The Best Cities to Buy Property in Europe

There is no better time than right now to purchase property in Europe, especially if you’re looking to snag a hot deal. Whether you are looking to settle down in an Irish cottage where waves crash against the dramatic cliffs or you’re looking to earn rental income in the heart of Turkey, here are the top 15 cities to buy property in Europe.

15. Istria, Croatia

Head to Southern Europe to the super affordable corner that is Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula, where apartments and houses are cheap. Croatia borders the Adriatic Sea and offers two appealing retirement lifestyle options, whether you want to be on the coast or inland- where meadows, vineyards and olive groves are your backyards. The Romans invested in some of their best buildings here back in the day, as did the Venetians when they ruled. What that means for retirees here is a landscape full of fortresses, bell towers, and an architectural legacy.

Rovinj at sunset, Istra region, Croatia.

14. Athens, Greece

Greece took a big hit during the economic crisis which has created a great opportunity to purchase real estate now. Athens, the capital of Greece offers year-round entertainment and inexpensive flights from the UK. However, it’s important to be wary about where you buy, just as you would in any major city. It may be best to consider an apartment in the city center or invest in the Kolonaki and Plaka neighborhoods as these areas are far more affordable.

Source: Shutterstock

13. Zagreb, Croatia

Zagreb, Croatia’s capital is a gorgeous city that is rich in history dating back to Roman times. It’s predicted that Zagreb will see serious growth in the next couple of years which means this is a city you’ll want to have on your radar. In 2018, the country only saw an 8.5% increase in asking prices for condos, however, condos located in Zagreb saw a 20% increase. Further, in 2019 there was a 30% increase in Airbnb homes located in Zagreb which is a great indicator that the city is seeing a surge in vacation rentals. It’s evident that the city’s real estate market is booming and if you want to get in before the prices reach an all-time high, now is the time to buy!

Source: Shutterstock

12. Algarve, Portugal

Home to more than 100,000 resident expats, it is clear that for decades this place has been the hot place to buy. Luckily for those looking to experience the 3,300 hours of sunshine per year this place gets, the market is still affordable. The Algarve’s 100 miles of Atlantic coastline is full of jagged rock formations, lagoons, and sandy beaches. The waters are azure in color and the cliff-top vistas are spectacular, Add in 42 golf courses in the region, plenty of time for sailing and boating and you have yourself one heck of a place to live. Plus the average price per square meter for real estate is just $1,345 US, a pretty good bargain for a pretty special place.

Algarve, Portugal

11. Feldkirch And Bludenz, Austria

Austria is experiencing a real estate boom which is making the secondary cities more appealing. This is because property prices in secondary cities like Feldkirch and Bludenz are far lower than major cities like the country’s capital, Vienna. Feldkirch and Bludenz are both charming alpine cities that are surrounded by stunning forest mountains. Both towns saw a 20% increase in real estate prices in the last couple of years which is higher than the country’s capital which came in at about an 18% increase. These low prices won’t last for long, so now is the best time to buy.

Source: Shutterstock

10. Beara Peninsula, Ireland

There has been a strong surge in demand for family homes in desirable areas of Ireland’s main cities, but that shouldn’t discourage buyers who are looking to purchase in Ireland, it just means you need to go elsewhere. The buying place right now is on Ireland’s Southwest coast, that is if you are looking for a charming cottage or seaside house. This is not where you want to buy as an investor but instead, as a homeowner. The Beara Peninsula is the largest and most remote on this coast and houses here are quite inexpensive. Locals here are opting to buy new houses rather than renovate old traditional farmhouses and prices are rock bottom. Think $80,000 US for a typical Irish farm cottage that is steps away from the ocean and needs a little fixing up. Giant waves crashing onto cliffs, miles of sandy beaches, mountain range and warm air — there seems no good reason why we all shouldn’t be buying a second home in this beautiful country.

Beara Peninsula, Ireland

9. Istanbul, Turkey

Turkey’s property market wasn’t hit as hard as others in the world in the years 2008 and 2009, with recovery times only take about a year and a half. Despite that, Istanbul remains a bargain when it comes to real estate with starting market prices at about $1,000 a square meter. Turkey is a country of the future, with half of its population younger than 30 years of age, which means the time to invest, is now. With the economy growing and being diversified between Europe and Asia it is easier than ever for foreigners to invest here. A construction boom is also taking place in Istanbul as half the current housing stock in the country needs to be replaced or renovated, thus making it easy to get in on buying pre-construction apartments. Getting in early on a new build means discounted pricing and the expectation of price increase over the construction period. The time to invest in Turkey is now.

Istanbul, Turkey

8. Abruzzo, Italy

Abruzzo, Italy is a region that one may not think to consider when exploring properties in Italy but because it’s undiscovered it’s full of inexpensive properties. Abruzzo is full of charming ancient towns and has a landscape unlike anywhere else Italy from boasting hills to mountains. That said, you’ll still be able to indulge in all the things you love about Italy from delicious wine and food to stunning architecture and of course their hot summers. Purchasing a home in Abruzzo will cost you about $50, 000 US dollars, give or take depending on what town you choose to buy property in. Many of the homes are built of stone which helps to keep the homes cool in the summer and they’re also often equipped with open fireplaces to keep the home warm and cozy in the winter.

Source: leoks / Shutterstock.com

7. Rotterdam, The Netherlands

About an hour away from The Netherlands capital, Amsterdam is a quaint city called Rotterdam. Rotterdam is a port city and is full of hip art, plenty of shopping, and has a bustling nightlife. Most importantly, Rotterdam inspires so much innovation that it’s considered the architecture city of Holland. Rotterdam saw a 17% increase in home prices in the past year which far surpasses the country’s average of 10%. In 2019 properties sold in about 33 days which is 11% faster than in 2018. As you can see, the property demand in Rotterdam is growing at a fast rate, making Rotterdam a city you’ll want to invest in sooner rather than later.

Source: Shutterstock

6. Rennes, France

Rennes, France is rich in history, full of luscious green space, and has the appeal of a big city but on a much smaller scale. While there are 90 historic monuments in the old center, you will notice Rennes feels youthful. This is because over 200, 000 residents are students. Between the attractive property prices and the new High-speed rail that can get you from Rennes to Paris in about an hour and a half, there’s no wonder why Renne’s should be on your radar. But keep in mind the high-speed rail will continue to make this an attractive city so now the’s time to buy if you’re thinking of investing in property in France.

Source: lenisecalleja.photography / Shutterstock.com

5. Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Plovdiv is one of the oldest cities in Europe and is the second-largest city in Bulgaria, right behind the country’s capital, Sofia. The town was built around seven hills which is a large part of the city’s history. In 2019, The European Union named Plovdiv the European Capital of Culture which made the city a big focus for the whole year. This title also sparked a number of urban revitalization projects that have caused the city to see steady growth in real estate sales that is consistent with the country’s capital. With the city holding the European Capital of Culture title for a full year now, it’s predicted that the real estate will sky-rocket even further making it a great city to buy into now.

Source: Shutterstock

4. Budapest, Hungary

There is great value to be found all over Budapest and the time to get into the market is now when others haven’t. From 2007 to 2014 the market in Budapest was in a major slump, causing housing prices to hit rock bottom, and it is only now that they are starting to recover. Budapest is truly a beautiful place, both to live and work and that is great for any investor when it comes to real estate as the demand for rental properties continues to increase. Budapest also happens to be a year-round tourist destination offering amazing bathhouses, dining options, and architecture; drawing visitors who often seek out private rentals to stay in. With good yields, low to moderate transaction costs and pro-landlord laws, it is easy to understand why buying property here is the right choice.

GTS Productions / Shutterstock.com
GTS Productions / Shutterstock.com

3. Seville, Spain

Spain is a popular destination, between the pleasant climate, and stunning landscapes there’s a lot to see and do. But for those looking to buy a piece of real estate in Spain now is the time to do so. Spain’s economy suffered immensely during the economic crisis, however, after 2013 the decline started to slow. Now, the demand in real estate is beginning to grow again making it a great country to invest in. If you’re looking to buy property in Spain, the city of Seville is where you may want to start. This stunning city is famous for flamenco dancing and is home to major landmarks from the ornate Alcázar Castle complex to the site of Christopher Columbus’s tomb and more. The markets have shown that Seville has great revenue growth and for those looking to invest in a rental property, the rental demand is high as this city experiences low seasonality.

Source: Shutterstock

2. Apulia, Italy

This is the region that forms the heel of the Italian boot, a region not always thought of when you speak of Italy. But it is here where you can find low-priced properties in a stunning setting. Trulli houses, beehived shaped rural houses are the norm around here and there are plenty on the market for less than $100,000 US. Apulia features numerous sandy beaches on two coastlines, country land overflowing with vineyards and olive groves, and a slew of historic towns worth exploring. Living costs are low, there is an abundance of churches and palaces, medieval streets beckon you and craftsmen line the streets. This laidback, eccentric area is perfect whether you are buying a second home or starting over in life. A true bargain for a slice of Italian history, loaded with incredible scenery and people.

Apulia, Italy

1. Lisbon, Portugal

Time and time again we hear that this is the most affordable capital in Western Europe and it’s a wonder how long this will last as foreigners start to grab up inexpensive houses. For now, though it is quite inexpensive to buy here. A 2-bedroom apartment in a charming neighborhood will set you back about $100,000 US. Lisbon is a city where you can enjoy a European lifestyle, complete with history, romance, astonishing hospitality, and a seaside location for Latin American prices. The climate here is mild, the amenities are plenty and the people are among the most polite and friendly. With a low cost of living, charming hilly narrow streets and the sea at your fingertips. This is the perfect place to scoop up a second home.

Lisbon, Portugal

7 Cities to Visit in Spain Before You Have Kids

Congratulations! You have decided to take the plunge into parenthood. Well, almost. What about the things you wanted to do first, and the places you wanted to go? When the babies arrive, travel becomes significantly harder while you’re carrying a diaper bag, bottle, and stroller. Everything seems to become ‘what’s best for baby.’ With it’s all night parties, mouth-watering food and endlessly flowing wine, now is the time to visit Spain and these exciting cities before it’s too late!

7. Barcelona

The second largest city in Spain is home to legendary nightlife and an ultra-trendy, cutting edge vibe. Barcelona is a city for night owls as nothing really kicks off before 11pm no matter what night of the week it is. With an itinerary that starts off with tapas and drinks at small local bars before hitting up the dance clubs and going until the wee hours of the morning. It’s clear that kids would just get in the way of this adult-centric scene.

plaza real Barcelona

6. Estepona

Estepona is a popular Spanish holiday town and boasts some amazing beaches along it’s 21 kilometers of coastline. Among these beaches is ‘Costa Natura’ nudist beach, the very first naturist site in Spain. Clearly ‘bearing it all’ isn’t something for young eyes so if strutting your stuff on the golden sands of Spain’s first nudist beach is an experience you’d like to cross off your list, you’d best do it before your beach vacations turn to more family friendly shores.

Estepona Spain

5. Seville

If you;re looking for an authentic Andalusian experience, what better place than the capital city of the region? Seville touts itself as the birthplace of tapas and flamenco music so you know they’re going to celebrate that fact in every way they can. Visit one of the many sophisticated theaters and performance spaces or bar hop, sampling the wealth of delectable Andalusian tapas and listening (or more likely dancing) to traditional Spanish music.

SandiMako / Shutterstock.com
SandiMako / Shutterstock.com

4. Bilbao

The city of Bilbao come from rough roots of industrialization and many would say this city was more of a wasteland of industry than a place to visit, but thanks to the opening of the shiny Guggenheim Museum here, this place is now a major European arts center.  While other arts cities may come across as uppity, Bilbao’s hasn’t let the plethora of galleries and performance spaces go to it’s head. First and foremost. this artsy city remains true to it’s down-to-earth soul.

Santi Rodriguez / Shutterstock.com
Santi Rodriguez / Shutterstock.com

3. Marbella

If you’ve ever heard the phrase “we’re going to Marbs” now you’ll know exactly what they’re talking about. Marbella is to Spain what St. Tropez is to France; a coastal playground for the rich and famous. Exactly the kind of place you don’t want to visit with kids. It’s earned a reputation as one of the most luxurious resort towns in the world and Puerto Banus is the biggest hotspot in the area with tons of bars, restaurants and ultra-exclusive nightclubs.

Marbella Spain

2. San Sebastian

San Sebastian is a foodies paradise, and nothing kills that authentic Spanish experience faster than trying to find a place to eat that “the kids will like.” Be forewarned, chicken fingers and ketchup won’t be found here. This Basque country city seems to catch Michelin stars as if they’re just giving them away (but we can assure you they’re not) and a visit here will mean plenty of indulgence.

Matyas Rehak / Shutterstock.com
Matyas Rehak / Shutterstock.com

1. Ibiza

It’s no secret that the town of Ibiza is the crown jewel in the Spanish party scene, and it’s one of the most legendary nightlife destinations of the whole world. Sure parents on holiday can have fun here too but Ibiza’s hedonistic ways are far more enjoyable if you’re single. Epic nightclubs become the stage for big name DJ’s blasting upbeat tunes until the sun comes up. Sip cocktails beachside and enjoy some of the freshest seafood you’ve ever had. The operative word when describing Ibiza; FUN.

Ibiza Cala d'horte

UNESCO’s Top 9 Musical Cities In The World

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is well known for its designations of World Heritage Sites. For the music and travel lovers it also has a Cities of Music list that is completely fascinating and full of surprises. Fame and size are not on the list of criteria, hence New York and Berlin, two great musical centers who didn’t make the cut. The list rather, focuses on cities with a distinguished musical history endemic to local, national and world culture which have music in the DNA. The qualifying cities also make music an important sector of the economy in terms of concerts, technology and tourism. They also share a serious, comprehensive musical educational component and actively promote their specialties to ensure their music thrives going forward and remains an important part of the culture and economy. For the traveler, these are meccas of live music, most of which have stunning venues from the medieval to the postmodern. It is a thought-provoking list without an obvious name. By the end of it, you might find yourself looking at flights to places you may never have heard of or even just imagining the scenes and settings is time well wasted.

9. Seville, Spain

What better place to start than the city that is the setting of the two greatest operas of all time, Rossini’s Barber of Seville and Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. These are the stuff of musical legends, but the heart and soul of musical culture and a touchstone of the Spanish identity is flamenco and it bears musical influences from all the cultures that have been part of the region’s history. For example, Spanish folk music, Arabic Byzantine and Christian and Jewish religious music. Seville’s most famous and hugely popular music festival, the Bienal de Flamenco, is world renowned. The greatest flamenco interpreters stage traditional and original works in the sublime beauty of the city’s architectural masterpieces making a feast for all the senses; Real Alcazar the 9th century palace. And the ancient Roman ruins, like watching great works of art in great works of art, but the most critically acclaimed takes place in the city’s nightclub district called Tablao El Arenal with award-winning artists performing a wide variety of flamenco’s different palos or styles.

Iakov Filimonov / Shutterstock.com
Iakov Filimonov / Shutterstock.com

8. Mannheim, Germany

Mannheim is a dynamic multicultural center of creativity. The aging rock group Mannheim Steam roller is American, but their name derives from one of many musical innovations of the Mannheim school of Composers of the 18th century. The Mannheim Roller is a kind of crescendo development by the large orchestra at the court of Charles III Philip. Mannheim influences can be found in the works of Beethoven and Mozart. The musical pedigree here runs deep. UNESCO notes the city has been “a long-standing leader and innovator, with an extraordinary infrastructure for music”. It is a deliberate policy initiative that sees music having economic benefits not just within its own business, but for tourism and technology sectors. However, don’t think it’s all about classical music. Mannheim is still widely regarded as one of Germany’s musical centers. The Mannheim Pop Academy offers a Bachelor’s Degree in pop music while the Time Warp festival has the biggest names in techno music.

Photo by: Germany Travel
Photo by: Germany Travel

7. Hannover, Germany

It is a city of festivals and cabaret. The heavy metal band Scorpion, one of Europe’s most famous is from Hannover. The people of Hannover say there at the center of the Land of Music and it’s not a far-fetched claim. The hugely influential Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media attracts gifted students from around the world who on their own perform 500 public concerts a year. The faculty includes Departments of Chamber Music, Contemporary Music, Ancient Music, Jazz|Rock|Pop and Musicology. They teach every orchestral instruments except, for some reason, the harp. MUSIC is an institution of graduate study for research and development in emerging musical technologies. Also, Hannover is where the first music cassette was produced, first CD was pressed and the first vinyl was invented.

Hannover, Germany

6. Hamamatsu, Japan

Hamamatsu is a city of less than a million people and is located about 100 miles south of Tokyo along the Pacific coast. The makers of some of the world’s finest musical instruments, from grand pianos to synthesizers were founded here. Music is a huge part of the city’s cultural and business community – Roland, Yamaha and Kawai still have their corporate headquarters in Hamamatsu. In fact no other place on earth may be this musical. The multiple stage Concert Hall is opulent and state of the art. There are 10 music festivals that occur here each year, two of the biggest are the internationally sanctioned Hamamatsu International Piano Competition and the Shizuoka International Opera Competition, both attracting major talent worldwide. The Hamamatsu Academy of Music and Shizuoka University of Art and Culture train students in everything from playing instruments to concert hall management. The Museum of Musical Instruments has an amazing collection from different eras and cultures. Part of its mandate is “fostering cross-cultural understanding and cultural diversity through music”.  As a last tribute to its musical pedigree, it is likely the only Asian city with a statue of a Polish composer, but it’s a copy of the famous art Nouveau depiction of Frederic Chopin in Warsaw, the sister city of Hamamatsu.

Photo by: Shizuoka Tourism
Photo by: Shizuoka Tourism

5. Ghent, Belgium

Most of Ghent’s North American reputation is based on it being the city in which England and the United States concluded the treaty that ended the War of 1812. It’s a city full of culture and art events offering a unique combination of a celebrated past and a lively present. Now it is an educational and artistic center, especially in the musical realm. There are two graduate schools that teach opera and musicianship. Ghent also has elegant avenues and canals and is called the City of Festivals (although come to think of it, so is Montreal). But Ghent’s go back at least to 1843 when the Gentse Feesten (the “Festivities of Ghent”) began. The whole city becomes a series of concert stages for all kinds of music and entertainment. Each year you can find some of the world’s biggest jazz names here, as well as upcoming acts that are both Belgian and international. Last year 30,000 people visited as Ghent becomes a music-lover’s Mecca. Hundreds of performers provide a varied mixture of classical, jazz and world music. For the Festival of Flanders “The streets alongside Ghent’s waterways overflow with music, animation, art and spectacle”. The Jazz Festival attracts the biggest name performers. Even the Film Festival is about music in film. It’s not just the variety it’s also the venues, along the city’s canals some of which date back to medieval days. Plus Belgians really do make the best fries in the world.

Sergey Dzyuba / Shutterstock.com
Sergey Dzyuba / Shutterstock.com

4. Glasgow, Scotland

Of course Glasgow would be home to the World Pipe (as in bagpipe) Band competition and the highly coveted winner’s trophy. But Glasgow is far more than that – it is an Old World city with a rich history filled with creative arts. Music is one of its most notable. For almost a century, St. Andrew’s Hall was one of the most celebrated musical venues in Europe. It was burned to the ground in 1962 by a careless smoker at a boxing match, but its reputation for musical excellence sustains to this day. With UNESCO as partner, Scottish musical enthusiasts have written a book, Dear Green Sounds that tells the musical history of Glasgow through its historic venues as a walking tour. From the classical offerings at St. Andrew, to perhaps less refined though no less memorable concerts from Frank Sinatra to Freddie Mercury. It is one of those places in which music is ingrained. Classical fans still lament the loss of St. Andrew’s, but it has kept up with time and fashion.

Glasgow at Night

3. Brazzaville, Congo

In Africa it seems like music is not just for listening, it’s a cause for celebration. It’s an escape perhaps from the poverty in which too many of them live. The capital of Congo was there at the birth of soukous (from the French verb to shake) or Congolese rumba, a genre of mesmerizing high-speed dance and music that is an African cultural bedrock, ubiquitous across the continent and popular around the world. Music in Brazzaville is an aspect of their culture to conserve, teach and promote. It’s home to the African Music Council and the 2015 Pan-African Music Festival whose theme in 2015 was “dynamics of music in the diversity of cultural expressions”. Other major events include the FEUX DE BRAZZA (Festival of Lights), which is a blast as you would expect any African music event would be, especially amidst the charm of Brazzaville. But it has its serious side as well…its mission statement reads, in part, the safeguarding of African cultural traditions will ensure that through this festival, future generations will be the link that will perpetuate that culture”.

Photo by: Congo-Site/Portail National Du Congo
Photo by: Congo-Site/Portail National Du Congo

2. Bologna, Italy

On its opera alone, Italy is world musical superpower, but in term musical centers, fans usually think of Milan’s legendary opera house, La Scala, or perhaps the Venice of Antonio Vivaldi. UNESCO has chosen the ancient educational and culinary center of Bologna for its list, citing its “widespread promotion of the music sector” La Dota (The Learned) home to the oldest university in the world, dating from 1088. The University of Bologna was the first in the country to offer degrees music and performing arts. Not to mention the music festivals! It seems the only festival missing from this city is a Congolese rumba festival. Classical, chamber, devotional, opera, ballet, blues jazz, even Jewish jazz. The target audiences start at the age of one. For music lovers there is the additional attraction of events set in the glorious ancient city. Bologna has four major orchestras including one run by Claudio Abbado, one of the greatest conductors of his generation. But it’s not just the artistic history and culture, it’s the educational and community outreach that UNESCO favors with Abbado’s Orchestra Mozart works as music therapists in the health and social services field. Also, dress rehearsals are open free of charge to dozens of schools and cultural associations.

Bologna, Italy

1. Bogotá, Colombia

Columbia is undergoing a remarkable transition socially, economically and architecturally as it is a creative city renowned for its rich music scene. The traditional and emerging forms of music are playing an intrinsic part of the change. The country holds 60 festivals every year, the biggest of which is “Festivales Al Parque” an eclectic display of everything from jazz, opera, hip hop and salsa that over half a million people flock to see. In addition to hosting the “Festivales Al Parque”, Bogota has 500 live music venues where festivals occur annually. UNESCO says the city is an important center for the performance and cultivation of the following music forms: salsa, fusion, rock, opera, classic, chamber, electronic, pop, tropical, ranchera, hip hop, experimental, bolero, gospel and Colombia’s own rich musical traditions can be heard. It has taken on the task as a regional cultural center to promote artists across Latin America and the Caribbean. Bogota is at the edge of the evolving public policy of using music as a cultural touchstone and lucrative engine of economic growth. The Bogota Music Market, created in 2012, has also become a notable platform for local and regional music agents. Additionally, the Chamber of Commerce is developing a Music Cluster in order to strengthen the city’s dynamic music sector.

Fotos593 / Shutterstock.com
Fotos593 / Shutterstock.com

The 9 Most Bicycle Friendly Cities in the World

As more environmentally friendly methods of travel are being embraced throughout the world, a number of countries have begun to reinvest in one of the oldest means of travel: the bicycle. This eco-friendly outlook combined with the decrease in money consumers are willing to spend on cars has led to the bicycle making a major resurgence in urbanized areas all across the globe. With more research being done into the field, cities are now actively looking to encourage residents to leave cars at home and take to the streets on their favorite two-wheeler. Not all cities are created equal, however, and some are certainly a few notches ahead of the competition for having the most bicycle friendly city. Below is a look at 9 of the Most Bicycle Friendly Cities in the World.

9. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The privilege of hosting the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics firmly places the international spotlight on both a nation, and the cities within. As a host city for both events, Rio de Janeiro has been revamping the landscape in preparations for the great number of tourists that will travel to the city. However Rio’s association with cycling can be tracked back to the Rio Climate Summit in 1992, which saw cycling tracks created along the famous Copacabana beach. This development proved to be a success, and the city now has a modest but ever-expanding network. The city has had success with a new bike share program, and while still behind the truly elite cycling cities, Rio looks to be taking the right steps toward modernizing cycling in Brazil.

lazyllama / Shutterstock.com
lazyllama / Shutterstock.com

8. Tokyo, Japan

As the largest city on the list, it is important to include and examine a city with the sheer size of Tokyo. Mega-cities tend to follow the trends set in other mega-cities, so Tokyo can provide an example for how to incorporate the bicycle into the densely populated urban environment. A very thorough driver training process in Japan makes the roads safer than some other major cities, which is certainly a plus for cyclists. Since public transit and cycling tend to be tied together, it should be noted as a positive that Tokyo now features a 24-hour metro service. Though the Japanese tradition of mixing cyclists with pedestrians is still alive and well, more infrastructure is being developed along roadways. Tokyo does a number of things right, and serves as a role model for mega-cities throughout the world.

longtaildog / Shutterstock.com
longtaildog / Shutterstock.com

7. Montreal, Canada

The premiere destination for cycling in North America, Montreal has long been ahead of the curve in the development of cycling tracks. With tracks dating back to the 1980’s, Montreal is a North American city where not only is the bicycle used for both commuting and errands, but features prominently in nightlife as well. Political advocacy plays an important factor in the development aspect of a city, and this is what has helped push Montreal to the top of North American cycling. An important step saw all of the influential players consult together to look for more efficient developments. The culture for cycling is in place in Montreal, but the city needs to take the next step to truly modernize the infrastructure in the city.

bms-photo / Shutterstock.com
bms-photo / Shutterstock.com

6. Malmo, Sweden

Situated so close to a number of famed bicycle cities, Sweden’s third-largest city has taken a number of measures in developing the infrastructure for cycling. Drawing inspiration from cities like Copenhagen, Malmo is looking to set an example for the rest of Sweden to follow. With major financial commitment and innovative communications, the city has demonstrated their strong desire to create a more cycling friendly culture throughout residential areas. One feature that has helped make life easier for cyclists is the seemingly minor concept of naming bike paths to make them easier to find on a GPS. Providing residents with easier access to knowledge regarding routes and pathways, alongside the new “No Ridiculous Car Trips” ad campaign has helped foster a friendlier outlook on cycling from residents. As with any new development, it will take time for Malmo to catch up with the cities ahead, but with further political emphasis, the future looks bright.

Tupungato / Shutterstock.com
Tupungato / Shutterstock.com

5. Bordeaux, France

Every country needs to have one city that is willing to step to the plate, and show what can be done with a little commitment, innovation and belief. For a number of years, Bordeaux was nothing more than an afterthought in terms of cycling in France. Sure, there were still a few cyclists in the streets, unlike other cities where bicycles had essentially disappeared. But Bordeaux has invested heavily in the creation of cycling lanes and tracks all throughout the city. There are now some 200km of bike lanes in Bordeaux, with an additional 200km when factoring in the surrounding urban area. Statistics show that the popularity of cycling is on the rise in the city, and the development of tramways should help further the progress of creating a new culture in the city. France is one of the European countries taking cycling most seriously, and Bordeaux is the leading example.

Lilyana Vynogradova / Shutterstock.com
Lilyana Vynogradova / Shutterstock.com

4. Seville, Spain

Seville is an excellent example of the power that bicycle planning can have. As recently as 2006, Seville was a city that had a very small percentage of the population using bicycles. Since focusing attention on cycling in the city, the rapid development saw some 80km of bike lanes created in just a year, with more added afterwards. Hand in hand with the development of the bike lanes was the creation of a bike share program, which helped fuel the growth of cycling among residents. Though Seville doesn’t have the highest percentage of riders, the clear commitment from local government is a strong indication of what the future holds for the city. The future looks bright for Seville, though cycling enthusiasts are strongly – and rightfully – worried that a nationwide mandatory helmet law would drastically cut back the growing number of cyclists in Seville.

KarSol / Shutterstock.com
KarSol / Shutterstock.com

3. Utrecht, Netherlands

Utrecht is perhaps the leading example for what cycling can be in a smaller city. In fact, there are videos of the bicycle “rush hour” online that demonstrate just how integral cycling is to the fabric of Utrecht. Some might be surprised to know that 33% of all journeys within the city are done on bicycle – in contrast to 19% of journeys being taken by car. Cycling is an accepted part of the culture for both young and old, and by individuals and families. Cycling is so popular in Utrecht in fact, that the City Council has taken steps toward developing the world’s largest bicycle parking station near the Central Railway Station. The parking station will feature room for some 12,500 bicycles, and will cost some $58-million USD to build. When thousands of bicycles are strewn haphazardly about town creating an eyesore and an obstacle course for pedestrians, it is clear why Utrecht has invested in such a large station for cyclists.

hans engbers / Shutterstock.com
hans engbers / Shutterstock.com

2. Copenhagen, Denmark

Every day in Copenhagen, cyclists travel an astonishing 1.1-million km. Given that 36% of residents commute to work, school or university that number starts to make a bit more sense. The city even has a goal of seeing that number rise to 50% in the year 2015. The extensive and well-used cycling paths in Copenhagen are separated from the main traffic lanes, and sometimes even feature their own signal systems providing riders a chance to turn more safely. Copenhagen is so renowned for its cycling culture that the development of bike lanes and infrastructure in other cities is measured by the term “Copenhagenize” in reference to the numerous features in the city. The next step being taken in Copenhagen is the development of greenways, aimed at developing a safe, scenic and fast way to travel from one end of the city to another.

Cycling Copenhagen, Denmark

1. Amsterdam, Netherlands

No other city does cycling quite like Amsterdam. Though the city may slightly lack in uniform infrastructure, the extreme saturation of cycling in the core of the city truly shows what cycling means to residents of Amsterdam. The widespread use of a 30km/h speed limit makes roadways much slower – and much safer – for cyclists. The political good will toward cycling in Amsterdam starts at a local level, and stretches all the way to the national government. Nowhere else in the world is cycling more accepted and embraced among the local population, which creates a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere that is prominently mainstream. Some 38% of trips made within the greater city area are made on bicycle, and that number rises to 60% in the inner city. No city in the world is designed more to accommodate bicycles, and Amsterdam will continue to lead the way for the foreseeable future.

Cycling Amsterdam, Netherlands

The 8 Best Places in the World to Sky Dive

Many people have a bucket list of the things they want to do before they reach a certain age. Skydiving makes an appearance on these lists quite often, and for good reason. There has always been a certain allure to the idea of flying through the air, and what better way to give yourself that magical feeling, along with a good rush of adrenaline, than skydiving? Whether you’re a seasoned skydiver, or planning that first jump, skydiving in a location with great scenery will make that jump even more memorable. Here are eight great locations to consider while planning your skydiving trip.

1. Fox Glacier, New Zealand

New Zealand is considered the adventure capital of the world, due to the numbers of people who participate in extreme sports here. The natural beauty of the scenery is stunning, and includes the Tasman Sea, lakes and glaciers. The many top notch instructors and facilities available here will make sure that you have the best skydiving experience possible, regardless of your skill and comfort level.

Fox Glacier New Zealand

2. Interlaken, Switzerland

Skydiving in the Swiss Alps is a unique way to enjoy an extraordinary view of snowcapped mountains and glaciers. This is also one of the more affordable places to skydive. Once you’ve completed your jump, you’ll find there is much more to do if you are so inclined, including white water rafting and paragliding.

Interlaken, Switzerland

3. Dubai

Dubai is quickly becoming one of the best skydiving destinations in the world. On your descent here you will be able to see a man made peninsula floating on the water with its own private beach, the tallest building in the world and the World Islands archipelago. Once you’ve seen the views you can enjoy Dubai’s nightlife, or even try a quad ride in the desert.

Dubai

4. Seville, Spain

Besides being a lovely destination to visit with great weather most of the year, Seville offers the benefit of having a variety of skydiving courses available. No matter what your experience, comfort level or budget, there is a choice available for everyone. For those looking to soar to new heights, there are drops available as high as 15,000 feet with amazing and varied views of the city below.

Seville, Spain

5. Wollongong, Sydney, Australia

Skydiving in Sydney will provide you with panoramic views of the both the coastline of Australia and Sydney. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a whale, dolphin or other marine life in the water off the coastline. You’ll find that Sydney is a beautiful city to visit, whether you’re taking it in up close, or from thousands of feet in the air.

Wollongong, Sydney, Australia

6. Le Marche, Italy

This area of Italy is known for its art, culture and cuisine, as well as its beautiful scenery. It’s also a great place to skydive due to astounding views of the Adriatic Sea. Don’t forget to take some time to relax and enjoy the cuisine with a great glass of wine before you leave!

Le Marche, Italy

7. Santa Barbara, California

Santa Barbara is the location of North America’s highest tandem skydive. It’s also a great choice for first time skydivers, offering spectacular aerial views of the California coastline. With a drop zone located only a few miles from the Pacific Ocean, you’ll be able to take advantage of many other opportunities, such as surfing, sightseeing and much more.

Santa Barbara, California

8. Mt. Everest, Nepal

For those looking for the ultimate skydiving experience, what could provide a bigger thrill than soaring over the highest mountain peak in the world? This skydiving adventure does come at a hefty price, and needs to be reserved six months in advance. There are only four diving trips available at Mt. Everest per year, but if you’re looking for the experience of a lifetime, this might be the way to go.

Mt. Everest, Nepal