It’s hard work condensing Europe’s many countries, cities, towns and regions into one list of the 30 best places to visit.
That’s why I’m spacing it out over a period of three weeks. If you didn’t see the last list (the best places to visit in Europe 30-21) you should check it out right now. Go on, we’ll wait for you to catch up. You’ve read it now? Good.
I haven’t been everywhere in Europe so bear in mind that if a place hasn’t made the list it mightn’t necessarily be because it’s bad (then again, it might be).
20. San Sebastian, Spain
Sun, surf and some of the best food in the world – what’s not to love about the Spanish city of San Sebastian?
When I wasn’t feasting on pintxos (Basque Country-style tapas) and soaking up the laid-back charm of the historic town centre, I was learning to surf in San Sebastian and drinking sangria at a free concert on the beach. Good times.
19. Rome, Italy
I’ll bet you were expecting Rome to make the top ten places to visit in Europe? I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I’m just not the biggest fan of the Italian capital city. Admittedly, I visited Rome at the height of summer when hordes of tourists descend on the city’s main attractions, making it a nightmare even to get in to the likes of the Colosseum and Vatican City.
Still, everyone should visit Rome at least once in their life – I’m certainly glad I ticked it off my travel bucket list. It makes me feel like such a travel snob when I tell people that I didn’t like Rome as much as they think I would have…
18. Naples, Italy
I didn’t like Naples very much the first time I visited it, but I fell I couldn’t help but fall for its scruffy charms the second time around. I’ll admit it’s a tough city to love – see 8 reasons to love/hate Naples – but it’s got tons of character and the best pizza in the world.
17. Budapest, Hungary
In many ways, Budapest is the quintessential European city: it’s historic, it’s diverse and exciting, it boasts amazing architecture and it’s on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Plus it resides on the banks of the River Danube, which links up with nine other European countries.
You must check out the famous Szechenyi Baths in Budapest.
16. Prague, Czech Republic
Prague’s cheap but amazing beer would be enough to rank it in the top 30 places to visit in Europe; factor in the city’s gothic architecture and medieval charm, and it comes in at number 16. Prague is one of Europe’s prettiest cities – and that’s saying something.
15. Venice, Italy
One thing that I’ve noticed while travelling the world is somewhere is always “the Venice of somewhere else” or “the Paris of whatever”. More often than not, I can kind of see where they’re coming from – but they’re rarely ever as beautiful as the real Venice (or Paris).
One of my biggest travel regrets was not going on a gondola ride in Venice.
14. Lisbon, Portugal
While I didn’t appreciate the brazen drug dealers in Lisbon that would literally walk right up to me and try to sell me drugs, I did appreciate the city itself. I love its white-bleached limestone buildings, cobbled streets and alleyways.
13. Marseilles, France
Marseilles is city that surprised me (hence its inclusion on my earlier list of 5 surprisingly awesome places to visit in Europe). At first, it seemed like France’s answer to chaotic Naples – but then I made my way down to the beautiful harbour, jumped on a boat and literally saw the city from a different perspective.
The best thing to do in Marseilles is to take a boat to the Chateau d’If, a fortress and prison that’s perhaps best-known as a setting in the Count of Monte Christo.
12. Gallipoli, Turkey
From the uttermost ends of the earth the brave soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps travelled to the Ottoman Empire in World War One, to fight for king and country. As any Antipodean will tell you, they didn’t fare so well – both sides suffered horrendous casualties in a protracted battle on the Gallipoli Peninsula.
It’s a military campaign forever commemorated on 25 April – ANZAC Day – and this hauntingly beautiful beach and surrounding mountains is arguably the birth place of both New Zealand and Australia’s national identity.
11. French Riviera, France
Finally, we have the French Riviera – or the Cote d’Azur – the Mediterranean coastline in the southeast corner of France where the rich and beautiful like to hang out. This stretch of coastline includes the likes of Saint-Tropez, Cannes, Nice and the sovereign state of Monaco.
I love the French Riviera. It’s a glamorous, luxurious stretch of coastline that gets really crowded in the summer, but that’s the price you pay for holidaying like a rockstar/supermodel/actor.
So, what do you think so far of my list? Do you love/hate any of these picks? Admittedly I’ve probably made no friends by ranking Rome or Venice so far down the list. What can I say? You like what you like and love what you love.
Join me again next week for the top 10 places to visit in Europe.