It’s hard to narrow down a list of the most beautiful cities in Europe. After all, there are so many great European cities that are interesting and unique in their own way. While what is beautiful and pretty is entirely subjective, I hope that you’ll agree that these are some of the top European cities to visit.
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So, why are these the most beautiful European cities? It might be a preserved historic old town, a spectacular natural feature, or an overall charming vibe. You may have seen these postcard perfect places splashed all over Instagram, depicted in paintings, or even popping up as your screensaver or desktop background. And while I am a total sucker for small town Europe (I might even enjoy the smaller towns more than the bigger places), I’m smitten with these must visit cities in Europe. How about you?
The Most Beautiful Cities in Europe
These are some of the prettiest cities in Europe to add to your bucket list. How many have you visited? This is not a complete or exhaustive list by any means. You might see that your favorite beautiful European city didn’t make the cut. No worries, this just means that we still need to travel there to fully experience it. Hopefully we’ll be updating this list more and more as we continue to travel to Europe.
If you plan to spend some time in Europe, you’ll need to do the proper research regarding your visa requirements. There are 26 countries that are part of the Schengen area, and many of them appear on this list. Many non-European citizens will require a Schengen visa to enter any of the Schengen member states. Citizens from Canada, the United States, Australia, Japan, and some others can enter Europe for 90 days. If they exceed 90 days, they will need to acquire a Schengen visa. Please learn more about the Schengen visa, as it’s explained quite well on this website.
While Amsterdam might be famous for the Red Light District and its “coffee shops”, it’s one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. You’ll quickly see why it’s so marvelous as you stroll past the rows of tall, narrow buildings lining its picturesque canals. Houseboats are very popular, and you can even plan to stay in one.
There are a few other reasons why Amsterdam is one of the most interesting cities in Europe. First, it is an extremely cultural city, more than any other place in the world. There are museums devoted to all topics, from world class art museums to eccentric smaller niche museums.
It’s also a city where bicycles overtake cars by a ratio of 3 to 1. The bike paths throughout the city are more extensive than anywhere I’ve ever visited, but you’ll have to take extra care as a pedestrian as you cross the road and the bike lanes. Whether you see the city by bike, by boat (highly recommend taking a canal cruise) or on your own two feet, I’m sure you’ll agree that Amsterdam is one of the beautiful cities of Europe.
Bamberg is a stunning city in Europe with a small town atmosphere. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site that boasts the biggest preserved old town center in Germany. This is due to the fact that it wasn’t bombed as much during World War II as some other cities in Germany.
When you walk around Bamberg, you’ll soon realize that it’s one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. I suggest wandering around to explore its old town (including the idyllic Bamberg Old Town Hall), the area of town known as Little Venice, and the New Residence Rose Garden with gorgeous views overlooking the city.
Bamberg is also known for its beer culture, like many cities in Germany. The town is famous for its smoked beer, which is brewed according to centuries-old traditions. There are ten privately operated breweries and over 50 different selections of local beer in Bamberg.
Barcelona is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe due to its spectacular art and architecture. Most notably, Antoni Gaudi is one of the city’s great architects whose influence entirely altered the landscape of Barcelona. The construction for La Sagrada Familia, a Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, began in 1882 and they’re continuing to build it to this date long after Gaudi’s death.
There are so many interesting streets to explore in Barcelona, and you can even go to the beach there (even though the beaches are completely man-made). The famous street, Las Ramblas, is one of the most popular places for tourists to dine and shop. And for the architecture lovers, you won’t want to miss the city’s Gothic Quarter. This lively city offers picturesque scenes at every turn, and it’s one of the most interesting cities in Europe in terms of culture, architecture, and art.
We didn’t expect to fall so hard for Bern like we did! Bern is the capital of Switzerland, and it’s one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. From the higher points of the city, such as the rose garden or the hotel where we stayed, you can enjoy sweeping views of Old Town and the gorge. Down below the gorge is the Aare River with some of the most brilliant turquoise waters.
Old Town is quaint and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, featuring the historic Zytglogge Clock Tower. Bern even has its very own mountain and you can take a tram ride to the top of it for some outdoor adventures.
Have you ever seen the movie, In Bruges? How could you not fall in love with this Belgian city after watching it! It’s one of the prettiest cities in Europe and often called “Venice of the North” due to its numerous canals and bridges.
The city and its surroundings have the largest number of castles in the world. Beyond its picturesque setting, Bruges is home to the Halve Maan brewery (dating to 1564) that makes a beer that you can only find in Bruges. You can also buy handmade Belgian chocolates here, too. For all of these reasons, Bruges is one of those must visit cities in Europe.
Budapest is one of the most interesting cities in Europe that combines both old and new. It is one of the most photogenic cities in Europe featuring a dramatic skyline and architectural wonders. Aside from being one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, there are lots of cool places to visit. Stroll around bustling marketplaces and explore stunning basilicas by day, and hit up the unique ruin bars by night. Budapest is certainly one of the most fun cities in Europe.
One of the first things to know is that Budapest is situated on two sides of the Danube river: Buda and Pest. The two parts (plus a third one, Óbuda) united in 1873 forming the capital. Buda is more green, hilly and romantic while Pest is flat, more vibrant and fun. Intriguing medieval bridges connect both areas of the city. With these two distinct parts, it becomes obvious to divide your time in Budapest between both Buda and Pest.
Copenhagen is one of the best cities in Europe to visit and I truly enjoyed my time there. It was my first overseas trip to Europe that I took on my own, as a solo female traveler. Copenhagen is safe, clean, and ideal for both solo and couples travel. It’s a great jumping off point to explore more of Denmark and Scandinavia.
Rows upon rows of colorful houses on the canals and the waterfront make Copenhagen one of the prettiest cities in Europe. It’s great to experience Copenhagen by foot and by water on a canal cruise. There are so many iconic places to check out in Copenhagen that you won’t find anywhere else, like the Tivoli Gardens and Freetown Christiania.
Read more about Copenhagen:
- 3 days in Copenhagen itinerary
- The top 5 Copenhagen coffee shops
- Vegan restaurant guide to Copenhagen
- Things to know about Freetown Christiania
Dubrovnik has some of the most amazing scenery out of any European city, making it one of the must visit cities in Europe. You’ll savor seaside views on the Dalmatian Coast, beautiful beaches, and the surrounding mountains. At the same time, there’s the old architecture of its historic old town within this ancient city.
When you’re in Dubrovnik, you’ll want to walk the ancient city walls, explore old fortresses and monasteries, and sip a fancy drink at a cliffside bar. You can also book a Game of Thrones tour to see all of its filming locations in Dubrovnik. Spend at least a few days in Dubrovnik, one of the best cities in Europe. And I also suggest staying a couple of extra days to take day trips from Dubrovnik.
Falling in love with Edinburgh, Scotland is easy. It’s one of the most beautiful European cities for its architecture, history, and scenery. There are so many iconic landmarks to visit and lots of vantage points to soak up those amazing sights. While visiting Edinburgh Castle is a must, most of the beautiful places in Edinburgh can be enjoyed at low to no cost.
Hike Arthur’s Seat for impressive views of the city surroundings. Calton Hill is another great spot, where you can walk up a few staircases for more impressive panoramic vistas. Quaint and cobbled Victoria Street will surely delight with its rows of pastel buildings. And if you have the chance, go for a wander on the Water of Leith Walkway for one of the most pretty and serene spots in the city.
Read more about Edinburgh:
- 25 best movies about Scotland you need to watch
- Where to stay in Edinburgh: The Glasshouse Hotel
- Visiting the Kelpies and the Pineapple House
When we visited Florence, Italy, I couldn’t help but feel as though I was walking around a living, breathing museum. While there’s no shortage of incredible museums, including the Uffizi Museum and Accademia Gallery (home of Michaelangelo’s David statue), the landscape and architecture of the city is historic in itself. Just the sight of the Duomo will surely take your breath away.
Speaking of the Duomo, once you climb to the top of Florence’s cathedral dome, you’ll see why Florence is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. You’ll view brilliant architecture, rows upon rows of rooftops, and the rolling hills of Tuscany in the distance. Be sure to spend at least five days in Florence: 3 days to explore the city, and at least 2 days to roam around the neighboring Tuscan villages.
Read more about Florence:
- 3 days in Florence itinerary
- Famous places to visit in Rome and Florence
- Vegan guide to Florence
- Michaelangelo’s David at Accademia Gallery
- Best vegan gelato in Florence
Without a doubt, Galway was my very favorite city to visit in Ireland. I fell in love with Galway pretty fast, and even envisioned myself moving there after only spending a day there. The overall vibes of Galway immediately leaves a special feeling in your heart for the city.
There are quaint, cobblestone streets with musicians performing on the street corners. You’ll see bright, splashes of colorful street art among old buildings. To top it all off, Galway has pretty riverside and waterfront views and the university grounds are astoundingly gorgeous.
Read more about Galway:
- 25 best movies about Ireland you must watch
- The best things to do in Galway for a day
- Galway vegan restaurant guide
Heidelberg, Germany is a historic university city with a romantic landscape that you’ll fall in love with. Whether you’re taking a stroll on the hillside “Philosopher’s Walk” or wandering the grounds of the Heidelberg Palace, you might not ever want to leave this beautiful city of Europe.
Heidelberg’s Old Bridge is certainly an iconic one, and it will likely be the focal point of many of your photos. Old Town Heidelberg is equally as charming. We loved strolling around the streets of Old Town just as much as we enjoyed a pint or two at one of its old brew pubs. Beyond its historic allure, Heidelberg has a modern, artsy edge, hosting an annual street art festival each July.
Read more about Heidelberg:
Kotor, Montenegro is an underrated and spectacular place to visit. It’s one of the top European cities to visit that might not be on your radar. It checks all of the boxes: gorgeous beaches, sweeping mountain scenery, and a historic old town. Plus, you’ll likely visit Kotor at a fraction of the price compared to other great European cities.
There’s its stunning, cobbled Old Town, which also happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s also a walled city that might remind you a little bit of Dubrovnik without the massive crowds. With its orange roofed houses and towering stone churches, you’ll want to add Kotor to your travel plans as it tops my list of must visit cities in Europe.
While Lisbon might be the capital city and largest city of Portugal, there’s a reason why so many people are flocking to visit there. After all, it’s one of the most popular city break vacations in Europe. Lisbon is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, hands down.
There are numerous ancient buildings, many lined floor to ceiling with brilliant, decorative tiles. There are the iconic, bright yellow trams that you can take around town. And you’ll be wowed by stunning viewpoint after stunning viewpoint, featuring pastel buildings and the surrounding turquoise blue waters. You can’t help but feel overjoyed in a city like Lisbon.
While London doesn’t have turquoise waters or very many brightly painted buildings (well, there are a few!), it’s one of the best cities in Europe that deserves a place on this list of the most beautiful European cities. There are so many iconic buildings, bridges, and streets that could tell so many stories.
Notting Hill, the Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, and its numerous markets and arcades make London one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Even though England is notorious for being gray and dreary, London manages to be a truly captivating city all year long.
Read more about London:
Paris might be the most romantic place on earth. It’s also one of the top European cities to visit that provide such a wow factor. Yes, Paris has the Eiffel Tower, which looks equally spectacular by day as it does by night when it’s all lit up. Of course, there’s also the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, and the stunning Pantheon building (not to be confused with the one in Rome!).
When I visited Paris, I adored strolling around its beautiful gardens and wandering around its streets, popping into cute cafes and patisseries. It’s definitely one of the prettiest places in France, in Europe, and perhaps, the world. I’d love to return to Paris again in the future (next time with Justin, as I visited on my own the first time around!).
Read more about Paris:
Prague, Czech Republic
Without a doubt, Prague, Czech Republic, is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. You’ll immediately recognize those iconic images of the Charles Bridge and Prague Castle. Prague has many intriguing, old neighborhoods that you’ll have to explore. These extend beyond its charming Old Town and famous Astronomical Clock.
The various parks of Prague offer dramatic and impressive vistas of the entire city. Those beautiful views are even better if they come paired with a beer garden, and the Czech Republic has some excellent brews. In fact, many people love Prague so much that they decide to stay for good. There’s a really large expat community in Prague.
Read more about Prague:
A trip to Iceland is not complete if you only visit Reykjavik and nowhere else. Much of the allure of Iceland is its natural wonders outside of the city. With that said, you should spend at least a day in Reykjavik because it is a truly special city in Europe.
This Scandinavian city has small town vibes with brightly painted buildings and a vibrant downtown core. There are some spectacular buildings and architectural works, like the Harpa concert hall and Hallgrimskirkja, the modern cathedral. Take a trip to the top of Hallgrimskirkja for amazing scenery overlooking the city.
Read more about Reykjavik:
- One day in Reykjavik itinerary
- Driving Iceland’s Golden Circle
- Iceland 2 week itinerary
- Opal Apartments in Reykjavik
- Old Charm Reykjavik Accommodation
One city that gets overlooked time and time again is Riga, Latvia. It’s equally as charming as Prague and Budapest, but doesn’t get nearly the same amount of attention from tourists. Riga is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and you’ll need to travel there as soon as you can.
There are many pretty places in Riga to visit, such as the Art Nouveau architecture in the city center. In fact, Riga is among the cities with the most Art Nouveau buildings in the world. You’ll also need to experience the cobbled streets of Old Town Vecrīga, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The highest point of the city, Bastion Hill Park, is a fantastic place to admire the scenery, and it’s one of the best places to enjoy the sunset.
Rome is one of the most fascinating and top European cities to visit. From historic sites to ancient ruins, Rome is a city of layers that beckon to be discovered. There are numerous tourist attractions and sites that you need to see: the Colosseum, the Pantheon, Capitoline Hill, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, and the list goes on.
Even though all of those amazing historic sites make Rome one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, I loved wandering around Rome and uncovering places that might be taken for granted by locals. There are ancient ruins and archaic columns protruding from the ground in random places around town.
Also, there are so many delightful patios and restaurants with delicious food…and the gelato, yum! There are so many reasons to visit Rome, and it is one of the best cities in Europe to visit.
Read more about Rome:
- Torre Argentina Roman cat sanctuary
- Rome underground tour of crypts and catacombs
- Why you should stay in Trastevere
- The ultimate Colosseum tour
- Zen Trastevere B&B in Rome
I fell in love with Salzburg, Austria when we visited, even though it nearly rained the whole time we were there. Somehow it didn’t seem to matter too much as I was enraptured by the atmosphere and beauty of the city. This interesting and historic city has lots of attractions, like the Salzburg Cathedral, Mirabell Gardens, and its Old Town.
One of the best places to visit in Salzburg is the Hohensalzburg Fortress, perched high up on the hill. It’s a fascinating point of interest, and some of the best views of the city are from the castle walls.
Read more about Salzburg:
- Salzburg 3 day itinerary
- Mondsee and St. Gilgen day trip from Salzburg
- Vegan Salzburg restaurant guide
- Salzburg Place to Stay luxury apartment
Stavanger, Norway, is a city that truly has it all. It’s a beautiful town surrounded by stunning fjords and mountains. There’s a lively atmosphere, an intriguing arts and culture scene, and well preserved architecture and historical areas.
A place you might have seen featured on Instagram is Gamle Stavanger, or Old Stavanger. There are picturesque cobblestone streets lined with rows of well maintained, wooden white houses. As you continue exploring Stavanger, check out Stavanger Cathedral (Stavanger Domkirke). It’s the oldest cathedral in Norway, built in the year 1125. You also can’t miss a stroll around the popular Fargegaten (Color Street) where every home is painted a vibrant and brilliant shade from the rainbow.
Read more about Stavanger:
I have a major personal connection to the city of Stirling. My mom and my grandpa were born in Stirling, and many family members still live there. Even though I might be a bit biased, Stirling is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Many people only book a day trip to Stirling to see the castle, but I implore you to spend a little more time in Stirling if you can.
Beyond Stirling castle, you must visit Stirling’s Old Town, the Wallace Monument, and the little known historic ruins of Cambuskenneth Abbey. You’ll find that you can walk most places around the main city center, although we stayed a little outside of town at a spacious apartment by the river.
Read more about Stirling:
- Best things to do in Stirling, Scotland
- Stirling Luxury Apartments Review
- Day trip to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs
Stockholm is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, both within the city itself and its surroundings. The Stockholm Archipelago is a collection of a whopping 30,000 islands that you can reach only minutes from the city. As you can imagine, you can enjoy many brilliant views of these thousands upon thousands of islands from Stockholm, and it’s easy to plan a day trip to many of them.
Stockholm is one of the prettiest cities in Europe with a charming Old Town and colorful buildings. Gamla Stan has winding, narrow streets that date back to the 13th century. The pretty views even extend underground to its subway system where you can see incredible art installations.
Strasbourg is a French town near the border of France and Germany. There are German influences, like the colorful half timbered houses that line the streets of Germany. However, it’s possible to pop into a tiny cafe for a fresh baguette, which reminds you that you are indeed in France. Admiring the beautiful buildings and frequenting the charming cafes will remind you again and again that you’re in one of the most beautiful European cities.
You can’t miss the Notre Dame Cathedral in Strasbourg. It’s an enchanting church with intricate and elaborate designs, and the views from the top are spectacular. I loved visiting Strasbourg in June where we were met with perfect weather and bright blooming flowers lining the footbridges. Strasbourg also has one of the most decorated and stunning Christmas markets around the holidays.
Read more about Strasbourg:
- Things to do in Strasbourg for a day
- Visit Strasbourg and Mulhouse, France
- Vegan guide to Strasbourg
- Hotel Cour du Corbeau in Strasbourg
Tallinn undoubtedly tops the list of the prettiest cities in Europe, and you’ll feel like you’re walking around a fairy tale land. The orange rooftops and wondrous Old Town are oh so dreamy. Old Town is surrounded by a preserved ancient city wall, and there are several viewing platforms with incredible scenes.
Overall, Tallinn has an amazing atmosphere, there are fantastic restaurants and dining options, plus there’s quite a bit of street art to discover. It’s one of the most fun cities in Europe that offers a great mix of old and new.
And the dreamiest city award goes to…Venice! Venice is really unlike any other place in the world, making it one of the top beautiful cities in Europe. Yes, it can get very crowded, it’s prone to flooding, and some have complained of odors (thankfully, we didn’t have many of these experiences visiting in early May!).
You need to “get lost” in Venice. Wander around the narrow alleyways and keep exploring around every corner. It is impossible to get lost because you’ll eventually hit water in any regard, but it is a lot of fun to roam about without any clear plans. And as touristy as it might seem, I think that you need to book a romantic gondola ride if you’re visiting with your partner.
Read more about Venice:
- 3 days in Venice itinerary
- Reasons to stay in Dorsoduro, Venice
- Vegan guide to Venice
- Venice transportation guide
- How to take a romantic gondola tour in Venice
While there are many beautiful places in Poland that could easily end up on this list, I chose Warsaw, although it easily could have been Krakow, Gdansk, or other cities. Poland has no shortage of pretty cities. Warsaw is full of vibrant neighborhoods, colorful buildings, and cool spots to hangout. There are castles, palaces, and lush green spaces throughout the city.
It’s also one of the most fun cities in Europe with loads of great shopping, exciting events and concerts, people watching in the squares, and a clubbing scene. Its combination of old and modern architecture will surely impress, too.
While I wholeheartedly recommend spending more time in Switzerland, including the magnificent Swiss Alps, Zurich is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. It’s clean, safe, and a wonderful place to go for a stroll. There are idyllic waterfront parks, rows of colorful buildings, and beautiful footbridges.
Zurich also has a local mountain with astounding views, the Uetliberg. You can take a short train trip to Zurich’s local waterfall, Rhine Falls (the largest waterfall in Europe). Traveling around Switzerland by train is something you must do in your lifetime. The train ride between Interlaken and Zurich is one of the prettiest train rides I’ve ever taken.
Read more about Zurich:
More Ideas for Weekend Trips in Europe
Any of the most interesting cities in Europe that I posted above would make for an awesome weekend in Europe. A few more places that make for a fantastic weekend getaway include Ljubljana, Porto, Granada, Berlin, and Dublin. Here are lots of amazing European getaway ideas to visit for two or three days.
In some cases, the accommodation can turn the whole trip into a super memorable one. There are lots of bucket list stays, whether it’s a vacation rental or a traditional hotel. Have you ever spent the night in a castle, a treehouse, a cave, or an igloo? Check out these fun and iconic European accommodations to plan your trip.