Guest blogger Anita Dykstra is a travel writer from New Zealand. You can read her great blog on her website.
Travelling is one of the best forms of education. There’s nothing that will prepare you more than getting out of your comfort zone and seeing and experiencing cities for yourself. Here are five of our favourite European cities which have fascinating and rich histories. They’re fantastic places to go for an educational expedition.
London has experienced many huge events in its 2,000-year history, shaping it into the wonderful, colourful, rich and varied city that it is today. The British Museum holds some great exhibitions and information about the city’s historic value.
London’s art scene is not to be missed, either. Make sure you head to the Tate Modern and The National Gallery to see some of the country’s masterpieces. Meanwhile, if you go to East London you will get a taste of the creativity that unravels in this district. The streets are lined with incredible street art and there is a great sense of originality to be seen here. London is also known as the cultural capital of the world. From West End shows to the famous Notting Hill Carnival which is held every year, London really has something for everyone.
The elegance of Paris is instantly recognisable with its beautiful buildings and quaint Parisian streets. French culture is one to be savoured and enjoyed at a snail’s pace. This city has an abundance of art museums, including The Louvre—featuring the Mona Lisa, Nike of Samothrace and more—as well as Musée D’Orsay and the medieval treasures at the Cluny, just to name a few. Paris is also famous for its culinary arts which can be seen at nearly every street corner with plenty of fine restaurants and patisseries.
Just like London, Paris has had an interesting past, too. It’s had a rather interesting and bloody history of art, revolution and grandeur. Nowadays, Paris is one of the most significant cities in Europe to visit as it really makes history come alive. You could spend months in Paris and still not have been to every landmark there is to see here. Make sure you visit Église du Dôme (Napoleon’s final resting place), Notre Dame, the iconic Eiffel Tower and the Champs Élysées on your trip to this magical city.
Amsterdam has to be one of the most beautiful and serene cities in the world. Like many other cities in Europe, it has had a dark history, especially during WW2, but has thrived to become a hub for travellers and people wanting a taste of Dutch culture. One of the most interesting museums there is to visit is, of course, Anne Frank House. You can get a window of what life was like in hiding during the Occupation. The Amsterdam Museum is also a great place to discover the city through fine paintings and ancient artefacts. Another must-see is, of course, the Van Gogh Museum where you can see many of his masterpieces!
Dutch culture can be seen at every glance. You will notice that everyone is on their bikes as this the normal way to get around here. There’s even a colossal bike park near the Centraal station and apparently there are over 880,000 bikes in the city! You also must try kroketten, salted herring with onions and fries served with mayonnaise (you’ll never go back to ketchup). The Dutch have a mini love affair with fried food! Another Dutch classic is the apple tart, which is to die for.
Berlin has a flourishing cultural scene which is why it’s currently one of the most important cities in Europe. It was practically destroyed during WW2, but since then it has managed to grow its foundations again but still leaving a part of history standing. These days the Berlin Wall can still be seen in places all over the city, most famously at the East Side Gallery. It’s now beautifully decorated thanks to talented graffiti artists. You can also learn more about Berlin’s history by taking a visit to Museum Island, which is an island home to five enormous museums.
This city is becoming a hub for upcoming artists so if you have a love of art, this is a great city to visit! There are more than 600 art galleries in the city with more than 6,000 artists to be said living in Berlin.
This buzzing beach-side city is the perfect location for beach bunnies and people who want to dive into the Spanish culture. The food will lure you in along with tasty drinks like the classic sangria and some of the best coffee in the world, plus you will get to try some typical Barcelona food like tapas and paella. There’s no doubt that Spanish culture is uplifting; just take the flamenco, for instance. It’s a traditional art form native to Spain.
Barcelona is home to one of the greatest architects in history, Antoni Gaudi. His curving, ornate buildings are instantly recognisable, such as Casa Milà, Casa Batlló, Parc Güell and the awe-inspiring La Sagrada Família. Barcelona also has some top art museums, including Museu Picasso and the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, too. To learn more about Barcelona’s captivating history make sure you make your way to the Barcelona City History Museum, exhibiting local history and artefacts in interactive locations around city centre. From the Roman times to the present it’s a great place to grasp the history of the region.
As you can see, Europe boasts some of the most historical, fascinating and cultural cities in the world and should not be missed on your educational Europe adventures!