Visiting Prague in March

Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic and is known for its rich ancient history as well as its beautiful modern sights. It is the mixture of both modern and medieval times that makes a visit worthwhile in Prague. The cultural hub is full of life and offers many activities for entertainment to tourists, such as music, dance, art, fine dining, and many other cultural events and festivals.

One of the best months to visit Prague is March. The city is not hustling and bustling with tourists, and if you like the soft touch of the summer sun, then March is the perfect time for you. Prague’s weather in March welcomes spring, so you will get to see the beautiful flowers blooming during the day.

Moreover, Prague offers various activities in March, which may not be available throughout the rest of the year. For example, there are many festivals that happen in March, such as the Shockproof Film Festival, Miss and Mister Concert, Bazaar Festival, St. Patrick’s Day Festival, Young Bohemia Prague Festival, etc. The best part about this is that it is not very crowded and you can easily have a great time with your family or friends.

March usually marks the end of winter in Prague; however, the days are still relatively chilly. Some days the sun shines bright in the clear blue sky, but on other days, there are dark clouds and chances of rain. But the overall weather is very pleasant and makes the experience worthwhile.

Places To Visit

Prague Castle

This castle is one of the most important cultural monuments in the capital city. It has a rich history and is full of many artifacts, historical documents, and jewels.

St. Vitus Cathedral

This is another great site to visit. The cathedral has its own interesting history and ancient stories about kings and queens. It is the largest church in the city and is also used as a burial ground.

Narodni Divadlo

This is a national theater that offers many dramas and opera shows. There are several dramas and shows scheduled in March for tourists, which reveal the history of Prague.

Vltava River Cruise

The cruise goes under several bridges, which are definitely a sight to see. It is ideal for relaxation as you can just sit and enjoy food and drinks along with a breathtaking view.

Prague Astronomical Clock

This is a very old clock, and the interesting thing about it is that it still works! It includes the old calendar, zodiac signs, as well as the movement of the sun and the moon.

Dancing House

The dancing house has a very interesting and unique structure. It has a restaurant at the top which has a panoramic view of the city. It also features an art gallery on the ground floor.

If you are looking for a nice getaway to enjoy a relaxing vacation in March either on your own or with family and friends, you should definitely put Prague on your list. March is the most pleasant time of the year in the capital city, and visiting the city in this month is sure to leave you with memories and experiences to last a lifetime!

 

The 11 Best Urban Beaches in Europe

Most European waterways are not suitable for summer, due to health concerns, but that hasn’t stopped cities from inventing some pretty amazing urban beaches. In order to beat the heat and celebrate the summer, cities have imported sand, created epic pools and decked out busy streets in beach huts and sun chairs. From the capital of Poland to the streets of Paris, these are 11 of the absolute best urban beaches in all of Europe.

11. Poniatówka Beach, Warsaw

The capital of Poland was severely lacking in beaches until only a few years ago and that’s when this beach popped into the spotlight. This wild and wide beach located right in the city offers everything from beach volleyball to nightly bonfires to sunbathing to wild nightly parties. Partying isn’t the only thing this beach offers though; wildlife is plentiful if you can find a quiet spot. Animals such as otters, elk, deer and boar have been known to show themselves to visitors. Make sure to check out Temat Rzeka, an epic beach bar that is home to thousands of customers a night and offers such activities as film screenings, beach volleyball and huge beach parties.

Photo by: Warsaw City Break
Photo by: Warsaw City Break

10. Tamariz, Lisbon

Just a half hour train ride away from Lisbon this urban beach is popular with both locals and visitors. The setting here is absolutely beautiful, with 350 meters of beach, sand and open sea. The waters here are calm and tranquil, and the beach is sandy which makes it the perfect family setting. The eastern edge of the beach actually features an ocean swimming pool with slightly warmer temperatures than the sea. Chair rentals can be expensive so many people choose to bring their own along. A beautiful medieval palace overlooks this beach, only adding to its charm and beauty. Plenty of cafes and restaurants are located nearby, making it easy to spend the entire day here.

Tamariz, Lisbon

9. Barceloneta, Barcelona

This exciting city got even better when the Olympics came here in 1992, as it was then that the coastline got a serious makeover. It was decided that the city would open up to the sea and restaurants and public bathhouses were torn down and replaced with first-rate beaches. These sandy beaches were created with beautiful hotels and incredible restaurants lining them and as the years go on, this area only gets better. Day or night, visitors will find the coolest crowds here. There are over 1100 meters of beach to enjoy, along with an abundance of sea activities. One can actually walk to the center of the city via a walkway lined with palm trees, cafes and modern landmarks.

Barceloneta, Barcelona

8. South Bank, London

This sliver of seaside charm is located beside one of the city’s busiest stretches of pavement. This corridor of sand skirts along Queen’s Walk, opposite the Southbank Centre and is full of sand, chairs and beach huts. This isn’t a beach you will want to visit if you are looking for a relaxing time but if you are looking to grab a few cocktails, build a couple sandcastles and take in awesome views of the Thames, this is the place to be. This beach is constantly buzzing all summer long with locals and visitors taking in the concerts, events and exhibitions that happen. Enjoy mingling with others, taking in live shows and soaking in the incredible and lively atmosphere.

Photo by: Southbank Centre
Photo by: Southbank Centre

7. Canary Wharf, London

The people of London and visitors to this city are in for a treat when it comes to urban beaches. The most popular may just be Canary Wharf, a sandy oasis hidden beneath the skyscrapers. The beach is loaded with volleyball courts and the famous KERB food market, where many city slickers head to grab a bite to eat during lunch hours. The beach here is dependent on what events are happening each summer and sand is brought in to create volleyball courts, beach rugby fields and more. Expect something different each time you visit here.

Photo by: Action For Kids
Photo by: Action For Kids

6. Vltava River, Prague

There may be no sea here but that didn’t stop Prague from creating one awesome urban beach on the banks of the Vltava River. With 500 tones of imported sand, over 200 pool chairs and a stunning pool; it’s no wonder locals and visitors flock to this beach. Not just for adults though, this beach has a kid’s playground located directly on it. If you are looking to get some activity in, try your hand at badminton or beach volleyball, with courts located directly on the beach. As the sun sinks and the stars come out this beach transforms into a party, with live music, dancing and special events running all summer long. Open from 10am-112pm daily, there is no bad time to visit this beach as long as the sun is shining.

Photo by: Travel for Senses
Photo by: Travel for Senses

5. Blijburg Aan Zee, Amsterdam

It is Amsterdam’s one true urban beach, complete with a sandy beach and swimming waters. The beach itself is 250 meters long and 40 meters wide and constantly hopping with things to do. The beach is open from June until September, Wednesdays through Sundays. Activities here include brunches on Sundays, kid’s events on the weekends and DJ’s and live bands throughout the months. The food here is absolutely wonderful and much of it is organic and vegetarian. At nighttime there is always a campfire to curl up around and visitors here will enjoy the laid back vibe of the locals. This beach also happens to host a ton of beach parties, windsurfing workshops and a monthly car trunk sale.

Photo by: Citinerary
Photo by: Citinerary

4. The Donauinsel (Danube Island), Vienna

This long narrow island in central Vienna is not just part of the flood protection system but also offers 42 kilometers of beach. In addition to awesome flat beaches with great bathing areas, there are extensive networks of paths for cyclers, joggers and walkers. Barbeque and picnic areas, playing fields, courts for beach volleyball and a variety of restaurants and shops also make up this urban beach stretch. There is no shortage of activities to do and many sports shops have set up along the beach to offer lessons in such water sports as scuba diving and windsurfing. Also located on Danube Island is a nature reserve, home to many plants and animals that depend on the protection.

Photo by: TriVienna
Photo by: TriVienna

3. Badeschiff, Berlin

This urban beach is actually comprised of a few different elements, including an old tug boat that has been converted into a pool during the summer months. Swimmers here can catch a great glimpse of the Berlin skyline and take part in some epic beach parties. The floating pool is connected by a wooden footbridge complete with hammocks to relax in. Beach goers can relax on the fine sand or play beach volleyball at one of the sand courts. The beach bar here is known for offering up a variety of summer cocktails and barbecued foods. Peaceful morning yoga classes are offered here twice a week and weekly open air concerts are a norm during the summer months. A separate area for kids to splash and build sandcastles is located just a stone’s throw away from the main area.

Photo by: Arena Berlin
Photo by: Arena Berlin

2. Paris Plages, France

For just shy of a month in the summer time, the right bank of the Seine from the Louvre to the Pont de Sully is converted into one of the best urban beaches in all of Europe. Sand gets imported into the area, beach chairs are set up, grass is laid down and boardwalk-style cafes and ice-cream sellers set up shop. When the temperature really soars sprinklers are put out as you wouldn’t want to swim in the Seine. Free summertime concerts take place; sporting events are in full swing and everyone who can’t go on vacation flocks to this area to enjoy some sand, sun and relaxation. Entrance to the beach is free and the only thing you will have to worry about is scoring one of the oversized umbrellas to curl up underneath.

Paris Plages, France

1. Brussels’ Beach, Brussels

Every year the banks of the Brussels channel are converted into a real urban beach, complete with imported sand, huts, sun chairs and fountains. This beach only lasts in the hottest months of summer, from July 15th to August 15th and the city goes all out to ensure visitors have the best of times. Activities here range from rowing to soccer to climbing to dancing while the kids will be entertained with magic shows and workshops throughout the day. The nights are meant for adults to kick back and enjoy with an offering of nightly concerts and parties. The city kicks off this month long urban beach with an impressive light and sound show and airs free films throughout the month on the big screen. Join locals and visitors alike at this urban beach, in our opinion, the best in all of Europe.

Photo by: City of Brussels
Photo by: City of Brussels

A Walking Tour of Prague: 15 Historical Landmarks

Prague was one of the few cities in Europe to be spared from bombing during WWII, making it one of the most precious and well-preserved historical spots in the world. In fact, many films set in 19th and 18th century London are filmed in this enchanting city that is one of the last remaining remnants of the Old World. With buildings dating back to the Middle Ages, Prague is now a well curated mix of Baroque, Renaissance, Gothic revival, and Art-Nouveau architecture that is connected by an intricate web of cobblestone pathways and historic bridges.

15. Wenceslas Square

Just around the corner from Old Town Square and the Statue of Jan Hus is Wenceslas Square, a bustling area in one of the main squares of Prague. Located in New Town, there is nothing new about this thoroughfare, which was commissioned by Charles IV in 1348. Originally serving as a horse market, the centrally located square is a good spot to end a walking tour since it’s easy to get to historic hotspots like the Charles Bridge and the Prague State Opera. Wenceslas Square has also been the meeting place for political rallies and protests over the decades, a grand area in a city full of symbolism and tumultuous history. The statue in front of the National Museum serves as a reminder of the good King Wenceslas on his horse. Considered the patron saint of the Czech Republic, the King was murdered by his brother over 1,000 years ago.

Wenceslas Square

14. Statue of Jan Hus

Further along the Old Town Square is the Statue of Jan Hus, a large memorial depicting the Protestant reformer who spoke out against the extravagance and corruption of the Catholic Church, particularly the Vatican. In the Middle Ages, there was little mercy for heresy and Jan Hus was no exception. Even though he received a letter of safe conduct from the Emperor, he was imprisoned for a year before being burned at the state in this very spot in 1415. His martyrdom sparked a revolt of Hussites who led a path of destruction across cities and villages. In response, Pope Martin V declared war on the heretics, which was the beginning of a long battle between the Catholic Crusaders and the Protestant Hussites. The colossal statue was the labor of love for Czech sculptor Ladislav Saloun, an autodidact artist who was heavily influenced by the works of Auguste Rodin.

Statue of Jan Hus

13. Old Town Square

In the historic Old Town Square, the Prague Orloj is one of its cherished artifacts and the oldest working clock in the world. Installed in the Old Town Hall in 1410, the medieval astronomical clock is one of the wonders of the ancient world. Meander down the street and you’ll discover the Gothic style Church of Our Lady before Tyn that dates back to the 14th century. Other architecture styles stand out, like the Baroque style St. Nicholas Church. After taking in all the sights, stop in for an evening dinner at Bellevue, a lovely upscale restaurant overlooking the Vtlava River. Situated in a chateau-like building, the interior mixes modern and traditional for an elegant and romantic ambiance. In the summer months, they open up their terrace for dining al fresco, an extraordinary treat in the heart of the Old Town.

Old Town Square

12. Kinsky Palace

After a short stroll over Charles Bridge, you’ll come to the Old Town of Prague and Kinsky Palace, an 18th century mansion that is now home to the National Gallery of Prague, a state-owned art collection and the largest of its kind in the country. Standing out with a stucco exterior, intricate pink and white detailing, and Rococo design, the Palace is full of elegant, classical elements both inside and out. But there’s more to see than the notable architecture. Art history buffs will swoon over their favorite artists up close and in person with a collection including works by Monet, Van Gogh, Cezanne, and Renoir, plus 2 rooms dedicated to Picasso. The gallery also features the Rodin busts and figures that had a profound impact on 20th century Czech sculpture.

Kinsky Palace

11. Charles Bridge

Strolling across the bridge is a favorite activity for Czech locals and tourists, especially the cobblestone, pedestrian-only Charles Bridge that spans the Vltava River. Construction of the Bohemian sandstone bridge began in 1357 and finished sometime in the early 15th century, resulting in a mix of stunning Gothic style towers and Baroque statues and statuaries. Although replicas have replaced many of the originals, the Charles Bridge is considered a rare architectural achievement in preservation and design. Today, the historic bridge still retains its old world glory but without the horse carriage tracks. With a fairytale view of the Old Town and Prague Castle, the Charles Bridge is popular among filmmakers and has been featured in hit movies like Immortal Beloved, The Bourne Identity, and Casino Royale. Today, it is still a mecca for artists like Ylevgeni Shtchemenko, an oil painter who uses the city’s most famous landmark as a backdrop.

Charles Bridge

 

10. Church of Our Lady of Unceasing Succour

On your way to the main square of the city, stop by the Church of Our Lady of Unceasing Succor and get a close look at Gothic Revival and Baroque architecture. Like many buildings in Prague, the church went through a series of transformations beginning with the original wooden structure being rebuilt as a Gothic stone chapel in the Middle Ages. After the addition of a large cathedral in the early 16th century, architect Octavio Braggi restored the crumbling church with a layer of detailed Baroque style that was popular in the 1800s. Located in the Nerudova neighborhood, the seven chapels were built to represent the seven succours of the Virgin Mary. Riding on the coattails of the Czech National Revival, religion took a back seat and the church was converted into a theater from 1834 to 1837 and was known for its plays by Czech writers.

Olesya Tseytlin / Shutterstock.com
Olesya Tseytlin / Shutterstock.com

9. Municipal House

Located near Old Town Square, the Municipal House underwent major renovations in the 1990s, making it one of the most prized and striking examples of early 20th century Art Nouveau. Built on the former site of a medieval estate, the building was designed by the best artists in the world and considered the pinnacle of architectural achievement to come out of the Czech National Revival. Every aspect of the interior is unmistakably Art Nouveau, including the stained-glass canopy and wrought iron railings. As you walk through the mansion, you’ll discover paintings and sculptures rich with symbolism and often depicting ancient myths and folklore. A striking example of this trend is Homage to Prague, a mosaic situated at the entrance and highlighting the struggle and rebirth of the Czech people. Today, the civic building is still home to Smetana Hall, a concert venue since the building opened in 1912.

Municipal House

 

8. Bretfeld Palace

The old Renaissance buildings and facades still stand majestically on the hillside overlooking the historic city. Along the ancient path, you’ll pass by the Bretfeld Palace, a Renaissance style mansion and the former hangout for celebrities like Casanova and Mozart. Just outside of the Prague Castle, get lost on Nerudova, one of the most iconic streets in Prague. Centuries of peasants, aristocrats, and cultural luminaries walked these same cobblestoned streets, and at night, stumbled home and viewed the same starry sky. Imagine the spectacle of caviar and absinthe-fueled nights in the Baroque style mansion and Mozart drinking champagne in a dinner tuxedo and partying like it’s the 18th century. During the Romantic era, these were the old stomping grounds of artists and musicians who were inspired by the rich and layered culture of the Czech people. 

Nerudova

7. Prague Castle

Dating back to the year 870, the Prague Castle in Hradcany has seen its share of wars, fires, and other disasters over the centuries. Still going strong today, thanks to ongoing renovations, it is the gem of Prague and the largest ancient castle in the world. Standing majestically on the hill overlooking Charles Bridge and Old Town Square, Prague Castle is a well-preserved relic of Baroque architecture. With several palaces, churches, and halls, visitors can get happily lost in an intricate maze of Baroque and Gothic-style structures. It also boasts one of the best city views in Prague, so take your time with a stroll outside the castle walls on ancient stone pathways. Along the way, don’t forget the domed ceilings of Vladislav Hal or the Gothic towers of Saint Vitus Cathedral. And if you look hard enough, you might find the Czech Crown Jewels, the fourth oldest in Europe.

Prague Castle

6. Rudolfinum Theater

Considered to have the best views of the river and Prague Castle, the Rudolfinum Theater is one of the finest and best-preserved historic landmarks in Prague. Opened in 1885, the theater was originally used as a multipurpose cultural performance space until 1919 when it became home to the House of Commons of the Czechoslovak Republic. During the German occupation in WWII, it began hosting concerts again, and in 1992, it underwent major renovations to feature the best artists and musicians in the country from the Czech Philharmonic and Rudolfinum Gallery. Like most buildings in Prague, the 19th century theater has a tumultuous timeline. Originally designed as an entrance hall, the Dvovana Ceremony Hall contains 25 curious empty spaces on the wall, the result of an artist boycott of the 1891 fresco competition in protest over the large number of German artists involved with the design of the building.

tichr / Shutterstock.com
tichr / Shutterstock.com

 

5. Paris Street

On trendy Paris Street you’ll find a mix of Neo-Renaissance, Neo-Baroque, and Classical style buildings in one of the most striking neighborhoods in Prague. Stroll down the sidewalk and you’ll find designer clothing, traditional Czech glass, and antique stores fill with ancient treasures. Another notable piece of history is Hotel Paris, an art-nouveau luxury hotel that dates back to 1904. Built with grand facades and intricate details, the structure was built to celebrate the prestige and wealth of Prague in the early 20th century. Today, it still dazzles visitors with its vintage elegance and charm. Make your stay even more memorable and indulge in the Tower Suite, a luxury room built within the hotel tower and with stunning views of Prague Castle and the Old Town.  

InnaFelker / Shutterstock.com
InnaFelker / Shutterstock.com

4. Grand Café Orient

Prague might be known for its ancient Renaissance and Baroque architecture, but the city also encourages the avant-garde, making it a mecca for cubists and modernists who are inspired by layers of history. One of the most unusual layers is represented in the Grand Café Orient, the only cubist style structure in the world.  With its simple geometric shapes and lack of classical perspective, the architecture of the cubists was undergoing a transformation between the old world and the modernity of the early 20th century. The result is a quirky retro vibe that encapsulates the unique Czech contribution to the cubist movement. Located on the first floor of the House of the Black Madonna, get a closer look at the elegant café and stop in for a coffee and croissant.

Oscity / Shutterstock.com
Oscity / Shutterstock.com

3. Charles University

Established in 1348, Charles University in the Old Town of Prague is the oldest college in the Czech Republic and considered one of the best in the world. If you find yourself in the area, it’s worth stopping by the Karolinum, a set of buildings that dates back to the 14th century, making it the oldest structure on campus. Although the façade is mostly original stone, the interior was renovated in the Baroque style in the early 18th century. Today, the building is officially revered as a National Cultural Monument of the Czech Republic. Like many universities of the medieval era, the university was modeled after the University of Paris with 4 faculties–theology, law, medicine, and arts. Founded by Pope Clement VI by the request of Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, the university is full of medieval relics, tradition, and legends from the early days of Prague.

Karolinum

2. Tyn Church

Officially known as Church of Our Lady before Tyn, the Tyn Church is a glorious Gothic-style cathedral in Old Town Square and considered a cherished historic landmark. Since it was establishing in the 14th century, the church has served as the main cathedral since medieval times. Taking over a century to build, the church is a magnificent, well-preserved relic with its towers topped by spires and a Baroque altarpiece featuring works by Karel Skreta from the 17th century. It also contains the oldest pipe organ in the world, making it a rare example of 17th century organs in Europe. According to legend, the cathedral inspired Walt Disney’s depiction of the castle in Sleeping Beauty. If you look closely, you might notice that the towers are not symmetrical. One represents masculine and the other feminine, a common symbolism of Gothic architecture from that period.

Tyn Church

1. Estate Theater

In a legendary, breathtaking performance in 1787, Mozart made his world debut of his opera Don Giovanni at the Estate Theater, a historic building and training ground for famous musical luminaries. The building was spawned from the Enlightenment, a period of thought that encouraged the importance of public access to arts and culture. Today, it still retains all if its Baroque and Classicist splendor as well as the dedication to all things Mozart, particularly his operas. You might recognize the grand interiors from Amadeus, the Mozart biopic directed by Czech director Milos Forman. For a closer look, put on your evening best and head to the opera for a night of old world opulence and classical music. Just like the aristocrats but without the top hats or corsets, view the same stage that hosted some of the most historic performances of all time.

Estate Theater

 

The Best Places To Spend New Year’s Eve in Europe

New Year’s Eve is a time most of us look forward to putting the old year behind us and starting with a fresh slate in the new year. Many people believe that how we ring in the new year also has bearing on what the year will bring us. For travelers, what could be better than celebrating with friends new and old in a far-flung locale, experiencing local traditions and creating new ones? These 10 European cities know how to ring in the new year; get your year started on the right foot by visiting one of these parties.

10. London

More than 250,000 people will crowd along the banks of the Thames to ring in the new year. Big Ben performs countdown services and the stroke of midnight marks the beginning a spectacular 10-minute display of lights and fireworks. The London Eye, the Shard and Parliament are among the iconic buildings lit up to welcome the new year. Looking to stay out of the cold and rain? Head to the soiree at the London Sky Bar, where you’ll find food and a live DJ, plus fabulous views of the revelry in the streets below. Free public transport all night will help get you to one of many after-parties around the city. Visit the Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park and, on New Year’s Day, take in the annual parade, which features a procession of the Queen’s horses, among others.

London New Years Eve

9. Dubrovnik

Croatia may not be a top destination for New Year’s revelers, but the city of Dubrovnik gets extra points for managing to host an almost intimate party, despite the number of people who come out to celebrate. Less claustrophobic than parties in Zagreb and Split, the festivities in Dubrovnik center on Stradun, the city’s main street, where you’re likely to bump elbows with locals on their way to bars and restaurants filled to bursting with celebrating crowds. The city also hosts a number of Croatian performers, offering up a rich program of music and entertainment for the evening. Start with a cozy meal with friends or family, or, if you’re traveling with your honey, consider splurging on a meal at one of the city’s upscale establishments. Join the crowds in Stradun for the stroke of midnight, then keep the party going by stopping off at a local bar.

Photo by: Eventfully Croatia
Photo by: Eventfully Croatia

8. Stockholm

The Swedes celebrate Christmas in a relatively subdued style, which means they’re all the more ready to let loose and party on New Year’s Eve. Revelry is the order of the day in the nation’s capital, with parties becoming raucous and celebrations pouring into the streets. Fill up on a seafood at a restaurant before moving your party to Skansen, which has been the center of Stockholm’s celebrations since 1895. At the stroke of midnight, a well-known Swede will read the poem “Ring Out, Wild Bells,” as streamers fill the air. Party trumpets and fireworks erupt all around the city. After midnight, participate in some club-hopping and keep the party going late into the night; bars and clubs are often open until 3 or 4 in the morning, giving you plenty of time to celebrate the new year.

Stockholm New Years Eve

7. Paris

It should be little wonder that one of Europe’s most iconic cities makes the list as one of the best places to spend New Year’s. The Eiffel Tower is lit up to mark the occasion and crowds of revelers swarm the Champs-Elysees, which provides fantastic views of the tower. The area turns into a massive street party, with both champagne bottles and fireworks popping everywhere. If you’re looking for something a little different, try Montmarte for excellent views of fireworks without the crowd. If you want something romantic, book a dinner cruise along the Seine and listen to a live orchestra as you sail through the City of Lights. Restaurants and nightclubs also hold soirees so you have no shortage of options for how to ring in the new year. On New Year’s Day, the Grande Parade de Paris caps off the celebrations.

Paris New Years Eve

6. Vienna

Vienna, once the center of empire and a beautiful city beloved by intellectuals and artists, is perhaps the best place in Europe to experience an “Old World” New Year’s celebration. The city’s most famous party is the Grand Ball held at the Hofburg Palace, but there are plenty of other opportunities for revelry in the Austrian capital. The city’s famous Christmas markets transform into fairs and the New Year’s Eve Trail will lead you through the Old City. The party begins at 2 in the afternoon and continues long after the clock has struck midnight. Mulled wine is the drink of choice for this crowd. A spectacular fireworks display highlights the Wiener Prater fair at midnight. On New Year’s Day, join the crowd gathered outside City Hall to watch the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s concert on a giant screen.

Photo by: Room Suggestion
Photo by: Room Suggestion

5. Amsterdam

Amsterdam is known as something of a party city for North Americans, and on New Year’s Eve, the city shows that it deserves that reputation, with impromptu street parties filling the spaces between large, organized revelry in public places like Rembrandtplein, Nieumarkt, Museumplein and Dam Square. Outdoor concerts are complemented by indoor parties at bars. Fireworks go on sale the day before the celebrations, so you can be sure to see plenty of displays. Grab a perch on one of the city’s many bridges and watch the colors explode across the nighttime sky, mirrored in the water below. Grab a glass of champagne and some fried treats (like oliebollen, viamse frites and bitterballen) from the street vendors, then head to the club to keep the party going.

Photo by: Amsterdam
Photo by: Amsterdam

4. Reykjavik

Reykjavik receives only 4 hours of sun on New Year’s Eve, which means the locals are more than ready to celebrate with a festival of light. They start with community bonfires, meant to burn away the troubles of the old year. There are no official fireworks displays organized by the city; rather, there are numerous displays put on by private citizens. Fireworks will often start about half-an-hour before midnight, lighting up every corner of the city as almost 200,000 people get involved. Head to Perlan or Landakotskirkja church for the best views of the city. Plenty of small, private parties keep things hopping, and bars and clubs remain open well after midnight. Since Icelanders tend to go out late anyway, you’ll often find revelers up until the wee hours of the morning, dancing the night away.

Photo by: Guide to Iceland
Photo by: Guide to Iceland

3. Istanbul

Istanbul has been on the rise as a must-see destination for travelers, and what better time than New Year’s? While visiting this vibrant European capital is an experience and a half at any time of year, Istanbul one-ups itself on New Year’s Eve. Start your evening with a traditional Turkish meze dinner in a restaurant in Bebek or Istiklal Caddesi, where celebrations are a little tamer. Afterwards, join the jubilant crowd in the streets of Taksim or another part of the city, where revelers will organize impromptu street parties. If the crowded streets aren’t your scene, you can always book a river cruise along the Bosphorus and watch the celebrations from afar as you sail through the city. The best part is that you’ll have one of the best views for the stunning fireworks at the stroke of midnight.

Istanbul new years eve

2. Prague

Prague is known as one of Europe’s most beautiful cities and one of the most beautiful in the world. The “city of a hundred spires” comes alive on New Year’s Eve, which is also known as Silvestr. The streets will be packed with a rag-tag crowd of revelers, and bars, clubs and restaurants will be filled with party-goers. Much of the fun takes place at Wenceslas Square and Old Town Square. Fireworks are set off all around town (and perhaps with a bit of dangerous abandon), with one of the best displays occurring at Letna Gardens, which can be watched from nearby bridges and embankments. Champagne bottles are smashed during the celebrations, which means you might want to bring a helmet to this party, but who could resist ringing in the new year in the heart of Europe?

Prague New Years Eve

1. Berlin

Germany’s capital has something of a reputation as a party city throughout the year, so it makes sense that the city has a go-big-or-go-home attitude toward New Year’s festivities. The highlight is undoubtedly “Party Mile,” a 2-km stretch between Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Column, lined with bars, food stalls, music stages, party tents and laser light shows. The fireworks begin promptly at midnight, as do the toasts to the new year. Many people then hit the dancefloors of the city’s clubs, partying until well after sun-up. The Berliner Silversterlauf, the infamous New Year’s Eve “pancake run,” is another tradition in the city. Some people run the free 4-km race on New Year’s Day. Berlin expects to welcome approximately a million revelers to help ring in 2016—maybe you’ll be one of them.

Berlin New Years Eve

 

The 10 Best Cities in the World 2015

More than 128,000 readers of Condé Nast Traveler voted for their favorite cities in the world outside of the U.S. and the votes have been tallied. It should come as no surprise that the major cities such as Rome, London and Paris made the list, thanks to their iconic landmarks, fantastic cuisine and abundance of things to see and do. There are a couple of sneaky cities that made this list, ones that are not obvious at first but once you dig deeper it becomes abundantly clear why they are favorites. Discover the top 10 best cities in the world as of 2015 according to the readers of Condé Nast Traveler:

10. London, England

It is one of the world’s most visited cities and offers an abundance of things to see and do for people of any age. London is a mash of wide-open spaces and chaotic cityscape, a combination that seemingly works for this city. Central London is where you will find the awesome galleries and museums, and the most iconic of sites, the double decked buses and the famous phone booths. The landmarks such as Big Ben, Tower Bridge and the London Eye enthrall visitors as does Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Hampton Court Palace with their beautiful green spaces. There are a ton of restaurants, bars and clubs to choose from when the sun goes down, along with friendly locals. Arts, culture, history- you will find it all here in this city that rates as one of the best 10 cities in the world in 2015.

elenaburn / Shutterstock.com
elenaburn / Shutterstock.com

9. Kyoto, Japan

Step back into time when you visit Japan’s ancient city of Kyoto where quiet temples, sublime gardens and colorful shrines make up the landscape. There are said to be over 1000 Buddhist temples found in this city and it is here where visitors can appreciate the masterpieces of religious architecture. The city is surrounded by mountains on three sides which offer incredible hiking. Don’t be surprised when wandering the streets to find a secret temple or unique shop that you may have passed by and not noticed, as it seems secrets lie throughout this city. A large range of excellent restaurants are located throughout the city, most housed in traditional wooden buildings where you can gaze over incredible gardens while you eat. Experience the ancient times of Japan as you wander the streets, stopping to chat with friendly locals, visit the ancient specialty shops such as pickle vendors or tea merchants and ending your day with a soak in the local public bathhouse. It will be clear why this is one of the best cities in the world.

TungCheung / Shutterstock.com
TungCheung / Shutterstock.com

8. Bruges, Belgium

Entering this city is to be transported into the middle of a fairy-tale that is based in a medieval town. Cobblestone streets, market squares with soaring towers and historic churches at every turn help make this one of the most picturesque cities in the world. Built between the 12th and 15th century, it remains one of the best preserved medieval cities. Dreamy canals link the market squares, nighttime brings evening floodlighting and in the spring the daffodils cover the courtyards. It is one of the most visited cities as well, due to its overwhelming beauty. Visiting in the winter is the best away to avoid the throngs of tourists, and although cold and icy, there is something magical about this medieval city when it’s covered in snow. Make sure you spend at least a couple of days exploring here.

Emi Cristea / Shutterstock.com
Emi Cristea / Shutterstock.com

7. Prague, Czech Republic

This beautiful historic town is worth visiting for the beer alone- kidding, sort of. Arguably, it does boast the best beer in Europe but there are so many other reasons that this city was voted number 7 as the best in the world. It’s maze of cobbled streets and hidden courtyards are a paradise for those who love to wander throughout the city, exploring ancient chapels, awe-inspiring gardens and hidden pubs with no tourists in site. The landmarks are truly spectacular here, from the 14th century stone bridge to the hilltop castle to the lovely lazy river that inspired one of the most beautiful pieces of 19th century classical music, Smetana’s Moldau. Quirky doesn’t even begin to describe this city, with its nuclear hidden bunkers, cubist lampposts and interesting fountains. Marvel at the Bohemian art, discover the stunning architecture and order a beer by simply placing a beer mat on the table.

Prague, Czech Republic

6. Rome, Italy

Italy’s eternal city continues to enthrall visitors from all over the globe. Rome is known for its history, fine art and incredible food. There are endless sights to take in including The Colosseum, Pantheon and St. Peter’s Basilica. There are extraordinary restaurants to eat at, cafés to drink at and tiny local shops down alley ways that serve up the best pizza and pasta you have ever had in your life. Masterpieces by Michelangelo and fountains by Bernini are strewn throughout the city as well as towering ancient churches overflowing with beautiful stained glass and ornate decorations. Whether you are a history buff that can spend weeks wandering through this city, or a foodie who wants to enjoy local wine and fine dining, or someone who just wants to experience an incredible city, full of locals with a gruff sense of humor, Rome should be at the top of your list.

Vatican Museums Rome

5. Paris, France

It has established itself as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, boasting iconic landmarks, cobblestone streets, historic buildings and charming sidewalk cafes. There would be no point in visiting this city if you are planning on skipping the most iconic landmark, the Eiffel Tower. Make sure not to miss the other “big” sights though, such as the Arc de Triomphe, the Notre Dame cathedral, and the impressive Louvre. Finding a place to grab a bite to eat here is almost overwhelming as it’s reputation for cuisine is outstanding. Whether you are looking for a neighborhood bistro or an epic fine dining experience, every single establishment here prides itself on it’s food and wine. Paris also happens to be one of the great art repertoires of the world, with scores of museums throughout the city, from the famous Louvre to the smaller ones boasting contemporary and modern art. There is no shortage of places to discover in this incredible city.

cesc_assawin / Shutterstock.com
cesc_assawin / Shutterstock.com

4. Sydney, Australia

It is Australia’s biggest city and even after spending a month here it can feel as though you have barely scratched the surface of what it has to offer. The city can be loud, in your face and chaotic offering crazy firework displays, drag queen clubs, hip bars, live music and no shortage of parties to attend. Sydney can also be wild in terms of nature, with National Parks bordering the city and working their way into it. Native critters show up in unsuspecting places and parks compete with skyscrapers and suburbs. Spend endless hours at the beach, specifically Bondi Beach, one of the world’s greatest beaches. Dine at lively restaurants, visit the Sydney Tower for spectacular views from the glass platform or spend hours’ people watching from one of the outdoor cafes.

Bondi Beach Sydney Australia

3. Vienna, Austria

Packed with history, host to great nightlife, full of incredible restaurants and home to quiet tucked away corners, Vienna is a city that begs to be explored. It is one of the most musical cities in the world in part due to the great number of composers and musicians that were born here, lived here and worked here. Visitors to the city should count on taking in the incredible music at one of the famous music venues such as the Staatsoper and Musikverein. Dining in the city is always a treat with its bistro pubs serving up delicious brews and wine, or in creative restaurants where chefs are taking things to a new culinary level. An incredible transportation system makes it easy to get around, the city is known for being incredible safe and the locals are both welcoming and friendly.

volkova natalia / Shutterstock.com
volkova natalia / Shutterstock.com

2. Budapest, Hungary

This city is rich in history, natural cites and unique cuisine, drawing visitors from all over the world. A famous hallmark of Budapest is their hot springs that surround the city, making bathhouses one of the most popular activities in the city. Soak your troubles away in one of the many that are located within the city. Budapest is often called “The Paris of the East” due to its stunning architecture including Roman ruins and the Buda Castle which was built in 1265. Don’t count on just indulging in goulash, there is actually a lot more to Hungarian food and Budapest has the reputation of being a food capital, offering incredible dining options along with excellent wine. Discover a city whose history is almost too complex to understand, a city that is rebuilding with hope and reconciliation, a city that will leave you feeling in awe of it.

pavel dudek / Shutterstock.com
pavel dudek / Shutterstock.com

1. Florence, Italy

Despite Rome and its incredible architecture, and Milan- fashion capital of the world; the best city in Italy and the world in 2015 is actually Florence. Some say you can visit time and time again and not see it all. This city is romantic, magnetic and busy, home to incredible world-class art, food and wine. Don’t miss the iconic Uffizi Gallery or the modern-art museum- Museo Novecento, as well as the Palazzo Vecchio, the stunning fortress palace. Head to the maze of streets in San Lorenzo for a food lover’s paradise or to the 400-year-old pharmacy that still sells traditional elixirs in the central square of Piazza di Santa Maria Novella. The narrow streets of this city tell a thousand tales, through its historic buildings, through the food and wine, and it’s no wonder why it’s number one on this list.

Florence Italy

6 European City Escapes Perfect for a Weekend

There are countless European cities and towns to top a traveler’s list of continental adventures—many quintessential for a weekend getaway. So many fascinating details comprise the historical aspects of Europe’s greatest cities, showcased throughout museums, galleries, and impressive landmarks dotted across the continent. Add in some interesting gentrification, modern cultural amusements, and spice it up with a whole lot of contemporary fixings, and these six cities skip to the beat of their own drum. Whether you’re a budget traveler or a big spender, the following cities welcome almost any budget and propensity.

6. Rome, Italy

“Rome wasn’t built in a day” couldn’t be more sincere. The legendary city practically bleeds history through incredible, ancient buildings, beginning with the Forum. To the west is Capitoline Hill, to the east the renowned Colosseum, and the south is celebrated for the Baths of Caracalla and Palatine Hill. The backdrop along the beautiful River Tiber sets scenes for days of old and unbridled romance: you’ll find ancient Rome, Vatican City, endless cathedrals, and the Renaissance capital of Raphael and Michelangelo. Make time for the trendy shops, lively café culture, and fashionable restaurants—it’s all just one big, modern and delightful dichotomy. If you’re in Rome for history, forgo the car and relish instead in the pedestrian center where most famous ruins and buildings are clustered or hop the metro, ditching the dizzying traffic jams. Slip into Rome’s Mediterranean tempo while perusing the historical legacies and 21st century pleasures.

Rome, Italy

5. London, England

Incredible diversity, pulsing energy, centuries-old history, and innovatively impressive, London is England’s most progressive city. The Thames River carves through London like a snake, flanked by attractions both exciting and scenic. Head to central London to the most famous sites, including galleries, museums, and legendary landmarks but relax in the fact that, when the busy pace is overwhelming, there is a wide choice of green spaces to unwind, like pretty Hyde Park. Take pub culture by the horns—there’s no better place to pub hop—and sample some of the beautifully diverse, ethnic restaurants along with local English favourites. “Mind the Gap” as you venture onto the city’s renowned Tube, and enjoy affordable and convenient transportation. Take a twirl on the London Eye, crane your neck at Big Ben, and revel in the arts at Tate Modern—it would take years to soak this city up in its entirety.

Top Cities 2013 - London

4. Florence, Italy

Rolling hills, cypress trees, and olive groves come to mind when conjuring landscapes surrounding Florence in Italy’s Tuscany region. This is where you won’t just explore a piazza, you’ll experience it while settling in for an unforgettable meal or remarkable wine. Fans of art from the Renaissance shouldn’t miss this haven of period pieces, best seen at the Uffizi Gallery Museum. The Arno River passes through, setting the scene for a different mood from sunup to sundown while slender streets give way to historic palaces, towering cathedrals, and busy piazzas. As romantic as it all is, fashion is as fundamental in Florence as the arts are; both Roberto Cavalli and Gucci were born in the city, breaking bread with the well-dressed wealthy amid the wine-fueled cocktail parties in the hills. Fashion doesn’t rule the roost though; there’s plenty of history, great nightlife, and sights for non-Fashionistas to enjoy too.

Florence Cathedral

3. Munich, Germany

Crowds flock to Munich for Oktoberfest—the best destination for the Autumn celebration—and are equally enthralled with its beautiful, summertime setting, yet Munich can be enjoyed in any season. This Bavarian capital is party central, supremely conveyed when in the Old City (Altstadt), when every square is filled with people eating, drinking, and enjoying life. The beer gardens and local Hofbräuhaus are typically German, brimming with revelry. Sophistication and culture is as much a part of Munich as the merriment is, evident throughout a prominent arts community, gastronomic endeavors, and mercantile joys. Less gritty than Hamburg or Berlin, Munich’s central core is lively and enchanting, where the chime of church bells entrances and the streets are fitted for people over cars. Safe, clean, and somewhat rustic, visitors can walk or cycle the English Garden, shop, eat, and drink in the Gärtnerplatz, then cruise on over to the traditional farmer’s style Viktualienmarkt.

Marienplatz Munich

2. Barcelona, Spain

Catalonia’s capital city is drenched in history while featuring so many modern twists, it’s downright mind-boggling. Barcelona is one of the most thrilling cities in the world, hitting on just about every interest, from family fun to some pretty wild nightlife. The spread of attractions is incredible: Gothic architecture, vibrant markets, lovely beaches, and pumped up nightlife. Galleries and world class museums exhibit cultural highlights along with a full roster of music and theater performances. If you haven’t heard of Gaudi, look him up immediately. His jaw-dropping, magically styled buildings are literally unlike anything in the world. Every shopaholic gawks at what’s on offer throughout popular retail avenues of Passeig de Gracia and Placa de Catalunya while casual souvenir seekers love unusual shops along Las Ramblas, a colourful pedestrian avenue. From the Gothic district to the endless collection of famous Spanish tapas restaurants, there’s something here for everyone.

Park Guell Barcelona Spain

1. Prague, Czech Republic

The capital city of the Czech Republic, Prague, is one of the world’s most breathtaking cities. One sweeping look and Prague administers a scenic trance with its incredible skyline, soaring stone buildings, and cobblestone streets. The pull of the gardens and Renaissance palaces inside the Little Quarter (Mala Strana) seem extra magnetic for the riverside location and museums of modern art, along with fantastic bars and restaurants, colour this district with charisma—just south is pub-laden Smíchov. The 14th century Charles Bridge carves through; a spectacle and hotspot overlooking lazy and exquisite Vltava River, and the perfect spot to admire Prague Castle. Wandering aimlessly is how to really see Prague in its glory of mazy courtyards and cobblestone streets, always pulling you in for a little more. Walk through Old Town where unanticipated gardens, old school pubs, and pleasant cafes eat into hours, especially through neighborhoods like Bubeneč and Vinohrady.

Prague

8 Awesome Waterparks In Europe

While Europe may be better known for rich history, numerous landmarks and noteworthy food and drink, there are other, slightly more slippery attractions to lure the tourists. So if you’re touring Europe this summer, and care to stop off for a sliding, splashing good time, here are some of Europe’s best waterparks.

8. Siam Park, Spain

This huge waterpark located in Adeje, in the Tenerife region of the Canary Islands. Siam Park has  a Thai flavor, complete with dragon-themed rides, a children’s splash park called “Sawasdee” (Thai for ‘welcome’), a “Lost City” water fortress, Mai Thai Lazy River and a raft ride that simulates being in an erupting volcano. There are a couple of highlights: they claim that their wave pool spins the biggest wave in the world, reaching 3 meters high, providing opportunity for surfing and wave riding. The Tower of Power, a high-speed waterslide jets out over an 85-foot drop that includes a ride in a tube through an aquarium that is home to a variety of marine life- including sharks.

slava296 / Shutterstock.com
slava296 / Shutterstock.com

7. Costa Caribe Aquatic Park, Spain

Located about an hour from Barcelona, this park spans about 50,000 square meters, and is lush with nearly 4,300 tropical plants that landscape the area. There is a Caribbean vibe, with palm trees, grass huts and Reggae music. You can race your friends down a multi-laned water toboggan on the Rapid River. Kids (big and small) will have fun living out pirate adventures on the Pirate Galleon, with water cannons and abundant slides. Anchoring the park is the Bermuda Triangle (the wave pool).

Photo by: PortAventura Costa Caribe Aquatic Park
Photo by: PortAventura Costa Caribe Aquatic Park

6. Aquapalace, Prague

This indoor waterpark combines a “waterworld” as well as sauna, fitness and spa facilities. It is known as the biggest aquapark in Central Europe. Three steep water slides, children’s wading pool, as well as a number of other twisty-turny rides provide all kinds of year-round water fun. There is also an outdoor component, with the “wild river” that connects through a large outdoor pool complex.

Photo by: Aquapalace Prague
Photo by: Aquapalace Prague

5. Aquapark Biscarrosse, France

Located outdoors on Lac Biscarrose in Port Maguide, France, this fun-filled, inflatable aquatic adventure is open seasonally, from June through September. Attractions include huge inflatable slides, jumping pillows, obstacle courses, water trampolines, and balancing challenges, climbing walls and aquatic body zorbs. Recently, they’ve even opened a giant catapult, which flings guests through the air, landing in the lake below.

Photo by: AquaPark Biscarrosse
Photo by: AquaPark Biscarrosse

4. Serena Waterpark, Finland

This indoor/outdoor waterpark is the largest in Scandinavia. Indoors, guests can try their hand at the whirling Tornado ride, which circles them around the bowl before dropping through a chute to the pool below- and you can compete with your friends as to who completes the most laps. There are also several other slides of varying lengths, heights and pitch, offering a lot of variety, according to your thrill level. There is also a ski jump (this park is adjacent to a ski hill, after all) that lets you ride straight into the pool. Outside, again with the ski/snowboard theme, is the half-pipe, which lets riders swish side-to-side along a wide open halfpipe. For the truly daring there is the free fall- which is exactly as it sounds- a nearly vertical free fall down a swiftly moving slides.

Photo by: Serena Waterpark
Photo by: Serena Waterpark

3. Fasouri Watermania, Cyprus

Designed with a Polynesian theme, this laid-back waterpark has a wide variety of family friendly attractions, making it appealing to those with younger kids. Some highlights include paddle boats, baby bungee swings (which is a cool water play experience for kids up to three years old) and a Tarzan swing that lets you gather speed and then swing yourself out across the water, letting go for a big splash. There are your traditional waterslides, that let rider pit themselves against rider in a toboggan race to the bottom, and shriek-worthy raft rides. Guests can pretend they are human cannonballs, letting themselves be propelled through the air by 1000 liters of water a minute on the Black Cannons. You can try your balancing skill climbing to the top of “Wet Bubble, Big Orange”, using a rope, which is easier than it looks.

Photo by: Fasouri Watermania
Photo by: Fasouri Watermania

2. Aqualandia, Italy

This park promotes itself as “a Caribbean isle, just a few steps from Venice”. In addition to a wide selection of waterslides, Aqualandia offers Latin Dance lessons, a watergym, water spinning and aquatic entertainment. The architecture is done in homage to the Caribbean influences seen in Key West, Florida, beginning with the entrance, fashioned after Port Hemingway. Highlights from this park include the only wave pool in the world with a sandy bottom and a sandy beach. Riders can pitch themselves in rafts down a 60 degree slope on Captain Spacemaker. There are numerous steep and swift slides to choose from. There is also a Mayan-inspired pyramid, through which riders can race their friends on the Apocalypse. Other attractions include bungee jumping and rock climbing.

Photo by: Aqualandia
Photo by: Aqualandia

1. Tropical Islands, Germany

This huge entertainment complex, located in Brandenburg, Germany, houses a tropical rainforest, stage shows and mini-golf in addition to a sizable waterpark. Love a day at the beach, but concerned about the weather? The Tropical Sea is the size of three Olympic swimming pools and has a sandy beach (which they say is the largest indoor beach in the world). The air is maintained at 28 degrees Celsius, which means a perfect beach day, every day. A lagoon with waterfalls, lush vegetation, and a network of water slides make for an interesting swimming locale. Waterslide towers throughout offer a series of tube waterslides of varying lengths and speeds, upping the thrill factor for ride enthusiasts.

Photo by: Tropical Islands
Photo by: Tropical Islands

The 10 Cheapest Cities to Touchdown in Europe

A trip across the Atlantic Ocean over to the Old World of Europe may only be a fantasy for a number of North Americans. With airfare, accommodations, food, spending money and all the other little things that add up it can be an exceedingly costly trip. Though many people may dismiss the thought of a European getaway as just a fantasy that isn’t fiscally obtainable, that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. One may be surprised to learn that certain cities are much more affordable to visit than others and the reasons for this can range from lower airport taxes to economic struggles. Below is a look at 10 of the best places in Europe to visit by cost:

10. Athens, Greece

Athens International Airport is the obvious international hub of Greece, though that may not be the best plan of arrival for potential visitors. In bound flights to Greece are rarely cheap, and it usually makes more sense for travelers to land elsewhere in Europe and make a short land trip into the country instead. Due to recent economic struggles in the country, hotel prices have dropped quite a bit in the past few years.

Tourism is a major industry and a key part of the Greek economy. Greece ranks as the 10th most visited country in Europe, and saw over 15-million visitors in 2012. Major attractions in Athens include: the Acropolis, the Parthenon, the Agora and the National Archaeological Museum. For travelers on a budget, Greece is an ideal candidate to visit on a trip through a number of countries as prices for hotels and other amenities have dropped from the aforementioned economic struggles.

Athens, Greece

9. Milan, Italy

The choice between Milan and Rome is a difficult one, but Milan comes out slightly cheaper in comparison for tourists. Milan is one of the most important tourist destinations in all of Europe, and will never truly be a bargain destination for visitors. The addition of Emirates flights to Milan, however, means that there are more reasonably priced flights to a destination considered to be truly first class among travelers.

The city is home to two professional soccer clubs that share the famous San Siro stadium, considered a Mecca of sorts to traveling fans that are as vocal as they are loyal and exist all across the globe. Milan is also home to Pinacoteca di Brera, Piazza del Duomo, and the Milan Cathedral. Italy ranks as the 3rd most popular European destination behind only France and Spain, and Milan provides an opportunity to experience a cultured city for a relatively reasonable price.

Milan, Italy

8. Prague, Czech Republic

A country known to savvy travelers as a little-known gem, the Vaclav Havel Airport in Prague is where visitors land. The country has started to gain notoriety for being a great place to visit, and has experienced a major boom to its tourism industry. The secret is starting to get out, however, as prices have started to rise in the past few years as more and more people become aware of the beauty of the Czech Republic.

Younger travelers may be interested in the nightlife offered in Prague, as it is known for being low cost, and home to a large number of bars and clubs that are in close proximity and open late. There are a number of castles, breweries, and quaint towns to visit throughout the Czech Republic, but potential visitors should act quickly as prices are expected to continue to rise in this historic and unique Eastern European nation.

Prague, Czech Republic

7. Madrid/Barcelona, Spain

Though the two cities provide a vastly different experience, both cost travelers an almost identical price. Madrid is home to Barajas Airport, while Barcelona has El Prat Airport. For those with an interest in the “beautiful game” both Madrid and Barcelona provide an opportunity to catch some of the best soccer players in the world plying their craft in the confines of the magnificent stadiums.

The Spanish economy has become fairly reliant on tourism as an industry, which has seen a decline due to economic issues. Luckily for potential tourists, this means costs will be less for a very popular destination. Each city provides a unique experience, with the high-tempo Madrid contrasting perfectly to the quieter Barcelona. Take advantage while the opportunity is there, as Spain is still the 2nd most popular destination in Europe. If possible (and if desirable), visit Ibiza for a crazy night or two, as it is recognized as the party capital of the world.

Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock.com
Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock.com

6. Budapest, Hungary

Much like Prague in the Czech Republic, Budapest in Hungary is another less-obvious tourist haven that has started to become more recognized. The cheapest tickets for a flight into Budapest’s Ferenc Liszt International Airport usually involve a stopover in Moscow or Helsinki, though a stop in Zurich is not much more in terms of cost and saves a great deal of time. Similarly, like Prague, prices for Budapest have begun to climb in 2014.

Popular attractions in Budapest include Buda Castle, which includes: the Hungarian National Gallery, the Matthias Church, the Parliament Building and the City Park. Thermal baths are another popular tourist destination, and the Danube River passes through the city providing for great scenery. While Budapest may not be top of mind in terms of European cities to travel to, take some time to learn about its great history before crossing it off a list of places to visit.

Budapest, Hungary

5. Lisbon, Portugal

The westernmost large city and capital in Europe, Lisbon has been on the rise as a popular and affordable tourist destination. Tourism has started to become an increasingly important industry in Portugal, with Lisbon becoming one of the most visited cities in all of Europe. Flights to Lisbon Portela Airport, the international airport in Lisbon are reasonably priced, and the city is known to be much less expensive than other premier destinations in Europe.

Some of the more popular destinations in Lisbon are the Sao Jorge Castle, Belem Tower, Lisbon Oceanarium and the Church of Santa Engracia. Potential visitors should aim to get to Portugal before the tourism industry truly takes off in the country, while flights and local prices are still more accessible for travelers. Take in some soccer before leaving, and maybe get a chance to witness world-famous Cristiano Ronaldo as he continues his quest to break long-held records.

Lisbon, Portugal

4. Paris, France

The dream vacation for a number of North Americans is a trip to the world-class city of Paris. The popularity of the city has led to Charles de Gaulle Airport being one of the busiest hubs in Europe. Because of this, travelers can find surprisingly competitive prices for a flight to Paris. As of 2014, costs have even slightly improved for tourists as well.

Paris is home to a number of France’s most famous attractions, starting of course with the Eiffel Tower. The Arc de Triomphe is another famous monument built to honor those who fought and died for France during the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. The world-renowned Louvre Museum is also in Paris, home to the Mona Lisa and many other iconic pieces of art. The diversity of sights in Paris also features the iconic Notre Dame cathedral, a gothic-style church that is as gigantic as it is awe-inspiring.

Top Cities 2013 - Paris

3. Istanbul, Turkey

Despite the significantly further distance to travel to Istanbul in comparison to the rest of Europe, Istanbul can offer some reasonable prices for airfare. Turkey ranks as the 4th most popular destination in Europe, and 10th most popular in the world. With tourism in mind, the government in Turkey has undertaken the development of what will be the world’s largest airport in Istanbul, with the first (of a four part plan) being completed in 2017.

Due to the historical significance of Istanbul, the city is one of the most important tourist destinations in the world. Some of the major tourist sights in the city include the Haiga Sofia, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Topkapi, Basillca Cistern and Galata Tower. Istanbul is also home to Cevahir Mall, the biggest shopping mall in all of Europe (and 7th largest in the world). The city is also home to a number of museums, sports teams and cultural events.

Istanbul, Turkey

2. Dublin, Ireland

Ireland is a remarkably cheap country to visit in comparison to the rest of Europe. Though Dublin is the capital of the country, the airfares for flights landing at Dublin Airport are less than that of Shannon Airport, Ireland’s other international hub. Tourism provides a significant amount of income for Ireland’s economy with more than 6-million people visiting the country in 2012.

Destinations in Dublin include St Patrick’s Cathedral, the National Museum of Ireland, Trinity College, Christ Church Cathedral and of course the Guinness Storehouse. While at the Guinness Brewery, taste brews that are only available in Ireland, and take a break in their famous lounge. In 2010, the United Nations even awarded Dublin the title of UNESCO City of Literature due to the number of famous writers who are from the city. Travelers should also be pleased to know that Ireland also has no departure tax or comparable fees for air travel.

Bridge Dublin Ireland

1. Moscow, Russia

Even though the distance to Russia is quite far, travelers shouldn’t be intimidated by the fear of an expensive trip. Russia’s national airline, Aeroflot, is one of the cheapest tickets in Europe, and many cheap flights to other countries stop over in Moscow. Russia has seen a rise in tourism likely as a result of the previous Winter Olympics, but the current economic landscape in Russia benefits potential tourists right now.

There are a number of world-famous tourist destinations in Moscow, most notably the Kremlin and Red Square, the political heart of Russia. The city also features the impressive architecture of Saint Basil’s Cathedral, the Winter Palace and the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. The city is also home to the iconic Mausoleum of Lenin. It is important to note the cultural differences between Russia and the west, so it is best to read up on recent political and legislative changes that unfortunately may deter some travelers from wanting to travel here.

Moscow Russia Red Square

10 Worst Cities in the World for Pickpocketing

When you are traveling, you always need to be watchful of your valuables. This is especially true of items that you carry in your pockets. When you are traveling in a foreign country, you need to be especially careful in certain places that are known for pickpockets. Here is a guide to the ten worst cities in the world for pickpockets.

1. Barcelona

This beautiful Spanish seaside city hides a danger underneath its surface. It is notorious for thieves who like to prey on unsuspecting tourists. The large crowds and boisterous noise provide the perfect environment for pickpockets to operate.
Pickpocket 1

2. Prague

This is widely considered by many to be among the most beautiful cities in Europe. It draws in legions of tourists every year, but many of them leave with less cash than they should. Be very wary of the large crowds that provide cover for pickpockets at the tourist hotspots like the Charles Bridge in Prague.
Pickpocket 2

3. Rome

Rome is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and that reputation draws in the thieves. They have easy pickings with the many tourists who walk around in a daze as they gaze upon all the famous sights. Be mindful of your surroundings at all times in Rome, especially in busy areas.
Pickpocket 3

4. Madrid

Spain can be proud of many things, but having two cities among the top five most notorious pickpocket locations in the world is not one of them. The Spanish capital of Madrid is also one of the world’s pickpocketing capitals. The metro and the markets are the locations where tourists need to be especially careful to guard themselves against the sticky fingers of petty thieves.
Pickpocket 4

5. Paris

They say that Paris is a city for lovers. That reputation may help explain why it is one of the world’s leading pickpocketing sites. The lovers walk around in a haze as they enjoy their romances, which makes them easy marks for the thieves who patrol the city’s streets. They are especially prevalent on the city’s metro lines. The crowded trains make it easy for them to operate without getting caught. People are packed in so tight that it can be difficult to notice someone’s hand reaching into your pocket.
Pickpocket 5

6. Buenos Aires

This is one of the wealthiest cities in South America, which brings in lots of thieves who are looking to siphon off some of that wealth. One of the most infamous tricks these thieves pull is to have one person dump something on a tourist. An accomplice then comes in to “help” the tourist by cleaning them off, which gives them an ideal camouflage for rifling through the mark’s pockets.
Pickpocket 6

7. Florence

One of the most famous artists’ cities in the world is also infamous for its pickpockets. It is easy for these thieves to steal from tourists when they are gazing in rapture at the stunning artworks that abound in the city.
Pickpocket 7

8. Amsterdam

This is one of the most delightful tourist destinations in the world. Its thieves are just as welcoming as the rest of its residents, and it is easy for them to operate in Amsterdam’s laidback atmosphere. The thieves make easy work of the inebriated tourists who like to indulge themselves in Amsterdam’s legendary party scene.
Pickpocket 8

9. Hanoi

The Vietnamese capital is also the pickpocketing capital of Asia. The city is full of noise with its steady stream of motorcycles, cars and taxis always honking. This noise and the bustling crowds provide a nice cover for the petty thieves who ply their trade on Hanoi’s busy streets.
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10. Athens

No city on Earth has more historical sites to see than Athens. These sites often put tourists into an enchanted stupor in which they become easy prey for the legions of pickpockets who operate here. Tourists need to secure their money well before heading out to see the famous historical ruins of the city like the Acropolis and the Parthenon.
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8 Romantic European Weekend Getaways

The summer is already here, and it is a great time to go on some romantic getaways with your special someone. In brainstorming for locations, I can find no better destination for a romantic getaway than Europe. Now, this might seem pretty broad, but there is just so much history and romanticism in this continent that it is difficult to pinpoint which location in Europe is the most romantic. The following is an overview of 8 romantic European weekend getaways.

1. Rome, Italy

The Italian capital is the perfect place to go if you want a romantic weekend. This ancient city has cobblestone streets, amazing historical sites, and great food for you to enjoy. To start off, you can go to the Flavian Ampitheater and relive the age of the gladiator. Next, the Roman forum will provide sights such as the Temple of Saturn and the Arch of Titus. If you’re feeling hungry, you and your loved one can take a stroll through the Campo de’ Fiori, which is where farmers and fisherman go to sell their fresh fruits and catches of the day.
Rome, Italy

2. Paris, France

One cannot plan a romantic weekend getaway to Europe without considering Paris. Paris has a great culture that is a mix of the old and the new, and the food here is the envy of Europe. Start by going to the Eiffel Tower and then have a picnic in a nearby lawn. Next, explore the city and visit the Arc de Triomphe and the Jardin des Tuileries. If you have a sweet tooth, be sure to visit Laduree, which is a great place to sample some Parisian treats like macarons and other old world delicacies.
Top Cities 2013 - Paris

3. London, England

London is an extremely charming city, and it does not get the attention that it deserves when it comes to being a romantic destination. Taking a stroll around Westminster Abbey and listening to Big Ben chime is one of the most romantic things that a couple can experience. Walking around London, you two will feel like you are in a fairy tale.
Top Cities 2013 - London

4. Madrid, Spain

Madrid is a charming city that has all of the ingredients to be a romantic getaway. If you are art enthusiasts, you will love nothing more than to walk the halls of the Prado Museum, which has one of the most extensive art collections in the world. If you want to feel like a “Madrileño”, then visit the Puerta del Sol plaza, which is considered to be the cultural center of the city.
Madrid Spain

5. Venice, Italy

This iconic city is famous for its river streets and also for its romanticism. Take a gondola ride with your loved one and take part in the tradition of kissing under every bridge you pass. Take a stroll down the Piazza San Marco and experience the beautiful architecture of the Basilica di San Marco located nearby. Don’t forget to take a boat ride down the Grand Canal, which is the main waterway in Venice. The entirety of this bustling town can be seen from here, and it is a magnificent sight.
Venice 1

6. Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam is commonly known as the “Venice of the North” because of the abundance of canals that it has. Just like Venice, you can take advantage of these canals and go on romantic rides. Amsterdam, however, is a large city compared to Venice. If you and your loved one are up for an adventure, simply walk around and enjoy the beauty of the city. You might get lost, but it will be a wonderful experience!
Top Cities 2013 - Amsterdam

7. Bruges, Belgium

It is very difficult to find something as romantic as walking down a cobblestone street with beautiful gothic buildings on either side. This is exactly what you find in Bruges. With an abundance of castles and quaint shops, it is easy to have a romantic time here.
Bruges Belgium

8. Prague, Czech Republic

To continue with our theme of castles and cobblestone streets, here we have Prague. Arguably one of the most beautiful cities in Eastern Europe, Prague has many buildings that date back to the 13th century and beyond. One look at the Old Town building and you will know that you picked the right place for a romantic getaway.
Prague Czech Republic