Five Great Cities in Europe for Slow Travel
It`s possible to take the slow travel philosophy to any of the great capitals of Europe (London, Paris, Rome, Berlin, and Amsterdam) or to the smaller cities and villages in Italy or Spain where slow travel has been practiced by artists and retirees long before a term was invented to describe.
But think outside the box about what you like to do and where you would like to be immersed for a few weeks. Here are 5 very different European cities with their own twist for slow travelers.
Barcelona, Spain – Big City, Slow Traveler
Barcelona is a big city and a fast city where you can spend endless afternoons just perusing the ecliptic outdoor markets and watching the world pass by on the La Rambla.
It`s easy to find short term apartments to rent in Barcelona. You can buy food from markets and cook at home, but you may prefer to hang out local tapas bars.
It has an excellent metro, backed up by buses and its shared bicycle program is so popular among locals that it is not available to tourists- but you can always hire your own.
Barcelona probably has the best night life of any city in Europe, numerous language, cooking and dance courses. It`s rimmed by beaches and with ancient villages in its nearby hills.
Zagreb, Croatia – the Wild Slow Traveler
Zagreb may remind you of Prague with an Italian disposition, but it`s far less controlled and touristy than either holding wild summer music festivals in gorgeous outdoor location such as beaches, in abandoned factories or in ancient sea-forts. Outside the city lies rugged coasts to explore and thousands of tiny islands covered in thick natural vegetation. You`ll trip across hidden beaches and ancient fishing villages.
Apartments and rooms in family homes are easy to find. The city is served by a modern 24 hour tram system backed up by trains. While Globalization has entered the scene in the form of big chains supermarkets where you can get your home favorites there are still numerous small grocery stores selling Croatian version of similar things.
Vienna, Austria- the Cerebral Slow Traveler
Home to grand concert halls, Mozart and Freud, smart Vienna is the most livable city in Europe and the second most livable city in the world, according to the Economic Intelligence Units
The city seems to revolve around the coffee houses and wine bars which are typically set in stunning baroque 19th or funky 20th century buildings crammed with antiques, cultural memorabilia and chatting hipsters.
There are street markets all about selling everything from antiques to vintage designer fashion and farmers’ markets around the city each on Saturday morning and often during the week.
Vienna`s U-bahn lines (combined underground, metro or subway vehicles) are almost everywhere and leave from anywhere every 2-7 minutes. Bicycles are an option with a lot of special bike lanes around the city (though locals still mostly use them for pleasure rides).
Nantes, France – the Classic Slow Traveler
Also acclaimed as one of the most livable cities in Europe and the 2013 European Green Capital of Europe, Nantes sits on the picturesque delta of the Loire, Erdre, and Sèvre rivers and is sometimes compared to Venice. The ancient, intricate city encourages its inhabitants to use bicycles and electric tramways to reduce the number of cars in the city.
Outside of the city the slow traveler can use public transportation or bicycles to get to the numerous chateaus and villages. The beach resort town of La Baule orPornic, are a short train ride away too.
Of course, being France there is no shortage of charming café where the waiter almost expects you to sip for hours, or markets selling regional cheeses and specialties. While you might look for an apartment in Nantes, you could also look for farm houses in the surrounding countryside.
Riga, Latvia – the Pioneering Slow Traveler
Riga is a fairytale city near the Baltic Sea which is experiencing a new Renaissance with many large-scale restoration projects revamping the old soviet stronghold into one the most beautiful and progressive cities in Europe. It may even remind you of Paris or Berlin in places. Riga has also been called Europe’s cleanest city and these days cars are not even allowed to enter its 800 year old historic center, making it a slow travelers dream.
It`s a good time to see the many layers of Latvia as it slowly puts its Soviet past to rest in museums, and embraces Europe. Riga is quietly leading the way in technology for Europe too becoming a hub for internet business and technology, and is the only country in Europe to reduce its carbon footprint in recent years.
Riga has a good network of trams, buses and trolley cars to explore and near the Central Station is the city’s huge fresh food market.
Many young people come to Riga for the nightlife, which has shed its sleaziness as Latvia becomes a hub of entrepreneurial, educated and affluent young people, potentially the Silicon Valley of Europe.