Paris, Rome, Barcelona, London, Amsterdam and Venice are on the list of must-sees for many first-time travelers in Europe. They are all amazing places to visit. And with so many great places to see, it can be very difficult to narrow the list down to just a few destinations. If you're flying to Europe from Australia or the United States, you'll likely find London your cheapest option to fly (or one of them).
Although Brexit occurred and the UK is no longer part of the EU, London is still a great city to start your explorations in Europe and, as one of the most exciting cultural centers in the world, it is not to be missed. If this is your first visit to London, I would recommend staying at least three nights to see everything the city has to offer. Don't miss iconic sites and attractions such as Tower Bridge, Westminster and Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the entertainment of Piccadilly Circus. Winter in London can be a bit dreary in the climate department, though if you like cozy interiors, there are some great bars and cafes to hide from the rain.
I've been to Paris more times than I can count, but I'll never forget my first time. Visiting Paris is every girl's dream and it doesn't disappoint. There are countless districts to explore on foot, but my favorites are Montmartre, Le Marais and Saint Germain. I have visited Paris only year after year and, despite being the city of love, it is a great city to enjoy alone.
If you are interested in Parisian culture, I cannot recommend enough to participate in a pastry class in Paris. This is a great way to learn how to make French desserts at home and bring a new skill with you when you leave. Paris is only 2.5 hours away by train from Paris or on a short flight. When you consider the time to get to the airport, check in, fly, disembark, pick up bags and get to the city, it's a much better option for training between London and Paris.
Despite the ease of travel, traveling by train is often more expensive than taking a quick flight to Paris. Airlines such as Easy Jet and RyanAir travel between London and Paris airports many times a day, so if you book at least two months in advance, you can get a very good deal. Just make sure you have enough time to travel from the city to the airport, as some of these budget airline airports are completely out of town and can take up to two hours to transfer. There is a fast train between Paris and Amsterdam that will take you between cities in less than 3.5 hours.
In a week there are 31 trains that travel between the two cities, although if you prefer to travel at a slower pace, you can stop in Brussels to interrupt the journey. If time is on your side, you may even consider taking a few days to explore Belgium. My favorite cities are Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp. Berlin is an avant-garde city that never stands still.
A popular choice for expats, if you take the direct Intercity shuttle train between Amsterdam and Berlin, you can reach the German capital in just under 6.5 hours. Berlin is cheap and there are many free things to do in the city. Prenzlauerberg is one of my favorite cities to explore on foot and is also home to many of the best cafés in Berlin. Wondering where to go for the first time in Europe? Prague is a favorite of many first-time travelers to Europe thanks to its unique combination of architecture, vibrant nightlife and relative affordability.
Over the past 5-10 years, Prague has exploded in popularity, so be sure to expect crowds and lots of them. Prague is best enjoyed on foot, especially if it is your first time visiting the city. The old town is full of alleys and secret corners to explore, so be sure to ditch the map and stumble upon hidden treasures. The Jewish Quarter is a great area to start exploring, with its endless supply of antique shops offering a glimpse into the past.
Vienna is a beautiful city that offers a history lesson on imperialism. Be sure to take time each day to explore the best coffee shops in Vienna and experience life through the lens of time. These famous coffee shops have a rich history and were once the center of academic thought in the age of enlightenment. The journey from Budapest to Krakow is reasonably long, so you can choose to split the journey by train (8-10 hours) in Slovakia.
Paris is full of world-famous sights and attractions. But it is the romantic and unforgettable atmosphere of the city that makes it one of the best places to visit in Europe. Stroll through the beautiful districts (districts) and sample delicious Parisian delicacies or go shopping on the Champs Elysées. Take in the breathtaking view from the top of the Eiffel Tower, visit the splendid Louvre and plan a day trip to the Palace of Versailles.
Paris has a chic style of its own and people are also impossibly elegant. The Seine River meanders gracefully between the streets of the City of Light, providing an elegant backdrop to the stunning architecture and environmental streets. For families, both Disney Paris and Park Asterix are not far from Paris. The peak season in Paris is from June to August.
As it is one of the most visited cities in the world, during high season you can also expect crowds, traffic congestion and higher prices. September and October enjoy an average season with slightly fewer visitors and cooler temperatures. Paris is also impressive during the winter, with a much smaller number of tourists and cheaper accommodations except at Christmas. There are some good Christmas markets in Paris during the festive period.
There are 20 districts or districts in Paris that organize the city. The first time you come to Paris, it's overwhelming trying to figure out where to stay. Barcelona is one of Europe's most favorite cities, with Gaudi's incredible architecture adorning the vibrant streets. Antoni Gaudí designed the fabulous Park Güell, Casa Milà and the Sagrada Familia, which are the most famous sites in Barcelona.
Strolling along La Rambla is a must-see, with this attractive street full of shops and markets. Enjoy the perfect rays of the Mediterranean at Platja de Barceloneta, a beautiful urban beach. Barcelona is also a great place for fantastic day trips outside the city. The region of Catalonia is dotted with medieval towns and a magical Mediterranean coast that begs to be explored.
Don't miss the Dalí Museum and the artist's hometown, a little north of Barcelona. For first-time visitors to Barcelona, staying in the center is best. Try hotels in the Gothic Quarter to be close to many attractions, with great transport links as well. For families in Barcelona, try Duchess of Cardona.
This epic 4-star hotel boasts spectacular panoramic views from the rooftop pool and comfortable rooms that can accommodate up to 4 people. Check the full details for yourself, as facilities, restrictions and conditions have changed in recent years. The fascinating and impressive city of Dubrovnik sits as a sentinel on the Adriatic Sea in Croatia. Its well-preserved historic center, protected by UNESCO, overlooking the sparkling sea has become even more iconic since its use as a filming location for Game of Thrones.
This city will charm you with its unique style and its cobbled streets with glorious baroque buildings. September and October is the best time to visit Dubrovnik. The water temperature is still warm enough for swimming, and most large cruise ships have departed, leaving the streets ideal for exploration. We think the best place to stay is the 5-star Hotel Dubrovnik Palace, which is located on a cliff overlooking the stunning Adriatic.
Rome is the expanding capital of Italy and one of the best places to visit in Europe. Here you'll find over 3000 years of art, history and architecture, from the famous Colosseum to St. Peter's Basilica and everything in between. September to November and April to May are generally considered the best times to visit Rome.
During these times, enjoy sublime temperatures and fewer visitors than the peak summer months and European school holidays. Staying in the center near Piazza Navona and the Pantheon would be an excellent option for your first time in Rome. Here you will be within walking distance of many of the main attractions and surrounded by a village atmosphere. The narrow cobbled streets lead among whimsical buildings with flower-filled planters.
There are bakeries next to fountains and romantic café-lined alleys. This city is the epitome of romance and pure European happiness. Venice has a unique location, built on 100 small islands in a lagoon within the Adriatic Sea. A visit to Venice is absolutely stunning.
Enjoy incredible sunsets over the water. Along tranquil canals lined with classical Renaissance and Gothic architecture, paths and bridges intersect waterways and lead to the perfect city square: Piazza San Marco. Staying in the San Marco area puts you in the heart of the action, with Venice's most important sights just a short walk away. These include La Piazza, the Grand Canal, St.
Mark's Basilica and the Bridge of Sighs. London is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit on a holiday in Europe. We love it because of its ease, the richness of culture, history and architecture, and the brilliant free museums. London is a very walkable city, but there are also plenty of public transport options to get you quickly from A to.
Don't miss London's beautiful parks and open spaces and take a stroll along South Bank. Staying in central London is ideal for first-time visitors, but if you want to explore the outskirts of London or the wider area of London, consider places like Richmond Upon Thames, it is close to Richmond Park, Twickenham and Kew Gardens and is a very picturesque centre by the Thames. Greenwich is another good place to stay, with plenty to see locally. Spring, between March and May, is probably my favorite time to be in London.
Parks and gardens are flourishing, the winter cold has left the city and people are happily away from home once again. From June to August is the rush hour in the city. Winter in London is another great time to visit and keep costs down and reduce the number of tourists, which is reflected in cheaper airfares and accommodation offers, and shorter queues at attractions. Around Christmas, prices go up, but London at Christmas is a great experience, as the city hosts numerous Christmas fairs and markets.
The capital will be lit and dotted with outdoor ice rinks and Christmas street food. For beginners, it's a good idea to stay somewhere like Covent Garden, as it is within walking distance of many of London's most famous sights. There are tons of cool theatres and street performers at every turn, making Covent Garden a great backdrop for your London vacation. Great connections on London's famous underground service and iconic red double-decker buses make getting around the city a breeze.
Accommodation in London can be found at most prices. Expect to pay anywhere from £50 per night at the absolute minimum, to a small fortune. Amsterdam is one of the best places to visit in Europe and is also one of the most infamous cities on the planet. Known for its winding canals, endless cycle paths and excellent art galleries with sublime Dutch artists Van Gogh, Vermeer and Rembrandt, it's worth adding a trip to Amsterdam to your European itinerary.
Be sure to also visit the gloomy and intriguing Anne Frank House. Staying in the charming old town is the best option for your first visit to Amsterdam. Here you will find many places of interest within walking distance. Fantastic shops, restaurants, bars, and nightlife are also nearby.
Prague, the UNESCO listed “City of Hundred Spires”, is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, making it one of the best places to visit in Europe. There is simply no equal to its exquisite bohemian charm. With cobbled streets that wind between remarkable Gothic and Baroque architecture that is still full despite a couple of world wars, Prague absolutely delights your senses. Those visiting Prague for the first time should try to stay in or near the Old Town.
Here you will be within walking distance of many of the city's most important sights and attractions. You can see snow in Istanbul in winter and we happened to be there to see what happened. Istanbul doesn't have the huge crowd of school holidays of, for example, London or Paris, which makes things a little less crowded. Room rates, crowds and weather are more manageable outside the peak season, think March to May and September to November.
We visited in January and February and had no problems with the weather. I may be a little biased seeing how I live in London, but The Big Smoke is undeniably a city that you must see for the first time in Europe. With 2000 years of history, more than 60 Michelin-starred restaurants and countless cultural attractions, there is something for every type of traveler in this metropolis. Use my 4-day London itinerary to explore the city's highlights and hidden gems.
Check out my 2-day Edinburgh itinerary to plan your perfect trip. Amsterdam has a great party reputation (you can probably find out why). But even quiet introverts like me will find plenty to love in the capital of the Netherlands. Whimsical facades, canal bridges and trendy cafés are Instagrammers' dream, and culture lovers can spend their days in the iconic art galleries and museums.
Use my 2-day Amsterdam itinerary to navigate the best of the city. In case you need more justification, Brussels is on the Eurostar line connecting London, Paris and Amsterdam, making it an easy stop during your first trip to Europe. And thanks to its status as an international business center, you can rely on English instead of French to move around the city. Paris is always a good idea.
It is one of the first places I visited in Europe, and its unique Parisian charms keep me coming back again and again. You'll never forget the feeling of seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time or trying your first French croissant. Check out my 4-day Paris itinerary for more inspiration. Read my 2-day itinerary in Porto to plan your visit.
I'll be honest, there's only one reason why I had to put Cologne on this list of must-see cities in Europe for the first time. And that reason is the cathedral of Cologne. Words cannot describe how impressive this 13th century masterpiece is, especially the way it rises above the landscape below. Cologne is also home to some of the best German Christmas markets, including an amazing extension in front of the cathedral.
Use my two-day itinerary in Cologne to navigate the best spots in the city. If fairytale cityscapes are your thing, you'll love Prague. Nicknamed “The City of Hundred Spires “, Prague is full of medieval, Gothic and Baroque architecture. Anyone who loves the romantic feel of Paris should include Prague in their list of cities to visit in Europe for the first time.
Stockholm was one of the first cities we visited in Europe after moving to London. We base the trip on its reputation as a city break. But we quickly learned that there is more to Stockholm than minimalist furniture and Fika breaks. London, Paris and Amsterdam are easily connected by high-speed train.
They are among the best cities in the world and are very easy for tourists, and they have more than enough to keep you engaged for 2 weeks. You could do just two of them too. For all those visiting Europe for the first time, the main cities would be Paris, Florence, London, Amsterdam, Rome and Barcelona. I recommend visiting at least one smaller place to get a more local feel of European life.
Good suggestions include Galway, Perugia, Utrecht and Seville, although the list of quality places is very long. Europe is located in the northern hemisphere, which means that, in general, summer is from May to August, while winter is from November to February. The Schengen Zone is an area in Europe made up of 26 countries that allow free movement between them once you have “entered the zone”. However, it is one of the best cities in Europe for newbies, thanks to its fantastic architecture, tempting tapas and bustling beach and nightlife scene.
European countries have good or excellent sanitary facilities, so you should be in good hands if something goes wrong while traveling. I have a good and dear friend of mine, in his late 60s also for the first time in Europe when he approaches it, (money is the main problem) he has settled in cities in three countries. Europe has dozens of languages spoken, with German, Russian, Spanish, French, Italian, English and some others being the most common. The classic stops for the first trip to Europe are Paris (France), Berlin (Germany), Amsterdam (Netherlands), Brussels (Belgium), Prague (Czech Republic), Budapest (Hungary), Rome (Italy), Vienna (Austria), London (United Kingdom), Barcelona (Spain), etc., etc.
Chances are you'll never regret spending another day in one place, but you'll always think about spontaneously missed opportunities that you couldn't include in a packed itinerary during your first trip to Europe. These would not be my best options for a first visit to Europe, but they are very beautiful cities and also easy to connect by train. However, while air travel in Europe is incredibly affordable compared to North American flight prices, you cannot adequately enjoy the spectacular hills of Montenegro or experience the thrill of Germany's speedless motorway from 30,000 feet above the ground. The best time to travel to Europe depends largely on the season, your budget, and what you want to do when you're there.