Europe Cultural gems: Amsterdam, Barcelona and Krakow

Batllo_House_Gaudi_Barcelona photo Matinibz

Batllo House, Gaudi – photo Matinibz

Looking for a city break that combines beauty with brains? There are so many to choose from! Here are 3 cultural cities in Europe where you can have a great time exploring and also relax in style.

Amsterdam, Holland

One of my favourite cities in the world, never mind Europe, Amsterdam has culture and great beauty, plus a fun vibe…You can easily get there from the rest of Europe by plane, ferry and train. The city has boutiques featuring local workmanship, galleries promoting new artists, colourful markets (flowers in abundance especially the famous tulips in spring) and delicious, locally produced food served up in numerous lunch rooms and cafes.

Amsterdam_cafe_canal_zoedawes

Amsterdam cafe by a canal

The Van Gogh Museum is a mere scratch on the surface in terms of what city breaks in Amsterdam have to offer artistically.  Experience a real cultural melting pot at the De Pijp market, a daily event of vibrancy and colour offering everything from fresh seafood and meat to original clothes and jewellery.

Amsterdam_canal_zoedawes

Amsterdam Canal

The famous canals, which have UNESCO World Heritage status, run parallel to many streets, with much greenery on either side. They make the place bright, spacious and offer a wonderful alternative means of exploration. Built in the 17th century, they run between tall terraces of the same era – beautiful narrow houses often four or five storeys high, many with distinctive beams jutting from the top gable, used for winching furniture up and into the windows below.

Amsterdam-canal-scene- zoedawes

Discover more about culture and art in Amsterdam here.

Barcelona, Spain

You should visit Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia in northern Spain, at least once in your lifetime. It has something for everyone.

Barcelona_Plaza_Reial_joseprenalias

Plaza Reial – photo Josep Renalias

From attractive (but very busy) Las Ramblas to the famous Nou Camp Football Ground and the beach are all world-renowned attractions. Stunning though they are, they are far from all this most exciting of cities has to offer. Barcelona has been synonymous with art and architecture of an innovative nature since the late 19th Century and is, of course, home to a number of UNESCO World Heritage site including the city’s most famous landmark, Sagrada Familia and Park Guell, both designed by architect genius Antoni Gaudi.

Reptile_Parc_Guell_Barcelona-Baikonur

Park Guell – Gaudi reptile – photo by Baikonur

Barcelona has festivals and fiestas all year round including the VERY quirky Fiesta des Tres Tombs – Fiesta of the Three Tombs!

Krakow, Poland

Krakow church - image Mkos

Krakow church – image Mkos

Another cultural treat is Krakow in Poland. An increasingly popular holiday destination, Krakow has some beautiful Renaissance and Gothic architecture, particularly in the Old Town with its looming churches and splendid market square.  Wawel Castle is top of visitor sights for cultural and polital reasons. The Galicia Jewish Museum is a pognant reminder of Krakow’s tragic past. Take time to explore this Polish city at your leisure and learn more about one of Europe’s lesser known historic treasures.

Sophia_Square_Kiev_zoedawes

Sophia Square, Kiev

Dsicover another stunning Eastern Europe city – Kiev, capital of Ukraine has magnificent churches and monasteries.

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