Ah, Roma! With the Catholic Church at its side, European civilization revolved around Rome for thousands of years. The iconic city has served as the backdrop for everything from the 1953 film “Roman Holiday” to “The Lizzie McGuire Movie.” Tourists come from all over the world for the ruins, the church, the art and the food. So what are you waiting for? Grab your bags and head to the land of pasta, proscuitto and pizza.
Popular Attractions: Vatican City, The Colosseum
Under the Radar: The Roman Ghetto is home to a unique and ancient Jewish population, with a distinct dialect and style of worship. Go for the history, stay for the bakeries.
Tips: Eat Gelato. Every Gelato. All the Gelato.
Oscar Wilde once said that “When good Americans die, they go to Paris.” Why wait? Move Paris to the top of your bucket list. It's the city of love, the height of European romance. The picturesque cityscape evokes images of streetlight glances and romantic strolls along the River Seine. Whether you come to Paris for the wine, the art or the high fashion, you’re sure to fall in love with what is universally recognized as one of the most famous cities in Europe.
Popular Attractions: The Sun Palace, The Eiffel Tower, The Louvre (free for students Fridays after 4:30pm)
Under the Radar: Live your "Whip It" fantasy and roller skate around the city for 3 hours every Friday night with Pari Roller
Tips: Leave room in your suitcase for all those French souvenirs
An unrepressed celebration of Catalan culture. An otherworldly metropolis that moves to the beat of its own drum. Located on the coast of Catalonia, Barcelona is full of personality and mystery. Lined with living statues, the pedestrian street La Rambla divides the Gothic Quarter from El Raval, an infamous neighborhood known for it cabarets, nightlife and diversity. Set out to see the Magic Fountain of Montju and lose yourself among the mosaic walls and peculiar sculptures on the way.
Popular Attractions: La Sagrada Família monument, Park Güell, Picasso Museum
Under the Radar: Watch the sunset from Montjuïc Castle for only 5€
Tips: Sometimes locals call the city “Barna.” Don’t call it by it’s international abbreviation, “Barsa,” as locals only use that term to refer to their professional football club
London, United Kingdom
London is the New York City of Europe...sort of. It's the historic capital of the British Empire, and half the inspiration for “A Tale of Two Cities,” London can’t really be compared. Make sure you have time to dive into this physically and culturally humongous city (without breaking the bank). Retrace history in one of the most popular cities in Europe, and don't forget to look out the window of your double decker bus as you cross the River Thames!
Popular Attractions: The British Museum, Buckingham Palace, Tower of London, Platform 9 ¾
Under the Radar: Spend a day walking along the lively South Bank
Tips: The London Underground can be confusing af. Carry a map, but don't be afraid to get lost. #notallwhowander
Amsterdam is the quintessential kick-off to any student’s European adventure. Many people believe the city has two sides (riding a yellow bicycle over a picturesque bridge vs smoking the devil's lettuce at a Red Light District coffeeshop), but to the people of the Netherlands, these things coexist naturally. There’s plenty to do in Amsterdam, but, as with any city, use your judgement. Also, be sure to spend some time by the water—in 2010 the Canal Belt neighborhoods were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Popular Attractions: Red Light District, Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank's House
Under the Radar: Check out Bloemenmark, the daily floating flower market
Tips: Do not bring your camera to the Red Light District