If you are planning a trip to mainland Europe why not make a visit to any or all of these four stunning cities.
1. Paris – France
Paris is the city of love, culture and cuisine, a capital city with much to see. Your first stop is probably going to be the Eiffel Tower followed swiftly by The Arc de Triomphe, two iconic buildings which set the city apart. You can then take your fill of culture at The Sacre Coeur Basilica, Notre Dame Cathedral and of course no visit would be complete without a viewing of the Mona Lisa at the stunning Louvre Museum. (Image by Jut Jut)
If you need a break from culture you can stroll along the Champs Elysees taking in the high fashion and then dine at one of the many gourmet restaurants or sample the cheeses, bread, patiserrie and pates at neighbourhood stores.
You can even venture a little further afield and visit the Palace of Versaille, which is a short drive from Paris, or take one of the many scenic driving roads and head into Champagne country, just a day trip away.
2. Prague – Czech Republic
Prague has much to offer. Not only is it a beautiful capital city, but it has a huge number of historic building to see, more than you will ever get through in a single visit. The cathedral, the castle, the squares and monuments alone could take up days of sightseeing and because it is such an easy city to get around most of it can be done on foot. However, if that doesn’t appeal to you, the availability of public transportation in Prague means that you can easily hop in a cab, on a tram or on the metro.
Prague offers a unique shopping experience, from designer clothes to artisan jewellery and stunning glassware and antiques. Your suitcase may be a little heavier on the way home.
In the evening the nightlife is booming, with restaurants, jazz cafes and a wide range of live music on offer. Combine that with the wonderful, and very cheap, Czech beer and it means a spirited evening will be had by all.
3. Florence – Italy
Anyone who has watched the film ‘A Room With a View’ will have fallen in love with the romance of Florence. It is one of the most beautiful cities in Italy and cradle to the Renaissance. There are so many historical buildings and museums to visit in Florence that it is hard to narrow it down. However, probably two that you will not want to miss are firstly Cattedrale de Santa Maria del Fiore, more commonly known at The Duomo, which dominates the skyline of Florence. Inside the dome is one of the world’s great pieces of art by Brunelleschi. You can even climb the dome to get close to the artwork and to view the stunning vista of the surrounding city. Secondly, you will want to move on to the Galleria dell’ Academia where you can view the most famous sculpture in the world, Michelangelo’s ‘David’.(Image by George)
After all that culture you may be in need of some rest and relaxation and what better place to sit and watch people than in Italy, enjoying some pasta, pizza or delicious gelato.
4. Barcelona – Spain
In addition to the great culture and cuisine offered by this city, Barcelona also has the advantage of fabulous weather and a nearby beach. So if you are in the mood for both a city break and some time on the sand, then this could be the perfect option for you. The main beach is divided up into five smaller sectionsand each offers a great place to relax.
Next you can head into the city, which is home to modernism and view may of Antoni Gaudi’s renowned buildings. The gothic cathedral or Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar is also well worth a visit.
At the end of the day the nightlife of this ‘city that never sleeps’ will draw you in, and you can head to the fashionable districts of the Old Town, El Born and Port Olímpico, which lies close to the beach.
All four of these cities offer culture, sightseeing and wonderful food and drink. The bigger question is not which one should you visit, but which one should you visit first?
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Feature Image via Flickr by Solja Virkkunen