From England and France to Italy and Germany, European countries are full of vibrant cities known for their museums, restaurants, nightlife and architecture.

1. Paris- capital and most popular city of France. You'll probably want to spend some time at the world-renowned Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and Notre-Dame, but don't miss out on other notable city jewels such as the Musée d'Orsay, the Luxembourg Gardens or Le Marais. There's no way you'll get to do it all – museum-touring, shopping, cemetery-perusing, district-exploring, opera-attending – so plan your own itinerary, group sightseeing nearby attractions together and see Paris on your own terms.

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2. Rome- capital city of Italy and a special comune (Comune di Roma Capitale). Enjoy 'la dolce vita' – even a week isn't long enough to experience everything Roma has to offer. From historic tours through ancient Rome (Colosseum, Roman Forum) to Sunday morning shopping at the Porta Portese flea market to climbing to the top of St. Peter's Basilica, this city is bursting with things to do. You can help your chances of returning to Roma by tossing a coin in the Trevi Fountain; fate might just bring you back to the Eternal City, or so the legend goes.

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3. London- capital city of the UK. Tower of London. Admirers of art or theater will praise the National Gallery and the West End Theatre District, while fans of the monarchy can't skip Buckingham Palace. Although London lives up to its reputation as one of the most expensive cities to visit, it does boast an array of attractions that are free to visit, including the Victoria and Albert Museum and Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, among others.

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4. Venice- city in northeastern Italy and the capital of the Veneto region. You should tour landmarks like Saint Mark's Basilica and the Doge's Palace. On a different day, you could take a ferry (vaporetto) to the smaller islands of Lido, Murano or Burano. You should also make time for art: Don’t miss the Peggy Guggenheim Collection or the Gallerie dell’Accademia. And if you long to hear an Italian opera, book tickets to a show at the Teatro La Fenice.

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5. Barcelona- city in Spain. It is the capital and largest city of Catalonia. Barcelona has some of the most unique and inspiring architecture in the world, so a tour of the city's parks, museums and churches is a must. Start your days off with tours of Antoni Gaudí's whimsical architecture, including Casa Batlló, La Sagrada Familia and Parc Güell. Grab lunch at the bustling Boqueria Market then kick back and relax on the shores of La Barceloneta Beach with a cool cerveza (beer) in hand, all the while enjoying a picturesque view of the Mediterranean. After a brief siesta, hit up the nightlife in Las Ramblas or the Gothic Quarter. And if you're a fútbol fan, you can't leave Barcelona without a visit to FC Barcelona's headquarters, Camp Nou Stadium.

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6. Amsterdam- the capital and most populous municipality of the Netherlands. There's more to Amsterdam than its notorious coffee shop culture and Red Light District. Amsterdam offers a lot more than vice. There's the world-class Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum and shopping on Nine Little Streets for culture hounds. Those traveling with kids might enjoy a visit to the Vondelpark and the NEMO Science Museum, a family bike ride or an introduction to Amsterdam's love of pancakes. But of course, the party scene of coffee houses, gay bars, nightclubs and more is not to be missed.

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7. Santorini- an island in the southern Aegean Sea, about 200 km (120 mi) southeast of Greece's mainland. Visit this Greek island for its abundance of diverse beaches. You'll find red sands at – you guessed it – Red Beach and black sands at Kamari Beach. But don't forget to save a day to travel to archaeological attractions like Ancient Thira and Ancient Akrotiri. Santorini's volcanic activity plays a role in many of island's popular activities, from swimming and sunbathing at the molten-dyed beaches (such as Kamari Beach) to exploring ancient ruins once buried in ash (Ancient Akrotiri). Even the flavor of wine here is affected by the island's volcanic terrain, making a trip to one of Santorini's many wineries a must-do activity for foodies. Outdoorsy types will enjoy hiking along the caldera from Fira, where the city of Atlantis was said to have once stood. Whatever you choose to do in Santorini, you can't miss a sunset from Oia, or while dining alfresco in Amoudi Bay.

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9. Prague- the capital and largest city in the Czech Republic, the 14th largest city in the European Union. A vacation in Prague will leave you feeling as if you've stepped into a fairy tale. The Gothic architecture impresses visitors of all ages, and the city's love of music is contagious. You'll also appreciate Prague's affordability compared to other captivating destinations in Europe. Prague boasts some of the most picturesque architectural landmarks in Europe. Here you'll find the sprawling Prague Castle, the bustling Charles Bridge, the famous Astronomical Clock in the Old Town, and the quirky, Art Nouveau, Frank Gehry-designed Dancing House. Prague is also famous for its abundance of tasty beers, pubs and beer halls. When you're not sipping on a pilsner, make time for cultural events; operas and symphonies attract large crowds and can be very affordable.

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10. Lisbon- the capital and the largest city of Portugal. Laid-back Lisbon welcomes travelers with its colorful architecture, centuries-old buildings and castles, picturesque beaches and flavorful seafood. Nestled on top of seven hills, this charming European locale is known for its friendly residents and hilly terrain. Lisbon is probably best known for its colonialist history, ornate architecture and tradition of Fado music. But some of its best features are in the everyday – spectacular hilltop vistas in Alfama or at St. George's Castle, pleasant year-round weather and friendly locals. To enjoy these, bring some comfortable footwear and a pocket map of the public transit system, or just hop on Tram 28 to see it all. Plan on spending a half-day to a full day exploring the waterfront neighborhood of Belém, or maybe plan a daytrip to the palace-heavy Sintra, located 20 miles northwest of Lisbon.

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11. Istanbul- historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople, is the most populous city in Turkey. Skyscrapers stand next to historical monuments in Istanbul, an ancient city filled with modern advances. Shopaholics fill the city's bazaars during the day, while partygoers head to local nightclubs in droves at night. Most attractions are clustered in the Fatih area, though districts like Beyoglu (where Taksim Square resides) and Besiktas (which features Ortaköy and Dolmabahçe Palace) are no less exciting. The Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia Museum are essential, but simply exploring the street traffic and observing daily life here are equally fascinating. Food is a central part of the culture, so menus should be studied just as seriously as a map (which is also a must). And you should check out the many bazaars around town when looking for souvenirs, but if you only have time for one, be sure to visit the largest and most famous: the Grand Bazaar.

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12. Innsbruck- the capital city of Tyrol in western Austria and the fifth-largest city in Austria. A skier's paradise come first snowfall, Innsbruck is home to staggering mountains and Olympia SkiWorld Innsbruck, which boasts more than 160 miles of runs. Outside of winter sports, visitors can explore the historic Old Town, and families will love the Alpenzoo, the highest zoo in Europe. While the shining Golden Roof lures travelers to the Old Town, nearby sites like the Hofburg and Maria-Theresa Strasse keep them there. If you're traveling with kids, you should enjoy the city vista from the Alpenzoo, the highest zoo in Europe, or the thrilling Bergisel Ski Jump.

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13. Dublin- the capital and largest city in Ireland. the largest city in Ireland and has long been a popular vacation spot for beer drinkers and history buffs. Home to the Guinness headquarters and the Jameson Distillery, the city also boasts a plethora of pubs. Start in the north at Phoenix Park and head south to the River Liffey, cross the famous Ha'Penny Bridge and find your way to the medieval streets of Temple Bar. Pause for a pint before heading to the Trinity College campus. Shop along nearby Grafton Street before jaunting on to the peaceful St. Stephen's Green. From there, literary fiends can drop by the Writers Museum or the James Joyce Centre while visitors that enjoy a drop of the good stuff can tour the Guinness Storehouse or the Jameson Distillery Bow St.

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14. Amalfi Coast- a stretch of coastline on the northern coast of the Salerno Gulf on the Tyrrhenian Sea, located in the Province of Salerno of southern Italy. Travel to this coastal region in Italy for once-in-a-lifetime views of the Mediterranean Sea from beautiful cliffside towns.Spend your days hiking, wandering the narrow streets of Positano or retreating to more secluded places, such as the Furore Fiordo beach. Adventure travelers wanting to work up a sweat can traverse the many scenic hiking trails that snake through the region. Those strictly seeking relaxation can find solace at one of the coast's 100 beaches, including the ultra-secluded Furore Fiordo. If you have sufficient sea legs, seeing Amalfi by boat is said to be an unforgettable experience, as is bearing witness to the littoral views from the sky-high Villa Cimbrone. If you're on a tight itinerary, the postcard-worthy Positano, with its colorful architecture and luxurious amenities, is quintessentially Amalfi and not to be missed.

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15. Split- the second-largest city of Croatia and the largest city of the region of Dalmatia. The city’s main attraction is its historic core of beautiful Gothic and Renaissance architecture of which the Diocletian’s Palace is the crown jewel. Built between 298 and 305 AD, this Roman Emperor palace complex is more like a small city itself with a maze of marble walkways and buildings containing shops, cafes and bars. Outside the historic center, tourists will find plenty to see and do including strolling along the seaside promenade, shopping at the lively Green Market and swimming at Baćvice beach. Head for Pjaca square where Split’s old town hall overlooks a sophisticated plaza of shiny marble tiles and cafes with outdoor seating. Fruit Square is also essential, taking its name from the market that was held here for centuries. St. Duje’s Cathedral -the central portion of this structure dates to 350, making St Duje’s the oldest cathedral building in the world. It’s a real thrill to see how Roman elements like the original ring of 24 supporting columns mingle with the hallmarks of a catholic place of worship.

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16. Hvar- One of the most popular places to visit in Croatia and in the Adriatic Sea, Hvar is a beautiful Croatian island off the Dalmatian Coast, favored for its landscapes of spectacular beaches, lavender fields and lush vineyards. Hvar’s main city, Hvar Town, is an attractive city, featuring 13th century walls, marble stone streets, Gothic palaces, stunning churches and an imposing old fortress. Hvar’s après-beach scene centres around a formerly secluded spot called Majerovića, just round the coast from the Hotel Amfora. Inevitably more commercialized than when it was the main hangout for in-the-know locals, Hula Hula Hvar still rocks when it comes to sunset cocktails in a Bali-meets-Adriatic setting. The natural beauty of Hvar offers plenty of outdoor recreation, from hiking in the cliffs to swimming in the secluded coves and beaches. Slowly approaching its 20th anniversary in style, Carpe Diem has flourished in tandem with Hvar itself, attracting ever more celebs and cocktail-swigging yachting types as each summer passes. Behind a loggia façade, Carpe Diem is surprisingly ordinary inside, with just higher-than-ordinary prices and standard party music till late o’clock.

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17. Dubrovnik- a Croatian city on the Adriatic Sea. It is one of the most prominent tourist destinations in the Mediterranean Sea, a seaport and the centre of Dubrovnik-Neretva County. The landmark of Dubrovnik is “Stari Grad” (= old town) which is also part of the UNESCO world heritage. Even though the so called “pearl of the Adriatic” has been involved in the balkan wars it is still well preserved – all caused damages have been fixed very quickly. A walk on the city walls of Dubrovnik offers a whole new perspective. Plan around 2-3h for this experience which is best in the early morning or the late afternoon. Dubrovnik has got many beaches and bays.

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18. Tallinn- the capital and largest city of Estonia. It is on the northern coast of the country, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland in Harju County. Estonia might not fit your typical idea of a vacation destination, but dig a little deeper and you'll be delighted by the beautiful Russian Orthodox architecture found at Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the pink Toompea Castle (now home to parliament) and the regal Kadriorg Palace. Other can't-miss sights include the Old Town and Lahemaa National Park.

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19. Riga- northern Latvia on the gulf with the same name, Riga offers colorful, art nouveau architecture and a pedestrian-friendly Old Town. For a unique take on history, head to the Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum, an outdoor museum that's home to 118 historic buildings that reflect Latvian culture through the ages. The Three Brothers – almost impossible to photograph, but pretty nonetheless. Together, the houses form the oldest complex of dwelling houses in Riga. The white house is from the 15th century, the yellow is from 16th and the green from the 17th century. In Riga, the park has a canal running through it and a bridge with love locks. It’s a great place for a jog, for relaxation or a picnic, and for a boat ride. In the winter, you can feed the ducks that live on the canal. Most of the major sites are located in the Old Town, which is a UNESCO protected area with unique buildings and architectural masterpieces. This part of town has many cafés and restaurants so it’s easy to spend a whole day exploring without having to venture outside for lunch or dinner. Aside from sightseeing, there’s a great selection of spas & wellness, historic buildings and markets.

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20. Minsk- the capital and largest city of Belarus, situated on the Svislač and the Nyamiha Rivers. While the destination's architecture may not be as grand as other cities on this list, Minsk offers a more contemporary take on Eastern Europe. This Belarusian city is packed with chic eateries, booming nightclubs and modern art galleries. For a look into its past, visit Independence Square where you'll find the KGB headquarters, the Lenin Monument and the neo-romanesque Red Church.

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