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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Northeastern chapter.

Ranking My Study Abroad Destinations

Five months ago, I packed up my suitcase full of clothes, postcards, and souvenir magnets to return home after my semester in Greece, confused about how my time abroad had slipped away so quickly. However, still living in denial, I became the friend who compulsively brought up studying abroad every chance she got. So, in an effort to finally close that chapter of my life, I’ve composed a ranked list of all the major cities I visited, along with suggestions for those that’ll be there soon enough.

For reference, this list is in order of “won’t go back” to “would live there if I knew the language,” and it’s mostly determined by my sense of how well the location fit my definition of a city (walkability, public transportation, culture, people, food, etc). So, with that being said, on with the rankings:

Brussels, Belgium

Although my time in Brussels was cut short to about twelve hours, I honestly think that I saw everything it had to offer. My friends and I used Brussels as a pit stop between our home base, Thessaloniki, and our ultimate destination, Paris, on one of our long-weekend trips, since it was significantly cheaper. In our short time there, I had gathered that the one area particularly worth visiting was the Grand-Place de Bruxelles – the town square – and the one-mile radius of cute-looking streets and shops surrounding it. After getting some Belgian waffles and chocolates, and visiting the Manneken Pis fountain (the main tourist attraction), I felt like my Brussels experience was complete.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

This is maybe a bit of a hot take, but I thought that Amsterdam was very overrated. Don’t get me wrong – the canals, bikes, and crooked buildings definitely make it a cool place to be, but every single street (if that’s what you can call them) looks exactly the same. I had almost no sense of direction, and it felt like more of a neighborhood than a city. Nevertheless, some highlights from my three days there included biking through tulip fields outside the city, a sunset canal tour, and delicious Dutch pancakes. A major downside of this city, however, is the Schiphol airport, which of course is unavoidable. If you decide to go, just be prepared.

Athens, Greece

Athens is a really, really cool place. If you go to Greece, please go to Athens in addition to whichever islands you also plan on visiting. The layout of the city is amazing, and pretty much everywhere you go you can see the Parthenon at the very center, rising over everything else, which makes for some pretty cool rooftop bars. However, the layout of the city is also what makes Athens a bit difficult to manage. Because it’s so old and built on a hill, you’re greeted by cramped streets, steep sidewalks, and narrow staircases at every turn. There’s a subway system, but you have to take an elevator ridiculously deep underground in order to avoid archaeological dig sites (which is actually pretty cool). Regardless, being in Athens and recognizing the depth of the history surrounding me was an incredible experience, and it should definitely be on any traveler’s bucket list.

Thessaloniki, Greece

Alright, another hot take that some of my friends who were also abroad with me might disagree with, but I preferred Thessaloniki to Athens. Maybe it just grew on me since I stayed there for three months, but it’s significantly less touristy and still full of a lot of the same great history. The city sits on the coast of the Aegean Sea across from Mount Olympus, and it slopes upward on a hill, the top of which still contains a lot of the old city walls that date back to the 4th century BC. Unlike Athens, most of the old, historical landmarks are free to visit! For example, those 2,500-year-old city walls were pretty commonplace for people to sit on top of and overlook the rest of the city. I’m not necessarily suggesting that you should see Thessaloniki instead of Athens if you have limited time in Greece, but I definitely think it’s worth a visit to get another side of Greek culture!

Vienna, Austria

To be completely honest, the only reason I’m putting Vienna over both Athens and Thessaloniki is because it was more developed and, therefore, easier to get around. Like Amsterdam, I think it’s a bit overrated. The main attractions here are the over fourteen palaces-turned-museums spread out across the city, which, by the way, is massive. It took probably 40 minutes on the train to get from one side to another. Aside from these palaces, there’s an amusement park and a few cathedrals, but nothing that particularly sticks out. For me, two days was plenty of time to visit one palace, have a Wiener Schnitzel, and continue on my end-of-semester trip.

Berlin, Germany

Berlin was the last place my friends and I visited before the end of our semester for a long weekend, and it was incredible. As the location of both the former Nazi regime and the Berlin Wall, the city is stuffed with incredible history that makes it certainly worth a visit. In addition to its deep-rooted history, Berlin is home to amazing food and unique art scenes that, combined with a certainly complicated past, ensure a great experience for every visitor. My personal highlights included Museum Island, the East Side Gallery, the Topography of Terror, and döner kebabs. There was so much to do, and I already want to go back!

Milan, Italy

Like pretty much everywhere in Italy, Milan is absolutely gorgeous. With its stunning white marble cathedral, Navigli canal district, and plenty of other amazing attractions, Milan was the perfect city for the first group travel destination of my semester. Our trip was very budgeted with a $10 round-trip flight (shout out to Ryanair), a night on the airport floor, and a four-person Airbnb used for eight people, but part of that was what made it so great – some of my favorite study-abroad memories came from this trip. Moving away from my nostalgia, Milan was very walkable, had easy-to-use public transportation, and should be on everyone’s Italy travel list. Prior to being in Europe, I had no intention of visiting Milan, but I’m so glad I had the chance to do so.

Paris, France

Sure to already be on everyone’s travel bucket list, Paris definitely lives up to the hype. From the top of the Eiffel Tower to the depths of the Catacombs and everything in between, Paris has more to offer than I ever could have imagined trying to fit in the three days I was there. My only complaint was my underestimation of how big the city was, as, like Vienna, it could take up to 45 minutes to get from one side to the other. It was definitely walkable around certain neighborhoods, but you really couldn’t go a day without using the train. Oh, and if you go to the Louvre, I’d suggest having a detailed plan ahead of time, especially if you’re with a group of six people (speaking from experience). Regardless, I have lots of really special memories from Paris, and I’m hoping to make more again one day.

Dublin, Ireland

I spent maybe 36 hours in Dublin, but I loved every single part of it. The city was super walkable and bike-friendly (once we remembered to bike on the left side), and it felt very similar to Boston in its layout and architecture, which made it the perfect last stop before flying back home. Dublin has very few tourist attractions aside from the Book of Kells at Trinity College and the Temple Bar district, so it felt like a very casual, relaxing place to hang out. Highlights here included feeding deer in the gorgeous, green Phoenix Park and ending my day with a tall glass of Guinness.

Budapest, Hungary

I honestly had no idea what to expect when I arrived in Budapest, but it exceeded everything I could have possibly imagined. It felt like some sort of cross between Milan and Paris, yet still entirely its own thing. The city is split by the Danube River, with the Buda side to the west and the Pest side to the east, each having its own character. During my two days here, I learned more about both the history of Nazi and Communist takeovers of the city, spent some time relaxing in the Szechenyi Baths, and took a dinner cruise down the river, taking in all the beautiful architecture the city had to offer. From what I could tell, there were almost no tourists while we were there in early April, which allowed us to fully take in the culture of the city. You’d be missing out on a lot if you don’t make it here!

Prague, Czechia

Prague had been on my bucket list for as long as I could remember, and it lived up to everything I expected it to be. This city is absolutely beautiful. As soon as you enter Old Town through the Powder Tower, you feel like you’re in some fairytale city. Every building has red-orange roofs, and those that don’t are dark, stone towers that lead to some other unique part of the city. The biggest no-miss thing, however, would have to be watching a sunset on the Charles Bridge, which you’ll get to by passing through Old Town. Another major plus is how walkable this city is: we didn’t take public transportation once while we were here. From the architecture to the BEST food and great nightlife, Prague has to be at the top of your Europe travel list!

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Katie Tschoepe

Northeastern '25

Katie is a second-year Bioengineering major at Northeastern from Dallas, TX.