PHOTOGRAPHY | TRAVEL
Dark Grey: Visited countries | White: Not visited
With colorful houses, epic street art, plus one of the most photogenic cathedrals in northern Europe and surrounded by incredible landscapes, Reykjavik is definitely not to be missed. Whether anyone chooses to make Reykjavik a base for all Southern Iceland adventures, or simply pass through it, a stop in Iceland’s capital is an essential part of every visitor’s Iceland itinerary.
There’s no better way to explore Iceland than by driving the Ring Road, the road that circles the entire island. Spanning 1332 km, this route is one of world’s top road trips and connects the best of Iceland. Starting in Reykjavík, the road weaves its way through rolling hills where Icelandic horses roam, past jagged cliffs with gushing waterfalls, and snake alongside sapphire blue rivers.
Tórshavn, one of the smallest capital cities in the world. The capital of the Faroe Islands is named after the hammer-wielding Norse god of thunder, Thor, giving it the meaning: Thor’s harbour. In Tórshavn picturesque old emerald-turfed houses and modern buildings stand side by side, nested in a beautiful landscape.
Stockholm, a picturesque city composed of 14 islands and often described as “the city that floats on water”. Stockholm is one of the most beautiful, calm and vibrant cities in Europe. One of the highlights of this city is Gamla-Stan, also known as the “Old City”. The architecture is simply overwhelming, with narrow cobbled streets and colorful buildings that look straight out of a fairytale.
A short couple of days was all it took for Helsinki to steal my heart. The city’s innovative urban culture–meshing tradition and trends in its own special way and seamlessly combining cityscape with nature. The diverse landscapes of The Suomenlinna Fortress has many opportunities for exploration, while mainland Helsinki houses beautiful architecture gems.
For a capital city, Oslo certainly feels different to most other capitals in Europe. It is much smaller, surrounded by beautiful nature and has an abundance of parks and green spaces. Surrounded by water, the old industrial buildings contrasts with the modern part of the city, next to the distinctive, equally modern Opera House. The roof of the building angles to ground level, creating a large plaza that invites pedestrians to walk up and enjoy the panoramic views of Oslo.
Denmark’s vibrant capital Copenhagen is a compact city with the historic charm of northern Europe. The city is packed with historic buildings lining its narrow cobbled streets, leafy boulevards, pastel colored waterfront townhouses, boats on the canals, New Nordic Cuisine and Scandinavian design everywhere. This all makes it no wonder this port city has consistently been known as one of the happiest places in the world.
Amsterdam, capital of the Netherlands and centre of the Dutch Golden Age. With more than 800 years of history, Amsterdam is rich with fascinating sights. From ancient churches to magnificent museums, secret courtyards to quaint cobbled streets, and the city’s world-famous canals with its luxurious canal houses and charming gabled facades.
Hamburg – a cool and eclectic harbour city in Northern Germany with a raw and industrial vibe with lots of Nordic influence. ‘The gateway to the world’, became a centre of international trade, a legacy that continues today: it remains one of Germany’s wealthiest cities and Hamburg’s maritime spirit still infuses the entire city.
Dubai is the largest and most populous of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates. The city has become symbolic for its man-made islands, world’s largest shopping malls and architectural marvels, such as the Burj al Arab and the Burj Khalifa, from which you can enjoy the best views over Dubai and the Arabian Gulf. The city lies directly within the Arabian Desert, surrounded by sweeping red sand dunes and an abundance of native vegetation.
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is without a doubt a must-see when you visit Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. This iconic mosque was built in memory of Sheikh Zayed, the man who brought the United Arab Emirates together, spearheading its creation into the majestic nation it is today. The result is the largest and grandest mosque in the United Arab Emirates today, with its 100 meter-tall minarets and 82 snow-white marble domes.
The small Gulf state of Qatar and its capital Doha effortlessly blend traditional culture with modern opulence. The sparkling skyline that greets new arrivals to the Qatari capital forms a vivid display of the country’s vast oil wealth that has transformed Doha from a modest fishing and pearl diving town to a cosmopolitan metropolis.
Istanbul, the bustling metropolis of Türkiye, is a city full of charm, where the past goes hand in hand with the present and every step brings to light a relic of times gone by. With its beautiful historic landmarks, labyrinths of marketplaces, the beating heart of Istanbul, and the soul of Bosphorus under the watchful eye of the Maiden’s Tower is a traveler’s dream.
Lisbon is a calm, compact jewel of cobbled streets and tile-clad buildings on the Tagus estuary. The oldest part of the city, the warren streets that make up the Alfama, sits below the spectacularly sited Moorish Castelo de São Jorge. On the other side of the Ponte 25 de Abril lays Belém, the suburb from which Portugal’s great navigators set sail. Lisbon is a place to wander the narrow backstreets, stroll the beautiful waterfront and climb the many hills to take in the views.
Sintra is a delightful Portuguese town that is situated within the hills of the Serra de Sintra. Hidden within these pine covered hills are extravagant palaces, opulent mansions and the ruins of an ancient castle. The variety of fascinating historic buildings and enthralling attractions, combine to form a fantastic day trip from Lisbon. From Sintra, we venture onward to Cabo da Roca and see the westernmost point in mainland Europe.
Intimately intertwined with the legacy of 20th-century artist and environmentalist César Manrique, Lanzarote is an intriguing island with an utterly extraordinary geology of 300 volcanoes, eerie blackened lava fields and characteristic vineyards, with the vines making green mounds against the black volcanic gravel.
From the iconic Acropolis, rising above the city, to charming up-and-coming neighborhoods and contemporary art galleries, Greece’s capital Athens is a majestically quirky clash of past and present. Named after the most benevolent Greek Goddess, Athena, the goddess of wisdom and inspiration, Athens has always been at the cultural fore.
Several millennia old, the fortified city of Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, retains traces of the presence of the Zoroastrian, Sassanian, Arabic, Persian, Shirvani, Ottoman and Russian peoples. The modern city, born from the first oil boom in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, has an equally eclectic cultural heritage, reflected both in its architecture and its cosmopolitan spirit.
Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, is one of the world’s oldest continually inhabited cities. Throughout its 2,800-year history, kingdoms, invasions, Communism, and dictatorships have come and gone. Nowadays Yerevan has come to be known as Armenia’s Pink City: its Soviet-era buildings constructed out of pink lava stone from the surrounding landscape.
In the heart of Europe, on the banks of Danube, lies one of the most beautiful European capitals. Once capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the historic city of Vienna retains memories of its past glories. Today’s cityscape is characterized by stunning Baroque architecture at every turn and imperial palaces where you can almost hear the music of the famous composers floating through the air.
Home to the highest train station in Europe, the largest glacier in the Alps, and incredible mountain views. Jungfraujoch, also known as the Top of Europe, an iconic destination in Switzerland. Centered around the frozen landscape of the Great Aletsch Glacier, the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains are breathtaking sights that have inspired artists, writers and poets over the centuries.
One of the world’s largest cities, Moscow is a true metropolis whose ancient neighborhoods are interspersed with newly built high-rises. The Kremlin and Red Square are at the heart of Moscow – both historically and geographically. Wander within the walls of the ancient fortress, marvel at the mind-boggling magnificence of St Basil’s Cathedral and explore the unique mix of Renaissance Russian architecture and Soviet era Stalinist architecture.
Saint Petersburg is chock full of palaces, historic canals, classical architecture and pastel colored facades. City of Czars, Saint Petersburg is often considered Russia’s cultural capital, which is no wonder with the sheer grandeur of sights such as the Hermitage and its Palace Square, Church of the Savior on Blood, St. Isaac’s Cathedral and the Peter and Paul Fortress – the first structure to be built in St. Petersburg, and thus the birthplace of the city.
Senses are ablaze while exploring Manhattan’s bustling mass of skyscrapers and sidewalks. Discovering Wall Street, Times Square, observing the city in all its majesty from the very top floors of the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center, and a quick trip over to Liberty Island to walk around the famous statue. Overall, experiencing New York City by helicopter is the best way to experience what makes this concrete jungle truly astounding.
Amman’s layered history is reflected in its diverse people and its varied architecture. Home to numerous churches and mosques, the city is home to a multi-denominational and multicultural population. Even within the midst of the ultra-modern commercial centre of the city there is evidence of its ancient roots, with colourful ancient souks, Roman ruins, cultural museums and monuments painting a picture of the history of the region.
The Rose City of Petra is a wonderland of an ancient civilization. Carved into the rock face by the nomadic Bedouin tribe, it remained hidden from the West until 1812. The ancient roadway into Petra, the Siq, a narrow gorge with rose-colored walls and cliffs, winds its way approximately 1.2 kilometres and serves as a dramatic introduction to Petra. The gorge opens up to reveal the awe-inspiring facade of the Treasury, or “Al Khazneh.”
A visit to Chernobyl and the radioactive ghost town of Pripyat offers a glimpse into a world locked far behind the Iron Curtain that no longer exists. The scenery on the dusty road from Kiev to Chernobyl morphs from industrial skylines to overgrown forests that surround the nuclear disaster zone. Walking through the abandoned towns and villages felt like I’ve landed in a fabled place that most will only ever see in history books.
Belarus is often called ‘Europe’s last dictatorship’ and promised to be a different world from the rest of Europe – the Soviet heritage is still visible and wandering around the country felt like a Soviet time warp. Memorials to the Great Patriotic War are everywhere, with Soviet flags, symbols and Lenin statues all over the country. The allotted five-day entry period gave me just enough time to visit the highlights of this fascinating country: Minsk, Nesvizh, Mir & Brest.
The Serbian capital in the heart of the Balkans is proudly standing between the East and West, with its unique mixture of the both. Contemporary Belgrade is pretty picturesque. The white marble walls of the St. Sava Temple can be seen all over Belgrade, while the monumental Kalemegdan Fortress rises above the city on a ridge overlooking the confluence of the Sava and the Danube Rivers.
While cycling through the concrete district for a day, Novi Beograd felt unreal. The enormous scale of “Blokovi”, the fitting name given to the urban neighbourhoods of Novi Beograd, is difficult to exaggerate. Blokovi is a programmatic communist construction effort to provide housing, and create a showcase of mass-produced large scale brutal communist architecture.
Porto, Portugal is famous for its delicious port wine, beautiful buildings and breathtaking views. The city is less polished than its rival Lisbon, but block for block, it may be even more full of gritty, Old World charm. Houses with red-tiled roofs tumble down the hills to the riverbank, prickly church towers dot the skyline, mosaic-patterned stones line streets, and flat-bottomed boats ply the Douro river.
In Tirana, you will find parks and gardens embracing the historical monuments of the city. From Ottoman structures to bizarre communist-era buildings and modern high-rises. Having undergone a transformation of extraordinary proportions since awaking from its communist slumber in the early 1990s, Tirana’s center is now unrecognisable, with buildings painted in primary colours, and public squares and pedestrianised streets that are a pleasure to wander.
Ljubljana’s Old Town at the foot of the hill, overlooked by Ljubljana Castle, is punctuated by Secessionist and Baroque buildings, connected by legend-laden bridges along the Ljubljanica River. A one-hour scenic drive from the Slovenian capital brings you to the crystal clear waters of Lake Bled, hidden away amongst the snow-capped Julian Alps.
Paris, the capital of France, is one of the most famous cities in Europe. The cloud-piercing, wrought-iron Eiffel Tower, broad Arc de Triomphe guarding the glamorous avenue des Champs-Élysées, flying buttressed Notre Dame cathedral, lamplit bridges spanning the Seine and art nouveau cafes’ wicker-chair-lined terraces are enduring Parisian emblems.
Barcelona has always been something of a rebel. You can see it in the city’s ornamental modernist buildings, in its complex politics and the abundance of bars that buzz as the Spanish sun sinks for another day. This all makes for a very exciting exploration of Spain’s most sultry city.
Catalonia’s second city is many things: medieval stronghold, university city, and modern urban centre. The Old Quarter, with its majestic cathedral, winding alleys and ancient city walls bring the Middle Ages to life, while the modern neighbourhoods across the River Onyar showcase Girona’s cosmopolitan side.
Birthplace of Mother Teresa, location of the Kale Fortress, and capital of North Macedonia: Skopje. Through the heart of the city flows the Vardar river, with towering warrior statues, gleaming, enormous neoclassical buildings, marble-clad museums and hypnotic mega fountains on both banks of the river, as a result of the controversial redevelopment project ‘Skopje 2014’.
While Chisinau’s origins date back six centuries to 1420, much of Chişinău was leveled in WWII. The Soviets rebuilt it into what you see today: grandiose Stalinist architecture mixed with gloriously brutal modernism from the later Soviet period. A trip to Moldova shouldn’t overlook Transnistria, also known as “The country that does not exist”, where the Soviet Union reigns supreme.
Tallinn Old Town is one of the best preserved Hanseatic town centres in the world, and one of the oldest cities on the Baltic Sea. At the historical and medieval heart of the city is the hill of Toompea, covered in cobbled streets and filled with medieval limestone houses and alleyways. The best way to explore Tallinn was to get lost, finding myself drifting through centuries of history.
Riga is the capital of Latvia, it is located on the Baltic Sea at the mouth of the river Daugava and is also the largest city of the Baltic Republics. You can sense Riga’s history while wandering the city, which is bounded by the river Daugava, the city canal and in its breathtaking range of architecture styles. Riga’s old town gives it its fairy tale appeal, with Gothic spires that dominate Rīga’s cityscape.
Wedged between brooding mountains and a moody corner of the Kotor Bay, achingly atmospheric Kotor (Котор) is perfectly at one with its setting. Hemmed in by staunch walls snaking improbably up the surrounding slopes, the town is a medieval maze of museums, churches, cafe-strewn squares, and Venetian palaces and pillories.
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
Long overshadowed by stories of war, modern-day Bosnia and Herzegovina shines. The country is most intriguing for its East-meets-West atmosphere born of blended Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian histories filtered through a Southern Slavic lens. Its dramatic mountain countryside, cobbled streets, age-old cultures, minarets and temples entice you to turn another corner and keep exploring.
Malta packs a wealth of beautiful scenery and fascinating history into one of the world’s smallest landmasses. A Mediterranean archipelago equidistant between Europe and Africa, the country beautifully blends influences from both regions; picturesque coastal cities, rugged desert landscapes, towering fortresses and phenomenal viewpoints.
Marrakech, a heady blend of labyrinthal souks, colourful Medina streets, mysterious snake charmers performing at the Djemma El Fna and the enchanting sound of the call to prayer echoing around the medina. We continued our journey, through the High Atlas Region towards to the gateway of the Sahara: The ancient fortified ksar of Aït Ben Haddou.
Dublin is the capital of Ireland and is the largest city in the country. The city center is small but lively and full of cobblestone streets and characteristic pubs. It includes main highlights such as Trinity College, the Guinness Storehouse and the Temple Bar neighborhood. Thanks to its vibrancy, lovable accents, and incredible sights it’s no secret why Dublin is a top destination for travelers.
Belfast is Ireland’s second largest city, as well as the largest city and capital of Northern Ireland. The city is known the world over for one main reason – the Troubles. However, since the ceasefires in 1994 the city has regenerated itself. Belfast has an unmistakable grandeur, from the impressive Titanic Quarter to its magnificent buildings rich with historic architecture.
Lithuania’s capital has an Old Town of rare authenticity: marvellously intact, its cobbled streets are lined with weather-worn period buildings that hide cafes, boutiques and dainty guesthouses. The historic Old Town is filled with Baroque, Gothic, and Renaissance architecture, and an abundance of green space.
Budapest is one of my favourite cities in Eastern Europe. The Hungarian capital is in fact two cities, Buda and Pest, divided by the Danube river. The best way to enjoy the city is a walk along the Danube, with views of Castle Hill, Fisherman’s Bastion, and home to the parliament of Hungary.
Sofia is a city packed with eclectic monuments and buildings. The Bulgarian capital is built upon ancient foundations of culture and history. Standing among the striking Stalinist-era architecture are ancient Byzantine masterpieces, built during the 500 years of Ottoman rule, as well as ruins of a Roman metropolis from nearly 2000 years ago, when the city was called ‘Serdika’.
Nestled along the River Danube, Bratislava stages a contrast between modern and historic, with traces of the communist era still evident outside the city’s historic centre. The compact city offers beautiful architecture: There’s the quaint, albeit tiny, Staré Mesto (Old Town), the dominating hilltop Castle of Bratislava and the St. Michael’s Tower, one of the essential symbols of Bratislava.
Plovdiv is Europe’s oldest continuously inhabited city and it is best loved for its enchanting old town, packed with cobbled streets and colourful 19th-century mansions. Plovdiv has a fair number of well-preserved Roman ruins, the most important of which is the Roman amphi theatre, built in the saddle between two hills overlooking the ancient city.
Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, on the intersection between Europe and Asia, nestled between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. A onetime Silk Road capital, this sprawling city is as eclectic as it is dynamic. The medieval streets of the Old Town with its traditional pastel houses and ancient bathhouses flow seamlessly into hyper-modern structures and the Art Nouveau neighborhood of Sololaki.