Favorite European City

I have so enjoyed the "regrets" thread I thought we'd go in the other direction.

What is your favorite city AND your favorite thing to do there?

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

The wording of the question implies that we can only mention cities with bawdy houses.
Is that the intent?

Posted by steven
white plains, ny, usa
1472 posts

What do you mean " sometimes " ? How can you ask that ? It's like asking " which one of your children is your favorite " ?

Posted by Teresa
653 posts

My favorite city is London, and my favorite thing to do there is spend an hour (and pounds) in Hatchards.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
7354 posts

Quoting Audrey Hepburn's Anya: "Rome..."

Favorite thing to do there: breathe.

Posted by Val
Long Beach, USA
246 posts

I'm with Zoe...I fell in love with Rome. Walking around the city early morning or late at night and seeing or noticing how buildings and the city is different...Hope to go back one day.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
5691 posts

Frankfurt, cause I never run out of new and interesting things to see here and I simply love the city. Favorite thing to do here is to visit the open markets. I enjoy the sight and aroma of all the produce, I like to eat here and I get a kick out of the guys yelling about their bargains at the end of the day. The whole atmosphere appeals to all of my senses.

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
6564 posts

Paris. Walk. . . . anywhere, any time

After that, London and theatre.

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
3399 posts

Munich in 1970. Visiting all the Munich beer halls was my favorite past time while going to summer school @ the University of Innsbruck.

Posted by Nicole P
Truro, NS, Canada
1754 posts

Venice Venice Venice. Been there all 3 trips over. Love it. And my fav thing to do - just wander. At night, early in the morning, the back alleys, the crowded alleys, Burano, Murano, enjoy the total lack of cars (but not the total lack of tourists and cruise ships).

Posted by Thomas
Vienna, Austria
517 posts

This is impossible. Vienna... I love living here. I live in a wine village at the edge of town and on the weekends I'm in the country. During the week I'm in the old city. Just marvelous. Paris... Love the feel of the place. Love walking and eating and murdering the French language and going to Jazz Clubs. Rome... Love all things ancient Roman and I like the chaotic feel of the place. Naples... totally under-rated. Old town feels dangerous but is not. Friendly locals and great food and the light on the water is memorable. London... West End theater, pub crawling. Highgate cemetery on halloween. Frankfurt... Friends there and it is also under-rated. Berlin ...Fell in love there on a warm summer's evening. Nice... Just an hour flight from Vienna and an easy bus takes you right into the old town. Relaxing on rented beach chairs for a weekend. Venice... C'mon! It's the most beautiful city in the world, bar none. Love going to the seafood market at first light. Hanging out at an Eonoteca by the water all afternoon. Oh, hang it! It is impossible to pick one or stop at ten!

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
11072 posts

Tie between Hamburg and Oslo.

Favorite thing to do in Oslo- relax in Frogner Park on a warm day, and watch our dog play with the other friendly pooches.

Favorite thing to do in Hamburg- soak it in. And based on Ed's comments, no, the Reeperbahn is not my kind of thing.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
5072 posts


They'll always be Berlin and Paris. Ever since my arrival in (West) Berlin as a backpacker student tourist in 1971, Berlin, „die dufte Stadt" is it; since the end of the Wall both east and west parts, for a host of plainly obvious reasons.

The same with Paris two years later. Now, after a 10-11 hr flight from SFO, just getting there, going through Immigration, waiting for and picking up the luggage (admittedly not one of CDG's finer features, but still...), crossing that "bridge" at the Sheraton, you know you're there...a real uplifting feeling.

Next Vienna and London after the top two.

Posted by Toni
Charlotte, NC, USA
3135 posts

Impossible to single out just one....
London- live and enjoy the history, and the theatre, and .... everything
Salzburg- wander the market
Inverness- enjoy the totality of Scottishness, and the whisky
Edinburgh- enjoy the history
Oslo- enjoy the light (it is like no other)
Vienna- absorb the atmosphere and remember it for being my 'first'

If I HAD to just pick one, it would be London.

Posted by BG
SF Bay Area, USA
1646 posts

Of the cities I have been to, my Favorite is Paris. My favorite thing is just to walk around and enjoy the beauty and culture, and hang out in a wonderful cafe. And shop!
Second close favorite is Venice, uniquely beautiful. Favorite thing is night gondola cruise through the side canals, and outdoor dining on a canal.

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
3553 posts

My favorite thing to do in any city/village/town that I visit is to simply wander around, taking photos, visiting markets, and hanging out in cafes.... Favorites in no particular order...Budapest, Krakow, Paris, Istanbul, Copenhagen, Nice, Munich.... I am thinking big cities...now if you ask smaller towns or villages I would have tons...those are my favorite places. Other than my first trip to Europe, the absolute best experience (as a whole) was a week in Venice during Carnavale. It was magic... traveling with 3 other photographers we were up at sunrise every morning and it was part of Venice that I had never experienced before (4 previous trips) The weather was misty, foggy, moody and the light was so blue in the morning... hard to describe...the masks, costumes, and the whole scene was mystical and dreamlike.

Posted by Morgan
Spokane, WA, USA
44 posts

Venice, early in the morning, late at night, wandering off the beaten path.

Posted by Ilja
2732 posts

James, I am going to give you hint: It's the capital of European country, it's divided by the second longest river in Europe, it has the second oldest subway in the world. OK, that's it, I don't want to make it too easy for you.

Posted by Andrea
Peterborough, Ontario, Canada
674 posts

Certainly Vienna. I can't get enough of it. Other favourites that come to mind are Barcelona, Venice, Rome, and Liverpool (for particular reasons).

I would consider adding Krakow to that list but its going on ten years since we were there. Its hard to look that far back and judge it against more recent experiences.

And I know you said "European" but just have to make a plug for Hong Kong.

Posted by James E.
4485 posts


Paris is my favorite city!!!! Thank you Ilja!!!!
Wait, that's not it. ..... I am so confused.........................

Posted by Roy
East Alabama
1062 posts

The question would not be necessary if the Rick Steves site took a cue from TripAdvisor and asked that question on our profile pages. I have about a dozen favorites and probably another dozen that could make the list if I can get around to them while still able to travel. Oh no! I cannot believe I got pulled into another of these meaningless discussions.

Posted by KevinK
Suburban Indianapolis
64 posts

My favorite city is the one I've yet to explore!

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
6030 posts

Paris! There is something about it that keeps drawing me back. I love to wander around and just soak in being there.

Posted by Carroll
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
1607 posts

Edinburgh is my favorite -- love walking anywhere and everywhere. Stockholm is a close second -- either walking around in Gamla Stan or sailing around the islands is great. Paris would probably be #3 -- walking and eating would keep me happy there!

Posted by Susan
Marin County/San Francisco
4034 posts

Paris, Paris, Paris.
Spending the day in the Luxembourg Gardens. Walking around Ile St. Louis, Ile de la Cite and along the river to the Grand Palais then back along the river to Notre Dame. Sitting outside at my favorite cafe on Ile St. Louis.

Posted by James E.
4485 posts

Susan, you struck a note. If you add to the Ile St. Louis & the Ile de la Cite the walk across the bridge to le Marias and the old Jewish neighborhood then you describe what is unquestionably my second favorite place in Europe; and its a very close second

Posted by James E.
4485 posts

To my own surprise I enjoy Paris. And for me at least there are some similarities in atmosphere between le Marias and my favorite neighborhoods in my favorite city. Paris and my favorite city even share the stunning evening lights as seen from the river. I do believe that the people are warmer in my favorite city; but as long as I speak Spanish the French can be accepting as well.

Posted by Ilja
2732 posts

I know, James, why you like Paris. Because Paris is sometimes called Budapest of the west. Oh jeez, I think I got it the other way!

Posted by Nestor
116 posts

Salzburg. Been there 3 times and always enjoyed the place and the people. (Berlin comes second)

Posted by Susan
Marin County/San Francisco
4034 posts

James, well then, Paris has the best of both for you! The Marais is wonderful... : )

Posted by James E.
4485 posts

My favorite is not necessarily my reccomendation. I think most everyone should see Paris, Rome and London before they go any place else. What they learn and enjoy in those three will help direct future trips.

Posted by Marilyn
Monterey Bay
17 posts

Paris - no matter how long I have been away it will always be home...just walking the Seine and people watching

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
8186 posts

There's a lot of places I love but if I have to pick a number one, it's Venice. The place is magic especially when it's not crowded.

I like to walk around at night when it's quiet.

Posted by Alexandra
Houston, TX
57 posts

I had a life changing experience while in Prague, so it's way up there on my list. Eric mentioned Dingle, which which is so fun and lively in the midst of such beautiful landscape. But so far it has to be ... Paris! Nothing compares to the magic of walking along the Seine.

That said, I am prepared to change my mind after visiting Venice, Lake Como, Cinque Terre, Tuscany and Rome this June.

Posted by steve
troy, ny
501 posts

I would say Alicante, Spain as that was my most recent trip and had a blast there with a buddy of mine. Paris will probably top that as I have been there twice (last time 16 years ago) but am returning in September.
I too will put in a plug for a non European city: Jerusalem! Absolutely no place like it on earth..will never tire of it!!!!!!!

Posted by Christine
Claremont, NH, USA
26 posts

Paris--sit at a sidewalk cafe with a glass of vin blanc and watch the world pass by...............

Posted by Bev
Decorah, Iowa, USA
307 posts

Paris, Paris, Paris, Paris, and then there is Paris.

What do I like doing there...walk in the parks, walk along the Seine, enjoy the architecture and of course, EAT!

After Paris, my favorite city is any city or small town in France!

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
5072 posts

As the lyric goes: "the last time I saw Paris...."

Posted by ckpatchett
28 posts

Salzburg for Christmas. Sorrento for sitting on the hotel terrace just gazing at Vesuvius. Edinburgh for walking.

Rome for ruins. Dublin for pub crawls. London for theatre.Munich for the lions. Vienna for the majestic architecture. Venice for the orchestras. Florence for art and friends. Halstatt for peace and tranquility. Castellina in Chianti just because. Paris for Paris.

Posted by David
Sacramento, CA, USA
389 posts
  1. London,
  2. Rome,
  3. London,
  4. Rome,
  5. London.

National Gallery, British Library, British Museum, Kenwood House, Vatican Museum (the side hallways where tourists never go), Borghese, the 4 Museums of Rome (owned by the city), the Spanish Steps on a warm evening..., any building with a Carrivago in situ.

Going to start spending more time in Florence over the next few years...it might have a shot at making my top 5 list.

Posted by Anna
Seattle, WA, United States
761 posts

Berlin, absolutely. I can't wait to go back (though we'll see if that changes once I visit London).

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
6564 posts

David, there's not much Caravaggio in Florence, but there is a wealth of Michelangelo. Have you been to Malta? Two of Caravaggio's best (and biggest) works.

Paris is still my favorite, but it's been fun reading this thread and remembering other great places and maybe even adding a couple new ones to my ever-growing list.

Posted by Amanda
Dreaming of Europe
47 posts

I have loved reading everyone's response to this topic.

For me, it's hard to decide on a favorite city, I always find a reason to love a new one and call it my favorite. I loved Florence for its history and gorgeous architecture, Bruges for its quaintness and how peaceful it is when the tourist have left, Sorrento for the views of Vesuvius, blue water and lemoncello, Paris because its Paris and Bern-Kastel for its vineyards and great food.

I'm sure it'll change once I've hit "submit".... yeah, it'll change

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
6030 posts

@ David -

That's because those are the only places you go!! Wait until you go to Paris this year and spend some time. You'll be hooked too. I hope so anyway!

Posted by Keith
United Kingdom
1063 posts

Andrea - David can speak for himself, but why do you think just because you liked Paris, that everyone else would? I agree with David about putting Rome in the top five; I am less sure about London (though that might be because I lived there for a few years - undoubtedly London is Europe's greatest city (the world's perhaps?), but once you live somewhere it does get a bit samey), and I wouldn't make either of them my top capital (that would be Lisbon). Despite many visits, I don't like Paris - entirely overrated.

Posted by James E.
4485 posts

Geeee people. This is a What is "YOUR" favorite city question which by definition of "YOUR" means you can not be wrong. I didn't think it was a competition?? If it were, my city would win............

Posted by Susan
Marin County/San Francisco
4034 posts

Keith, perhaps Andrea would know because she and David are good friends. They've been good friends for years.

Millions of people love Paris... and for very good reason.

I've lived in Paris for 6 years and I go back fairly often for 1-2 months or more at a time... Paris has never become "samey" for me. I, along with millions of others, love Paris. No problem if you don't.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
6030 posts

Keith & James - what Susan said. I was just teasing David. We are friends. We are both regulars of the Sacramento Travel Group and see each other every month. I know how much he loves London and Rome and he knows how much I love Paris. I know that everyone is entitled to like what they like.

Posted by James E.
4485 posts

Sorry, but we have a few around here who really do get serious about it. I'll loosen up. I do need to take into consideration that you are all wrong and have a little understanding for your limited point of view.

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
6564 posts

Good one, James. That woman is a good actress!

Guess I'll have to practice my French before my next trip to Hungry, maybe a side trip to Grease?

Posted by Susan
Marin County/San Francisco
4034 posts

"I do need to take into consideration that you are all wrong and have a little understanding for your limited point of view."


Posted by Diane
Westford, MA
103 posts

Pars: walking, the food, and just enjoying the city!
Berlin: walking in different neighborhoods, musuems, themed walking tours.

Posted by Ruth
271 posts

Venice, off season. There's nowhere else even remotely like it. I like to walk, get lost, get found, usually with a magic camera in my pocket.

Posted by Mike
Clawson, MI, USA
195 posts

My top city in Europe is Amsterdam. But, I also love Bruges, Florence, Rome, Paris, Brussels and Berlin in that order.
Amsterdam: Love to have a beer in the tiny bars and walk through the Jordaan taking photos.

Posted by Scott
Everett, WA, US
2 posts

New York ! About 25% of the population of Western Europe is there on vacation on any given day...

Posted by Janet
Lakewood, WA
103 posts

Well so far it is Rome.
I know is busy and crowded but it has so much history. I like I can walk around at night and be fine.
But that may change as time goes by.

Posted by Elaine
Mission Viejo, Calif., USA
916 posts

London, London, London. We have been there five times and have never gotten tired of it. I just love to walk the streets and take in the architecture. I love walking along the Thames, visiting the Cotswolds, visiting Parliament, riding on the canals, walking through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, taking the Tube and riding numerous trains, walking on the Tower Bridge, going on the London Eye, visiting St. Paul's Cathedral, seeing Big Ben, visiting Cambridge, enjoying the hop-on, hop-off buses, etc., etc. Having tea or eating at Harrod's.

Posted by Kristen
620 posts

Rome. Sit outside and drink a cup of coffee or glass of wine and people watch.

Posted by Allen
Lafayette, LA
210 posts

Rome...wandering around until the next cafe/snack bar or gelateria. And that doesn't take very long.

Posted by Julie
61 posts

Salzburg. The river, the scenery, the bicycle paths, and it's friendly. Wonderful!!

Posted by Bob
Manchester, CT, USA
122 posts

excerpt from the introduction to The Smiles of Rome - A Literary Companion for Readers and Travelers - edited by Susan Cahill): ...Rome has the power to blow your mind and heart, delivering man, woman, and child from small mindedness, bestowing a much larger capacity for the beauty of the world than you started out with....it's the accumulation of pasts in Rome and one's consciousness of those layers - in the city and in one's self - that can make Rome a life-changing experience. Once Rome enters your consciousness, your perspective on human time may change, deepen, mellow....the whole city seems to pulsate with hidden presences, a register of the human psyche and of 28 centuries of history striated by horror, by thrilling legends, and anonymous kindness...Getting to know Rome, we come home to ourselves...

Posted by Linda
Santa Rosa, CA, USA
336 posts

Paris was my favorite city before I starting traveling. So, when I planned my first trip to Europe, I really expected to be disappointed by Paris. I didn't think it couldn't possibly live up to my expectations. Instead, it took my breath away!

Posted by Maggie
Moose Jaw, SK, Canada
112 posts

I'm really not a big city kind of girl, but I LOVED Paris. I'd go back any day to wander the neighbourhoods and picnic on bread and cheese in the parks.

Posted by Brad
Greeley, CO, USA
353 posts

For all four of us, Prague. Especially my older son who is 16. The most important and the only place that left all of us completely speechless? The American Cemetery at Omaha Beach.

Posted by Al
West Islip, NY, USA
47 posts

Favorite city: Paris. Favorite thing to do: Linger over a meal or a drink in an outdoor cafe or bistro, people-watching.

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
3399 posts

I too have to say Paris--for all the beauty and architecture.

And what a city to staff their tourist desk at Gard Du Nord with non-English speaking personnel. Especially when that's where all the Eurostar tourists from London come into.

I've just learned that if you smile a lot, you can sometimes even get Parisians to smile. But don't expect McDonalds counter workers to speak English to you.

Posted by sanderskn
San Jose, CA
351 posts

Favorite city: Paris, favorite thing to so there: walk around smiling because I'm so happy (and speaking French too) :)

Posted by Jesse
Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA
190 posts

Florence. I love walking around the city, the art and that off season it isn't as crowded as the bigger cities. Paris is my husbands favorite, he loves the atmosphere that only Paris seems to have.

Posted by Darlene
38 posts

Montreux CH for its majestic beauty of the Alps and languid waters of Lake Geneva and just being in CH.

Posted by Cyn
Wheat Ridge, CO, USA
1491 posts

Avignon, France, and going to market at Les Halles.

Posted by Richard
Lafayette, LA, USA
164 posts

When I first went to Europe at a young age in 1977: Paris.

Today: London.

Honorable mention: Paris and Venice.

Posted by Jill
Boulder, USA
659 posts

Big City - London hands down! Not a big fan of Paris or Rome, but going to Berlin for the first time soon so will see if it makes the list.
Small city - Salzburg!

Posted by mightyquin005
12 posts

Ever since I was a child, I was in love with London. It probably had something to do with watching Mary Poppins or other Disney classics. When I decided to move there for a year at the age of 23, it did not disappoint. It was the fashion, music, and history capital I always wanted. I was constantly falling in love with everything.

I have taken many trips to Europe and have not regretted any place I've gone. I've managed to fall in love with a whole slew of cities and towns along the way. But London will always be special to me.

Posted by rudyfromast
nyc baby
71 posts

Switzerland!!!!! Latuerbrunnen .... Favorite thing to do is rent a bike from murren and ride down to lauterbrunnen and see the mountains or paraglid.

Posted by Claudia
Land of La
2790 posts

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, London.
Photography. Wander. Pints of Guinness. Theatre. Cadbury Orange Chocolate. History. Markets. Parks. Bangers and Mash.
Simple pleasures in a world class city.

Posted by Judy
81 posts

I love London, hubby not so much, he loves Rome!! We both love Krakow now. Budapest and Vienna, throw in a Salzburg, toss in an SE Asia city like Bangkok, or Hoi Ann.......mmmmmnooe, can't pick...

Posted by Mira
630 posts

If you mean large city, London.

But I want to talk about my small city pick: Granada. Spain. Favorite thing to do is just be there. The Alhambra is spectacular, but it's the hills and the offbeat vibe of the city I just love. So a morning at the Alhambra, and the rest of the day wandering. Into the Albaycin, up the hills, evening at St Nicholas viewpoint - pay too much for a drink at a view restaurant. Back to central for dinner and more wandering.

I may have answered this before with a totally different city. It's just so hard to pick!

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
4632 posts

It has to be Edinburgh. There are two things I do right away when I arrive in the city. First, I go to the bookshop and buy the most recent Ian Rankin book and a stack of other books by Scottish authors--mostly mysteries, but some are historical novels or non-fiction and some are recent political books or other books about contemporary Scotland. Then I go to the Castle. There, I go all the way up to the top. I look in St. Margaret's Chapel and admire the stained glass and sit for a bit, just happy to be there. Then I check out the views of the town, the Pentland Hills, and the Firth of Forth; I take a peek and the Scottish Crown Jewels, wander through the Royal Palace and Great Hall (hopefully there is a presentation in the latter), check out the prisoner's of war, and then go to the Scottish War Memorial and think about my grandfather and his fellow soldiers from the Royal Canadian Expeditionary Force. Then I go have supper and then I crash. :)