The most and least relaxing city breaks in Europe revealed

There's nothing worse than looking forward to a getaway and being faced with chaotic airports, bad transport, overcrowded tourist spots, and disappointing scenery. So, how can you find out which European cities are the most peaceful, while still offering a sense of adventure? And which are the most stressful?

We at SpaSeekers have conducted research into some of the most popular European city destinations and ranked them by how relaxing they are.

Copenhagen was revealed to be the most relaxing city break that Europe has to offer, while Sofia, Amsterdam, and Paris aren't advised if you're looking for a tranquil break.

The European Relaxation Index ranks 28 cities across Europe by analysing six factors:

  • How busy the city is
  • How happy the locals are
  • Living standards
  • Access to public transport
  • The amount of coastline nearby
  • How busy the local airport is

Combined and weighted, they produce an overall index score out of ten for each city. So which destination came out on top?

Copenhagen offers the most relaxing city break in Europe

Known for its cycling commuters, hygge culture, and popular Tivoli Gardens, the colourful city of Copenhagen offers the most relaxing city break in Europe.

Denmark's capital has an overall low population density, with just 2,000 residents per km2, making the city less crowded than other popular hotspots. Copenhagen also scores high for happiness (8.1), living standards (8.3), and public transport (6.8), and offers an impressive 7,314km of coastline nearby.

On the Most Relaxing Cities list, Copenhagen was followed by Luxembourg City and Tallinn, Estonia, with index scores of 4.08 and 4.02 respectively.

Luxembourg City ranks particularly high for local happiness (8.1), and despite not having a coastline, it's low airport passenger numbers (3 million annually) and low population density (1,600 people/km²) create a relaxing environment and laid back atmosphere.

With the lowest population density of all 28 cities, Luxembourg serves as the perfect destination for travellers in search of a tranquil escape without the hassle of busy crowds.

Tallin, Estonia ranks high across the index – with one of the smallest population densities (2,100 people/km²), highest happiness scores (7.2), and public transport satisfaction (7.1), this cultural gem makes for the perfect, quaint getaway.

The 10 least relaxing city breaks in Europe:

Ranking City Country Index Score
1 Sofia Bulgaria 2.76
2 Amsterdam Netherlands 2.95
3 Paris France 3.03
4 Spain Madrid 3.06
5 Bucharest Romania 3.09
6 Berlin Germany 3.1
7 Prague Czech Republic 3.1
8 London United Kingdom 3.25
9 Warsaw Poland 3.26
10 Dublin Republic of Ireland 3.33

Sofia is the least relaxing city break in Europe

The SpaSeekers research also revealed the Least Relaxing Cities for a European city break – with Amsterdam, Paris, London, and Dublin all ranking as undesirable.

Sofia, Bulgaria is the least relaxing city in Europe, with the highest city population density (6,400 people/km²), small coastline (354 km), and mediocre scores for happiness (6.4), living standards (5.6), and public transport satisfaction (6), suggesting Bulgaria's capital is one of the most hectic for visitors.

Surprisingly, popular tourist destinations Amsterdam and Paris were also among the least relaxing European city breaks.

Despite its low city population density (3,300 people/km2) and relatively high satisfaction levels, Amsterdam's 63.6 million anual airport passengers create a stressful city break experience as soon as visitors touch down in the city. Likewise, Paris' 65.9 million annual passengers at the popular Charles de Gaulle Airport can often result in a chaotic and congested experience.

London makes it on the least relaxing city breaks list due to its crowded atmosphere (5,600 people/km2) and busiest European airport (escape the hustle at one of our ultra-relaxing London spa breaks).

Jason Goldberg at SpaSeekers commented on the research:

"Although Amsterdam and Paris are popular tourist destinations, their high airport numbers mean visitors are often stressed by the masses of people as soon as they get off the plane.

For those in search of a city break full of tranquillity and peace, Copenhagen hits all the right chords, with a positive atmosphere, great public transport links, and a beautiful coastline."

About the author

'Since 1989, SpaSeekers has been helping customers find their perfect spa experience. All packages come with a best price guarantee at over 500 of the UK's leading spas.'

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