Apart from being one of the leading powers of modern civilisation, Europe is also home to some pretty unique and awe-inspiring landscapes which have inspired the creation of classic works by renowned artists like Shakespeare, Monet, Leonardo da Vinci, Dali, Picasso, Van Gogh and more. This makes this continent one of the most culturally rich holiday destinations around, complete with more art galleries, museums, libraries and cobblestone streets per square mile than anywhere else in the world. With more than 50 countries to choose from, and each with its own unique cultural background to offer, choosing one destination to visit can be hard. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of our current top five favourite cultural destinations in Europe to help you along to explore.
1. Bilbao Spain
Bilbao was one of the foremost economic powers of 20th century Basque Country, boasting a rapidly expanding economy whose development was only halted by the arrival of the Civil War as well as the Industrial Revolution thereafter. Now, after decades of careful planning and transformation, this city is once again reclaiming its spot as one of the continent’s most significant cultural centres, with the Guggenheim Museum and Euskalduna Palace being its foremost attractions. Apart from its historic buildings and modern amenities, Bilbao also boasts impressive environmental and urban development that is truly worth seeing.
For accommodation, we’d recommend that you consider staying in one of its unique hotels such as the upscale Hotel NH Collection Villa de Bilbao, luxurious and pricey Meliá Bilbao or the reasonably priced Hotel Silken Indautxu.,
2. Basel, Switzerland
With Germany and France as its neighbours, the city of Basel in Switzerland is one of the ritziest and most naturally beautiful cities in Europe and a true jewel of its culture. The city presents visitors with pleasant views and a choice to explore both the old and the new. There’s the Old Town district which sports well-preserved architecture and about 40 museums from which to ‘get some culture’, while the more cosmopolitan area is filled with innovative and spectacular architecture by some of the world’s most renowned contemporary architects, as well as the famous Art Basel fair which attracts thousands of art loving tourists from around the world.
Basel offers a range of accommodation options to suit different tastes and pockets. For an affordable but upmarket and comfortable option, look no further than Basel Youth Hostel, which is ideally located on the River Rhine and boasts very well-appointed contemporary minimalist interiors, extraordinary architecture, and free Wi-Fi access. As a guest at Basel Youth Hostel, you’ll also get a free Mobility Ticket which allows you to use the public transport in Basel.
If a more luxurious stay is what you’re after and you don’t mind paying for it, then Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois might just be the perfect choice for you. This well-situated hotel is set at the centre of Basel’s Old Town district and lists famous personalities like Pablo Picasso, Thomas Mann, Elizabeth II and Napoleon amongst its past patrons. During your stay, you’ll get to enjoy free WiFi, a daily newspaper, access to a fully equipped gym, free minibar and a free Mobility Ticket.
Lastly, for a combination of price and value, there’s Motel One Basel which is well situated within walking distance from cultural attractions like the Architectural Museum, Basel Cathedral and Pfaz Basel. It also offers free WiFi access, an on-site bar and free cancellation when necessary among other perks.
3. London, United Kingdom
The prestigious city of London is home to a smorgasbord of various cultures, and is recognised as a centre of commerce and cultural activity the world over. From enjoying panoramic views of the city from the London Eye, to meeting realistic looking primates at the Natural History Museum and taking pictures with your favourite celebrity’s immortalised frame at Madame Tussauds; shopping your heart out at Oxford Street or Harrods and Selfridges, there is literally something for everyone in London Town. And if you think that’s all this historic city has to offer, think again, as we’ve only just scratched the surface with all the attractions that you can experience in London, ensuring that you won’t experience a single dull day during your stay there, no matter what time of the year you visit.
Some of the stand out accommodation options to check out in London include the 3-star Holiday Inn Express Southwark, to more stylish and luxurious options like the popular Savoy and Claridge’s, while shortlet-london.com offers superbly priced short term apartments and self-catering options.
More read: holiday destinations in Europe
One of the first things you notice as you arrive in Riga is that although it’s a well-developed city, there’s still a sense of close-knit community about its people, with most still sharing in age old cultural traditions that are a joy for one to experience, like the Baltic Spring festivals to its world-class opera plays and classical orchestras.
Its Old Town features many Gothic structures including 13th century churches, while the contemporary Centrs region presents an impressive skyline and is an aesthetically pleasing UNESCO World Heritage Site. History buffs and aesthetes alike will revel in the plethora of design styles displayed through Riga’s buildings, including Baroque, Art Deco, National Romanticism, and Renaissance, Classicism as well as breath-taking Art Nouveau and Jugendstil structures.
For a truly comfortable stay in Riga, check out Dome Hotel and Spa, complete with luxurious rooms, high-tech technology, a nearby Relais & Châteaux Spa and easy access to cultural, entertainment and historic attractions. Avitar is a budget friendly option that offers decent rooms with plenty of amenities to ensure a comfortable stay, an in-house restaurant and a superb location that places you in the middle of Old Town and Centrs. Lastly, for those looking for a short term rental there’s the reasonably priced Riga Centre Sun Apartments, complete with awesome self-catering units and a central location.
5. Oslo Norway
Oslo is known as the centre of Norwegian industry, banking and culture, and is rated as one of the wealthiest cities in the world, offering a high quality of life to all its residents. However, apart from its economic prosperity, Oslo is a culturally rich city with a combination of natural, contemporary and historic attractions like The Royal Palace, the Vigeland Sculpture Park, the picturesque Frogner Park and the main street Karl Johans gate.
Your accommodation options when staying in Oslo include the posh Saga Apartments Oslo, which is pricey but well worth it, offering an excellent combination of luxury amenities, comfort and a really strategic location. The Central City Apartments are your most affordable option while Oslo Apartments offer a great combination of value and price, with both options situated right in the heart of Oslo.