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Top 6 cities to enjoy in mainland Europe

Spring is coming and Europe is ready for visitors to enjoy the milder climate, beautiful blooms and longer days. It’s the perfect time to head to the continent, whether it’s for an expansive Grand Tour or just a shorter stopover. Let’s have a look at some of the top six most gorgeous – and often less visited – cities to call into. 1. Siena, Italy This picturesque town is often overlooked in favour of nearby Florence and Pisa, but this is definitely an Italian highlight. There are loads of great boutiques to shop in and some lovely cafes out in the open air. Go later in the summer – July and August – to see the historic Palio bareback horserace in the centre of town. This has been part of life here for over three centuries, based around Siena’s grand medieval plaza. Siena 2. Dubrovnik, Croatia The Pearl of the Adriatic is a small but perfectly formed medieval city perched beside the azure ocean. The entire city is so unique and full of so many ancient buildings that it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Check out Pucic Palace, the Old Town and wander the cobbled streets to understand why. After you’re finished exploring dry land, take a yacht trip out into the bay to snorkel and relax on the little islands dotted around the bay. Dubrovnik 3. San Sebastian, Spain This seaside city overlooks the Bay of Biscay in Spain’s strongly independent Basque region. It’s also the European Capital of Culture for 2016, so expect there to be some build-up going on when you visit. San Sebastian is the kind of place to visit if you want to indulge yourself – there are six Michelin-starred restaurants, and a gourmet tapas bar on every corner. The beaches are beautiful with long sandy, stretches of sand sandwiched between rocky coves. San Sebastian 4. Lisbon, Portugal Lisbon is a vibrant city beside Portugal’s Atlantic coastline. Like Rome, this huge city sprawls across seven hills. Its sheer size alone means there are loads of things to see and do. The vibe is laidback and the whitewashed buildings lining the cobbled alleyways are absolutely charming. You’ll find fantastic shopping, castles, museums, botanical gardens and lots more besides. Lisbon 5. Perast, Montenegro This amazing country has long been overlooked but now, more and more visitors to Europe are adding this green gem to their itinerary. Perast is a small town on the Bay of Kotor, and while not a city as such it has a lot to offer. Visitors can explore its Venetian heritage – baroque palaces, nineteen (yes, nineteen!) churches, and stunning architecture everywhere you look. Make the most of the excursions in the locality, including the popular boat trips to Our Lady of the Rock Island to peek inside its church and its intricate interior. Perast 6. Nice, France Head to the balmy French Riviera for a classic South of France experience. Nice is the place to admire super yachts and sip chilled wine with steaming bowls of mussels. Elegant and glamorous, this city is typically French. There are some lovely museums and art galleries, pebble beaches to relax on, a pretty old town to explore and cliffside walks to enjoy. Nice Alison Crabb is a Director at Exsus. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

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  1. 4 down, 2 to go! Siena is actually on my list. And Lisbon IS THE BEST ;) Not that I am not being unfair ;)

  2. So glad you mentioned Siena. I was lucky enough to visit for the Palio a couple years ago, and it truly was one of the most surreal experiences of my life. Definitely a must for every bucket list. And what a gorgeous town as well!

  3. Lisbon is truly amazing. I’d trade anything to go there again. I love Portugal and I’m planning to visit the rest of the places soon!

  4. Thanks for the article – always wanted to visit Lisbon.

    If I may contribute – while you’re in Perast be sure to visit Lustica Peninsula. My neighbourhood is changing a lot… we’re getting first golf course and marina village (people from Lustica Bay).

    Almost forgot – it is just 2 hours from Dubrovnik (by car). I’m sure you gonna like it!

  5. Great article. I live in Montenegro and really enjoy the natural beauty of the sea, mountains olive groves and the Venetian architecture in places like Perast.

    Have lived and worked in Monetenegro for 8 years in real estate I see it grow in popularity every year by discerning travellers and home buyers.

    Maxine, you’re right, Catovici Mlini is a great restaurant. There are quite a few other great restaurants such as Gallion in Kotor, Prova in Tivat and Al Posto Giusto in Porto Montenegro. My new favourite is the Asian Restaurant in Budva.


    Peter Flynn

  6. The picture for 5. Perast Montenegro actually shows Kotor old town and not Perast, however Kotor is absolutely a must see as well if you decide to visit Montenegro and is only a few kilometers from Kotor.

  7. We were in Dubrovnik 6 days, it left us breathless. It has unique cultural history (old and new),architecture, nature. We wanted to go to Montenegro on one day, our friends who have been long vacationing there, recommend us day trip and Adriatic Explore. We went, and the beauty of Montenegro has charmed us, but it just needs to see. Sea, sun and beaches, the best way to enjoy.

  8. I’m glad you mentioned Montenegro. Although the tourist industry needs major development there are still areas worth visiting.

    I enjoyed Kotor Old Town and also Budva which has heritage, great beaches and a vibrant night life too. Plus the coastline is spectacular.

  9. Montenegro is a really nice country – Kotor bay especially. YOu can visit it on a day tour from Dubrovnik.

  10. Alison, that is really a great collection of beautiful cities from Europe! So far I have only been to Lisbon, but Siena and Dubrovnik are definitely two places I would like to go to next. And while I have never to Montenegro, Perast really sounds like the kind of place that would make the whole visit worth-while already… :)

  11. Perast but also Montenegro as a whole has just so much to offer! It is unbelievable how such a small country can have so much beauties. And the best is that most of the tourism is concentrated on the coast, which leave 90% of the country still to be discovered and mostly untouched. Don’t miss an opportunity to go trekking in those beautiful mountains!

  12. On the picture for Perast is in fact Kotor (also Unesco heritage) & Dobrota.
    Montenegro is a wonderful country to visit indeed (but better out of the high season July & August unless you stick to the mountains then) but also to live permanently as I do since 2008!

  13. Siena is the most beautiful city in the world :D
    The memory of finally discovering the delicate Piazza Dei Campo for the first time is UNFORGETTABLE. And the beauty of its colors, the sturdiness of its buildings reminding of the no nonsense spirit of the countryside nearby, yet so full of city refinement in their simplicity and the sense of detail that will catch your eye and your breath.
    Siena is a town where you never stop being in awe !!

  14. Siena, Dubrovnik and Perast are Nice, so is Nice. :) San Sebastian and Lisbon are on my list for this summer.

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