These 12 Iconic Cities Have the Best Architecture in Europe

Where can you see the best architecture in Europe? Here are 12 iconic cities where the buildings are as beautiful as the history is long.

For many travelers, Europe’s incredible architecture is one of its biggest draws. Its richness and diversity are second to none. And no surprise – Europe’s buildings have been shaped by countless cultural influences and artistic movements over thousands of years.

However, which parts of Europe are most famous for their architectural wonders? Here are 12 cities of renown, where masterpieces of Renaissance, Baroque, Gothic, and every other type of architecture wait around every corner.

1. Paris, France

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Paris is full of iconic landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, and Notre Dame Cathedral.

Yet people who appreciate architecture will likely get as much joy from seeing the grand old residential properties here. These tall stone buildings with ornate details are a classic example of Haussman Architecture and a defining feature of the city.

2. Barcelona, Spain

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Barcelona’s architecture is intertwined with the infamous Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. His distinctive influence is evident in buildings across the city.

Still, the Sagrada Familia – the inimitable unfinished church – is undoubtedly the most famous. Elsewhere, you’ll see exceptional examples of Gothic (e.g. Barcelona Cathedral) and Renaissance Architecture, as well as Modernism, Art Deco, and others.

3. Florence, Italy

Florence cathedral in Italy
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Florence is known as the birthplace of the Renaissance, so it makes sense that it’s full of striking Renaissance architecture.

Among the most famous examples are Florence Cathedral (Duomo di Firenze) and Palazzo Vecchio (actually a combination of Gothic and Renaissance). However, the history of Florence dates back much further, so expect to see many evocative Gothic and Romanesque buildings, too.

4. Rome, Italy

How Many Days in Rome You Need
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The capital of Italy is another gem in Europe’s architectural crown. The city boasts thousands of years of history, so every architectural style under the sun is on display.

Of course, it’s most notorious for its Ancient Roman architecture – the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and other millennia-old attractions offer a unique glimpse into the history books.

5. Venice, Italy

Canal Grande in Venice, Italy
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Venice is another Italian city where the architecture opens a window to the past. The Venetian Gothic buildings, like the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica, are iconic.

You’ll also see many Renaissance buildings, such as the 16th Century Benedictine church, San Giorgio Maggiore, or the 15th Century palace on the Grand Canal called Ca’ Vendramin Calergi.

6. Vienna, Austria

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Vienna is a beautiful city in northeast Austria that’s best known (in terms of its architecture) for its Baroque, Imperial, and Art Nouveau buildings. Like other European cities, though, it has a bit of everything.

You’ll find Gothic churches in the city center, for example, as well as famous Modernist residential buildings courtesy of Adolf Loos (such as Scheu House).

7. Prague, Czech Republic

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Prague is a dream come true for architecture enthusiasts. It somehow escaped the damage other places suffered in WW2, making it one of the best-preserved European cities you can visit.

It’s a beautiful place full of history and intrigue. Expect to see everything from Romanesque and Gothic architecture to Renaissance, Baroque, Imperial, and Modernist.

8. Budapest, Hungary

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The capital of Hungary boasts another kaleidoscope of architectural styles. Like other cities on this list, its history is long and rich, a fact reflected in the array of incredible buildings here.

You’ll find ancient Roman ruins, Baroque churches (such as the Church of St. Anne), Gothic Revival buildings (e.g. the striking Hungarian Parliament building), and excellent examples of Art Nouveau (like the Gellert Bath thermal baths), among others.

9. London, England

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London’s 2,000-year history dates back to the ancient Romans, who picked the location for its strategic point on the River Thames. Every era since has added to the city’s architectural delights.

Modern constructions like the Shard and the Gherkin complement ancient ones, such as Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and London Bridge, most dating back almost 1,000 years.

10. Edinburgh, Scotland

Best Time To Go to Scotland
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Edinburgh is another popular UK city where prized historic buildings exist next door to modern ones.

Edinburgh’s Old Town dates back to the 12th century and is packed with fantastic medieval buildings, such as St. Giles Cathedral, John Knox House, the ruins of Holyrood Abbey, and, of course, the mighty Edinburgh Castle. Its New Town, by contrast, is predominantly Georgian.

11. Bruges, Belgium

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Bruges is another exceptionally well-preserved European city. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, its romantic historic center is a maze of canals, squares, and cobblestone streets.

Courtesy of its medieval history, Bruges’ architecture is mainly Gothic – don’t miss the Church of Our Lady, for example, or the 13th Century Belfort.

12. Seville, Spain

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Located inland in southern Spain, Seville is the historic capital city of Andalusia. Expect a unique blend of architectural influences that reflect its long and fascinating past.

Expect old Moorish buildings (the most famous example is the Royal Alcazar of Seville – Europe’s oldest royal palace), as well as Gothic (e.g., Seville’s 13th Century Cathedral), Baroque (e.g., the Archbishop’s Palace), and Modernist architecture (e.g., the Metropol Parasol, or “Las Setas”), among others.


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Author: Danny Newman

Title: Writer and Content Creator

Expertise: Travel, Digital Nomadry, Outdoors, Blogging

Danny Newman is a writer, content creator, and digital nomad from the UK. He founded the travel and lifestyle blog What’s Danny Doing, a popular resource for people seeking more adventure, self-discovery, and purpose. A nationally syndicated writer, Danny’s work features in dozens of online publications, including and news sites across the US.