Top 15 Cities of 2015

It feels like just yesterday I was ringing in the New Year with a bottle of Champagne under the sparkling lights of the Eiffel Tower. 2015 has flown by, and I was blessed to be able to knock quite a few cities off my travel list. My number one highlight would have to be my month spent amongst the stunning scenery, architecture, delicious food and, of course, the shopping in Italy.
Here is a quick recap of my fave 15 cities of 2015... If you haven't already been, you must go! 

#1 - Venice, Italy 

Despite several individuals suggesting that Venice is a "dirty" city, I found it to be quite the contrary. Venice is hands down one of the most unique cities in the world. There are very few cars, as there are canals on every block, with walking bridges curving over them for gondolas and boats to travel underneath. There is nothing else like gliding down Canals with a gondola driver joyfully singing Italian songs. This photo was taken on the rooftop of San Marco Cathedral, overlooking San Marco Square. 

# 2 - Barcelona, Spain 

My #1 pick for unique architecture in Europe is Barcelona. The city is filled with smashed tiles, artistically displaying mosaic designs - a signature of Spanish architect, Gaudi.  The iconic Sagrada Familia Basilica is the pinnacle of Gaudi's work. His designs are hard to miss around the city with their unique shapes and colours. Park Guell (pictured above) is a must see. The large park designed by Gaudi is exquisite from the houses to the mosaic terrace and of course the views of the city. 

# 3 - Brussels, Belgium

What's better than fresh chocolate-drizzled Belgian waffles? As the capital of Europe, Brussels is a very political, with an immense mix of culture. There are 5 different languages spoken throughout the city. The architecture is also quite the combination, from Baroque to Gothic to Postmodern in just one square block. The Guildhalls (pictured above) on the Grand Place are detailed with bright gold and interesting rooflines. 
Don't forget to visit Galeries Royales Saint Hubert for delicious Belgian Chocolate to take on your adventure to find Manneken Pis. 

 #4 - Paris, France 

Paris is always a good idea... I have now experienced Paris in all seasons, and can say there are always new things to see, regardless of the time of year. Paris during the holidays is spectacular with stunning decorations on Champs-Elysees and in Galeries Lafayette. Indoor actives like the Oprah or Louvre break up the cool, crisp weather.  The spring is booming with new fashion and tolerable lines to visit touristy things. Incredible flower gardens blossom in the Summer (a great time to venture out to Versailles), and the fall is perfect for hitting up every cozy cafe. 

# 5 - Amalfi, Italy

I have never been on such narrow, winding roads in my life... The Amalfi Coast is both stunning and terrifying if you are afraid of heights! The mountainous villages on the lush Sorrentine Peninsula are home to some zesty fruits. Terraces of lemon groves glow throughout the hillside. The vibrant yellow mixed with the Blue Mediterranean provides  fresh tastes and spectacular views, perfect to unwind. Amalfi takes the win for Best Gelato on our Italy 2015 trip. 

# 6 - Rome, Italy 

When in Rome... There are so many famous Landmarks in Rome. However, I also suggest going off the beaten path to find great restaurants and stunning views. Some of the world's most famous architecture is located in Rome including The Colosseum, Pantheon, Spanish Steps to name a few, however, wandering around the city you will stumble upon some great views of Ancient Roman Ruins. Don't miss St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. 

# 7 - Pettorano, Italy

Pettorano sul Gizio is a town in the Abruzzo region of Italy. This is high on my list for sentimental reasons, as my boyfriend's family is from this town. A surprise trip from Rome into the Italian countryside and several events led us to this quaint mountainside town. Pettorano sits amongst beautiful lush mountains with a natural glacier running between hiking trails. The ice cold, crystal clear water is some of the best I've ever tasted (I'm a water snob), and we were able to drink it directly from the source! Besides the delicious water and stunning view, it is neat to explore small towns in the countryside to gain a more well-rounded cultural experience. The events on this road trip to Pettorano will never be forgotten! 

# 8 - Cinque Terre, Italy

Cinque Terre consists of five rugged villages on the Italian Rivera.  Cinque Terre as a region is made up of such unique hillside villages which make an excellent hike, so I've lumped them all together. If I had to choose a favourite village, It would be Riomaggiore, the most colourful of them all (pictured above). I also spent a lot of time in a neighbouring town, Portovenere. A stunning striped Church sits on the coastline of the small town along with a quaint town centre filled with shops and delicious restaurants. Be sure to try Pesto anything on your visit in this region. 

 9 - Dublin, Ireland

Dublin - a dark yet colourful city. The best beer tour I've ever experienced is the Guinness Storehouse. The entire experience is interesting from the building design to the displays and history of the company. To top off the experience, drinking a Guinness at the Skybar overlooking the city is a surreal experience. The many parks and O'Connell Bridge (pictured above) are great places to enjoy as you walk from one live music filled pub to the next. 

# 10 - Amsterdam, Netherlands

What happens in Amsterdam, stays in Amsterdam. The Dutch heritage around the city creates a fantastic ambiance. Exploring the Canals while trying to avoid being run down by a cyclist keeps you on your toes. Tulips on every street corner, delicious cheese shops and Dutch Pancake houses are the norm.
 IMO the best view of the city is from rooftop cafe of the Bibliotheek Central Amsterdam, a hidden gem away from tourists! 

# 11 - Edinburgh, Scotland

Since moving to Scotland in August of this past year, I find myself exploring every corner, back alley and secret bar of Edinburgh. The hike up Arthurs Seat is definitely worth the view and workout, at any time of day. The layered architecture of this city is absolutely stunning.

# 12 - Stirling, Scotland

Stirling is surrounded by the most breathtaking Scottish landscape. From the top of Stirling Castle, the view of the rolling hills filled with Hairy Coo and fluffy sheep goes as far as the eye can see. It is a serene visit from the busy major Scottish cities. Surrounding the Castle is also a massive grave yard that stretches around the base of the Castle grounds. 

# 13 - Valencia, Spain

Valencia needs no photography filter. This stunning city is full of modern and contemporary architecture. There are several parks throughout the city to enjoy at all ages. The City of Arts and Science, Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia (the Opera House) and aquarium are in the same area of the city, providing a complimentary grouping of structures for you to enjoy all day. There are cafe's and a market set up around the holidays for full enjoyment of the area. 

# 14 - Alicante, Spain 

I finished off the year spending Christmas in Alicante. Being perched on the sunny  Mediterranean in December is a nice change from the snowy/rainy season in Canada/Scotland. Alicante has a quaint feel to it, yet it is packed full of great restaurants, boardwalk activities and a stunning castle. Santa Barbara Castle sits 166 meters above sea level, providing a breathtaking 360 view of the city and Costa Blanca (200 km of Mediterranean coastline in the province of Alicante).  

#15 - Liverpool, England 

As a music person, Liverpool has always been on my list. In music history there are many bands that formed or created music in Liverpool. This photo was taken at the infamous Albert Dock, after a lunch date and of course, a tour of The Beatles Story.
P.S - If you are a Beatles fan, don't miss the Yellow Submarine at Liverpool John Lennon Airport! 

All photos by Elena Harrison of Style Concept 

Looking forward to 2016, to more memories from beautiful places on this earth. I have a list for next year that I hope to visit these cities for the first time, or make new memories. If you have any travel suggestions for these cities, or near by gems, please send me a message, I would love to hear about your adventures/recommendations! 

2016 Travel List: 

Germany // Berlin - Hamburg - Munich - Frankfurt - The Alps 
Austria // Vienna -  Salzburg - Hallstatt 
Czech Republic // Prague - Cesky Krumlov
Denmark // Copenhagen - Arhus 
Hungary // Budapest - Debrecen 
Sweden // Stockholm - Gothenburg
Finland // Helsinki - Rovaniemi 
Switzerland // Zurich - Bern 
South of France // Nice - St Tropez - Marseilles - Monaco
Greece // Athens - Santorini - Rhodes - Olympia - Delphi - Oia - Agios Nikolaos 
Croatia // Zagreb - Split / Dalmatian Coast - Dubrovnik 
USA // Las Vegas - San Diego - Notre Dame (home opener?) 
Canada // Toronto - Niagara Falls - Calgary/Banff - Okanogan - Vancouver 


  1. Liverpool is my dream place. I love it. I also want to visit this place as soon as possible. You shared wonderful tips.
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