Sign Up
Newsletter Signup
Free Fodor's Newsletter

Subscribe today for weekly travel inspiration, tips, and special offers.

Passport: Your weekly travel wrap-up
Today's Departure: Your daily dose of travel inspiration

Europe's 15 Best Second Cities

October 21, 2015 at 11:45:00 AM EDT | Post a Comment


1 of 17


When it comes to traveling across Europe, most tourists come equipped with a checklist of must-see places: London, Paris, and Rome, among others. Meanwhile, lesser-known cities remain under the radar for most travelers—but bypassing these “second cities” would be a mistake, as these destinations offer distinctive cultures and histories that are worth experiencing firsthand. From a quaint, medieval Latvian town with stunning 13th-century architecture to a vibrant Greek coastal city with friendly locals and fresh fish, these cities prove that “second” doesn’t always mean “second best.” Here are our picks for Europe’s best second cities.

By Emily Wasserman

Member Comments (7)

Sign in to leave a comment

RichardLovesky on November 2, 2015 at 1:31:09 PM EST

Naples is definitely not a second city in Italy, and is a destination to be leaving from rather than going to. Pick pockets and other crooks (i.e. the "slow change" ticket sellers at train stations) are ubiquitous. The trash collectors are almost always on strike, leaving mountains of burning garbage with its associated foul smell abounding. The only thing really worth risking a trip to Naples is Herculaneum, and even there the private "tour guides" will offer one price at the beginning of the tour, and demand 10x that at the end. Best to use Naples as a connection to Sorrento, Capri, or points south.

laverendrye on October 26, 2015 at 5:28:29 AM EDT

Fasnacht in Basel does not begin on Ash Wednesday as your article states, but always on the Monday following Ash Wednesday.

Gina_07 on October 24, 2015 at 3:16:54 PM EDT

Riga is the capital of Latvia. How is it a second city?

clumsy_plumsy on October 23, 2015 at 2:21:27 AM EDT

@StCirq "second city" is not a putdown, it's just means "the one that's not the capital" (or whatever the most populous city is).

GSMontana on October 22, 2015 at 2:38:44 PM EDT

I can never get them to work either!

redseca2 on October 22, 2015 at 2:13:25 PM EDT

These look interesting but I can never get the slide show to work.

StCirq on October 22, 2015 at 10:42:11 AM EDT

FYI, Bordeaux was named Europe's Best City of 2015. Not a second city by any stretch.

Browse More Topics
Top News

No Thanks

Love To Travel?

Get FREE e-mail communications from Fodor's Travel, covering must-see travel destinations, expert trip planning advice, and travel inspiration to fuel your passion.

How we use your email

Thank You

Now sit back, relax, and check your inbox to start planning your next travel adventure.

Please tell us more about the type of travel you're interested in. Check all that apply.