The best cities to visit in Europe in 2022

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There are so many amazing European cities to visit, whether you want to go back to your old favorites or find new ones to love – and here’s our pick of the best cities in Europe for 2022.

With short flight or train times and easy commutes, Europe’s major city breaks are the perfect option for mini-breaks and longer vacations, especially when you want to immerse yourself in culture and the story. There are also plenty of destinations to choose from for people looking for a food-focused trip or for those who enjoy history-packed walking tours.

As the saying goes, Paris is always a good idea and Rome never gets old, but there is so much more to Europe than these great ladies. If you loved Lisbon, you’ll love Porto, with its port warehouses along the waterfront, medieval lanes and winding Douro backdrop.

Enjoy a different city break and visit Reykjavik, the Icelandic capital named after its steaming hot springs. Or head to the edge of the mainland and Istanbul, for its magnificent Ottoman architecture, fabulous food scene and Bosphorus boat tours.

Read on for Country Living’s selection of the best cities to visit in Europe in 2022…

Covid-19: Check the latest government guidelines before travelling.

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1

Reykjavík

Iceland’s capital is a great choice for a city break with a difference – it may technically be a 45-minute drive south of the center, but the Blue Lagoon is not to be missed. The name translates to “Smoky Bay”, a nod to the steam rising from the area’s hot springs. Outside the center, the coastline is made up of inlets, straits and small islands, with Mount Esja across the bay. Watch for whales and puffins near the old port, where many tours depart. And, of course, you’ll have a chance to spot the Northern Lights.

Where to stay: The stylish EDITION brand has arrived in Iceland recently, but for something more classic try the art deco Hotel Borg.

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2

Seville

Sunny Seville is Andalucia’s largest city and there’s a lot more to it than oranges. Its traditional festivals are alive and well, it has amazing tapas restaurants in its old town, numerous squares and parks, and the strumming of Spanish guitars accompany the streets. The city is famous for its Moorish and Gothic architecture – its many monuments of interest include the Giralda tower, the cathedral and the royal Alcázar palace.

Where to stay: For an equally regal retreat, book the palm-lined Hotel Alfonso XIII, commissioned by a king in 1929 and still hosting royalty (including the Hollywood kind).

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3

Istanbul

Journey to the edge of Europe with a trip to Istanbul, to discover where the continent meets Asia. Istanbul’s architecture can be quite stunning – the Byzantine Basilica of Aya Sofya, for example, and its gold mosaics, columns and iconic dome (and an assortment of smaller domes). Equally impressive is Topkapi Palace in the Old City, once the residence of the Ottoman sultans. Then there is the Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world. And we haven’t even reached the modern side of town, with its vibrant nightlife and amazing food.

Where to stay: For a hotel steeped in history, book Six Senses Kocatas Mansions, which spans two waterfront mansions that once housed a minister of the Ottoman Empire.

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4

Florence

Of all the big cities in Italy, Florence is the most perfect, small enough to explore on foot and brimming with culture, art and history. Brunelleschi’s marble masterpiece dominates the city, which means you can stop regularly to admire it. The Uffizi Gallery is home to some of the greatest works of art on the planet, including that of Botticelli The birth of Venus. Or take a walk on Ponte Vecchio and visit the jewelry workshops that line the bridge.

Where to stay: There’s no shortage of grand palaces in the city, but to live like a Medici, stay at Il Salviatino a bit outside the center and enjoy the frescoed ceilings.

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5

San Sebastian

Foodies should flock to San Sebastian, arguably Europe’s foodie capital, thanks to its constellation of Michelin stars, including a trio of three-star restaurants each. And if you prefer something more casual than formal fine dining, you’ll enjoy the fun rounds of pintxos that are part of everyday life in San Sebastian – pit stops with a tasty bite to eat at each bar. The bay of the Basque Country is so pretty that it could pass for a Rio de Janeiro in miniature.

Where to stay: For a century, aristocrats and epicureans alike have enjoyed the Hotel Maria Cristina, the perfect place to unwind after all that indulgence and with views of the Bay of Biscay to boot.

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6

Port

Portugal’s second city, Porto is growing in popularity and is a great option if you have already experienced Lisbon. It’s also a place for wine lovers, with port warehouses lined up along the river and the full-bodied reds of the Douro region available everywhere. In fact, wine is so celebrated here that it even appears in spa treatments.

Where to stay: There are plenty of lovely hotels to choose from, including enchanting villas in the Atlantic-facing suburb of Foz – but for the best city center perch to enjoy all that Porto has to offer, it must be the Yeatman.

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seven

Dubrovnik

The city walls of Dubrovnik have existed in one form or another since the 9th century, with cobbled streets joining the main gates of Pile and Ploce. Guided tours of the fortifications are an excellent activity to start your journey and discover the city. Visitors can also climb Mount Srd by cable car, shop in markets set up in baroque squares, and venture to the unspoilt island of Lokrum to see its pines, palms, and cypresses.

Where to stay: A little outside the city center, the seaside Sun Gardens are the place to stay to wake up to the Adriatic in front of you – and Villa Dubrovnik is another seaside sanctuary on the rocks .

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8

Brugge

An unsung gem of the best cities to visit in Europe, Bruges is one of the most picturesque places on the continent – designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its medieval heritage and historic canals. Admire the ancient architecture of the Rozenhoedkaai, marvel at the Belfry in Market Square, visit the Almshouses, and enjoy the peace, quiet, and romance of Minnewater.

Where to stay: Stay close to the action at Boutique Hotel Sablon, which may have a 16th-century facade but has been thoughtfully renovated inside — and it’s conveniently located between Market Square and the Zand district.

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9

Valletta

Malta’s honey-colored capital holds a special place in the Queen’s heart – and it won’t take you long to see why. The dazzling St. John’s Cathedral is one of the city’s most recognizable sights, and equally impressive is the Grand Master’s Palace, with its state rooms and armory, and the famed Knights of the Sacra Infermeria of Saint-Jean, one of the first hospitals.

Where to stay: Stunning harbor views await at Barrakka Gardens. For more, head to Iniala Harbor House’s terrace, which has one of the best views in town – and you can enjoy it with a bucket of chilled champagne.

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ten

Palma

Majorca may have its beautiful beaches to bask in and mountains to hike in, but its capital Palma is not to be missed – especially for a glimpse of its gilded Gothic cathedral, which towers above the edge of the bay. Visitors can take the old wooden tram to Soller, for lunch by its marina. Other things to discover include Bellver Castle, Almudaina Palace and the bustling Lonja Fish Market. And it’s a city you can enjoy all year round, since temperatures rarely drop below 18 degrees.

Where to stay: Stay close to the cathedral by checking in at the waterfront El Llorenç Parc del Mar, which references the city’s Moorish past with courtyards and carved doorways.

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