20 European cities you should see before you die

The cities of Europe are incredibly diverse, and filled with incredible things to see and do. Each one has its own special character and flavour. The only way to really understand the difference is to experience them all. So, it's time to pack your bags (including a Cloud Nine Global pack, of course;) and get ready to go on some adventures. 

Here are our favourite 20 European cities, each of which we believe every passionate traveller really must visit...

FLORENCE

Though smaller than other famous European cities, Florence punches well above its weight when it comes to art. Home to Michaelangelo’s famous David statue plus the impressive Uffizi Gallery art museum, there’s more than enough to keep culture buffs happy. For others, there’s excellent shopping (especially leather goods), a beautiful Duomo, Ponte Vecchio bridge and endless pasta.DUBLIN

No-one knows how to have a good time quite like the Irish, and Dublin is the best place to experience it. Do touristy things by day like visiting the Guinness Storehouse factory, taking a tour of Trinity College university and strolling around St Stephen’s Green. But by night, the best fun is to be had in the pubs. Head to the Temple Bar area, order a Guinness, make some new friends and join in the inevitable singing and dancing.AMSTERDAM

Relaxed and pretty are two of the best words to described Amsterdam. The city is laced with canals and popular with cyclists, so it’s relatively free of both traffic and pollution, which adds enormously to its calm vibe. Go for a stroll or boat ride, eat some bitterballen (fried meatballs) and stroopwafel (thin waffles stuck together with syrup), see the Anne Frank House and stop by the Van Gogh museum. For peak prettiness, go in springtime when the famous tulips are at their best.BUDAPEST

One of the hottest new travel spots in Europe, Budapest is the perfect choice for a weekend visit. It has spectacular architecture including the epic Buda Castle and Hungarian Parliament, luxurious thermal spas that tap into the local mineral-rich waters (such as the Széchenyi Thermal Bath, the largest of its kind in Europe) plus tasty local cuisine. And all at much lower prices than most other major cities in the region.BERLIN

Still visibly bearing the marks of its past while moving quickly into the future, Berlin is somewhere you should visit at least once. History is unashamedly represented with cultural offerings like the Jewish Museum, the Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie. But modern Berlin is equally present and thriving, and it’s worth checking out some of the local markets, young new art galleries, fun outdoor bars and restaurants such as the iconic Art Nouveau beauty Max und Moritz.STOCKHOLM

The home of IKEA, ABBA and Spotify is a lovely place to visit – especially during summer. There are countless arts and music festival on offer in Stockholm year-round, plus lots of beautiful palaces and the royal residence to check out. Go shopping on the arty Södermalm island, stop by the ABBA Museum (you know you want to) and make sure you try some proper Swedish meatballs.BRUSSELS

There are lots of reasons to visit the capital of Belgium – but surely top of the list is the excellent food. Think crispy waffles, rich local chocolates, mussels steamed in white wine and, best of all, salty cones of potato fries, which were supposedly invented here and are usually served with mayonnaise. But it’s not all about the food, and if you’re looking for some culture, go by the Royal Palace and the Parc du Cinquantenaire.COPENHAGEN

Do as the locals do and navigate your way around Copenhagen on a bicycle. Stop by the Tivoli Gardens amusement park, takes some snaps of the royal Christiansborg Palace, enjoy some sunshine down by the Nyhavn harbour area and pay your respects at the statue of the Little Mermaid. If budget allows, book well in advance for dinner at Noma, voted four times Best Restaurant in the World.ATHENS

Dripping in history but still buzzing with a fresh new energy, Athens is very much a hot place to visit right now. Just don’t go during the height of summer, when the city is literally sweltering. You can’t come here and not visit the Parthenon and Acropolis. But save some time to check out some of the excellent new art galleries and restaurants that have popped up in recent years.PRAGUE

Often called the Paris of Eastern Europe, Prague is a spectacularly beautiful city with rich layers of history. Start at the Old Town Square, watch the medieval Astronomical Clock strike the hour, cross the Charles Bridge, visit Prague Castle, pay your respects at St Vitus Cathedral – then reward yourself a nice cold glass of locally-brewed beer.WARSAW

Although not an obvious choice for a European city getaway, Warsaw is skyrocketing in popularity these days amongst travellers looking for something a little different. This city is incredibly pretty, packed with historical building and monuments such as the historic centre (which was almost entirely rebuilt after the second world war), and sites such as the Marie Curie Museum and the Wishing Bell that gives you good luck after you touch it.ROME

There are two main reasons to visit Rome: history and the glorious food. Do a walking tour to see some of the cities mind-bogglingly ancient sites (including the epic Colosseum and Roman Forum), enjoy a gelato in Piazza Navona, throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain, book a visit to the Vatican City – and top it all off with a big bowl of Carbonara pasta. Molto bene!BARCELONA

This vibrant coastal city is bursting with life. From the incredible rainbow architecture by Gaudi to the colourful tapas plates on offer at bars throughout the city, there is nothing subtle about Barcelona. The people are bright and welcoming, the flamenco music is loud and inviting and the restaurants are unforgettable. Don’t miss the Sagrada Familia church, the view from Park Güell, the famous La Boqueria food market or a walk along the beach.EDINBURGH

The best time to visit Edinburgh is August, during the city’s world-famous annual arts and comedy festival. But it’s charming any time of the year. Wander the Royal Mile (the main thoroughfare through the old town, from the castle to Holyrood palace) for a taste of the local history, then sample some local whisky with a bit of haggis on the side (if you’re feeling brave).LONDON

There’s so much to do in London that you’ll never run out of things to explore. Check out our tips on great things to do here. From royal experiences (like seeing Buckingham Palace or visiting the crown jewels in the Tower of London) to shopping at Harrods and Liberty department stores, picnicking in Hyde Park, drinking in pubs and taking in some theatre on the West End, there are hundreds of reasons to keep coming back.MADRID

Although a little less quaint than some of the smaller cities in Spain, Madrid is unapologetically big and bold, with lots to do and see. From the Royal Palace to the Gran Via shopping street, world-famous Prado museum to the Mercado de San Miguel food market, you’ll have no trouble filling your days here.LJUBLJANA

The Slovenian capital is hard to pronounce and often overlooked by travellers – but it really should be high on your hit list. It’s postcard pretty, easy to navigate, full of friendly locals and it has wonderful cuisine that strongly reflects its location between Italy and Eastern Europe. Check out the castle, the lush Tivoli city park and don’t miss a cruise down the river.LISBON

It’s been top of many travel lists for a while now – and still well worth a visit. There are so many things to do - read our mini guide to Lisbon here. Wear comfortable shoes when you come to Lisbon and be prepared to walk up and down lots of cobblestoned hills as you explore this fascinating city. Museums abound, there is excellent food to be enjoyed (especially in the buzzing Time Out market) and an evening in one of the fado (traditional folk music) bars is an absolute must.VIENNA

The city of Mozart is a culture-lover’s dream, with countless opportunities to embrace the high arts from opera to architecture to classical music. Take in a concert and marvel at the glorious baroque architecture of the Schönbrunn Palace, but also don’t forget to make time to just wander around Vienna, visit some of the famous coffeehouses and soak up the rarefied atmosphere. PARIS

One of our favourite cities in the world, and one of the homes of Cloud Nine Global. t’s known as both the City of Lights and the City of Love for good reason – Paris is one of the most romantic places in the world, especially when lit up at night. Walk everywhere, drink coffee on a café terrace, wander through museums (including the Louvre and Musee d’Orsay), take a cruise along the Seine, eat a hearty bistro dinner and, finally, marvel at the twinkling of the Eiffel Tower at night.  For more ideas, read our article on ways to see Paris without the crowds here