The Most Beautiful City in Europe – Our Top Picks
Europe is a continent that is known for its wide variety of cities. From popular coastal destinations to historic locations and cultural gems, there’s a lot on offer across the different countries gathered across the northern hemisphere.
Everyone has a different idea of what constitutes beauty, whether it’s unspoiled natural landscapes, impressive feats of architecture or simple, aesthetically pleasing examples of design and decoration. That’s why, instead of trying to decide on the number one most beautiful city in Europe, we’ve put together this short list of the top 27 places that encompass a wide range of beautiful features. Which city is top of your list?
Budapest is frequently named as one of Europe’s best cities, partly because of just how beautiful every part of it really is. Stunning historic architecture includes a Baroque palace, the gilded Café Gerbeaud, famous thermal baths and plenty of other examples of Art Nouveau design. Not only is the city absolutely bursting with cultural attractions, but it’s simply stunning to look at no matter where you are and should be at the top of every traveller’s bucket list of beautiful parts of the world.
The capital of Austria is often thought of as the most beautiful place in Europe by both its inhabitants and visitors to the area, who are enraptured by the historic architecture and famous cultural scene. Whether you visit in the height of summer to enjoy the city’s gardens, parks and surrounding landscape or come in the winter to sample offerings of Vienna’s Christmas markets, it’s an unforgettable part of the world that is incredibly photogenic.
A list of the most beautiful European cities wouldn’t be completed without Paris, the capital city of France and one of the most romantic places in the world. The quaint, narrow streets of Parisian neighbourhoods, its reputation as a cultural centre for fashion, attractions such as the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower and the outstanding local cuisine all make it a city that is filled with indulgence, luxury and beauty, which is perfect for those who enjoy the finer things in life.
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague has been making a name for itself as one of the most popular cities in Eastern Europe for several years now, and many tourists will tell you that it’s one of the most beautiful places on the continent as well. With a UNESCO World Heritage historic centre, incredible cultural offerings and the added bonus that it’s a pretty cheap place to stay, it doesn’t take much to see why this lovely destination has such a glowing reputation.
Since its role in the influential period of history known as the Renaissance, Florence has been considered one of the most beautiful cities in Europe to visit. With medieval architecture, stunning stone churches, iconic pieces of art and pretty red and white houses almost everywhere you turn, the city is one of the best places in Italy for endless beautiful photo opportunities and historic elegance no matter where you are.
Whilst the UK might not be a part of the Europe Union anymore, London is still thought of by many as one of the best cities in Europe for beautiful architecture and scenery. With classic British landmarks such as the London Eye, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and Tower Bridge, there’s nowhere else in the country quite like it, whether you’re a fan of urban beauty, contemporary design or quintessentially English neighbourhoods.
Dubrovnik is one of the most famous European cities in the world thanks to its legacy as one of the key filming locations in the popular fantasy television show Game of Thrones. Found on the coast of Croatia overlooking the Adriatic Sea, it’s a beautiful city that features plenty of Baroque architecture, historic stone walls and pretty red-roofed buildings that perfectly contrast with the blue of the surrounding ocean.
Barcelona is well known as being one of Europe’s best cities for gorgeous buildings, colourful streets and picturesque natural scenery. If the famous modernist designs of architect Antoni Gaudí don’t wow you as you explore the city, you’ve also got plenty of iconic Spanish monuments as well as the gorgeous coast and scenic mountains that surround Barcelona.
One of the most popular cities in Europe for backpackers, couples and travellers looking for culture is Amsterdam in the Netherlands, famous for its beautiful canals and distinctive canal houses as well as its red-light district and ‘coffee’ shops. Frequently referred to as the ‘Venice of the North’, Amsterdam is particularly beautiful in the spring when the city’s nearby tulip fields are in full bloom and the weather is perfect for cycling around the city and admiring its architecture.
The capital of Denmark, Copenhagen is well known for being one of the most beautiful European cities because of its famous colourful houses and classic Scandivanian style that is seen in everything from the bridges, bikes and local fashion sense. Copenhagen’s status as one of the cleanest and greenest places in the world is one of the many reasons why this city is considered beautiful by so many people, along with the influential examples of architecture, range of cultural offerings and picturesque position by the sea.
The floating city of Venice is one of the most famous European cities because of the distinctive streets that are formed of canals instead of roads, meaning that the only way to get around is either by foot or by boat. This stunning city design is made even more beautiful by the array of churches, squares and bridges that are found all over Venice and make it one of the most amazing cities in the world, full of gorgeous architecture and Italian charm.
St. Petersburg, Russia
St. Petersburg is perhaps the most famous city in Russia, and certainly one of the most beautiful places in eastern Europe. Having inspired many famous pieces of art and literature, there are plenty of stunning palaces, churches, theatres, bridges, gardens, museums and monuments across the city that have been bringing tourists from all over the world to this popular travel destination.
The Belgian city of Bruges is known as being one of the world’s first tourist destinations, attracting European travellers with its beautiful canals, culture and historic charm. Many people consider Bruges to be one of the prettiest cities in the world because of its old-fashioned charm and selection of perfectly preserved medieval buildings, and it’s certainly a highlight of Europe if you’re a fan of history or architecture.
Italy’s ‘eternal city’ is a classic choice for the most beautiful city in Europe, home to some of the world’s finest examples of preserved Roman architecture. With unforgettable ancient buildings and ruins across the city as well as the beautiful River Tiber and famous surrounding seven hills, Rome is a city that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime to experience the unique mix of old and new and admire the many attractions that have made this one of the most-visited cities on earth.
Turkey is a relatively up and coming travel destination, and the city of Istanbul is beginning to make a name for itself as one of the most interesting cities in Europe as well as a beautiful one. With a historic heritage that includes being a key location on the famous Silk Road trading route, the range of architecture and design around the city includes beautiful mosques, bazaars, mosaic decor and museum and state buildings.
Moscow is the largest city by land area on the European continent, as well as the capital of Russia and the country’s biggest city. Within this huge metropolitan area is stunningly unique architecture, plenty of historic buildings and sites and hundreds of beautiful churches in particular, all contributing to the city’s reputation as one of the most beautiful places in Europe.
Many towns and cities in Sweden are considered beautiful parts of the world because of their classic architecture and surrounding scenery, but Stockholm in particular makes it onto our shortlist because of its unique position covering 14 different islands that are connected by over 50 iconic bridges. From the historic Old Town to the famous, uniquely decorated Metro stations, fans of Scandinavian design and charming neighbourhoods will find plenty to admire in this Swedish city.
Found in the eastern region of Alsace in France, Strasbourg is one of the country’s most picturesque locations thanks to the unique architecture that makes you feel as though you’ve walked straight into a fairytale. One of the most scenic places in Europe, Strausberg has a quaint and peaceful atmosphere that you’ll enjoy as you walk past its classic timber-clad houses and down by the canals that wind through the streets.
Scotland may not technically be a part of the EU anymore, but the city of Edinburgh remains one of the most popular cities in Europe for travellers looking for beautiful architecture and landscapes. With magical cobbled streets, a fantastic cultural scene and the nearby Arthur’s Seat and Holyrood Park, Edinburgh is a city with an abundance of modem, historic and natural beauty.
Lisbon is best known for the rows of colourful houses that make up the streets of this Portuguese coastal town, making it a strong contender for the prettiest city in Europe. With views of the ocean in one direction and the seven famous hills in the distance in the other, Lisbon is a unique city with a very charming feel to it that comes from the range of old and new buildings and vibrant pops of colour in both the architecture and the surrounding natural scenery.
If your idea of beauty is ancient architecture and historic ruins, you’re sure to think that Athens is the most beautiful and interesting city in Europe. The famous Greek ruins known as the Acropolis are world-famous for their breathtaking splendour, and other stunning attractions include the beautiful beaches along the city’s coast, iconic street art and panoramic views from Lykavittos Hill.
Bergen is one of the most scenic places in Europe, with architecture and scenery that makes the city look straight out of a postcard. Surrounded by mountains and fjords and edged by a picturesque harbour, Bergen is full of classic Nordic charm with beautiful highlights such as the brightly coloured wooden houses, cobblestone alleyways and world-famous street art.
Many travellers have come to know the French city of Annecy as the ‘Venice of the Alps’, so-called because of its mountainous location and the winding canals and rivers that divide up the Old Town. If the stunning surrounding scenery isn’t enough to convince you of this city’s beauty, there are also lovely painted medieval buildings throughout the city, a lakeside district and attractions such as parks, museums, beaches and farmers markets.
If your idea of a beautiful city features plenty of medieval architecture, then Tallinn in Estonia will be right up your street. With plenty of original historic buildings still to be found within the old city walls, Tallinn is also known for its modern art and culture scene that means there is also a lot of bohemian beauty in this northern European destination, perfect for travellers looking for something a bit different.
The German city of Nuremberg is often thought of as one of the prettiest cities in Europe and has been since it was established by the Holy Roman emperor in the 11th century, despite having to be rebuilt after the destruction of World War Two. Nuremberg is at its most beautiful over the winter season when gorgeous Christmas markets line the streets and snow covers the historic timber-framed buildings, but it’s still a stunning part of Bavaria to visit at any time of year.
Despite officially being a European city, Kotor in Montenegro feels more like a charming, historic town that is sandwiched between the country’s mountains and coastline. With a UNESCO World Heritage Old Town, a hillside castle, plenty of medieval architecture and a stunning little bay, you’ll understand why Kotor is on our list of the most scenic places in Europe as soon as you arrive.
One of Europe’s most beautiful cities to visit is Heidelberg, which has everything you could ever want from a classic German destination. With a medieval old town, Gothic and Renaissance castle, cobbled streets, hiking trails up the nearby Königstuhl mountain and a beautiful bridge crossing the city’s river, it’s the perfect place to enjoy pretty buildings, views and an enchanting atmosphere that helps you feel like you’ve stepped into a story.