Capital city breaks in Europe can be great when you get past the crowds. If you want to see some of the stunning capital cities of Europe, but want to avoid the more popular ones, there are some small capitals you can visit. While these capital cities are smaller than Berlin, Paris or London, they offer a great view of Europe both past and present.
Valletta In Malta
The small size of the nation of Malta can make it easy to overlook when planning your trip to Europe. However, going to the Maltese capital of Valletta is a great small city break. The capital has been around since the Middle Ages and was a popular travel destination for the royal houses of Europe. These houses gave the capital the nickname of The Proud City because of the imposing skyline.
The foundations of Valletta is a complex fortification which still defines the city today. While in the city, you can take a tour to learn about the history and see the fortifications. Most of the city was built by the Knights Hospitaller in the 16th century and this architecture can still be seen today.
Valletta only has a population of 6,500 inhabitants, but it can seem much bigger. There are a lot of tourists who visit the city and use it as a base to see the rest of the island. There are many accommodation options for your trip to this small capital.
For more information check out this Valletta guide by Choice Holidays.
Vaduz In Liechtenstein
Liechtenstein is one of the smallest countries in Europe and offers one of the smallest capital cities. The small size of the capital does not take away from the beauty it has to offer tourists and the 5,500 inhabitants. Vaduz is a great city to visit for anyone interested in history or people who want to take in the rolling hills of the countryside.
Vaduz dates back to the 12th century, but only become a stable capital when the Liechtenstein family purchased the land around it. The land was bought from the Holy Roman Emperor and Liechtenstein became a state in 1719. The turbulent history of the area has been obscured over the years, but it is still possible to see the legacy of the Liechtenstein family in the city.
The most imposing legacy of the family is Vaduz castle. The castle, which you can visit, sits on a hill and overlooks the scenic capital city. The surrounding hills and mountains add to the majestic view of this small capital.
Andorra La Vella In Andorra
If you want to head to the mountains, but still have a great city escape, this capital is the answer. Andorra La Vella is located in the Pyrenees Mountains wedged between France and Spain. The city only has a population of 22,000, but the scenic views make up for any lack of people.
The capital is actually a popular holiday destination because it has become home to a popular ski resort. At an elevation of more than 3000 feet, it is the highest capital in Europe. The snow-capped mountains are not the only reason to head to Andorra.
The area around the capital has been inhabited since the Neolithic Period and you can see the history in the city. The Santa Colima Church was built in the 9th century and can still be visited. The rest of the architecture in the city mostly dates to the 1100s and is in the Romanesque style.
Ljubljana In Slovenia
Ljubljana is one of the newer capital cities and has only been the capital of Slovenia since 1991. While this is a relatively short history, the city itself has been around for thousands of years. The current city is built on the location of Emona, a Roman city.
The area around the capital offers a lot of history including the site where the oldest wooden wheel in the world was found. There are also remains of prehistoric homes in the marshes around the capital. The Southern Alps are not far from the city, making it a great base for hikers and spelunking.
The Ljubljana castle dominates the skyline of the city and dates to the Medieval period. There are also canals, rivers and waterways in the city which makes strolling through the streets a pleasure. There are also many colourful buildings that ensure you get some amazing pictures.
San Marino In San Marino
San Marino is a microstate whose capital is often overlooked for the nearby capitals of Rome and the Vatican City. While these capitals are close, you should not miss this gem of central Italy. The capital is placed on a hill and most of the city is a pedestrian-only area.
If you are a history fan, this is the capital to visit. The streets, towers and churches of the capital are a throwback to its Medieval history.
If you want to take a city break in Europe, you do not have to visit the large capital cities. There are many smaller capitals that are just as stunning, if not more.