Thinking of taking a city break in Europe? Good choice – the continent is home to loads of fantastic cities that are well worth exploring. Below, you’ll find the three that either top my to-visit list or have already earned a special place in my heart.
Barcelona is easily one of my all-time favourite holiday destinations. It’s got everything you could possibly want: mind-blowing architecture, incredible food, gorgeous gardens, great beaches, amazing nightlife… What more could you ask for?
I spent a week here a few years ago and I’m itching to go back. If you’re heading there soon, don’t miss out on these staples:
• Sagrada Familia: The famous cathedral designed by Antoni Gaudi. Its construction has already lasted more than 100 years and is still going strong; this building has to be seen to be believed.
• Casa Batllo: Also designed by Gaudi, this weird and wonderful house is among the most unusual buildings you’re ever likely to see.
… And these hidden gems:
• Jardins de Laberint d’Horta: Located in La Zona Alta, this park is named after the surprisingly tricky labyrinth at its centre. Unlike many attractions in the city, it’s usually very quiet.
• Museo de la Xocolata: A chocolate museum! This fab attraction tells you all about the history of the confection and has loads of impressive chocolate sculptures on display. Plus, there’s a cafe when you can satisfy your cocoa cravings.
The only downside of my trip was that it was a bit expensive – but I think that was largely my fault for choosing a pricey hotel!
The romance capital of Europe, Paris is, of course, the perfect destination for a romantic getaway. This is another place that holds happy memories for me, but as I was only there for a couple of days, there are loads of places – famous and relatively unknown – I want to see. These include:
• The Chapelle Expiatoire: You’ll find this pretty chapel in the square of Louis XVI in the centre of Paris. It’s remarkably little-visited, despite being beautiful and the original burial place of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, as well as 3,000 victims of the French Revolution.
• UNESCO Garden of Peace: A Japanese-style garden, this was the first in world to have been designed by a sculptor, as opposed to a gardener.
• The Louvre: Yes, I managed to visit Paris and not visit the Louvre – the art gallery home to the Mona Lisa.
Edinburgh is easily one of the UK’s most exciting cities, so I think it should definitely be on the to-do list of any traveller planning to hit Europe’s top urban hubs. I’d recommend timing your visit to coincide with the famous Edinburgh Festival Fringe, since for these few weeks in August, the city overflows with performances of fresh new comedy, plays and music. This year’s runs from August 2nd to 26th.
There are so many things worth seeing in Edinburgh, it’s hard to narrow them down. Shopaholics will be in their element – particularly in Princes Street and George Street – while culture vultures should, of course, make a beeline for Edinburgh Castle.
And, if you love animals, don’t forget the city is also home to the endlessly fun Edinburgh Zoo. I’d particularly like to see the giant pandas, but there are over 1,000 species to spot, so if you have your heart set on meeting penguins, monkeys or other creatures, chances are you’ll find them here!