Top Five Medium-Sized Cities to Visit in Europe

22 Apr Top Five Medium-Sized Cities to Visit in Europe

It’s difficult deciding where to go on a first (or second, or even tenth) trip to Europe. While undeniably exciting, big cities like Paris, London, and Rome can leave you flat broke and exhausted. Picturesque villages, by contrast, can be pretty to look at…for about 20 minutes. The best destinations are medium-sized cities that deliver activities and ambiance, without the crime, congestion, and traffic.

So, how do you find and visit these charming Goldilocks cities? You could do exhaustive research and cobble together your own itinerary, lodging, and transportation, or you could let someone else sweat the details. Here are five great European medium-sized cities you can visit with Adventure Collection members.

1. Sevilla, Spain
Top Five Medium Sized Cities Sevilla Spain
© Freeartist

Picture a city so petite that on some streets it’s possible to stand in the middle and touch the walls on either side. Got it? Welcome to Sevilla! The whole town isn’t this way, just the wonderful winding and pedestrianized Barrio Santa Cruz. Visit with Backroads on their Andalucia Bike Tour and you’ll not only explore Sevilla, you’ll also nosh on tapas, sleep in a Moorish-inspired castle, and pedal your way through the famed Pueblos Blancos.

2. Dubrovnik, Croatia
Top Five Medium Cities Dubrovnik
© TPopova

Get a birds-eye-view of the Old City of Dubrovnik and the blue Adriatic Sea that surrounds it by walking the 80-foot walls that encircle this World Heritage site; they date back to the 14th and 15th centuries, though you’ll have to imagine the moat that once provided additional fortification. On OARS’ Sea Kayaking & Exploring Croatia and Montenegro, you’ll start here and go on to explore the azure bays and pine forests of the Dalmatian coast by kayak and catamaran.

3. Gent, Belgium
Top Five Cities to Visit Gent
© sedmak

Compared to the rest of Europe, the Benelux countries (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg) are relatively undervisited. This is good news for you, since even the big cities here are medium-sized! Scenes in the medieval city of Gent, Belgium will look immediately familiar to fans of Rembrandt and Vermeer (even though they were Dutch masters, not Belgian masters). With Lindblad Expedition’s Exploring the Low Countries: Holland and Belgium, you’ll experience everything from the tidal wilderness of the Waddanzee to cosmopolitan Amsterdam, finishing your journey by cruising across the English Channel and up the Thames to London. It’s definitely a life list trip!

4. Porto, Portugal
Top Five Cities to Visit Porto
© dinozaver

Active travelers looking for authentic culture, nature, and good food and wine will find it all on Natural Habitat Adventures’ Paddling Portugal’s River of Wine. The trip starts in scenic old world Porto, which sits among granite cliffs at the mouth of the Douro River in Northern Portugal. From here, intrepid guests will paddle 100 miles up the Douro Valley, one of Europe’s oldest winemaking regions and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Highlights include sleepy villages, Paleolithic drawings, and the chance to spot one of the last remaining packs of wild wolves in Europe.

5. Strasbourg, France
Top Five Cities to Visit Strasbourg
© Meinzahn

Straddling the border between Germany and France, the romantic Rhine River valley and the entire Alsace region lure visitors with tiny hamlets, green vineyards, and unpronounceable wine varietals (gewürztraminer anyone?). On Backroads’ Berlin to Dresden Bike Tour, you’ll wind your way past half-timbered houses, eat in a 3-star Michelin restaurant, and sleep in an 18th-century farmhouse. Win-win.

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Jamie Pearson
Jamie Pearson is a freelance writer, a mother of two, and the publisher of the independent family travel blog Travel Savvy Mom. She regularly writes about family travel for Vail Resorts and Homewood Suites, and her dispatches have also appeared on National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel Blog and on
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