Top 9 Cities to Visit in Europe

by Andy Steves

A great deal of European cities offer study abroad programs at reputable universities, along with plenty of history and distinct political and cultural makeups. However, there are a select nine that experienced European travelers recommend any student studying abroad pop in to for a day or even a few weeks, just to taste some of the many experiences a European city has to offer.

The Infamous Spirals of Prague.
The Infamous Spirals of Prague. Photo by WSA Europe

1. Amsterdam - The canals and stacked houses are just the beginning. The Dutch have created one of the most successful environments in Europe, with liberal policies, social programs, extremely low unemployment, and a healthy lifestyle. Take your visit to Amsterdam beyond the coffeeshops and Red Light District, and take in the city's living, breathing culture. If you're up for the challenge, rent a bike for the day to really live like a local!

2. Budapest - To many, Hungary is the wild wild west, or east that is! Still coming into their own after becoming a democracy, Budapest is one of the most unique cities you'll visit during your travels. Split in half by the River Danube, the city is crawling with things to do - underground caves under Buda, thermal hot spring baths in Pest, raging nightlife, and delicious, stick to your ribs cuisine, you might never leave!

3. Barcelona - The vibrant Catalan culture is enough of a reason to visit this Spanish city, not to mention the delicious food, beautiful architecture, and sunny beaches. Get your rest before heading to Barca because you'll find yourself exploring all day and then partying until the sun comes up. Make sure to take in traditional Sardana dances and a Flamenco show to get your fill of the city's people and traditions.

4. Prague - Known as the city of spires, Prague is a must-see on most people's lists. As one of the only places that wasn't leveled during the war, the architecture in Prague can't be missed, and a stroll along the river looking at the castle will make you fall in love with the city. If you're up for the cold, visit Prague during the winter months where it's a magical Christmas village famous for the markets and hot wine.

5. Paris - If you're hoping to see the Eiffel Tower, prepare yourself because the city of Paris alone might take your breath away. Make time in your schedule to take a bike ride or boat cruise when the lights are twinkling, relax at a cafe to take in the scene, and get lost in the city's museums.

6. London - A favorite urban center, each of London's neighborhoods feels like another country with its own personality, cuisine, culture, and vibe. Go from borough to borough sampling the different flavors, and end your weekend catching the city's institutions such as the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, or Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park.

7. Lauterbrunnen - Wonder where this pick is? Tucked in a valley of the Swiss Alps, the village is untouched by modern life, picturesque and pristine any time of the year. Come here to the adventure sport capital of the world during the summer to hike and bike, or during the winter to ski, sled, and board on some of the most intense slopes you've ever seen. Swiss culture is alive here, it will be one of the most unique experiences you have while traveling.

8. Krakow - A city destroyed by wars and conflict has emerged as a modern day trendy, hipster, student center. With more than 200,000 students, Krakow is bustling and has something for everyone. Incredibly cheap prices and deep rooted history will take you through WWII into modern day, snacking on pierogi dumplings and tasting vodka along the way.

9. Berlin - Known as the hipster capital of Europe, Berlin is a modern city laced with familiar history. From Nazi time up until the fall of the Berlin Wall, Berlin struggled to find itself; but now it is a melting pot of culture and nightlife. Spend the days lost in museums and history, and the nights checking out the 24 hour bar and restaurant culture to take in the scene. Don't forget to try a currywurst!