It’s that time of year again when we look back at the travel trends and holiday highlights of 2015. Check out our list of the top 20 most visited European cities to discover what makes them so sought after and why you should give them a go too.
Riding high like the Eiffel Tower, Paris sits at the top of our list of this year’s most-visited cities. It’s easy to see why: the city hosts some of the world’s most iconic architecture such as the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame cathedral and the Champs-Élysées to name but a few. Chic boutiques, fine dining restaurants and elegant cafés are synonymous with France’s capital and it’s the go-to city for romantics wanting to pop the question.
Feeling the love? Book your Parisian holiday.
You don’t need to toss a coin into the Trevi fountain to ensure your return; after a stay in Rome, you’ll be planning your next trip before the plane touches down. Italy’s Eternal City is the perfect place to indulge in art, history and (of course) gelato. Aside from visiting the world-famous Vatican, Colosseum and Pantheon, get a taste of local life by watching the world go by from a street-side café before devouring a freshly made pizza or bowl of spaghetti. When in Rome…
Is your road leading to Rome? Find a rental you’ll want to keep returning to.
Blending classical history with modern art, Amsterdam is a heady mix of culture and curiosity. Where else can you admire the largest collection of Van Gogh’s masterpieces in the morning and see the beer making process from the bottle’s perspective at the Heineken brewery the afternoon? Explore the cobbled back streets on foot or by bike to soak up the atmosphere of this historic city.
Want to tiptoe through the tulips? Find a place to stay in Amsterdam.
If you’re a foodie and into Spanish cuisine, then let us tempt you with a trip to Valencia. It’s the home of the paella and its thriving restaurant scene will have you eating out, night after night. Walk off your meal by admiring the mix of medieval and art deco architecture before a visit to The City of Arts and Sciences: a collection of futuristic looking buildings housing a range of exhibits, museums and entertainments.
Tickled your taste buds? Book a holiday rental in Valencia.
From Michelangelo’s David to Giotto’s frescoes, there’s so much art and architecture to see in Florence: the challenge is fitting it all in. Music lovers should head to the Teatro del Maggio Musicale where world-class opera and classical music are the order of the day. For architecture, visit the Piazza della Signoria where you’ll find some spectacular sculptures with political connections. Florence is also one of the most romantic cities on earth where you can enjoy balmy summer evenings dining al fresco with your significant other.
Need a culture fix? Find a place in Florence.
This sunny Spanish port just an hour away from Barcelona is sometimes overlooked…but it shouldn’t be. It was once the capital of the Roman Empire in Spain and its fascinating array of ruins, including a seaside amphitheatre, still stand to tell the tale. There’s a real buzz in the streets of this city and festivals celebrating the city’s culture take place nearly every month of the year. There’s the tapas festival, the ancient Roman festival and the summer solstice, Night of St John, to name but a few. So, get your glad rags on and join the party.
Looking for festival fun? Choose a holiday home in Tarragona.
If you’re looking for inspiration, Dubrovnik’s glistening coastline, marble streets and baroque architecture is sure to get the creative juices flowing. For a stunning view of the Med, take a cable car up to Mt Srđ where the panoramic views of the walled old town will leave you in awe. Dubrovnik’s clear blue sea is perfect for snorkelling excursions but if you prefer to stay on the surface, join a kayak group and sail past St Lawrence fortress and the city harbour.
Does Dubrovnik float your boat? Book a holiday rental to find out.
There’s energy and a buzz about Madrid that is infectious. Maybe it’s the exuberant art galleries, home to paintings by Spanish greats such as Picasso, Dalí and Miró, and the stunning contemporary architecture on every corner… Or maybe it’s the party atmosphere that engulfs the city when the sun goes down and the explosive cuisine that pushes the boundaries. Whatever the reason (and there are many), this Spanish city will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.
Mad about Madrid? Find a holiday home to rent.
Naples is Italy’s city of contrasts where grandiose palazzos, cutting-edge art installations and expressive graffiti meet. It’s one of Italy’s oldest cities and you don’t need to be an avid archaeology fan to appreciate the rich history on offer here. Head to the National Archaeological Museum of Naples to see Egyptian relics, Greek and Roman sculptures, mosaics and more. The food is delicious and varied: you’ll find everything from Cuban, Thai and traditional Italian seafood dishes.
Excited about exploring Naples? See all holiday rentals in the city.
This big and bold Italian city is an exciting place to be. The nightlife is electric and the fashion and design that emanates from this city is cutting-edge. There are numerous places to eat out and the bustling shops are great for checking out the latest trends. A little effort and a guidebook is all it takes, however, to find some fascinating historical sites and places of cultural interest, such as Leonardo da Vinci’s mural, The Last Supper and Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia (Milan’s museum of science and technology).
Feeling the buzz for Milan? Book a break away.
Arguably as beautiful (and as romantic) as Paris, Prague has a fairy-tale feel and the castle at the top of the hill, Pražský hrad, is undoubtedly one of the many reasons why. On the walk to the castle, you’ll be able to admire some of Prague’s other stunning landmarks such as the old town square and the Charles Bridge. If you’re visiting in winter, wrap up warm and don’t miss an excuse to take a break from sightseeing and warm up with a steaming bowl of fish stew and a freshly brewed beer.
Want to experience the beauty of Prague? Book a stay.
One of the things that makes Dublin a fantastic place to visit is its people. Witty, friendly and always up for the “craic” (a good time), Dubliners know how to have fun. Enjoy a night out in Temple Bar to see what we mean or be entertained by a tour guide on an open top bus.
There’s so much to see and do for young and old alike: check out the Guinness factory and savour a pint of the black stuff while taking in panoramic views of the city. Wander around the Irish Houses of Parliament or see the animals at Dublin Zoo. And if you’re feeling peckish after a day’s sightseeing, try a Boxty: a traditional Irish potato pancake.
Charmed by this Irish city? Stay at a holiday home in Dublin.
Artists, poets and writers looking for inspiration flock to this beautiful city; its soaring Gothic architecture and medieval monuments are perfect muses for the creative brain. One of the best ways to see the city is on a 2 hour bike tour where the Old Town, UNESCO-listed Piazza del Campo and Siena Cathedral are highlights. If you don’t fancy taking to the saddle, there are plenty of walking tours to join where you can indulge in the history of this extraordinary city.
Need some inspiration? Book a stay in Siena.
Looking for a little bit of adventure (and maybe a bit of a challenge)? Then head to Palermo. Sicily’s buzzing capital is a melting pot of characteristics and styles, which reflects its history of invasion by the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, French and the Spanish.
The architecture and cuisine is an intriguing blend of cultures. You’ll find traditional Italian restaurants, where English is rarely spoken, Arabic markets and artistic delights such as the Palatine Chapel. Explore the old town on foot if you want to get under the skin of the city and find out how the locals live.
Ready for adventure? Choose a place in Palermo.
It’s easy to see why Berlin is popular with stag and hen weekends as this German city is where the party’s at. The nightlife offers something for everyone, from traditional German beer gardens, stylish cocktail bars and basement clubs, you won’t want to ever go to bed!
The city’s inhabitants are laid-back, warm and friendly and when it comes to creativity, Belin is setting the trend. You’ll find experimental art, theatre and opera that is influencing the rest of the world. If you can fit it in, be sure to visit some of Berlin’s historical landmarks such as the remains of the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie.
Need to make a break for Berlin? Find a holiday rental.
Becoming more and more popular in recent years, Istanbul’s attractions include a vibrant mix of centuries-old mosques, flea markets, modern restaurants and churches. Visit the Basilica Cistern – one of the city’s most popular historical attractions – a cavernous structure of consisting of 336 columns hidden below the city streets. Or maybe enjoy the views from the Topkapi Palace Museum where you can take a stroll through the courtyard gardens before heading back into the city streets for a taste of some traditional Turkish cuisine.
Looking for something different? Try one of these homes in Istanbul.
Oh, Vienna! That’s what you’ll say after a stay in this beautiful Austrian city as its sumptuous coffee shops, contemporary museums and medieval alleyways are sure to knock your socks off. Vienna is full of romantic candlelit restaurants so it’s an ideal place to whisk your loved one away to. Music lovers will be in their element as it was once home to genius composers such as Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert to name but a few. A visit to Schönbrunn Palace with its lovingly tended formal gardens is a must for any visitors to this charming city.
Want to waltz the night away? Book a romantic break in Vienna.
It’s true – one of the main draws of Pisa is that world-famous leaning tower, but there’s more to this Tuscan city than off-centre architecture. The elite university in the city has led to lively cafés and bustling bars that visitors can happily take advantage of. After visiting the leaning tower, or Torre Pendente (it has to be done), explore some of the Pisa-Gothic churches near the river or join a cultural walking tour before relaxing in Sottobosco: a craft café full of delicious sweet treats, freshly made coffee and glass-topped tables complete with artists’ crayons in case inspiration strikes.
Leaning towards a trip to Pisa? Find a place to stay.
Catania is not as popular as some Sicilian cities, which is a shame when you consider the wealth of attractions it has to offer. Shopping and dining out is a pleasurable experience here and its Baroque grandeur is a sight to behold. Visit Ursino Castle, built in the first half of the thirteenth century, to uncover the history and origins of this fascinating city before browsing the street markets in the square.
Captivated by Catania? Stay in one of these holiday homes.
If you prefer to explore a city on foot, then Stockholm is perfect for you. It’s so easy to get around and each area has its own style and personality – it won’t take you long to find your favourite hang-outs. From fantastic shopping and bustling food markets to calming parks, Stockholm is friendly and accessible for all. Explore Skansen, the world’s first open-air museum, to find out about Sweden’s past. Or if you like modern art, a look around the Moderna Museet is a must.
Sold on Stockholm? Take a look at these holiday lets in the city.