15 Best European Cities To Explore When You Only Have One Day

Although we all know going to Europe for one day is impractical and not cost-effective, it’s fun to dream and see what European cities land on the top of people’s travel bucket lists.

We’ve suggested one or two prominent landmarks or suggested activities in each city, although simply exploring the city’s center or downtown area is also an option. Trip Advisor and Viator also offer plenty of options for food and beverage tours that allow visitors to be immersed in a city’s culinary scene, which is always an excellent way to learn about a destination.

1. Seville Spain

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Check out the breathtaking architecture of the Alcázar Palace and gardens. A few scenes from Game of Thrones were shot here, so if you’re a fan of the show, you’ll likely recognize some spots.

The Plaza de Espana is another popular site to put on your Seville list. You can take a carriage ride through the plaza and cover more ground than you would on foot.

2. Lisbon Portugal

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If there is just one landmark you visit when touring through the Portuguese capital, make it the Torre de Belém. This tower standing over the mouth of the Tagus River displays a fusion of architectural styles: Mudejar, Moorish, Gothic, and Romanesque.

3. Prague Czech Republic

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Stroll across Charles Bridge, which is one of the world’s most iconic pedestrian bridges. The bridge connects Old Town to Mala Strana and offers beautiful sunset views.

4.  Budapest Hungary

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Visit the Shoes Memorial on Danube Bank. The sculpture series is a memorial to people who were at the riverbank by a fascist group during World War II. The victims were forced to remove their shoes before being massacred and falling into the river.

If you’re into nightlife, check out the Jewish Quarter, home to many bars and food spots open late. Some are even open 24 hours a day!

5. Florence Italy

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Explore Pitti Palace, which the famous Medici family once inhabited. Admire the art, expansive grounds, and on-site museums.

Also, add The Uffizi, Florence's famous art gallery, to your must-see list.

6. Edinburgh Scotland

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Travel the cobbled streets, historic houses, and picturesque little squares of Old Town Edinburgh, and visit the shops along the Royal Mile.

Edinburgh Castle, looming over the city, is another important landmark. There’s a cannon fired from the castle every day (except Sundays) at 1:00 p.m., in keeping with the tradition of maritime captains setting their clocks to navigate the oceans.

7. Istanbul Turkey

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Istanbul is a unique mix of Western and Eastern cultures. Don’t miss the Hagia Sophia, once a mosque but now one of the most visited museums in the world, and exploring the Grand Bazaar.

8. London England

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No European bucket list travel list will be complete without mentioning the town of London. Although the list of iconic London spots is nearly endless, don’t miss Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square, and the Tate Modern, which is a collection of British art from the 1500s to the present day.

9. Rome Italy

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Tour the Coliseum and toss a coin (for luck!) in the Trevi Fountain.

10. Barcelona Spain

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Visit Sagrada Familia, the cathedral that’s been under construction for 130+ years and is still unfinished. Book an advance tour or skip-the-line pass because the line gets very long.

La Rambla, a three-quarter mile stretch of pedestrian boulevard with many cafes and shops to explore, is another place you don’t want to miss if you only have a day in Barcelona!

11. Berlin Germany

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Explore the Tiergarten, Berlin’s most famous public park (at its best in spring and summer), or scope out the street food scene and local goods at Markethalle IV.

12. Copenhagen Denmark

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Visit Copenhagen’s scenic cityscape, Nyhavn. This waterfront canal features brightly colored 17th-century townhouses and sailboats which today house cafes and shops.

13. Dubrovnik Croatia

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This city on the Adriatic has a lot to offer visitors. Walk the perimeter of the old city walls (also featured in Game of Thrones) and check out the ocean and city views.

If you’re a GoT superfan, you can book a walking tour and get an up-close view of where some of the popular show’s scenes were filmed.

14. Brussels Belgium

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Spend a day in Brussels exploring the city’s central square. Check out artists and street performers, or even take a carriage ride. When in Belgium, try a famous Belgian waffle. This is also a beer enthusiast’s paradise.

15. Tallinn Estonia

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Tallinn is filled with scenic and historic spots. The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is a popular spot to photograph as is the Tallinn TV Tower. There’s an observation deck on the 21st floor of the tower that’s one of the city’s most popular attractions. For the truly adventurous, there’s a “Walk on the Edge” experience that allows you to walk on the ledge of the tower, in a harness, of course!

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Jill is a Wealth of Geeks travel editor and an expert writer focusing on family and adventure travel as well as practical tips to help travelers get the most value out of their vacation experiences. In addition to Wealth of Geeks, Jill has written for Business Insider, MSN, Tripsavvy, Matador Network, Canadian Traveller, and Travel Awaits. She lives in San Antonio with her husband and sons but she's usually somewhere else.