These five cities are Europe’s secret capitals

Cool city trips: These five cities are Europe’s secret capitals

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They are also called Second Cities and have great advantages compared to the trendiest cities in Europe: We present five cities that are not overrun by tourists, have low prices and attract with exciting sights.

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Away from the mainstream: In the age of overtourism, more and more tourists are turning away from the classic metropolises such as London, Barcelona or Rome. And go in search of other destinations for a city break – for cities in the second row. We have a few ideas for the next short trip – from art and culture to parties and a relaxed atmosphere.

1. Warsaw: Marvel in the city on the Vistula

A pearl of Eastern Europe, protected by the mermaid Siren: Although the second largest city in Poland is around 800 kilometers from the sea, its heraldic figure is a mermaid. According to legend, she lived in the Vistula River and fell in love with a fisherman. Speaking of falling in love: Warsaw offers many reasons to do so. At the forefront is the omnipresent dynamic flair and pioneering spirit – a mix of old and new that can be seen and felt everywhere.

After the total destruction in World War II, the historic center was completely reconstructed. Unesco honored this masterpiece in 1980 by declaring the youngest old town in Europe a World Heritage Site. Since the fall of the Wall, Poland’s largest science, art and culture center has been striving towards the future, including in its architectural styles. Renowned architects such as Daniel Libeskind and Helmut Jahn created futuristic buildings.

The result: a diverse architecture ranging from Gothic churches and neoclassical palaces to Soviet-era blocks and modern skyscrapers. A public park on the roof of the university library and the viewing platform on St. Anna’s Church offer the best view of the skyline.

Another highlight are the city’s museums, such as the Frederyk Chopin Museum, the composer was born here, as was Nicolaus Copernicus, after whom the Science Museum on the banks of the Vistula, which opened around twelve years ago, is named. And of course the POLIN, the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, as well as the Museum of the Warsaw Uprising. If you want to relax between sightseeing, you will find many nice cafés, bars and restaurants, parks and historic squares in the student city (there are 70 universities).

  • Our tip: Be sure to visit the market hall, which is based on an iron construction from around 1900 and has many food outlets, bars and stalls for exotic foods.

2. Seville: combining art, energy and emotion

Combination of Arabic and European architectural styles spiced with flamenco: Spain’s fourth largest city is the capital of the southern Spanish region of Andalusia and is known as the birthplace of flamenco. Its historic city center is one of the largest in Europe – with narrow streets, the Moorish royal palace Alcázar with its large gardens, the cathedral with the tomb of Christopher Columbus, the ubiquitous colorful, glazed ceramic tiles and mosaics, the azulejos, and the futuristic Metropol Parasol. The world’s largest wooden structure was designed by German architect Jürgen Mayer, a hyper-modern, magnificently curved structure that houses museums, an indoor market, shops, bars and restaurants.

The soul of the city can also be heard in many corners: flamenco sounds – whether as street art, on the tablaos, the typical stages of this art form or in the big spectacle in the theater. Seville is considered a flamenco stronghold. If you want to experience the city in a state of emergency, travel to Holy Week, Semana Santa. The celebrations, with more than 100 processions, are the most famous in all of Spain and an unforgettable experience.

  • Our tip: A fantastic panoramic view of the city is offered, especially in the late afternoon, from the dodecagonal Torre del Oro, which stands directly on the river not far from the cathedral.

3. Nice: port city on the Côte d’Azur with sophisticated buildings

The port city in south-eastern France on the Côte d’Azur is one of the sunniest cities in Europe. The azure blue sea, the mountains, the palm trees, the sophisticated buildings of the Belle Époche, the glamorous promenade, the marina, the lively French way of life and, last but not least, the special light have a magical appeal for people who do without airs and graces. Until May when the temperatures scratching the 20-degree mark, connoisseurs and people who enjoy life will find paradisiacal conditions here: no queues in front of restaurants and sights, but moderate prices.

Vieux Nice is the name of the old town with its winding streets, residential buildings painted in warm earth tones, squares such as Place Rosetti with shops and cafés and the baroque cathedral. If you like Gothic architecture, you have to visit the Basilique de Notre-Dame with its multicolored round windows. Modern art is presented in a number of the 15 museums, such as the Museé National Marc Chagall, Museé Matisse or that of modern art. There are magnificent views of the promenade and the old harbor from the fortress rock. There is also a bastion tower up there, a park with an impressive waterfall and lots of flowers.

  • Our tip: Got hungry? Try a socca, the typical flatbread made from chickpea flour, olive oil, salt and water. Perhaps a glass of rosé wine from Nice’s vineyards.

4. Dublin: Poetry, Guinness and Whiskey in Europe’s friendliest city

Ireland’s capital is a city of musicians and poets, packed with museums and always ready for a pint and whiskey or two. Because party people from half of Europe meet here on the weekends and move from pub to pub and then from club to club. If you haven’t found a connection yet, you can join one of the famous pub crawls, i.e. organized pub crawls.

But the Unesco city of literature, which is home to famous authors such as Oscar Wilde, James Joyce and George Bernard Shaw, also scores points during the day. For example, with more than 1000 years of history, ranging from the Vikings to St. Patrick’s and Christ Church Cathedrals and the 13th century Dublin Castle to the promenade along the River Liffey.

Surprisingly, this is lined with palm trees and is a perfect place to start and feel the laid-back atmosphere of Dublin on a stroll. Voted twice as Europe’s friendliest city by TripAdvisor, the city’s highlights also include its location between sea and mountains, the red brick buildings and the Guinness Storehouse. The 1904 Chicago School of Architecture style building is now one of the most visited attractions in the country. Its Gravity Bar offers panoramic views over the lively and colorful city.

5. Florence: art, cappuccino and cantuccini

The wealth of museums, palaces, monuments and buildings in the Renaissance style has not only earned Florence the title of Unesco World Heritage Site, but also one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. The capital of Tuscany is home to some of the most impressive monuments of antiquity and some of the greatest works in art history – from the Uffizi Gallery and the Ponte Vecchio bridge over the Arno River to the colorful marble-clad Florence Cathedral with its imposing dome and Michelangelo’s statue of David. So it is not only a place of pilgrimage for art lovers, even art philistines quickly succumb to the magic of the historic city.

There are more than 70 museums – from the Uffizi Gallery to the Medici Chapels, the Bardini Museum, the Museum of Prehistory and the Galleria dell’Accademia to the Museo Galileo, Leonardo Interactive Museum or the Selfie Museum. If you want to get an overview first, you can climb up a small hill on the quiet side of the Ponte Vecchio in the direction of Piazzale Michelangelo.

  • Our tip: Drink a cappuccino at a bar while strolling through the old town and nibble on a bag of Cantuccini. The almond biscuits are a typical specialty.

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