Journey Through Time in These Charming Ancient European Cities

Plovdiv, Bulgaria
Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Photo by Anton Atanasov on Unsplash

Europe is a treasure trove of history, and the locations of many centuries-old European civilizations are now some of the most popular travel destinations on the continent. With their cobblestone streets and ancient ruins, the old-world feel of many of these cities offers a unique charm not found anywhere else. Whether you’re a history buff or just find yourself captivated by the allure of antiquity, read on to learn more about some of the oldest cities in Europe worth adding to your travel bucket list.

Athens, Greece

Athens is widely considered to be the cradle of Western civilization. Today, it stands proudly as one of not just Europe’s oldest cities, but one of the oldest cities in the world, dating back 3,400 years. Visitors can explore the Acropolis, an ancient citadel and home to the magnificent Parthenon, to feel as if they’ve gone back in time while taking in views of Greece’s modern-day capital. Afterward, take a walk through the Agora and visit the National Archaeological Museum.

Plovdiv, Bulgaria

One of Europe’s oldest cities is also one of its best-kept secrets. Plovdiv is an 8,000 year old city located in southern Bulgaria, and its rich history and fascinating landmarks make it an ideal destination for history lovers and adventure travelers alike. At the center of Plovdiv is an ancient Roman amphitheater, which still functions as a space for theater and concerts. Also worth a visit is the Kapana creative district, a quaint, yet trendy neighborhood marked by its cobblestone streets and specialty shops. 

Lisbon, Portugal

As Europe’s second oldest city, Lisbon offers a unique balance of ancient charm and modern flair. Most notable among its historic buildings is the imposing Castelo de São Jorge, a castle built by the Moors in 1050. The city’s Alfama neighborhood, which was established in the 8th century, is now a hub of shops and cafes, as well as the iconic no. 28 passenger tram.