In a recent survey conducted by Travel+Leisure, travelers had a chance to weigh in on their favorite destinations around the globe. Among the European cities that made that list, the following five drew top praise for their hospitality and helpfulness. To get the most from a weekend jaunt to one of the world’s friendliest urban centers, plan a trip to one of these European cities.
#5: Krakow, Poland
One of Poland’s oldest cities, Krakow occupies a picturesque location at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains, its historical town center hugging the left bank of the Vistula River. Home to over a million people and 18 distinct boroughs, the city remains a major hub of culture, education, and commerce. Visit Oscar Schindler’s Factory for an up-close look at the city’s World War II history, and tour Wawel Cathedral to see the former site of royal coronations. Krakow also boasts a thriving restaurant scene that makes it a growing favorite with globe-trotting foodies.
Browse through this detailed Krakow itinerary to find out more sightseeing ideas available in and around this World Heritage-listed city.
#4: Edinburgh, Scotland
Often called the “Athens of the North,” World Heritage-listed Edinburgh combines ancient and modern in a quintessentially Scottish atmosphere. Medieval palaces stand right next to ultra-modern buildings in this urban center, considered one of the most livable cities in the UK. Start your tour at the eye-catching Edinburgh Castle, a major monument of Scottish heritage dominating the city’s skyline. The seat of Scottish royalty until the 17th century, the castle now holds the Scottish crown jewels and houses three museums. From there, head to Scottish National Gallery, home to masterpieces by Goya, Monet, Raphael, and Vermeer.
#3: Dublin, Ireland
A diverse destination suitable for any travel itinerary, Dublin boasts thousands of years of history, vibrant nightlife, and a blend of old and new building styles that make it one of Europe’s architectural gems. Founded as a Viking settlement, today this urban center is home to nearly 2 million people, yet its central area remains compact enough for easy exploration on foot or by bicycle. The best place to soak up some friendly local atmosphere is the traditional pub, a staple of Dublin’s social life. If you’re looking for a more refined sightseeing experience, head to Trinity College, home to the lavishly decorated “Book of Kells.”
#2: Cork, Ireland
Aware of their city’s role as a major artistic and cultural center, locals often define Cork as the “real capital of Ireland.” Easy to navigate and get to know, Cork boasts a walkable town center on an island formed by river channels. This central area serves as the region’s main shopping and dining destination, drawing foodies and shopaholics from around Europe. A dynamic city with a modern outlook, Cork enjoys an active nightlife scene of trendy bars and restaurants, though the traditional pub remains an Irish institution and a major city attraction. Once you have your fill of modern tourist sites, head to Cork City Gaol, where you can experience what it was like to live in a 19th-century prison.
#1: Galway, Ireland
A great base for visitors touring Ireland’s western portion, Galway is a city of art and culture, world-famous for its vibrant lifestyle and annual festivals. Hugely appealing to bohemian crowds from around the globe, the city’s pubs offer live music and provide an ideal setting for observing street performers and ordinary locals going about their business. Proud of its rich heritage, Galway remains one of the few areas in Ireland where you can hear Irish in everyday use. Galway Cathedral provides an ideal starting point for your tour. The building sits on the grounds of a former prison and features a Renaissance-style dome, a major feature on Galway’s skyline.
Europe’s Friendliest Friendly Cities
With so many European cities filled with major tourist attractions, picking the ideal destination for a long weekend can seem daunting, to say the least. Rest assured, however, that if you plan a trip to one of Europe’s friendliest cities, you’ll be treated to an amiable atmosphere and easy access to top museums, shops, restaurants, and historical sites.