I feel so lucky that I have been able to travel around Europe for most of my life. My first-ever international trip was to Ireland when I was 10 months old, and I recently studied abroad in Austria and got to see so much of Eastern Europe that everyone overlooks. I've pretty much seen it all, and the parts that I haven't seen yet I hope I will see soon!
If you're planning on going to Europe, here is a round up of my MUST SEE cities (especially in your twenties!):
London, England // London is one of my all-time favorite cities in the world. I would move there tomorrow if I had the funds! London is rich in history and culture but is an easy adjustment to those traveling from the States. Plus, there are an amazing amount of day trips from London! (Some suggestions: Warner Bro's Harry Potter Experience (!!), Highclere Castle (from Downton Abbey), and Oxford College)
Paris, France // Paris is, of course, one of those cities you will always want to visit in your life. I've been as a child, as a 20 year old, and I know I will take my own young family someday. If you are able to, I cannot recommend going to Paris in your twenties enough. You can still do all of the sightseeing, but some of my favorite memories from Paris are nights when I bought a baguette, a block of brie, and some salami and I ate it underneath the Eiffel Tower while drinking cheap wine and watching it sparkle. (My parents would never have done that!)
Venice, Italy // The great news about Venice is that you can definitely see it in a day, or you can spread things out and make a trip of it (there are tons of day trips to more Italian islands, as well as more inland locations like Verona!). Like Paris, some of the best memories I have involve a cheap carton of wine (literally... 1 euro!) and hanging my feet over the edge of the canal and talking about life.
Munich, Germany // I'm partial to all of Germany, but Munich is absolutely my favorite German city. The region of Bavaria is so incredibly beautiful and Munich is the hub for all of that! Neuschwanstein Castle, Berchtesgaden, etc. It's all so beautiful! Plus, the nightlife in Munich is amazing, and there are a ton of seasonal festivals to go to.
Salzburg, Austria // Even though it could be a day (or two) trip from Munich, Salzburg deserves it's own spot on this list. First of all, it's where I studied abroad. (I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a "different" place to study!!) Second, the Sound of Music was filmed there. Not only is it nestled up in the foothills of the Alps (gorgeous mountains every where you turn), but everywhere you look you can recreate a part of the movie! It actually gets pretty annoying when tourists do this - but I'll admit it... I did it too. Many times.
Bratislava, Slovakia // One of the things that I loved about studying abroad in Austria is it's central location. So many Eastern European countries are a 3 or 4 hour train ride away, making it so easy to explore a part of the continent that is often overlooked. Bratislava is one of those places. It's actually sort of a suburb of Vienna, Austria, so it could also be a very easy day trip! Bratislava has a TON of history and culture, and fun fact, most of the "Prague Spring" during the downfall of the Soviet Union/Czechoslovakia happened in Bratislava, not Prague! (It's also on the Euro, which means you don't have to change currency like you would if you were going to Prague.)
Budapest, Hungary // Budapest is becoming a more and more popular location and I totally understand why. It's pretty inexpensive to go to, has a ton of culture and history, and an amazing nightlife. They're known for their "ruin pubs" AKA bars in rundown warehouses and destroyed buildings. It sounds creepy, but it's actually so cool. Another thing Budapest is known for are the hot baths! These are fun to go to and people watch!
Krakow, Poland // Poland was also high up on my "favorite places I visited" list. The country is so beautiful and also an inexpensive location. One of the reasons I liked Poland so much is the history. I had the chance to go on a tour to Auschwitz and Birkenau Concentration Camps. It was an incredibly emotionally heavy day, but I truly think that everyone needs to visit the camps at least once in their life if they are able. There are a gazillion reasons why I would recommend Poland to someone, but that is definitely #1.
Athens, Greece // I'm obsessed with Greece! I went twice while I was traveling and it was beautiful both times. Greece has the most interesting history, and Athens is packed full of it. If you're going while abroad, take your international student ID and you will get free entry to almost all of the archeological sites (the one exception being the Olympic Stadium - but don't let that discourage you from going... I literally cried real tears when I was there). If you're not a student, there are still tons of ticket packages you can get, too! The best part about Greece by FAR though, is the food! Greek food is incredible and amazing and I literally ate so much when I was there that I'm pretty sure I put on a few pounds. No regrets though!! I hiked it mostly off when I visited the Acropolis 7 times (3 to see the Parthenon, the rest to watch the sunset from the hill!). PRO TIP: Wake up extra early and be the first person at the Acropolis! Your pictures will be SO MUCH BETTER without as many tourists photobombing!
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Prague, Czech Republic; Florence, Italy; Santorini, Greece; Berlin, Germany; Amsterdam, the Netherlands
There are so many more cities that I could recommend to you, but these nine really are amazing. Please do not hesitate to ask me if you need hostel recommendations or any advice you need for backpacking Europe!
Are there any cities that you would definitely add to this list?
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