Photo: Zurigo, Copyright
Europe’s most beautiful cities all have the same thing in common: they’re filled to the brim with Instagram-worthy sights! From unique architecture to striking statues and spectacular landscapes, you won’t be short of photo opportunities while traversing the streets of these electrifying locales. Take a look.
1. Merano: Italy
Photo Kurhaus Merano, Copyright
The historic spa town of Merano in Italy is not one you’ll want to miss off your Instagram bucket list. Ornate medieval arcades neighbour stunning botanical gardens and parks, while Trauttmansdorff Castle, the town’s foremost beacon of history, cuts a dashing silhouette against the city’s mountainous landscape. If you time your visit right, you’ll be able to partake in one of the many festivals and events Merano hosts throughout the year, too, such as their autumnal Grape Festival, famous Music Festival or ever-charming Christmas markets.
Where to stay: A trip to one of Europe’s most beautiful cities should include staying at one of its most magnificent hotels. Castel Rundegg certainly fits the bill. Built in 1152, this striking castle features a vibrant Mediterranean park and excellent restaurant dishing up South Tyrolean specialties. With friendly staff that are always on-hand, all you need to do is relax.
2. Kotor: Montenegro
Photo Kotor, Copyright
Did you know that the Venetian empire ruled Kotor for nearly 400 years? So much history lives here, that its Old Town has been rightly named a UNESCO World Heritage site: and indeed, there are dozens of historic locations to marvel at as you wander the culture-steeped cobbled streets. Check out St. Tryphon Cathedral or hike up to see the San Giovanni Fortress, which rises high above the orange-capped buildings, cobalt sea and leafy green mountains that comprise this city’s panorama. Athleticism meets aestheticism.
Where to stay: Dubbed the “best boutique hotel in Montenegro”, Hotel Cattaro is a sight for sore eyes after a busy day exploring one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. Luxurious rooms stuffed with amenities help you to unwind in record time, while the hotel’s on-site restaurant and pub ensure that evenings filled with dining and dancing are only ever a few steps away.
3. Ansbach: Germany
Photo Ansbach, Copyright
Captivating countryside and compelling city sights go hand-in-hand in the city of Ansbach. Picture-perfect locations include the well-tailored Hofgarten - which features a stunning Orangery - and Schloss Sommersdorf, a typical German castle decorated in flowering vines. Ansbach Residence is quite a breathtaking sight, too. This fresco-filled palace-turned-museum hosts the biennial music festival, Bachwoche Ansbach: an amazing celebration of the life and works of Johann Sebastian Bach, which has been held since 1947. Those with an eye for events may also want to take note of the ‘Skulpturenmeile’ festival, or ‘Mile of Sculptures’, while planning their visit. Every two years, contemporary sculptors present their work across the city - it’s quite remarkable.
Where to stay: Enjoy a traditional Bavarian beer garden atmosphere under leafy chestnut trees or a four-course top-tier menu at Hotel Schwarzer Bock: a traditional inn and guesthouse. Filled with Rococo details and with an amazing history just waiting to be heard, this camera-ready and culture-filled locale is perfect for travellers who like their holidays filled with good food, stories and snappable moments.
4. Ljubljana: Slovenia
Photo Ljubljana city and castle, Copyright
There’s never a dull day in Ljubljana: one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. After all, what other metropolis can claim its own Dragon Bridge, festooned in stone replicas of the fire-breathing legend? Or a street in its old town that is home to 700 bronze ‘faces’, decorating a gully that zips through the middle of the street? Or dozens of landmarks designed by the famous architect, Jože Plečnik, which have been awarded UNESCO World Heritage statuses? With so many eye-catching and quirky features around each corner, your finger will be permanently poised above your phone’s camera button - and if you fancy an escape to the country during your city break, picture perfect Lake Bled is only a forty-minute drive away.
Where to stay: Once home to several noble families, Antiq Palace is the number one choice for those visiting Slovenia’s capital. Its luxury suites offer some of the best views around, and in close proximity to several cafes, restaurants, boutique stores and sights including the National Library, you’re never far away from the city’s endless hustle and bustle. The hotel even offers a private (and free) Ljubljana Cultural Tour for its guests - simply enquire at the desk if you wish to take part.
5. Zurich: Switzerland
Photo: Historic part of Zürich with famous churches Fraumünster and Grossmünster, Copyright
Beyond the cheese fondue and fancy chocolates that Zurich is deservedly famous for are a wealth of sights that every avid tourist will delight in. From its edgy National Museum to the 12th century Romanesque-style church, Grossmünster, you needn’t go far to get your vacation’s dose of culture... nor countryside. There’s no better place to picnic or admire the city skyline from than the banks of Lake Zurich: a sensational sight from spring through to winter. Those who enjoy a brisk walk will also love the hike up the Üetliberg mountain following The Planet Trail - a ridge walk where hikers can spot models of each planet in our solar system as they ascend. A galactic spin for the ‘gram.
Where to stay: 39 carefully-decorated rooms, a cutting-edge restaurant and free access to a fitness park (including a spa): Marktgasse Hotel truly has it all, and being only 10 kilometres away from Zurich airport, it’s got the art of convenience down, too. With Zurich’s Old Town at your door and a world of excellent hospitality within, you’ll never want to leave.
6: Lisbon: Portugal
Lisbon is undoubtedly one of Europe’s most beautiful cities: home to a wealth of culture, coastlines and one iconic castle. Of particular note is the city’s fascinating museum scene. Explore incredible ceramic collections in a glittering gold church at the Museu Nacional do Azulejo, or discover some of the world’s most fairytale carriages and coaches at the National Coach Museum. View seekers should venture up to the hill-topped castle Castelo de São Jorge, too, or take their camera on a ride up the neo-Gothic elevator: a moody architectural anomaly between Lisbon’s bright buildings. The Portguese capital is also a short train ride away from many of the country’s most enviable beaches. Where to begin?
Where to stay: Sitting right alongside the sensational Avenida da Liberdade you’ll find Lisbon’s Plaza Hotel. This mid-twentieth century property reflects 1950s Lisbon throughout its elegant decor and warm, cosy quirks: visible everywhere as you explore its gorgeous library, Paddock bar, chill out terrace and more. But don’t just take it from us. This historic hotel won a Certification of Excellence in Tripadvisor’s Travellers Choice Awards in 2020.
Cast your vote for the eighth Historic Hotels of Europe Awards
The awards give us an amazing opportunity to celebrate the properties and champion all the hard work they do… and this year, we’re celebrating you, too, by giving you the chance to win a magical stay in Lisbon when you vote!