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5 Disappointing European Cities (& 5 That Exceeded Expectations)

Europe is a phenomenal place but just because that's the case, it doesn't necessarily ensure that it's going to be 100% amazing throughout the core of the entire continent - and we aren't going to pretend like that's the case.

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Because of this, we want to run through a quick list of five cities in Europe that surprised us in a good way, and five that really did leave us wanting more. They've all got their own pros and cons, but from personal experience, there was certainly a clear divide between those that filled us with joy and those that left us feeling slightly empty.

10 DISAPPOINTING - Vienna

The history that lies beneath Vienna makes it one of those cities that truly is worth visiting – but we’d suggest visiting it once, especially if you want a busy trip. The architecture is stunning, it’s amazingly clean, but it’s just a bit quiet.

You could make the argument that this is a good thing, but in the context of a big European city that you want to explore, we just didn’t feel like it really got our motors running in the context of what you’d expect from somewhere this ‘grand’.

9 EXCEEDED EXPECTATIONS - Copenhagen

Throw any gorgeous Polish city together with New York City and we honestly believe that you’ll have Copenhagen, Denmark come out as the end result. This Danish wonderland is full of creative, inspired individuals, and we can safely say it’s the fittest city we’ve ever been to in terms of exercise.

There’s the beauty mixed in with the brands and when you consider that it’s situated in Scandinavia, we found it to be far less cheap than you may imagine. Oh, and Tivoli Gardens truly makes our heart smile time after time.

8 DISAPPOINTING - Berlin

Safety is of the paramount importance on any given trip, and we aren’t going to pretend like we felt particularly safe over in Berlin. There are many great sights to see and we’re never going to shy away from calling a city ‘big’, but really, that’s all it is. It’s big.

For the nightlife scene, it’s great and the food is okay, but when you’re told it’s going to be the pinnacle of excellence and perfection, it kind of falls short of the mark. The locals didn’t really appeal to us, either.

7 EXCEEDED EXPECTATIONS - Manchester

Manchester carries the torch loud and proud for the North when it comes to major cities, even if Liverpool may or may not have something to say about that. From the thriving tech and local businesses to the charming locals to the neverending culture, there’s a lot to love about MCR.

It’s a bit gritty and it’s certainly working class, and that kind of reality means that you always know what you’re going to get. It’s a positive place and that’s more than can be said for most UK cities.

6 DISAPPOINTING - Oslo

When you consider the number of natural wonders that lie beneath the surface of the great country of Norway, it kind of makes you wonder why we all spend so much time dreaming about the city of Oslo.

It’s incredibly expensive to put it lightly, and that can really ruin your experience regardless of how pretty everything is. From the perspective of a true Scandinavian location, it certainly fits the bill, but for if you want a more positive experience within the realms of a similar environment, we’d suggest Stockholm.

5 EXCEEDED EXPECTATIONS - Tallinn

Tucked away on the Baltic Sea is the city of Tallinn, which we’d argue is the epitome of everything you could ever want from a luxurious European destination. It looks like it’s been painted to perfection, the main square is understated yet elegant, and it isn’t even all that big.

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As opposed to feeling cramped, though, it’s more a case of feeling safe. It’s popular for bachelor parties so it can attract the wrong crowds, but those that visit often show it the kind of respect and admiration it so richly deserves.

4 DISAPPOINTING - Amsterdam

Every single street, road, and alleyway feel the same and as a result, feels incredibly ‘paint by numbers’. If you’re going to Amsterdam in order to get into an absolute state then we’re confident in saying you’ll have a good time, but it’s not always about that.

Sometimes, it’s about wanting to swing the door wide open and actually delve beneath the surface. It’s hard to be taken seriously if you actually want to do that, and the city itself feels a little bit more manufactured than you might expect.

3 EXCEEDED EXPECTATIONS - Gdansk

Taking a walk down the main square and by the rivers is, and should always be, enough to convince you that Gdansk is one of the best cities in the world.

As we’ve said on so many occasions it is easy to live like a king or queen out there regardless of whether or not you’ve got any money. It’s the pinnacle of Polish excellence and if we haven’t done enough to persuade you yet, take the time to try a few local beers and delicacies – that should do the trick.

2 DISAPPOINTING - Athens

The ruins of Athens are to be expected and serve as one of the primary reasons as to why people would actually go there. Even with that being the case, though, it left us feeling a little bit cold.

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The heart of the city seems to have been ripped out in recent years, with there being no real ‘atmosphere’ to speak of upon visiting these historical sights. The country’s issues have been well documented, but it’s evident that cities like Athens are pushed aside by many tourism boards over there in favor of the Greek islands.

1 EXCEEDED EXPECTATIONS – Hamburg

When you’ve got the reputation of being a party city, it can come as something of a surprise when it turns out there’s much more to the city in question than that. Hamburg falls into that category, possessing one of the most intriguing ‘dynamics’ you’re ever likely to find in a notable German city.

The people are a lot nicer than in cities such as Berlin and Munich, yet the architecture isn’t quite as impressive. Even still, though, you’ve got the Miniatur Wunderland, the red brick warehouses, a blossoming music scene and so much more.

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