For most of us, it’s an unfortunate reality that unless you’re willing to give up your 9 to 5 and make a full-time job of traveling the world, you’re going to have to prioritize if you want to see it all. This is especially true for those with just three or four weeks of vacation a year or small children in tow. So, if you have decided to seize the day and lock down your travel aspirations with one, ruthlessly stripped back bucket list, turn your gaze to Europe, and let us make the argument for the inclusion of these three cities…
You could book Barcelona city breaks for every month of the year, and still be stumbling upon new bucket list experiences every time you arrive in the city. And it’s all about the stumble; Barcelona is better experienced than planned. One day you might find yourself swaying to the impeccable improv in vaulted jazz enclave Jamboree, the next crunching into greasy, sugary churros outside the Sagrada. You might stop for a moment to watch a heated game of table tennis in the Parc de la Ciutadella, then turn a corner to discover the breathtaking Cascada fountain. Barcelona defies organization, which makes it the perfect live-for-the-moment getaway.
The perfect destination for old romantics, Paris is a fine place to contemplate one’s transience, preferably in a pretentious and overpriced cafe in the Latin Quarter, while scribbling into a battered journal, puffing Gauloises. There are so many iconic cafes in which to sultrily sip espresso, and so little time. For those who prefer to shun cliché, there is always the back-up plan: a whistle-stop tour of such tourist-thronged wonders as the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Notre Dame and Versailles. You will queue half your life away, of course, but it will be worth it.
A laid back attitude is what continues to charm visitors to Amsterdam, though its inclusion in recent teen-angst blockbuster The Fault in our Stars should prove further testimony to its bucket-list viability. Fortunately, remembering to ride a bike is just that; and winding your way along canal banks and seventeenth century buildings will make you feel like a local. Vermeer, Rembrant and Van Gogh will lure you to spend hours in gentle contemplation of their artistry, as will the bartenders dishing out excellent, frothing pints of Heineken and craft beer.Of course, this barely scrapes the surface. Who could elide the continent-straddling Istanbul, the majesty of Vienna, or the pounding techno clubs of Berlin? The seven hills of Rome beg attention, as do the rainbow buildings of Copenhagen’s harbour. Bucket lists aside, every adventure should be enjoyed as if it’s your last. Make this your travel philosophy, and you’ll go far.