Dave and I have been dreaming of Europe this past month. It was this time last year we were in Bologna enjoying time in Italy’s quiet countryside. Oh how we miss Balsamic Vinegar with fine Parmesan Cheese, creamy gelato, rich coffee and of course Italian wine and Prosecco. All our reminiscing got us talking about the most beautiful cities we’ve visited in Europe. We most certainly haven’t seen all of Europe and I know that there will be some cities that we’ll have left off our list, but we wanted to do a round up of Europe’s most beautiful cities….that we’ve seen so far.

So without further adieu, enjoy our photos and memories of the most beautiful cities in Europe according to us!

Paris

It may seem cliché, but Paris will always be the most beautiful city in Europe to us. No matter how many other cities we see, we still come back to the City of Lights and gaze upon it with wonder and awe. Walking through the city streets at night is one of our favourite things to do.

Venice

Many people don’t love Venice, but we think it is because they have never stayed there long enough. We would watch cruise lines and bus tours come in for a day and zip right back out before they had a chance to really explore Venice. We spent six days total in Venice and loved getting lost in its back alleys, taking boat trips through the canals and enjoying quiet drinks on a bistro terrace.

See what it’s like to see Venice by Private Water Taxi, it was our favourite tour we’ve ever taken

Budapest

Budapest is probably the most beautiful city by the water. Walking over the chain bridge to witness the beauty of Buda and Pest looking back at one another across the Danube is pure perfection. When the lights come on in Budapest, make your way down to the river and take in the splendour of the two cities.

See our video on Tips for Seeing Budapest like a local

Prague

We had often heard that Prague was beautiful and when we first laid eyes on her, she didn’t disappoint. Yes it is busy and crowded, but if you step out of the main trail, you’ll find quiet spots to grab a bite or a pint. If you wake up early and walk around the city, you will have it all to yourselves. Dave and I were amazed to see that people didn’t really get started until after well after 9:00 am giving us plenty of time to enjoy the beautiful architecture in private.

See more about Prague at Ottsworld. We raced through Prague with her during the Mongol Rally.

Florence

Florence is truly a city of art. With every turn you make you will run into sculptures or intricate etching in the architecture. It’s a city that you can walk slowly through and enjoy each and every building you lay eyes upon. The Duomo stands proud in the centre of the city and endless cobblestone streets weave around allowing you to get lost and simply enjoy.

San Marino

San Marino is a city and an independent republic in the middle of Italy. It sits high on a hill overlooking possibly the most beautiful view we’ve ever seen from a city. It overlooks the Italian Apennines, rivalling the beauty of Tuscany. San Marino is the oldest surviving sovereign State in the world and it’s known as the Serene Republic. Serene it is indeed.

Bern

Bern, Switzerland is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the political centre of Switzerland. It doesn’t feel like a political hub though, this city was made for walking. The walkways of Bern are all covered making for pleasant shopping in any type of weather. Seeing Bern from the river reinforces our decision of why we included it in our list of the most beautiful cities we’ve ever visited.

Barcelona

The more we visit Barcelona, the more we love it. At first we weren’t fans of the works of Gaudi, but as we got to know him a bit more, we fell in love with his innovative, colourful and playful architecture. With a beautiful waterfront, quiet parks, downtown walking streets and bustling markets, Barcelona is definitely up there as one of the most beautiful and vibrant cities we’ve visited in Europe.

Bologna

When we found out we were spending three weeks in Bologna, we were excited. But we didn’t know much about it. It turns out, that Bologna should be added to everyone’s Italian Itinerary. It’s just as beautiful as Florence or Rome but it’s quieter. It has a more local vibe and as you can see it’s absolutely stunning. Bologna even has the highest leaning tower in all of Italy. Move over Pisa, this leaning tower is the real deal. (note, we took this photo from the top of Bologna’s leaning tower.)

Istanbul

When gazing upon the city of Istanbul from our rooftop terrace at night, it is set afire with light. Istanbul is a city with two personalities. One foot in the West with a European flare and the other foot in the East. It is the Eastern influence that makes this city so beautiful. Mosques dot the cityscape as spires peek out from above the skyline. It’s an enormous city yet it is easy to walk and navigate. If you can make it up the Galata Tower to witness it from above, make sure that you do. You’ll understand why we say it is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.

Brussels

Brussels was one of the first European cities we’ve ever visited and I will never forget the feeling we had when we finally found the square. We rounded a corner and the sight took our breath away. We visited it again a couple of years ago and the feeling did not fade. We still think that the square of Brussels is one of the most beautiful squares in all of Europe. It’s an absolutely beautiful city filled with history and charm.

For more information on Belgium, Check out Cheeseweb, Expat Life in Belgium

London

I know we will probably get some flack for putting London in as a beautiful city, but we find it to be stunning. Our favourite part of London was hanging out by the river. We took water taxis and ferries and took in the beauty of the city from the water. It is filled with memorable and notable architecture. It’s colourful, massive and beautiful. Do you agree?

See more of London at Touring London Landmarks, our Expedia Viewfinder post

Rome

Rome made the list of beautiful cities, but we put it last because although much of the ruins in Rome are impressive, it’s not the most uniformed city on the list. However, it’s the ruins intertwining with the modern architecture that makes it beautiful to us. Rome is a city that has left the Roman history in tact. They haven’t really renovated it or incorporated the old Roman architecture into the plans of the city. Modern building spring up between ancient monuments and we love it!

We know we left many cities out of the list. We still haven’t visited Scandinavia, unless you count Iceland as a part of it. (Note: Rekjavik did not make our list of beautiful cities) We have yet to see Greece and much of Mediterranean. We hear Krakow, Poland it beautiful, but we haven’t had the chance to lay eyes upon it yet.

Do you have a favourite beautiful city? Do you think some of our suggestions are downright crazy? We want to know! 

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81 Comments

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Thanks for stopping by Lucas. HDR is not for everyone and I don’t use it all of the time. One of the things that I love about photography is that it is subjective. What one person likes perhaps another doesn’t. I hope you have been able to peruse our gallery and enjoy some of the other images we have posted.

      Cheers,

      Dave

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Thanks Sophie, we haven’t been to Bergen, but we’ll definitely check it out. We’ll be doing more of Europe this year, so we’ll have to do a follow up piece next year for sure as we add more. We’ll keep it always to 13 so we’ll have to either take away.

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Ferrara we a great town and it nearly made the list. There are so many beautiful cities in Italy. We loved Ferrara too but it just didn’t quite make it. But definitely in the top 20 for us. :)

  1. Shawn

    Europe is a very beautiful place and these are some very nice pictures. Thank you for sharing this as I believe traveling will help you live longer as you enjoy this beautiful world.

  2. Karen

    Beautiful photos! Agree with all nominations except for Brussels, never enjoyed it there…probably cause I’ve been there too much for work.

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Ah yes, when you spend too much time at a place for work it can turn you off. I think Brussels stays with us because we saw it on one of our first trips to Europe and we were blown away by the square then. It has a special place in our hearts.

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      We have been to Lisbon, but only spent a couple of days there. WE didn’t get to explore it as much as we would have liked. Hopefully we’ll have more time there in the future and it can make it.

  3. Ian

    Galway, Edinburgh and Berlin would make my list. Brussels wouldn’t make my top 100 and London would be just outside top 10. Otherwise I agree, good choices!

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Galway is nice too. Good choice, maybe we should have taken a closer look at things when we were there. We haven’t been to Edinburgh but are going in October. Hopefully we’ll feel the same way. Berlin is definitely the coolest city in Europe. For us it is not the most beautiful of them all, but definitely the hippest and coolest of them all for sure. We loved it too!

  4. Nic Hilditch-Short

    I have been to many places on this list and agree with most! We visited Budapest in April and were blown away by its beauty especially at night as you mentioned. We have also just returned from Dublin which is also beautiful. I do love Hamburg though after I spent sometime on work experience there whilst at university and also Moscow with st Basil’s and the metro is an amazing sight. Visiting krakow later in the year and as mentioned I have heard it is very nice. Have to give a shout out to Edinburgh too. Prague is also one of my favourite places in Europe. Nice list! :-)

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Hi Nic, great addition about Dublin. We almost put in on the list. We were just there last month and loved it. We found it to be a bit like Berlin, a very cool city with a fun hip vibe, but it wasn’t the traditionally beautiful city we were thinking of. I can understand why you’d add it though, we had a bit of a discussion about it. We have yet to visit Hamburg, but I have heard it is beautiful. We love the conversation it is sparking about what cities are beautiful and which ones are not, it raises our wanderlust even more. We’re going to see Edinburgh in October, can’t wait! And Moscow has been a dream of ours for quite some time. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Bart

    Krakow rocks with its Medieval churches, castles, fun underground bars and amazing squares. Well worth a visit.

  6. Makrand

    I recently visited Prague, Budapest and Vienna. Each city was beautiful but Budapest in night was something magical. I never knew a city can look so different in day and night. River cruise in Danube was the highlight of my trip. Hope to see rest of cities in above list in upcoming years :)

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Ah yes, Vienna. We had thought about including it, but it just didn’t do for us what it has done for others. I think I must go back and give it another try. Sometimes a city can grow on you after another visit. I agree as well about the Danube. The first time we were in Budapest, we didn’t cruise the Danube, we just walked along the riverfront, but when we went a second time and saw it from the river, it was even more outstanding.

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Thanks Helen. I know exactly how you feel. We wrote this post because we were having such joyous conversations about our times in Europe, we started making a little list as we talked and said, let’s share!

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  8. Sara

    Great list (and pictures)!! I completely agree with Paris – it seems cliche, but no European city can top Paris in my option either! I personally would have swapped Bruges for Brussels, but there are so many beautiful cities in Europe, hard to narrow it down to 10!

  9. RDHD

    Brussels is an under-appreciated city. I hear far too many people dismiss it–but it is gorgeous. (Just got back from Amsterdam–also beautiful, Ruby).

    And, wow, your photo of Casa Batllo is way better than any I took.

  10. ian

    Love the list could only imagine how difficult it was to pick top 10. I know Dublin didn’t make top 10 but look at competition, maybe next trip go the city park “Phoenix Park” where you will find 10 square miles of park land including Dublin zoo, presidents house, US embassy and papal cross among the wild deer.

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      I know eh. We had Dublin on the list. It’s definitely in our top 12. I think Dublin can go down as one of the coolest cities in Europe. That’s where we’d place it alongside Berlin.

  11. noel

    Yes those are some of my favorite cities because they are so photo worthy and too many incredible places to visit with scenic vistas and amazing views.

  12. Alyssa

    I have to agree with Lucas. I have been following your blog for years, but the excessive use of HDR in travel photography has gotten excessive. When I want to think dream and learn about travel, I want to see what things REALLY look like. I respect HDR as an art form, but I don’t think it should be a default for travel photojournalism. The surreal approach is a turn off (and at the end of the day appears to be the tool of a weak photographer – which I know you are not as you have posted some other lovely pictures). But the majority of your 11 here are posted as HDR and I think that does a disservice to the beauty of these actual cities. Maybe consider taking a break?

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Thanks for your comment Alyssa and I am sorry that you feel that way about HDR in travel photography. I have personally found it a great way to increase my creativity around the places that we visit. For some it works for others it does not. HDR is certainly not the only type of photography I practice as you can see if you have a look though other posts and our gallery. As for your comment that HDR is the tool of a weak photographer this is applying a broad stroke to the subject. I know quite a few wonderful and successful travel photographers that use HDR in a lot of their work and that would beg to differ with your opinion. As I replied to Lucas above, photography is an art and therefore based on personal taste. As far as doing a disservice to these places I think you may have blown that a little out of proportion. If you look around there are millions of photos of each destinations on the net. These are just our interpretation of them. Beauty after all is in the eye of the beholder :)
      Thank you again for your comment and I hope you will continue to read and visit The Planet D.

  13. Renuka

    I am on your blog after a while and I’m happy to be treated with gorgeous photos of Europe! My personal favorites are cities in Italy. I’m not sure about Paris, because I have heard it is getting dirty and too much of construction going on.

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Thanks Renuka! Hopefully you’ll be able to give Paris a try and see what you think. Some people love it some people hate it. I think either way, people always have a strong opinion of the city.

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Great choices! We forgot about Monaco. I think it is only because we simply drove through it quickly. We wanted to say that we popped into see it, but didn’t spend enough time exploring. We’ve got to get to Dubrovnik. We loved Croatia and hear it is beautiful.

  14. Jessica

    Sometimes I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I love Venice because so many people complain that it’s too touristy. It’s definitely crowded – particularly if you stick to the big sites – but, for me, it still has this magical feeling about it that even the crowds can’t take away.

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      I know how you feel Jessica. We love Venice and Paris and many people think that you have to go for the more obscure choices, but there’s a reason these places have always been so popular. They are beautiful! Same with us, even the crowds are ok. getting lost in the back streets is a wonderful way to escape them.

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      I know! we didn’t make it to Dubrovnik when we were in Croatia. But judging from the parts of the country we visited, I bet it is beautiful. We visited Rijeka and the islands of Rab, Krk and and Cres. The towns on these islands were absolutely beautiful and we nearly considered including one of them but thought that they probably weren’t large enough.

  15. Mike

    I remember the first time I went to Europe I actually considered skipping Paris as I was worried it was too cliché. What a mistake that would have been. Paris truly is the world’s most beautiful city, although I do have a soft spot in my soul for Madrid :)

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      It’s true isn’t it Mike? Even after visiting so many European Cities, we still love Paris. We haven’t truly explored Madrid yet, so we’ll have to get back and explore some more.

  16. Maria from Nerd Nomads

    Nice list! I totally agree with Rome, Barcelona and Prague, my favourites! Have you been to Oslo or other cities in Norway yet? I think you will like Norway, with it’s mountains and fjords, midnight sun and northern lights.

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      We haven’t been to Oslo yet. We’re hoping to get more Scandinavia travel under our belt next year. (fingers crossed) I have a feeling this list will change a lot over the years as we explore more.

  17. Megsy

    Wow what a great list, I can’t wait to explore Europe more. I have visited a few on your list but that was when I worked on cruise ships and you get such a small amount of time in port its hard to really discover the best, hidden parts of a city. Stunning pics as always – I can’t wait to see these sights for myself.

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      What a great way to see the world! Working on a cruise ships gives you a taste of everything and then you can go back later to explore in depth. Appreciate the comment!

  18. Julie Sykes

    Absolutely fantastic imagery to represent each of these incredible cities. I’m making Budapest my 8th out of those 13 later this year. Fingers crossed to add Istanbul and Bologna within the next year too! Happy travels.

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Fantastic and thank you! We hope you enjoy Budapest. It is really a beautiful city. And Istanbul is so unique you are going to love it as well. We traveled from Istanbul to Budapest when we went. Maybe you’ll be able to go from Budapest to Istanbul :)

  19. Marie-France (a.k.a. BigTravelNut)

    Not sure about Budapest and Bern. Although Budapest looks very good on “paper”, I got there during a heat wave in 1999. It was hot, humid, smelly (everybody smoked), people were unfriendly, and I almost got pick-pocketed while trying to get that night view from the bridge. As you say, experiences are subjective. Bern has a nice view from that high point above the river, but because of the covered walkways, your views are often limited. I was in Brussels for the first time less than two weeks ago and the Grand Place is definitely impressive!

    Beautiful cities not on your list: Dubrovnik, Ljubljana, Lisbon, Salzburg, Lyon
    European cities I really want to visit next: Prague, Berlin, Krakow, Seville, Istanbul. So many places! :)

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      A heat wave can turn off almost everone :) 1999 is a lot different than today too. Everybody smoked in Toronto in 1999 as well. I din’t really notice the smokers and I’m quite sensitive to it, so maybe it’s not so bad anymore. Italy and Spain is where I noticed a lot of smoking still going on. It’s funny, the covered walkways are what I love about Bern :) Glad we agree on Grand Place! We’ve been to Croatia, but didn’t get to Dubrovnik, I can see it being beautiful as the smaller cities we visited there were lovely. Cheers!

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  21. deborah perras

    INDEED!!!!! Paris is the most beautiful city EVER!!!! Summed up in one word: MESMORIZING.
    It may also be considered the sexiest city in the world:)

  22. Hugh

    I beleive Athens should be in the list too.Just came back from there and was awsome.The places to visit were just numberless.Visited almost every place seen in a video guides’ site (http://www.myathens.tv/en/ if you are interested which site was it) . Cheers!

  23. Heather

    I think that Prague is probably the most beautiful city in the entire world, let alone Europe! I’d also argue that Madrid, Granada and Lisbon should make the list. I’ve just moved to Riga, Latvia and, from what I’ve seen so far, this place is also quite stunning. That’s the trouble with Europe – every place you visit is more charming than the last!

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Great choices Heather. We didn’t spend enough time in Lisbon. We were only there a couple of days, and although it was pretty walking in the old town, I don’t think we got to see it from the proper vantage point. I must go back. Ooh, we haven’t been to Latvia yet, you must keep us posted how it is. I’ll keep checking out your blog for updates!

  24. Deanna

    Your pictures are beautiful. I don’t know what HDR is but I think it’s great.
    I’ve traveled a lot with my daughter throughout Europe and loved it all.
    Spain and Portugal are high on my list. Did love London because of all the
    history. Spent some time in Shanghai, China. It’s so crowded but loved all the
    temples and the parks. They do have a lot of green spaces. Get to go to
    Latvia in November. Looking forward to that and traveling to all the countries
    near by.

    1. Dave and Deb Post author

      Thanks Deanna. HDR Is a process that takes several different exposures of one scene and then you blend the photos together. The human eye sees all the exposures at once, but normally a camera can only focus on one, so if there is a blue sky and rich green scenery, you only see one or the other in a photograph. With HDR, you see it all.
      We loved Shanghai too. We’re going to have to do the best cities around the world one day soon,but we’re lacking in our South America travels, We’ve only been to Peru and Ecuador on that continent so once we get more SA cities, we’ll have to do a round up. I think we can do Asian cities though easily, I believe we’ve seen most of them. You’ve got me thinking :)

  25. Tom

    Ick. The HDR is such a turnoff and doesn’t represent how any of those cities actually appear in real life…

  26. Jodi

    I adored the Italian cities of Rome and Venice. Your photos are stunning! I should make the effort to learn HDR photography this summer. Always loved seeing the effects, but I never learned the technique.

  27. Wandering Carol

    Okay, there are 3 cities on your list I haven’t visited. Obviously I’m falling down on the job of touring Italy because I missed San Marino and Bologna. The other city I haven’t visited is Brussels – except to whiz through on the train. Back to Europe I go! PS Astounding photos as usual.

  28. Stephen S.

    Great post Dave and Deb. Since there are still countries in Europe I haven’t visited yet. This post is very helpful for me for specific destinations for my travelling plan.

  29. Isaia

    They are really 13 amazing cities to visit. This year I’m on my way to Barcelona and I must say your picture looks more than promising.

  30. Ferienwohnung Düsseldorf

    Nice summary of europe :) For me the best city in Barcelona. I really love Spain and the people in Barcelona are friendly all the time. Furthermore there are a lot of inhabitants from middle and south america. Awesome mix of cultures :)

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