The flight booking I canceled when COVID hit in early 2020 would've taken me to Istanbul. And ever since, I've been missing Europe's great cities.
There's just something about big European cities that I find endlessly entertaining. They're springboards for diving deep into the countries they dominate. Their museums hold the treasures of an entire culture, gathered across centuries of history, through good times and bad. Their historic centers help you envision a time when that metropolis was just a few thousand citizens huddled in the shadow of a big church surrounded by a fortified wall.
Europe's cities showcase the past. And they also reflect the future, with stimulating public art and trendsetting eateries. They're a collection of neighborhoods — each with its own personality, thriving markets, and rituals of celebrating community. And you can never exhaust the artistic and cultural attractions they offer.
When people ask my pick for Europe's greatest city, it's hard to choose. If pressed, I'll say it's a four-way tie: London, Paris, Rome, and Istanbul. These four cities, while incredibly different, have one key thing in common, from a traveler's perspective: They can keep a visitor totally enthralled for at least a full week. Just thinking about those names stokes my longing to get back to Europe's amazing cultural capitals as soon as we can travel again.
"As soon as we can travel again" is looking, more and more, like 2022. And if you're dreaming of Europe's great cities, I have some happy news: While many of our 2022 itineraries are sold out, we've still got plenty of space on our one-week city tours of London, Paris, Rome, and Istanbul. If you're considering an urban break, browse your options and start making plans. (Remember: To make travel dreaming fun rather than stressful, we've made deposits on any 2022 tour fully refundable through the end of 2021.)
In this month's Tour News, discover the place where east meets west with a slideshow of our week-long Istanbul tour, join me on Rome's ritual evening stroll, experience Paris after dark with Best of Paris guide Arnaud Servignat, and meet a few of the amazing guides who lead our four seven-day city tours.
Enjoying my upstairs perch on a red double-decker bus…kerplunking a sugar cube into my coffee while people-watching from a sidewalk table of a grand café…savoring the passeggiata on a timeless and vibrant piazza…being swept up by competing calls to prayer from a forest of minarets: These are just a few of the memories I'll be creating, as soon as I can get back to Europe's great cities.