As I’ve mentioned before, I had a list of places I really wanted to visit when I studied abroad. Obviously it changed (aka I added a few!), but it is good to go into your semester abroad with a general idea of what you want to see and do.
If you are spending a semester in Europe, here’s a few cities that I loved and would recommend putting on your list!
Weekend Trips in Europe:
- Ghent. Skip Brussels if you’re pressed for time and see Ghent and Bruges. Ghent felt like a medieval fairytale, and a visit to the old castle (built in the 12th century) will make you feel like a princess. Wander through the old city center and step back in time.
- Berlin. One of my favorite cities! It is filled with so much history, and you can find it on every corner. Do you research, take a guided tour, and try to see as much of the sprawling city as you can.
- Ireland. Dublin is great, but if you can, get out of the city and head west to the Cliffs of Moher. You will be awarded with a spectacular view and get to travel cross-country.
- Oslo. This was not on my list originally, but I ended up loving Norway! Like Ireland, we got out of the city and visited Drobak, a small town on the fjord with a lovely, Christmas-themed house and beautiful views. Oslo itself has tons of beautiful sights and is worth a weekend!
- Amsterdam. DUH. Obviously I am biased, but Amsterdam truly is a beautiful city, and one of the easiest to visit for a weekend. The city is small and walkable (or bikeable…) and you can hit all of the major sights within a few days. Stop in at Van Gogh and the Rijksmuseum, wander around the city center, visit a brewery, people watch in Leidseplein, or have a picnic in Vondelpark. Rent a bike and see the entire city!
- Paris. It’s cliche, I know, but I truly love Paris. Both times I have visited I have been constantly amazed the entire time. It is a city that everyone should visit at least once. Take your touristy picture in front of the Eiffel Tower and own it!
- Barcelona. I did not plan to visit Spain. I don’t know why, I just didn’t have any desire! But once we arrived, I fell in love. Barcelona is a beautiful city, and if you have time, try to see Madrid as well.
- Seville. Y’ALL I want to return to Seville SO BAD. We were only there for half a day and I fell in love. The old Moorish/Spanish architecture and the rich history made for a beautiful surprise. It is one of the cities on my list of places that I have to return to.
- Lisbon. Lisbon was a wonderful surprise. It was one of the most gorgeous, colorful cities I have ever seen, and being just along the coast provided beautiful views. Purple jacaranda trees, pastel buildings, blue and white tiled walls, and being able to stand on the westernmost point of Europe put Lisbon on my list.
- London. Another cliche, but another city that I loved. I almost didn’t get to visit, but I’m so glad I did. We spent the first two days taking it slow, seeing museums and wandering around, and left all the major touristy stuff for our last day. I’d love to see more of England now, but London was a perfect starting point.
I loved all of these cities (and more!!) but you have to find the places that are going to be the best for you. There is no definitive list of perfect places to visit when you are studying abroad. Everyone has different tastes and preferences for things they want to see and do. If you have your heart set on Budapest or Prague or Lyon, go for it! Your semester abroad is YOUR chance to see all of the things you have been dreaming of. Get out there, plan lots of trips, and have fun!