A view, from the castle, over the rooftops of the town with a church tower, and the mountains dominating.

8 European cities to tempt your travel desires

In Europe, Mini Breaks, Our Journeys, Trip-Types, World Travel by JanisLeave a Comment

So, let’s grab the atlas and start planning for our future travels

I can just imagine how long your travel wish-list must be growing now because I know mine is.
 
I read through captivating posts on different European destinations, whether they are large cities or quaint villages. There are just so many tempting locations that keep finding their way on to my bucket list.
 
Our passports sit in our travel drawer, just dying to be used again.

Wooden rowing boats moored up on the Canal de Vassé under dappled shade, in front of the Pont des Amours on the edge of Lake Annecy

Pont des Amours, on the edge of Lake Annecy

We’ve been lucky enough to visit a number of beautiful and fascinating cities throughout Europe, some bustling with life 24-hours-a-day and others so ancient and demure. All full of incredible history and different cultures to be embraced.
 
I have chosen a small selection of cities that you’ve probably heard of and a few others that are lesser-known. Each of them full of charm and appeal, and all are overflowing with an intriguing history.

Quick Links

Ahhh, what better place to start our European tour than the historic city of Córdoba, in southern Spain. In the beautiful region of Andalusia to be exact.
The decorative moorish arches of the Mosque–Cathedral of Cordoba.

The interior of the Mosque–Cathedral of Cordoba

The ancient city of Córdoba has history flowing everywhere, snaking between the well-trodden cobbles, whispering from the golden sandstone walls and peering down from the terracotta-tiled rooftops.

It’s a city that just oozes character.

The Romans undoubtedly left their distinctive mark on Córdoba; however, for me, it’s the awe-inspiring Mezquita that the Moors bestowed, that I found breathtaking. I was lost for words at the beauty of the never-ending forest of ochre and cream arches.

The Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba truly needs to be seen to be believed.
Not only is the UNESCO Historic Centre of Córdoba home to a Mezquita, but it also has the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, a Roman Temple and Bridge and delightful plazas.

The view across the Roman Bridge of Corbada at night to the Mosque–Cathedral on the hilltop beyond

The Roman bridge of Córdoba

Córdoba is also renowned for its stunning floral courtyards and patios. To see them in full display there is a festival held annually each May.

A helpful guide

Ahhh the call of Andalucía, I love nothing more than planning a trip and so often I use the DK Eyewitness books. I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.

We used a previous version of this book to plan our southern Spanish road trips, now you can grab the revised copy.


More Spanish delights

If you’re touring Spain and love history take a peek at the UNESCO World Heritage Sites that we’ve visited. There are some incredible places to see in ‘part 1’ and ‘part 2’, and like us, why not make it into a road trip too.

The hills are alive with the sound of music, ahh the delightful dulcet tones of Julie Andrews.
 
Salzburg is a city of elegance, allure and of course the birthplace of the incredible composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1756.
 
The UNESCO Historic Centre of Salzburg is so striking. The charming streets are lined with beautiful Baroque architecture, eye-catching façades around every corner and delightful wrought-iron shop signs, to keep the city’s character and spirit alive.

The Mirabell Palace Gardens in Salzburg with brightly coloured flower beds and fountain. In the distance, high on the hill, you can see the city's Castle.

The Mirabell Palace Gardens, Salzburg

There is plenty to see and do in Salzburg. Once you’ve visited the Hohensalzburg Castle head through the Altstadt and discover the vibrant Mirabell Palace Gardens, Salzburg Cathedral, and the intriguing catacombs at St. Peters Cemetery.

A helpful guide

If you've yet to discover Austria, then let's start planning. I find these DK Eyewitness Travel Guides invaluable. They're extremely informative, easy to follow, and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more of those fascinating sites.

You can now grab a recently revised copy of this guidebook, so you won't miss a thing.


You may have heard of the charming city of Trento in northern Italy. Still, I can honestly say that it had only appeared on my radar a few years ago.
 
Trento is in the mountainous Trentino-Alto Adige region of Italy. Only 26 miles (40km) further south is the northern tip of Lake Garda.

A view, from the castle, over the rooftops of the town with a church tower, and the mountains dominating.

Over the rooftops of Trento

This historic city was once part of Austria and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, it is only since 1919 that Trento was annexed to Italy.
 
Trento is full of so much charisma, and it really feels like it hasn’t yet been discovered by tourists. The architecture throughout the city is stunning.
 
There are ornate façades on noble palazzo’s, marble balconies overlooking ancient streets and scenic frescos painted on the front of historic buildings.

Once you’ve discovered the Buonconsiglio Castle, the meandering rustic streets, Romanesque Duomo of San Vigilio and Palazzo Pretorio then rest your weary feet in Piazza Duomo. Here you can sit back and soak up the delightful Italian atmosphere and enjoy a glass of the local sparkling wine, Trento DOC.

Ohh, I fell in love with Croatia a few years ago when we headed there from the UK on a road trip. More specifically, I fell in love with Zadar and the stunning opal blue Dalmatian coastline.
 
The ancient walled city of Zadar is incredibly historical, from its Roman Forum, St Donatus Church and the glorious Venetian influences throughout Zadar’s cobbled streets and quaint delightful squares.

The circular church of St Donatus in Zadar, next to the ruins of the Roman forum, with the Venetian style bell tower in the background.

St Donatus and tower beyond, Zadar

Zadar has undoubtedly been through some turbulent times over the centuries, and I love how it embraces modern twists into its historic surroundings.
 
I couldn’t think of a better way of ending a perfect evening than taking a stroll along Riva by the Adriatic Sea while listening to the enchanting Sea Organ and watching the pulsating lights to The Greeting to the Sun.
 
Zadar is a beautiful city and one I would return to at the drop of a hat.

A helpful guide

If you've yet to discover the delights of Croatia you're in for a treat. While planning our road trip, I used the DK Eyewitness books.  I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.

We used a previous version of this book to plan our north to south Croatian road trip, now you can grab the revised copy.


Now we are in Germany, the northwest to be exact, in the delightful city of Bremen.
 
Just so that you know, Bremen is actually pronounced “Bree-men”, we've always said "Brem-en" – well, not anymore.
 
Bremen may not necessarily be high on your bucket list; however, if you are looking for a charming German city with plenty of history, stunning architecture and welcoming locals, then I can highly recommend Bremen.

A view through the market in Bremen to the Rathaus and St. Petri Dom.

Marktplatz with the Rathaus and the Dom spires in the background

We visited Bremen during the Christmas markets and wouldn’t hesitate to return at any other time of the year as we found there was so much more to discover.
 
Bremen’s Town Hall (Rathaus) located in the gorgeous Marktplatz is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located all around the square are historic buildings including the Bremen Cathedral, the Parliament Building and also the Roland Statue. Just off of Marktplatz you’ll also find Glockenspiel House, that’s if you don’t hear the 30 glockenspiels chiming before you arrive.

A Christmas tree in a quaint cobbled square, lined with tall thin pastel coloured historic buildings on two sides.

A quaint little square in the Schnoor district of Bremen

There’s one district of the Hanseatic city of Bremen not to miss. That’s the quaint cobbled streets around the Medieval Schnoor neighbourhood. Full of charming character, tiny lanes, interesting sculptures and some wonderful cafés.

Guimarães is located in northern Portugal, just north of Porto and an extremely historical city. Guimarães was the first capital of Portugal in the 12th century. It’s widely believed that Portugal's first King, Afonso Henriques, was born there.
We have visited quite a few UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Portugal, and the Historic Centre of Guimarães was another. This reasonably small city is full of so much charm and colourful architecture that you would hope for, from any Portuguese town.
A lit square after dark in Guimarães, Portugal where diners sit at restaurants lining the square and others walkthrough the historical old town.

Dinners sitting in Praça de Santiago at night, Guimarães

Not only does Guimarães have a castle, medieval squares and the Palace of the Dukes, but it also has friendly restaurants and plenty of beautiful praças to relax in and soak up the warm atmosphere.

Start planning

We embarked on our Portuguese road trip from the UK, catching a Brittany Ferry to Santander.
 
However, there are regular flights to Porto and Lisbon, take a look at ebookers.com. Then pop in your location details and Rental Cars will search well-known car hire brands and discover the deals that suit you the best.

7 - Timisoara, Romania

... that should be Timișoara

A little change from Romania’s capital city of Bucharest and that’s Timișoara in the west of the country.
 
The colourful city of Timișoara is another of my choices that are overflowing with history. From the changing of occupation during the Middle Ages to the more recent Romanian Revolution in December 1989.

The wonderful Dauerbach palace on Victory Square, built 1912-13, and often just refered to as the 'Palace'

Dauerbach palace, Timișoara

Timișoara was the centre for the street protests that led to the Romanian Revolution and the overthrow of Nicolae Ceaușescu, the leader of the Communist party.
 
Timișoara’s historic centre has some beautiful squares and recreational gardens to enjoy, as well as the stunning architecture lining the wide streets and boulevards.

The ornate facade of the Löffler palace, built-in 1913 with Art Deco flourishes to this 5 storey stone building.

The Löffler palace, Timișoara

Another interesting fact relating to Timișoara’s is that it was the first European city to have its streets illuminated by electric light in 1884.
 
In 2023 Timișoara will become the next European Capital of Culture.

We’re now off to one of my favourite countries, and that’s France. Heading to the picturesque city of Annecy with its stunning lake and the mountainous scenic backdrop.
 
Annecy is located in France’s southwest in the Haute-Savoie region and only a few miles from the Swiss border. No wonder fondues are popular here, not that Gary was complaining.

A view over the canal fed off Lake Annecy at dusk with the church of Saint-François de Sales dominating the skyline.

Annecy at dusk

Annecy is a popular city all year round as it appeals to visitors for its winter activities as well as your summertime tourists. The attractive canals and waterways that meander around the city are beautiful and make Annecy a wonderfully relaxing place to visit.
 
Sitting on an island in the heart of the old town is a 12th-century castle in the Thiou River which now houses the Annecy History museum. Although for a long time it served as a prison and courthouse, until the French Revolution.

You must stroll along the pedestrianised Rue Sainte-Claire. This picturesque street is charming any day of the week, cafés, boutiques, cobbled lanes, arcades & little squares.
 
However, on market days, your senses move into overdrive.

Heading off from the UK?

If you’d love to create your own French road trip from the UK, jump on Le Shuttle like us. The crossing only takes 35 minutes et voila you’re there.

* This post may contain links to affiliated sites where we earn a small commission at no additional charge to you.

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About the Author

Janis

Janis, the co-founder of Our World for You, was born in London and raised in Kent and the Isle of Wight. Along with Gary her partner, they have been travelling part time since 1995. In 2016, they decided that enough was enough with the 9 to 5, so armed with the knowledge and experience that they had gained on their adventures, that they wanted to inspire others to travel the world near and far.

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