with charm are found. Two main attractions of the Old Town include the Bourg-de-Four and Saint Peter’s Cathedral. A former Roman marketplace, the Bourg-de-Four is the oldest public square in Geneva and a busy tourist hotspot. Saint Peter’s Cathedral towers over the Old Town and is Geneva’s oldest architectural building.
Amsterdam is one of the most exciting cultural centres in Europe with plenty to keep you busy. Whether you’re a culture vulture, a food lover or a shopaholic, Amsterdam has plenty to offer.
Amsterdam’s most famous tourist sites, the Anne Frank House and museum, the Heineken brewery and the de Wallen Red Light District are within easy reach of the city centre.
Amsterdam is a feast for lovers of architecture and art, with a wealth of outstanding museums located all over the city. The Van Gough Museum, the World Trade Centre, the Rijksmuseum and the World Fashion Centre are the more popular museums and are easily accessible from the city.
Another popular attraction in Amsterdam is the city’s famous markets. Here, you can find everything from fresh flowers to silk scarves and sample fresh stroopwafels – local snacks made of two layers of baked batter joined together with a layer of warm caramel filling.
Referred to as the Venice of the North, Bruges is a city made of crooked bridges, cobbled streets, stunning medieval architecture and a network of canals.
Bruges is host to a wealth of museums that explore art, religious artefacts and archaeology. The Belfry and The Museum of Folklore are amongst the most important and biggest museums in Bruges while the most popular with tourists include The Diamond Museum and The English Convert.
Medieval churches such as St Saviours Cathedral and The Church of Our Lady are home to historic art treasures and tapestries, including the Michelangelo sculpture Madonna and Child, which is believed to be the only sculpture that left Italy within Michelangelo’s lifetime.
From its world renowned lace and chocolate products to colourful open air markets and designer outlets, Bruges offers a fine range of shops providing shopping opportunities that cater for all budgets.
Draped between the beaches of the Mediterranean and the hills of Montjuïc, Barcelona is a city full of character. It is the proud capital of Catalonia and Spain’s most vibrant metropolis.
Barcelona offers a feast for lovers of architecture both old and new that is demonstrated city-wide. The stunning La Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s extraordinary unfinished cathedral, is one of the more popular tourist sites with its ambitious structural columns and arches. Other fascinating sites include the Gothic cathedral and the Picasso Museum.
This beautiful city is famed, not only for its history and its magnificent architecture, but also for its shopping. Everything from books to jewels, designer furniture and cava is on offer while several markets animate squares around the centre of town.