About to start your semester abroad in Europe? You’re going to spend most weekends traveling. Put your trust in seasoned travel experts to recommend the top ten cities you can’t miss in the short time you’re here:
1. Prague, Czech Republic
With every corner of this city touched by a little Eastern European enchantment, stepping into Prague is like stepping into a storybook. Magnificent architecture, unreal nightlife, great food, rich history: Prague has it all. Whether you’re heading to Lucerna, known for playing absolute jams from the 80s and 90s, or going to the infamous five-story club, Karlovy, then get back the energy you spent dancing with a late-night snack from one of the many food carts before heading home. After getting your fill of freshly rolled, sugar-dusted Trdelníks, wander the cobblestone streets to the John Lennon Wall and walk across one of the most beautiful bridges in the world, the Saint Charles bridge. So what if every word in Czech is 8 syllables with no vowels? A visit to Prague is well worth the journey.
2. Interlaken, Switzerland
When you think Swiss, you probably think: cheese, chocolate, Alps. Not far off, but let’s get more specific. The one place you need to go in Switzerland is the adventure capital of Europe, Interlaken. You can go skydiving, paragliding, canyoning, or of course, you can casually ski down the Swiss Alps. But at the same time, Interlaken is as cozy and quaint as Christmas story. Between the picturesque mountain views and crystal blue lakes, Interlaken is European’s hidden gem.
3. Munich, Germany
Munich is a must for every student coming abroad their fall or spring semesters. Why? A little party called Oktoberfest (Springfest if you’re here in April.) A bike tour is an ideal way to kick off your trip to make sure you see all the famous landmarks like Marienplatz, Hofbrauhaus, English Gardens, Chinese Tower, Surfer’s Bridge, and Bavarian Parliament. During the weekend that you’ll (hopefully) remember, find your lederhosen and dirndls for the festival, get there early to grab the best table and get ready to sing along with thousands of students, tourists and German locals who come from all over to enjoy Europe’s biggest party.
4. Split, Croatia
Life-changing beaches, fresh seafood, gorgeous viewpoints: Split is not to be missed. Whether you’re walking through the beautiful Diocletian’s palace or rafting down the emerald green Cetina River, every corner of the marble city of Split is more shockingly beautiful than the last. And trust us, you have not experienced calamari until you have it grilled on a giant platter in Split, Croatia.
Ahh, Amsterdam, a city that does not disappoint. The canals and stacked houses are just the start. Take your visit to Amsterdam beyond the coffeeshops and Red Light District, and take in the city’s colorful culture. Jump on a bike tour to get your fill of the canal-lined streets (the canals became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010), and eat your fill of the never-ending supply of delicious food choices. Not to mention, did you even study abroad if you didn’t get a picture with the I Amsterdam sign?
6. Berlin, Germany
Berlin offers something for everyone and is known for being a cultural melting pot filled with artists (there are over 440 art galleries,) musicians and students. There are cool, hipster cafes & breweries everywhere, and you won’t break the bank despite eating and drinking extremely well throughout your trip. The depth of Berlin’s history is astounding and walking the Berlin Wall, seeing Checkpoint Charlie and joining a walking tour through the city will blow you away whether you’re a self proclaimed history buff or not.
Budapest is one of the most unique cities in all of Europe and maybe the world. Hungarians have their own distinct language, local flair, hospitality, and absolute love of life. Beautiful architecture, eccentric art, thermal bath houses, impressive nightlife, and a very friendly exchange rate put Budapest high up on the list of must-sees for anyone in Europe. Enjoy the beauty of Budapest on a river cruise, explore deep into the city’s underground caves, party all night in one of the massive clubs, and recover the next day in their famous bathhouses.
8. Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast will have you asking “is this real life?” repeatedly. There is a lot to see in the Amalfi Coast, and it can be hard to get around. The easiest way to make sure you see the can’t-miss highlights is to book a weekend trip with a student tour operator like Bus2alps. You’ll be picture-happy when heading down the winding road leading down to the black sand beaches of Positano. You can rent a boat with your study abroad crew and then head to downtown Sorrento for a Southern Italian dinner followed by a night of dancing to a seriously good DJ at the English Inn. While in the Amalfi Coast, you have to visit the island of Capri. The best way to start go is to take a boat cruise around the island for stunning views, a visit to the Blue Grotto and a glimpse of the infamous love rocks. If you think of Capri as an island of layers, you’ll have the easiest time picturing it. The first layer is Capri where you’ll arrive right after the private island cruise. Next, you can take the funicular or walk up a winding path to Anacapri where you can buy a freshly squeezed granita from a man who we’re pretty convinced has been there forever. After that, a quick bus ride will bring you to Capri Town for lunch, shopping and the option to take a chairlift to the very top of the island, Mount Solaro, for 360 views of the entire island.
9. Marrakech, Morocco
While not Europe, one of the beauties of Europe is that you can literally go to a new continent for a weekend. If you think about Morocco as a country that engages all five senses, you’ll have an idea of what you’ll feel as you explore the colorful markets filled with spices, colorful scarves, and literal genie lamps, hiking the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, and getting that quintessential Instagram riding a camel in Africa! Journey to the Ourika Valley to have tea with a local Berber family and relax with traditional Hammam baths at one of the local spas. Morocco offers an exotic taste of a new culture, unlike anything you’ve ever encountered.
10. Brussels, Belgium
Brussels and Bruges do not get nearly enough attention. Beer, chocolate, waffles and French fries are delicacies. What more could we want? One of the biggest surprises in Brussels is Grand Place (grand platz), or the main square. It is stunningly beautiful and, at night, the whole square lights up as if the buildings are giant lanterns. Not impressed? Have a beer right around the corner at Delirium Bar with over 2000 different beers! Another great surprise is the fact that Brussels’s main monument is a tiny man pissing and no one knows why he’s famous. Instead of visiting it, you can spend all of your time drinking beer and eating waffles and write home to ma and pa about it guilt free.
And, waffles. This deserves its own section. Most people visit Brussels and order their fantasy Belgium waffle. Heaps of Nutella dripping over the sides, giant strawberries, walnuts, and bananas piled to the ceiling. BRACE YOURSELF: Brussels waffles are best completely plain. No hoopla needed.