Bucket List Worthy
One of the great pleasures of travelling is getting completely lost in a foreign city and seeing what you discover. You step out of your hotel and turn a random corner, deciding on a whim which direction to head in and following your curiosity through winding streets to see what you can discover.
There are a few great cities in Europe that are very conducive to random wandering. They provide the traveler with intriguing labyrinthine streets packed with interesting sights around every corner. Here are some of the best cities in Europe to forget your map and get lost:
The Eternal City is where I first fell in love with the art of wandering. Of course, there are the main attractions such as the Vatican and the Coliseum – but once you have seen these sights the true pleasure of Rome comes from strolling through alley ways, jumping out of the way of well-dressed locals on vespas while snacking on gelato.
The streets of Rome are ancient and beautiful. You are likely to find a stunningly carved sculpture or a grandiose fountain in every nook and cranny– keep your camera batteries fully charged!
This city is known for being one of most architecturally beautiful cities in Europe and its historic center has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1992. Take a walking tour to learn about the history, then afterwards go exploring on your own through the side streets. Check out the Jewish Quarter, with winding lanes, beautiful buildings, ornate bridges and welcoming cafes. When you want to take a break from walking, relax in the Palace Gardens away from the hustle and bustle of the city center.
The fact that the French have a word for someone who strolls around aimlessly is a hint that the act of urban exploration is highly regarded in the culture. A “Flâneur” is a connoisseur of the street, an important symbol for artists, scholars and writers who saunters through the city with curiosity and experiences it with all of his senses.
Paris is the quintessential environment for practicing urban wandering. Sip a coffee on a café patio, gaze into the windows of high end designer shops, sit in the shade of a leafy park and find some of the lesser known art studios and museums that the City of Light has to offer.
There is something stunningly beautiful about this town on the turquoise-blue Adriatic, with it’s medieval walls and cobblestone streets. The UNESCO World Heritage site central city is delightful to explore on foot, with many chances to stop and admire the architecture.
You can even walk around the city’s medieval walls, getting a great view of the Old Harbour and the Revelin Fortress. If you want to continue wandering, head further along the coast for amazing views of Lokrum Island.
The ancient Roman outpost of Chester was spared by bombing in WW2 – which means that many of the the Medieval era black and white half-timber buildings are still perfectly preserved.
Take a walk along the riverside promenade known as The Groves, which runs alongside the River Dee from the Grosvenor Park to the Old Handbridge. Or, go shopping at The Rows – the only two-tiered Tudor shopping gallery left in the world.
The famous Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is a compact and teeming maze of people and tightly packed market stalls selling everything from clothing to scarves to carpets to “natural herbal Viagra”. You can wander through this old part of the city for hours and checking out the antique stores and sweet shops.
Visit the Balat District, which is a quiet historic area located by the Golden Horn – the narrowest area of the Bosporus. It has been home to waves of Greek, Bulgarian and Armenian residents and the hilly streets and weathered houses have an unforgettable beauty.
These are just a few of the best European cities to wander and lose your way in – so why not go exploring and see what happens? One of the best things about getting lost in a foreign city is that you will see things that you might never have known about before and you will get a deeper glimpse that goes well beyond the guidebook.