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Katie_H Jan 8th, 2012 10:29 AM

"Sister Cities" to London, Paris, & Rome?
Happy Sunday! I'm writing an upcoming post for the Fodor's blog about alternative destinations to Europe's most popular cities for travelers--London, Paris, and Rome--as suggested by our members. I was last in London and Rome in 2004 (hard to believe!) and Paris in 2009. Next time I make it across the pond, I would be surprised if I didn't make a point to visit Paris at least; but say that I had the good fortune of traveling there every year for the last 5 years. Where would you tell me to go if I wanted to travel somewhere comparable or it least similar in spirit or otherwise? Same goes for London and Rome.

It's nice to daydream on a Sunday! Looking forward to hearing your recommendations...

Mathieu Jan 8th, 2012 10:41 AM

Not quite as large as those cities, but still with lots of interesting and fun things to see, eat and buy (shop) with a side of style, I'd have to say Berlin, Amsterdam and Antwerp.

kerouac Jan 8th, 2012 10:53 AM

It is interesting visit the 3 capitals of the EU, which are all extremely different: Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg.

nytraveler Jan 8th, 2012 11:17 AM

There are no cities that are twins of London, Paris or Rome - they are each unique.

However, there are a ton of other fascinating smaller cities in Europe - each with their own charms. Have a look at Prague, Stockholm and Copenhagen for cities that can easily keep you busy for 5 days - longer with day trips. And don;t forget Berlin, Amsterdam and Budapest.

annhig Jan 8th, 2012 11:25 AM

Hi Katie,

interesting question, i think.

Vienna springs to mind first, as having the same range of museums, cultural experiences, and access to interesting side trips.

Madrid is also full of interest and qualifies as having a real "capital" city feel, as i suspect does Lisbon, though I've never been there.

Tentek Jan 8th, 2012 11:33 AM

I agree with nytraveler, nothing compares to London, Paris, or rome. I do, however, like Stockholm and Copenhagen. Haven't been to Berlin or Prague, or Madrid, but those are high on my list of priorities. Amsterdam is spectacular in its own way.

janisj Jan 8th, 2012 11:54 AM

Vienna, Edinburgh, Berlin - Each are pretty unique. Haven't been to Prague but from how much so many Fodorites love the place it might fill the bill.

I could spend days in Edinburgh - and there are countless terrific day trips from there.

annhig Jan 8th, 2012 12:10 PM

Haven't been to Prague but from how much so many Fodorites love the place it might fill the bill.>>

Jj - Prague is very interesting and beautiful, but I doubt that one could return 50+ times [as a friend of mine has done to Rome] and still find new things to see and do.

zeppole Jan 8th, 2012 01:48 PM

I really hope you change your mind and don't encourage to people to think this way about Europe. Not only are some bound to be misled when they arrive in say, Madrid or Vienna, and discover it is nothing like London or Rome, but it encourages people to seek out the most superficial and homogenizing experience of commercial tourism, rather than learn anything specific to where they are.

I'll be more than a little depressed if most American adults don't already know or can't imagine that all the European capitals have first rate museums one or two high end shopping streets, a historic seat of government with "old architecture", and usually a river with a boat tour -- plus Michelin-starred chefs, bars for young people and flash hotels. They really can't imagine that Vienna might be as interesting as Rome? Or that Lisbon, once the seat of a global empire might be a rich destination?

Wouldn't it be a better use of blog space to point out that every European capital competes for tourism by studying what draws people to the other capitals and imitating it. Pubs open in Rome to serve beer, Paris now has gelato mentioned in guidebooks, everybody has "living statues" and painted cows and carousels near the iconic sights, not to mention shopping, shopping, and more shopping for the same fashion industry stuff. How about a blog post that says if you're going to Edinburgh, the best use of one's travel dollar is noticing why it is quite distinct from London -- to the point of its people wanting to form their own government?

At various times in their history, the despots of Rome, Paris and London all tried to dominate Europe. Why not look for the Roman empire in Bath? Why not track Napoleon into Parma or Napoli? Book into the Hotel Victoria in Torino and visit the science museum and the English gardens of the Palazzo Re. Or come to Genova and find the unexploded bomb the British dropped inside its central cathedral.

There is a chance that saving the euro will require imposing upon most of Europe a more standardized way of living. Before Europe turns into one regimented mass with all the same styles of living and spirit, why not encourage people to see what's left of regionalism and local culture and history, and appreciate what a wonderful thing sharp differences in feeling can be?

DickieG Jan 8th, 2012 02:08 PM

I simply don't understand the question.

Paris, Rome and London have been home to three of the greatest empires the world has ever seen. The culture which derives from these periods of domination and wealth is really specific and arguably without rival anywhere else.

Is the question - are there any other "nice" cities in Europe?

DickieG Jan 8th, 2012 02:37 PM

Just a couple of minor points zeppole, we have our own government in Scotland, we don't just want one, we have one.

Oh! and the "despots" of Britain didn't try to rule Europe, they in fact ruled much of the world. Even though they were German.

We managed a reverse takeover of England following their inability to conquer us but it as only when German efficiency took over that we (Britain) really got going.

annhig Jan 8th, 2012 02:41 PM

i interpreted the question as meaning where one might find centre/s of culture and history of the same range and scope as London, Paris and Rome.

which is why Vienna [capital of the Austro-Hungarian empire] and Madrid [the capital of a country that conquered south america] sprang to mind.

arguably without rival anywhere else.>>

i think that the key word there, dickie, is "arguably".

bilboburgler Jan 8th, 2012 02:43 PM

We managed a reverse takeover of England following their inability to conquer us but it as only when German efficiency took over that we (Britain) really got going.


My vote is for mini-mes rather than true twins. These include

Madrid (Nytraveller and I do not agree on this city)

and that my friends is all.

DickieG Jan 8th, 2012 02:54 PM


(and I refer to my comment in the lounge) it's like having a marital argument abut whether to buy a silly handbag or a new shiny (nice) car. They're not comparable or sensible to compare.

In answer, to the "nice" cultural cities question (if that's what the question is?!


If the question is as you interpret it, I agree with you Ann that the only city that comes close is Vienna, I haven't been to Madrid due to its reputation which contradicts its inclusion in the list. I would include Munich and maybe Berlin but it clearly lost much of its architecture during the war.

The problem with the question is that all three countries quoted in the question have always been highly centralised with much of the wealth being concentrated in the capital. Unlike Germany which is more regionalised.

annhig Jan 8th, 2012 03:11 PM

shame you've rejected Madrid, dickie, i would accept that it's not quite on a par with say, Rome, but it is still a magnificent city that would merit more than the 3-4 days that say, Seville or Palermo might be seen in.

and yes of course Berlin ought to be added to the list.

janisj Jan 8th, 2012 07:24 PM

Well, at least the Z girl is now lecturing a Fodors editor and is off our backs for a change ;)

Surfergirl Jan 8th, 2012 07:43 PM

You said it JanisJ!

StCirq Jan 8th, 2012 07:57 PM

Well said, janis.

But I do agree, it's a weird concept.

madamtrashheap Jan 8th, 2012 08:28 PM

If you're looking for big cities only, then Berlin, Amsterdam and Athens should be considered. All different, all have their own "spirit" and whilst not twins to Paris, London or Rome, they should certainly feature on lists of other places to visit. Hard to narrow down to three, so many other good suggestions above.

As for smaller cities/towns to add to your list: Luzern, Urbino and Figures. Quirky, interesting and worth visiting at some point in your travels. Again, many others to suggest, and perhaps they don't need as much time spent there as some of the bigger cities, but I'm sure this comment will start a whole new flood of suggeestions.

justineparis Jan 8th, 2012 10:55 PM

ok I am confused, so the OP is an editor of Fodors,, and she is writing an article on where to go in Europe, but she herself hasn't been in some years, and she is culling material from a travel forum( so second hand). Please tell me I have misunderstood this?

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