Europe is full of cultural delights. In fact, there are so many places that should be appreciated that the Greek minister of culture proposed a scheme in 1983to put a different city in the spotlight every year.
The aim was to ensure everyone was aware of the culture capitals in Europe and encourage people to experience these places for themselves. The project has been a great success, you’ll often find two or more cities share the profile boost each year, simply because there are so many places of interest in Europe.
The scheme doesn’t just show off the culture of a city, it also generates funds that help to regenerate deprived areas. Glasgow in Scotland is a prime example of this, it was the UK’s first capital of culture back in 1990.
The scheme even helped Kosice in Slovakia transform from a manufacturing centre to a tourism hub. In 2018 it encouraged 5.8 million tourists to visit Leeuwarden in the Netherlands.
There are plenty of cities that have held the title and should be visited. Here are some of the best cultural capitals in Europe that you should be visiting.
Bergen – Norway
Bergen is surrounded by seven hills and seven fjords. The oldest part of the city, the wharf is actually UNESCO listed. It has a long trading history for you to discover, 4 great art galleries, and a myriad of hiking trails starting from the city.
View the city from the water and you’ll find it’s picture-perfect!
Salamanca – Spain
Salamanca is home to the oldest university in the Hispanic world, dating back to 1218. It also has 2 cathedrals, you can access both and even climb the watchtowers.
The main square in this city is baroque-style and has 88 arches as well as an array of carved figures. The Art Nouveau and Art Deco Museum are worth a visit although the collection of 300 porcelain dolls is a little creepy.
Patra – Greece
The city here is gritty and used, but it is 3,000 years old! You’ll find an impressive array of Roman architecture and even some Mycenaean ceramics in the local museums. The cathedral here is actually the largest in Greece and if you head up to the medieval castle you’ll enjoy stunning views of Zakynthos and Kefalonia.
You can also see the poet Kostis Palamas’s house and the Roman Odeon.
Sibiu – Romania
Transylvania is famous for Count Dracula but this Sao city was one of the most important fortified cities in Europe. You can climb the council tower, all 73 meters of it and gaze across the entire city.
Visit in June and you’re certain to find a festival or two happening, it has become a hotspot for film, jazz, rock, and even art festivals.
Linz – Austria
This is actually the UNESCO city of media arts. On the north bank of the Danube, you’ll find the Ars Electronica Center where you’ll see AI thinking for itself. It’s a fascinating experience.
If you like graffiti then check out the Mural Harbor where street art is allowed, you should also see the Lentos, an inspiring glass building that houses the modern art collection and is lit up at night.
Turku – Finland
This city is the oldest in Finland and actually sits on both sides of the river Aura. On one side is the cathedral, on the other the Castle.
You’ll find plenty of eating places here and delicacies to try, as well as an array of small museums and weekly outdoor concerts. But, there is also an archipelago of approximately20,000 islands waiting to be explored, you’ll want to take a bike or kayak to really appreciate them.
Guimaraes – Portugal
This is actually the birthplace of Portugal because it’s where the first King of Portugal was believed to be born. There are plenty of UNESCO sites here, churches to see, a 15th-century palace and a 1,000year-old castle.
But there are also modern spaces that are home to new artworks and a cable car will take you to the top of Mount Penha, an experience in itself!
Aarhus – Denmark
The Vikings founded this city in the 8th century, but it’s changed a lot since then!
The docklands has become a trendy district with a network of canals. You can also appreciate the harbour bath and sea-swimming course. The observation tower is a great way to view the whole city and you’ll appreciate the architectural delights of Olafur Eliasson’s rainbow-coloured skywalk.
There is also a summer-only Infinite bridge, a circular boardwalk by the beach and an open-air museum with 19th-century buildings. It’s a fascinating city to visit.
These are just a few of the culture capitals in Europe that you should be visiting. Start planning your next vacation today with Sky-Tours to see these places while you can!