Europe is an amazing place to be if you are a twenty-something. It is very easy and affordable to travel between European countries; it only takes an hour or two by plane or train to be immersed in a completely different culture, language and landscape. The following cities often feature on must-see lists of European destinations, but they are especially attractive for younger travellers as they combine cultural sights, ethnic cuisine and diverse fashion with opportunities for amazing memories. Whether you are travelling alone, with a partner or with friends, you are guaranteed to have a blast in any of these destinations.
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1. London, United Kingdom
As the largest city in Europe, it would be remiss to skip London. Full of historical sights, such as Big Ben, the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace, the capital also offers a rich and diverse cultural experience. The city centre is the best place to be, with countless restaurants where you can enjoy all the cuisines of the world, a number of Soho bars suiting every requirement, and a range of theatre shows on every night of the week. Buzzing with life, the city is also one of the fashion capitals of the world. Currently, London is enjoying a number of pop-up events and street festivals over the summer. Foodies will appreciate the food vendors at Street Feast, Urban Food Feast and Summer Tales, while current must-sees along the Southbank include an immersive Alice in Wonderland theatre experience and an interactive exhibit at the Hayward Gallery.
2. Paris, France
Paris is inarguably one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It is one of the only cities where you can step out of your hotel with absolutely no plans, and have an amazing day just breathing in all the scenery. There are the typical tourist sights such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Champs-Elysees and Sacre Couer, as well as numerous well-known museums such as the Louvre and Musee D’Orsay, yet many recall their favourite memories as simply sitting in a French bistro near the river Seine and watching the Parisians go by. If all that people watching makes you thirsty, the best cocktail bars to visit are the Hemingway Bar at the Ritz Hotel, Hotel de Crillon and Le Meurice’s Bar 228. If you only have one night out in Paris, be sure to head to Le Crazy Horse to see a series of fantastic cabaret performances.
3. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Although Amsterdam has a reputation for sex, drugs and drunken stag parties, its canals and quaint buildings truly make it one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. It also has a number of historical tourist attractions such as the Van Gogh museum and the Anne Frank House. The landscape makes you feel as if you are in a small village rather than a big city, and one of the main features of Amsterdam is that you can walk - or join the locals on a bicycle - almost everywhere. Visiting Amsterdam during their tulip-picking season (spring) cannot be beaten. For those that are looking to party (and who isn’t, in one of the most famous party cities in the world?!), the most well-known clubs are Jimmy Woo’s and Air. The former is more trendy and luxurious, while the latter is a larger, techno-based club. An extremely cool venue to watch live music is Paradiso, a former church which often hosts multiple pop and rock concerts on the same day due to high demand.
4. Ibiza, Spain
It is hard to find a place more famous for partying than the Balearic island of Ibiza. It is home to seven of the biggest and best nightclubs in the world, as well as countless day-time beach bars, where DJs set up residencies throughout the whole summer. During the day, book a lounger or splurge on a beach hut at Blue Marlin, and then start your evening at Ushuaia, a huge outdoor club which closes at midnight. Then head to one of the islands superclubs: Pacha, in Ibiza Town, which is both the oldest club on the island and is also regularly voted the best nightclub in the world, while Space is the largest nightclub on earth. For those who are less party-inclined, Ibiza also offers a number of secluded beaches, quiet shopping villages and even quiet yoga retreats. However, dancing until dawn in a hot, tightly-packed Ibiza superclub should be on everyone’s bucket list!
5. Berlin, Germany
Berlin offers a great mix of culture and relaxation. The city is full of history, with the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie and holocaust memorials being absolute must-sees. There are also a wide range of museums and art galleries to explore during the day. Berlin boasts one of the best nightlife scenes in Europe, with the city being famous for nightclubs, all-night raves and live music. If spending an entire weekend clubbing is your thing, the most famous nightclub in Berlin is Berghain. This club can be found in a former power station and is open from midnight on Saturday night all the way through to Monday morning.
6. Florence, Italy
Most people are drawn to the Colloseum in Rome when they first visit Italy, but Florence offers a cultural experience which cannot be beaten. Walking through the cobblestone streets and squares and climbing to the top of the Duomo is incredibly beautiful and romantic. Florence has a vibrant nightlife and restaurant scene, being famous for pizza, pasta, gelato and espresso, and one of the best ways to experience it all is through a walking food tour. A visit to the Uffizi must be on the cards, where you can see the works of Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Michelangelo. Finally, walk to the top of the hill at Piazzale Michaelangelo for a beautiful view of the city, and plenty of places to purchase a wine or a beer. There is also an outdoor seasonal club, Flo, nearby.
7. Budapest, Hungary
Budapest is another city with a great nightlife for young people, backed by an impressive architecture which blends old and new Europe. The large city is split by the river into the historic Buda and livelier Pest. In keeping up with other European cities, it offers a number of funky warehouse bars which are guaranteed to give you a good time. The city has a number of "ruin bars", which are spaces that have been transformed from abandoned residential buildings to buzzing night spots. One of the best known ruin bars is Instant, which boasts 23 rooms, six bars and four dance floors.
8. Lisbon, Portugal
From an architectural standpoint, Lisbon offers a beautiful array of Gothic cathedrals and monasteries. It is the oldest city in Western Europe, as well as one of the oldest cities in the world. Picturesque streets lead to beautiful beaches and, although the city offers a vibrant nightlife scene, it is better known for its relaxed cafe culture. The most famous dance club is Lux, which is set over three floors of a dockside warehouse and offers a view from the rooftop terrace of the nearby river in Santa Apolonia. It has drawn a host of international visitors over the years including Prince and Cameron Diaz, and is partly-owned by actor John Malkovich.
9. Reykjavik, Iceland
Reykjavik is the most northerly capital city in the world. In the summer, you can expect to experience 22 hours of sunlight while the winters - although very dark and cold - offer the unparalled beauty of the northern lights. For the adventurer within, there are a number of activities you can partake in, such as sledding, fishing, hiking and mountain biking. For those seeking nightlife, most of the bars are within walking distance of one another and, unlike many other European cities, entry fees are almost non-existent. Most bars are open all night long, especially during the summer months.
10. Dubrovnik, Croatia
Lying on a beach in sunny Dubrovnik, will take your breath away. With the mountains behind you, ancient cities to your left and right, and the beautiful Adriatic Sea before you, it’s hard not to feel as though you are in paradise. The nightlife will be memorable, as Croatia is famous for its island-hopping boat parties. The most famous bar in Dubrovnik is the Troubadour, where live music is played in a square of the Old Town each night for six months a year. Not far away is the Ludwig, a rock grunge bar specifically marketed for the under-25s. If partying is not your thing, you will love the weather and locals. During the day, Croatia is well known for adventure sports including rock climbing and abseiling. Finally, don’t miss out on the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, which is 47 days and nights of classical music, theatre, dance and opera performances - many of which take place for free!
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While it would be nice to travel to every European city, it is more realistic and economical to focus on just 10 - and the cities mentioned above are absolute must-sees for anyone travelling in their 20s!