My European Capital Ranking – 20 to 16

In to the top twenty in my ratings. To be honest there is a very thin line between them and a great time is pretty much assured in all of these fine cities.

20 Bucharest

Bucharest scores great points for the huge municipal building (Palace of the Parliament), the worlds second biggest public building after the Pentagon. Ceausescu’s folly is amazing to visit inside and out.

Apart from that there are some lovely churches and neo classical buildings, pleasant parks and fun bar filled pedestrian only zones.

Romania 3

19 Bratislava

This is possibly a harsh ranking. The Slovak capital situated on the Danube is very pleasing on the eye generally with a wonderful old town, impressive castle and an eclectic collection of statues dotted about the place.

I felt I had seen everything I wanted to see in just a few hours. Size isn’t everything of course, but there is a limit to retracing steps. I know a lot of people love the place, I could take it or leave it.


18 Helsinki

A very nice city with distinctive Russian architecture, a buzzing student scene and a waterfront setting. I only went once in ’92 so need a second visit to do the place justice and no doubt boost its ranking.


17 Dublin

Dublin is a very nice looking city divided by the Liffey. Trinity College is a huge highlight for me, the Guinness brewery visit a must and the literary walking tour visiting pubs frequented by Joyce, Wilde & Beahan great fun.

As pleasant as the city is, it doesn’t rate as highly for me as it seems to do for others.

The Irish people are also most welcoming hosts and the pubs pretty special despite exporting a million (largely poor) imitations.


16 Kiev

I had a brilliant time in Ukraine’s capital. The onion domed churches are fantastic, visiting the vast monastery of the caves complex (Pechersk Lavra) is a wonderful few hours very well spent, the Chernobyl Museum fascinating & harrowing and the River Dnieper provides a great backdrop.

The opera house is also one of the best and damned cheap too.



  1. I love your list – funny how specific people can be about what makes a place eek up their own personal lists! Do you have a single post with the entire list or links to all your countdown? Is Copenhagen anywhere on that list? *Wink, wink. (It’s on mine for obvious reasons!) Cheers from Denmark, Erin

    1. High Erin. Yes Copenhagen is high up, top of the Scandinavian league! I have counted down from 36 on my blog. Still to do Berlin properly plus Moscow, Ljubljana and a few others.

  2. Funnily enough I’m not a big fan of Dublin either. There is nothing WRONG with it and it is certainly conducive to a few interesting nights out, but it always leaves me flat. Originally coming from Ireland, I generally advise tourists to skip Dublin and try Belfast instead. I don’t think anyone listens, but I’ll keep on trying anyway 😉 #FarawayFiles

    1. Not been to Northern Ireland yet. Need to put that right!

      1. And you need to come back to Luxembourg as well – it’s WAY too far down your list 😉

      2. I had a great time there staying in the youth hostels. Memory of it is somewhat faded unfortunately.

  3. Clare Thomson · · Reply

    An interesting idea to rank your favourite European cities in order. I should get my notebook out and see how mine compare. I haven’t been to many of the cities in Eastern Europe so clearly I need to rectify that. Bratislava appeals in particular and I’d love to see Russia. Thanks for sharing this on #FarawayFiles

    1. Eastern Europe is brilliant and great value too. Bratislava is great, compact too. My faves in the region will be revealed!

  4. An ambitious and contentious project, good luck #FarawayFiles

    1. One man’s poison and all that…. ranking lists always lead to debate whatever the subject, it would be hard to find an identical top 5 for sure.

  5. I’ve only been to Dublin and truthfully dont remember too much of it thanks to the legendary Irish hospitality.. ahem. Best get cracking on these others while we are based in Europe. Helsinki is top of my list as I have a good friend there. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

    1. I am sure you will love Helsinki – alcohol is not quite as free-flowing there!

  6. Am ambitious project. i will wait until the end before I say if I agree with you!

  7. I’d definitely agree with you on Bucharest… I found it a fascinating and vibrant city

  8. Why visiting only capitals? Why not the real country outside capitals? For example, Helsinki is on the southern coastline, but there is life outside it! We have huge Lakeland area, in the north, our Lapland waits for tourists to find it, and many has found. My country Finland offers “hidden” gems, not found elsewhere, for those are interested in them.

    Happy and safe travels!

    1. I have been to Kimi, Turku and travelled down Finland by train so saw lots of your beautiful country through the window. You are right though, in many countries it is the capital only that gets visited. So much to do and see everywhere sometimes you have to miss a lot of gems. Wilbur.

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