European tourism is on the rise, and many of the continent’s cities are enjoying increasing popularity with travelers. Luckily, there are plenty of budget airlines that make it easy to travel between major European capitals for next to nothing (and great deals on city hotels), making this trend an opportunity for frugal travelers looking to explore beyond the well-known attractions.
European Travel Commission (ETC) has published its list of top 100 destinations to visit in Europe in 2022. The ETC, an organizer of annual travel fairs across the world including the UK’s leading travel expo, ITB Berlin, predicted that major events such as Euro 2020 and Euro 2024 would result in an upswing for many European cities.
A total of 28 countries appear on the list with London claiming top spot for the second consecutive year. Despite Brexit uncertainty, London remains attractive due to its ability to attract both business and leisure visitors. Furthermore, it offers ease of access via air to other popular destinations across Europe.
Paris claims second place due to its year-round appeal but particularly during 2019 when France hosts UEFA EURO 2016. Germany is listed in fourth place with Berlin taking the lead, due largely to its hip and vibrant nightlife scene where locals mix with visitors who are drawn by the city’s innovative art scene. Fellow German cities Hamburg and Munich also feature on the list at 9th and 12th respectively.
Looking further ahead into 2022 Paris tops the list again, however this time it will be celebrating 100 years since the end of World War One which should draw a large number of visitors keen to explore historical sites such as Belleau Wood American Cemetery and memorials throughout the city.
London, Madrid, Istanbul & Rome all appear within the top 10 destinations for 2022 indicating that despite political upheaval from Brexit these major European cities continue to appeal both as business and leisure destinations. Other major events to take place in 2022 include UEFA EURO 2024 which has been awarded jointly to Germany and Turkey, the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, UK as well as EXPO 2022 being held in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Aside from the usual European countries to visit, you can experience Europe’s rising art scene in one of these five destinations, which could become household names for generations to come:
- Warsaw , Poland
Dubbed by The New York Times as “the most dynamic city in Eastern Europe,” Warsaw is currently rising in international popularity thanks largely to its fantastic art galleries and fascinating history. While not much has been written about the art scene in Poland, this trend is changing as more and more major international exhibitions are set to take place there.
- Minsk , Belarus
Belarus’ capital isn’t a popular tourist destination yet, but it’s quickly gaining momentum as its incredible treasures go on display for the first time at several impressive new museum projects. While Minsk doesn’t have much of a budget-travel or backpacker following yet, you can easily visit on a low/no-frills flight from Europe (and stay in the city center for less than $50 USD per night).
- Tallinn , Estonia
Estonia’s most populous city has become one of the most popular destinations for budget travel in Europe thanks to its fantastic public transportation, unique museums and art spaces, and hidden cafes that fly under the radar.
- Ljubljana , Slovenia
Thanks to an extremely low cost of living (and minimal tourist traffic), Slovenia’s capital is both practically free—and fantastically multicultural. While other major European cities are known for their expensive Western-style shopping centers, Ljubljana boasts open spaces where the Slovenian people like to meet friends over coffee or stroll with their children before dinner.
- Cluj-Napoca , Romania
Once considered one of Eastern Europe’s best kept secrets among backpackers, Romania’s second largest city is poised to become a major international art destination in the coming years.
A small but rapidly growing number of expats and budget travelers already call Cluj-Napoca home, where they enjoy low prices and access to one of Romania’s most important historical sites: Unesco World Heritage-listed Medieval Transylvanian Villages.