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These Are The 5 Fastest Growing European Destinations Right Now

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Europe is a melting pot of history, culture, and natural allure, which is why the fact that more tourists than ever are flocking to some of its most fascinating hotspots should come as no surprise.

According to the latest ForwardKeys and CityDNA Barometer Report, these are the 5 fastest-growing European cities this quarter, some of which are surpassing their previous pre-pandemic numbers at double-digit rates:

woman in Milan, Italy

1. Lisbon

The Portuguese capital is currently enjoying a whopping 13% increase in visitor numbers compared to 2019, securing the lead as the fastest-growing destination in all of Europe. 

Lisbon skyline, Portugal

If you’ve been keeping up to date with travel news these past few months, you know that Lisbon has been at the center of international attention as one of the European capitals that offers the best value for tourists, boasting both a plethora of must-see attractions and reasonable prices.

The city's historic neighborhoods, of which Alfama is arguably the most famous, will transport you back in time with their narrow cobbled streets and colorful tiled buildings. 

Alfama district, Lisbon, Portugal

Beyond the stunning architecture, travelers in Lisbon can also enjoy the rich art scene, especially through places like the MAAT, which beautifully showcases Lisbon's creative spirit.

Foodies will also be spoiled for choice here. 

From savoring pastéis de nata in local bakeries to indulging in fresh seafood at seaside restaurants, your days in Lisbon will take you through an unforgettable gastronomic journey.

Once the sun sets, don’t forget to take advantage of the city’s vibrant nightlife. 

Lisbon at night

Whether you want to savor a cocktail at a trendy bar, immerse yourself in the sounds of Fado, or dance the night away at a lively nightclub, the Portuguese capital promises tourists the time of their lives.

2. Athens

While Athens, and Greece in general, have always been big-ticket items in every traveler’s bucket list, their popularity has never reached the peaks we’re seeing today.

aerial view of Athens, Greece

After breaking its all-time tourism record, the Greek hotspot continues to see double-digit growth rates this quarter, giving Lisbon a run for its money.

Travelers can’t seem to get enough of Athen’s ancient landmarks, including the iconic Acropolis, the Temple of Hephaestus, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, and the Ancient Agora of Athens. 

While Athens boasts a rich, storied past that makes it a haven for history buffs all over the world, the capital is actually a remarkably well-rounded attraction that caters to all types of tourists.

a steep street in odl town Athens, Greece

Those looking for a cultural European getaway, for example, will appreciate the thriving arts and culture scene best represented by the likes of the Benaki Museum and the Exarchia neighborhood.

The busy streets are filled to the brim with local cafes, boutiques, and restaurants serving the best moussakas and dolmas you’ll ever try.

Souvlakis are also a must-try, though. If you’re getting one from a traditional place, I’d recommend asking for extra tzatziki on yours; otherwise, the meat-pita-fries combo can feel a bit dry.

3. Madrid

Spain just made news for setting a new tourism record, and if travel growth rates to its stunning capital are anything to go by, the new milestone won’t hold up much longer.

Madrid Spain

Madrid is a cultural powerhouse full of world-class museums (Prado, Reina Sofia, Sorolla, and so on) and iconic masterpieces by artists like Goya and Velázquez. 

There’s nothing better than spending an entire day indulging in tapas at traditional bodegas and taking in the Spanish sun in Retiro Park, which offers a tranquil escape right in the heart of the city.

4. Istanbul

Istanbul is yet another trendy European hotspot that shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Between the many breathtaking landmarks, like Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and the Topkapi Palace, your days here will be filled with wonder and adventure.

Aerial View Of Hagia Sophia, A Byzantine Cathedral Turned Mosque In Sultanahmet Square, In The Historical Peninsula Of Istanbul, Eastern Europe, Western Asia

However, Istanbul is much more than just a modern-day artifact that speaks to a rich past. 

The city’s contemporary art scene is just as captivating as its history, with galleries like Istanbul Modern and lively bars and restaurants scattered along the Bosphorus bringing some color and life to the busy streets.

In my experience, local eateries in the Turkish hotspot are hard to beat. The food here is fresh, filling, reasonably priced, and sinfully delicious.

5. Milan

Though last on today’s list, Milan’s performance this quarter is nothing short of impressive.

Milan Duomo with a colorful sky

The Italian hotspot has long represented the quintessential European city break that so many tourists flock to experience, and the fact that it still continues to grow and outpace its already high benchmarks is remarkable.

The city's historic architecture, including the magnificent Duomo di Milano and the opulent Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, reflects a feel of grandeur that’s hard to replicate elsewhere. 

Moreover, the city's Quadrilatero della Moda is a labyrinth of luxury boutiques and flagship stores of renowned fashion houses and a must-experience for every fashion enthusiast.

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