Now that every country in Europe has reopened without restrictions and foreign travelers are showing up in droves this year and showing a strong interest in visiting the “Old World,” the big question is…where to go among the innumerable offers of city break destinations, romantic getaways, nature, beaches, small towns, cultural and gourmand itineraries?
With more than 400 European destinations on the list, and based on a record number of some 700,000 votes from travelers representing 78 countries, the European Best Destinations (EBD) organization has released its list of the 20 trendiest destinations in Europe for 2023 to help you plan your trip alone, with family or friends.
Earning a record number of votes, Warsaw, Poland, appears at the top of the list, followed by Athens (Greece), Maribor (Slovenia), Vienna (Austria) and Cittadella, (Italy) taking the first five spots.
Selected for their growth in popularity on social networks over the past 12 months, increasing numbers of visitors, quality of life, sustainable development and year-round cultural appeal, the 20 winning destinations will be promoted throughout the year and are authorized to display the title “European Best Destination.”
Working with the European Commission since 2009 to promote sustainable tourism and in partnership with more than 300 tourism offices in Europe and the European Comission’s EDEN Network, (Awarded Sustainable Destinations), EBD also organizes some of the main tourism competitions in Europe, including Best European Christmas Markets, Best European Beaches, Most Romantic destinations and Best European Ski Resorts.
These are EBD’s 20 Best European Destinations:
1. Warsaw, Poland
Beautiful, friendly, green, open-minded, perfect for a family city break, a cultural city break, a shopping experience or a romantic stay, Warsaw, the #1 European Best Destination 2023 has something to offer everyone.
“Take a walk in its beautiful parks, relax on its city beaches, take advantage of its great gastronomic offer, come at any time of the year and enjoy its rich calendar of events,” EBD advises.
Be dazzled by its emblematic places including the Old Town Market Square and its colorful buildings, the Palace of Culture and Science (the tallest building in Poland), Lazienki Park and its palaces, pavilions and orangeries.
During your stay, don’t miss a stroll to “Krakowskie Przedmieście” the most prestigious street in Warsaw. And visit The Warsaw Barbican, the historic fortifications that once encircled Warsaw.
If traveling with family, be sure to visit Warsaw Zoo and take a dip at Moczydlo Water Park with its slides, wave pools and other water activities.
Warsaw is considered one of the safest city breaks in Europe – three times safer than Paris, twice as safe as Rome and even safer than Vienna.
2. Athens, Greece
The capital of Greece is a must-see destination for many reason, not only for having served as the cradle of democracy and philosophy but also because it’s legitimately believed that the blue of the sea, the incredible landscapes and the beautiful sunlight all help elevate the spirit and provide an escape daily cares.
Athens is a sophisticated cosmopolitan hub with excellent gastronomic delights, electrifying nightlife, creative vibes and a booming art scene. It’s an artistic beacon of the ancient world with spectacular Mediterranean landscapes. Athens is also one of the Best Street Art Destinations in Europe.
3. Maribor, Slovenia
Maribor ranks as one of the most beautiful Slovenian destinations among the European Best Destinations 2023.
The city of Maribor is a charming cultural and culinary center in the northeastern region of the country. The city’s deep historical roots date back to the Middle Ages, and the old city center offers a rich architectural heritage and a wealth of authentic experiences.
The locals are particularly proud of their Guinness World Record standing as the oldest grapevine in the world.
Maribor was the European Capital of Culture in 2012 and has a reputation as a happy and hospitable city, hosting numerous international cultural and sporting events throughout the year.
The picturesque natural scenery offers endless opportunities for hiking, biking, skiing, and other adrenaline-boosting sports.
Need another reason to visit Maribor in 2023? It has been awarded the title of Best Culinary Destination in Europe.
4. Vienna, Austria
Vienna is an ideal destination for romance: horse-drawn carriage rides, visits to the city’s royal palaces and, in the evening, a waltz to the sound of Strauss’s Blue Danube will transport you to the time of the Empress Sissi.
Vienna is also the perfect city for a sparkling, original break for friends, families, lovers and singles.
“We love Vienna in spring and summer, with its parks classified among the most beautiful city parks in Europe, like the “Prater” park — home to one of the most beautiful Ferris wheels on the continent.”
It’s also considered to be one of the best places for a marriage proposal.
Do you want to meet people? Head to the Palmenhaus. In addition to being the largest greenhouse in Europe, it houses a bar for lighter cocktails and a super-trendy restaurant of Austrian specialties.
5. Cittadella, Italy
Cittadella is not only the most beautiful walled city in Europe, but also its best-preserved.
Located in the heart of the Veneto Region in Northern Italy, it enjoys a strategic position because it’s close to the most important cities in the area: an hour’s drive from Venice and Verona, and just three hours by car to Milan and Florence.
From Cittadella, it’s easy reach both the sea of the Venetian Lagoon and the Dolomite mountains for a pleasant day trip. It’s also an ideal starting point to visit the Veneto and all of Northern Italy.
Founded in 1220, its origins are medieval, which explains the historical value of its walls, which in 2020 celebrated 800 years of history. Cittadella is Europe’s only walled city with a medieval walkway, elliptical in shape and completely walkable.
6. Essen, Germany
Here, urban trendy districts meet historic old towns; high culture meets street art and lush green meadows and forests meet the incomparable charm of former collieries.
Also in Essen, the UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein meets the magnificent Villa Hügel, the former seat of the industrial Krupp family. A high-tech city tour unique in the world also takes you to the oldest sculpture of the Virgin Mary in the world: the Golden Madonna in Essen Cathedral.
Explore the green south along Baldeneysee and the Ruhr Valley or the urban north with its industrial culture and the old coal mine settlements.
If you simply want to unwind, enjoy the tranquillity of the centrally-located, 170-acre Grugapark or the Baldeneysee leisure paradise with its numerous water sports activities.
7. Veszprém, Hungary
Wedged between the wooded slopes of the Bakony Hills and the northern shore of Lake Balaton, it’s a place of rare and distinct natural and environmental assets and an attractive cityscape.
This amazing city, also known as the “City of Queens,” has been a meeting place for cultures for a thousand years: Explore the contemporary art galleries, the vibrant music scene and the diverse festivals that play a significant role in shaping the cultural life of the city.
Cosy cafés, atmospheric bistros and first-rate restaurants are to be explored.
For a special family experience follow the signs for Veszprém Zoo.
8. London, U.K.
After Brexit, Covid and border closures, it’s high time to rediscover London in 2023, one of Europe’s most visited destinations.
Like no other place, the city brings together traders, business people, eccentrics, artists, creators, designers, royals and celebrities. Its tourist offer goes well beyond Big Ben, the London Eye and Madame Tussauds, which will always delight young and old.
Parks of rare beauty ranked among the most attractive city parks in Europe.
A backdrop to legendary films like “Notting Hill,” London offers the Portobello flea markets and its colorful houses, famously eccentric neighbourhoods such as Camden Town, tidy commercial streets like Regent Street and Oxford Street and designer, artistic and independent shopping districts Carnaby Street, Covent Garden and the LGBTQ district of Soho.
London theaters are known for hosting world-renowned plays and musicals.
Spring and summer are perfect times to visit — less crowded and the parks in the city center and surrounding areas including Richmond Park, are sublime with blossoming plants, ancient trees and deer roaming freely.
9. Grenoble Alps, France
Grenoble boasts an exceptional location, nestled at the heart of emblematic mountain ranges including Vercors, Chartreuse and Belledonne. A pioneer, innovative and inspiring city, the Capital of the Alps is constantly reinventing itself.
Selected as the best green destination for this year’s competition by being awarded by the E.U. title of European Green Capital, it’s an ideal destination for an urban and nature-based stay.
Accessible without a car, it offers a subtle balance between culture, living arts, open spaces and outdoor activities in winter as in summer (ski touring at ‘Col de Porte’, urban via-ferrata on the foothills of the Bastille, canoeing on the Isère river, paragliding in Saint Hilaire du Touvet, night skiing with breathtaking views of Grenoble).
The flattest city in France, Grenoble Alps is easily run through by two-wheelers along its 450 kilometers of cycle paths and during leisure time, with 21 bike loops sign-posted paths for mountain biking.
The destination is developing ‘low-carbon’ holiday packages pointing at soft mobility, and, in particular, cycling.
Grenoble is also considered the best destination to visit in France in 2023 and it is ranked among the Best Street Art Destinations in Europe.
10. Mannheim, Germany
Mannheim at the heart of the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region is an exciting university city with a multicultural flair and a rich calendar of events.
Known as the city of squares, Mannheim offers a host of architectural treasures: the baroque palace, a historic water tower and an Art Nouveau square, to name a few.
A city of culture and festivals, it attracts theater lovers and techno fans, jazz connoisseurs and cinema buffs. The art scene is packed and varied, from the Reiss-Engelhorn museum complex and Kunsthalle art gallery to the murals by graffiti artists in an open-air gallery for international street art.
It’s a green city on the banks of two rivers that combines urbanity with recreational activities in almost entirely untouched natural settings.
A highlight for Mannheim in 2023 is the Federal Garden Show “BUGA” (April 14 to October 8, 2023) a large laboratory of the future of urban development that goes far beyond a mere exhibition of plants and flowers.
11. Porto-Santo, Madeira Islands
This island, little sister of the main island of Madeira, is accessible by plane or by ferry and offers the most beautiful sunsets in Euroe and a sunny climate almost all year round.
Porto Santo is an invitation to discover beautiful beaches, historical heritage and geological exuberance.
Known as a “golden island” for its nine kilometers of sandy beach, Porto Santo is the smallest inhabited island of the Madeira Archipelago, only an hour and a half flight from Lisbon, in the extreme southwest of Europe, 500 kilometers from the African coast and 1,000 kilometers from the European continent.
In short, it’s a perfect place to disconnect, enjoy nature, relax watching the sunset, have a good spa treatment, a game of golf or a seafaring activity.
12. Toledo, Spain
A young and historic city, Toledo is authentic and sparkling, traditional and modern.
“Toledo” comes from the Latin word “Toletum,” which means “fortified population.” Built by the Romans in the 2nd century BC, it’s located at the center of Spain, within easy reach of Madrid — only 30 minutes away by train.
13. Faial, Azores
Looking for wild and green? Then go for eco-responsible adventures in the Azores. Greener than Iceland, with a moderate climate, the Azores are a prime destination for nature lovers, outdoor sports, hiking — but also gastronomy and even for lovers since these islands are ranked among the best wedding destinations in Europe.
Considered by the European Commission as a European Destination of Excellence (EDEN), Faial offers beautiful landscapes, unique birds and plants and iconic geological formations, all surrounded by a magnificent blue sea.
With Sao Jorges and Pico, they form a triptych of unique islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. A place where sailors crossing the ocean like to stop over for a few days…or a lifetime.
The biodiversity of Faial is rich: 855 vascular plant species, 57 of which are endemic. The sea of Faial is an extraordinary mosaic of colors, shadows, sounds and life in the form of cetaceans, seabirds, sharks and other inhabitants.
14. Rhodes, Greece
The island of Rhodes is a perfect destination for lovers of old stones, fortresses, turquoise sea and castles. This medieval city is one of Europe’s best preserved, so worth a to the Palace of the Grand Master, the Ancient Acropolis of Lindos and the historic Rhodes Old Town. Or just relax on Agios Pavlos or Tsambika beaches.
Rhodes is one of the most beautiful islands in Greece as well as of all Europe. A perfect destination for all types of travelers. And it’s sunny from May until late September and offers natural wonders like “Kallithea,” the Butterfly Valley, and Lindos Village & Seven Springs.
15. Copenhagen, Denmark
One of the trendiest capitals in Europe, Copenhagen bursts with hidden gems: the thrift stores, independent boutiques, the Tivoli Garden, ranked among the best amusement parks in Europe, and a legendary canal with its romantic cruises.
There are many activities and experiences to enjoy in Copenhagen. As one of the culinary capitals of the world, the city is home to some of the best restaurants in the world and is the center of craft beer.
16. Tossa de Mar, Spain
Blue sky, blue sea and fine sand, pine forest and medieval walls characterize Spain’s Tossa de Mar, one of the standout gems of the Costa Brava and one of the most beautiful secret destinations in Spain.
Located just 1 1/2 hours from Barcelona, it offers several fine, golden-sand beaches and a magnificent medieval castle as the sweet scent of pine trees floats through the beautiful fishing village.
17. Ascona-Locarno, Switzerland
Ascona-Locarno is described as “a little corner of paradise” in its beautiful and peaceful natural setting. It also counts on a rich cultural, gastronomic and sporting tradition.
Located in the Swiss part of Lake Maggiore, along with Brissago and other small villages, it prides itself on its numerous natural beauty spots. Thanks to the exotic flowers and plants from all the continents, the Botanical Garden of the Brissago Island is a major attraction.
Near the lakeshore and the centre of Locarno lies the Camellia Park with over 900 species of plants, some of which are very rare.
Locarno is recognized worldwide for its International Film Festival, the biggest cultural event in Switzerland. It also has a strong link with flowers and nature lovers are drawn to the spectacular displays of camellias, mimosas and magnolias.
18. Milos, Greece
It counts as well with one of the Best Sculptures in Europe: the Venus of Milo now exhibited in Paris was discovered by a peasant on the island.
Milos is also ranked among the Most Beautiful Islands in Greece.
A relaxing day on the beautiful beach of Sarakiniko beckons, or on the most exclusive beach of Firiplaka. For history lovers, there’s the Ancient Theatre of Milos and the Milos Archaeological Museum.
19. Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is one of the most visited cities in Europe, offering markets, cafes, restaurants, monuments, quaint boutiques, gorgeous sun rises. Given the number of visitors, EBD suggests an early start to see Prague from a different perspective.
The city is ranked among the Best Christmas Markets in Europe, best destinations to celebrate New Year’s Eve, best honeymoon destinations in Europe, best places to propose and best fairy tale destinations in Europe.
20. Sóller, Spain
Sóller on the island of Mallorca is one of Europe’s most appealing hidden treasures – named as a best honeymoon destinations in Europe, and best hidden gems in Spain, but also best cycling destinations in Europe and best destinations to visit by train in Europe. (The little train that goes up to the top of the mountain is charming and authentic and will appeal to the whole family.)
Sóller has also been ranked among the best places to retire in Europe.
Considered the most beautiful village on the island, surrounded by mountains, quiet and peaceful nature, it offers great walks, hiking and good food for a family holiday.
Although isolated, Sóller is well connected to Palma de Mallorca, by many lines of trams and buses.
Extra extra information:
Mannheim is also awarded best event in Europe 2023 & Best Street Art Destination, Maribor Best Culinary Destination in Europe, Greece is with Spain the most popular country with 3 destinations within the top 20,
Reported to its population Cittadella is the destination which collects the greatest number of votes, showing that a small destination can rise to the best places in a European ranking.
Athens is for the 2nd time in the top 3 favourite destinations of travellers, it is also awarded among the best street art destinations in Europe. Greece is the most searched country on EBD during the past 12 months and is awarded #1 Best Country to visit in Europe with #2.Portugal #3.Italy #Spain, #France.
Veszprém, voted among the 10 Best Destinations to visit in Europe is also awarded by the EU the title of European Capital of Culture and has been voted Best Destination to visit in Hungary in 2023.
After Brexit and Covid, London is back in the top 10 favourite destinations of travellers.
Athens, Rhodes, Milos, 3 Greek destinations are top listed by travellers among their 20 favourite destinations in Europe.
Spain is following it with Toledo, Tossa de Mar and Soller. #Spain is also ranked in the #5 Best Countries to visit in Europe in 2023 (4th position, following Italy).
Portugal is still a top destination to visit in Europe with this year 2 smaller but attractive destinations favoured by travellers: Porto Santo (Madeira Islands) and Faial (Azores – Sustainable Tourism).
The positive feedback of this promotion is not only to the first awarded destination, Marbella enjoyed a global promotion of + 2 million euros in only 2 months following the 2022 edition and Destinations ranked in the top 20 enjoyed tourist growths of up to +25% thanks to this recognition.
Awarded destinations will be promoted on the most visited website dedicated to tourism and culture in Europe for 10 years in a row as well as in media prestigious travel media to a cumulative audience of +/- 420 millions of travellers (estimation based on past year edition).
Official publication at 4PM Brussels local time this 10th February, as the gap between the first and 2nd destination are becoming more important we will maybe inform Warsaw of it this 9th or 10th in the morning for them to get prepared as well.
Anyway: on the 10th February at noon you will have all the accurate figures but you can already have an access to the pictures and texts, only some datas will change (total nb of votes and total nb of sharing of the voting page).