Wednesday, May 22, 2024

17 Most Visited Cities in Europe: How Many Have You Been To?

paris Neirfys

Europe is a stunning continent that has always intrigued travellers from all over the world. And it’s not hard at all to see why. With 50 beautiful countries spread across Europe, each with its own unique culture, history, food and architectural wonders, it’s a real treasure chest for globetrotters. 

With so many countries, it’s no surprise that there is an incredible wealth of beautiful cities in Europe, each offering something spectacular.

So, which are the most visited cities in Europe? I’ll take you through the top 17 most visited European cities and what you can expect from them. 

Europe’s Most Visited Cities

One of Europe’s biggest draws is that it’s extremely well connected, so travelling between various cities on the continent is relatively easy. A significant contributor to its excellent interconnectivity is its impressive rail systems and high-speed trains. 

One example is that you can take the Eurostar railway from London to Paris in under three hours. Think about how cool that is – you could start your day exploring the “Big Smoke” and be in the “City of Love” by dinner time. 

1. London, England 

Natural History Museum London with red phone booths

Estimated visitors per year: 20 million

London is one of Europe’s oldest cities, dating back to the Roman era. So it’s not a surprise that London makes it to the top of this list. This city is incredibly resilient, having survived the devasting “Great Fire” of 1666. 

Today, it’s a multicultural city with a rich history, modern culture, and iconic English landmarks you can’t miss. 

Naturally, you should visit Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, and London Bridge (and no, they aren’t the same bridge). But there’s much more to do here than just admire old buildings. 

The Shard london against blue sky with clouds

If you’re a foodie, you’ll love the Borough Market. It’s one of the hottest food markets in Europe and is a great gathering place for people of different backgrounds. 

Some other highlights include admiring views over the city from The Shard’s viewing platform or relaxing in St. James’ Park. 

2. Paris, France

the-louvre-at-night-paris

Image by Edi Nugraha from Pixabay

Estimated visitors per year: 19 million

This is a city that needs no introduction. Whether you think of it as the “City of Light” or the “City of Love,” there’s no denying that Paris is a special place. Originating from sometime in the 3rd Century B.C, Paris has inspired an endless list of books, movies and poems. 

Paris is by no means a one-dimensional city. It’s long been a global leader in many aspects, including business and culture, fashion, and gastronomy.

view from the eiffel tower
Stunning view from the Eiffel Tower

It goes without saying that you should visit the Eiffel Tower, even if you just stand in front of it for a picture. Another must-visit is the Louvre and Musee d’Orsay to understand and appreciate French art. 

Those touristy things are great, of course, but there’s so much more to Paris than just the surface-level activities. 

If you’ve ever dreamed of being a Michelin chef, Paris is a great place to take a French cooking class. A perfume-making workshop where you can create your own signature scent might also pique your fancy. 

3. Istanbul, Turkey

turkey_istanbul_topkapi-palace-3

Estimated visitors per year: 14 million

In recent years, Istanbul has risen among the most visited cities in Europe. Istanbul has got to be one of the coolest cities in the world. Why? For one, it actually connects two continents, Europe and Asia, via the Bosphorus Strait, hence its nickname “The City Where East meets West.” 

Formerly called Constantinople, it’s one of the oldest cities in Europe, founded by Roman Emperor Constantine the Great. Istanbul is currently the most populous city in Europe, with an estimated 15 million people calling it home. It’s an incredibly diverse place, which is reflected in its architecture, food and culture. 

turkey_istanbul_blue-mosque-10

When you’re there, head to the iconic Grand Bazaar, Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. Of course, stand on the Bosphorus Bridge so that you can confidently say that you stood between two continents at one location. 

Tip: Look at my 3-day Istanbul itinerary for some travel inspo. 

4. Rome, Italy

castel sant-angelo rome
castel sant-angelo rome

Estimated visitors per year: 10 million

They say that “All roads lead to Rome,” which is the case when you consider how many travellers Rome welcomes each year. 

Known as “The Eternal City,” it’s one of the most well-established cities in the world, founded by none other than the Romans themselves. It’s also often considered the “Cradle of Western Civilazation and Christianity.” 

As old as it is, Rome always stays in fashion. It’s currently the third most populated city in the EU. The city is any history buff’s dream destination. Home to some of the most celebrated landmarks like The Colosseum, The Parthenon, and Trevi Fountain to name a few. 

55 Fascinating Facts About Rome You Probably Didn’t Know Story Poster Image

The city is also a treasure trove of artwork, housed in important spaces such as the Borghese Gallery and Museum and the National Roman Museum. There’s something for everyone here, whether it’s an endless supply of pizza, wine and dessert to unbelievable artwork – you’ll find something that piques your interest. 

5. Amsterdam, The Netherlands

amsterdam-canal

Image by user32212 from Pixabay

Estimated visitors per year: 8 million

There’s no denying that Amsterdam is one of the most picturesque cities in Europe. Its scenic canals with boats and lush green trees are probably going to be one of the first images that you’ll see on Google. 

This capital city has a reputation that pretty much everything goes. But, recently, it has been making a concerted effort to change its image, implementing stricter measures on things like cannabis use. 

That aside, Amsterdam is a lovely city to visit. It’s very popular with travellers of all ages because it’s easy to travel to most of Europe from here, especially by train. The city has an infinite number of scenic canals and picturesque cobblestone streets lined with quirky cafes and shops. 

amsterdam-nl

Amsterdam is also home to a range of museums, including the world-renowned Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House. 

Some stops to include on your itinerary are the futuristic EYE Film Institution, NDSM Wharf and the cool and quirky Upside Down Museum. Visit De Hallen, a cultural hub home to a bustling food market, cinema and boutique shops for an authentic feel of Amsterdam. 

6. Prague, Czech Republic

prague-czech-republic

Photo by Alice on Unsplash

Estimated visitors per year: 8 million

Prague is a city that might fly low on the radars of many travelers. But there’s no question that those who’ve visited recognised that the Czech Republic’s picturesque capital is one of the most stunning places in Europe. 

The city lies in the heart of Europe, making it a major culture and economic hub. Its strategic location means it’s well connected, making it easy to travel to neighboring countries like Germany and Austria. 

Prague’s fairytale architecture and bohemian allure tug at the heartstrings of any traveler who’s a sucker for medieval castles, scenic waterways, and historic squares. It’s earned the nickname “The City of 100 Spires,” because almost everywhere you look, you’ll find a historic building with one. 

Czech-Republic-Prague-castle-district most visited cities in europe

This is one city where you’re spoilt for choice regarding sweeping vistas, dramatic backdrops and fascinating landmarks. One includes the Charles Bridge, which sits along the Vltava River, and the gorgeous Prague Castle. You can enjoy all these mesmerizing landmarks on a cruise down the Vltava River.

7. Vienna, Austria

vienna-square-austria

Photo by Sandro Gonzalez on Unsplash

Estimated visitors per year: 7 million

Vienna is another quintessential European city that immediately captures the hearts of travellers.

The Austrian capital sits along the east end of the Danube River and is renowned for its vast depth of history and culture. Vienna was also the home of some of the most influential musicians of all time, Mozart and Beethoven. 

One thing that undoubtedly stands out in Vienna is its striking landmarks, which include majestic imperial palaces, including the Hofburg Palace and Vienna Opera House. The mix of Gothic, Art Nouveau and Baroque architectural styles is evident in these buildings, adding to the allure of Vienna. 

austria_vienna_mozart-statue

If you’ve heard about this city, you’re probably aware of its famed Kaffeehaus (coffee house) culture. Dating back to the early 1700s, Vienna’s coffee house culture is so important to the city that it was inaugurated into Austria’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list (governed by UNESCO) in 2011. 

While here, you can try Vienna’s signature cake, Sachertorte, strudel, and so many other classic desserts paired with the city’s signature Einspänner Coffee.

8. Barcelona, Spain

Basílica La Sagrada Familia exterior
Basílica La Sagrada Familia exterior

Estimated visitors per year: 7 million

Barcelona is not only one of the most beautiful cities in Spain but also in the world. Sitting in the Catalonia region, this city has twists and turns at every corner. 

Catalonia’s capital city is one of the most diverse places in Europe, sharing an exciting mix of rich Spanish history and culture, as well as an integration of other European and African cultures. 

Barcelona is renowned for many things, but perhaps the most noticeable is its outstanding selection of Antoni Gaudi’s work. The Sagrada Familia and Park Guell are just two of Barcelona’s most awesome landmarks that reflect Gaudi’s brilliant mix of architecture and art. 

Las Rambla barcelona
Las Rambla barcelona

When visiting, it’s best to dedicate a whole day to discovering Gaudi’s work because there are simply too many to admire. Apart from that, Barcelona has an incredible wealth of scenic beaches where you can relax, as well as the intriguing Gothic Quarter and scenic Las Ramblas boulevard. 

9. Milan, Italy

milan-duomo

Photo by Daryan Shamkhali on Unsplash

Estimated visitors per year: 6.5 million

As Italy’s fashion capital, Milan is a rather modern city with nods to its incredible history. Milan is different to other Italian cities because it has a more business-orientated approach to life and serves as Italy’s economic hub. 

Sitting in the heart of Italy, its location makes it easy to travel to other Italian cities and other European destinations. 

milan duomo square

This buzzing metropolis also offers unique sights like the Piazza del Duomo. It might not surprise you that Milan is home to the oldest Mall in the world – the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. This iconic landmark has stunning glass ceilings, and of course, it boasts acclaimed Italian fashion houses like Prada and Gucci. 

10. Berlin, Germany

brandenburg-gate-berlin

Image by Nikolaus Bader from Pixabay

Estimated visitors per year: 6.3 million

In a country filled with fantastic old-world charm and castles, Berlin stands out as Germany’s dynamic capital. Founded in the 13th century, it’s hard to ignore the fact that the city has had a turbulent history. Despite this, Berlin has rewritten its history and is now a diverse city home to people from all works of life.

Berlin is home to some very prominent German landmarks recognised worldwide. These include as the Brandenburg Gate, remains of the Berlin Wall, Reichstag, Pergamon Museum and the towering Berlin TV Tower. 

Berlin Germany
Berlin

This German city also places a high emphasis on sustainability, which is why it ranks highly as one of the most desirable cities in Europe. Berlin’s commitment to sustainability means that this city is easily explorable by bike or on a walking tour

11. Athens, Greece

athens

Estimated visitors per year: 6.3 million

Athens is known as the birthplace of western civilisation, and for centuries has been a leader in ideologies, religion, arts, academics and science, and founded the Olympic Games. It’s also the gateway to those picturesque Greek islands like Santorini and Mykonos.

Modern-day Athens is extremely diverse, and like many other European cities, people from all backgrounds call it home. There’s a lot to see and do there. If you’re a history buff or appreciate elaborate architecture, then you’ll love it here. 

Acropolis in athens
The Acropolis

Landmarks like the Parthenon, Acropolis and Temple of Athena are some of the city’s quintessential stops. But there are many modern things to do as well. That includes taking a street art tour and a food tour where you can eat all the Greek delights to your heart’s content. 

12. Moscow, Russia 

the-kremlin-moscow

Photo by vierro on pexels

Estimated visitors per year: 6 million

In light of recent events, Moscow doesn’t sit at the top of many people’s preferred destinations to visit. But, despite this, Moscow still makes it to this list because of its past visitor numbers. 

Russia’s booming metropolis is home to some of the richest history, culture and art in the world. Just a few examples include the Kremlin, the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, and the State Tretyakov Gallery. 

13. Venice, Italy 

San Giorgio Venice
San Giorgio Venice

Estimated visitors per year: 5.6 million

There’s no denying that Venice is a very well-known city in Europe, and for good reason. It’s not only one of the most unique cities in Italy but also one of the most romantic with some beautiful sunsets. 

Spread across over 100 small islands in the Venice Lagoon, Venice has existed since the 10th century. For thousands of years, it served as a key maritime and trading power. This beautiful city has drawn millions of visitors for so many years and has often been the victim of mass tourism. 

Bridge of Sighs and gondola venice
Bridge of Sighs and gondola venice

But, once there, it’s not hard to see why people fall in love with Venice. The Piazza San Marco, St. Mark’s Basilica, Penny Guggenheim Collection, Rialto Bridge, Doge’s Palace and the Grand Canal are just some of Venice’s famed landmarks you can’t miss. 

14. Madrid, Spain

madrid-night-time

Photo by Florian Wehde on Unsplash

Estimated visitors per year: 5.5 million

Since the beginning of time, there’s been a fierce rivalry between Madrid and its neighbour Barcelona in almost every aspect. But Spain’s capital has a very different feel to it and therefore deserves to be celebrated rather than compared. 

Sitting in the heart of Spain, Madrid is a cosmopolitan city and a central transport hub. It’s pretty easy to travel to anywhere in Spain from Madrid via a high-speed train. 

plaza mayor madrid
plaza mayor madrid

This lively city has an exciting mix of old-world charm and noticeable touches of modernity. It’s home to expansive boulevards, fine European art and prim and proper parks and gardens. 

You might want to check out the Prado Museum, which houses some of Europe’s best artwork, visit the mesmerising Royal Palace or hang out in the Buen Retiro Park. Don’t forget to order one of Spain’s most celebrated desserts – churros with chocolate and a cafe. 

15. Budapest, Hungary

parliament-budapest-hungary

Image by Walkerssk from Pixabay

Estimated visitors per year: 4 million

Budapest is affectionately called “Paris of the East.” This is the ninth most populous city in the European Union and the largest city in Hungary. 

Once part of the mighty Austro-Hungarian empire, Budapest is a striking city that’s believed to have originated before 1 A.D. Over the years, it has endured some hardship under Soviet rule, but today, it’s becoming an increasingly popular destination. Sitting along the banks of the Danube River, it’s an extremely photogenic city. 

Hungary-Budapest-Hungarian-Parliamant-building

It’s blessed with a wealth of Art Nouveau buildings, such as the Parliament Building, that immediately strikes you when you explore the city. It’s even more majestic at night when it’s lit up. Budapest also boasts quirky bars and impressive mineral bath houses. 

16. Copenhagen, Denmark

copenhagen-waterfront

Photo by Nick Karvounis on Unsplash

Estimated visitors per year: 3.2 million

The Danes are considered to be some of the happiest people in the world. And spending a few hours in Copenhagen gives you some good insights as to why. This idyllic city is one of the safest cities in the world, and its citizens enjoy a high quality of life.

Sitting a bit further in Northern Europe, Denmark’s capital still flies under the radar on many a traveller’s bucketlist. But it’s a city that seamlessly blends old-world charm with modern architecture and innovation. 

Its exciting food scene and biking culture make it a highly desirable city to visit. One of Copenhagen’s standouts is Tivoli Gardens, one of the oldest theme parks in the world. It’s a favourite amongst locals and visitors, so be sure it pay it a visit. 

17. Stockholm, Sweden

stockholm-sweden

Image by Michelle Raponi from Pixabay

Estimated visitors per year: 2.7 million

Sweden’s capital, Stockholm, is fast becoming one of the most exciting destinations to visit in Europe. One of the only reasons it is probably not as popular as other European cities is the fact that it is quite far from mainland Europe. 

Spread over 14 islands, Stockholm is best known for its endless canals and scenic waterways. It’s also one of the oldest European cities, and evidence of this lies in its historic Old Town – Gamla Stan. 

stockholm 1

Because Stockholm is such a vast city, there’s much to see and do. One of the most effective ways to see most of the city’s highlights is by an archipelago cruise and one of the highlights you’ll pass is the lovely Royal Palace. 

Final Thoughts on the Most Visited Cities in Europe

Europe has an endless list of amazing cities, and these 17 cities are just the tip of the iceberg. From popular ones like London and Paris to lesser-visited ones like Prague and Stockholm, Europe’s cities offer something different for everyone.

You’ll no doubt find one or more that you’ll fall in love with. 

Next Read: Take a look a the most dangerous cities in the world so you know which European destinations to try and avoid.

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