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Four European Cities You Need To See

Updated on April 27, 2011

When you go abroad to travel in Europe, where are you supposed to go? With 27 countries in the European Union, there are so many different tourist hot spots that it can be tough to decide on which ones to choose. I recently spent 6 months in Europe traveling and after my experiences I can tell you that there are a few jewels which really are "Must See's". While some of these places may seem a little obscure, I certainly recommend you consider and do some research on your own. You may just find one of these spots to be the highlight of your trip.

Berlin, Germany

If you visit Berlin it is likly that it will become one of your favorite cities by the time you leave. With a great mix of old and new, the history of Berlin makes this city truly fascinating. Also, after the destruction of the city during WWII, Berlin became a melting pot for a variety of different cultures.

For a taste of some history and Art, You can go to "Museum Island" and see the history of Berlin and Europe. For more modern history i recommend you go to "Checkpoint Charlie", see one of the historical crossings between East and West Berlin during the Cold War and even get a novelty stamp on your passport from the checkpoint. Another point of interest are some of the massive buildings, such as the Nazi Air force Building, that represent the WWII era. A truly must see is the Holocaust Memorial, which allows you to interpret the structure however you want. Finally, for a truly shocking experience take the 30 minutes trip on the train to Sachsenhausen. This was one of the Concentration Camps that the Nazi’s used during the Holocaust. It is a very interesting and often emotional exhibit where you  have the opportunity to learn quite a bit about Germany during that time.

While Berlin has an amazing and interesting history, it is also become one of the most modern cities in Europe. All over the city you can see new buildings being constructed. A great example of this is the Television Tower, which is a whopping 1200 feet high, where you can see the magnificent view of the city below. At night, a great place to head is Hackescher Market, the cultural center of Berlin, for a great dinner of almost any cuisine that you would like. Later, go to one of the huge clubs that makes Berlin a nightlife destination.

Berlin is a great city and is only getting better every day. They are still modernizing and changing ever since the Berlin wall fell and it shows. Definitely do not miss out on this city.

Barcelona, Spain

As far as culture and food go, Barcelona takes the cake. On the very eastern part of Spain, Barcelona is another gem of Europe. In this bustling town you have the beach, the phenomenal Spanish food, museums dedicated to some of the best artists and architects in the world, and some of the very nicest people you could meet.

If its museums that you like, Barcelona has plenty to offer. To begin with go to the Picasso Museum which has one of the most extensive collections of Picasso’s works from his childhood to death. From there, you can go visit one of Antoni Gaud’s famous works. Antoni Gaudi is an architect from the early 20th century who is most known for his unique architectural style. My personal favorite is the Sagrada Familia which a truly spectacular Church, which Gaudi actually died while working on. Although it is still unfinished it uses much of the tourism revenue it generates to keep the construction going with the hopes of one-day finishing it. If you have the time you should definitely go inside and take the elevator up to one of the pillars. The view from the there is absolutly unbelievable. You can see Gaudi’s work all over the city; it is hard to miss his unique style.

If you like to just walk and see what you stumble upon, go to Las Ramblas. This long street is the cultural center of Barcelona. It is a 1.3-kilometer strech with a pedestrian mall in the center. Off Las Ramblas there are hundreds of little shops, restaurants, and street performers. My favorite part of Las Ramblas is the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, which is an outdoor market directly off the street. The market is hundreds of thousands of square feet large and has pretty much anything that you would want to eat. You can find the dozens of different types of Spanish meats, breads, vegatables, paella’s, and much more, perfect for a home cooked meal. After Las Ramblas you can take the subway or the bus over to one of Barcelona's beautiful beaches and have a nice relaxing day soaking in the sun.

Barcelona was definitely one of my favorite cities in Europe. With so much to offer, Barcelona can satisfy even the most critical of travelers.

Krakow, Poland

Many people won’t even think of going to Krakow on their European trip. I wasn’t even planning on going until I met two British guys in Budapest who told me I had to go. I cannot tell you how happy I was that I made the trip.

Krakow is in the southern part of Poland about 6 hours by train from Prague. This town was one of the only places in Poland that escaped the bombings and destruction from WWII. One of the features here is the Stare Miasto, or the Old Town, which is the historical center of Krakow. Here, many of the buildings are centuries old and really show you the history of the city. Rynek, or the market square, which is the expansive square in the center of the old town measuring at 40,000 meters squared. While your walking through the Stare Miasto, grab a bagel from one of the authentic bagel stands everywhere you look for a little snack. From the Stare Miasto you can take the tram over to the Jewish Quarter and enjoy the stores and restaurants that still have their menu’s in Hebrew. Or head up to one of the old Temples that are all around the 34 acre section of Krakow.

Of course the most famous and truly humbling part of Krakow is Auschwitz. Auschwitz, about 45 minutes away by bus, is the most infamous concentration camp from the Holocaust. More people were killed there than any other concentration camp in Europe. When visiting, be prepared for a emotional experience, and consider making the 20-minute walk to Auschwitz-Berkinau for even more history. While it is a very interesting exhibit, just know that it is a very intense experience for a lot of people.

At night, head back up to the Rynek in the Stare Miasto where all of the clubs and Irish pubs are located. Poland tends to run a bit less expensive than the rest of Europe. Most items in Poland are about half the cost, great for budget travel.

Rome, Italy

Many people may tell you that Rome is just a tourist trap, way too expensive, and full of Americans. While parts of Rome can have those attributes, there is still no comparison to the history and majesty of Rome. I myself am I history buff, so I much prefer Rome to the artistic Florence. Here are some places that you must visit when in Rome.

First, check out the Roman Forum. Walking through the ancient center of Rome is amazing. There are still ruins from the Roman Empire from over 2,000 years ago. You start by walking through the ruins where the basilicas and temples stood. There is also a covered area, which shows where Caesars body was laid after he was killed. You can see the Curia Hostilia, where you can actually walk inside the home of the Roman Senate. From the forum you should walk up onto the Palatine Hill where the Palace of Ancient Rome once stood. After the Roman Forum it’s about 5 minutes to the Collosseum, which is a phenomenal structure and an absolute must see. Built around 2000 years ago, it was home to the Gladiator contests held by the Roman Empire.

Another ancient wonder which is hard to avoid is the Pantheon. My personal favorite structure in Rome, the Pantheon shows the genius of Roman engineering. Built in 126 AD, the Pantheon has stood the test of time. The interior is absolutely stunning looking up at the domed roof with a circular opening in the middle and a drainage system underneath the floor to catch rain. To me it is amazing that technologies such as drainage system were thought of almost 2,000 years ago. In any case, it is certainly worth the visit.

Finally, the Vatican. There’s not much I can say about the Vatican that could even begin to describe it. It is quite possibly the most popular landmark in the world... From the Artwork of Michelangelo, to the architecture of St. Peters Basilica you won’t be let down.

The Pantheon, the Roman Forum, the Coliseum, and the Vatican are the three places, which you must see. There are dozens more places I could recommend to you, but from my experience those are a great start. The one tip I can’t stress enough. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time in Rome. You need AT LEAST 3 days to get a good taste of the city. I lived there for a month and even I think I missed out on some sights.

Which is your favorite?

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    • profile image

      European cities 

      9 years ago

      Great article !!! For further information of european cities view

    • kappa022 profile image


      10 years ago from Florida

      I would love to go to Rome, it looks absolutely beautiful and such history!


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