There’s way more cultural beauty to be discovered in Europe, than we could ever imagine. Sure, you can visit Paris, London and Rome; these may be three of the most beautiful cities in the world, but they’re also three of the most crowded. I hate that, which is wht I would rather enjoy a more peaceful holiday, by exploring somewhere new and visiting one of these incredible cities while it’s still peaceful. These are the top 10 cultural destination in Europe.
10. Odense, Denmark
The birthplace of beloved writer Hans Christian Andersen, Odense offers fans of Andersen’s fairytales a peek into his life. Odense is filled with attractions in Hans Christian Andersen’s honor: there are many museums dedicated to his life, numerous statues and sculptures depicting events from his most famous stories and even the odd public bench decorated to resemble one of his fairytale characters.
9. Coimbra, Portugal
Once the capital city of Portugal, Coimbra is steeped in medieval history and vibrant culture. It’s location between Porto and Lisbon makes it both an ideal day-trip as well as a holiday destination in its own right. Home to one of the oldest universities in the world, architecture enthusiasts and history buffs will be in their element as they wander through the University Quarter and amidst the city’s great churches and Roman ruins.
8. Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany
With superb links to France, Switzerland, Austria and the rest of Europe, Freiburg im Breisgau is an exceptional addition to any European tour. Nestled on the edge of the Black Forest in South West Germany, this charming city straddles the Dreisam River and lies at the bottom of the magical Schlossberg. It’s a picturesque place, perfect for a relaxing weekend away or an enjoyable day-trip from Basel or Zurich.
7. Maastricht, The Netherlands
Maastricht may not have the same worldwide fame as Amsterdam, but it is arguably just as beautiful. Split over both sides of the Meuse River, the city of Maastricht is surrounded by stunning countryside and historic castles. The entire inner city is easily explored on foot and as it is one of the oldest cities in The Netherlands; there are also plenty of historic wonders to uncover as you stroll around.
6. Matera, Italy
Just a couple of hours’ drive from the stunning Amalfi Coast, Matera makes for an ideal day-trip. The city was made an UNESCO world heritage site in 1993 due to it being ‘the most outstanding, intact example of troglodyte settlement in the Mediterranean region, perfectly adapted to its terrain and ecosystem.
5. Mons, Belgium
The European Capital of Culture 2015, Mons is the capital city of the province of Hainaut in Belgium. Much lesser known than Brussels, Bruges and Ghent, Mons is in fact home to three UNESCO World Heritage masterpieces: the Belfry, the Neolithic Mines in Spiennes and the Dou Dou. If those stunning attractions aren’t enough of a temptation to visit, perhaps the city’s mix of stunning civil, religious and military buildings will be.
4. Pilsen, Czech Republic
Pilsen conveniently lies just 90 kilometers from Prague in Western Bohemia. Although not as categorically beautiful as many other Czech cities, Pilsen still has its spectacular parts. At its center lies a picturesque old town square lined on all sides by pretty trees and gardens. The rest of the city is much more industrial, unsurprising since it’s the birthplace of Pilsner beer and is home to Skoda Engineering Works.
3. Sibiu, Romania
A fusion of Romanian, German and Hungarian cultures, the city of Sibiu across the Cibin River in Romania, is a beautiful blending of architecture from the Middle Ages. It is loved primarily for its medieval charm, but it is also home to plenty of exquisite restaurants and is surrounded by beautiful parkland too. One of the few cities in the country that is actually cyclist-friendly, Sibiu can easily be explored by bicycle as well as on foot.
2. Torún, Poland
Strikingly different from Krakow and Warsaw, Torún is one of Poland’s best-kept secrets. Birthplace of the famous astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, the city is filled with landmarks in his honor including his house-cum-museum and his statue. Torún is also famed for its gingerbread. Called pierniki in Polish, this gingerbread snack can be found in shops all around the city.
1. Vézelay, France
Ideal for a hot air balloon flight, Vézelay in Burgundy, France is a stunning hilltop town and UNESCO world heritage site. Famed for its Vézelay Abbey, the city’s architecture dates from the 11th century, when the remarkable Romanesque Basilica of St. Magdalene was built. In the summer, geraniums bring the city into a burst of vibrant color, and the golden glow of sunset is the most romantic time to take a stroll between the beautiful buildings and look out over the Cure Valley below.