view of neuschwanstein castle in germany

The Top 10 Castles in Europe

Europe offers some of the most incredible history and rich culture in the entire world. For visitors coming to Germany, France, the UK, and more to experience Europe’s many wonders, there is one way to ensure a historical and magical experience, unlike any others. By visiting the top 10 castles in Europe. From 18th century fortresses to 13th-century palaces to old castles from as early as the 1st century, there is so much to discover.

From learning about the history of the royal families, battles and wars fought over regions and territories throughout the continent, and the relationships to these castles through bloodlines lasting for generations, visitors will be swept away off their feet at each of these monumental sites. Millions of people travel the globe just to perfect pictures of castles to create their own fairytales. But before diving into the most remarkable castles in Europe, take a moment to learn why castles were and remain so important to European life.

view of medieval castles in europe

The Importance of Castles in Europe

In medieval times, castles in Europe served many great purposes including protecting the nobility. Here are some fun and interesting facts about these magical castles you may not know.

  • Most castles in Europe were built in the Middle Ages. There are more than 10,000 medieval castles and their remains in Europe.
  • Not only did they protect nobility, but they also served as political centers, local government offices,
  • The European country with the most castles, is Germany, with over 25,000. Some of the oldest including Meerburg Castle and Wartburg Castle still remain intact.
  • Moving into the Renaissance era, many of these historical monuments became military fortresses.
  • Windsor Castle is the oldest castle in Europe to still be inhabited. But more on that later.

10 Castles to Visit in Europe

With thousands of castles to choose from it’s hard to pick just 10. These European castles stand out for their beauty, history, fortitude, and international popularity. If exploring Europe’s most impressive castles is on your bucket list this year, then this list is the perfect place to start.

view of neuschwanstein castle in germany

Neuschwanstein Castle – Germany

Arguably the most popular castle in the world is Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria. With over 1.4 million visitors a year, this 19th-century romanesque palace is the perfect image of beauty and power. The fortress was commissioned by King Ludwig II, so he could retreat from public life. It remained his home until he died in 1886, and it was then opened to the public since then. It is nicknamed “the castle of the fairy-tale king,” for its magical details, design, and splendor.

The castle is also rumored to be the inspiration behind the castle in Disney’s Cinderella, and also has a shocking resemblance to Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. For a truly breathtaking sight, visitors should visit the castle during the fall when the colorful autumn foliage surrounds the castle. Visiting this site really is like walking into a fairytale.

view of Château de Chambord in france

Château de Chambord – France

Known for being the largest château in the Loire Valley, the Château de Chambord lives up to its impressive reputation. Its impressive and distinctive French Renaissance architecture makes it one of the most recognized châteaus in Europe. Although constructed under the reign of Francois I in 1519, the building was not completed until the reign of Louis XIV.

With influences from Leonardo da Vinci and Domenico da Cortana, the medieval and classical styles of architecture were blended together to make one of the most beautiful structures in 16th-century Europe. The Château de Chambord is currently open to the public and welcomes millions of visitors a year. It is also notably one of the only castle structures to have survived from that age without major modifications to its original design.

view of Hohenzollern Castle in germany

Hohenzollern Castle – Germany

The Baden-Württemberg in southwest Germany is home to one of the most beautiful castles, Hohenzollern. Construction on the current castle began in 1850 after the two castles that were previously in the same location were destroyed. The original Hohenzollern castle dates back to the 11th century and a second from the 15th century. The castle sits atop Mount Hohenzollern and is straight out of a fairytale overlooking the whole region. On a clear day, visitors can see as far as 60 miles (100 kilometers) away. The castle includes military architecture, palatial buildings, gardens, and chapels.

view of the segovia fortress in spain

Alcázar of Segovia – Spain

Located in the old city of Segovia, the 12th-century Alcázar of Segovia or Segovia Castle is one of the most jaw-dropping castles in Europe. With a mountain backdrop and its rocky location above the rivers, it is one of the most well constructed and preserved fortresses in Spain. It even has a shape similar to that of a bow on a ship. Although the alcázar was originally built as a fortress it has served many purposes since then including, a royal palace, state prison, military academy, and is now open to the public to explore. This castle was also one of the inspirations for Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle, similar to the Neuschwanstein Castle.

view of windsor castle

Windsor Castle – England

One of the most famous castles is without a doubt, Windsor Castle in Berkshire, England. With over 1000 years of architectural history, this castle has served the British royal family and monarchs as home since Henry I. It is the longest-occupied palace in Europe. It is the official residence of the Queen of England and is located about an hour away from central London. Fun fact, ten kings are buried at Windsor Castle, including Henry VIII.

bran castle in romania

Bran Castle – Romania

Located in Bran, Central Romania on the Transylvanian side, Bran Castle is home to one of the most historical legends. Famous for its incredible stature and position, this castle is also commonly known as Dracula’s Castle, however, it is only one of the many locations connected to the legend. It is also commonly mistaken as the home of the title character in the book, however, there is no evidence to support that author, Bran Stroker, knew anything about this castle before publishing the book.

Bran Castle dates back to the 14th-century and was intended to protect the region from the Ottoman empire. In 1920 the castle was refurbished to display furniture and art collected by Queen Marie and has been a museum open to the public since the late 1800s. Visitors can also explore the traditional Romanian cottages, barns, and architecture at the bottom of the castle’s hill.

view of sintra castle in portugal

Palace of Pena in Sintra – Portugal

One of the most popular places to visit in southern Portugal is the incredible Palace of Pena in Sintra. The town of Sintra on its own is famous for its many historic castles and palaces, which are UNESCO World Heritage sites, but the Palace of Pena stands out above the rest. Quite, literally, as it is one of the highest structures on this list, often photographed above the clouds.

The palace was created and designed by King Ferdinand II and its architectural style reflects 19th-century romanticism. The elaborate decor of the palace interior is just as colorful as its painted exterior. The views from the top terraces are something everyone must experience at least once in their lifetime.

Moszna Castle poland

Moszna Castle – Poland

The 17th-century Polish landmark, Moszna Castle, is one of the most important monuments in Poland. The castle is the former residence of the German Tiele-Winckler family and has 365 rooms and 99 turrets. While the castle is the focal point of the complex, the entire area includes fields, gardens, meadows, and its own forest. Today the castle’s chapel is used as a concert hall, and the site also hosts serval works of art from many famous artists. The natural landscapes make for the perfect places to spend an afternoon.

view of Hohenwerfen Castle, Austria

Hohenwerfen Castle – Austria

Surrounded by the gorgeous Berchtesgaden Alps, visitors can come and see the Hohenwerfen Castle near Salzburg, Austria. This medieval rock castle is situated on a 2,044 feet tall (623 meter) cliff. It looks over the town of Werfen and was originally built in the 11th century by the Archbishops of Salzburg. Hohenwerfen also is a sister of the Hohensalzburg Fortress that was built by the same archbishops.

Serving as a home to royalty and the clergy, this castle was inhabited for 900 years. It also served as a state prison for a period of time during its inhabited period. One of the main points of popularity for visitors? The falconry center, where guests can see eagles, falcons, vultures, and other local birds of prey show off their skills and the historic art of falconry.

view of eilean donan castle in scotland

Eilean Donan – Scotland

Scotland’s famous Highlands are home to one of the most famous castles in Europe, Eilean Donan. This 13th-century castle is located on an island where three great sea lochs meet, with an expansive mountain backdrop. Over the course of history, this castle has been built and rebuilt four times. The first and original castle was built during the Middle Ages to protect the lands of Kintail against the Vikings. Due to its location and size, it was the best place to protect Scotland from invaders. Today, this is one of the only castles in the world where almost all parts of the castle can be explored and visited by the public.

Now that you have discovered the top castles in Europe, it’s time to plan your stay. Find the best hotels and vacation rentals on CuddlyNest to stay at while you explore Europe’s most magical and historic castle monuments.

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Interesting Facts About Greece: 25 Things You May Not Know

Before booking your next getaway, learn 25 interesting facts about Greece that will make you want to pack your bags and head to the Mediterranean country. This summer, there has been one European destination on everyone’s mind. Greece. Known for its beaches, isles, culture, and ancient history, Greece offers so much to its visitors. But how well do you really know Greece?

Sure you may know many common fun facts about Greece including that is is one of the oldest countries or a thing or two about Greek mythology, but we are diving in to share the most interesting facts about Greece you need to know before your visit.

greek island santorini view of the sea

What is Greece known for?

From the population to ancient history, for centuries Greece has been one of the most popular and interesting countries in the world. The Greek culture and lifestyle are craved by international visitors who after experiencing just days in the coastal paradise, never want to leave. Learning these interesting facts about Greece and its history, food, culture, and more will make you want to visit the country, travel like a local, island hop from the mainland to Santorini to Milos and beyond, and give Greece a top spot on this year’s bucket list.

view of the acropolis in athens greece

Ancient Greek History

Fun Fact 1: Ancient Greece refers to 700-480 B.C. It’s no surprise that Greece has one of the oldest and longest histories, but one of the biggest misconceptions is that the period most famous for architecture, art, and philosophy is the Archaic or Ancient Greek period. However, it was in fact the Classical Age (480-323 B.C.). Ancient Greece is responsible for advances in art, technology, and poetry. One of the most interesting facts about Greece’s Ancient Greek period is that it was during this time in which the city-state was invented.

Fun Fact 2: Athens, the capital of Greece, is Europe’s oldest capital. Athen’s origins date back as far as 3,400 years ago making it one of the oldest cities in the entire world.

Fun Fact 3: The first known democracy began in Athens around 500 B.C. This democracy allowed citizens to directly vote on laws.

Fun Fact 4: The first ancient Greek games were held in 776 B.C. in Olympia. The tradition of the games lasted until 393 A.D. and did not return until the first Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, in 1896.

Fun Fact 5: The two major Greek poems, the Odyssey and the Iliad by Homer were written during the ancient Greece period.

greek mythology on ceramic

Greek Mythology & Architecture

Fun Fact 6: Greece has the most archeological museums in the world. Some of these museums include the most famous, Acropolis in Athens, The Archeological Museum of Rhodes, National Archeological Museum, and many more.

Fun Fact 7: Greece is home to 18 UNESCO World Heritage sites including the Acropolis, Mount Athos, Old Town of Corfu, and Medieval City of Rhodes. According to the official list, there are 14 locations that are currently pending consideration for becoming a Greek UNESCO World Heritage site.

Fun Fact 8: Greek mythology is still relevant in Greece today. There were twelve Olympic gods celebrated in Ancient Greece, including Zeus, leader of the Olympians, Hera, Zeus’s wife and sister, and Athena, goddess of wisdom, defense, and war. The famous Hercules, a son of Zeus, was not actually a Greek god but is still known as the greatest hero in Greek mythology.

Fun Fact 9: Athena defeated Poseidon to become the guardian of Athens. They each gave the city a gift, Athena an olive tree and Poseidon water in the form of a spring. The people of Athens thought the olive tree was much more useful as it could provide food, oil, and wood.

Fun Fact 10: Columns are very symbolic of Greek architecture. There are three main types of columns used to build Greek temples and structures. They are Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian.

greek beach and island

Greek Isles

Fun Fact 11: Greece has over 5,000 islands. These islands are spread throughout the Aegean Sea and are some of the most popular destinations to visit in the world. Only 200 of these islands are populated.

Fun Fact 12: Crete is the largest Greek Island. The entire island is 3218.548 square miles (8836 square kilometers) and has a population of over 630,000 people. In comparison, Halki is the smallest inhabited Greek island and is only 11 square miles (28 square kilometers).

Fun Fact 13: Greece has 85% of sunshine a year, meaning the country has 300 days of sunshine per year.

Fun Fact 14: Santorini Island is an active volcano. The last eruption recorded was in 1950. Santorini is also commonly known as the most popular Greek Island to visit.

Fun Fact 15: Many houses in the Greek isles are white-washed with blue doors and roofs. That color is believed to keep evil spirits away.

Bonus Fun Fact: Amid the Coronavirus pandemic, Corfu and Preveza, Greece, were named two of the European Best Destination‘s safest cities to visit in summer 2020.

view of greek theater

Greek Culture & Lifestyle

Fun Fact 16: Athens has the most theatrical stages in the world. More than New York’s Broadway or London’s West End. There are a total of 148 theatrical stages in Athens.

Fun Fact 17: 98% of Greece’s population are ethnic Greeks. 40% of the entire population resides in the capital city, Athens.

Fun Fact 18: Ikaria is one of the five blue zones in the world. Blue zones were founded by Dan Buettner. The concept of a blue zone is based on people living longer and happier lives based on the average lifespan of the population in the area is one of the longest in the world.

Fun Fact 19: There are over 4,000 official traditional dances throughout Greece.

Fun Fact 20: Greek grandparents usually live with their children’s family until they pass away. There are very few retirement homes in Greece, so grandparents will live with the family of their children for the rest of their lives.

greek food

Greek Cuisine

Fun Fact 21: A typical meal in ancient Greece always included bread, olives, and wine.

Fun Fact 22: Lunch is called “mesimeriano” and it is the most important meal of the day in Greece.

Fun Fact 23: The famous term, the “Mediterranean Diet” is based on food patterns that originated in Crete, Greece. It’s impossible not to eat well when visiting this island in Greece. And the country as a whole. The Mediterranean Diet includes vegetables, olive oil, nuts fish, grains, and a low intake of red meat.  

Fun Fact 24: Wine making in Greece has been a tradition for 4,000 years. There are over 600 wineries in Greece.

Fun Fact 25: Olive oil is a staple thanks to the thousands of olive trees in the country. Greece is known to be the country with the most olive oil consumption per capita in the world.


Bonus Fun Fact: Greece officially reopened for tourism on June 15 and began allowing international travelers on July 1st.

What new things did you learn about Greece? Now that you know the most interesting facts about Greece, it’s time to pack your bags and explore the beautiful Mediterranean destination. Start by booking one of Greece’s most affordable hotels and vacation rentals on CuddlyNest.

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Fun Facts About Croatia: 30 Things You May Not Know

Croatia, one of Europe’s most beautiful coastal countries has so much to offer visitors. But what do we really know about Croatia? We know it has incredible food, dreamy landscapes, and some of the friendliest people. We know it is one of the most famous film locations and is very well-known for its picturesque red-roof houses and crystal blue waters.

But there is still so much to learn before packing your bags and heading off to the Dalmatian Coast. That’s why we are sharing with you 30 fun facts about Croatia, that you cannot find anywhere else. Whether you have or have not visited this Balkan country, there is so much to discover, that you’ll want to visit again and again.

fun facts about croatia with a view

What is Croatia known for?

Croatia has one of the most fascinating histories, cultures, and environments of all the European countries. With incredible outdoor attractions and historic monuments, it’s important to learn all the interesting and fun facts about Croatia, and more to plan the perfect getaway. Let’s dive in, starting with the history of this Balkan country.

Croatia’s History

Fact 1:  The country of Croatia was inhabited as early as the Paleolithic Age. The Croats then arrived in the 6th century.

Fact 2: On June 7, 879, Croatia was internationally recognized as an independent state. 46 years later, Tomislav became the first king in 925. Croatia thus became a kingdom and maintained its sovereignty for two centuries.

Fact 3: After years under different rules including the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Croatia finally gained its full independence on June 25, 1991.

Fact 4: Zagreb is the capital and largest city in Croatia. It became the capital of the Balkan country in April 1941. and is 247 square miles (641 square kilometers). It is home to a fifth of the country’s population.

Fact 5: Croatia is also home to an original Egyptian sphinx. In 297, twelve sphinxes were brought to Split, Croatia. Currently, only a black granite one remains and is standing at the Peristyle.

Fact 6. The Pula Arena in Pula, Croatia is the only remaining Roman amphitheater in the world to maintain its four side towers. It is one of the remaining three pieces of Roman architecture to keep its architectural integrity.

Did you know any of these fun facts about Croatia?

croatia cathedral in zagreb

Croatian Geography & Cities

Fact 7. Croatia borders five countries. Hungary to the north, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, as well as Serbia to the east, Montenegro to the south, and Slovenia to the west. The Adriatic Sea borders the majority of Croatia’s southwest region. While it does not directly border with Italy, the two countries share a maritime border.

Fact 8. Croatia may be one of Europe’s smaller country’s but it is actually the 127th largest country in the world.

Fact 9. There are nearly as many Croatians living outside of the country as there are living there. The current population is a little over 4 million people. 

Fact 10. Croatia has more than 1,200 islands, islets, and crags off the coast of the mainland. However, only 48 are inhabited. Hvar and Korcula receive the most visitors of all the islands.

Fact 11. The smallest town in the world is in Croatia. The town of “Hum” is so small its population is only between 17 to 23 people.

Fact 12. Vinkovci in eastern Croatia is one of the oldest towns in Europe. It has been continuously inhabited for more than 8,000 years!

Fact 13. Zlatni rat beach changes in shape and color depending on the wind. This beach is in Bol, on the island of Brac. Its nickname is the Golden Horn.

Fact 14. Dubrovnik was the main film location for King’s Landing in the popular HBO show Game of Thrones. The city of Split was also used as one of the film locations.

Were any of these fun facts about Croatia a surprise to you?

dalmatian dog and child in croatia

Croatia’s Culture

Fact 15.  Croatia is the home of the popular dog breed Dalmatians. The breed dates back to the 17th century. The coast is named after the breed.

Fact 16. The Croatian military first wore knotted neckties in the 1600s, thus many historians believe the necktie was invented in Croatia.

Fact 17. Croatia is very well known for its delicious cuisine, including specialties like Peka and Pag Cheese.

Fact 18. There are names of two Croatian’s on the map of the Moon. Scientists J.R. Boskovik and A.Mohorovicic.

Fact 19. Nikola Tesla was born in the northern Adriatic region of Lika.

Fact 20. The world’s first torpedo was constructed by Rijeka native, Ivan Lupis.

Fact 21. Croatian innovator, Slavoljub Penkala, invented the very first mechanical pencil. The name pen comes from his surname.

Fact 22. While the popular film Mamma Mia 2  takes place in the Greek Isles, it was actually filmed on the Croatian Island, Vis.

Fact 23. The main exports of Croatia consist of textiles, transport equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, and fuels.

Fact 24. Croatia has the highest number of UNESCO Intangible Goods of any European Country. In addition to our interesting facts about Croatia, there are also 10 sites in Croatia listed on the UNESCO World Heritage site list. The list includes the Historical Complex of Split with the Palace of Diocletian, Dubrovnik city, and Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Plitvice Lake National Park Croatia

Croatia’s Great Outdoors

Fact 25. Croatia’s highest mountain is the Dinara peak which over 6,000 feet (1,831 meters).

Fact 26. Croatia is one of the most verdant and green countries in the world. 10% of the country is home to 11 natural parks, 8 national parks, and 2 nature reserves. One of it’s most famous national parks is Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Fact 27. Croatia enjoys 2.715 hours of sunshine a year. That’s more than Sydney, Australia. Hvar Island receives the most with almost 2,800 hours of sunshine. 

Fact 28. Alfred Hitchcock once said that the seaside town, Zadar, has the best sunset in the world.

Fact 29. The national flower of Croatia is the iris.

Fact 30. Croatia has the richest collection of remains of Neanderthal people in the world.

Extra fun fact: Croatia has some of the best vacation rentals and hotels found on CuddlyNest. Plan your dream vacation and check them out here!


Did you learn some interesting, new, and fun facts about Croatia? Now that you know the most interesting and best fun facts about Croatia, it is time to plan your getaway. Let us know what destinations you can’t wait to visit first, and we will help you find the perfect place to stay.

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11 Sacred Attractions Around the World

Some of the most popular places to visit around the globe are sacred attractions.  Found in both popular cities as well as off the beaten path locations, these holy sites attract millions of visitors a year. Valued for being places of worship, and for their beauty and uniqueness, one can’t help but admire these structures. Some of these sites were even considered when choosing the new wonders of the world. We are here to share 11 of those sites with you and some things you may not know about each. Get your maps and travel wish lists ready.


white temple thailand

Wat Rong Khun, Thailand

The White Temple, Wat Rong Khun is located in the Chiang Rai region in Thailand. At the end of the 20th century, the temple in this location was in complete ruins. Thai artist,  Chalermchai Kositpipat, decided to completely recreate and rebuild the temple. He funded the project completely on his own and began working on it in 1997. While it is not completed and may not be for another 50 years, it is open to the public to visit and explore. When it is completed it will have a total of nine buildings. It is filled with Buddhist relics that tell ancient stories of the religion. It has become very a important part of Buddhist present-day culture. The temple also serves as a monastery for monks.


sacred attractions uae

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, The United Arab Emirates

The largest Islamic mosque in the UAE is the Sheikh Zayed Grand. This stunning mosque, located in Abu Dhabi, is world-renowned for its ornate decoration and design. It was commissioned by the late president of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and built from 1996 to 2007. He wanted a place where the Islamic culture could blend with the art and history of the modern world. The beautiful mosque can fit up to 40,000 people at one time. During Ramadan, the mosque welcomes millions of visitors. It is declared by many as one of the most important sacred attractions in the world.


sagrada familia in barcelona

La Sagrada Familia, Spain

One of the most revered places in Spain is La Sagrada Familia located in Barcelona. Construction on the Roman Catholic Basilica began in 1882, and to this day it is still not completely finished. In 1883, Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi took over as chief of the project and combined a mix of Gothic and Art Noveau forms. When he died in 1926 the building was no more than 25% complete. It is the most visited tourist site in Barcelona, and one of the most visited sacred attractions in Spain, with over 3 million visitors a year. It remains one of the most cherished works of art and architecture in the world.


temple mount sacred attraction

Temple Mount, Israel

Located in the Old City of Jerusalem, Temple Mount is an integral structure and part of multiple world religions. It is a holy site for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and is one of the most visited sacred attractions in the city along with the Western Wall and Dome of the Rock. It is the holiest place in the world for the Jewish people, creating a lot of contention with the other faiths. Historically, the Jewish people are forbidden entry into Temple Mount due to Jewish law stating their people cannot enter Jewish holy grounds. Instead, to worship, they visit the Western Wall located at the bottom of the hill. Pro tip: spend a little extra time reading the updated policies before visiting. Those can be found, here.


sacred attractions the cathedral in russia

St. Basil’s Cathedral, Russia

St. Basil’s Cathedral is one of Moscow’s most famous structures and pieces of artwork. Not only is it important to the people of Moscow, but to all of Russia. The cathedral is located in the center of Red Square and is viewed as a symbol of Russia’s past, present, and future. Ivan the Terrible ordered its building in 1555. He wanted to celebrate defeating the last of the Mongol empire in Europe. After it was built, he was determined that the architect never build a cathedral as magnificent as this. While it is still a religious symbol for the Russian Orthodox Church, the cathedral now belongs to federal Russia and serves as both a Christian Church and a museum.


monastery in bhutan

Paro Taktsang, Bhutan

The astounding Paro Taktsang Monastery clings to a cliff above Paro Valley, Bhutan. It is a cultural phenomenon and a very big part of the Buddhist Himalayan culture. While it appears impossible to access, visitors can arrive at the monastery by trekking paths along the mountain. This has created some difficulty in maintaining its structure over the years. It is also commonly named “Tigress lair” or “Tiger’s Nest” from the legend of Padmasambhava flying to the site on the back of a tiger. The temple offers one of the most beautiful views and one of the most unique experiences when visiting the Himalayas.


blue mosque in turkey

The Blue Mosque, Turkey

Located in Istanbul, Turkey, the Blue Mosque is an Islamic place of worship. It is originally named The Sultan Ahmet Mosque after the sultan who commissioned its construction in 1609. Although the mosque is not blue on the outside, its interior is adorned with 20,000 handmade Iznik ceramic tiles that create a blue color. Hence giving it its nickname. It was built to rival the Hagia Sophia which sits opposite the mosque no more than a four-minute walk away. Due to its similar design and structure, many tourists question if they are the same building. The builders made six minarets to match the most important mosque in Mecca.


basilica in italy

Madonna Della Corona, Italy

Santuario Madonna Della Corona is one of the most stunning religious sanctuaries in Italy. It is tucked into the cliffs of Mount Baldo in the province of Verano. Visitors come to la Madonna for silence, worship, and meditation. The sanctuary also symbolizes a place between heaven and earth. The church was built in 1530 and appears as if it is almost hanging off the cliff rather than sitting in a cave. The structure was heavily renovated in the 1970s proceeding a visit by Pope John Paul II. The actual chapel can only be reached by foot, representing the path Jesus took during the Passion of the Christ.


angkor wat in cambodia

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992, Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world. This Buddhist temple was originally constructed for the Hindu religion, during the first half of the 12th century. It is built across 400 acres and took over 40 years to construct. It served as the capital city for the Khmer empire until the second half of the 12th century when it was converted into a Buddhist temple. Its name directly translates to “city of temples.” It still remains an active place of worship for Buddhists, today. In 2019 it was recorded that over 2.6 million people visited the temple complex in 2018.


notre dame french sacred attractions

Notre-Dame, France

The Notre-Dame Cathedral is one of the world’s best examples of medieval gothic architecture. Notre-Dame translates to “Our Lady” and was dedicated to the Virgin Mary by the Parisians. Located on the Île de la Cité in Paris, construction on the Notre-Dame began in 1163 and was completed in 1345. It is also believed that the cathedral was built on top of ruins from the ancient pagan city, Lutetia. Tragically, the Notre-Dame caught on fire in April 2019 which destroyed one of the spires. Before the fire, the cathedral welcomed more than 35,000 visitors a day. Although the renovation is currently on hold due to the pandemic, France has ensured that the restoration of the cathedral is a priority and will begin as soon as possible.


golden temple in india

The Golden Temple Amritsar, India

The Golden Temple in Punjab, India is formally known as Sri Harmandir Sahib Amritsar. It serves as both a place of worship for the Sikh religion, as well as a symbol of community and equality for all of India. It is also considered to be the national Sikh temple of India and a Gurdwara which means “door to the guru.” Construction on this remarkable structure began in 1581 and was not completed until 8 years later in 1589. In 2017, the World Book of Records declared and verified that The Golden Temple was one of the most visited places in the world.


Have you visited any of these sacred attractions? Let us know in the comments. Stay tuned for more must-visit global sites this month on the CuddlyNest blog and social media channels.

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Explore Europe’s Offbeat Vacation Destinations

Are you planning a trip to Europe this summer?  While there is a possibility your vacation may look a little differently than you had in mind, do not worry. As many of Europe’s destinations begin welcoming tourists, there are a few locations we suggest putting at the top of your list. Start with the best offbeat vacation destinations Europe has to offer. Instead of your overcrowded tourist spots, swap that for a getaway to a secluded beach or an isolated hilltop house. With so many beautiful and hidden locations, you will forget that you are even in some of the most popular locations.

Find your offbeat vacation destinations:

a view of slovenia's lake

Summer nights will be unforgettable when visiting Bohinj, Slovenia.

Swap a city break for a visit to the great outdoors in Bohinj, Slovenia

What’s not to love about Slovenia?  Slovenia is famous for being one of the greenest places on Earth. It will come as no surprise that Slovenia’s northwest municipality, Bohinj, is the European Best Destination’s “best destination for sustainable tourism in Europe.” As summer tourism picks up now more than ever it is vital to practice ecotourism. So by booking your vacation to Bohinj, you can help stimulate eco-friendly travel in the great outdoors. Sounds to us like a great plan! The isolated town is located in the Julian Alps and boasts incredible views, hiking and trekking, and warm days by the lake. It is also only 40 minutes away from Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana. Find the perfect vacation rental or hotel near Bohinj, Slovenia.

corfu greece beaches

Indulge in a beach getaway in Corfu, Greece.

Instead of a crowded beach in Santorini, visit secluded Corfu, Greece.

While tourists around the world usually flock to Santorini and Mykonos for summer, we suggest switching it up by visiting Corfu, Greece instead. Did you know Greece has 6,000 islands in the Ionian and Aegean Seas? Corfu is on the northwest coast in the Ionian Sea and is famous for its incredible beaches and ideal resort location. This is the perfect island to catch up on your rest and relaxation with incredible views, and ideal seclusion for a socially distant getaway. We recommend spending your day at the spectacular beaches in Kavos, Kontokali, Paleokastritsa, Glyfada, Kontokali, and more. In the evening take a stroll through Corfu’s old town which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. You’ll absolutely fall in love with this island.

the beach in malta

Enjoy the sunset over Marsaxlokk, Malta.

Craving an island escape? Give Malta a visit!

If sitting by the sea drinking a glass of chilled wine is something you are interested in, then Malta is the perfect destination for you. The entire area of Malta is about 95 square miles, 246 square kilometers. You can have breakfast in the south and dinner in the north, on the same day. The close proximity from the city and beaches to the next to make it a great island to take a road trip on as well. We recommend staying in the capital city, Valetta. Pro tip: you can take a ferry boat or boat cruise to enjoy the turquoise blue waters of the blue lagoon in Cominos Island. Malta will prove in seconds why it’s one of the best locations for an offbeat vacation.

zagreb capital in Croatia

Discover the delicious cuisine in Zagreb, Croatia.

Have you heard of Game of Thrones? If you’re a fan, Croatia is for you!

Now we know what you are thinking… Croatia has too many incredible places to visit, how can you choose just one? From its charming capital of Zagreb to the beach towns of Split, this Balkan country has so much to offer visitors. But we recommend going off the beaten path to visit some of its more secluded and hidden gems like Cavtat and Rijeka, too. The best part about taking an offbeat vacation to Croatia is you will have an opportunity to explore it all. And, after trying some of the traditional Croatian cuisines, you will never want to leave. Find your one-of-a-kind affordable accommodation in Croatia, here.

azores island portugal

Soak in the incredible views from the Azores Islands.

Take a road trip through Portugal.

From north to south, Portugal is a country you do not want to miss visiting, especially in the summer. With incredible sites to go winetasting at in Porto to the stunning beaches in the Algarve, you can experience it all by taking a road trip. If you really want to explore offbeat Portugal, then you need to book a stay on the Azores Island. There are many trails to explore offering beautiful views of the entire island. With dozens of national parks to visit you will adore your offbeat vacation alongside the Atlantic Ocean. You’ll want to visit again and again.

warsaw poland center plaza

Enjoy a coffee with a view in Warsaw, Poland.

Explore the historic streets of Poland.

Looking for another European country to cross off your bucket list? We recommend a visit to Poland. Not only is Poland incredibly budget-friendly, but it is also one of the safest destinations to visit in Europe. The charming towns and cities boast historic architecture and monuments to admire. Looking for traditional Polish food to try? Grab a pint and order a pierogi, you’ll want to eat a dozen. A visit to Poland will leave you with a deep appreciation for the history Poland and Europe have.


Excited to visit these locations and more? Find the perfect hotel or vacation rental on CuddlyNest. We are working hard to update our blog with the best places to visit this summer. Stay tuned for more!

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pet-friendly travel

7 Countries that Boast Pet-Friendly Travel

When planning a getaway there is one question that every pet owner has to ask themselves… to bring or not to bring, our four-legged friend? Well, we are here to help make that decision a little bit easier by sharing the top seven countries that boast pet-friendly travel. It’s no surprise that travelers all over the globe would rather bring their pets with them along for the adventure. Especially, if the alternative is leaving them at home or at an over-night kennel.

man and his dog camping

Pet-Friendly Travel Destinations:

When planning your future trip to one of these locations, you won’t have to worry about that at all. The memories you make with your special companion will last a lifetime. While taking a trip tomorrow is not possible everywhere, we can use this time to plan the perfect adventure. Check out the top countries for pet-friendly travel in the Americas, Asia, and Europe to start preparing your itinerary for you and your pet, today.

woman and her dog

Switzerland

The Swiss really go the extra mile to make sure your pet-friendly experience is of the highest quality. Restaurants even make it a priority to offer your dog water and treats. Have you heard of the fondue tram? Well, your pet can even enjoy this delicious and cheesy experience with you too, for a small fee of course. Enjoy hundreds of hikes in the Alps to walks around the stunning cities including Zurich and Geneva. Your pet will adore your trip to Switzerland together.

The United States

It’s no surprise that with over 60 national parks protected by the National Park Service, the United States is one of the best places to visit with your four-legged friend. From road trips to outdoor monuments and sight-seeing in pet-friendly cities like Chicago, Seattle, and San Diego. To beach getaways in Florida, from coast to coast there are thousands of places to visit with your pet. Pick the perfect pet-friendly accommodation on CuddlyNest, and start planning the adventure you and your furry friend have always dreamt of.

man and his dog

Germany

The doors of almost every establishment are open to pets in Germany. Known as one of the most pet-friendly countries in the world, Germany takes a lot of pride in their animals and is a global example of how to treat pets with care and respect. In fact, Berlin is home to the largest animal sanctuary in Europe. By following their pet-friendly policies you and your pet can visit the country and have a one-of-a-kind experience amongst the resident pet. You may even want to consider adopting another furry friend after learning about the pet adoption possibilities in Germany.

Canada

British Columbia’s city, Vancouver, is known worldwide as one of the best places to bring your pet in North America. While there are hundreds of pet-friendly vacation rentals and hotels to visit, Canada also boasts epic road trips filled with nature fun for you and your pet. From visiting Lake Banff to taking the pet-friendly Canadian ferries where your pet will travel in ultimate comfort, there are so many ways to explore Canada with your pet by your side. He or she will love traveling by both land and sea.

France

Does your pup want a seat at the dinner table? If yes, then take your pet on a French escape. France has a pretty relaxed policy when it comes to traveling with your pets because this country deserves to be visited by everyone and everything. Looking for the perfect destination to mix fun and exploration? Take your pet to the Pyrennees were they can roam freely while you sit back, relax, and enjoy your holiday break.

woman and her cat going on vacation

The Netherlands

What’s one of the best parts of visiting the Netherlands with your pet? They can ride on any public transport for free, and on trains for just 3€ for an all-day pass either in your lap or in a carrier, depending on their size. While like all destinations your pet will require the proper paperwork and vaccines to visit, The Netherlands is a great place for you and your pet to explore the many open-air outdoor attractions including parks, the Amsterdam canals, the charming neighborhoods, and more. Amsterdam was even named the most animal-friendly city in the Netherlands in 2019. We can’t wait to visit with our own pets.

Japan

While the busy streets of Japan’s larger cities, including Tokyo, may not seem like the best place to visit with your pet, the country has actually made major strides to promote a pet-friendly culture and atmosphere for both its residents and tourists. With almost 1,000 pet-friendly hotels, pet-friendly offices, and spacious parks, there is so much to do, see, and explore, with your pet pal. He or she will also love visiting Japan’s beautiful beaches where they can run and enjoy the water. Be sure to check Japan’s pet passport rules before jet-setting off to the country to avoid any issues upon arrival.

So where will you plan your first pet-friendly getaway?

With so many places to explore, you and your pet will have a full itinerary ready for future trips. Be sure to check the pet-friendly travel policies and guidelines for both you and your pet before making any travel plans, including paperwork and vaccines. Always take the extra time to make sure you have everything, so you can avoid pre-trip mishaps and focus on the experience with your best pal. We can’t wait to hear where you and your pet plan to visit. Let us know and we will provide you with the perfect pet-friendly accommodation on CuddlyNest. Find more information about pet-friendly travel on our blog.

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margarita pizza

Five Traditional Italian Dishes You Can Make at Home

Are you looking for the perfect meals to whip up this week? Look no further because we have prepared a menu of five traditional Italian dishes that are easy to make and will leave you wanting more. Before you start cooking and become the next master chef, it’s important to learn a thing or two about where traditional Italian dishes come from and why they are an integral piece of Italian culture. Let’s start with the origin and ingredients.

italian dishes

Before we get cooking, let’s learn about traditional Italian dishes and cuisine:

Restaurants around the world have adapted certain plates and recipes to create their own version of Italian food. However, when it comes to traditional preparation, it’s important to know the correct methods and ingredients in order to make your Italian dishes just right. Or Perfetto come Italia, as the Italians say.

  1. Italians don’t use very much garlic.
    While you may find garlic bread at the top of most menus in Italian restaurants around the world, traditional Italian restaurants don’t serve garlic bread.  Rather, bread is typically served plain. Italians avoid overusing garlic in their dishes. They prefer to rely on flavorful and fresh ingredients.
  2. Spaghetti and meatballs is not an authentic Italian dish.
    Don’t worry, we’re not denying spaghetti and meatballs is delicious, however, it is not an authentic Italian dish. Italians actually rarely serve meat in their pasta.
  3. Pepperoni means “bell pepper” in Italian.
    If you have ever walked into a pizzeria in Italy and asked for a pepperoni pizza, you were probably surprised when a pizza with bell peppers was brought to your table.
  4. Naples (Napoli) is the most popular city in the world for its pizza.
    The word pizza was first documented in A.D. 997, with pizza as we know it originating in Naples, Italy.
  5. On average, an Italian eats about 51 pounds of pasta a year.
    You heard that right! In North America, a person eats around 15 1/2 pounds of pasta to compare. Yet, we think the more pasta, the better.

italian dishes caprese salad

A Traditional Starter: A Caprese Salad with Pesto Sauce.

Juicy and full of flavor, the Caprese salad topped with a pesto dressing, is a staple in any Italian meal. Originating from the Island of Capri in the 1950s, this salad is simple to prepare and requires only a few fresh ingredients. Fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, salt and pepper, basil, and homemade pesto sauce to dress. Learn how to make the famous Caprese salad with pesto, here.

italian carbonara dish

A Hearty Pasta Dish: Spaghetti alla Carbonara.

If you have ever had pasta in Italy, you probably tried spaghetti alla carbonara. One simply hasn’t lived until you’ve had this meal. The real key to making traditional carbonara is making it with guanciale, not pancetta. This recipe requires only spaghetti, eggs, peppercorn cheese, guanciale, and pepper. However,  if you can’t find guanciale in your local market, pancetta is perfectly acceptable to use. Indulge in a plate of carbonara, here.

margarita pizza italian dish

A Classic: Pizza Margherita.

Learn how to make a classic Margherita pizza from professional Italian chefs in Napoli. You can turn your kitchen into a cheesy paradise in just under thirty minutes. All you need is flour, yeast, olive oil, mozzarella cheese, fresh tomatoes, and basil and a lot of love to make a pizza like the pros. Find an authentic recipe, here.

florentine steak

A Delicious Main Course: Bistecca alla Fiorentina.

For all meat lovers, you will not want to miss having Fiorentina steaks at your Italian dinner. It’s a known fact that at least one person in every Tuscan home knows how to make this steak. With just a couple, easy steps, you can learn how to traditionally make Bistecca alla Fiorentina, too.

italian dishes tiramisu

A Must-Have Dessert: Tiramisù.

An Italian feast isn’t complete without an incredible dessert. Tiramisù is a classic. With no need to bake, and requiring just a few minutes to prepare, it’s the perfect dessert to any dinner. The coffee biscuit and mascarpone cream are simply irresistible. You’ll have to try it for yourself after learning the recipe, here.

Now that you know how to prepare these five traditional Italian dishes, enjoy and Buon Appetito!

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japanese cherry blossoms

20 Countries Where You Can See the Japanese Cherry Blossoms

Spring has finally sprung, which means the arrival of the famous pink and white Japenese cherry blossoms. Known as sakura, in Japan, these delicate flowers are one of the most famous sights to see in Japan. But did you know you could also see them in other parts of the world, too? You may have even seen them and not known what they were. Don’t worry, we’ll break it down for you here.japanese cherry blossoms

Here are some fun facts about this popular flower:

  • According to the BBC, about 8.5 million tourists visited Japan during the cherry blossom season, (March-May), last year. This alone brought in roughly 650 billion yen.
  • The custom of the cherry blossom season is believed to have been started somewhere between 710-749, in the Nara Period.
  • The cherry blossoms symbolize clouds because they bloom in small bunches bundled together. They are also a symbol of the nature of life.
  • Cherry blossoms are now found in more than 20 countries around the world, apart from Japan. 

Do you have cherry blossoms in your home country? Check the list below:

Austria:

If you want to visit the cherry blossoms in Vienna, you have to act fast. Due to the colder temperatures in this region, the cherry blossoms tend to make their arrival and departure rather quickly. Have no fear! You can still see them in between mid-March to mid-April throughout the city.

Australia:

After WWII, as a sign of peace and friendship, the Cowra Tourism Board offered to make a Japanese garden in its province. The garden was first built in 1979 and refurbished in 1989. The town of Cowra celebrates a cherry blossom festival every September.

Brazil:

São Paulo is home to one of the largest Japanese communities outside of Japan. After the Japanese began immigrating to Brazil, they brought many seedlings of the cherry blossoms with them. The trees can be found in the Botanical Garden of Curitiba. They are usually in full bloom in July.

Canada:

Admirers of the cherry blossom can find over 40,000 cherry trees in Vancouver, Canada. Brought in the 1930s as a gift from Japan, the arrival of cherry blossom season is celebrated every year with a festival in the springtime.

vancouver cherry blossoms

Take in the gorgeous views of the cherry trees in Vancouver, Canada.

China:

The oldest cherry blossoms in China can be found in Longwangtang Park. Originating from the WWII era, the arrival of the cherry blossoms illuminates the area in late April. They can also be found in parts of Beijing and Shanghai.

Denmark:

Travelers come from far and wide to see the gorgeous cherry blossoms in Copenhagen. The most common place to find them in the capital city? Bispebjerg Cemetery and Langelinie Park in April.

France:

Flock to Parc de Sceaux, in Paris, to see the orchards of cherry trees, both in white and pink. Visitors can find them bloom in early April.

Germany:

Hamburg, Germany, hosts a full festival annually to welcome the return of the cherry blossoms, drawing in tens of thousands of spectators every spring. Every May a “Cherry Blossom Queen” is selected by the Japan Cherry Blossom Association. In German, the festival is known as “Kirschblütenfest.”

cherry blossoms in the Himalayas

Cherry Blossoms in the Himalayas.

India:

In India, the cherry blossom is found mainly in the Himalayan states. The country holds an annual cherry blossom festival in the fall, between October and November. With their arrival, the blossoms can be seen covering the Himalayan foothills, a truly breathtaking scene.

Korea:

In Korea, cherry blossoms symbolize purity and beauty. In earlier tradition, monks used the wood from the cherry trees to make bows and roadblocks. The best place to enjoy cherry blossom season is in Seoul in late March, early April.

Myanmar:

The town of Pyin OO Lwin is known as “The Land of Cherries.” While some of the cherry trees had to be genetically modified to survive the

tropical weather, they are still very important in Myanmar.

The Netherlands:

The cherry blossom trees in the Netherlands were donated 20 years ago by the Japan Women’s Club. In total there are 400 trees. 200 of the trees have female Japanese names and 200 of them have female Dutch names.

New Zealand:

Most commonly found in the Christchurch Botanical Gardens, the trees are also found in Hagley Park in the heart of the city. Visitors can enjoy the open space under a blanket of cherry trees.

new zealand cherry blossoms

Spend the night in a hobbit house surrounded by cherry blossoms.

Spain:

Every March marks the arrival of the cherry blossoms in the Jerte Valley in Extremadura, Spain. The valley holds over two million cherry blossom trees and fills it with the beautiful pink and white colors.

Sweden:

April 28th is the official Day of the Cherry Blossom in Stockholm, although these flowers tend to make an earlier appearance in the spring. The Swedes and Japanese hold a festival during this time each year, which marks 150 years of friendship between Sweden and Japan.

Taiwan:

The cherry blossom festivities in Taiwan attract 50,000 visitors each year. The season typically starts as early as January and finishes in April. One of the most popular places to see the incredibly displace is at Tianyuan Temple.

Thailand:

Unlike many other areas, the typical season for cherry blossoms in Thailand is in the winter. The trees bloom mostly in Northern Thailand in cities including Chiang Mai.

cherry blossoms thailand

Stroll down the streets of Chiang Mai under a blanket of cherry blossoms.

Turkey:

Typically due to arrive in spring, the cherry trees made an early arrival this year, blooming in early winter 2019. For one of Turkey’s orchard owners, the early arrival came as a big surprise. After 30 years of cultivating the land, he had never witnessed an early arrival.

The United Kingdom:

Travelers can find pink flowers all throughout the UK. The Gloucestershire region holds the national collections of Japanese villa cherries. London is also home to several parks and Japanese gardens where tourists can marvel at the cherry trees.

The United States:

From coast to coast, travelers can see the beautiful cherry blossoms in many states of the US. Most notably in the East Coast including Boston, Washington D.C., and Baltimore, visitors come to the University of Washington, Seattle Campus, every March to take pictures in the gorgeous liberal arts quad filled with cherry trees. To see the current bloom in Washington D.C., you can watch from the Bloom Cam.

Add a visit to the cherry blossoms in your home country to your bucket list.

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No need to fly: three European trips easier by train

No Need to Fly: Two European Trips Easier by Train

No need to fly: three European trips easier by trainDid you just land in Berlin and need to get to a hotel soon? While flying allows us to travel to both popular and not so popular destinations in Europe, Asia and everywhere else in the world, there is no excuse not to explore the countryside.

From Matching in the United Kingdom, to the French countryside and Balkan nature parks and SPA centers, there are many destinations in the countryside that planes do not connectto. We listed some of the most beautiful European countryside castles, inspired by The Guardian’s “European Trips Easier by Train” article.

Opening new routes, or taking an advantage of train prices in the last days before Brexit with newly launched Interrail four-day pass (€ 185), can be an advantageous feauture of train travel.  Going through the mountainous Europe – Alps, Pyrenees and Tatras – Europe offers one of the best opportunities for anyone traveling by train. . We looked at Burgundy, the Austrian Alps, and the Dutch Coast among other amazing destinations only reachable by European trail tracks. No flights here, keeping it green in 2020!

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A Taste of Burgundy

Taste and smell the famous Burgundy wine region. Along with amazing wine and views to the green yards,  the main winemaking villages can also be reached by stopping at Gevrey-Chambertin, Meursault and other Burgundian wine regions. For more wine travel in Europe, go to this article on Hungarian wine history and travel tips.

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The Austrian Alps

Austrian Alps can not only be the place to live through The Sound of Music scenes, but it can also be easily visited on your way from Brussels to Vienna on the newly opened railway. From the nearest Vienna airport, hop onto the Vienna – Brussels line and take bus 172. After a  27-mile journey over the Seeberg Saddle, you’ll arrive in Bruck-an-der-Mur where the Unesco-listed Semmering Railway can take you back to Vienna by night.

Away from Airports and Still in Reach

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Eltz Castle, Moselle Valley, Italy

Trains from Koblenz in Germany where Moselle flows into the Rhine, can connect you to Trier in Italy. Sit back and enjoy the view with some perfectly roasted espresso.

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Falkenstein Castle, Savoy, Jura route

Since the Handbook for Travellers in Switzerland and the Alps of Savoy was written by John Murray in 1846, the Savoy was one of the main European destinations on the Jura route to visit for nobleman taking their European journey. Drop by Waldenburg, or

Heinfels Castle in Rhine Valley, Italy

Taking a train from Koblenz towards Cologne along the Rhine valley will allow you to relax. Visit the Rheinfels Castle on your way!

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Black Forest, Germany

The Black Forest and Eifel in Germany? May sound like a mix of France and Germany, but the southwestern North Rhine-Westphalia has it all. Visit the Cochem Castle in the meantime!

Ready to go on a train? Make sure you have a place to stay first.

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spanish cities cadiz

Spanish Cities to Visit in 2021: Get to Know Them All

January 1, 2020/in SpainCulture and Experience TravelEurope

Wondering what the best cities to visit in Spain for 2021 are? With the new year quickly approaching, there is one thing we have on our wish list that lives there all year round: A trip to Spain. With incredible summer deals, fall escapes, winter getaways, and spring festivals to explore, Spain is a country you can visit any time of the year. Whether you’re in the market for an amazing dining experience full of tapas or want to explore cultural activities like flamenco dancing, you can never go wrong with visiting Spain. Looking for the best place to start planning your vacation to the Iberian Peninsula?

Start with this list of the top Spanish Cities to visit in 2021. This guide takes you on the getaway of your dreams from north to south. From hidden gems like Bilbao and Cadiz to world-famous cities like Barcelona and Madrid, we’ve got you covered on the best places to visit, and some of the best-known things to do there. Whatever type of vacation you’re looking for, from romantic city escapes, amazing outdoor excursions, or relaxing beachside vacations, Spain will have something for you.

bilbao spanish cities

Bilbao:

The city of Bilbao is not one to miss when visiting Spain! Located in the North of Spain in the Basque region, Bilbao offers a unique insight into Spain’s more modern sides. Bilbao offers a rich, historical, medieval atmosphere combined with modern skyscrapers and a reflection of the country’s industrial history. It makes it a very vibrant city to visit for fans of architecture and art. After all, it does house one of Europe’s most famous museums, The Guggenheim. Take a stroll along the Nervion River after a delicious breakfast of churros and cafe. Definitely one of the hidden gems, we consider Bilbao one of the best places to visit in Spain in 2021.

spanish city san sebastian

San Sebastian:

If you enjoy lying on the beach with an incredible view, then San Sebastian is the perfect place to spend your Spanish holiday. The beautiful city is tucked right into the Bay of Biscay and it is very well known for its lavish resort hotels and vacation offerings. The northern coast is green all year long with a rainy winter season and a warm, sunny summer. Visitors will love indulging in the upscale shopping, gourmet restaurants offering “pinchos”, and exploring up to Monte Igueldo to get the panoramic views of the whole city and La Concha Beach. If a more laid back vacation is what you are searching for, yet something that offers all of the whimsy of the city meets beach life, then this is definitely one of the best places to visit in Spain for you.

Barcelona:

Hands-down one of the best places to visit when traveling in Spain is Barcelona. The Catalonian city is famous for its nightlife, beach, city, and incredible views. You can’t go wrong packing a picnic and hiking up to The Carmel Bunkers to enjoy manchego cheese and vino with an unforgettable view of the coast of Spain. But before you go exploring, you will want to plan a bit as there is so much to do, see, and eat in this cultural hub. One of the best things about Barcelona? How well-connected and easy to get around it is.

Visitors will adore strolling through the Gothic Quarter over the cobbled streets. Elaborate plazas filled with restaurants offer everything from tortilla española (omelets) to paella (Spanish rice with seafood) to tinto de verano (wine with lemon soda). Discover the great live music scene and contemporary street art. You can even plan ahead by taking a virtual tour of several cities in Spain before your visit. Be sure to add visiting La Sagrada Familia, Parc Güell, and the Barceloneta to your list of attractions. Barcelona is definitely one of the best places to visit in all of Spain in 2021, and we highly recommend it to anyone planning a trip to the country.

Valencia:

Spain’s most famous city for paella, the famous seafood dish, is the coastal city of Valencia. Located south of Barcelona on the Mediterranean Sea, this beach town is a summer hot spot. After spending a day at the beach and eating freshly-made paella, you can try Valencia’s horchata almond drink. However, one of Valencia’s biggest events happens every March leading up to Easter Weekend. It is called Las Fallas. Parades of large hand-built structures and people dressed up in costumes fill the streets, culminating in the burning of many of these magnificent creations. This event commemorates Saint Joseph. When looking for cultural events to attend during your trip, be sure to plan to see this one. You also cannot miss visiting the City of Arts and Sciences, strolling through the Turia Gardens, and checking out the Cathedral. For a cultural experience, Valencia is definitely one of the best places to visit in Spain.

Salamanca: 

Salamanca is one of Spain’s best cities, especially for student travelers. Popular for how close it is to Madrid and for its gorgeous Spanish outdoors, Salamanca wows everyone who visits. Especially those who are fans of cheap beer and fun nightlife. It also happens to be one of Spain’s safest cities which is another reason it boasts visits by the youth. From visiting Casa Lis, Salamanca’s Art Nouveau and Art Deco Museum, or house of Shells, tourists love the art experiences offered in this city. After all, Salamanca was the center of great minds in historic Spain. We highly recommend this city as one of the best places to visit in Spain, especially for younger travelers.

Madrid:

The capital of all Spanish cities is Madrid. Although there is a big debate about whether to visit Barcelona or Madrid if you could only visit one, it is very hard to choose. That’s why the only choice is to visit both and the other Spanish cities on this list! Madrid will give you a more contemporary vibe and will be easier on the budget for a longer trip.

Madrid will allow you to explore Spanish history and life in the city. It is also the best city for connecting you to the rest of Spain as it is in the middle of the country. There is a magnificent selection of affordable hotels and rentals in Madrid that will make you never want to leave. From visiting the lively Puerta del Sol to taking long walks through Retiro Park, Madrid has so much lust and charm you will fall madly in love with. We know we do! 

Toledo:

Madrid’s neighbor, Toledo is an off the beaten path city that you must visit during your trip to Spain. Just a short ride by bus or train from the capital, Toledo offers nature and town life for those looking for an escape. Set in central Spain on a hill above the plains of Castilla-la Mancha, it is well known for the old city architecture and mannerism. Enjoy a glass of wine and wander through the winding streets on the hilltop. You’ll love looking at everything from the Moorish Bisagra Gate to Mudejar Sol Gate. The city has so much to offer especially no crowds. If you are looking to experience classic Spain for a better price and in a quieter setting, then Toledo is for you. We know we can’t wait to visit again soon.

Granada:

From Moorish architecture and serene patios to tapas and drinks that will fill you up with joy, Granada is a must-visit in Spain. Some of our favorite things to do when visiting this historic mountain town include: Hiking up to St. Nicholas Church to enjoy a glass of wine or chilled beer while watching the sunset over the spectacular Alhambra. And in the wintertime, people come from far and wide to enjoy the mountain fun to be had in the nearby Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. In the spring, visitors will see the trees and bushes bloom with vibrant color that goes hand in hand with the magical feel this city gives off. Pro tip: when you order a drink at any restaurant in Granada, they also come with a small tapa so be sure to find the best bars in town. 

Cordoba:

Tucked in Andalusia only about 30 minutes by train from Spain’s southern capital, is Cordoba. This beautiful town is famous for its mix of Roman and Islamic architecture spanning from the early 1st century BC. La Mezquita Mosque is one of the town’s main attractions and welcomes millions of visitors a year. Especially during spring when people gather in the city to see the famous patios filled with colorful flowers of all shapes, sizes, and colors. From Roman bridge to Palacio de Viana, the architecture of the city is definitely worth a visit, and if you enjoy wandering through Spanish cities and their romantic cobblestone streets, then Cordoba should be added to your bucket list. Are you a Game of Thrones fan? You can visit Cordoba’s GOT Spain filming locations during a road trip through Spain.

Seville:

Seville is the heart of Southern Spain, both physically and emotionally. If you are fond of flamenco, olives, and oranges, and floral scents, and incredible views from its many rooftops and buildings, Seville is the perfect place for you. Orange blossom perfumes are sold on every corner, along with painted tiles and traditional feria dresses. You will love wandering through the Real Alcazar which is also known to Game of Thrones fans as the city of Dorne. Do not forget to walk around the Maestranza bullfighting ring and take long walks along the Guadalquivir River. Also, if you are already planning your Easter holiday, then we highly recommend you add Seville to your itinerary. The Easter processions are one of the most beautiful in the whole of Spain and attract millions of tourists a year to watch the processions from many cities fill the charming streets of Seville. Seville is definitely one of the best places to visit in Spain for its classic Spanish culture and atmosphere that you won’t soon forget.

Cadiz:

Spain’s southernmost city, Cadiz is truly paradise. Lovers of seafood and beach vibes will be very fond of everything Cadiz and its beach towns have to offer. It is also one of many European’s favorite vacation destinations, and usually brings in thousands of visitors every year. The Costa del Sol offers painted white towns running along the shore. This allows visitors to experience many of Spain’s beautiful spots all summer long. We suggest starting with Cadiz capital and taking a road trip along the coast. On a clear summer day, you can even see Morocco from the hilltops. Of all the other Spanish cities to visit, Cadiz is an absolute must.

Which Spanish Cities are you adding to your travel itinerary? For more Spain inspiration check out our Game of Thrones Spain travel guide, and the best travel destinations to celebrate New Year!

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