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Your (not our) top ten European cities

  • Last month we asked you for your favourite European city as part of our ‘Win Your Way Around Europe’ competition. We expected some in there, but naturally there was a surprise. So who made the list? Read on...

  • 1. Barcelona

    This surprised me to be honest, as I thought the city that’s two positions down would claim top spot. Having said that, a lot of the time when I ask people what their favourite city is, Barcelona is their answer. Why so? Well, for one thing it's famed for its nightlife. Things really don't get going here until around midnight and then continue until 4am. It's also quite cheap as you can feed yourself on lots of cheap portions of tapas. Thanks to Antoni Gaudi, its home to arguably Europe's most innovative architecture, and there's its football team. And did I mention the beach? In fact, typing this out now it doesn't come as much surprise at all.

    Book hostels in Barcelona | Barcelona video, podcast and guide

  • 2. Paris

    I could say this about every city in this list, but Paris really, really is breathtaking. Arriving the first time you won't know what to take a picture of first - the Eiffel Tower, the Champs Elysees, the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe...the list goes on. Paris is also full of great neighbourhoods, countless art galleries and a river that is an attraction in its own right. But do you know what I really love about Paris? Parisians. They have a swagger and attitude about them that natives of other European cities just don't have. As a result, my favourite thing to do here isn't to take pictures of landmarks or visit art galleries. It's to people watch. Not sure if there's a better place in the world to do it.

    Book hostels in Paris | Paris video, podcast and guide

  • 3. London

    Ah, London town. A place I didn't visit properly until I was well into my 20s, but now one I can say I've visited on numerous occasions. I love London. It's such a cool city. It's got great shopping, countless attractions, the most beautiful parks, and a buzz that not many cities (certainly not European ones anyway) have. As I've been there so many times I don't need to spend my time sightseeing when I'm there. Instead I can simply say 'today Colm, we're going to hang out around the Portobello Road for the day', or 'right Colm - off to Camden we go'. Living so close is also a help. But London, along with New York City and Tokyo, epitomises the word city. Try and see it at least once in your life.

    Book hostels in London | London video, podcast and guide

  • 4. Rome

    Like Paris, upon arriving in the 'Eternal City' you don't know what iconic landmark you should see first. Should you make your way straight to the Trevi Fountain and throw a coin over your shoulder to ensure your return? 'Yes' is the obvious answer to that, just like it's the answer to 'Should I also visit other attractions like the Roman Colosseum, the Vatican Museum and the Roman Forum'. But there's more to the Italian capital than a bunch of attractions you've seen a million times in photographs. Do enough homework and you'll come across a host of other sites such as churches with altars made of skulls, others with lesser-known works by Michelangelo, and neighbourhoods only frquented by locals, all of which can be found in different parts of our Rome guide.

    Book hostels in Rome | Rome video, podcast and guide

  • 5. Berlin

    Berlin has an edginess that most other cities don't have. It's pretty much the only city in the world I know of where graffiti actually suits it. Some of you may disagree with me, and some of you may not like the German capital's edginess. But if you like your cities a little less polished that some of the aforementioned, then you'll love Berlin. It's got enough stories to tell to keep anybody listening for weeks, it's got some great sights, and rather than a 'city centre' or 'downtown' like so many other cities around the world, it's got neighbourhoods to visit. These include Kreuzberg, which is the city's alternative area, and Prenzlauer Berg, where you'll find lots of bars...and that's just two. In terms of nightlife, and you can take this from somebody who's been around a bit, Berliners know how to party like nobody else - fact. If you're into partying and you're thinking of where you're going to go on a city break, I've good news - I just made your decision for you.

    Book hostels in Berlin | Berlin podcast and guide

  • 6. Prague

    I was at a workshop a while ago where it was advised that travel writers (or bloggers in this instance) should avoid using the word 'charming' when describing places they've visited. But when thinking of something to describe Prague, it's hard to think of a word more apt. This incredibly charming city just oozes character. Not only in the 'Stare Mesto' (old town), but also in other parts of the city like Mala Strana (Lesser Town) and Nove Mesto (New Town). Sure, it's heaving at weekends, but in a city as beautiful as this that's difficult to avoid. The crowds won't bother you, though - you'll be too busy marvelling at the architecture, eating the hearty food, and did we mention the Czech beer?

    Book hostels in Prague | Prague video, podcast and guide

  • 7. Amsterdam

    The only other cities I've been to more than Amsterdam are Edinburgh and London. Each time I know I have to go to shoot a video or write an article I get excited. Not because I get to get stoned out of my brains or have my wicked way with a few 'Judies', as my mother calls them, but because I get to spend a few days cycling around this beautiful, beautiful city from destination to destination. These include neighbourhoods like De Pijp and Jordaan, its most famous open space Vondelpark, and the Albert Cuyp Markt to pick up some cheap toiletries. This is coming from somebody who knows central Amsterdam like the back of their hand. Those who are going for the first time can visit world-class museums like the Anne Frank House and the Rijksmuseum, or take a boat trip on the canals or (if you're that way inclined) sample some local specialties. If you are that way inclined please, please, PLEASE make sure that's not all you see.

    Book hostels in Amsterdam | Amsterdam video, podcasts and guide

  • 8. Budapest

    Looking through the list of your top ten European cities I was only really shocked by one of the entries - this one. Now don't get me wrong, Budapest is a beautiful place with lots to offer. Just took me by surprise. I've been there twice and I know what I'll be doing the third time I visit. I'll be spending some time in the baths, then I'll be going and soaking in other baths, then I think I might just go and check out another of the city's baths. Thanks to natural thermal springs under the city, the Hungarian capital is full of them. If you're going there for the first time and want to know which ones to visit, make the Szechenyi your chosen ones. Then go and visit the castle on the Buda side, go for a stroll along the River Danube and check out Heroes Square, too.

    Book hostels in Budapest | Budapest guide

  • 9. Madrid

    As you'd expect from a capital city, the pace of life in Madrid is fast. This is extremely evident along streets like Gran Via and Passeo del Prado. But it's away from these zooming cars that you have to get to make it some of Europe's best art galleries - Museo del Prado, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza and Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. In any of these (they're all quite close to one another) you'll forget about the hustle and bustle of the streets of the Spanish capital and enjoy the art. Of course there's more to the city than three art galleries. There are parks, neighbourhoods, tapas bars, football teams and nightlife. Definitely worth checking out for anybody going to Espana.

    Book hostels in Madrid | Madrid guide

  • 10. Florence

    Will I get in trouble if I say I prefer Florence to any other Italian city? Hope not, because I just said it. Nothing against Venice or Rome or Milan, but there's a vibe in Florence that you won't find in its counterparts. Its square are unquestionably the best for people-watching, its art galleries are the most famous in the country, and nowhere else in the country can you watch the sun set over the River Arno from Piazzale Michelangelo. It's no wonder it's such a popular city with students spending a semester in Europe, which in turn means it's no surprise the nightlife is pretty hectic. If you've only time to visit two cities in Italy and you're wondering where else you should see apart from Rome, Florence is your answer.

    Book hostels in Florence | Florence guide

  • Last month we asked you for your favourite European city as part of our ‘Win Your Way Around Europe’ competition. We expected some in there, but naturally there was a surprise. So who made the list? Read on...

  • 1. Barcelona

    This surprised me to be honest, as I thought the city that’s two positions down would claim top spot. Having said that, a lot of the time when I ask people what their favourite city is, Barcelona is their answer. Why so? Well, for one thing it's famed for its nightlife. Things really don't get going here until around midnight and then continue until 4am. It's also quite cheap as you can feed yourself on lots of cheap portions of tapas. Thanks to Antoni Gaudi, its home to arguably Europe's most innovative architecture, and there's its football team. And did I mention the beach? In fact, typing this out now it doesn't come as much surprise at all.

    Book hostels in Barcelona | Barcelona video, podcast and guide

  • 2. Paris

    I could say this about every city in this list, but Paris really, really is breathtaking. Arriving the first time you won't know what to take a picture of first - the Eiffel Tower, the Champs Elysees, the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe...the list goes on. Paris is also full of great neighbourhoods, countless art galleries and a river that is an attraction in its own right. But do you know what I really love about Paris? Parisians. They have a swagger and attitude about them that natives of other European cities just don't have. As a result, my favourite thing to do here isn't to take pictures of landmarks or visit art galleries. It's to people watch. Not sure if there's a better place in the world to do it.

    Book hostels in Paris | Paris video, podcast and guide

  • 3. London

    Ah, London town. A place I didn't visit properly until I was well into my 20s, but now one I can say I've visited on numerous occasions. I love London. It's such a cool city. It's got great shopping, countless attractions, the most beautiful parks, and a buzz that not many cities (certainly not European ones anyway) have. As I've been there so many times I don't need to spend my time sightseeing when I'm there. Instead I can simply say 'today Colm, we're going to hang out around the Portobello Road for the day', or 'right Colm - off to Camden we go'. Living so close is also a help. But London, along with New York City and Tokyo, epitomises the word city. Try and see it at least once in your life.

    Book hostels in London | London video, podcast and guide

  • 4. Rome

    Like Paris, upon arriving in the 'Eternal City' you don't know what iconic landmark you should see first. Should you make your way straight to the Trevi Fountain and throw a coin over your shoulder to ensure your return? 'Yes' is the obvious answer to that, just like it's the answer to 'Should I also visit other attractions like the Roman Colosseum, the Vatican Museum and the Roman Forum'. But there's more to the Italian capital than a bunch of attractions you've seen a million times in photographs. Do enough homework and you'll come across a host of other sites such as churches with altars made of skulls, others with lesser-known works by Michelangelo, and neighbourhoods only frquented by locals, all of which can be found in different parts of our Rome guide.

    Book hostels in Rome | Rome video, podcast and guide

  • 5. Berlin

    Berlin has an edginess that most other cities don't have. It's pretty much the only city in the world I know of where graffiti actually suits it. Some of you may disagree with me, and some of you may not like the German capital's edginess. But if you like your cities a little less polished that some of the aforementioned, then you'll love Berlin. It's got enough stories to tell to keep anybody listening for weeks, it's got some great sights, and rather than a 'city centre' or 'downtown' like so many other cities around the world, it's got neighbourhoods to visit. These include Kreuzberg, which is the city's alternative area, and Prenzlauer Berg, where you'll find lots of bars...and that's just two. In terms of nightlife, and you can take this from somebody who's been around a bit, Berliners know how to party like nobody else - fact. If you're into partying and you're thinking of where you're going to go on a city break, I've good news - I just made your decision for you.

    Book hostels in Berlin | Berlin podcast and guide

  • 6. Prague

    I was at a workshop a while ago where it was advised that travel writers (or bloggers in this instance) should avoid using the word 'charming' when describing places they've visited. But when thinking of something to describe Prague, it's hard to think of a word more apt. This incredibly charming city just oozes character. Not only in the 'Stare Mesto' (old town), but also in other parts of the city like Mala Strana (Lesser Town) and Nove Mesto (New Town). Sure, it's heaving at weekends, but in a city as beautiful as this that's difficult to avoid. The crowds won't bother you, though - you'll be too busy marvelling at the architecture, eating the hearty food, and did we mention the Czech beer?

    Book hostels in Prague | Prague video, podcast and guide

  • 7. Amsterdam

    The only other cities I've been to more than Amsterdam are Edinburgh and London. Each time I know I have to go to shoot a video or write an article I get excited. Not because I get to get stoned out of my brains or have my wicked way with a few 'Judies', as my mother calls them, but because I get to spend a few days cycling around this beautiful, beautiful city from destination to destination. These include neighbourhoods like De Pijp and Jordaan, its most famous open space Vondelpark, and the Albert Cuyp Markt to pick up some cheap toiletries. This is coming from somebody who knows central Amsterdam like the back of their hand. Those who are going for the first time can visit world-class museums like the Anne Frank House and the Rijksmuseum, or take a boat trip on the canals or (if you're that way inclined) sample some local specialties. If you are that way inclined please, please, PLEASE make sure that's not all you see.

    Book hostels in Amsterdam | Amsterdam video, podcasts and guide

  • 8. Budapest

    Looking through the list of your top ten European cities I was only really shocked by one of the entries - this one. Now don't get me wrong, Budapest is a beautiful place with lots to offer. Just took me by surprise. I've been there twice and I know what I'll be doing the third time I visit. I'll be spending some time in the baths, then I'll be going and soaking in other baths, then I think I might just go and check out another of the city's baths. Thanks to natural thermal springs under the city, the Hungarian capital is full of them. If you're going there for the first time and want to know which ones to visit, make the Szechenyi your chosen ones. Then go and visit the castle on the Buda side, go for a stroll along the River Danube and check out Heroes Square, too.

    Book hostels in Budapest | Budapest guide

  • 9. Madrid

    As you'd expect from a capital city, the pace of life in Madrid is fast. This is extremely evident along streets like Gran Via and Passeo del Prado. But it's away from these zooming cars that you have to get to make it some of Europe's best art galleries - Museo del Prado, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza and Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. In any of these (they're all quite close to one another) you'll forget about the hustle and bustle of the streets of the Spanish capital and enjoy the art. Of course there's more to the city than three art galleries. There are parks, neighbourhoods, tapas bars, football teams and nightlife. Definitely worth checking out for anybody going to Espana.

    Book hostels in Madrid | Madrid guide

  • 10. Florence

    Will I get in trouble if I say I prefer Florence to any other Italian city? Hope not, because I just said it. Nothing against Venice or Rome or Milan, but there's a vibe in Florence that you won't find in its counterparts. Its square are unquestionably the best for people-watching, its art galleries are the most famous in the country, and nowhere else in the country can you watch the sun set over the River Arno from Piazzale Michelangelo. It's no wonder it's such a popular city with students spending a semester in Europe, which in turn means it's no surprise the nightlife is pretty hectic. If you've only time to visit two cities in Italy and you're wondering where else you should see apart from Rome, Florence is your answer.

    Book hostels in Florence | Florence guide


1 Comments

  • Maria Thursday, July 28th, 2011, 12:18am

    Barca @ #1. I can see that, clearly =) London would be a close second for me with Prague as a lateral #2. Thanks for posting the reader's choices.

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