Europe is full of magical cities to be discovered!
Although I love visiting world famous cities such as Paris, Madrid or Berlin, there is something special about smaller, more local and charming small cities. You can easily explore them in a short period of time as well as the prices tend to be a bit lower and the locals a bit friendlier.
Here are my 5 of my 10 favorites thus far:
- Heidelberg, Germany
Nestled into the Rhine Rift Valley along the River Neckar in southwest Germany, Heidelberg is a really charming small city. With lots of winding, small stone streets in the Baroque style Old Town, you could spend the afternoon wandering around stopping for coffee at one of the many cafes or simply just enjoying the romantic atmosphere. Heidelberg is also famous for the Heidelberg Castle, which stands over the city, with great views of the landscape.
- Ljubljana, Slovenia
If I’ve ever been anywhere that looks like it’s straight out of a postcard it’s Ljubliana, Slovenia. The old city center features a mix of architectural styles, and the older buildings are kept up in great condition. The Ljubljanica River also runs through the old city center, creating a really cool, calming feeling over the city. It is a popular Erasmus destination for students, so expect there also to be a great nightlife!
- Lagos, Portugal
Right on the Algarve coast of southern Portugal, Lagos is more of a town than a city with only 22,000 inhabitants. Despite its small size, Lagos attracts tons of visitors in the warm weather for its beautiful beaches, many cliffs and caverns as well as the many bars, restaurants and especially nightlife. As well, it has a huge historical significance for not only Portugal but for Europe in general, as it was a vital port and, at one point, center of the European Slave Trade.
- Niš, Serbia
After attending an amazing wedding for a friend from Niš last weekend, I may be a little bias, but in any case, it is a really great city to visit! You can easily walk around the city center in a few hours, and visit some of the main sites such as the Niš Fortress or Tinker’s Alley. As one of the oldest cities in the Balkans and Europe, it is full of history too! Make sure to visit one of the “kafanas” or traditional restaurants where you can try common foods, drink some “rakija” (a fruity brandy popular in the Balkans) and listen to traditional live music. We went to this really cool one Nislijska Mehana during our trip there.
- Annecy, France
With charming small stone streets, mountains in the backdrop, turquoise crystal clear canals intersecting the city and draining into a beautiful lake, Annecy is nothing short of a fairytale. It is sometimes referred to as the “Venice of the Alps” and I wouldn’t disagree! It’s a really popular destination in the warmer weather, when you can take advantage of water activities such as swimming, sailing, water-skiing and diving as well as cycling and mountain exploration.
Still to come: numbers 5 to 1!