A drum roll please for my top five!
Europe has so many incredible capital cities that whittling it down to my top five was a very tough choice.
I know that London is many people’s number one (which I have excluded as it is where I live and work) and from what I know, I suspect that Berlin, Moscow and perhaps Bern & Ljubljana will be knocking on my top rank door.
As previously mentioned I have left these out due to either not visiting yet or having spent insufficient time there.
I have also not mentioned marvelous Edinburgh and extremely worthy Cardiff & Belfast as these are (currently) in the UK.
Anyway, here we go with my top 5……
I have been once in February 2005 when there were no crowds. I can imagine that during warmer months the number of people can be intolerable, so on that basis winter is best.
Just like London, Paris and New York, you feel as if you are on a movie set as you visit iconic Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, The Coliseum, The Forum, The Pantheon, St Peter’s & The Sistine Chapel and much more besides. It is compact enough to do on foot over a period of 2-3 days.
Like all great cities, you get a buzz from just being there and anticipating what you will do and see.
The Jerusalem of the North has bounced back from the devastating siege of the 90s.
There are reminders everywhere, war damaged buildings and thoroughfares with their bullet and bomb scars painted red and collectively known as the roses of Sarajevo.
Taking a rattly old tram along the river, standing on the bridge where Archduke Ferdinand was shot and visiting the splendid brewery are all highlights, but it is the old town where mosques, churches and synagogues rub shoulders and the myriad of craft shops positioned alongside artisan workshops ply their trade is the biggest pleasure.
A fabulously atmospheric place to wander and chill with a pot of Arabian coffee.
You should also pay a visit to Sarajevo’s wonderful brewery. Great dark beer and hearty food in a fabulous wood-panelled setting.
The official Dutch capital has grown on me over the years.
My first visit in 1987 was my first city stay outside the UK and the canals and Red Light District made a big impression on my young self.
As years have passed and I have visited many more times I now appreciate many more things. The art galleries (I loved the Hermitage), the harrowing experience of the Anne Frank House, the lovely squares, the narrow tall buildings and of course wandering around the vast network of canals.
What I love most about Amsterdam though is the laid back vibe, sitting in cafes for hours, reading a book, hiring a bike and watching jazz. I always return home totally relaxed after a visit.
This so nearly made number one.
Mrs Wilbur and I have visited in 14 of our 16 years of married life together and really love the place.
The romance, the jazz, the art, La Seine, Montmartre, Marais, Quartier Latin, Champs Elysee, the opera, the cuisine, Ile St Louis, the markets, Canal St Martin, Notre Dame, the romance (have I already mentioned that?).
There is so much to love, and I do!
I have written many times on my blog about my visits – just click Paris from my home page to read some accounts of time well spent there.
The Czech capital was the first place that I truly fell in love with. I actually felt lovesick when I left after my first two visits!
From my first whirlwind visit in ’92 I was hooked. I returned for a week in May ’93 for the Prague Spring Festival and my feelings were all confirmed.
Although the love has waned just a little in recent times due to the crowds and a few stag & hen parties, Prague is still my number one.
I have been to over twenty operas, ballets and classical recitals, spent a wonderful Christmas there in 2003, plus memorable visits with my parents in 1995 and accompanying a jazz band in 1996 (the latter two both by coach from the UK!).
The collection of buildings that make up the Hradcanska district that overlooks the iconic Karlovy Most (Charles Bridge) and is reflected perfectly in the Vltava River at night, gives me goose bumps just thinking about it. So many other iconic buildings too – the golden roofed national theatre and the amazing Tyn Church, plus many many more.
An ancient tram ride through Prague and up to the castle is one of Europe’s absolute Travel Pleasures.
There are also fantastic atmospheric squares with extremely talented buskers and some of the best old town walks along narrow cobbled streets anywhere. What a place!
So there you have my rankings thus far. Where are your favourite European capitals?