20 European Cities to Explore this Spring
Spring is in the air and it’s a great time to go travelling, especially as temperatures rise and before the busy summer period kicks in. Whether you’re looking for a sun-soaked city experience to indulge in or a culture-filled walking holiday, the diverse list below is sure to inspire you as to which European city to visit next.
Spring is the perfect time to explore Amsterdam’s fairytale streets. Get cultured by taking in some contemporary art at the Stedelijk, enjoy a windmill tour by bicycle in Zaanse Schans, then treat yourself to lunch in De Kas, a chic garden conservatory that uses organic ingredients grown on site.
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Explore the eclectic Le Marais district by grabbing a takeaway coffee from one of its many exquisite coffee shops such as Ob-La-Di. From there, you can enjoy a variety of attractions, from the Museum de Picasso to the celebrated department store Merci (an old wallpaper factory brought to life and reimagined).
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In addition to the more obvious sights in Berlin featured on our 10 European Breaks to Consider for All the Family, Berlin has lesser-known features that are worth seeking out when in the city. One of Berlin’s most charming features is its handful of Photoautomats, old-school black-and-white photo booths scattered across the city. Use this map to find as many as you can, discover the city and collect some souvenirs on your way! Don’t forget to stop for some cheesecake from Five Elephant on your way and check out the German Museum for Technology to gain a little education on science and technology, old and new!
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When in Edinburgh during the weekend, Stockbridge Market (on a Sunday) has an impressive selection of stalls from local craftsmen and gourmet food makers. For a family-friendly stroll, head to Portobello Beach and don’t forget to bring your bucket and spade! Alternatively, go underground to The Real Mary King’s Close, which comprises a tour of the city’s hidden streets, frozen in time since the 17th Century.
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For a spring day with a difference in Dublin, take the train out to Bray and embark on the Bray to Greystones cliff walk, a 5km coastal path that will treat you to stunning views and marine wildlife. For more scenery, Ireland’s tallest round tower, O’Connell Tower, has re-opened for the first time in nearly 50 years and boasts 360-degree views of the city.
You’ll be spoilt for choice in this capital city this springtime! Enjoy some cool cocktails on the roof terrace of the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch. From there, you can explore Brick Lane Market, whose stalls line the streets with vintage furniture, unique clothing and bric-a-brac. If you’re feeling brave, you can take an al fresco dip in one of London’s outdoor swimming pools, many of which have been open since the early 20th Century. Failing that, stay dry and enjoy an exhibition at the iconic V&A Museum!
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Amongst the rustic shopfronts and narrow laneways of Barcelona’s Grácia district is Park Güell, composed of gorgeous gardens and architecture designed by Gaudi. Enjoy one of the many cafés and restaurants based in El Born, a neighbourhood 10 minutes from the beach. You could end your day at El Xampanyet, one of the best tapas bars in the city!
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Soak in the city views and spring air with a ride on the Wiener Riesenrad giant ferris wheel, a delightful relic from the Victorian era and only 10 minutes away from the Vienna Chocolate Museum. Foodies can continue their Viennese adventure at Gasthaus Pöschl, a simple restaurant serving traditional fare, spearheaded by local celebrity actor Hanno Pöschl. Half an hour away is the Augarten, Vienna’s oldest Baroque park, and the location for an open-air cinema in warmer months.
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If you enjoy a cheese toastie, check out Northern Soul, who serves inventive variations on the traditional sandwich. Head to the Northern Quarter to find local independent businesses, coffee shops and bars, as well as a variety of eye-catching street art.
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The best clothing and hand-made jewellery in Rome can be found at the Mercato Monti, a vintage market near the beautiful Piazza della Madonna dei Monti, the perfect spot to enjoy a cool beverage in the spring sunshine. Less than half an hour away is the Centrale Montemartini, an ancient marble sculpture museum located in Rome’s first power plant. Head to the district of Pigneto meanwhile for some modern Mediterranean pasta in the sixties-themed Necci dal 1924 restaurant.
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Visit the Sunflower Public House, recognisable by the security cage on its front door, erected during The Troubles. It serves local craft beer, traditional music and there’s even a pizza oven outside! Botanic Gardens are home to a Tropical Ravine, the Ulster Museum and some beautiful plant life. If you’re hungry, the Woodworkers has an impressive selection of gastropub grub, everything from chicken wings to vegan Shepherds Pie!
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Tucked away under the Spanish Arch, a 16th-Century Galwegian landmark (partially destroyed by a tsunami!) is Ard Bia at Nimmos. It’s a quirkily decorated restaurant serving creative Irish dishes with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influences. Some of the best coffee in the city can be found in Coffeewerk + Press. And for live music, look no further than the Roisin Dubh, a music, comedy and late bar that hosts a variety of musicians, both local and touring.
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In the words of Roy Keane, “It’s always Cork first and Ireland second”. One of the city’s most beautiful buildings is the Lewis Glucksman Gallery, a concrete-and-glass masterpiece that showcases free art exhibitions. On weekends, Mother Jones Flea Market offers vintage trinkets, a coffee shop and live local music. If you’re feeling hungry, Greene’s Restaurant serves the best local produce in a converted 18th-Century warehouse.
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Sao Jorge Castle has, indisputably, the best view of Lisbon. It’s also surrounded by Alfama, one of the city’s oldest districts filled with cobbled streets and ramshackle houses. Lisbon is full of miradouros (viewing points), and one of the best is in Santa Catarina. Don’t forget to grab a cocktail from the nearby Noobai Café. Lisbon’s Oceanarium is a must-see, located in the Parque das Nações. Visit Casa Pasteis de Belem, a bakery that claims to have made the first ‘pastel de nata’, for a typical Portuguese custard pastry.
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Head to Osteria Al Merca for one of the city’s best aperitivos – treat yourself to a refreshing Aperol Spritz and some cicchetti (small snacks). Quadri directly overlooks St Mark’s Square. Moodily lit with chandeliers, it’s the perfect place to enjoy some fresh pasta. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection will introduce you to the city’s treasure trove of modern art, and you can visit Murano to explore the 700-year-old birthplace of glassblowing.
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Riegrovy Sady is one of the city’s major beer gardens in the centre of the park. It’s a great place to spend a sunny afternoon drinking Czech lager and indulging in classic Czech foods, such as a very indulgent marinated Camembert cheese! Petrin Hill and its observation tower offers idyllic views of Prague, surrounded by gorgeous orchards and close to Prague Castle.
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Bristol is both elegant and quirky and is the perfect place to explore in spring in all of its green glory! Bristol native Banksy started his street art career here in the nineties, with many pieces still available to see on Gloucester Road and beyond.
Check out the area of Clifton, where you’ll find rows of pretty cobble-stoned streets, as well as a great choice of cafes, bars and restaurants.
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Beautiful and relaxing thermal spas are a must when visiting Budapest in the spring. When you are refreshed and revitalised, embrace the unique nightlife where bars and restaurants are often built in ruined buildings.
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Grote Market is one of the most beautiful places in Bruges with picture-perfect coloured buildings. You are sure to get lost in this fairytale city filled with cobbled streets and canals but make sure to stop off for a Belgian beer on your travels.
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The Djurgården is a must-visit in the spring for a picnic or a bike ride through the forest trails. Make sure to take a sightseeing boat tour as this is the best way to view the beauty of the city.
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