5 European cities to visit this year
Our minds are constantly wandering to new travel destinations, especially with our famously unpredictable English summer. For inspiration, we turned to Vikki Pearson, from the blog Style&Minimalism, who shares her top 5 European city getaways with us. Which one will you visit next?
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Summer is the best time to take a short break in Amsterdam, with so many winding canals it's no wonder it's nicknamed the ‘Venice of the North’. Hop on the Eurostar and you can arrive in under 4 hours.
What to do in Amsterdam:
Museum Quarter (Museumplein)
An art lovers paradise, the Museum Quarter caters to all tastes. For the lovers of contemporary art, head to Mono Museum to explore pieces from the likes of Banksy, Warhol and Lichtenstein. Whilst the Rijksmuseum offers over 800 years worth of art and history from Dutch Masters. Another must-visit is the Stedelijk Museum, holding over 90,000 pieces from world-renowned artists.
The Hortus Botanicus was originally established in 1638 as a herb garden, providing medical plants for doctors and pharmacists. This particular botanical garden is one of the oldest in the world and is now home to over 6000 thriving plants.
Take a canal ride
With over one hundred kilometres of canals and over 1,500 bridges what better way to experience the city?
Visit the showroom of one of Nest.co.uk’s most imaginative brands, Moooi.
Shop at the Wildernis
Enjoy plants galore in this pretty shop and café. Phones out, Instagram ready!
Over the Edge Swing at A’DAM LOOKOUT
One for the adrenaline junkies. This is Europe’s highest swing, located 100m above the city.
De Negen Straatjes
Translating to ‘Nine Little Streets’, this is a district overflowing with independent shops and boutiques – it’s a big hit with the locals. The neighbourhood can be found nestled between the Prinsengracht and Singel canals.
Where to eat & drink in Amsterdam:
Restaurant De Kas
This restaurant-come-plant nursery changes its menu daily depending on what’s been harvested. An ever-changing menu ensures you’re getting the freshest local ingredients available to the chefs.
Built on the bones of an old, offshore pirate radio platform; this towering sea rig is a restaurant not to be missed.
Tunes Bar - Conservatorium
The Conservatorium offers luxurious Italian style and the best lobby-lounge in town. The hotel is infused into a 19th-century bank building, right in between Museumplein and Amsterdam’s chicest fashion street. Inside the hotel, you’ll find 'Tunes Bar'. Rated highly for bespoke drinks and quality customer experience.
Exuding glamour of long lost times, Pulitzer's bar evokes the roaring 20s. Their Great Gatsby themed cocktail menu is not to be missed.
Where to stay in Amsterdam:
A design studio offering one astonishing apartment for hire. Book this one way in advance.
INK Hotel Amsterdam MGallery by Sofitel
Situated within the former headquarters of Dutch newspaper “De Tijd”, the aptly named INK is a bohemian lifestyle hotel that plays on its pressroom past.
With a history stretching back over 2000 years, Budapest is famed for its architecture, thermal springs and culture. A city of two halves, Buda occupies the hills and Pest lies on the flat plains close to the mighty Danube river.
What to do in Budapest:
Gellért Baths & Spa
Skip the more popular Szechenyi baths and head to this ornate indoor bath and spa house instead.
Ride the Funicular up to Castle Hill
Travel on the historic cable car, in service since 1870, up to Castle Hill to explore a district brimming with grand architecture and historic buildings such as Buda Castle. It’s also one of the best spots to take in the picturesque view of the entire city.
Enjoy views of the Fisherman’s Bastion; a beautiful example of neo-Classical and neo-Romanesque architecture and experience the infamous Jewish memorial, ‘Shoes on the Danube Bank’.
Where to Eat & Drink in Budapest:
Pop into Kiosk for a light lunch of Hungarian classics or order a delicious cake to go.
An Instagram-friendly café with a penchant for good coffee.
Budapest is renowned for its ruin-bar nightlife phenomena, we’re talking about dilapidated buildings that have been transformed into some of the best watering holes in the city. Each ‘ruin bar’ has its own distinct style and Mazel Tov is a real stand out for us. This bar offers a vast drinks menu and delicious Israeli-style food all set within a bright, beautiful courtyard.
An intimate, fine dining restaurant in the heart of the city that seamlessly fuses Hungarian and Asian cuisine.
New York Café
Named one of the most beautiful cafes in the world, this restaurant offers exciting food and drink in an overtly ornate setting.
Where to stay in Budapest:
Casati Budapest Hotel
Contemporary art and design combine together within Casati. We recommend the ‘Natural’ room for a relaxing city stay.
An eclectic mix of furniture and accessories gives the rooms here a homely feel.
Take advantage of the long summer days to explore Norway’s capital, Oslo. This green city (it’s just won European Green Capital 2019) has some wonderful Nordic cuisine and fantastic Scandinavian design.
What to do in Oslo:
Oslo Opera House
Take a moment to wander around the grounds of Oslo Opera House and enjoy some breath-taking architecture.
Soerenga Public Pool
The place to go to dip your toes on a hot day.
The Viking Ship Museum
They may be old but the artefacts here have been beautifully preserved and presented.
Roam around this incredible space and experience history, nature and art. The sculpture park is home to seminal works by Dalí, Rodin, and Holzer, to name a few.
The Vigeland Sculpture Park
The unique sculpture park is Gustav Vigeland's lifework with more than 200 sculptures in bronze, granite and wrought iron.
A recent addition to Oslo’s boroughs. The area boasts diverse architecture, another sculpture park and a city beach.
Where to Eat & Drink in Oslo:
Awarded three Michelin stars, this restaurant serves a playful tasting menu with a carefully paired drinks menu, which succeeds in adding an extra dimension to the food.
Mathallen Food Hall
Try all kinds of dishes in this covered food hall, inspired by the great European food courts.
Asian street food fuses with new Nordic cuisine at this intimate restaurant.
The menu here is decided on a daily basis, depending on the seasonal local ingredients available and the prices at the farmers' markets. The dedication to seasonality and quality of food earned Restaurant Kontrast a Michelin star.
Where to stay in Oslo:
Just outside the city centre is this traditional Norwegian building with modern rooms and food.
The Thief Hotel
A design hotel with its own spa and original art by Warhol, Anthony Gormley and Julian Opie.
Strike a balance in colourful Reykjavik; spend your days exploring some of the world’s most breath-taking landscapes, before settling in for the evening at one of its many contemporary restaurants for a gastronomic delight.
What to do in Reykjavik:
Soothe aching limbs in this world famous, natural spa.
There aren’t many opportunities in life to see whales in the wild. Reykjavik offers many tours for seekers of these underwater giants.
Take in Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir and Strokkur with a day tour.
Imagine Peace Tower
A memorial to John Lennon from his widow, Yoko Ono. Located on Viðey Island in Kollafjörður Bay near Reykjavík. The tower is lit between Johns Birthday and the anniversary of his death (October 9th – December 8th).
The lucky folk who catch the Northern Lights usually see them from October to March - this is classed as the official Aurora season – and Head to Grotta Lighthouse, just 5 minutes away from Reykjavik centre, for the best views.
Harpa Concert Hall
The Harpa is an impressive piece of architecture that glows gold at night.
Explore the Hallgrímskirkja
Standing at 74.5 meters high, the Hallgrimskirkja is the largest church in Iceland and visible throughout the entire city.
Where to Eat & Drink in Reykjavik:
Great if you’re looking to sample some delicious new Nordic cuisine.
Út í bláinn
Set under the beautiful domed glass roof of the Perlan building, this restaurant offers the best in classic European cuisine.
Matur og Drykkur
For those with a hankering for traditional Icelandic fare, this is the place.
Braud & Co
A great quick stop for coffee and a cinnamon bun.
Where to stay in Reykjavik:
Crisp, monochrome rooms are offset by the vibrant Icelandic art in the 101 Hotel gallery.
Canopy by Hilton Reykjavik City Centre
Six houses inter-connect to form the Canopy, a hotel brimming with charm and character.
Tower Suites Reykjavik
Offering the highest viewpoint in Reykjavik, you’ll want to spend all day marvelling at the fantastic panoramic views across the city from your room.
As one of the smallest capitals in Europe, it’s the perfect destination for a weekend escape. Wander old cobbled streets or take in the clear blue Mediterranean Sea whilst enjoying a cup of coffee. This year it’s been named European Capital of Culture.
What to do in Valletta:
Grand Masters Palace
See historic Malta at its grandest. Currently housing the office of the President of Malta, it was originally built in the 16th century as a Palace for the Grand Master of the Order of St. John, the ruler of Malta.
Take a water taxi over to Malta’s popular three fortified cities and spend the day exploring.
La Valletta City Gate
Designed by architectural practice Renzo Piano Building Workshop. The entrance to the city of Valletta is flanked by large modern stone structures, controversially distinctive from the predominantly Mannerist and Baroque style of the rest of the city.
Upper Barrakka Gardens
Expect breath-taking, panoramic views from here, it’s the highest point in the city. Look down upon the Grand Harbour, the vast Mediterranean and the Three Cities.
See the St Elmo Breakwater Bridge
The bridge spans from the breakwater to the tip of the peninsula of St. Elmo Fort. During World War II it was destroyed by an Italian MT boat, collapsing into the sea. Only in 2012 was it restored with steel mirroring the original style closely.
Where to Eat & Drink in Valletta:
Located within the Casa Ellul Hotel, Risette Restaurant offers informal fine dining with deep attention to detail. Risette is set under the iconic Lady of Mount Carmel Church; a perfect destination for an after dinner stroll.
Located in a renovated Victorian ere structure, this vibrant food hall offers a multitude of local culinary delights to eat in situ or prepare at home.
A dark and mysterious cocktail bar, offering unusual flavour blends which are as modern as the building is historic.
Fifty Nine Republic
A vibrant and creative menu is on offer at Fifty Nine Republic. Using the best in seasonal produce means the menu changes every eight weeks and every dish is a work of art.
The chefs at Noni reinterpret classic Maltese dishes with a traditional French twist, however, the dishes are anything but old-school.
Where to stay in Valletta:
A modern interior is masked within this traditionally Maltese building, located on St. Ursula steps.
Cugó Gran Macina Grand Harbour
A luxury design hotel set against the backdrop of the water. High ceilings, natural light and a rooftop pool. Heaven.
A collection self-sufficient apartments located throughout the city. Each apartment room is decorated with vintage design pieces and original features such as beautiful floor tiles and exposed plaster.
A light-filled Victorian palazzo with modern style. There are many luxury boutique hotels in Valletta but the Casa Ellul tops all with exclusive, personalised service and exclusive amenities.
Valletta image credits: La Valletta City Gate, St Elmo Breakwater Bridge, Valletta Vintage.