Your twenties are often life-changing. From graduating to new careers, this decade tends to shape the rest of your life. At the same time, your twenties are also ideal years to hit the road and travel, before the spouse, the house, the dog and the kids. Twenty-somethings seek adventure in their travel destinations but they also don’t want to spend their entire bank account too. While you can travel to Europe at any point in life, these cities prove ideal if you are a twenty-something looking to do a bit of globetrotting.
Hugging seven hills and chalk-full of cobbled streets, rich architecture and river views, Lisbon just happens to be a great spot to see in your twenties. Thanks to its affordability, it is considered one of the cheaper capitals in Europe. Not only can twenty-something bank accounts stretch here, but you can also find a lively, youth scene, too. Lisbon features several vibrant neighborhoods like the Bairro Alto, known for its street parties and nightlife or the culture-rich Alfama district with its Moorish touches and fado music scene. You can even pretend you are much younger than a twenty-something while in Lisbon and ride the rollercoaster that is Tram 28. The brightly colored tram whizzes riders through the hills of the city in dramatic fashion, with views of top sights like the Romanesque Sé Cathedral and the hilltop St. George’s Castle.
Germany’s capital is practically begging for travelers in their twenties to come and take a look. Berlin epitomizes the traits of being cost-effective, lively and welcoming. With a healthy mix of both grit and glamour, the eclectic city offers twenty-something a wealth of cultural riches. It’s loaded with museums, monuments and plenty of parks and green spaces. Those looking for a dose of history can find it all over Berlin, specifically while walking along the remnants of the Berlin Wall. And if it’s nightlife you seek, Berlin offers a scene for all sorts, from basement bars to techno clubs to quaint beer gardens in edgy districts like Kreuzberg and Prenzlauer Berg. Toss in the fact that Berlin boasts one of the easiest transportation systems for getting around and you have the makings of a premier twenty-something getaway.
It’s hard to resist the charms of Budapest, especially if you’re in your twenties. The romantic city is often mistaken for a plain fairytale with its positioning along the Danube and its grand Royal Palace, Hungarian State Opera House and whimsical Castle District. The Hungarian capital remains one of Europe’s best value destinations, allowing those twenty-something pocketbooks to stretch. Budapest can also be a fine city to relax and unwind. You’ll find a number of thermal baths in town to do just that from Széchenyi to Rudás to Gellért. Unwinding continues into the night in Budapest where you’ll unearth loads of pubs that have been converted from old industrial buildings along with garden bars and floating lounges on Hajógyári Island.
Settled on the Baltic Sea, Tallinn is a dream for those connected twenty-somethings. In this European capital, Internet access isn’t a perk; it’s a right. You won’t have trouble finding free public Wi-Fi throughout the city’s open spaces, cafes, restaurants, hotels, and attractions. However, the UNESCO World Heritage city leaves plenty of reasons to go offline for a bit. Tallinn claims one of the best preserved medieval cities in northern Europe. Like a storybook come to life, you can roam down narrow alleys, take in the views from its ancient stone walls and pop in medieval buildings. Add in the fact that it’s compact and easy to get around and you have a twenty-something destination devoid of headaches.
When you are in your twenties, you’ll often hear advice proclaiming that now is the time to travel. In the case of Europe, your twenties are the best time to head for cities and towns that might take a bit of work to reach. What better time to go to these far-flung destinations than in your twenties when you don’t have a lot of baggage. In the case of Oia on the island of Santorini, it certainly takes a bit of effort to reach, but travelers are amply rewarded. Postcard-worthy with its white houses clinging to a cliff and blue domes, Oia provides a fine spot to just slow down the rest of the world and watch the sunset over nightly cocktails. Located on the northern tip of the island, Oia is easily one of the Cyclades most stunning villages. And you won’t be bored here either. Oia claims plenty of beaches, shops, vineyards and ancient ruins within its reach.
As one of the oldest university cities in all of Europe, Salamanca practically has youth built into its streets. A university city since 1218, Salamanca is home to a large Spanish and international student population. Not only is it a great spot to learn a little Spanish, but Salamanca is also rich in sandstone and embellished buildings to admire on long walks through its compact old city. Most attractions are within walking distance of lively Plaza Mayor. At night the plaza is illuminated and it seems the whole city is out enjoying a typical Spanish evening.
Now is the time to travel, or so they say. Without loads of baggage weighing you down, these European cities are just begging for a visit.
Are you a globetrotting twenty-something? What other European cities would you add to the list? Share your ideas with us in the comments below.