Europe is without a doubt one of the most popular destinations to travel in the world, and a must see. But you can get overwhelmed by such a wide variety of cities to see and places to visit in each one.
The following list will help to point you in the right direction, especially in case you do not have a lot of time in your hands to research. Here are 5 of the top cities you should visit and some of the things you see while you are there especially if it is your first visit. By no means are these the only things to see, as there is so much to explore and enjoy.
There is so much to see that you could spend at least four or five days exploring the wonderful City of Lights. With an extensive cultural offering, there are some museums and attractions you should try not to miss. From all the art galleries to see, it is safe to say that if you take your time on the George Pompidou Museum of Modern Art, the Rodin Museum, with its garden of sculptures, and the Louvre, that you would have seen some of the best art Paris has to offer. The Madame Tussaud Museum in Paris is a must for those who want to see the some of the best Paris attractions. Take your time in your sightseeing at night to go and take at least a look from the outside of the Moulin Rouge, it looks so much better all lit up against the night sky. Enjoy the view of the city from the top of the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe and take a good closer look at the gargoyle statues on the higher levels of the gothic Notre Dame Cathedral. If you have the time and means, try to visit the Versailles Palace; it is nearby and without a doubt a unique experience.
London, United Kingdom
For a true London experience, do not forget to ride on the tube and the famous red Double Decker Buses, if you have the chance. There are a lot of great artsy neighbourhoods to visit, but if you do not have a lot of time to explore the whole city, stick to central London, the Soho and the West End. Visit the charming Notting Hill, if you want to see the neighbourhood which inspired the movie of the same name. A ride on the London Eye is a great way to view some of the city from above. A good way to experience and appreciate some of the history of the city is to visit the Tower of London. Another place worth a visit is the Tate Museum of Art; with one of the most extensive and eclectic collections of modern and contemporary art in the world, a must see for the art lovers. If you got the time, take a few hours to visit the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, and stand on the meridians diversionary line.
Rome is an ancient city that has been around for more than three thousand years, so why not try exploring the roman ruins and other ancient buildings. Another name given to Rome is the Eternal City, a testament to its long-standing nature and sociological importance. Possibly the three most important ancient constructions to see are the Parthenon, the Coliseum (buying the audio guide it is especially useful to identify the dungeons and tunnels underneath) and the Roman Forum ruins. From the Roman Catholic part of town, even if you are not religious, you need to go into the Vatican and see the magnificent St Peter’s Church and stand under the roof of the Sistine Chapel to admire one of humanity’s most amazing creations, the fresco of Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam.
If you do not have a lot of time to wander around Madrid, there are a few places you should not leave without visiting them first. The Royal Palace, which is the actual place of residence for the Spanish Royal Family is an impressive sight all on its own, mighty high and fortress like, with its 130 meters of walls and hundreds of windows and balconies on it. Also visit the Door of Alcala (Puerta de Alcala), that use to be one of the entries to the fortress city and see the Door of the Sun (Puerta del Sol), at the Plaza Mayor in the very centre of the city, to see the other one. For astonishing modern architecture buildings, you cannot miss the Madrid Arena (or Four Towers Business Area) where the tallest and most exquisite buildings in the country are located.
The first thing you should know is that this is not your regular cosmopolitan city. Though one of the most important and visited cities in Europe, Amsterdam is much more candid than the rest of the cities listed in this article. The best way to tour across Amsterdam is on the tram or by bicycle, which are the main means of transportation for the locals, along with Vespa motorbikes and Smart cars. The architecture of the narrow houses spreading all around the XVII Century canals gives the whole city a magical tone. Try to book a boat tour through the main canal for a wider look at the city, not just the main streets.
From the variety of choices of museum on offer, the ones that stand out are the Stedelijk Museum of modern art, the Museum het Rembrandthuis, that contains Rembrandt’s actual workshop, and the Van Gogh Museum. If you have the time, do not leave without having toured Anne Frank’s House with her father’s factory underneath, it is a remarkable and emotional reminder of Holland’s history. And if you arrive in spring, take the short trip to Keukenhof right around the time to see the tulips blossom; for sure it is a sight you will not forget.
Image credits: photophilde, Hernán Piñera, Bert Kaufmann, Jean-Pierre Dalbéra, Moyan Brenn