A handpicked selection of the best cities to visit in Europe each season. The best European destinations to visit and when to visit them.
City trips in Europe can be a wonderful travel experience but picking where to go can be overwhelming.
Hot, cold, historical, modern, big, small, dynamic, tranquil: European cities come in all shapes and sizes so how can you choose the best one to visit?
Among the many ways possible, for this article I chose seasonality.
Most European cities can be visited all year round however, different times of year have better cities to visit.
From Italy to Sweden, this is my selection of the best cities to visit in Europe in each season, based on my personal experience of them.
I will add to this list as I keep exploring!
Heading to Europe with kids? Have a look at our selection of the best European cities to visit with kids instead!
The best European cities to visit in winter
Winter can be a beautiful season in Europe, despite colder temperatures and short hours of daylight.
The best way to visit a European city in winter is to embrace the cold and seek out what makes winter special: Christmas decorations, winter festivals and, often, lower crowds!
If you are looking for a winter city break filled with world-class museum visits, shopping opportunities and festive cheer, then look no further than London in winter.
Over Christmas, London dresses up in bright lights and its stunning museums, restaurants and shops offer more than a few opportunities to escape the coldest hours of the day.
You can splash into over the top shopping in Harrods, an iconic London location or, even better, you can cruise around London markets and vintage shops for unique Christmas presents.
If you are on a budget, you can instead swap these activities enjoying the many free things to do in London: there are so many to choose from, you will not get bored!
London has a lot to offer outside the festive season too.
Aside from year-round sightseeing opportunities, in late January /February the city hosts the biggest Chinese new year celebrations outside of Asia, and the cold weather will make you enjoy to the fullest the many London pubs
For a special end of a day sightseeing, you can also treat yourself to one of London’s famous musicals, something really special!
If you truly want to get a sense of how much there is to see and do in the city, have a look at this list of 101 things to do in London (yes, 101!) – a wonderful London bucket list!
Geneva is often overlooked by tourism but is a wonderful city for a winter break.
Its location on Lac Leman and at the footsteps of gorgeous alpine peaks provide it with one of the most beautiful backdrops of any city in Europe and the proximity to the slopes means you can easily mix time sightseeing with outdoors sports pursuits on the nearby slopes.
The best time to visit Geneva in winter is the festive season.
At this time, the city hosts a small yet lovely Christmas market and a light festival that dresses up the city with light installations that brighten up the otherwise cold nights.
This is a great time to visit the old city and taste some of Geneva’s most delicious food: warming chocolate and cheese fondue!
Going with family? Find our favorite things to do in Geneva with kids!
Vienna has a lot to offer to the visitor who braves its cold winter.
Famous for world-class museums and cozy interiors, Vienna is the perfect place for an art-filled city break and you can easily spend a few days here hopping between its most famous attractions and tucking into its delicacies.
It may sound touristy and cliche but a slice of Sacher torte when a blanket of snow covers the city is quite a treat!
The best time to visit Vienna in winter is over Christmas.
The city is beautiful at this time and, if you book well in advance, you can even partake in probably the most famous of Viennese traditions, the new year’s concert.
Even if you don’t secure a ticket for this exclusive event, you are sure to find plenty to do in Vienna.
My favorite things include a visit to the Albertina museums, a walk around the imperial palace and a visit to the stunning Belvedere castle, with an incredible collection and beautiful gardens.
Planning a trip to Vienna’s opera? Find full packing list and dress code here
Venice is always a city of incredible charm but nothing beats the beauty of Venice in the winter.
At this time, the crowds tend to be thinner (with the notable exception of Christmas week and carnival) and the city’s canals envelope the city in a dreamy and almost surreal atmosphere.
More than any other time, winter in Venice makes you feel like you stepped into a painting!
The best type of trip this time of the year is a romantic one.
While a family stay can prove hard due to the cold and wet weather, couples will find the most romantic sol of Venice truly come to life in the city’s back alleys and small restaurants.
If there is ever a time to see why Venice is the quintessential honeymoon destination, winter it is!
Heading to Venice with kids? Find our trip planning guide here
The idea of going to Iceland in winter may scare many however, Reykjavik is one of the best cities to visit in Europe in winter and for more than one reason.
A lot less cold than many realize, this capital city is compact and in a perfect location to mix city sightseeing with easy day trips to see the best of what Eastern Iceland has to offer.
A warning is in order about the Blue Lagoon however: it is a lot colder than you may expect, so I recommend you do in the daytime and on a dry day!
If you can, make plans to go chasing Northern lights, visible from in and neat Reykjavik for most of the winter months.
Going with family? Find our guide to Reykjavik with kids here
The best cities to visit in Europe Spring
Spring is by far the best time to visit Europe and truly, there is no European city you cannot visit in at this time.
However, these are those I believe offer something extra special.
A list of the best cities in Europe to visit in spring could only start with Amsterdam, the tulip capital of Europe!
Gorgeous to visit any time of the year, Amsterdam is just special in spring.
At this time, the city’s tulip festival makes colorful blossoms appear all over the city.
This, plus the bright sky of Amsterdam spring reflecting onto the city’s canals, makes for one of the most beautiful backdrops of any city trip you can imagine.
When planning a spring trip to Amsterdam, make sure you bring good shoes and there will be a lot of walking involved!
While the city center is compact, there is so much to see you will want to make the most of every moment of your day.
Its UNESCO world heritage site city center, Rijks and Van Gogh museums are only some of the attractions that make this city one of the most beautiful destinations in Europe
The capital of Portugal is an absolute delight to visit in spring.
At this time, the weather is pleasant yet not hot, perfect for exploring the city, and Lisbon bathes in a bright, diffused light that lifts the mood and makes the city’s impressive architecture sparkle.
Lisbon is the perfect escape if you want to mix sightseeing, city exploring and indulging in lovely food.
Compact and easy to navigate, even with just 2 days in Lisbon you can get a taste for all the city has to offer.
Love sightseeing? Explore the wonderful Chiado area and its impressive convento de carmo.
Love meandering streets and charming corners? Look no farther than historical Alfama.
Want a foodie stop? Then you cannot go wrong in Lisbon’s delicious restaurants.
If this is not enough, you can also use Lisbon as a base for wonderful day trips.
Have family? You are in for a treat: there is plenty to do in Lisbon with kids!
Siracusa is one of the most beautiful cities in Italy and there is no better time to enjoy its beauty than the spring.
At this time, the weather is perfect for sightseeing and you can enjoy Siracusa’s archaeological park and the city’s historical center in the balmy air.
The best way to enjoy Siracusa is to plan a stay in Ortigia, its most ancient part.
Here, you can leisurely walk to stunning piazza duomo, take in the sea views from the city shores and indulge in one of the many things that make Sicily special: its’ delicious food.
Discover how to include Siracusa in your Sicily itinerary here
If you are dreaming of diffused light, pleasant temperature, gorgeous food and wonderful sightseeing opportunities, then a trip to Seville in spring may just be the ticket!
Seville a real gem: located in Southern Spain, it is easy to visit even just in a weekend but packs a punch in terms of cultural attractions, relaxation opportunities and is one of the best places in Europe for a foodie treat.
My favorite way to visit Seville is to spend the day walking along its historical center and then relax my tired feet in the gorgeous city hammam.
Here, you can soak in hot water and steam before getting pampered by an expert massage.
To top it all, you simply have to taste Sevilles’ tapas: especially the seafood in this city is out of this world delicious.
They say Paris is always a good idea but Paris in spring is a better idea!
At this time, the city starts defrosting after its long winter and temperatures become pleasant without hitting the crazy hot peaks that often make Paris in summer hard to take
Paris is spring is a large playground.
You can visit its many museums, indulge in delicious food in the city’s many café terraces, you can treat yourself to a new look in its many shops and you can also relax in the city’s many parks.
My favorite way to visit the city is to plan a Paris itinerary that mixes gardens, main sites (you cannot go to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower!) and hidden gems and of course some of the city’s best food spots.
The best European cities to visit in summer
There is no such thing as Europe in summer and what I mean with this is that summer is a very different affair depending where in Europe you are going.
These are our favorite cities to visit in Europe in summer for all taste, whether you want to heat or prefer to escape it, Europe has a city for you!
Stockholm is a gorgeous city and an absolute delight to visit in the summer.
At this time, the long hours of daylight offer unrivaled sightseeing opportunities and the vast body of water that make this city special reflect the sun making the peculiar architecture of the capital of Sweden sparkle
Stockholm in summer is surprisingly peasant in terms of temperatures.
While not hot, you can easily spend a day visiting the city’s many museums and then indulge in drinks outdoor in one of the city’s many green areas.
In the evening, they fill up with locals and tourists alike and make Stockholm one of the most vibrant cities I have visited!
Hamburg is a wonderful destination for a summer trip.
Located in the north of Germany, the city is famous for its enviable position of the large river Elbe but don’t let the fame of its large port take overshadow the beauty of the city: Hamburg is stunning!
Hamburg is a very green city perfect for a summer break and has a peculiar architecture that sets is apart from all others in Germany and even enter the list of UNESCO work heritage site.
The best way to see all that Hamburg has to offer is to take a walk along the Elbe and see how Hamburg developed over the course of the centuries along with the beautiful river.
Start from the old storehouses, now turned museums and cool cultural venues and then keep walking until you arrive to the Elbe philharmonic: this is a gorgeous theater overlooking the river and wonderful to visit inside and out!
Dublin is the perfect city for a weekend city break, especially if you visit in summer.
At this time, the cold short winter days are over and the city life is in full swing: blossoms fill the many trees of this gloriously green city and the good season tend to bring clear sky and dry days.
There are very many things to do in Dublin, spanning from sightseeing to shopping to eating (the city has a huge amount of gorgeous restaurants).
However, the best thing to do in summer in Dublin is to mix time in the city with local day trips.
In a wonderful location close to both mountains and sea, you can visit some of Ireland’s most beautiful scenery and still come back to the city center for a night in a pub.
There is no better time to visit Wales than the summer, when you can enjoy the stunning nature of this part of the world under the bright summer sky and the same can be said for Cardiff, Wales lovely capital
The city is small but pleasant and full of attractions.
The star of the show here is Cardiff Castle, a lovely building towering over the city and but the city also has lovely street art and a vibrant waterfront.
This is an impressive and pleasant area full of cultural venues and cafes and a very special attraction.
Worth seeking out are the Dr Who experience, fun for more than just the TV series fans, the cute Norwegian church and the really impressive Cardiff concert hall which is not to be missed for both its architecture and program of events.
I called Brussels home for over a year and always recommended my friends to come to visit in the summer, by far the best time to see the Belgian capital.
Brussels is rich of attractions and parks and visiting in the good weather season means you can make the most of all of them and even stretch your legs in the forests and mountains nearby.
There are so many things to do in Brussels, filling your days is easy.
If you love sightseeing, the Grand Place and the area of Grand Sablons will fill your eyes with some of the most beautiful architecture you can find in Northern Europe.
If you love comics, you can indulge your passion following the comics strip murals the city is famous for or visiting the specialized Musee de la Bande Dessinee.
If you are visiting with kids, Brussels has some beautiful parks and some lovely traditions such as mini Europe, which make is a great destination for all ages
The best European cities to visit in the fall
The autumn is traditionally considered low season however, some cites in Europe truly are at their best at this time and offer unparalleled opportunities for sightseeing.
The overwhelming beauty of Rome knows no seasons, but the autumn, early October in particular, is a special time to visit the Eternal City.
Rome in October usually sees dry and pleasant weather and the city slowly starts wearing its autumnal colors, treating its visitors to a beautiful palette of yellow and red leaves against the backdrop of a terse, blue sky.
The city is a hive of activity, with the locals in the thick of the working year and museum, galleries and restaurants are open and buzzing with events, with many attractions offering longer visiting hours.
October is a popular time for visitors too so don’t expect a city devoid of tourism: it is all but! However, escaping the crowds is easy.
All you need to do is mix main sites such as the Trevi fountain with lesser known corners and let Rome’s cobblestone street work their magic.
If you are looking for small town charm, complete with fairy tale castle and autumnal colors, look no farther than the Spanish city of Segovia.
Located in the center of Spain and easy to reach from Madrid in less than 1h on the train, Segovia is picture perfect and autumn is a great time to explore it.
Here you have a stunning Roman aqueduct, small meandering streets full of charm and delicious restaurants and a castle so scenic it is said to have inspired the one Disney created for Cinderella!
Segovia in the fall is exceptionally pleasant.
Under the tall bastions of the city, the large forest of caduceus trees acquires wonderful colors this time of the year and makes the perfect backdrop for a truly magical stay. This is fall travel to Europe at its best.
If you are looking for a destination where you can still experience the tail end of summer mixed with sightseeing opportunity, then Barcelona in autumn is the place for you.
Stunning and peasant to visit all year round, I find Barcelona the fall special.
At the time, the temperature is still pleasant enough to sit in one of the many beach side cafes for a drink but not hot enough to make city exploring a chore.
My favorite way to visit Bercelona is to mix some stops in the city’s most famous sites and lesser now paces.
Among the many, my favorites are the barrio Gothic and Barcelona’s cathedral, the recinto modernista (wonderful art deco hospital now turned exhibition space) and Montjuic, the hill overlooking the city.
For a perfect day in Barcelona, top your experience with dinner in El Born and a visit to Santa Maria del Mar, one of my favorite square and churches in the whole of Barcelona
Toledo is one of the most popular day trips from Madrid and a great destination for an autumnal escape.
Perched on hill in the region of La Mancha, in the centre of Spain, Toledo dates back to Roman times and is an important city for three major world cultures.
Christianity, Judaism and Islam all called this city home and Toledo’s beautiful buildings are witness to these influences.
Usually visited as a day trip from Madrid, Toledo is indeed a small city but has much to offer and you can easily spend a couple of days exploring its old center and many churches.
The most distinctive landmark here is the Alcazar, the castle overlooking the city now turned a museum, but Toledo has many hidden gems worth seeking out such as whitewashed Santa Maria la Blanca (church), the city’s Synagogue and the impressive Alcantara bridge.
This is stunning in any season but in the fall, with the foliage surrounding it, it is truly special.
I close this list of my favorite cities in Europe with one of the most beautiful cities of all: Florence!
Famous for world class museums stunning architecture and out of this work food, Florence is a pleasure to visit almost any time of the year (summer being the exception, it is too hot) but Florence in autumn is magical.
At this time, the weather is perfect for sightseeing and you can have the best of both world: mild temperatures and the beauty the foliage slowly turning the hills surrounding the city into a colorful patchwork of earthy tones
Enjoying Florence in the fall is easy.
Spend the day discovering the city many museums, churches and medieval corners and indulge in the delicious food the Tuscan countryside provides to the local restaurants.
Then, top it all off with a day trip to a nearby winery and slow down as the famous Chianti red and Tuscan delicacies lull you into a foodie heaven
I hope you enjoyed this selection of the best European cities to visit and it gave you ideas for your travel bucket list. Safe travels!