Many of you will know that I absolutely love city breaks. I always make sure I choose destinations that I can get to by rail or sea. In the past I have flown to so many places but now I make an effort not to fly as planes have been shown to directly pollute the upper atmosphere. So the Eurostar has become my preferred way of getting into Europe.
In the last ten years I have enjoyed some wonderful holidays. My idea of a good holiday involves great food, a little bit of culture and plenty of sightseeing (often involving a castle).
In this article I want to share the best European cities that I have visited so far. I am lucky enough to have been to Spain, Italy, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, France and Denmark. Out of those countries, here are my favourite cities to visit by train.
As soon as I arrived in Zurich, I was taken aback by the enormity of its grand train station, which was packed with shops and exhibitions.
Zurich was a brilliant place to visit and I was happy to watch a show at the Opera House, take a boat across the immense Lake Zurich and enjoy the bustling centre.
Much like Luxembourg City, it is easy to get a train from Zurich to surrounding places of beauty. I particularly loved a day out where I went up a nearly vertical rail track (Stoosbahn funicular) and had an incredible feast up a mountain.
Influenced by Switzerland, I am now always looking for places to eat cheese fondu since trying it in the city of Zurich. I first saw this tempting fondu restaurant on Travel Man which you can check out for yourself on Youtube.
I have been to glorious Paris several times over the past twenty years. It feels like a home from home. The added bonus is that Disneyland Europe is nearby but even without this, Paris has plenty to keep me coming back for more.
Known for its fashion and food, Paris thrives on its history and grand architecture such as the Arch de Triomphe and the Louvre. Walking up to the first floor of the Eiffel Tower and then taking a lift to the top was an amazing experience which I will always remember happily.
Only one thing stops Paris being my Number 1
As much as I love the museums, the exquisite cuisine and the general vibe, one thing lets me down. Everywhere you go there are smoking rooms. Usually they are attached to the outside of cafes and restaurants so you have to walk through them to get into eateries. Often I have to eat in one of these rooms if a venue is busy and I hate the smell of smoke.
My recent trip to Antwerp was so much fun. I had picked Antwerp as a getaway destination based on some Pinterest pictures that I had seen. It turned out to be a great choice.
Antwerp was the most festive city I have been to and felt so safe and welcoming. It was also really affordable compared to many of the other places I have stayed.
There will be a more detailed blogpost about Antwerp which I will link here in future.
Luxembourg was just a two hour train trip from Paris. The train had two floors and was really comfortable. Although it is a small nation, Luxembourg has a lot to offer. There is plenty of history there and public transport is now free.
When I visited there in 2019 there was still a small fee to use trains and I popped on one to go and see some beautiful villages and a couple of historic castles.
The city was not too busy but still had a buzz about it. Everything was relatively close together and, due to it being one of the main EU administration places, there were lots of places to be entertained, such as the Luxembourg Philharmonie, where we enjoyed a magical concert.
Since being a kid, I always longed to visit the set of The Sound of Music. So when I got the chance to stay there I took the guided tour of locations. I also fell in love with this beautiful city, surrounded by imposing mountains.
A wide river splits the old and new halves of Salzburg. As a bonus, when I went it happened to be the Salzburg Festival and lots of classical music events and theatre plays were being put on.
Full of beauty
I developed an unexpected fondness for sauerkraut while I was there and had a great time exploring the houses of Mozart. Salzburg was breath-taking, full of nods to Austrian tradition and home to plenty of tasty baked goods.
I previously reflected on my favourite trip in 5 Reasons To Visit Salzburg if you want to know more about this wonderful city.
I hope that you have found one of these cities interesting. It was hard to pick five of my favourites but all of these are destinations that I definitely want to visit again.
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