Lesser Known Great European Cities


When you read the list below of my other favorite places in Europe you’re going to realize it felt absolutely ridiculous titling this article the “lesser known” cities of Europe.

Athens Greece has simply got to be added to your bucket list.  I have never experienced a city that rivaled it in stark beauty and amazing history.  The Acropolis is that famous rocky hill in Athens, on top of which sits the ancient Parthenon (not to be confused with the Pantheon in Rome).  The Agora sits directly below it and is the fascinating ancient center of the city.  Don’t miss the Changing of the Guard at Syntagma Square, or a stroll through the ancient streets of the Plaka.  The National Archeological Museum and the Acropolis Museums were our favorites.  If I close my eyes I can still smell the jasmine around the subways in Athens.

Prague in the Czech Republic is another “off the beaten path” wonderful adventure.  You’ll love your walk across the St Charles Bridge, especially when it’s all lit up at night.  Called the City of a Hundred Spires, you’ll understand why as you gaze down on it from the Hradcany Castle Grounds.  The medieval Astronomical Clock is the envy of Europe, and the Jewish Quarter is one of the best preserved in all of Europe, with its’ six synagogues, Jewish Town Hall and cemetery.

Amsterdam is another great European city that should be added to every bucket list.  Amsterdam is worthy of your time even if you only sit back and enjoy a canal cruise, but there’s so much more.  The Rijksmuseum (think Rembrandt and Vermeer) to the Anne Frank House, the Red Light District, the tulips and the windmills, there’s enough to see and do in Amsterdam to keep you busy for days on end. 

Budapest is on almost every bucket list and with good reason; this intriguing European city is full of history, gorgeous architecture and wonderful sites, and it’s also a great place to take a bath. The gorgeous Parliament Building is featured in almost every river cruise commercial, and Fisherman’s Bastion as well as Castle Hill are other must see sights.   The Széchenyi Baths are the most famous as well as the hottest in temperature among the many bath houses in the city (Budapest sits on over 120 natural hot springs).

Vienna Austria is one of the most visually stunning cities I’ve ever seen.  A night tour by motor coach, with the city ablaze in light, is a great introduction to the grandeur here.  Art museums, imperial palaces, opera houses, wine bars, coffee shops, all of this and so much more are waiting for you in Vienna.  Throw in the close proximity to Salzburg, the Melk Abbey and the Wachau Valley, well, Vienna and the surrounding area is worthy of as much time as you want to dedicate to it. 

Edinburgh Scotland is a mystifying city with the very new right alongside the very, very old.  Edinburgh Castle towers over the city and is a must see attraction.  Walking up to the castle along the Royal Mile is a step back, way back, in time.  At the bottom of the Royal Mile is Holyrood Castle, official home to Queen Elizabeth II when she’s in Scotland.  Enjoy the outdoors at Holyrood Park while you’re in the area.  Her Majesty’s Royal Yacht Britannia is also located in Edinburgh and offers a fun look at the royal way of life. 

Cologne Germany is another of my favorite European cities.  It’s worth a trip to Cologne just to spend time both inside and outside of the Cologne Cathedral.  This amazing structure could absorb hours of your vacation time with all of its ornamental architecture and stunning interior.

There are so many more places to see in Europe.  I didn’t even delve into the Greek Isles, the famous cities of Florence and Venice, or many other amazing places.  With literally hundreds of escorted tours and river cruises available complete with unbelievable flight pricing, there has never been a better time for you to visit the old country.

Joy Gawf-Crutchfield owns and operates The Joy of Travel.  Contact Joy at 918-339-4805