Why You Should Add These 4 Cultural European Cities To Your Bucket List For 2024

Why You Should Add These 4 Cultural European Cities To Your Bucket List For 2024

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Demand for culture-based trips has increased significantly in recent months, especially among Americans, who have been flocking to foreign countries in search of ancient landmarks they wouldn’t be able to find in the relatively young nation they call home.

It’s only natural Europe would be at the front of their minds when planning an international getaway, after all, the Old Continent’s high concentration of medieval towns and historical sights, and the accessibility of cross-border travel make it an obvious pick if you’re a History buff.

Panoramic View Of Monastriki Square And The Acropolis Hill In Athens, Greece, South Eastern Europe

If that resonates with you, and you’re looking for an immersive cultural experience, it’s these four incredible cities you should add to your bucket list for 2024:

Athens, Greece

The cradle of Western civilization, Athens is a mandatory stopover on your European cultural trek, but don’t make the usual mistake of reducing it to an Acropolis day trip and an evening stroll in the Monastraki Flea Market: there is a lot more to the Classic City tourists are yet to unpack.

This is a sprawling capital that does not get enough credit for its street life and growing portfolio of modern art galleries, which only add to the rich cultural tapestry, unique contrast between millennia-old ruins and modern cityscape, and vibrant neighborhoods.

Woman with photo camera near Hephaistos temple in Agora near Acropolis in Athens, Greece

Of course, you don’t want to skip the main point of interest in the town, namely the historical temples perched on a hilltop overlooking the urban mess below – believe us, the Parthenon is even more impressive in person, even if it’s swarmed by tourists year-round now.

Then again, it is only the tip of a much larger iceberg: you should definitely take your sweet time in savoring your way through the cobbled, restaurant-lined streets of Plaka, visit a cozy wine bar in laid-back Thiseio, or sample feta cheese and plump olives at the Central Market.

street in Plaka, Athens

Berlin, Germany

The capital city of Germany, Berlin was once at the center of an ideological dispute between the Western and Eastern Worlds, with a wall running along the city and essentially spliting it in two: the free, democratic world, from an authoritarian, communist-leaning half.

It may not be Europe’s prettiest capital – much of historical Berlin was destroyed during World War II – but that’s precisely what makes it such an enticing city break: it wears its battle scars proudly as a reminder of horrors past, from bombed-out Neo-Romanesque churches to Brutalist apartment blocks.

Berlin Germany

Walking around this inspiring city, tourists can find graffiti-covered remnants of the infamous wall, museums on the Holocaust and post-war Germany, and unique contemporary exhibitions, making it every art and European History geek’s favorite playground.

If you’re heading to Berlin this year, you should probably know the local Government has removed entry fees for a whopping 60 museums through 2025, valid for the first Sunday of each month. Local favorites like the Altes Museum, the Gemäldegalerie, and Knoblauchhaus are on the list.

German Flag Flying In Front Of An Official Government Building In Berlin, Germany

Istanbul, Turkiye

The largest urban center and cultural heart of Turkiye, Istanbul has been described throughout the centuries as the ‘city of the world’s desire’, thanks to its strategic location on the natural border between Europe and Asia, and immense wealth.

The minaret-dotted cityscape is the stuff of dreams, and if you’re keen on Byzantine heritage, Istanbul is the place to go: it houses Hagia Sophia, formerly the greatest cathedral of Ancient Times, now converted into a mosque, the impressive Theodosian Walls, and the medieval Galata Tower.

Boats In Istanbul, Turkiye, Eastern Europe

2024 is the perfect time to tick Istanbul off your list, with points of interest like Basilica Cistern, a Byzantine cistern dated to the year 532 AD, now open to the public again following a major revitalization project, and a new Istanbul modern art museum having been unveiled.

Americans, in particular, have all the more reason to rejoice, as Turkiye has just lifted visa requirements for U.S. passport holders. From 2024, it is no longer necessary to apply for an online entry permit, nor pay a fee traveling to the multicultural gem that is Istanbul, or any Turkish destination.

Galata Tower Overlooking The Golden Horn And The Historical Peninsula In Istanbul, Turkiye, Eastern Europe, Western Asia

Tartu, Estonia

Every year, European organizations convene to name three Capitals of Culture for the next twelve-month period, and for 2024, an unheard-of city, in a lesser-known country straddling the Eastern fringes of the continent was given the honor.

Tartu is a hidden gem of Estonia renowned for its eclectic architecture, which combines classicist, neoclassical, and modernist efforts into one compact, walkable historical city center, dominated by a cafe-flanked central square, and housing a traditional 17th-century university.

Central Square In Tartu, A City In Estonia, Eastern Europe, Baltic States

Home to numerous folk festivals, a landmark cathedral that, despite being partially ruined as a result of wars, still inspires awe and a modern science center, it’s a seriously underrated weekend destination that’s been flying under the radar for far too long.

Throughout 2024, you can expect a series of cultural events to take place in Tartu as a result of its designation, including an official ‘opening’ of the cultural year in summer, music festivals, unique, temporary exhibits in local museums, street art interventions, and more.

There’s never been a more exciting time to discover Tartu – and on a wider extent, the charming, tiny country that is Estonia – than now.

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