Europe is blessed with many of the world’s great cities. Every year, hundreds of millions of tourists visit the continent and most flock to the major cities such as London, Paris and Rome. In 2018, an astonishing 41.7 million tourists visited the UK, with more than 70% visiting London during their trip. But what about the cities that might not immediately spring to mind when you’re planning a trip to Europe? Here are three that should certainly be in your thoughts when the time comes to book.
- Glasgow, Scotland
For many years Glasgow has found itself lagging behind the more celebrated Edinburgh when it comes to tourism. But the biggest city in Scotland should no longer be overlooked. Glasgow is an extraordinary place, with a fantastic variety of things to see and some of the most welcoming and funny locals you could ever care to meet. The West End is Glasgow’s cultural heartland, with the delightful Ashton Lane a particular highlight. There are some fantastic places to eat and drink here, including the Ubiquitous Chip and Ashoka. In the centre of the city, you should visit George Square and then walk on to the Merchant City, where Glasgow’s shipping wealth resulted in some majestic buildings. Further afield, the Burrell Collection is a fantastic day out and Glasgow is also within a stone’s throw of the stunning Loch Lomond, which is a holiday in itself.
- Lisbon, Portugal
There can be few greater pleasures in life than spending an afternoon in the Portuguese sunshine, sipping a glass of chilled local rose on one of Lisbon’s majestic terraces overlooking the river Tagus. The Bairro Alto is a lovely quarter of the city and will put you close to some of its most romantic winding streets. The historic centre of Baixa is full of some fantastic things to see including Praça do Comércio. And Lisbon’s oldest quarter, Alfama, features a famous castle and so much history dating back to when the city was founded by the Moors. If you can walk up to the castle it’s worth the effort, or if not you can always take one of the many cable cars that go that way. Once you get there the view is spectacular.
- Madrid, Spain
It may be the capital of Spain, but Madrid is not a European city that immediately springs to mind (with tourists perhaps preferring the Gaudi inspired delights of Barcelona a few hours away). Madrid is, however, a stunning place to visit. General Franco’s influence is everywhere and the architecture is grand and bold throughout the city, with huge avenues running from north to south. El Retiro Park is one of the most beautiful green spaces in any city in the world. There you will find locals taking siestas from the afternoon heat under the branches of trees, while others play chess in the shade. It is a wonderful place. Close by is the Museo del Prado, which was opened in 1785 and remains one of the city’s very best attractions. The art on show is world famous and the building itself is truly a sight to behold. Barrio de Salamanca is considered to be Madrid’s glitziest neighbourhood and it is an excellent place to go if you want to shop. And the food is plentiful and inexpensive. You could expect to eat a fantastic tapas meal in Madrid for less than £100 for six people and the local wine is fantastic, too. So, while Spain is spoilt for choice with fantastic cities, Madrid should certainly be on your list.