There is so much to love about a European city getaway. Short-haul flights serviced by budget-friendly airlines make them ultra accessible without eating into your annual leave allowance. They also leave you maximum time to explore when you get there. So, if you’re on the hunt for the best European cities for culture on your next weekend away, check out this round-up, where I’ve tracked down five of the best.

From wine tasting to waterways and castles to capital cities, you’re sure to find your ideal itinerary among these European cities for culture.

Sail away in Copenhagen, Denmark

If you’ve not paid much attention to the location of Copenhagen on a map, you might be surprised to find yourself surrounded by water as you fly in to land. Then, as you weave your way through the city, you’ll pass more rivers, lakes and, of course, the sea. The proximity to the water doesn’t just lend the city a unique charm, it influences many of its cultural attractions, too.

You could stroll to Nyhavn, where you’ll find a twin row of rainbow-coloured buildings with a river dividing them. Here, what were once sailors’ taverns and accommodation have been transformed into luxury hotels and charming restaurants and bars. Eat lunch here then hop onto a boat for a tour of the waterways, with the chance to see the famed The Little Mermaid statue too. Just be warned that if you’re on the water, your view of the statue will be from the back.

Planning a trip for later in the year? Find out why the Copenhagen Christmas Markets are a must-visit here.

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Wine tasting in Porto, Portugal

One of the greatest appeals of Porto, like Copenhagen, is associated with liquid pleasures. This time, though, we’re talking about the kind grown on vines and crushed from grapes. The clue is in this city’s name – Porto has a long history of producing port, seducing visitors from around the world with its full-bodied flavours.

The vineyards of the Douro Valley, which surround Porto, are also fast becoming favourites on the wine scene, with many luxury resorts opening to offer an all-inclusive getaway to savour some seriously good wines and visit the vines that made them.

Find out why autumn is the perfect time to visit Porto here.

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Go gourmet in Paris, France

Changing the tune from food to drink, our next stop on this round-up of top European cities for culture has to be Paris. The capital city of France is renowned for many things – romantic architecture, the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower… It’s also hailed as one of the world’s best destinations for fine dining.

You can travel the world and find French-trained chefs and French-inspired menus topping the culinary charts, so why not trace the gourmet greatness back to its origins? You could spend the weekend exploring Paris’s charming streets, popping into whichever patisserie takes your fancy by day. Then, as evening arrives, head to your choice of Paris’s most esteemed restaurants for dinner as you’ve never experienced it before. Just be sure to make your reservation well in advance – you won’t be the only people wanting to dine out in style.

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Become a history buff in Edinburgh, Scotland

If you’re looking for the best European cities for culture and history, then Edinburgh should definitely be on your radar. Make your base as close to the Old Town as possible and pack good walking shoes. Edinburgh’s famous Royal Mile will serve as the perfect introduction to the city. Allow plenty of time to meander down the old streets and soak up the historic buildings at every turn.

At the end, you’ll reach your next attraction, the Palace of Hollyroodhouse. Its architecture is grand, ornate and imposing in equal measure. Once inside, you’ll find a treasure trove of history to trace through the palace rooms. Continue the royal theme with a visit to Edinburgh Castle, arguably one of Scotland’s most famous attractions.

Edinburgh is also one of the best places in the world to be for New Year’s Eve. Find out why and get one step closer to a happy Hogmanay here.

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Look for landmarks in London, England

One of the best things about choosing London for one of your European cities for culture to visit is the close proximity of big-ticket attractions. You could be taking in the views from the London Eye over the skyline and the river Thames one minute, and then just a short stroll later be stood outside Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. From there, it’s just a brief walk on to Buckingham Palace, St James’s Park and the iconic Mall.

Take half an hour before leaving the hotel to map out an itinerary. This will help you to make the most of every area you visit. Don’t forget your Oyster card, if you’ll be travelling further around the city, too.

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Wherever you plan to visit in Europe, here’s my essential guide to seeing and doing more on your next visit, even when you’ve only got a few days. You won’t want to miss these amazing trips and tips.

What are your favourite European cities for culture?

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14 COMMENTS

  1. I love how every European city has its own special cultural offering. The only city on your list I have not visited is Porto and I soooooo want to go there! I envy Europeans who can travel from one country to another so easily! I have to fly 27 hours just to get to Copenhagen but all worth it. I love Nyhavn….. I love the colours of the building along the water and yes…. non stop eating in France!

  2. I’m proud to say I’ve been to all of these cities! My favourite however is Porto, as I’ve been 3 times, and love the Port wine. Edingburgh is another great city to visit, and with plenty of history there too. I missed the Copenhagen Christmas market the last time, so would like to see it another year.

  3. I lived in Copenhagen and visited Porto and Paris. My house was just 20 minutes walk from Nyhavn so I walked there every day and enjoy the beautiful view. I’ve always wanted to visit Edinburgh and London but haven’t had the opportunity. All these cities have so many things to offer, and they are rich in culture.

  4. I’ve been to London, Paris and Edinburgh but Porto is on my list to go to soon. I’m also hoping to go to Copenhagen next year. These are all terrific tips for each city. And I appreciate the tips on when to go to each city as well.

  5. I have only been to Paris. We love the food so much – the French really does it well, so well that they completely changed the way we look at food. I would love to visit Porto sometime and taste the wine. A visit to London would be lovely too!

  6. Each time I think that I must have visited all the “best European cities”, another one (or two, in this case!) come to mind 😂😂 so.. I haven’t visited Porto and Edinburgh yet, but they are definitely really high on my list and this post made me want to travel there even more! Really liked your post, so thanks a lot!

  7. I just loved Copenhagen! I was only there for a couple of days but it certainly felt stylish to be there. I took a boat ride around the harbour – just beautiful! Paris and London are great too – but Porto is next on my list out of these options! I love the Mediterranean vibes and architecture on the waterfront. Autumn sounds like an ideal time to go there too.

  8. I have not been to Porto and I really want to get there soon! Also, Copenhagen, love how it is surrounded by water bodies, from rivers to lakes and the sea. I’d love to take a cruise there, such a cute and colourful city it looks to be. Also, I haven’t been to Scotland, what a pity!

  9. Paris is my favorite city in the world, even though it’s been a long time since I’ve been there. I think many cities in Eastern Europe are now outdoing Western Euroean ones in terms of culture. Budapest, for example, is spectacular.

  10. All these cities are endowed with a unique culture and charm. They are all so beautiful that it’s quite difficult to choose one. Paris and London are on my bucket list. I think I must add Copenhagen as well to the list. It looks so vibrant and colourful.

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