TOP TEN CITIES IN EUROPE – In the six months I was in Europe I visited over forty cities including many of the most popular like Barcelona, Paris, Rome, Prague and Berlin. Some exceeded expectations and some I found somewhat overrated but I believe there are many things that can make a place amazing for some and not so much for others. Who you meet, the experiences you have, the weather and the time you get to spend there all contribute to an individuals impressions. I am sure there are more amazing cities in Europe that I am yet to see that would replace some in my top ten but for now this is my list and I leave the best until last….
10. LONDON (ENGLAND) – London is one of the big ones that really did impress me. I wasn’t sure it would as I was pretty over cities by the time I arrived here but I was pleasantly surprised. I think the biggest reason was that there were many things that were familiar for this Kiwi gal. Coming from New Zealand, which was colonised by the British, there is a lot of English influence back home. And arriving in London reminded me of that. Also this city has got to have the best public transport of any city I have visited, it was just so easy! Highlights for me were finding a meat pie (not as good as home but still good), hanging out in Trafalgar Square, attending a kapa haka (NZ traditional performance) practice at the New Zealand Embassy and checking out Brixton.
9. NICE (FRANCE) – I didn’t plan on stopping in Nice for long but unexpectedly I ended up here for over a week. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to get stuck! Nice is nice, I had to say it. I know that France has many relaxing beach side towns and cities and I have no doubt this one is right up there. People here are happy and I am not surprised with the amount of salt breeze and sunshine they are exposed to. This city can be explored on foot and there are many great spots along the coast to enjoy the views from. Highlights for me would be the beach of course, views from the hill top, markets and happy people.
8. ZAGREB (CROATIA) – Zagreb was the number one city to visit in 2017 according to Lonely Planet and for a third year running the best European City for Christmas Markets. Many come to Croatia for the coastal cities and islands but Zagreb is not a place to be ignored! Zagreb has got to be one of the safest cities I have visited to the point where I would have no hesitation walking a dark alley on my own at night. This is a cheap place to visit, the coffee is great and most people speak good English. Highlights for me were exploring the upper town, experiencing Christmas festivities and visiting the many museums including the Museum of the Broken Relationships.
7. VENICE (ITALY) – Venice is so unique to any other city which is what makes this place so amazing. You don’t need to spend too long here, there is only so much to see but it is so much fun exploring the street and canals. It is worth getting lost in the maze just to see what you might find. Because it is small and popular the crowds can be crazy so I wouldn’t recommend visiting in the peak season but if you are looking for a nice change on your Europe travels this place will definitely offer that. Highlights for me would have to be using the water transport, visiting Murano to see all the glass art and getting lost in the streets.
6. LJUBLJANA (SLOVENIA) – I would love to come back here in the summer time, it was January and so cold when I visited. This is a special city in one of my favourite countries. The people here are really lovely and happy to yarn to a stranger. What I found super awesome about this city is how it is very environmentally friendly it is and how many healthy food options there were. For someone like me who is passionate about the environment and prefers a more plant based diet I found this city super pleasant to be in. Highlights for me were the views around sunset from the castle on the hill, walking through the quirky Metelkova district and the food.
5. BUDAPEST (HUNGARY) – I visited Budapest just before Christmas so I got to experience the real festivities of the season, this may have contributed to my impression of this city. There is a lot to see and explore here and I enjoyed spending time on a number of walking tours while I was here. The history is interesting and I just about felt like this was a city where East meets West. This is a city that has experienced its fair share of sorrow but shows a great deal of strength. My highlights were visiting my first ever Synagogue, bathing in the hot pools, enjoying the Christmas markets and walking the city streets.