The longer I am away, the more I realise how amazing Europe is. The history and food are the main culprits obviously. But for me, it is also the reverence of history. One thing that has struck me about living in Seoul is how quick they are to tear things down to build something new. That’s why Asian cities are so modern and glitzy.
As much as I love the skyscrapers, I miss being surrounded by buildings that are older than me. To put it in perspective, a student told me everyone thinks her school has ghosts because it is such an old building. When was it built? During the 1970s. When I told her my last house in the UK was almost 2 centuries old she was shocked!
My favourite thing about Europe is the variety. You can drive for 24 hours and see several different architectural styles and cultures. And then there’s the food! I could spend a lifetime sampling everything each European city has to offer.
I have visited Lisbon twice and am still not tired of it. I would go so far as to say it is my favourite European city. It’s relatively small and unassuming, but rich in culture and history.
They city itself is multifaceted. There is the older area of Bairro Alto, the beaches of Cascais and the modern areas dotted around. This means there’s something for everyone in Lisbon.
Destroyed by an earthquake in 1755, it was rebuilt according to a predesigned plan, something rare for a European city. Therefore, it seems to radiate from the sea and the square. The only area unaffected by the fire was Bairro Alto, which remains the historic heart of the city. This is where you can explore winding lanes and listen to Portuguese traditional music, Fado.
Ile de Ré
This is the place of childhood dreams. My family and I frequently took summer holidays to France, as it was both cheap and we felt a natural affinity. We tended to visit the north as it was more convenient, usually Brittany or Normandy. As we got older, long car drives were less of a deterrent so we chose to go a little further afield to Ile de Ré.
Situated of the coast near La Rochelle, it is impossibly beautiful. With only one road running through the centre, it is mostly accessed by the numerous cycle paths. It survives mostly on tourism, with numerous cafes, shops and restaurants.
The main appeal for me was the silences and adorable towns. I hate driving and love anywhere that is geared toward walking and cycling. The beaches are divine and unspoiled. Most of the time, I had the beach to myself. With several actors owning property here, it is not particularly budget-friendly. A beautiful place to visit if you are looking for a low-key French European holiday.
I am woefully ignorant when it comes to Scandinavia. Until 2015, I hadn’t been to any northern European countries. When Ryan Air offered flights for £15 to Copenhagen, it seemed the perfect time to lose my Scandinavian virginity.
We had heard about the astronomical costs of visiting Copenhagen, but was pleasantly surprised. Yes, it was more expensive than some other capitals, but it was comparable to London.
Copenhagen quickly became one of my favourite cities in Europe. With beautiful architecture, fantastic food, and with so many bikes, what was there not to love. A relatively small city, Copenhagen is easy to explore on a short break. We visited for 4 days and felt that we saw a good amount. For anyone who loves design, visiting Copenhagen is a must.
Back in 2009 I visited Dublin, Ireland while I was still studying at university. I instantly fell in love with the city. At the time I was choosing where to apply to study for my Masters at the time, so took some time out to explore the Trinity College campus. Like Oxford and Cambridge, it is a gorgeous university, with many old and beautiful buildings. I applied to study there, and was shocked when I was expected. Sadly, I was unable to go due to the European and UK student loan’s system, and ended up studying at the University of Manchester.
Despite this bittersweet memory, I still think fondly on this trip and on the city. The architecture was interesting, with both modern and traditional. The people are also friendly, much more so than London. As a student of literature, I really enjoyed the James Joyce connection and landmarks, having read (most) of Ulysses that year. I particularly enjoyed the James Joyce Museum, although my family disagreed!
Travelling with my family, there were no crazy nights in Temple Bar. We did go during the day for an obligatory pint of Guinness. I liked the atmosphere and am trying to revisit now I’m older and with slightly different company!
Lots of people say Dublin lack charm of other cities in Europe as some areas are rundown. Yes, it isn’t the most polished city in the world but I find this goes in its favour, especially when you consider the city’s history.
When you think of Europe, it’s hard not to think of London. It’s a beautiful city seeped in history and innovation. The food on offer is incredible, the pubs plentiful, and the culture is never-ending.
I attended Goldsmiths College and worked in London Bridge. I therefore spent most of time in South-East London, a less explored area. The South-East is a culturally-diverse area, a fantastic place to explore if you have time.
The beauty of London for me is how the feel and landscape of the city changes between neighbouring boroughs. New Malvern is Koreatown, Soho has Chinatown, and there is a large Caribbean community in New Cross. If you have time, walking across the city is a great way to explore and truly get to know the feeling of London.
My favourite places in London are Borough Market, Soho, Southbank, and Richmond. I particularly like the sheer amount of culture on offer in London. With the majority of museums and galleries of free, it can be great place to enjoy on a budget. The West End is one of the best places for theatre, with so many great shows and plays always on offer.
I love London. Yes, it can be expensive, but it can also be great on a budget. I miss it so much, I am planning to move back next year.
I could sit here and talk about European places for hours. Realistically, could write a list of 100 places to visit. Perhaps I will, but this will do for now!
Where are your favourite places to visit in Europe?