Amsterdam is one of the top tourist destinations in Europe, and for good reason too. This metropolitan hub in the Netherlands is packed to the brim with culture, history, and entertainment of all kind.
Amsterdam (What to Do)
One of the best things to do in Amsterdam is just to get out and explore. The sights and sounds of this historic city are enough to fill multiple vacations! Plus, Amsterdam is a very bicycle-friendly place, which means that getting around to see it all won’t be a problem. Specific sites of interest include the Van Gogh Museum, local shopping at the Nine Streets, and the historic Anne Frank House.
Amsterdam (What to Eat)
There is all sorts of cuisine to discover in Amsterdam, but you can’t have a trip here without trying a local delicacy--raw herring. It sounds a little crazy, but we think you’ll be hooked when you try it. There are plenty of haringhandels or herring carts around the city where you can purchase this unique dish.
Amsterdam (Where to Stay)
Amsterdam has plenty of accommodations at every price point--from hostels to luxury hotels. If you’re looking for unique lodging, be sure to check out the Hotel Zaandam and its one-of-a-kind architecture.
Tokyo might be a major spot for vacationing in Japan, but when it comes to beauty, you just can’t beat the historic former capital of Kyoto. While it’s a modern metropolitan hub with a population over one million, there is still so much gorgeous, traditional Japanese architecture to explore.
Kyoto (What to Do)
There are numerous traditional shrines located around Kyoto, but if you only visit one, make it Kinkaku-ji, or “the Golden Pavilion.” If you’re looking for beauty out in nature, you also don’t want to miss the Arashiyama bamboo grove. You’ll forget you’re in a major city when you walk through this trail of towering bamboo.
Kyoto (What to Eat)
There is no shortage of great restaurants to choose from in Kyoto, but wherever you go, you’ve got to try kaiseki ryori. This traditional form of Japanese cuisine features high quality ingredients and a high level attention to the visual presentation of your food. It’s a meal that will look as good as it tastes.
Kyoto (Where to Stay)
Kyoto has more traditional Western lodging like hotels, but it’s also home to several ryokan--or tradition Japanese inns. If you want easy access to lots of destinations, aim to stay in downtown Kyoto because that’s where all the action is at.
Barcelona is a beautiful mix of both old and new, as well as urban and rural. In the same city, you’ll find both exciting nightlife and historic cathedrals. You can enjoy the hustle and bustle of the city or relax your vacation away on the beach.
Barcelona (What to Do)
The true heart of Barcelona is Las Ramblas--which are a set of narrow streets filled to the brim with shopping, nightlife, and great cuisine. For a more unique experience, be sure to visit Park Guell--the unusually designed garden park with views you won’t find anywhere else in Barcelona.
Barcelona (Where to Eat)
You’re likely to find a blend of both Spanish and Catalonian cuisine when you visit Barcelona. Because its a seaside city, paella is a must while you’re here. And for those with a sweet tooth, be on the lookout for some decadent Catalonian deserts as well.
Barcelona (Where to Stay)
If you want to be where all the action is, be sure to book a hotel in the Gothic quarter of Barcelona. For those who want breathtaking views (and maybe have a little more money to spend), consider staying closer to the beach.
There are historical cities...and then there is Athens. The capital city of Greece has been around for millenia, which means there is plenty of beauty and history to take in here. Whether you’ve got a passion for classic architecture or love more natural views, Athens has something beautiful for everyone.
Athens (What to Do)
You’ve got the iconic historical sites like the Acropolis and the Parthenon, and those are definitely worth a visit. But a lot has been going on here since Plato was around! Stavros Niarchos park is a modern and serene place to visit if you’re looking for a little quiet time. Or why not just hit the beach and spend the day swimming in the beautiful waters of the Mediterranean?
Athens (What to Eat)
There is plenty of traditional Greek food to try in Athens--and luckily, most of it isn’t too hard on your waistline! There’s a heavy emphasis on fresh fish in Greece, so it’s definitely a seafood lovers paradise. While there are plenty of high-end restaurants, you might be surprised at how tasty the food is even at more hole-in-the-wall type establishments.
Athens (Where to Stay)
Syntagma is considered the tourist hub of Athens, so you’ll find plenty of standard accommodations here. But if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, check out the Exarchia neighborhood, which has more of an authentic and youthful vibe.
In terms of the Middle East, you won’t find many more scenic and beautiful spots than the city of Beirut. It’s the capital of Lebanon, which means that there’s always plenty going on to do and see. It might not be the first place you think of for a vacation, but you’d be surprised how much fun you can have here.
Beirut (What to Do)
Beirut once called itself “the Paris of the Middle East,” which means you’ll find lots of culture with European influences, including art and architecture. There are plenty of museums here to explore the history of the area, with one of the largest being the National Museum of Beirut. If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, be sure to check out Pigeon Rocks, a beautiful natural arch that juts out of the Mediterranean sea.
Beirut (What to Eat)
Beirut is a great place to visit if you want to get out of your culinary comfort zone. Traditional Lebanese cuisine abounds here, including iconic dishes like hummus and stuffed grape leaves. You can even find fast food Lebanese cuisine here! Drive-thru falafel never tasted so good!
Beirut (Where to Stay)
There are numerous high-quality hotels in a good number of Beirut’s neighborhoods. Downtown is always a safe bet, but there are other areas to consider as well--like Verdun and Jnah.
You won’t find classic European architecture more beautiful than in Budapest. Although the region is steeped in history, this Hungarian city still has a fun and vibrant feel to it. Whether you’re coming for the world-class classical music, the city’s other cultural offerings, or the area’s natural beauty, there’s a lot of excitement to be found in Budapest.
Budapest (What to Do)
Because there are so many monuments and other points of interest in the city, be sure to check out the many walking tours available. They’re a great way to get an overview of what Budapest has to offer. The massive Royal Palace is definitely a must see, as is the gorgeous Danube river--although it’s pretty hard to miss, considering it runs right through the city!
Budapest (What to Eat)
If you’re in need of a hearty meal, Budapest is your city. “Guylas” or goulash is a regional classic that’s basically a meat and potato soup. But there are some marginally healthier options here as well, like stuffed cabbage or fruit soup. Regardless of what you pick, you’re likely to feel warm and full after a meal in Budapest.
Budapest (Where to Stay)
Budapest has all sorts of accommodations, from hostels and camping, to private apartments for rent. If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind experience (and don’t mind a big bill), be sure to check out the historic Grand Hotel Royal.
If you’re looking for the experience of a traditional European city but also love the beach, Lisbon is the destination for you. This is a city filled with culture, history, and plenty of gorgeous white limestone buildings.
Lisbon (What to Do)
For a taste of classic Lisbon, be sure to hop a ride on Tram 28--one of the few traditional trams still in operation that used to run throughout the city. And once you hop off, you’ll be in Alfama, which is one of the city’s oldest and most interesting districts. Here, you’ll find lots of classic architecture, dining, and historical sites.
Lisbon (What to Eat)
Many of the restaurants around Lisbon are small, family-run establishments. But you’ll find some of the best and most authentic food at these places! For a meal with the freshest ingredients, look for a place that’s not offering much more than a special of the day.
Lisbon (Where to Stay)
Old Town is a good district if you’re looking for a place to stay in Lisbon. And typically, finding a room isn’t a challenge if you’re not looking for something in particular--many travelers will book a room once they’ve arrived in town.
Rome may be the big tourist destination in Italy, but Florence isn’t far behind. And if you have an interest in the Renaissance or just generally like looking at pretty things, this city is one of the most beautiful you’ll find anywhere in the world.
Florence (What to Do)
You can’t expect to visit Florence without seeing a museum or two. The Galleria degli Uffizi is the most famous in town, but there are plenty of others to choose from--all brimming with some of the finest art that’s ever been made. And on the first Sunday of every month, state-run museums have free admission.
Florence (What to Eat)
There’s plenty of Tuscan cuisine to experience in Florence, but you should try to avoid restaurants in the Mercato di San Lorenzo district--it’s got a very touristy feel here. A lot of good, traditional food can be found in the historical center of the city.
Florence (Where to Stay)
There are plenty of accommodations in Florence, but they can get a bit pricey in the more historical parts of town. If you’re not particular about where you stay, look for hotels that market heavily towards business travelers--these can often be cheaper than more luxury-oriented hotels.
Even though Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark and a major urban area of Europe, it still has an intimate feel to it. It’s a blend of old and new that will keep you captivated by all the beautiful sites.
Copenhagen (What to Do)
The Danish National Gallery houses artworks by major artists like Rembrandt, Picasso, and Matisse for those looking for a little culture. But it can also be fun to just wander the city as you please--the architecture here is diverse, but it’s all beautiful. And even though Denmark might not seem like a tropical paradise, you can actually go for a swim at the beach, assuming that it’s not the dead of winter when you visit.
Copenhagen (What to Eat)
Copenhagen is a great to place to get a taste of Nordic cuisine--both traditional and new. While the city might have a reputation for being a little pricey when it comes to food, there are some affordable options here as well. Throughout the city, you’ll find truck vendors selling sausages and chocolate milk--which is an unusual but nonetheless tasty combo.
Copenhagen (Where to Stay)
You’ll definitely want to be on the lookout for any special deals when booking a room in Copenhagen because it can get expensive. But there is a wide variety of places to stay here, from a beachside hotel to a repurposed historic fort.
Vienna is the capital of Austria, and as such, it offers all sorts of unique experiences from historical monuments to exciting nightlife. No matter what you explore, you’ll be stunned by the architectural and natural beauty of the city.
Vienna (What to Do)
There are no shortage of historical sites to visit in Vienna. And these include everything from the massive and opulent Schönbrunn Palace to the towering spires of St. Stephen’s Cathedral. For those looking to shop, the Innere Stadt district offers streets of stores that range from affordable to wildly expensive.
Vienna (What to Eat)
You can find a surprising diversity of dishes in Vienna, but there’s one thing you’re likely to see everywhere--sausage. And come hungry, because portions tend to run large here as well.
Vienna (Where to Stay)
Because Vienna is so big, it can be important to choose a hotel that’s near the things you want to do. Choosing a centrally located hotel is safe bet, but be prepared to pay more if you’re staying in the heart of the city.