Hi guys! Hope this week is treating you kindly so far. I’ve been seeing so many photographs of everyone going on their holidays lately, or travelling to new places; and I’m so jealous! I won’t be able to take any trips until next year, but for now I’m creating wishlists of places I’d like to go and see! Top of my list are city breaks, and there are so many hidden gems around Europe.
Imagining a tour through Europe tends to evoke images of legendary capitals like London, Paris, Rome and Athens. Each one is filled with some of the most sought after travel destinations anywhere on the planet. But while these are almost always worth visiting, they also don’t represent the entirety of Europe. In fact, far from it! There are plenty of smaller cities all over the continent that offer wonderful experiences to travelers. Highlighting all of them would take forever, but here are a few that come to mind.
Bruges doesn’t always get a ton of attention next to some other more popular Western European cities. There are other cities in Belgium that often appear first on travel lists. Many people want to see the capital city of Brussels, or one of the larger destinations like Antwerp or Ghent. But Bruges may be the most interesting of the bunch. After all, it’s the setting for a beloved dark comedy (called In Bruges), and appeared on one internet list of the 20 best cities in Europe.
The scenery is part of what makes it so nice to visit. It’s a very unique medieval town marked by cobblestone streets, small canals and buildings that have been preserved for as many as 900 years in some cases. It’s a lovely city for walking around, taking in sights, and ducking into the occasional café. But if you hit one attraction in particular, you’ll want to make it the Church of Our Lady. It’s a gorgeous church that dates back to the 13th century. The church is extraordinary in its own right, but it’s also home to Madonna And Child—an original sculpture by the great Michelangelo.
This coastal city in the North of Greece is one that often escapes notice next to the likes of Athens, Corinth, and plenty of famous islands. But it’s actually the second most populous city in the country (about half the size of Athens), and one that’s immensely interesting to visit. You can find attractions ranging from an ancient Roman arch (the Arch of Galerius) to Byzantine fortifications (The White Tower) all over the city.
As for things to do, there are several alluring beaches in Thessaloniki, and you can also find your way to some delicious Greek food. But maybe the most entertaining attraction is the Regency Casino, which may be the best venue of its kind in Europe. As online poker and casino games have grown more popular, people have started to say that players embrace the ageless games just as they always have in brick-and-mortar establishments. That may be true in terms of the range of offerings, but nothing beats a classy, real-life gaming venue. At the Regency in Thessaloniki you’ll find a polished, dimly lit casino floor and an intimate poker room. It’s a terrific place to spend evenings after days of sightseeing and beachside relaxation.
Bern is the capital, and Zurich is the most populous Swiss city. Geneva and Lucerne are other popular tourism spots singled out for great natural beauty. But Basel may just be the most interesting city to visit in Switzerland. That’s partially due to its unique geographic location. The city sits right on the Rhine River and on the southern tip of the French-German border. There are influences from both larger countries that can be felt in Basel, which makes it representative of a large chunk of Western Europe.
The city is home to the highest concentration of museums in Switzerland (which is an impressive distinction), but there’s also plenty of culture that can be enjoyed on a more personal level. You can try out lots of excellent French-inspired restaurants, or go to a show of your choice at one of the local theaters. But the most fun thing to do might be a boat cruise down the Rhine, which makes for a pleasant afternoon but also connects you to history in a profound way.
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