Many students who choose an exchange program in England, Scotland or Ireland do so knowing that they’ll be minutes away from Europe. A common initial mindset to have is that while you’re over here, you might as well take advantage of this convenient location.
What many students don’t know right away is where exactly they want to travel to in Europe. With so many possible destinations at your fingertips and finite amounts of time and money, prioritizing places of interest can be a difficult but necessary task.
That’s why I’ve come up with the following list of European gems you’ll definitely want to travel to, based on my personal experience as well as in-depth research. You likely won’t be able to make it to all (or any) of them while studying abroad, but they definitely deserve a spot on your bucketlist!
If you do get the opportunity to visit any one of these wonderful places, my advice is to take it!
1. Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon is special for many reasons — a few being its unique architecture, local street culture and its giant hills that promise to give you a workout while you’re out exploring the city. There are also trains that can take you to the beach or the nearby castle in Sintra for a nice day trip. Lisbon is the kind of place you’ll want to return to and stay a while.
2. Berlin, Germany
Berlin is a truly mesmerising place. Not only is there rich history and a lot of magnificent old buildings to learn about, but there’s also a captivating music and arts scene here that you can get lost in. Also, the public transport system is probably one of the best in all of Europe.
3. Milan, Italy
Milan is a slightly less popular destination than places like Venice and Rome (which are great, of course). But I’d honestly choose a trip to Milano any day. In the Spring, there’s gorgeous greenery everywhere and the city has a clean, laid-back feel — despite it being a major player in the fashion world. My advice would be to explore outside of the main thoroughfares and discover what else it has to offer. Plus, this goes without saying, but the food is downright amazing.
4. Santorini, Greece
Santorini is just like what you’d expect: absolutely stunning. It’s up there with some of the most beautiful places in the world, and that’s enough of a reason to go. But on top of that, Santorini also has vibrant sunset views, delicious Greek food, and great access to outdoor adventure activities.
5. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam is one of those places that everyone thinks of right away when Europe is brought up in conversation. And for good reason: Amsterdam is ridiculously charming and has something for every kind of person to enjoy. It’s got art, history, culture, flowers, bikes and canals. It’s like you’re almost guaranteed to have a good time.
6. Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen is known as one of the world’s most sustainable cities, so I’d highly recommend a visit here to my fellow sustainability nerds. This is another place where the public transport game is on point. Really, anyone can have an awesome time in Copenhagen if you like colourful buildings, interesting history and extremely delicious/creative street food.
7. Annecy, France
Annecy is known as the “Venice of the Alps” because of the little canals that run through its adorable streets. This gem of a town is located on the edge of the stunning Lake Annecy that overlooks the French Alps, so how could you not fall in love with it? This place is a must-visit if you appreciate the combination of nature and architecture.
8. Seville, Spain
Seville is my favorite place to visit in Spain, despite its competition with other wonderful Spanish cities. I think its uniqueness and old-town feel makes it impossible to not have a truly authentic experience. The tapas are delicious, the locals are friendly, and the flamenco dancing is incredibly fun to watch and experience. There’s also so many gorgeous historical buildings to check out here.
9. Budapest, Hungary
Budapest is an intriguing city that makes you want to travel back in time. This is an amazing place to immerse yourself in its history and gaze at all of the impressive architecture. No matter what time of the day or night, there’s something inviting going on here that you’ll want to experience.
10. Split, Croatia
Split is a bit off the beaten path when it comes to European travel, but it’s so worth a visit if you have the chance. It’s beautifully set by the sea and some nearby mountains. This vibrant city combines both the ancient and the modern; whether it’s the architecture or the authentic culture, you’ll end up feeling captivated by something you experience here.