The 30 Best Capitals of Europe

The 30 best capitals of Europe is like a who’s who of history. The great cities like London and Paris are of course on the list but with the new influx of countries in Europe over the last 25 years, there is some room for debate on what makes the list and what doesn’t. So this was still a pretty difficult list to make.
castel d'angelo, rome, italy
Be sure to also check out some of my other 30 best lists like the 30 best cities in the world; the 30 best islands in the world; the 30 best beaches in the world; the 30 best airlines in the world; the 30 best man made sites in the world; and the 30 best cities in Africa. There will be several more to come as well!
tower of london, london, england, uk
I love Europe. Europe forever changed my life when I studied abroad in London in 1998. I have been to every country in Europe and every capital city as well. Yes, even the Balkans and there Baltics!
sacre coeur, paris, montmarte
That said, my criteria for selection is as follows although it’s pretty straightforward:

– The city must be a capital city of Europe.
– I have to have been there at last once.
– This list is based purely off my experiences and what I think.
– I broke the United Kingdom into 4 separate countries. Meaning the UK is broken down into England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland because I feel that Belfast and Edinburgh need to be included.
– I did include island nations of Europe such as Iceland and Malta (even though I didn’t include Valleta in my list). However, I did not include island dependencies such as Corsica or the Faroe Islands; which act as independent nations in many facets.
– I included Istanbul even though I know it’s not the capital of Turkey but since Ankara is in Asia I felt strongly that Istanbul should be included.

Here is my list of the 30 best capitals of Europe…what do you think???

30. Minsk, Belarus
29. Kiev, Ukraine
28. Ljubljana, Slovenia
27. Skopje, Macedonia
26. Belfast, Northern Ireland
25. Helsinki, Finland
24. Sofia, Bulgaria
23. Warsaw, Poland
22. Tallinn, Estonia
21. Moscow, Russia
20. Reykjavik, Iceland
19. Belgrade, Serbia
18. Athens, Greece
17. Dublin, Ireland
16. Lisbon, Portugal
15. Vienna, Austria
14. Copenhagen, Denmark
13. Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina
12. Madrid, Spain
11. Bucharest, Romania
10. Edinburgh, Scotland
9. Budapest, Hungary
8. Stockholm, Sweden
7. Istanbul, Turkey
6. Prague, Czech Republic
5. Amsterdam, Netherlands
4. Rome, Italy
3. Berlin, Germany
2. London, England
1. Paris, France

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  1. Skopje? Seriously? 🙁

  2. Bucharest is high!

  3. Tirana? Not feeling it???

  4. Lol, Oslo didn’t make it! It’s the worst city in Norway, so that sounds about right 🙂

  5. As far as things to see, there really isn’t that much to see in Minsk that I would recommend to anyone.

    You based your ranking of Minsk on what. Seems like you had a negative opinion. Or is it better to include it to make yourself seem better traveled, rather than a Johnny-hit-and-run with very brief stops in so many places on your list.

    • Richard, lots of cities don’t have sites to see including a bunch on this list, but they’re still cool to see or visit. Minsk is a definite place I am excited to go back to.

  6. I want to go to every place on this list! I love Paris so glad to see it’s #1.

  7. Cris Wall says

    What is so great about Bucharest? I looked into going (alone) but what I read about the crime rate and safety really put me off. Is it really worth it?

  8. BRIAN YAPKO says

    I think the capital of Turkey is Ankara, not Istanbul.

  9. I always loved oslo norway… friendly ppl… yeah its not as historic as amsterdam. Or paris.. but its a really nice city.

    • Something tells me you haven’t seen much of Norway. People are more friendly the further away from Oslo you get 🙂

  10. Istanbul capital of Turkey? What happend to Ankara?? 😉

  11. How you, Mr.Traveller, could visit all these cities, be so experienced and do not even know, that ?stanbul is not a capital city? List is bullshit.

  12. Alexandros says

    Skopje you must be joking do you like kitsch culture it belongs in vegas

  13. Stephanie Rainer says

    Vienna is much greater than ,just’ 15 – the city is offering so much, specially in summer. Every budget welcome.

  14. London should be #1. Paris can bite me.

  15. Karin Kinney says

    Can you put the names of the pictures up? I think that the top one is in Rome, but not sure. My daughter just studied abroad and went to many of the capitals that you have listed here. She wants to go back, her saying is “Rome is Home”, she loved it that much.

  16. This is a real nice list but I have a question to you. Since the list is based on your own experience I’d like to as what makes Sarajevo more special than Vienna? 🙂

    • I had a much more enjoyable time in Sarajevo and I found it much more interesting…I was last in both in 2004 although I plan to go back to Sarajevo in October

      • I’m little late with my comment but I haven’t seen all of this before 🙁
        Can you tell me what did you/ didn’t like about Belgrade?
        How Serbia and her people look in the eyes of other people like you?

  17. London, Paris and Berlin had to be in the top five, right? 🙂 Amazing cities! But no Barcelona?

  18. Barcelona is missing in your list !!!!

  19. Why didn’t you mention Valletta, capital city of the Maltese Islands in your list? didn’t you like it or is it too small for you?

  20. Lisbon is a fantastic city, onde of the best of world, deserve a better classification

  21. Kiev deserves much more higher place!

  22. Been to 12 of your 30. Just got back from Athens and loved it! It’s cool you included Tallinn as not to many people I know have heard of it. Trying to hit your 30 list!

  23. LOVED budapest, wish it was higher. Dublin too! Certainly above the “stereotypical” ones in my opinion, but it’s all based on personal experience, and i respect yours! Definitely jealous you’ve hit every country- can’t wait to follow suit. Happy travels!

  24. Sorry, should’ve clarified- my opinion of stereotypical ones includes London, Paris and Rome! PS Berlin is right where it belongs 🙂

  25. Belgrade is an amazing and such a beautiful city!

  26. What about Bern, Switzerland??? Are you kidding me

  27. No Riga? I was just there and really loved it—it’s this year’s European Capital of Culture, so loads happening. How does it compare to Tallinn?

  28. Interesting list! I can’t wait to check out Edinburgh & Madrid! Not sure about Athens’ ranking, it has some interesting sides to it, but I’d imagine some of the cities ranked below it offer more culture and points of interest! and what about poor old Barcellona? Haha 🙂

  29. You ranked Athens above Moscow?!? Wow, I can only imagine why! I thought Moscow has more to offer with its long history with Imperialism and Communism.

    Of this list, I have been to Athens (twice), and Paris (four times). Athens post-2004 Summer Olympics is much better and efficient then when I first visited in March 1996. Aside from the Acropolis, I wouldn’t spend more than 1 – 2 days there as the better parts of Greece are on the islands or the historical areas, like Delphi.

    Paris, on the other hand, never ceases to amaze me! Such a beautiful, energetic city! When you think you have seen all that Paris has to offer you, you have to guess again. Definitely a delight for hardcore travel photographers!

  30. Its the list that could start 30,000 arguments. Have to agree with Paris as no.1, would also swap Bucharest with the unluckily omitted Oslo !

  31. It’s the list that could begin 30,000 arguments ! I have to agree with Paris as no.1 and I’d swap Bucharest with the unluckily omitted Oslo. But thats just my humble opinion.

  32. Sofia?Seriosly?
    I live there and I think it is not a good place for living.There is nothing interesting in this town,because our Bulgarian nation destroy it.We stil things of our history reminders and then we went in bigger towns to sell this things for money.Yes,we have beautiful nature,but not everything of our country is okay for top 30 capital cities in Europe.

  33. How about Nicosia, Cyprus? It is beautiful and often overlooked.

  34. im glad you put sarajevo quite high considering bosnia is such a small country, love that city

  35. Stockholm above Budapest, Vienna and Copenhagen? I have lived in all of these – Stockholm is beautiful but so lifeless.

  36. How is DUB so far back? Sure it’s a canal filled drinking town with crap weather 9 months out of the year, but it’s better than Madrid (minus the food). Almost seems this ranking is swayed by girl/guy ratio and less on attractions… haha.

  37. What about Zagreb? It’s beautiful there

  38. Monaco?

  39. You have forgotten Vilnius with his beautiful churches, barouqe , “jugendstil” buildings etc….
    Much ore interesting than Belgrade, Amsterdam, Skopije


  40. Raffaela Kopf says

    Vienna on place 15, it is much more better in the list. I think place number 5 is correckt, after Paris, London, Rom, Berlin und Amsterdam
    many greetings from Germany Raffaela

  41. zoller schmidt says

    seriously !? bucharest is number 11 ? it wouldnt even deserve to be in the top 30

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