Best European cities to visit for architecture

Europe has long been a place of inspiration for architects and makes for a wonderful vacation destination for those that love unique and varying architecture. It has a rich architectural history, with a great many styles and characters that vary from place-to-place and even vary within one city, making it a good choice for a multi-city tour taking in the different themes. If you love architecture or are looking to be inspired by the dynamic architectural history of Europe then these are the top cities that you simply must visit!



Must-sees: Amsterdam School, Rijksmuseum, Royal Palace, Oude Kerk, the Canal Houses, Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge) and Python Bridge

With its luxurious canal houses and charming gabled facades, Amsterdam is a beautiful city to visit whether you are interested in architecture or not. It features a whopping 90 islands, which are connected by 400 bridges, making it particularly unique and intriguing. It also features world-class art museums, such as Rijksmuseum, and vibrant bars and cafes. Plus, you don’t have to travel far from the city to experience the wonder of The Netherlands’ iconic windmills.

It is well-regarded in architectural circles as a treasure trove of magnificently designed buildings, including historic structures that have remained unchanged since their conception, as well as modern designs that capture your imagination. One of our favorite buildings is the historic and magnificent Rijksmuseum, which was designed by PJH Cuypers and opened in 1885. Following a prolonged closure and a multimillion Euro investment, it was renovated by Spanish architect Cruz y Ortiz and stands proudly today in the Museum Quarter – it looks delightful at night, when it lights up in golden and bronze colors.



Must-sees: The Acropolis, including the Theatre of Dionysos; Panathinaiko Stadium, Temple of Olympian Zeus, Ancient Agora, and the historical neighborhoods of Monastiraki, Plaka and Thision

The capital of Greece features rare and wondrous structures that date back to the Classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods, making it an ideal destination if you are interested in ancient architecture or history. The icons of Greek architecture are the temples and there are several that you can discover, with The Acropolis being the most famous enduring symbol of Ancient Greece. However, the Temple of Hephaestus, which was designed by Iktinus (one of the architects who worked in the Parthenon), is perhaps one of the better-preserved structures and gives a fascinating glimpse back to this ancient city.

For more modern Greek architecture (relatively speaking), visit the central streets of the city, which feature 18th and 19th century buildings, such as the National Library and the Academy, which ooze neoclassical style.



Must-sees: any of the Gaudí buildings, including La Sagrada Familia and Casa Battló; Barcelona Pavilion and Torre Agbar

Barcelona is one of our favorite cities in Europe and is home to multiple UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Its rich culture balances with a mix of historic architecture in the Gothic Quarter, and more modern and unusual buildings, such as Parc Güell, which looks like it came straight out of a fairytale! The city also features stunning sandy beaches lined with tropical trees that look spectacular as the sun sets on the city.

Barcelona is honored to be home to several buildings that were designed by the iconic Antoni Gaudí, whose unique approach to the Art Nouveau movement resulted in some of the most creative spaces you could ever imagine. A wonderful example of his work is La Sagrada Familia, which is perhaps his most famous building, as well as La Pedrera and Parc Güell. Interestingly, La Sagrada Familia has been in construction since 1892 and is not expected to be complete until 2030! Nevertheless, as it currently stands, the church presents stunning façade sculptures and epic towers that afford unique views of the cityscape.



Must-sees: Berlin Philharmonic, Reichstag, Jacob-und-Wilhelm-Grimm-Zentrum, Brandenburg Gate and the Jewish Museum

Berlin features as a part of our cultural tour of Europe primarily for the rich heritage and exquisite architecture that it brings. It is diverse, with historically relevant structures that offer a complex insight into the city’s recent past and its cultural legacy, including imperial, communist and modern architecture, as well as buildings that reflect Berlin’s position in Nazi Germany. It doesn’t have a definitive center, meaning attractions are dotted all over, making the city a delight to walk around as there is something intriguing and new to see around every corner.

One of our favorite examples of modern architecture is the Berlin Philharmonic, which was built in the 1960s and designed by Hans Scharoun. It has a futuristic vibe, with music featuring at the center of the building’s design as it was specifically built so that the music played inside would amplify and filter throughout the auditorium. Another popular landmark of Berlin, which was built in a neoclassical style and designed by architect Carl Gotthard Langhans, is the Brandenburg Gate, which was constructed in the 18th century as a sign of peace. Today, it is considered a symbol of European unity and is a must-see attraction on any vacation to Berlin.



Must-sees: St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Palace and Abbey, the Tower of London, City Hall, buildings in Canary Wharf and The Shard of Glass

Despite it not being characterized by a particular style, there’s something about the architecture of London that you simply don’t see elsewhere in Europe. The city seems to have an air of royalty about it with its magnificent palaces and royal gardens, and although the buildings were constructed over a period of time, they seem to seamlessly mingle together to create a diverse ambience of style and culture.

For modern designs, head to Canary Wharf and marvel at the 30 St Mary Axe (known locally as the “Gherkin”), which was designed by Norman Foster and Arup Group in a neo-futuristic style – it has become an icon of the financial district. Another epic London skyscraper is the 72-storey “Shard of Glass”, which is currently the tallest building in the European Union.

There are also plenty of historic and classical architectural designs to admire in the City of London. As well as popular buildings, such as the Tower of London, Tower Bridge and Buckingham Palace, we love the Georgian buildings that can be found in inner London, which feature sash windows and London stock brick – an iconic example includes 10 Downing Street.

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