Those who visit Europe are often attracted to the big capitals like Rome, Paris, and London, which need a few days to be properly visited. But, if you don’t have much time and want to visit a city in one day, there are many lesser-known, smaller, and “hidden” European cities, which are equally impressive and are nome to many interesting tourist attractions.
These cities are perfect for a weekend trip when you need a short break from reality. Getting there is easy because they usually have an international airport or are perfectly connected to larger and more important metropolitan areas.
Need to get away from reality?
Check out the top 15 European cities to visit in one day!
|Destination||Cost of low-cost flights|
|Nice, France||starting from €63|
|Ljubljana, Slovenia||starting from €89|
|Ghent, Belgium||starting from €41|
|Rotterdam, The Netherlands||starting from €72|
|Gothenburg, Sweden||starting from €57|
|Belgrade, Serbia||starting from €98|
|Zurich, Switzerland||starting from €74|
|Riga, Latvia||starting from €109|
|Copenhagen, Denmark||starting from €93|
|Bruges, Belgium||starting from €39|
|Innsbruck, Austria||starting from €107|
|Dubrovnik, Croatia||starting from €75|
|Segovia, Spain||starting from €43|
|Oslo, Norway||starting from €87|
|Vilnius, Lithuania||starting from €63|
1. Nice, France
Reaching Nice is easy, both, by plane and by train due to the high speed. You can choose to visit the city independently or with guided tours. Regardless of which option you choose, we recommend you to buy a daily ticket for the Hop-on Hop-off bus, which allows you to move easily between the main attractions.
The first stop on your visit could be the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Nicolas, a beautiful cathedral dating from the early 10th century which was built inspired by the Saint Basil’s Church located in Moscow’s Red Square. Avenue Jean Médecin, on the other hand, is the mecca for shopping enthusiasts. At the end of this street, you will find the most important square in the city, Place Massena, which houses characteristic 19th-century buildings, splendid arcades, and a well-kept garden that dates back to 1800. The visit continues with the old city, which you will find on the left of the square.
A comfortable lift takes you to the top of the castle hills, from where you can admire a breathtaking view over the Bay of Nice. You can’t miss a walk on the splendid Promenade des Anglais, which is sadly known in recent times, yet never without charm.
Low-cost flights: starting from €63.75
Accommodation: hotels and b&b from €57 per room
2. Ljubljana, Slovenia
Ljubljana is like a little Prague, offering the typical charm of central European cities and a medieval core marked with several attractive bridges and labyrinthine streets filled with Baroque and Art Nouveau buildings. The city boasts some quality museums and galleries, but the real highlight are its outdoor attractions: the narrow streets, squares, bridges, and lively cafes. A day in Ljubljana gives you plenty of time to see the best sights in the city. Due to being just over an hour’s drive from Trieste, it’s undoubtedly one of the best destinations for a 24-hour flash holiday.
You can start your tour from Prešernov Square, admire the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation of the Virgin, cross the Triple Bridge, and go shopping at the famous Central Market. Then, take the funicular up to the Castle, one of the symbols of the city, visit the Cathedral St. Nicholas, and admire the city from the Dragon Bridge. Finally, end the day on the riverside, indulging in an aperitif or dinner in one of the numerous places available.
Low-cost flights: starting from €89
Accommodation: hotels and b&b from €49 per room
3. Ghent, Belgium
Belgium, apart from Brussels and Bruges, holds another pleasant surprise for tourists. It’s Ghent, the town that hosts many unusual buildings built in the Flemish architectural style. An example of this is the Cathedral of Saint Bavo, a must-visit tourist attraction. The city is also home to many trendy places, including the famous Cycle Café Bidon, typical restaurants, pubs, and various clubs.
If you are in the city for a day, you can’t miss the boat tour of the city center, during which you can admire the splendid buildings of Ghent, such as the Castle of the Counts of Flanders.
Low-cost flights: to Brussels (68 km from Ghent) starting from €41.98
Accommodation: hotels and b&b from €52 per room
4. Rotterdam, the Netherlands
If you have already visited Amsterdam and enjoyed it, you can’t miss Rotterdam. The city shows itself with the typical Flemish design and it’s a true paradise for those who love architectural works, especially the most characteristic ones. The Het Nieuwe Institute of Architecture, the Tent, and the Mama Showroom are the attractions you must visit.
During your day tour, you should definitely treat yourself to some unforgettable activities, such as the river cruise. To make sure you don’t miss any of the key attractions, we suggest a fun guided bike tour.
Here, it’s also possible to enjoy lively nightlife and attend concerts and live music performances at the numerous clubs in the center, such as the Bird and the Perron. If you happen to go there in July, you must go to the North Sea Jazz festival.
Low-cost flights: starting from €72
Accommodation: hotels and b&b from €75 per room
5. Gothenburg, Sweden
Are the cities of Northern Europe cold and devoid of any tourist attraction? So wrong! Gothenburg is a perfect destination thanks to the many sights worth seeing. One of them is the Roda Sten, a boiler factory, which has now been transformed into a cultural, artistic, and recreational center.
The oldest part of the city welcomes you with its narrow streets where you will find characteristic cafes, shops, restaurants, as well as clubs such as the historic Ölhallen brewery and Bar Kino. In the summer, the city comes alive with music festivals, which usually host internationally renowned artists. The annual culture festival lasts six days and takes place on the outskirts of the city, featuring comedies and film performances.
And, did you know that the sun doesn’t set before 10 pm during the summer months?! Yes, it’s true, and that means long days and lots of time to explore the city, even if you are there only for a day.
Low-cost flights: starting from €57.91
Accommodation: hotels and b&b from €48 per room
6. Belgrade, Serbia
It is said that Belgrade has been destroyed 44 times in history, but almost never completely. Due to all the reconstructions, today, it looks like a mix of magnificent and depressing buildings, a contrast between glamour and decay, resurgence and ruins. To admire the city’s musts, a panoramic tour by minibus is the most comfortable and recommended solution.
If you prefer a do-it-yourself tour, start your visit at the Kalemegdan, a huge park that allows you to appreciate the surrounding walls of the medieval citadel as well as the magnificent views of the Old Town and the rivers. The Old Town is home to the Cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel, with its tall bell tower. The alleys of the oldest part of the city are home to Neo-Renaissance palaces, traditional trattorias, and famous the Knez Mihailova street, the pedestrian shopping street where you can also admire various street artists and musicians. The main square of the city is Trg Republike, where a large equestrian monument dedicated to Prince Mihailo Obrenović is placed. Belgrade offers its best when the sun goes down – the scene is lively due to the numerous bars, restaurants, and nightclubs.
Low-cost flights: starting from €98
Accommodation: hotels and b&b from €38 per room
7. Zurich, Switzerland
Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and is crossed by the Limmat River. Thanks to its customs station, it played a fairly important role in Roman times, and today, its railway station hosts notable national and European traffic every day. In the city, you can admire the Grossmunster Cathedral, which dates back to the 9th century and was expanded in the period from the 12th to the 15th century. Originally a place of Catholic worship, today it’s the seat of the Protestant religion. The Cathedral also houses the stained glass windows of extraordinary beauty by Sigmar Polke and Augusto Giacometti, the bronze doors by Otto Münch, and the crypt in Romanesque style.
Zurich is an elegant and refined city, an atmosphere that can be inhaled while walking along Bahnhofstrasse, the city shopping street where you can admire the windows of the exclusive clubs and shops. To make sure you visit all the must-sees of the city while optimizing your time, we suggest you book a complete tour, including a ferry excursion, a funicular tour, and a panoramic bus tour.
Low-cost flights: starting from €74.98
Accommodation: hotels and b&b from €49 per room
8. Riga, Latvia
The historic center of the so-called “Paris of the Baltic” has been recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Due to being very small, it’s very easy to get around on foot.
Be sure to book in advance a private tour with a local guide to optimize your time and visit all the interesting attractions while discovering the most fascinating secrets and curiosities. The first stops on the tour are the Cathedral and the statue dedicated to the Bremen Town Musicians. Then comes the House of the Black Heads, a building dating back to the Middle Ages that was destroyed by bombing and rebuilt a few years ago. In the same square, you will also find the museum of the occupation, which has a free entrance!
Other attractions we can’t miss are the Riga Cathedral, the largest church in Latvia, and the Riga Castle which dates back to 1300 and was built by the religious order of the Livonians. The palace houses the residence of the President of the Latvian Republic and an important museum of national art and history.
Low-cost flights: starting from €109
Accommodation: hotels and b&b from €42 per room
9. Copenhagen, Denmark
The Little Mermaid Statue is undoubtedly the most famous attraction in the city, hence, a must-see for any visit to Copenhagen. Equally well-known is the ancient port of Nyhavn. It’s a large canal on the banks of which are located shops and colorful houses dating back to the 17th century. Here, you can take advantage of the characteristic boats and enjoy a wonderful guided cruise that will allow you to admire the main attractions of the city.
The Tivoli Gardens are another famous place as well as one of the oldest amusement parks in the world. Opened in 1843, it still houses some of the buildings built in the mid-19th century. The next stop is the Amalienborg Palace, the winter residence of the royal family, which consists of four Rococo-style buildings arranged around an octagonal square. If the royal family is there, the guard changing ceremony takes place at 12 noon every day. End the visit with the round tower from which you can enjoy the beautiful panorama if you climb the 209 meters of the ramp to get to the top.
Low-cost flights: starting from €43.96
Accommodation: hotels and b&b from €57 per room
10. Bruges, Belgium
Bruges (dutch Brugge) is one of the most picturesque cities in Europe. It’s the perfect medieval fairytale destination for a weekend getaway, but it is often visited in a shorter period of time due to being well connected to other cities in Belgium, such as Brussels. Fascinating squares with horse-drawn carriages, picturesque canals lined with Gothic houses, and much more… Bruges has a timeless charm, which we recommend enjoying on a fantastic free guided tour.
The perfect day tour starts from Rozenhoedkaai, where you can admire one of the most famous views of the city. Right after that, you can treat yourself to a boat ride on the canals. Then, visit the Church of Our Lady and relax at the Begijnhof and Minnewater. After lunch in one of Bruges’ well-known breweries, finish the meal with a dessert, tasting some Belgian chocolate. In the afternoon let yourself be enchanted by the beauty of the Grote Markt, the square and the market, visit the Basilica of the Holy Blood, and end the tour with a walk along the Gronerei.
Low-cost flights: to Brussels (95 km from Bruges) from €39.00
Accommodation: hotels and b&b from €50 per room
11. Innsbruck, Austria
The historic center of the capital of Tyrol has a medieval origin and still bears evidence of it. There are monuments and buildings that tell the rich over-800-year-old history of the city, which you can discover on a fascinating classic panoramic tour.
The most famous is the Tettuccio d’Oro (Golden Roof), the symbol of the city. It’s a lodge with a roof covered with 2.657 gilded copper flake tiles, all of which are still the original ones. The lodge was added around the year 1500 to the “Neuhof” building at the behest of Emperor Maximilian I. At the same square, there is also the 51-meters high Civic Tower, as well as many bars and restaurants where you can taste the typical specialties. Make sure you don’t forget the delicious Austrian cakes, including the famous Sacher Torte! Also, don’t miss the Hofburg Imperial Palace along with its beautiful garden.
Low-cost flights: starting from €107.70
Accommodation: hotels and b&b from €51
12. Dubrovnik, Croatia
The historic center of this city is very reminiscent of Venice, with monuments, small and characteristic cafes, and bars where you can relax. The best way to enjoy the city is by taking a guided walking tour, which allows you to discover all the most iconic attractions.
Start your tour from the Pile Gate, the ancient main entrance leading to Stari Grad, the old town. You can experience the thrill of crossing a real drawbridge which will take you not only to the heart of the city but will also catapult you back in time: on the outside in the Renaissance, and on the inside in the Gothic era. Following the Wall, you can take a highly-recommended walk, which will allow you to enjoy a magnificent view of the city and the sea surrounding it. You will arrive at the Old Port where the Maritime Museum is located. Luza Square is the heart of social life, with the Sponza Palace, the Clock Tower, and Roland’s Column located there.
The church of San Blas is a cathedral that also houses a statue dedicated to the patron saint of the city. Not far away from it is the palace of the Rectors, an ancient seat of government, built in Renaissance style.
Low-cost flights: from €74,95
Accommodation: hotels and b&b from €64 per room
13. Segovia, Spain
Far from the great metropolitan centers of Spain, just 30 minutes by train from Madrid, you can reach this very charming Spanish town. It will immediately win you over with its churches but, most of all, with the slow and relaxed pace of life of the citizens.
It’s a great destination for a day trip! You will be enchanted by its huge cathedral and fairytale castle, both of which are excellent destinations to cool off during your visit. In summer, the temperatures get quite high, so we recommend you to go there in spring or autumn.
Low-cost flights: to Madrid (116 km from Segovia) starting from €43.64
Accommodation: hotels and b&b from €54 per room
14. Oslo, Norway
Oslo is a quiet but also lively city full of things to do and must-see tourist attractions. There are, both, naturalistic and cultural sights worth seeing, as well as numerous activities for fun. In one day, you can easily visit the center, the outer residential districts, and the Bygdoy peninsula.
In the historic center, you can find trendy shops, most of the nightclubs, and some important museums such as the National Gallery, the interesting Ski Museum as well as the famous Munch Museum with its most famous work, The Scream. There’s also the fortress of Akershus, which dates back to the Middle Ages. You can visit its reception hall, the hall, the chapel where the crypts where Olav V and King Hakon VII lie are located , as well as the underground prisons. The Bygdoy peninsula or Bygdo is the area of Oslo where culture and nature blend perfectly. It is a strip of land on which the western part of the city extends and where you can visit the Norsk Folkemuseum, which holds evidence of Norwegian culture and the Viking Ship Museum.
Low-cost flights: starting from €87
Accommodation: hotels and b&b from €72 per room
15. Vilnius, Lithuania
Vilnius has medieval origins and, after years of occupation, today, it presents itself as a modern European city. Its historic center was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1994. Many visitors, who are gradually discovering the beauties of a country off the main tourist routes, choose this city as a destination every year. The city has an international airport and can be visited in one day.
Probably, it’s best to start from the historic center, where proud Gothic, Baroque, and Renaissance buildings stand out, creating a unique effect. You also have to see the city Cathedral dedicated to St.Stanislav and St.Vladislav, in which you can find the oldest wall fresco in the country, which dates back to the end of the 14th century: “The Crucifixion”. An excellent alternative to immerse yourself in the beauties of the city and move from one place you want to see to another is the Hop-on Hop-off bus.
Low-cost flights: starting from €63.22
Accommodation: hotels and b&b from €45 per room