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Favorite country next to Italy?

We’ve been twice now and I know we will go back. I wouldn’t mind staying for at least a month when hubbie semi retires. No other country has called out to me like Italy has. However, I know we need to see more of Europe. Of the following places, which did you like best and why? We are not ready for off the beaten track places yet, unless close to the major attractions.

France
London, Scotland
Spain
Amsterdam
Greece
Germany

Posted by
2719 posts

What do you love about Italy? Different aspects will change the recommendations

I love Italy but it’s not my #1. That’s Spain. My husband is an Italophile and his second favorite country is Spain. So I’d put Spain high on your list. As far as the general exuberant people and culture and beautiful, extravagant Catholic-influenced art especially.

If you love the ancient stuff, and the coastal beautiful areas then Greece is an obvious and wonderful choice.

Many people who love Italy for the food and art also love France. I like France but I don’t love French food, too fussy for me, but if food is your thing and you like the French style, great! And if it’s world class art you love, then Paris is a great place!

The other places on your list are good too but less similar to Italy. Which might be what you want, but if you want some of the same things you loved in Italy but with a different feel, then I’d go Greece, Spain, or maybe France.

I’m editing to add - have you been to Sicily? It’s Italy, obviously, but different. There’s more Greek and middle eastern influence. Might be a good way to branch out.

Posted by
32 posts

Ah, it is a dream of ours to be so worldly as to have a "favorite country to visit". Perhaps one day...

Posted by
861 posts

Thank you, Mira. Your post helps. To answer your question about what I love about Italy, it’s the aesthetics of our surroundings, the outdoor cafes, the alley/streets, the friendly people. We are not foodies, but do really enjoy the Italian food. But that’s not the main reason we love it. It’s the “European” feel, and I’m not sure how best to describe it. Perhaps Spain would be another great place to put our toes in the water, so to speak.

Posted by
749 posts

"I don’t love French food, too fussy for me"

I would also add that I do find France to be the least tolerate of folks who don't speak the language.

That, and also for me - while I enjoy Spanish food, I just could never get used to the evening meal times. I have changed when I eat my main meals in Italy, to lunch time, so maybe I should give Spain another go.

I guess I should add in my equal favourite to Italy would be Germany, particularly the northern part.

Posted by
2474 posts

I haven’t been to France or Spain yet so can’t comment. I love Amsterdam, been twice. It has a totally different vibe from Italy, more Nature, many less Churches. It is a very walkable city and the canals are lovely. Much different then the canals of Venice since these have the streets along side them, they are not side streets and hidden like in Venice (not good at explaining). Also, smaller cities, like Haarlem and Delft are a very short train or bus ride away, easier to make day trips. The architecture is very different as is their history.

Sicily is a great choice, Italian but different from the rest of Italy, we really enjoyed our trip there this past April. It is also very inexpensive compared to the rest of Europe.
The Dalmatian coast and Istria in Croatia are probably the closest you can get to Italian influence without being in Italy. Croatia has a very laid back vibe. There are museums and Churches to visit, but that is not the focus, most people go to Croatia for a relaxing, slow paced vacation. In my opinion, their one flaw is transportation. It is sometimes a PIA to get around, but since they built their New roads,driving is very easy. as of now there are no ZTL zones, some speed Cameras though. Their food is very similar and as a bonus, they eat their main meal at around 2-3:00. No late night dinners.

Posted by
424 posts

I share your feelings about Italy! Been twice, and hope to go back later this year. Of the countries you've listed, I've been to Scotland, Spain, and Germany. All three are great, but Scotland is calling my name to visit again more than the others. If you want something different from Italy, I suggest Scotland or Germany. I liked Scotland for the landscape, the history, and the highlands. Edinburgh was easy to get around and so much to do. I liked Germany (basically just went to Berlin) for the history, and the food/beer. Have fun!

Posted by
6362 posts

Not a country but a vibrant city, London.

Why?

Easy to navigate via public transport and on foot.
The history, the street markets, the pubs, the language, the different neighborhoods, the parks, the Thames path, free museums, the dichotomy of the old and new architecture, theatre and the safety factor. Been visiting for decades; always changing, always the same.

EDIT: and I’ve been to France, Cuba, Austria, Ireland, Belgium, Denmark, Amsterdam and Germany.

Posted by
983 posts

Italy is definitely my favorite as well. We went twice last year and will be going again in September. I also would recommend the south of France. Provençal food “less fussy” than say, Parisian food. Spain is also another great choice!

Posted by
2187 posts

I have not been to all the places you suggest. France, Scotland, Greece are the ones I have been to. I loved them all for different reasons and I want to go back to all of them and see more. I have been to Italy and Germany, but too long ago to count. I can’t pick. It would be like picking which of my girls I like better, or which of my 2 dogs ( although that might not be quite as hard as one is lots of trouble). Not much help, good luck. I think you can’t go wrong. I want to go to all the countries in Europe!

Posted by
14925 posts

I thought I'd never love another country as much as Italy until I went to Spain. Now I'm hard pressed to choose a favorite. Like Italy, great food and great wines, lots of history, wonderful museums, friendly people, good transportation, a lot of variety, charming small towns and exciting big cities. The Moorish influence on culture and architecture make it Andalucia very special. Maybe there's more diversity in Spain than in Italy, or maybe it's just more apparent (lest I offend any italophiles).

Once you're outside the big cities in France, I think you're at a real disadvantage if you can't speak some French. Germany has a lot to offer but I was not able to warm up to it.

Posted by
2646 posts

Greece and Spain would certainly fit the bill. I would add Croatia also. Spain and Croatia have great public transport. I felt like mainland Greece was better explored with a car, but it totally depends on your itinerary.
I've had 7 trips to Italy so I share your passion for the Mediterranean--both aesthetically and the social aspects.
I think you will like Amsterdam also--what it lacks in terms of weather/nature (it does of course have lovely natural scenery, but not necessarily like that wild Mediterranean beauty that we love), it makes up for in a similar feeling of "dolce vita"--am active cafe life kind of vibe.

Posted by
505 posts

Spain - I went there the first time while in college and have returned about ten times. I find it fascinating. Both Spain and Italy are my favorites but I also really like London. Of course, all three have lots of major attractions that you are looking for. I love the beauty of the architecture and history of Andalucía and the step back in time in Extramadura. In Italy, have you been to Sicily, or the south? So very different from the north. Of all the places you listed ( I have been to all of them) Amsterdam would be my personal lowest ranking choice, I didn't dislike it just didn't like it as much). Have you considered Krakow or Prague?

Posted by
3391 posts

We’ve been to Italy x4, UK x3, Ireland, Wales, France, Germany, Amsterdam x2, Austria, Spain (Barcelona), Czech Republic, Hungary (Budapest) and of all those places Italy is definitely our favorite.

I agree with Claudia- for best bang for your buck you can’t beat London. You could spend a year there and never run out of things to do. I guess I’d say next to Rome it’s our favorite city.

Another suggestion would be Portugal. We haven’t visited yet as our planned trip got cancelled but there is a lot to see and do there, it’s fairly inexpensive and easy to get to.

Even though I’d happily go back to Italy next trip we are planing Spain- Andalusia area, specifically. We’ve put Portugal on the back burner again. lol

Posted by
8299 posts

France is #1 for me. In my experience, the French are not intolerant of people who don’t speak French. As long as you start with Bonjour Madame/Monsieur, most French people are very accomodating and most people under 50 speak English. I love the history, the people, the architecture, the culture. Not a fan of French food but the desserts and breads are amazing.

My #2 favorite country is Italy. I love everything about it.

My #3 favorite is England… : )

Posted by
2917 posts

Gosh, I don't think I can pick a favorite, as there are so many and they are very different to me... Sigh, but based on your list...

-Greece: When I was in Greece, I wondered why everyone kept going to Italy (and I am someone who loves Italian Renaissance art). Greece seems to have more to offer than Italy and without the cost or crowds: the most beautiful landscapes, antiquities, food, people, art... So I would put Greece ahead of Italy.
-France...also ahead of Italy. I love its architecture, hx, villages, language, boulangeries and patisseries, etc. I find the French to be lovely and kind. More than 5 visits...
-Amsterdam: Art, architecture, beautiful city scapes, bikes. Two visits...one for 10 days to absorb the art.
-London: greater than 14 visits, hx, art ( if much stolen though), medieval, architecture...but I prefer Paris.
-Scotland...much Scottish DNA, but one visit has satisfied my desire...not to say I won't return.

Not on your list: Sweden. It feels like I belong there and it is beautiful, historic, charming, the most friendly (and I find all nationalities that I visit friendly...so far) and Swedes apparently have my type of humor.

Isn't it nice having to make this decision! Good luck.

Posted by
5505 posts

Been to 78 foreign countries and enjoyed visiting all.

Still, after Italy, my favorites are as follows:
Great Britain
Norway
Japan
Peru
Australia

Posted by
62 posts

I, too, love Italy. I am going for my third time next year.

Looking at your list, I have only been to Spain and while pleasant was certainly not my favorite Country. I have been to Italy, France, Spain, Monaco and Montenegro. France is by far my second favorite county after Italy as I am a foodie (hate that term) and love wine. I also thought the France countryside was breathtaking and enjoyed the Normandy area of France for its historical significance.

Posted by
3308 posts

I guess I’d have to put Italy in first place for me, having been there 16 times and planning yet another visit which covid aborted 3 yearrs ago. Reasons are art, history, food, and the warm-hearted people, who despite societal problems manage to get so much enjoyment from life.

Greece and Spain run close seconds, for the same reasons. We were in Greece a few years ago, during the height of the economic crisis. Despite their woes, every person we had contact with was kind, friendly, and helpful.
I also love many things about France, especially the southwestern region. Again, art, history, but also the beautiful villages, and magnificent scenery in the Alps, Pyrenees, and along the Mediterranean. The one thing I’m not crazy about is the food. Too meat-centric for my taste, and I don’t eat sausages or offal, at all. We have not experienced bad treatment in any of our visits to France - - - 12, of them, I think.

Posted by
12923 posts

Below are the most visited countries in Europe with the number of yearly international visitors in 2018, therefore pre-Covid (source: UNWTO)
If you want to survey people to find out what they prefer, seeing how tourists vote with their feet, is the best survey.

France: 87M
Spain: 81M
Italy: 58M
UK: 38M
Turkey: 37M
Germany: 37M
Austria: 30M
Greece: 27M

https://www.e-unwto.org/doi/pdf/10.18111/9789284419876

Posted by
16 posts

Greece including the mainland. I was very surprised by the food; it's fresh and healthy, and doesn't put you into a carb coma. The people we met were wonderful. My 19 yo daughter and I rented a car from ATH and drove to Galaxidi, visited Delphi, then stayed on the beach in Parga for 3 nights, Stayed at a winery in Metsovo for 2, off to Kastraki to visit the monasteries for 2 nights then one night on the cape of Sounion to see Poseidon's temple before heading back to Athens to meet up with my husband and boys where we then traveled to Santorini, Milos, Naxos and Mikonos. Travel between cities and islands was effortless and easy. The Greeks have a better highway system than we do in the States. The different landscapes and wonderful interactions we had make me wonder if I love Greece more than Italy. It's a hard call.

Posted by
2590 posts

Or you could head "next door" and do Austria or Switzerland. In CH, you have the German bit and the French bit, and that area that dips down to the lakes in northern Italy.

Also keep in mind, Italy is a country of regions. As Tucci keeps telling us. So if you think you've "done" Italy, you've only done "some" of Italy.

Posted by
4480 posts

I understand your love for Italy. I am leaving soon for my 5th or 6th time. I haven’t been to Greece or Scotland, but otherwise, from your list I would pick France or Spain.

I was just browsing through my 2019 trip book of France this morning, and I remember during that trip, I was thinking France might sway my favorite over to it. During that trip, I went to Rouen, Chartres, Le Mans, Angers, Tours, Paris, Nice & area including Menton, Nancy and Colmar & villages. I love Paris, and I also really loved the smaller towns! My personal perception is the cities feel like a slightly better maintained version of Italy with scrumptious breakfasts but without my favorite Italian foods. A comment about speaking French. My ear just doesn’t hear some of the nuances. When I first started studying French with DuoLingo, the words all just sounded like “ssss!” But, I stuck with it and learned the polite French tourist language -greetings & how to request a table for 1, etc. I treated everyone with formal respect, and they were all very kind to me - in each city. Some went out of their way to be extra helpful.

Spain is a fun country to visit! Since you like Italy, I think you would also like Spain. The tapas meals are different than Italy, but an enjoyable, casual experience. My husband was with me on this trip, and we went to Toledo, Madrid, Cordoba, Sevilla, Ronda, Granada, Frigiliana, Nerja and Malaga. There’s lots of bright-colored tiles, scenery & gardens, white villages with vivid blue doors, etc. if you like photography. I heard it was important to learn Spanish, and I had taken it years ago in high school. But, all of these locations were more English speakers during initial conversation.

Have a great time planning & being there!

Posted by
50 posts

I think you would get a lot from a visit to the Netherlands (which is far more than just Amsterdam). Over the last decades, they have transformed all their city and town centres to car-free zones. Cafes have spilled out from all sides to reclaim the outdoor space. Combined with the charming old (and new) architecture and quaint streets this provides perhaps the most European feel (in contrast to USA). Watch as people of all ages cycle around to get groceries, run errands, meet up with friends or to and from school.

In contrast to sweltering Italian summers, Dutch ones can be on the cool side. The Dutch love to be outside in the summer enjoying the long evenings.

Amsterdam is nice to visit for a few days but the best of the Netherlands is touring around from one old village to another through lovely countryside on an electric bike. When you do visit Amsterdam be sure to do Rick's 3 excellent walks on his free Audio Europe app.

And did you know that Dutch children are the happiest? That is the Netherlands' greatest achievement over the last 40 years.
Source PDF: https://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/rc11_eng.pdf

Living in the Netherlands feels like living in the future - all the other countries will have to play catch up. More "people oriented" with more pleasant outdoor spaces, less air- and noise-pollution.

Posted by
191 posts

" I would also add that I do find France to be the least tolerate of folks who don't speak the language.".......
Au Contraire Mon Frere. not my experience at all. My French is "fractured " on its best day yet I have ever had a problem nor felt any haughtiness.
Brad

Posted by
41 posts

Our next trip is Italy in October but next trip will probably be France. We do a lot of walking/ hiking with an interest in history and nature which influences my recommendations:
1. Spain with time in Mallorca (Porto Soller) to unwind, ferry to Barcelona, then head south & west. White hill towns may need a car. Daughter liked Camino de Santiago and Basque region.
2. Portugal: Lisbon first, then Azores, then back to Lisbon for a car and south down the coast and back up inland.
3. France: Paris and then any direction depending on your interests. Dordogne and Loire Valley Chateaux are interesting. Our next trip to France will be to Brittany and NE.

Posted by
82 posts

Oh, how difficult to pick favorites as each city/country is one unto its self. Mark Wilson said it so well about Amsterdam and The Netherlands as a whole. So easy to get just about anywhere on the train, forward thinking country, just comfortable. I did a one day journey to the Kroller-Muller Van Gogh Museum which is in the De Hoge Veluwe National Park. After the museum, got on a bike and rode all over this park-one of my best memories other than going to Den Helder where I actually saw what it meant to have dikes keeping the sea back! Loved it. Amsterdam is great for a 4-5 days, but the rest of the country offers so much.
London-I’ve been more times than I can count and would return in a minute! In fact, would like to live there.
Spain- had a fabulous 5 week journey there-Barcelona-wow-through Andorra-a country to the Northwest, over to San Sebastián-yum, the pintxos, to Bilbao and back through the Rioja to south of Barcelona.
Scotland-outrageous natural beauty and if you go far enough north, you’ll swear they speak a foreign language with no English base at all.
Germany, Austria, Switzerland-all wonderful-organized, clean, tightly wound to some extent, yet so much to see.
Can you miss on any? No, not at all.
Italy-a favorite? Haven’t been except to the Dolomites, so fully expecting it to win my heart and soul!!

Posted by
79 posts

My favorite country is France, next would be a toss up between Italy and Spain. I love France for its food, wine, art, architecture, its beau villages, castles, etc…and while all these may also be attributed to Italy and Spain, France just has this certain je ne sais quoi that appeals to me.

Posted by
13524 posts

Not on your list: Belgium!

Ghent and Bruges for sure, and we enjoyed Antwerp too. Still have more to explore: Dinant, Leuven, Durbuy, Tongeren... Just over the eastern border with the Netherlands is old-and-interesting Maastricht. We did it from Aachen but you could combine some of Belgium and some of the Netherlands into the same trip.
Friendly people? Check
Outdoor cafes? Check
Atmospheric streets/alleys? Check
"European" feel? Check
Good food? Check

Add to that some excellent museums (read up on Flemish Primitive masters); interesting architecture and history, and very good BEER!

I'd go for London too but think it has a different vibe than Rome, Florence, Venice, etc. There's a LOT to do but you have to enjoy the sorts of things on offer (we did). You might like Amsterdam + some Netherlands' villages better. Paris? To borrow the quote, always a good idea; much I liked about the City of Light!

Posted by
542 posts

Wow, this is all highly subjective. My favorites, in no particular order:

Alsace region
Lauterbrunnen Valley
Bavaria
Innsbruck region
Vienna

Posted by
123 posts

I’m so glad you started this. I haven’t visited nearly enough places, yet want to see so many! I’ve been starting to think about my next European adventure. I loved Florence so much. I’m not a foodie, so that’s not important to me, but I loved the feel of the city streets, the vibrancy of it all, and I’m interested in architecture. I will definitely go back to Florence again to explore further, but I won’t go back to Rome. I guess I don’t have suggestions since I haven’t explored enough yet, but I’m already getting ideas just from reading what others are saying. On my wish list, but needing more research, are Germany, Spain and Portugal, Greece, Croatia, Scotland and Switzerland. I’ve been to Ireland once and would like to go back to explore other parts of it and I’ve been to Nice, but would enjoy exploring other parts of France as well.

Posted by
28 posts

We actually ended up choosing Italy over France this summer because we felt it was better for this place in our lives (with older teens). I've only been to Paris (twice) and I absolutely love it there.

We do like London (it's my son's favorite) but if I went back to the UK, I'd probably spend less time there. Everyone I know who has been to Scotland has raved about it. (Same with Spain, but I have not been there.)

Amsterdam, to me, is lovely but you do not need TONS of time in the city. But, the Anne Frank House was one of my must do in life and I feel like everyone should see it.

Germany-- lived in Bavaria for 3 months. Beautiful country but I'd only go back for nostalgic reasons.

I'd also throw in Austria and Slovenia into the mix- both near Italy.

Posted by
6488 posts

I do love Italy and have been there 3 times and I've been to the other countries on your list (except Spain) but France is the country that holds my heart. If I could live in Europe (money no object) my first choice would be France. It's hard to explain why; I don't particularly like the classic French food (too rich for me) and I don't speak French but I've always felt at home there. Maybe I was happy there in a previous life :). I have also never found the people there to be rude to me because I didn't speak the language - I do know the basic niceties in French and I make it point to learn the correct pronunciations and that seems to be all you really need to get people to treat you kindly - but of course you must treat them kindly and politely also.

My second choice of favorite country in Europe would be Ireland, then Germany, and then Italy. Italy seems to win over more people on this forum than any other country so I'm most likely in the minority putting it fourth on my list but that's okay, we can't all be the same can we?

Posted by
139 posts

This is such an interesting thread and I had the same original question. My second trip to Italy is next year.
I was wondering what you thought about Spain vs Portugal. I haven’t been to either.

Posted by
139 posts

Rachele,
That’s an enthusiastic vote for Portugal. Can you please tell me why?

Posted by
255 posts

There seemed to be a more relaxed, pleasant maybe even more welcoming vibe in Portugal.
Comparing the big cities such as Madrid to Lisbon no contest. Lisbon is more approachable and easy to navigate. Both countries have beautiful countryside but the sights seemed more interesting in Portugal, meaning outside of the big cities. And then there’s the food and wine which I enjoyed way more in Portugal. Spain is extremely difficult for a vegetarian like me, but even for meat eaters the food just seemed to be less varied than Portugal. And I did go to Spain twice just to be sure that I really got to know it.

Posted by
763 posts

I've been Italy, Spain, France, Amsterdam, England (London.) I can't speak to Germany, Scotland or Greece YET. Of those, my favorite countries next to Italy are France and Spain. My favorite places to visit in those countries are:

France:
Paris (you must go at least once)
Normandy (it's so beautiful and the WWII beaches/history is moving/interesting. I personally LOVE Mont St. Michel, but if you go, you should go very early in the morning or early evening so you can be there when the day trippers are gone. I had the place to myself at 6am. It was wonderful! Also, walking out on the mud flats is fantastic! You have to get off the main tourist street to enjoy it, and the cathedral at the top is worth walking up to.
Giverny (Monet's home and gardens are beautiful. Loved it so much, I've been there twice. It's only about an hour from Paris.)
Versaille (I love gardens, so I loved Versailles gardens. We paid 75 euro (2009) to go to an evening event where they had all kinds of special effects (fireworks, etc...) We thought it was amazing! We also toured the palace which was nice, but that really isn't 'my thing.'
You can do all of the above in one trip, since they are all within a few hours of one another.
While I think Italy is sexy and exciting, France is soft and soothing. French people are very gentle and kind in my opinion. I adore France; it is absolutely beautiful!

Spain:
Granada, Spain is one of my all-time favorite places to visit. I've been twice and would love to return. The Albaycin area (old part of city) is just very exotic and special to me. I also LOVE the Alhambra Moorish Palace and it's magnificent gardens. If you like beautiful places, this place is magical!
The area of Andalusia is beautiful as well. You might want to look into Rhonda, which is a beautiful white hilltop village not far from the coast.

I liked Amsterdam very much, especially because it's so walkable, and also because it's easy, since everyone speaks English. But, it's not as exotic as going to France to Spain to me.

London, unfortunately, is my least favorite city that I've visited. I just don't think it's attractive and I like beautiful places. We took a bus tour around the city, and it just doesn't do anything for me. I'm an architecture lover and most of the architecture is bland; so much of the old architecture was destroyed in WWII (so sad!).

I hope this helps!

Posted by
19 posts

I have one that is not on your list. We did RS Adriatic a few years ago after Italy and France tours. My wife and I agree that is was one the best. Slovakia-Croatia were like less traveled Italy ( actually was part of Italy). Since we have done Spain, England, London Tours and added a Netherlands trip, but still rate the Adriatic one of our Favorites. But we have loved them all. Off to Sicily in October.

Posted by
39 posts

Spain. Just like Chani said, thought Italy was my favorite til we went to Spain. Amazing, diverse choices of food and sights. Tons of history, gorgeous scenery, beautiful beaches, the most friendly people we’ve ever encountered, and a wonderful train network. Also like Chani, Germany didn’t do it for us. Enjoyed that trip but no desire to return to Germany. Haven’t been to Portugal yet. Was supposed to go in September 2020 but of course Covid cancelled that trip. Hoping to hit Portugal this Fall and am looking forward to seeing how we like it compared to Spain. For now, Spain is the one country we would love to move to.

Posted by
50 posts

Two places to consider

Turkey (Istanbul is in Europe, the rest is in Asia)
Great food, warm people, amazing sights (we took the 13 Day Rick Steves Best of Turkey tour and loved it)

On a clear day, you can see Europe ... from Morocco
We had a two-week tour - with a personal driver, and Riads (each had breakfast) for a price so low I thought it a mistake. Wonderful food, amazing diversity of sites (we saw the full moon rise over Algeria from the Sahara Desert. Just a magical place (except for Casablanca - the waters were overrated)

When you decide to go off the beaten track, our other two amazing destinations were Peru and Cuba.

Keep on traveling!

Posted by
283 posts

My husband and I have been to over 9 European countries and the one that we reminisce about the most other than Italy is France. While we have been to Paris, our favorite area has been Southern France near Nice. It has spectacular scenery with the mountains and the Mediterranean Sea. It also has great public transportation with regional trains and buses to the Riviera villages. We loved the small town of Villefranche sur Mer with its charming waterfront area, shale beach, and narrow streets. Nice, Eze, St Jean Cap Ferrat, and Monaco are worthwhile as well. The Villa Ephrussi d'Rothschild is lovely, and the Maurice Rouvier walk near St Jean and Beaulieu is gorgeous. We really enjoyed the climate and the wonderful food there.

Posted by
6 posts

If you like Italy because of its arts, history, food, and people, then Spain is the closest match.

  1. Spain - The arts and architectures in Barcelona and Madrid are not to be missed. Seville and Grenada have moorish influence and offer more ‘exotic’ feels than typical European cities. One SPA experience under a moorish mosaic decorated steam room and floating in a sea salt pool with music under the water in Seville is unforgettable to me. Spain is also less expensive than other European countries. Love the tapas.
  2. Greece - love it for its fresh mediterranean food, ancient greek history, and beautiful islands. People are friendly and laid back.
  3. France - if you are an art lover, it is heaven. Palaces such as Versailles are the best in Europe. French food doesn’t speak to me though, although some people love it. But French desserts and bakeries are unbeatable! If you are into music you can find more performances in Paris. I will throw in Vienna here as it is very similar to Paris in terms of art, architectures, cafe scenes, and music (but overall cheaper). I like Vienna as much as I like Paris, but even better is its affordable classical music concerts. I went to a concert every day in churches, crypts, and music halls every day while in Vienna. Heaven.
  4. London- it’s a big metropolitan city that offers something to everyone. However I don’t find it appealing maybe because I grew up in a big city like London. But everyone’s preference is different. You might like it.
  5. German- it has sceneries and histories. However the culture (food, people, etc) doesn’t speak to me.
  6. Amsterdam- it’s relatively small. I found that after two visits there wasn’t much else to do. If you have a layover in Amsterdam while in route to other European cities it is worthwhile to stop over for 2-3 days. Rijksmuseum is one of the best.
Posted by
3194 posts

London: so much to do and so many easy 1 or 2 night train trips: York, Bath, Salisbury, Cardiff, Cambridge. I've been to most of the countries in Europe, except Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Norway. I've been to Italy 4 times and London 7.

Posted by
7750 posts

We have been to Italy more than any other foreign country, 8-9 trips there. I love listening to the language, the food, the warmth of the people, history and art!
On your list- I love and am passionate about Italy, London, Amsterdam, Spain and Greece and have been to them each multiple times. I was not happy with our trips to Germany. France is nice but doesn’t rank as high on my list as it just doesn’t click with me.
Haven’t been to Scotland yet. Local foods are important to me and I don’t like German food which did not help me to like Germany!
We also love traveling to Asia.

Posted by
41 posts

Depending how I feel on any particular day, France would be tied with Italy as my favourites.
I like reading history and fiction set in some of the areas that I will visit. Dordogne was interesting as it was the centre of the end of the 100 year war between England and France and has pre-historic cave paintings. For modern life, read the Bruno series by Martin Walker about a police chief in a small town with details on food and wine in the area.
We were going to Brittany 5 years ago when our daughter had a medical emergency and we had to cut short our trip at La Rochelle and return to Paris for a flight home. Read Jean-Luc Bannalec’s series with Commissionaire Dupin set in Brittany.
Both of these series are crime fictions with details about food and life in these 2 areas.
In addition, I try to learn some of the language of the country that I’m going to visit as it seems to make the people that we interact with friendlier and Italy is our next trip.
I’ve been reading books by Donna Leon, set in Venice with Commissario Brunetti. Buon viaggo.

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I have to answer your question in a modified way since I don't have direct experience with Italy, not having been there yet.

The top two countries, the top two favourites are Germany and France.

I go back to France and/or Germany every trip, ie, 25 trips over since 1971, ie, 25 times in Germany. Going back repeatedly to Berlin and Paris is a given, love being in Paris, walking and absorbing the atmosphere (yes, it's hectic and the noise can get to you too), chatting with locals is super restricted since my spoken French is "passable" whereas in Germany no such problem: I feel totally comfortable and at ease speaking German. engaging in conversation with locals only in their language. Obviously, in both countries it's not just language comprehension that is paramount but also knowing the cultural cues. Linguistically, I am interested in the structure, grammatically , the connotation, and appreciate the beauty of both French and German.

In both countries the cuisine and wine/beer are my absolute favourites. No problems with French and German cuisine and the coffee...all great! The landscape and scenery I find fascinating, intriguing, whether it is in western, northern or eastern France, or Provence or in the southwest, likewise in Germany. My interest lies primarily in North Germany and in eastern Germany, visiting and absorbing the towns there. Like France I still have not visited certain areas in Germany, ie the Black Forest, Ostfriesland, the Baltic area, and some others.