Cities to visit in Europe beyond the capitals

The European capitals are, in addition to the main economic and power centers of the countries, the most popular tourist destinations. It is very common to hear someone saying that they are going to London, Paris, Rome, Madrid or even smaller capitals such as Copenhagen, Stockholm or Dublin for a weekend. But it is clear that in countries there is more than capitals, and they are full of amazing cities to discover. That is why we have selected the 10 European cities that have nothing to envy the capitals, ideal for a getaway.

Valencia Spain

To say that Valencia is the city of Paella and Las Fallas would be too short, since the capital of the Valencian Community has much more to offer. For starters, Valencia has an interesting cultural life, with one of the first Fine Arts Museums in the country and the vestiges of the steps of different cultures such as Muslim or Gothic in its architecture. A clear example of this can be found in the Torres de Quart, part of the old wall, or the Silk Exchange, an important Gothic building declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco. Second, because of its weather, good all year round, which makes it an ideal destination in any season. And third, because in addition to paella, there are many delicious Valencian dishes made from rice, and those that are not. It is worth trying them all!



Best time to go: In March, during the celebration of the Fallas
What to do in the morning: Nothing better than a snoop around the historic center of Valencia and discover the 13th-century cathedral, built on the remains of an old mosque, the Quarter Towers or the Silk Exchange, mentioned above. If you are tired, make a stop at the Horchatería de Santa Catalina, with 200 years of tradition, which boasts of making the best horchata with fartons in the city.
What to do in the afternoon: You can spend the afternoon visiting one of the many museums in Valencia, such as the City of Arts and Sciences, whose architecture has become one of the symbols of the city. If you are hungry, go for a walk to the Malva-Rosa area, where you can try one of the best paellas in Valencia at Casa Carmela.
What to do at night: Valencian night is famous and you can enjoy it in the different neighborhoods of the city. An example is Benimaclet, the trendy neighborhood where all students go. You can also go through El Carmen, in the old town, with a multitude of bars and venues such as Calcatta, located in an old 17th century palace. And to accompany the night, try the water of Valencia, typical cocktail of the city based on vodka, gin, orange juice, sugar and cava.
Our advice: If you want to avoid the hordes of tourists, opt for more alternative neighborhoods such as Ruzafa or for small municipalities near the Valencian capital such as Alboraia, a charming coastal town and delicious cuisine.

Palermo, Italy

The Sicilian capital condenses on its surface more than 2,700 years of history, culture, gastronomy with the best wine and a warm climate all year. It was founded by the Phoenicians, and received the name of Zyz. Later, the Romans called her Panormus. Palermo lived throughout its history successive conquests of Germans, Romans and Christians, which has left its mark on the city. It is also very famous for Street Food lovers as it has street food stalls scattered throughout Palermo. Some of the specialties are arancinii, fried rice balls with cheese and sauce, crocche, fried potato balls, or panelle, pancake with chickpeas. In addition, its nightlife and culture are well known in Italy.

Best time to go: In autumn, the days are still warm, so it is a good time to discover Palermo.
What to do in the morning: To start the day with strength, nothing better than a Sicilian breakfast made with biscuits and ice cream. Then you can dedicate yourself to discover the traditional markets of Palermo such as La Vucciria, fish, or Ballarò, with meats and vegetables of all kinds and that turns on Sundays into a trail, or Il Capo, of fish and spices. The main monuments of the city can be discovered during the morning, such as the Cathedral, the Capuchin Catacombs, the Royal Palace, the Opera, which is the largest in Italy, or the beautiful Pretoria fountain.
What to do in the afternoon: After such a busy morning you can relax on one of Palermo's beaches, such as Mondello, the most famous, Addaura, Capo Gallo or Cala Rossa. Stroll through the Foro Italico, right in front of the sea, until you reach the port of Palermo. Another option is to discover the Castle of Ziza, of Moorish architecture, in the west of the city. You can also take an excursion to Monte Pellegrino, just outside the Sicilian capital, where the Sanctuary of Santa Rosalia is located. To finish off the afternoon, approach Pasticceria da José to taste the cannolo, typical dessert of the Italian island.
What to do at night: Rediscover the historic center from a different perspective than in the morning. Start with a gourmet dinner at the Osteria dei Vespri or opt for a dinner that mixes Sicilian tradition with experimental cuisine at the Cocoa Jazz Restaurant. Then, if you prefer, you can go to one of the bars in the alleyways of the old town where you can enjoy the best live music.
Our advice: The best focaccia is in the Antica Focacceria S. Francesco, on Via Alessandro, 58. Do not leave the island without trying it!

Brighton, United Kingdom

Located a short train hour from London, this coastal city is one of the favorite English destinations in summer for its beaches. Brighton is known for its liberal character, favoring the creation of an important LGBT community in the city, as well as being home to many emerging artists.

Best time to go: In summer it is usually full, so a good alternative is the month of May, when the Brighton Festival takes place.
What to do in the morning: If in the morning you don't feel strong enough to devour the traditional English breakfast, based on eggs, bacon, beans, black pudding, mushrooms, tomatoes, sausages and sometimes even chips, Brighton has a wide variety of Vegan and organic premises, so it is a good way to start the day, then go for a walk along the promenade.
What to do in the afternoon: During the Brighton Festival, artists open their workshops to the public, so it can be a good way to spend the afternoon, discovering art from the artist's perspective.
What to do at night: There are bars and areas for all tastes, for example Kemp Town is the main gay area, and on West Street there is a great abundance of bars and pubs where you can have a good English look.
Our advice: If you want to go shopping, go to North Laine, where all the vintage and second-hand stores are located. You can get unique pieces!

Leipzig, Germany

After Berlin, Leipzig is known as the most hipster city in Germany. It is a dynamic city, with a busy cultural and nightlife, with many bars, restaurants and theaters. It is also known as the German city of books as it hosts the largest book fair in the country, in addition to hosting major publishing houses, so Leipzig is a paradise for literature lovers.

Best time to go: Summer
What to do in the morning: Take advantage of the fact that the city is not crowded in the morning and take a walk through its historic center and discover the fascinating history of Leipzig through its buildings and streets.
What to do in the afternoon: After soaking up the essence of the city it is time to visit its most famous monuments, such as the Völkerschlachtsdenkmal, in memory of the Napoleonic wars, go to the zoo with its tropical garden, or take a boat trip around the waters surrounding Leipzig.
What to do at night: The nightlife of this German city has nothing to envy to that of the big cities. The streets of the old town are full of bars and restaurants where you can taste the best German beer.
Our advice: Being surrounded by two rivers, there are many parts of the city that cannot be seen on foot, so a good way to get to know these parts is canoe tours.

Namur, Belgium

Inhabited at least 8,000 years ago, the Belgian city is located in a strategic geographical position, so it has always been a matter of dispute. The Romans built the Citadel of Namur, one of the largest castles in Europe, to keep the area guarded. The fortress has passed through Spanish, French, Austrian and Dutch hands, although after the Belgian revolution, it has passed into the hands of the latter. Located in the French-speaking area of ​​Belgium, Wallonia, Namur is the headquarters of the main Walloon institutions and the gateway to the Ardennen Forest, one of the main tourist attractions in the country. The advantages of Namur is that, in addition to having all the privileges of the big cities, it is not up to the top of tourists, so it is a good alternative to the always busy Brussels and Bruges. It also organizes two important cultural festivals annually: Festival des arts forains and Fêtes de la Wallonie.

Best time to go: In summer the weather is ideal, and you can enjoy a picnic near the river.
What to do in the morning: Take advantage of daylight to discover the imposing Citadel of Namur and admire the views of the city from it.
What to do in the afternoon: Take a walk through the old town of Namur, where you can find, among other monuments, the Tour Saint-Jacques, declared a World Heritage Site; or the Halle al’Chair, built by the butchers of Namur and now houses the city museum. You can also entertain yourself by following the bronze shells embedded in the ground that mark a pilgrimage route, but be careful, if you don't want to end up in Santiago de Compostela.
What to do at night: If you feel like living a more cultural evening, check out the Théâtre Royal program. If not, enjoy the best Belgian beer or a glass of wine at the local VinoVino, which also has live music.
Our advice: Join your agenda on the third Sunday of September, when the Fête de la Wallonie, the biggest festival in the city, takes place.

Braga, Portugal

Braga is not only the third most populous city in Portugal, but it is also the oldest. It was founded during the Megalithic era, and like many other cities in the country, it suffered the invasions of Goths and Muslims among other peoples. Because of the cultural wealth they left behind and that is reflected in their architecture, Braga is also known as Portuguese Rome. Among other styles, Baroque, Gothic and Roman stand out in buildings such as churches, palaces or gardens. Special mention deserves the university, the oldest in Portugal.

Best time to go: Easter Week in Braga is one of the most spectacular in the country, so it is the best excuse to discover the city in all its splendor. This year, from April 3 to 6.
What to do in the morning: To start your route through Braga, what better way to spend the morning visiting the Bom Jesus do Monte Sanctuary, a fascinating construction with many fountains and a zigzagging staircase. It is located about 6 km from the city so it is best to go early and so you can spend the afternoon on other things.
What to do in the afternoon: Being the oldest Portuguese city, its old city is one of its biggest attractions. The Catderal Sé, from the 11th century and the oldest in the country, or the Antigo Palaço Episcopal, from which its gardens stand out, are just a few examples, but if you let yourself go you can discover many other architectural jewels. For a little rest, have a coffee at Vienna Café, the oldest in Braga, located in Praça da República, the heart of the city.
What to do at night: Being a university city, the nightlife of Braga is one of the best in Portugal. For dinner, do not forget to try some of the Bracare specialties such as frigideiras, a kind of salted puff pastry, or roasted kid, always accompanied by green vinho. For cocktails, our recommendation is the Slide Bar, and the Lagars Club, to party.
Our advice: If you go more than one day, take a small excursion to Peneda-Gerês, the only national park in Portugal, where you can find hundreds of species of plants and animals, such as wolves and eagles, and you can practice water sports.

Den Bosch (Bolduque), The Netherlands

Officially known as ‘s-Hertogenbosch, this Dutch city stands out for its wide cultural offer that includes museums, theaters and festivals such as Jazz in Duketown or the Bosch Parade. In the city, it is also possible to find the oldest brick building in the Netherlands, De Moriaan, from the 13th century, which currently houses the tourist office and a pub.

Best time to go: If you want to avoid the autumn rains or the cold winter, spring is the best time to go.
What to do in the morning: Visit the Uilenburg neighborhood, the most beautiful in Den Bosch. In the 70s, he was very careless, but from the 80s he began remodeling, and now his terrace cafes or small shops are very popular. In addition the area is pedestrian, so you can walk in peace.
What to do in the afternoon: Treat yourself and try a Bossche bowl, a sweet typical of the area, which consists of a kind of giant chocolate-coated profiterole and cream filling. You will find the best ones in Jan de Groot.
What to do at night: The Karrenstraat area is one of the busiest and has hundreds of bars for all tastes. To hit some dances, the best option is the P79 nightclub.
Our advice: If you like beer, Bar m’n Tante is your place, It has a selection of more than 10 beers, and even some beers that vary depending on the time of year.

Marseille, France

Founded by the Greeks of Focea, today it is still known as "The city Foceana", Marseille; It is one of the favorite cities in France. Located in a strategic place, with one of the main ports of the Mediterranean, the French city has always drunk from the influence of other peoples and cultures of this sea, which has given it its cosmopolitan character.

Best time to go: In summer, the French city is full, so if you want to enjoy the good weather but without crowds, the best times to go are between April and May and between September and October.
What to do in the morning: Visit the districts of Vieux-Port and La Cannebière, located in the port area. There are many bars and restaurants with terraces where you can enjoy the good weather. To have an unparalleled view of the city, climb to the top of the small hill in the Vieux-Port, where the Basilica of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde is located with a statue of a woman dominating Marseille, and which She says she is the protector of the city. The Marseilles call her "La Bonne Mère", the good mother.
What to do in the afternoon: Discover the amazing Calanques, the Gallo equivalent to the Norwegian fjords, which are located a short distance from Marseille.
What to do at night: Look for a restaurant in the old town where they serve bouillabaisse, the Marseille specialty par excellence. In the sixth district is where the majority of bars and clubs are concentrated, among which La Dame Noir stands out, an unavoidable appointment for electronics lovers.
Our advice: Marseille is also known for urban art, the streets of the Cours Julien district being the best to enjoy it.

Lugano, Switzerland

Outside Italy, the largest city with culture in the transalpine country is the Swiss Lugano. It is located 8 kilometers from the Italian border and for centuries it was a matter of dispute between Milan, France and the Swiss Confederate States, until it passed into the hands of the latter in 1513. It is the most famous city of Canton Ticino, and is known for its casinos, banks and the nature that surrounds it with a lake and the mountains of Monte Bré, Monte San Salvatore and Sighignola, making it an ideal destination for lovers of sports and outdoor activities.

Best time to go: In spring, when the camellias bloom.
What to do in the morning: Start by discovering the city center, with the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, the Church of Santo Stefano or Santa Maria degli Angeli. You can also spend time visiting the many art museums of Lugano, such as the Buchmann, contemporary art gallery, or the Fine Art Photography Gallery.
What to do in the afternoon: Dedicate the afternoon to one of the excursions we propose, such as the Alprose chocolate factory, admire the views of Lugano from Mount Bré, stroll through the Ciani park on the lake shore, take a tour by boat on the lake or a bike route.
What to do at night: You can stand on end and go to bet on the Casino of Lugano, open every day of the year. It has two bars and a panoramic restaurant, in addition to many game tables. There are also several Piano Bar throughout Lugano where you can enjoy music while having a glass of wine. And if you want something more moved, discos like WKND or Club 1 will like you.
Our advice: In the Grotti, restaurants built inside caves, where you can eat Torta di Pane, a kind of bread pie.

Krakow, Poland

Krakow is undoubtedly one of the most charming cities in Poland, and even in Eastern Europe. The city was the Polish capital between 1038 and 1569 and its foundation is surrounded by legends, among them, which was built above the cave of a voracious dragon. Krakow is a vibrant city, full of bars, restaurants and clubs, as well as museums, theaters and shops, and also with a fascinating historic center declared a World Heritage Site. It is one of the favorite cities for students to go to Erasmus, so the atmosphere is very young.

Best time to go: Spring and autumn are the best times to go, although if you like to see a snowy landscape, you can also visit Krakow in winter.
What to do in the morning: Go to Wawel Castle or take a walk through Zakrzowek, a lake hidden in an old quarry. For breakfast, try the obważanek, a delicious typical Polish pasta.
What to do in the afternoon: Stroll along the Vistula river bank or enter one of the many museums in Krakow, ranging from the city museum to the Polish aviation museum. You can end the afternoon by visiting the old Jewish quarter, the Kazimierz, which has many synagogues and unique buildings.
What to do at night: Krakow's old town is where most young people concentrate to drink a beer. If you want to eat something fast, catch the Zapiekanka, a kind of Polish pizza.
Our advice: There are many other places to visit near Krakow that generate a lot of interest such as the salt mines in Wieliczka or the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Cities to visit in Europe beyond the capitals Cities to visit in Europe beyond the capitals Reviewed by Mr T on October 01, 2019 Rating: 5

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