The first half of my year travelling the world solo has been such a ride and I have been asked a lot about where I have been before that, which places I can recommend and generally lots of travel related questions. Being European that seemed so exotic to many people I’ve met from Australia and Asia. So I thought I take you on a short trip around my continent and show you 16 European Places worth putting on your bucketlist.
My ultimate favourite city in my home country by far is Bamberg. It’s got everything you want in typical German city. Old half-timbered houses with the beams in all different autumn colours, medieval churches and cathedrals, cobblestones and narrow side lands and a river to hang out on hot and lazy days. There are so many great places to eat out and have a drink or just enjoy a picturesque walk with a huge amount of photo opportunities. If you didn’t know, most of the recent film “The Three Musketeers“ was shot here. No wonder with that unique town hall sitting on two bridges over the river.
It is not a big one, but this town sure knows how to impress with its well preserved medieval and Roman heritage. Walk on top of the city walls, get crammed in the shambles and just feel your heart melting there at the chocolate and crepe shop. I have never seen a place with so many adorable quirky shops, selling unique gifts and nerdy merchandise. It was a pure geek heaven. Also with its many churches, it did have a couple of lovely British cemeteries on offer. In the middle of the city. The best part, however, is the Castle Hill covered in daffodils in spring and watching the sunset from up here is just serene.
My favourite European city, the capital of Scotland is a medieval fairy tale setting. I came here on the first day of the year and the silence that hung over the city like the frosty ice that filled the air added to its mystery. Walking along the streets that are just lined with old and iconic buildings, you can’t help but feel Edinburgh’s majestic vibe when you are surrounded by two mountains that are placed directly in the city. One of them has the castle on top and if you walk up even further, the old temple has the best view on an early morning and at dusk. Watching the smoke rise from the chimneys while everything is drowning in misty twilight. I just love Edinburgh.
Wicklow Mountains, Ireland
The Wicklow Mountains left such a lasting impression on me, my love for them is legit. If you loved the film PS I Love You or Braveheart then you will be in bliss to discover some scenes were shot here. In fact, many scenes that are supposedly set in the Scottish Highlands were filmed here for tax reasons. But even if you can’t be bothered with nerdy film insights, this area is just how you pictured Ireland to be from all the Kerry Gold ads and green island clichés. It is insanely green, at times it looks barren and like a moon landscape (and has actually been used for filming that as well). Rolling hills, bubbling streams and chippy birds overhead, come on, this is just the stuff that dreams are made on.
There are so many cute places down South in Skåne that it was hard to choose but Stockholm combines everything we love about Sweden. It actually has these blue eyed blonde Scandinavian hotties, the cute, colourful and little wooden houses, the stony and pine tree dotted coastlines and the royal family that is so down to earth they might as well be super elegant, wealthy and poised commoners. Or maybe not. But the point is this place merges it all. Great parks to chill, precious houses for feeling fancy, a harbour for a day cruise and hip places. It is stylish as can be but feels inclusive. You might not want to leave (but let it be said here that to get a place to live in Stockholm, you have to be on a waiting list for 3 years!).
This is a super touristy place, I know but Saariselkä is just too pretty and has this rusty, wooden cabin feel that you crave in the snowed in winters you will find in Lapland. Walking among the cabins with the thick snow and lots of silly ideas in my head, it is a huge playground – and you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy it. Also, here you can find a lot of fun things to do, like actual playground, museums, snow mobiling and – my favourite – husky sledging. No trip to Lapland is complete without having run with the huskies and played with the puppies.
Again, to be honest. This was the only place I have ever been to in Norway but it was great so that I recommend it as one of my top 16 European Places. Such a pretty snowed in village with quaint houses, the Arctic Ocean at your feet and known for its fishing industry. If you’re into fish and the largest crabs, then it’s a must see for you. Or if you like snow. Or finding a flower that only grows here on this cemetery and in Siberia. This place is that unique.
Prague, Czech Republic
How amazing is this place? The architecture with its massive medieval bridges, the delicate lamp posts, the huge castle and the insightful museums. The food is great, the people are friendly and there is so much to see, a day won’t really cut it.
This is a very special place and is only half of the original city it used to be. The other half can be seen on the other side of the bridge, in Germany. The contrast is immediate. While the German part obviously has been provided with the necessary funds to look after and restore its trademark carved doors and medieval cityscape (there is a mystery millionaire donating every year), the Polish part looks a bit forlorn. But seeing both together actually brings out the charm and it should be visited not only for cheap cigarettes and beer – as so many Germans do – but just to get this contrast as well.
Pure beauty. One of the most magical European Places! There’s nothing else I can see. Wandering through the palace gardens with the view of the castle overhead, climbing said castle, passing the cemetery at the mountain’s foot (I am crazy about cemeteries, in case you hadn’t noticed) and being humbled by the cathedral, walking in the famous Mozart’s feet along the old streets is an experience like no other. Don’t forget to get your own chocolate praline, pretzels and herbal beer treats. It is not just pleasing to the eyes and ears but to your taste buds as well.
La vie est belle en la belle cite! So true. Art, macaroons, fashionable window displays and the stunning architecture connected by peaceful avenues. Food and fashion – what a nice femme’s life. The best part in Paris for me was, however, outside in Versailles. I cannot ever stop highlighting the immense artistry that this place combines with its landscaping, sculptures and fountains and decorating style. Extravagant and opulent definitely, decadent and wasteful most certainly but impressive and haunting just as much.
Forget about Antwerp and especially Brussels, the little town Bruges will steal your heart and return it all molten chocolatey and you will love it. Best chocolate drink ever. Great canal system, lovely old houses, amazing architecture and a bustling life. It has a lot more to offer than it appears at first glance. It isn’t called the Venice of the North for no reason.
Where the artsy meets the crazy, Barcelona is the perfect place for inspiration. Tranquil backyards with bubbling fountains, iron wrought balconies and fun street art, tapas galore and shopping at every corner, being in Barcelona is a lifestyle of its own. The best place without a doubt is Montjüic. As if the view from up there at the art museum overlooking the classic statues and fountain system along the slopes and with the grand court buildings at its feet were not enough, the music and light show at dusk is just phenomenal. Best viewed from Montjüic or the round shopping centre.
All you’ve ever pictured Italy to be meets is refined epitome in Taormina, the secret capital of Sicily. While Palermo is huge and loud, Taormina is narrow and retrieved, but has the same amount of Italian energy we love. The passion for good food will definitely bring that out in everyone and having three course meals every day with a nice glass of wine or the special ice cream graniti, you will find yourself in a foodie heaven. Did I forget to mention the terrace that gives the best view of the ocean with its islands and beaches and the rising mountains in the back with the occasional white marble church. Just close your eyes and listen to the ocean hum.
Ever fancied to have a lace umbrella? This is where you can get the finest quality, handmade lace everything. The people of Ómodos sure know their handiwork. Even though their village is nestled in the mountains, far up and away from everything, when you walk these sleepy lanes you can well imagine why do. It is just so pretty and laid back, neighbours know and greet one another, love chats with the occasional tourist group and supply one another with bread, wine and olive oil. One more thing: if you love cats then this is your dream island. There are more cats than human inhabitants to be found here.
The capital of the Renaissance art, you will be hard pressed not to find your new favourite statue, your new favourite brand of gelato or your new favourite spot to just enjoy life. Watch the stylish Italians flit by, chatting loudly and smiling ferociously to pretty women. Walk the Ponte Vecchio and make your way up to the David statue that gives you a great overview of the city. Let me share a little secret with you. The best view can be had from the top of the Boboli gardens you can access through the old Palace.