10 European Cities and Towns Every Traveler Should Visit
I spend a lot of time exploring Europe and have, as a result, a very long list of places I love and hope to return to someday. But on that long list are ten cities and towns I think everyone should visit at some point — ones that I can’t stop thinking about, talking about, and going back to.
photo via Switzerland Tourism
Interlaken, a resort town situated between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, was one of the first places I visited when I re-picked up my European love affair many years ago. My grandma is from Zurich so we had visited Switzerland as children. I always knew it was great but it wasn’t until I went to Interlaken that I truly understood how awesome it is.
Switzerland is wonderful in general because it’s very beautiful, clean, and easy to get around in. Interlaken is at the top of my list because it’s a small town known for being the outdoor adventure capital of Europe.
There’s so many different things to do there — you can kayak, go canyoning, bungee jumping, mountain biking, paragliding, hanggliding, sky diving, hiking, and so much more. When I first went many moons ago we stayed in a hostel and met dozens of new friends. Every morning we’d sit outside eating breakfast, talking about which adventure each of us were going to do that day.
In addition to Interlaken itself being amazing, it’s also the gateway to other awesome places that I highly recommend like Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen, and Jungfrau.
WHERE TO STAY IN INTERLAKEN: VICTORIA-JUNGFRAU Grand Hotel & Spa (one of the most beautiful places I have ever stayed!)
There’s a famous saying “Paris is always a good idea” and for good reason - it’s absolutely wonderful year-round. It is one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world and a place full of endless things to see and do. If you are looking for history, culture, art, fashion, and amazing food, Paris is for you. —
While I try to stick to more off-the-beaten-path places, there are some popular cities I simply cannot pass up (or not recommend). Paris is one of those. I find myself here more often than I should admit and that’s because there is something purely magical about it.
In addition to all of the above, it’s also a major transportation hub so it’s easy to find convenient and cheap(er) flights in and out of Paris than to some of the more remote spots I recommend.
photos by Michael Vanarey via The Yacht Week
When you think of Greece you likely think of Santorini and Mykonos. Would you believe I have been to both and didn’t love either? They are beautiful, of course, but they are tourist nightmares and incredibly overcrowded.
Hydra, on the other hand, is right up my alley! The island is spectacular, filled with cobblestone streets, boutique stores, and marina-lined restaurants. It is entirely wheeled vehicle-free but you can ride a donkey if you want!
Don't miss Sunset Restaurant, apparently voted by many publications to have “the most beautiful view in the world”. Can’t say I disagree with that claim.
If you know me personally or follow me on Instagram then you know that there is nothing I love more than Positano on the Amalfi Coast. John Steinbeck was once quoted saying “Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.” and I really could not agree more.
It is a place you have to see to believe and even then you will hardly believe it is real. If there’s one place that I recommend you visit, it’s this.
If you have ever wanted to step into a real life fairytale, Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Germany's Bavaria region is the place to go. It is a beautiful medieval town along the Romantic Road and Walt Disney's inspiration for the movie Pinocchio!
The first time I went to Europe was in 1996. My grandpa took all of us for a family reunion in Pforzheim, also in Bavaria. Along the way we stopped many places in Bavaria, where he was from, and Switzerland, where my grandma is from.
I was able to stop by for a second time earlier this year and am happy to report that I loved it still. It was just as beautiful as I remember it being, if not more, and is a truly special place to visit. I highly recommend stopping by for a day or two any chance you have.
WHERE TO STAY IN ROTHENBURG: Mittermeier Hotel
photos by Michael Vanarey via The Yacht Week
All of Croatia is pretty unreal but I especially liked the natural beauty of Hvar. It’s an island off the coast near Split with one of the most gorgeous harbors you’ve ever seen!
It’s probably the most famous Croatian island yet I did not find it to be too overcrowded, even in summer (peak tourist season). It has beautiful beaches, a 13th century wall, and a hilltop fortress with jaw-dropping views. Don’t miss it!
Marstrand is a small but charming island in West Sweden, well known for its sailing and for being a playground for both royalty and celebrities. Visitsweden.com lists it as being an absolute must-see and after seeing it for myself I have to say I could not agree more.
The island is so small that you can comfortably and easily walk around the entire thing and the views from the fortress at the top were the best I saw during my entire trip! It is a popular summer destination and has many restaurants, bars, and shops, making it a great place to spend a day exploring.
Marstrand is very easy to get to from Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest town (and another place high on my must-visit list).
WHERE TO STAY IN MARSTRAND: Marstrand Havshotell
If you've been to San Francisco and enjoyed it, odds are you'll love Lisbon as well. Often called the San Francisco of Europe, it's known for having delicious food, many hills, and even it's own Golden Gate Bridge look-a-like! It has become extremely popular in recent years and is a must see.
Alberobello is a unique Italian town in the Puglia region, most famous for it’s trullo buildings. Trullo buildings are whitened dry-stone huts with pointed stone roofs and are specific to this part of Puglia. Alberobello is also now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
I loved it so much that I visited twice, despite only being in Puglia for 3 days total. If you’re searching for something small, beautiful, and way off-the-beaten path, add Alberobello to your list.
WHERE TO STAY IN ALBEROBELLO: I'd get an Airbnb and stay in a traditional trullo home! Get $40 off your first Airbnb stay HERE
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, is an undeniably beautiful town built on an elaborate canal system like you have never seen before. Per square meter, it is home to more museums than any other city in the world! In addition to museums and canals it offers history, beauty, waffles, the infamous Red-light District, and a city full of bike paths if you are brave enough to give cycling a go.