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Malaga, Pablo Picasso's birthplace and the gateway to the Costa del Sol, is a hectic, sometimes unruly city of 550,000. An impressive number of museums and monuments, including the 11th-century Alcazaba fort and Museu Picasso Malaga, provide plenty of diversions for those who opt not to spend all their time on the coast's famed beaches and in their accompanying bars. The old city bustles with taverns and bistros. The generous Paseo del Parque offers a delightful stroll past banana trees and fountains.
Having survived the Mongol Empire, WWII, Chernobyl, and Soviet rule, Kiev is the proud capital of the Ukraine. Filled with theaters, museums, religious sites, modern buildings and ancient ruins, the city of Kiev is the center of Ukrainian culture. The Monastery of the Caves, founded in 1015, and Saint Sophia Cathedral, founded in 1037, are both World Heritage Sites. The Museum of the Great Patriotic War, topped by the massive Motherland Statue, provides gorgeous views of the city below.
A little extra chunk of Russia stuck between Lithuania and Poland on the Baltic Sea, Kaliningrad was known as Königsberg from its founding by the Teutonic Knights in the 13th century until after World War II. It was renamed, repopulated with Russians and became part of the Soviet Union. Today, as it has been for centuries, it’s known for amber products, with most of the world’s harvestable amber still lying off its coast. The 14th century Königsberg Cathedral is a main city attraction.
Surprisingly (except to Poles) pronounced VRAHTS-wahv, Wroclaw is Poland’s fourth-largest city and the capital of the Viovodship of Lower Silesia. Originally (in medieval times) built across several islands, the city still has many lovely bridges and beautiful architecture. Not far from the German border in the country’s southeast, Wroclaw gets lots of German tourists, who call it Breslau. The Rynek (central square), lined by colourful buildings, is one of the city’s most popular destinations.
While crowds of tourists fill Venice, Florence and Rome, Bologna remains relatively quiet in comparison. This mediaeval university town is charming, historic and fun to explore… and you'll find Bologna's local cuisine is light-years away from the American deli meat bearing the city's name.
Faro is the best-known city in Portugal’s deservedly famous Algarve region. There’s an archaeological museum and a “Bishops’ Palace,” a Renaissance cathedral that was heavily bombed during World War II, but later rebuilt. Nearby in Estoi are Roman ruins, and Albufeira, also nearby, is a formerly quaint fishing village influenced by the Moors in the 8th century. It’s situated in a cliffside location, and has become famous for its beaches (there are 20) and nightlife.
Vlad the Impaler stated his claim to Bucharest in 1459. His citadel on the Dambovita was the first of a host of palaces, many of which still stand. Four metro lines and a modern bus network transport visitors and commuters. Nicknamed "Little Paris", Bucharest's elegant early 20th-century architecture shows French influences. Don't miss the Village Museum, Romanian Athenaeum and the Peasant Museum. You can't miss the Palace of Parliament, the second-largest building in the world after the Pentagon.
Holland's most modern city began as a fishing village in the 13th century. It was developing into an industrial and trading power when German bombers destroyed the city centre and harbour in 1940. However, Rotterdam's unique architecture now brings many visitors to cycle around this urbane, cosmopolitan city. Old Dutch-style houses can still be found in historic Delfshaven, from where the pilgrims set sail in 1620. Cultural offerings ranging from the summer carnival to classical music can compete with those of Amsterdam.