15 Prettiest Cities In Europe To Visit – Hand Luggage Only
Europe is an incredibly stunning, eye-catching and diverse continent to explore; with heaps of beautiful cities all across the countries. That being said, there are well over eight hundred of the prettiest cities in Europe to visit and choose from; a bamboozling choice for anyone of us!
Over the years, we’ve visited hundreds of European cities and wanted to share some of the very favourites that we’ve loved. That’s not to say that there’s not more… they’re just some of our absolute gems you shouldn’t miss. Now, some might seem like more obvious spots and others might seem a little more unknown; but the one thing they have in common is how pretty they are.
Whether you’re visiting stunning spots in Spain, beautiful Italian gems or typically Greek places – you’re bound to find a shed load that I’m sure you’ll love.
So, take a look below at the prettiest cities in Europe to visit on your next trip. Have fun exploring!
One of the best-preserved Roman cities in France, Nimes is easily one of the prettiest cities in Europe to visit when exploring the best places in the South of France. Although much smaller than some other French cities, it packs a mighty punch with its charm and beauty.
Once here, be sure to explore the iconic Roman Amphitheatre of Nimes; it’s right in the centre of the city and stands proudly to this day. In fact, it’s one of the best-preserved Amphitheatre in all of Europe. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a seasonal concert that goes on within the Amphitheatre itself.
Oh, and don’t forget to hop inside the Maison Carrée. It’s considered the best-preserved Roman temple in all the world! If you’re fancying some time away from the city streets, hop inside Jardin de La Fontaine – the gardens and fountains are just stunning to stroll around; especially on a sunny day.
Finally, for some great views across the city, head to Tour Magne a historic Roman tower that overlooks the whole region.
Honestly, the city is just gorgeous and a total gem to visit for a long weekend trip. Plus, it’s much cheaper than some of the more-famous South of France cities, too.
Read more: Exploring the best places in Nimes
2.) Paris, France
Yeah, yeah! We’ve all heard of France and how gorgeous it is – haven’t we? Well, you know what, it is! There are tons of pretty spots dotted all across the city; easily making it one of the prettiest cities in Europe to visit.
Now, that’s not saying that all of Paris is pretty! Just like any large city, it has areas that aren’t quite as picturesque or sought-after so it’s worth planning your trip wisely.
It’s an obvious choice but be sure to go up the Eiffel Tower; especially at sunset. The views from here are breathtaking; just be sure to book your tickets in advance to avoid the majority of the lines. Surprisingly, when erected, lots of Parisians hated the Eiffel Tower… Though, I’m pretty sure most have come to love it now.
Oh, and be sure to visit the Lourve and spot some of the most iconic art in all of Europe. Yeah, you’ll even get to see Mona Lisa. Afterwards, hop over to some of the more unique little spots in the city and gorge at some of Paris’ best markets that are all around the city.
Finally, stop by Palais Garnier, it’s totally beautiful and fit for royalty! The rooms are just incredible.
Read more: Free things to do in Paris
3.) Matera, Italy
One of the oldest, still inhabited, cities in the world; Matera is a UNESCO World Heritage city that’s too beautiful to miss. Perched in the south of Italy, Matera has a long history of cave-dwellings that makes this city so pretty and unique to explore.
Once here, be sure to check into one of the iconic cave hotels and take a wander around the old city itself. Cars aren’t allowed within the older part of the city (which is great) but it does mean you’ll need some comfy walking shoes for the cobbled streets.
Be sure to pop inside the churches that line the town, too. They’re totally stunning and are beautiful inside and out!
We spent around 3-4 days here and loved it. Though, if you’re short on time, you can try to explore the city with a 1-night (2-day) stay.
Read more: Best things to do in Matera
4.) Copenhagen, Denmark
I have no idea why, but I didn’t have the biggest expectations before visiting Copenhagen; how wrong I was. Copenhagen is incredible and easily one of the prettiest cities in Europe to visit; especially for a weekend break!
Of course, you have to see some of the more well-known sites and places in Copenhagen, too. Yeah, you have to spot The Little Mermaid (though, personally, this was a tiny letdown (in the literal sense)), Tivoli Gardens with its kitsch and vintage rides (we loved the wooden rollercoaster) and Nyhavn! The latter is a colourful harborfront area that’s filled with colourful houses and heaps of little cafes to enjoy.
Oh, and don’t forget about the crown jewels and the gorgeous rooms in Rosenborg Castle. There is also an endless stream of canals in Copenhagen, which are great to stroll around.
In the early evening, pop over to Meatpacking District and explore some of the cooler bars and restaurants that make Copenhagen so much fun. It’s got a little bit of something for everyone!
Read more: Best things to do in Copenhagen
5.) Florence, Italy
Florence has always been one of our favourites; especially out of the larger Italian cities.
Honestly, Florence holds so much history and beauty and is easily one of the prettiest cities in Europe to visit! Plus, you can partner this up with a wider road trip through Tuscany, too.
Now, in the peak of summer, you might find it quite a busy city to visit; but don’t let the crowds put you off – you can still have an incredible time exploring the city. Once here, visit the Duomo and the Ponte Vecchio which stand proudly in the centre of Florence.
Oh, and see the sunset (or sunrise views) from Piazzale Michelangelo. It’s about a 25-minute walk from the centre of Venice but totally worth it. The views are beautiful.
Read more: Best things to do in Florence
6.) Budapest, Hungary
In my opinion, Budapest is one of the prettiest cities in Europe to visit when exploring the eastern fringes of the continent. Filled with some of the most eye-catching architecture and buildings to boot, it’s a city that’s totally easy to visit from most of Europe via flight (or train).
Best of all, most parts of Budapest are totally walkable; making it a really fun city to explore on foot. As you wander the stunning streets, be sure to visit Fisherman’s Bastion (especially at sunset for views), hop in the geothermal baths, spot the neo-gothic Parliament Building and stop by the Jewish Quarter for the cool little bars and restaurants.
We loved Mazel Tov for dinner; the food was incredible. Oh, and don’t forget to grab a drink in one of the city’s ruin bars. Our favourite was Szimpla Kert which is so kitsch and unique.
Read more: Best things to do in Budapest
7.) Athens, Greece
Although most visits to Greece involve a hop, skip and a jump to the iconic Greek islands, there’s also a heap of beauty that’s within the capital, Athens, too.
For us, it kinda felt like a step back in time, especially if you visit the beautiful ruins in and around the city centre of Athens. All across the hills and streets, you’ll get to stop plenty of sculptures of deities, and some other stonework that dates all the way back beyond 400 BC. Oh, and you can’t forget the Acropolis, too. It’s totally beautiful and a one-of-a-kind place!
Plus, don’t forget to visit Monastiraki, with its iconic flea market that can’t be missed. It holds a treasure trove of goodies that you’ll be gagging to take home with you.
Read more: Best things to do in Athens
8.) Prague, Czechia
Known as Czechia’s capital, Prague is a totally pretty city that has a lot to offer for us, visitors. Here, you will see Old Town Square and the famous Charles Bridge that gets very busy on the weekends.
Aside from the beautiful places in Prague, one notable thing about it is the charming atmosphere that you’ll experience in the older parts of the city. It’s so lovely.
That being said, if you want to explore inside; hop into St. Vitus Cathedral. The building itself is so gorgeous and really too good to miss. I won’t get into too many details, here, but check out the best places in Prague if you’re thinking of visiting. You’ll have the best time.
Read more: Best places in Prague to visit
9.) Barcelona, Spain
To be honest, Barcelona needs little introduction, it’s one the more famous and prettiest cities in Europe to visit and totally well-known. That being said, you can’t mention pretty cities in Europe without mentioning this gem… so here we are!
As Catalonia’s capital, Barcelona is probably most well-known for its beautiful Gaudi buildings that line so many streets in the city.
Plus, his incredible Sagrada Familia that’s almost fully completed. It’s an iconic landmark that you can’t miss in the city. Aside from the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona has a lot more to offer, too.
You can easily visit Park Guell, the gorgeous Gothic Quarter and Casa Batllo while you are in the central districts of Barcelona. For some walking through the city, hop onto La Rambla.. though, keep an eye on your pockets in this area – it does get frequented by pickpockets at times.
Oh, and don’t forget about Picasso’s Museum, which is also located in Barcelona. Here, you can check this out to see the most celebrated and popular pieces of Picasso that are just so unique. Finally, pop into some of Barcelona’s best restaurants that are dotted all across the city; you’ll be leaving stuffed. Trust me!
Read more: Best things to do in Barcelona
10.) Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Over the years, we’ve visited Amsterdam countless times; with each visit being completely different. This is what makes the city so great; it’s big enough to be always changing but historic enough to still hold onto its character and charm that makes it so pretty.
Of course, you can spend hours exploring the canals, waterways and bike paths that crisscross the city; but there’s so much more to Amsterdam that than. For instance, if it’s art you’re after, hop into the Van Gogh Museum that houses some incredible pieces that are brilliant to see.
Oh, and don’t forget about all the little cafes and eclectic little eateries that line the tiny streets. We’ve found most by accident and, in my opinion, that’s part of Amsterdam’s charm. You can be strolling through the tiniest of little alleys and just come across the most amazing gem of a place.
Whatever the case, check out our guide on the best places in Amsterdam to visit on a weekend trip! It’s a really fun and pretty city that you really shouldn’t miss.
Read more: Best places in Amsterdam to visit
11.) Ronda, Spain
Folklore has it, Ronda was once a large city that couldn’t stop quarrelling for many years. Growing weary from the constant bickering, God came and spilt the city apart. Literally! Ripping Ronda in two, the city inhabitants were separated by a vast gorge until they could get along.
After many years, the city inhabitants all resolved their differences, but the huge gorge still stands.
So, the now friendly inhabitants built a massive stone bridge to once again reunite the city. Believe the folklore or not, Ronda is one of the prettiest cities in Europe to visit, especially when exploring Southern Spain.
Once here, be sure to check out the medieval bathhouse (Baños Arabes Yacimiento) in the centre of the city. It’s been around for centuries and totally incredible if you’re interested in the history of the city. Also, don’t forget to see the views from the iconic bridge itself; it’s totally awe-inspiring and well worth a wander around (and down through the gorge).
Also, depending on how long your trip is, you can easily partner this with a longer trip to visit the Moorish Alhambra in Granada (like we did). If that’s your plan, grab tickets to enter the Alhambra before you arrive. There’s an allotted amount who can enter each day and it always sells out.
Read more: Best places in Spain to visit
12.) Seville, Spain
Another Spanish gem, Seville is a treasure trove of a city to visit for a 3-4 day trip. Heck, it’s great for longer if you have the time!
Perched within the province of Andalusia, Seville is one of the prettiest cities in Europe to visit that’s not only gorgeous but lovely and warm in the summer months, too.
Once here, make sure to take a gander around the iconic Royal Alcázar that dates back centuries. Its architecture is incredible and really stays true to its Moorish beginnings. Of course, you have to take a stroll around Plaza de España, too. The whole promenade area is just so special and the architecture blends the many influences from around Spain.
Finally, be sure to check out the belltower (La Giralda) of Seville Cathedral. It’s a UNESCO protected site in Seville and totally beautiful to see.
Oh, and don’t forget to gorge on some carrillada, which is a braised Iberico pork that’s pretty popular in the city.
Read more: Best things to do in Seville
13.) Lisbon, Portugal
Probably my favourite city in Portugal, Lisbon is a little heap of little hilltop towns that have all been fused together by once central area. It’s stunning, historic and totally pretty, especially with all the epic viewpoints across the city.
After arriving in this Portuguese gem, take some time to wander the lined streets near Santa Justa Elevator, before heading up the hills to the Alfama area of Lisbon. It’s totally picturesque and still filled with oodles of Portuguese tiled buildings that are all so ornate.
If you’re down near the water, take a gander inside Torre de Belem; though be prepared for a little queue – especially on the weekend.
Finally, don’t forget to devour all the delicious Portuguese treats around the city. There are so many tasty restaurants to visit that you’ll be spoilt for choice. Oh, and for pudding, stop by Pastéis de Belém for their famous egg and cinnamon tarts. Yum!
If you have time, pop over to nearby Sintra with all its iconic palaces and castles. We spent a whole day here and loved it.
Read more: Best things to do in Lisbon
14.) Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh is easily one of the prettiest cities to visit in Europe; especially if you’re looking for a history that dates back thousands of years.
After arriving in bonnie Scotland, be sure to check out the Royal Mile area of the Old Town. It’s the oldest area of the city and connects Edinburgh Castle (on a prehistoric volcanic bute) with Holyrood Palace (the official royal residence in Scotland). Both of which, are essential to visit and beautiful to see. Just be sure to book tickets in advance, as there is typically allotted time constraints on the number of visitors that can enter per 15-minute intervals.
For a tasty treat on the Royal Mile, stop by the White Horse Oyster Bar who conjures up some of the tastiest seafood in all of Edinburgh. Just be sure to book a table in advance; it’s a wee little restaurant that fills up fast.
Not only that, make sure to explore the iconic museums, see the views from Carlton Hill and Arthur’s Seat and explore the New Town with its grid streets and gorgeous little shops. It’s such a great city.
Read more: Best things to do in Edinburgh
15.) Bath, England
Another Roman city (like Nimes in France), Bath is one totally beautiful place to discover. Perched in the west of England, it’s relatively small but one of the prettiest cities to visit in Europe for a day trip or a weekend.
Once you’ve settled in, be sure to visit the Roman Baths and see how the Roman’s used to bathe in the city. It’s so well-preserved and probably one of England’s best Roman sights to see. Feeling peckish? Pop over to Sally Lunn’s for her incredible toasted buns. It’s been going since the 1600s and still going strong.
Oh, and if you fancy a dip; pop into the Thermae Spa that pumps the geothermally heated waters to the rooftop pool. It’s so lovely, especially if you fancy a chilled out day.
Fancy exploring more of the area? Rent a car and visit the chocolate box villages of the Cotswolds that are relatively close by. They’re totally beautiful and look like something out of a movie.
Read more: Best things to do in Bath
10 Very Best Things To Do In Bath, England