Unexplored Europe, European Bucketlist Destinations

Top 5 European Cities

It’s been such an incredible year, it’s hard for me to really accept that it’s coming to an end. While I recently made the decision to stay in London (post-Ghana and provided I find a job), my time as a traveling MSc student is coming to a close. Despite the lack of cash in my bank account, I would definitely argue that this year has been worth every cent. I have seen so many new places, experienced new cultures and have learned how to travel like a pro!

So, on year and 15 countries later… what’s the verdict? Read more to find out.

Well, let’s be realistic: some countries are just hard to compare. Can you really compare Turkey with Scotland? Ireland with Malta? They’re entirely different and each have their own je ne sais quoi. That being said, I’m going to do my best to compile some Top 5 lists from this year of travel. Mind you, for many countries I only visited one or two cities, so I do realize that it’s hard to extrapolate that experience to generalize an entire country. I’m going to do it anyway. As I don’t want this post to be nine thousand paragraphs long, I’m going to have to break it down. I’m going to start today with top 5 European cities (not to be confused with favorite countries):

Rome, Italy


5 I had prepared myself. Everyone I talked to said that Rome was dirty; that it was overrated. Regardless, it was a must-see for me, so L. and I departed on our Roman adventure in November 2009. While it’s a bit dirty (it’s a city after all!), it was not overrated! I absolutely loved it! Perhaps it was the time of year we went (not so touristy and not miserably hot), perhaps it was the good company or maybe — just maybe — it was because the city is truly a wonderfully historic place to visit. History, culture, friendly Italians, great food and an amazing atmosphere. Viva Roma!

Nice, France

South of France

4Well, our South of France experiences were primarily limited to the beach, but even at that I would go back in a heart beat. Admittedly, the beaches of Antibes were nicer than Nice, but the perfect weather, and feeling of pure relaxation was amazing!

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh Castle; Edinburgh, Scotland

3How do people find this city boring? Perhaps it’s not as fast-paced as London or as cosmopolitan as Paris, but it definitely has a charm that I absolutely loved. Despite being there during freezing December when the days were short and snow-laden, it was still magnificent. The history and Scottish culture ooze out of everything in Old Town Edinburgh. Yes, it’s a bit touristy (think kilts, tartans and Scottish shortbread sold everywhere), but I’m okay with that. I am a tourist after all!

The Amalfi Coast, Italy

AMalfi Coast

2I realize the Amalfi Coast isn’t a ‘city’ as such, but I have to lump the area together for the purposes of this Top 5 list. If I had to pick a city on the coast that I found most awe-inspiring, it would have to be Positano. All of the towns have their own charm, though, and none are short of beauty and landscape. Gorgeous weather, water, views… just all around amazing. Probably the spot I’d most recommend to people!

London, England


1Oh, London. How could it not be number one? It amazes me that people use London as a connection point to get to other European cities without properly exploring it. A city jam-packed with culture, history, musicals, shopping, nightlife, parks and everything else your little traveling heart desires? Sure, the weather isn’t the greatest, but in my opinion that’s a small price to pay for everything else that comes in the perfectly packaged city that is London. Could there be a more perfect city? I’m going to guess not.

What are your favorite cities in Europe?

More about Shannon Kircher

Shannon Kircher is the founder and editor of The Wanderlust Effect. Founded in 2009, she has continued to document her international escapes as an expat in Europe and the Caribbean. Additionally, Shannon is the founder of Compass & Vine, a luxury boutique travel design firm, and is the Director of Marketing for the Frangipani Beach Resort. Shannon holds an MSc in Social Policy and Development from the London School of Economics and is a current candidate for WSET Level 3 in Wines & Spirits.