As the end of the year approaches, it is time to plan your upcoming travel itinerary. While Europe remains such a large continent to explore with its versatile destinations, there are a few cities that must be highlighted for your 2018 bucket list. In this article, I am going to guide you through the Southwest, up to the Northwest of Europe throughout the most spectacular cities, based on my personal experiences of traveling through 20+ countries. Read on to choose your favourite.
1. Sunny Barcelona, Spain
Afraid of the upcoming snowy and dark winter in your country? Escape the cold by taking a flight to sunny Barcelona. It will not take much to fall in love in this Spanish city with the Spanish people, who always remember to relax and take a daily siesta - a quick nap after lunch time, while relaxing on the white beaches, eating delicious paella, and drinking fresh sangria.
Lying in the Catalonia area, directly on the Northeastern Mediterranean coast of Spain, Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain, and one of the most famous destinations for travelers visiting Western Europe. Barcelona is an interesting crossover of incredibly old architectural gems and modern design. If you are a big fan of Gaudi’s architecture, come here to view the alluring Sagrada Família, La Casa Bátllo, and Güell Park. Barcelona is usually warm all year round, and you can visit this tourist-friendly city any time of the year.
2. The artistic Paris, France
Known for being a fashion capital, and referred to as the City of Light, Paris is so popular for its romanticism that couples and artists are dying to see as well as live in this wonderful city. This is the land of birth to Victor Hugo’s novel ’The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ and the home of the famous ‘Mona Lisa’ that can be found in The Louvre Museum. The Louvre is one of the finest museums in the world, and it would take a whole day to enjoy all of the paintings completely. EU students go to Louvre for free so remember to bring your student card.
Couples also love coming to Paris to climb up the Eiffel Tower and to walk along the Seine River. Architecture-loving travelers come to the southwest of Paris to see the Palace of Versailles. With so many things to offer, and something going on almost everyday, Paris is a city for everyone.
3. The romantic Bruges, Belgium
Lying between France and Spain, Belgium is a small city well-known for its famous beer and chocolate, as well as the strong influence from these two bordering countries. Along with Paris, Prague, and Budapest, this is one of the most romantic cities in Europe full of canals and old medieval houses. The city is often referred to as the Venice in the North, and is also well known for being the filming location of the movie ‘In Bruges’. Avoid going to Bruges during the summer months if you don’t like crowds. This city is also full of tourists who travel off season.
4. Vibrant Amsterdam
Well-known for the Red Light District as well as the legalisation of some recreational drugs, such as marijuana and hashish, as well as prostitution, Amsterdam is also the city of versatile colours and culture. The city is surrounded with many canals, museums, and people from all walks of life. The perfect time to visit the Netherlands is at the end of April. This is when the Dutch go crazy with their celebrations during King’s Day, while the famous tulips are still blooming throughout spring. There are many cheap bus connections between Bruges and Amsterdam.
5. The historical Cologne, Germany
When it comes to visiting Western Europe, don’t leave Germany off of your bucket list. This country is the central point of flight, train, and bus connections throughout Europe. Thus, to avoid ending up in Germany without knowing where to go and what to do in this massive country, do your homework! If you’d like to stick to the safe western side of Europe, Cologne is another ideal location for tourists. Millions of visitors come here to see the famous Cologne Cathedral. The best time to come to Cologne is during Carnival time - February, or for Christmas in December. The Christmas market in Cologne is by far one of the best in Germany.
There is no perfect itinerary!
Listed above are probably the most famous cities in Western Europe that tourists are craving to see at least once in their life. However, each traveler should make his or her own route accordingly, based on their preferences, timing, and budget. If you are keen to know more about any local culture, travel to different cities within one country, rather than rushing from one destination to another.
For example, great cities to visit in Spain are Malaga, Valencia, and the capital Madrid. Visitors in France love Nice, Marseille, and Lyon. Other popular cities in Belgium are Antwerp, Ghent, and the capital Brussels. The Netherlands is also known for great cities like Rotterdam, The Hague, and Utrecht, as well as many others that you’ll discover. Travelers who love Germany never forget to visit multicultural Berlin, the port city of Hamburg, or the Bavarian capital Munich.