Europe is without a doubt one of the most popular destinations to travel in the world, and definitely a must seen. But you can get overwhelmed by the wide variety of cities to see and places to visit on each one.
The following list is merely an attempt to point you in the right direction, specially in case you don’t have a lot of time in your hands to wander every city, and it contains the top 5 cities you shouldn’t miss and some of the things you can’t avoid while you’re there in your first visit. By no means these are the only or the definitive things to see at this wonderful continent with so much to explore and enjoy, it’s just a little guide you can use to show you where you should start.
1. Paris, France
First of all, try to separate at least four or five days to explore the wonderful City of Lights. With an extensive cultural offer, there are, however some museums and attractions you should not leave out. From all the art galleries to see, it’s safe to say that if you take your time on the George Pompidou Museum of Modern Art, the Rodin Museum, with its garden of sculptures, and the Louvre, you have definitely seen the best of Paris art offer. Also, the Madame Tussaud Museum in Paris is a must for those who want to see the best pieces, which are reserved for this particular branch. Take your time in your sightseeing at night to go and take at least a look from the outside of the Moulin Rouge, it looks so much better all lighten up. Enjoy the view of the city from the top of the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, and take a good closer look at the gargoyle statues on the higher levels of the gothic Notre Dame Cathedral. If you have the time and means, try to visit the Versailles Palace; it’s nearby and without a doubt a unique experience.
2. London, United Kingdom
For a much vivid experience, don’t forget to ride the Underground metro (the tube, for the locals) and the famous red Double Decker Bus, if you have the chance. There are a lot of great artsy neighborhoods to visit, but if you don’t have a lot of time to explore the whole city, stick to central London, the Soho and the West End to get a good local feeling. Visit the charming Notting Hill, if you want to see the neighbourhood which inspire the movie. Ride the London Eye to get the best panoramic view possible of this city, not mention it’s a new experience all on its own. Take a tour through the London Tower and its expositions, if you want to experience and appreciate the historical meaning of the city. Visit the Tate Museum of Art, with one of the most extensive and eclectic collections of modern and contemporary art in the world, a definitely most seen for the art lovers. If you got the time, take a few hours to visit the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, and stand on the meridians diversionary line.
3. Rome, Italy
This ancient city has being around for more than three thousand years, so try to at least spend a couple of days exploring the roman ruins and another couple the catholic religious buildings. On the Eternal City, another name given its long-standing nature and sociological importance, you can’t miss the three most important ancient constructions, which are the Parthenon, the Coliseum (buying the audio guide it’s very useful to identify the dungeons and tunnels underneath) and take a long walk through the Roman Forum ruins. From the Roman Catholic part of town, even if you’re not religious, you need to go into the Vatican and see the magnificent St Peter’s Church, and stand under the roof of the Sistine Chapel to admire one of humanity’s most amazing creations, the fresco of Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam
4. Madrid, Spain
if you don’t have a lot of time to wander around town, there are a few sites you shouldn’t leave without visiting. The Royal Palace, actual place of residence for the spanish Royal Family, it’s an impressive sight all on its own, mighty high and fortress like, with its 130 meters wall with hundreds of windows and balconies on it. Also visit the Door of Alcala (Puerta de Alcala), that use to be one of the entries to the fortress city, and see the Door of the Sun (Puerta del Sol), at the Plaza Mayor in the very center of the city, to meet the other one. For astonishing modern architecture buildings, you can’t miss the Madrid Arena (or Four Towers Business Area) where the tallest and most exquisite building in the country are located.
5. Amsterdam, Netherlands
First thing you should know, this is not your regular cosmopolitan city. Though one of the most important and visited cities in Europe, Amsterdam is actually much more candid than the rest of the cities listed in this countdown. Best way to tour across it is on the tram or by bicycle. Actually, those are the main means of transportation for the locals, along with vespa motorbikes and smart cars. The architecture of the narrow houses spreading all around the XVII Century canals gives the whole city a magical tone. Try to book a boat tour through the main canal for a wider look at the city, not just the main streets. From the variety of choices on the museum offer, the ones that stand out are the Stedelijk Museum of modern art, the Museum het Rembrandthuis, than contains Rembrandt’s actual workshop, and the Van Gogh Museum, where the vastest collection of the authors work in the world is located. If you have the time, don’t leave without having toured Anne Frank’s House with his father factory underneath, it’s a remarkable and emotional reminder of Holland’s history. And if you arrive in spring, take the short trip to Keukenhof right around the time to see all the tulips blossom, for sure it’s a sight you won’t forget.