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6 Beautiful European Cities That You Should Visit

6 Beautiful European Cities That You Should Visit

Traveling can be a welcome break from the stress and boredom associated with falling into a rut in our everyday lives. We are always on the lookout for beautiful images to browse through and fantasize, but nothing beats actually making the leap and visiting some of the wonderful cities of the old continent. There is much you can learn from the experience, and these cities, rich with history and culture, have lots to offer in terms of education, personal growth, great food and fun activities.

1. Bruges, Belgium

Bruges

    While many people fall in love with the unique aesthetic of Venice, with its canals and gondolas, it is overrun by tourists and, frankly speaking, overrated. If you want a rustic, old-town experience, with cobbled streets, canals and lovely old architecture, then head on down to Belgium and visit Bruges. The entire city center is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    You’ll find Michelangelo’s Madonna with Child statue and a number of museums and breathtaking churches and cathedrals. Walking down the streets of Bruges really takes you back through history, to a slower and more relaxed time. It is a city where you can ‘stop to smell the roses’, and it’s a shame that it is often overlooked when talking about lovely European cities.

    2. Edinburgh, Scotland

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    Edinburgh

      Apart from being a city with a strong Old World feel to it, what with its big castles and charming landscape, there are still some quite interesting tidbits that a lot of people don’t know about Edinburgh, like the fact that Arthur’s Seat Hill is actually an inactive volcano. Besides the world-famous Edinburgh Castle, which was never successfully taken by force throughout its existence, there are five other castles in the surrounding area, as well as a myriad of churches and cathedrals.

      The Edinburgh Dungeon, the Royal Botanic Garden and the Mining Museum are particularly interesting sites worth visiting. You can even watch the ultimate strength challenge that are the Highland Games, and you can take part in different sports, from golf to sailing and kayaking.

      3. Florence, Italy

      Florence skyline at sunset, Italy. Campanile di San Marco

        One of the most beautiful cities in the world, full of culturally significant sites, sculptures, art, and some exceptional architecture. It was the place in which the Renaissance bloomed and spread out like wildfire. Where does one even start when describing this majestic city? Perhaps the fact that the entire city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in the 80s can help me paint the picture.

        Florence has been around since 80 BC and the various historical styles and influences are quite apparent, although the Renaissance style is the most widespread, with works of arts from such legendary names as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Botticelli.

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        The lovely Ponte Veccio (Old Bridge) is a must see, and The Duomo will leave you staring in amazement. This being Italy, you can also enjoy some great coffee, fine wine and tasty meals while you spend your days exploring the city.

        4. Prague, Czech Republic

        Prague

          An old and proud city, Prague boasts very lovely centuries-old architecture, but it combines it well with more contemporary and quite unique architectural and artistic feats, like the Dancing House or the Franz Kafka Monument. Of course, you can’t talk about Prague without mentioning the Astronomical Clock and Karl’s Bridge, which continue to impress thousands of tourists daily.

          The Prague Castle is particularly impressive, as it is the largest ancient castle in the world, dating back to 870 AD, and encompasses several cathedrals, palaces and gardens, spanning across nearly 70,000 square meters.

          The Old Town is worth visiting and revisiting throughout your stay in Prague, and if you get tired from the sightseeing you can enjoy interesting Czech cuisine and a wide variety of good beers.

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          5. Barcelona, Spain

          Barcelona

            The capital of Catalonia, Barcelona boasts an impressive number of UNESC World Heritage Sites – around 17 in total – with several lovely sandy beaches and some otherworldly architecture that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. If you only had one chance to visit Europe and wanted to see something spectacular, I would wholeheartedly advise a trip to Barcelona and a stroll through the Gothic Quarter, spending a good deal of time admiring the Sagrada Familia, and another leisurely stroll in Park Güell.

            Barcelona is one of the most visited cities in the world, and even though there can be a lot of tourists milling around, it doesn’t get too crowded. And there is just too much to see, from the aforementioned cultural sites, to the huge football stadium and Formula 1 race track, and of course the lovely beaches.

            6. Lisbon, Portugal

            Lisbon

              Another underrated European city that more people should visit, Lisbon is the capital of Portugal, and one of the earliest settlements on this location predating Celtic times, probably back to around 1200 BC. Since the city was at times under the rule of different people from Africa and the Middle East, there is a unique mix of Christian, Jewish and Muslim influences on the city’s architecture and culture.

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              The amazing Jeronimos Monastery and the Belem Tower are notable examples of the Manueline style that developed in Portugal during the 16th century. The climate is pleasant, with warm summers, and the city has some beautiful riverside gardens.

              It is a great place for finding out more about the Portuguese culture and history, and to have a great time doing it.

              It is important to do some traveling in your life to get a new perspective on different cultures, broaden your worldview, learn more about the world and yourself and mature as a person. If or when you get the chance to go to Europe, I highly recommend visiting some, if not all, of the cities mentioned in this list.

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              Last Updated on August 15, 2018

              7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

              7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

              Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

              Video Summary

              Why is it important to train up our core strength?

              There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

              This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

              Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

              In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

              One Exercise, multiple benefits

              There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

              By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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              When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

              Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

              In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

              What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

              What will happen when you start doing planks every day

                1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

                Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

                • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
                • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
                • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
                • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

                2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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                  Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

                  Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

                  3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

                    Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

                    4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

                      Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

                      A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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                      A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

                      On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

                      5. You’ll improve overall balance

                        Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

                        6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

                          Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

                          7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                            Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                            How to hold a plank position

                            1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                            2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                            3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                            4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                            5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                            6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                            7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                            Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                            Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                              How to improve your plank time gradually

                              1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                              2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                              3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                              Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                              Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                              You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                              • Prolapse
                              • After prolapse surgery
                              • Pelvic pain conditions
                              • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                              • Previous childbirth
                              • Overweight

                              Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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