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Why These 4 Iconic European Destinations Are Surging In Popularity Right Now

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World travel is back this year and more Americans are taking to the skies and flying to far-away destinations full of culture and adventure.

Few destinations in 2023 are as popular for Americans as Europe and some of the continent’s airport passenger numbers are soaring past record levels. European cities are driving this trend because of their convenience and amazing attractions. 

Woman tourist enjoying the view Blue Mosque, Sultanahmet Camii, Istanbul, Turkey

With their cultural highlights, historical charms, convenience, and safety, these 4 iconic European cities are drawing in huge numbers of travelers this year. 

Istanbul

Türkiye’s largest city outpaced its pre-pandemic 2019 levels of passengers by 14.1%. It’s easy to see why this culturally rich European city is thriving as a tourism hotspot. 

With world-famous landmarks such as the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, and the Blue Mosque, plus a world-renowned food scene, it’s easy to see why. 

Blue Mosque In Istanbul, Turkiye, Eastern Europe, Western Asia

The city is connected to major cities around the world, with many new flights flying in directly from the U.S. You can also fly from many cities in Europe and Asia with several low-cost carriers as well as major carriers like Turkish Airlines. 

To make things even easier for travelers, two new high-speed metro lines connecting Istanbul Airport, one of the world’s busiest, and Sabiha Gokcen Airport opened this year. 

With a world-class metro system, cheap taxi fares, and great walkability, it’s now easier than ever to explore the city. 

London 

London took first place amongst the major airports in Europe for passenger traffic. The city’s Heathrow Airport saw a 22.9% increase in passenger traffic this year, up by almost 4.5% since 2019. 

England’s bustling capital is one of the most diverse and exciting cities in Europe. With landmarks such as Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, plus one of the world’s greatest food scenes, it makes sense why this global city is so popular. 

woman in london

In addition to its connections to U.S. cities and budget flights around Europe, the city has an excellent metro system and great walkability for a major city. 

Once you’re there, you’ll experience some of the best restaurants and bars on the planet. Three of the city’s restaurants made it on this year’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. 

London is also the perfect destination to experience museums and lively park life. You’ll be able to relax, unwind, and experience rich history and culture all in one easy-to-get-around city. 

Lisbon

Portugal’s lively and culturally rich capital experienced a 5.6% increase in passenger numbers compared to 2019 levels. With all its food, culture, architecture, and adventure activities, it’s no surprise. 

Lisbon is full of incredible experiences around every corner. Romantic cafes filled with musicians strumming Fado music, quiet strolls down cobblestone streets, and one of Europe’s most lively food scenes, Lisbon, has it all. 

Coffee and pastries overlook the city of Lisbon, Portugal in Europe

It’s also an outdoor lover’s paradise, with world-class surf spots and hiking trails just outside its city limits. Beaches such as Guincho and towns like Ericeira draw in surfers from around the world and are less than an hour away from the city by car. 

Solo travelers especially are flocking to the city to enjoy its laid-back European charm and safety. Lisbon has a welcoming vibe with plenty to see and do and for solo travelers looking to find a community abroad, it can’t be beat. 

Athens

Athens saw a 10.2% increase in passengers compared to 2019. Driven by expanded low-cost carrier service and Americans’ desire to experience culturally rich destinations. 

With its near-perfect weather, historical landmarks, rich culture, and affordable prices, it’s no surprise that this European capital is seeing such a surge in tourism numbers. 

the-acropolis-in-athens

You can experience landmarks such as the Acropolis and the Ancient Agora of Athens. Once you’ve experienced the city’s historical sites, you can lose yourself in the city’s world-famous cuisine, wine, and non-stop nightlife. 

Americans can now visit this cultural gem easily via its Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport. Once you're there, you can ride the city’s metro to all the sights for around $1.50 per ride. 

The city is also a hub for reaching other popular Greek destinations, especially the famous beaches and islands. Once you’ve gotten enough of the historic city, you can easily catch a ferry or flight to destinations like Krete or Mykonos. 

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