Prague, capital city of the Czech Republic, is bisected by the Vltava River. Nicknamed “the City of a Hundred Spires,” it’s known for its Old Town Square, the heart of its historic core, with colorful baroque buildings, Gothic churches and the medieval Astronomical Clock, which gives an animated hourly show. Completed in 1402, pedestrian Charles Bridge is lined with statues of Catholic saints.
Area: 496 km²
Population: 1.259 million (2010)
Currency: Czech koruna
Rome, Italy’s capital, is a sprawling, cosmopolitan city with nearly 3,000 years of globally influential art, architecture and culture on display. Ancient ruins such as the Forum and the Colosseum evoke the power of the former Roman Empire. Vatican City, headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, has St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, which house masterpieces such as Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes.
Area: 1,285 km²
Population: 2.868 million (2010)
Trakai is a town in southeastern Lithuania, west of Vilnius, the capital. Part of the Trakai Historical National Park, Trakai Island Castle is a 14th-century fortress in the middle of Lake Galvė. Once a home to Lithuania’s grand dukes, it now houses the Trakai History Museum, with archaeological objects, coins and crafts. On the lake’s southern shore are the stone ruins of the Trakai Peninsula Castle.
Area: 497,1 km²
Population: 5,266 thousand (2015)
Naantali is a town in south-western Finland, known as one of the most important tourist centres of the country. The municipality has a population of 18,992, and is located in the region of Southwest Finland, 14 kilometres west of Turku.
Area: 311.90 km²
Population: 19,124 thousand (2017)
Latvia is a country on the Baltic Sea between Lithuania and Estonia. Its landscape is marked by wide beaches as well as dense, sprawling forests. Latvia’s capital is Riga, home to notable wooden and art nouveau architecture, a vast Central Market and a medieval Old Town with St. Peter’s Church. Riga’s museums include the Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum, showcasing local crafts, food and music.
Area: 64,589 km²
Population: 1.96 million (2016)
Milan, a metropolis in Italy’s northern Lombardy region, is a global capital of fashion and design. Home to the national stock exchange, it’s a financial hub also known for its high-end restaurants and shops. The Gothic Duomo di Milano cathedral and the Santa Maria delle Grazie convent, housing Leonardo da Vinci’s mural “The Last Supper,” testify to centuries of art and culture.
Area: 181.8 km²
Population: 1.331 million (2014)
Currency: Italian Lira / Euro
Munich, Bavaria’s capital, is home to centuries-old buildings and numerous museums. The city is known for its annual Oktoberfest celebration and its beer halls, including the famed Hofbräuhaus, founded in 1589. In the Altstadt (Old Town), central Marienplatz square contains landmarks such as Neo-Gothic Neues Rathaus (town hall), with a popular glockenspiel show that chimes and reenacts stories from the 16th century..
Area: 310.43 km²
Population: 1.43 million (2015)
Pärnu is a resort city in southwestern Estonia, overlooking Pärnu Bay. The city is bisected by the Pärnu River, which has paths on both banks, both of which end in stone jetties in the bay. The city is known for its 19th-century timber villas and for sandy Pärnu Beach, with its shallow waters and promenade. Behind the beach, Pärnu Beach Park has fountains, trails and neoclassical spa buildings.
Area: 859 km²
Population: 51,739 thousand (2015)
Warsaw is the sprawling capital of Poland. Its widely varied architecture reflects the city’s long, turbulent history, from Gothic churches and neoclassical palaces to Soviet-era blocks and modern skyscrapers. The city’s Old Town was restored after heavy damage during WWII. Its heart is Market Square, with pastel buildings and open-air cafes. The Monument of the Warsaw Mermaid at its center is the city’s symbol.
Area: 517 km²
Population: 1.735 million (2015)
Currency: Polish złoty
Poznań is a city on the Warta River in western Poland. It’s known for universities as well as its old town, with Renaissance-style buildings in Old Market Square. Poznań Town Hall houses the Historical Museum of Poznań, with exhibits on the city. The town hall’s clock features mechanical goats that butt heads at noon. The Gothic and baroque Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral is built on an island called Ostrów Tumski.
Area: 261.85 km²
Population: 542,689 Thousand (2015)
Currency: Polish złoty
Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital, is known for its baroque architecture, seen especially in its medieval Old Town. But the buildings lining this district’s partially cobblestoned streets reflect diverse styles and eras, from the neoclassical Vilnius Cathedral to Gothic St. Anne’s Church. The 16th-century Gate of Dawn, containing a shrine with a sacred Virgin Mary icon, once guarded an entrance to the original city..
Area: 401 km²
Population: 543,060 Thousand (2015)
Berlin, Germany’s capital, dates to the 13th century. Reminders of the city’s turbulent 20th-century history include its Holocaust memorial and the Berlin Wall’s graffitied remains. Divided during the Cold War, its 18th-century Brandenburg Gate has become a symbol of reunification. The city’s also known for its art scene and modern landmarks like the gold-colored, swoop-roofed Berliner Philharmonie, built in 1963.
Area: 891.85 km²
Population: 3.47 million (2015)
Riga, Latvia’s capital, is set on the Baltic Sea at the mouth of the River Daugava. It’s considered a cultural center and is home to many museums and concert halls. The city is also known for its wooden buildings, art nouveau architecture and medieval Old Town. The pedestrian-only Old Town has many shops and restaurants and is home to busy Livu Square, with bars and nightclubs.
Area: 304 km²
Population: 640,319 Thousand (2015)
Tallinn, Estonia’s capital on the Baltic Sea, is the country’s cultural hub. It retains its walled, cobblestoned Old Town, home to cafes and shops, as well as Kiek in de Kök, a 15th-century defensive tower. Its Gothic Town Hall, built in the 13th century and with a 64m-high tower, sits in historic Tallinn’s main square. St. Nicholas Church is a 13th-century landmark exhibiting ecclesiastical art.
Area: 159.2 km²
Population: 413,782 Thousand (2015)
Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, encompasses 14 islands and more than 50 bridges on an extensive Baltic Sea archipelago. The cobblestone streets and ochre-colored buildings of Gamla Stan (the old town) are home to the 13th-century Storkyrkan Cathedral, the Kungliga Slottet Royal Palace and the Nobel Museum, which focuses on the Nobel Prize. Ferries and sightseeing boats shuttle passengers between the islands.
Area: 188 km²
Population: 942,370 Thousand (2017)
Currency: Swedish krona