5 European Cities That Are Famous For Finance
Written by Jaillan Yehia
We all know London is one of the world’s most famous business and banking hubs, but luckily for us Londoners it’s well-known that our city has more to offer than moolah; tourists flock here for the food, fashion, culture and coolness that comes with a being a financial capital.
But across Europe certain cities’ reputations are overshadowed by their big banking and corporate connotations – here are 5 cities which are worth depositing yourself in, despite their somewhat dry reputations…
These 5 famous cities are easily and cheaply accessible from London – but whatever you do don’t think you have to be a big spender to enjoy these financial capitals…
So famous for finance that it’s nicknames are Bankfurt and Mainhatten (this, the larger of Germany’s two Frankfurts, sits on the River Main), there’s more to Frankfurt than merely high finance.
The compact city’s culture is seriously underrated – there are some avant-garde museums along the riverside and Frankfurt plays host to one of Europe’s most atmospheric Christmas markets in the picturesque Römerberg square, the heart of the city’s Medieval Altstadt, when the charm of the cobbled streets meets the magic of Gluewein and the erstwhile Frankfurters to atmospheric effect.
Food, beer, shopping and art are all on offer in this German metropolis and alongside the wealthy banking folk there are plenty of often-overlooked funky neighbourhoods and a population of hipsters to give Berlin a run for its money, quite literally.
Pint-sized Luxembourg may be a financial legend, but its quaint capital perched on high ground with stunning views across valleys and countryside, is straight out of a fairy tale.
The town charms you with cobbled streets, towers and turrets, while offering an incredible variety of twentieth century pastimes to rival far bigger cities, from galleries to museums to pavement cafes.
There are museums of art and modern art in the city’s ‘Museum Mile’ – because Luxembourg is so tiny you can walk to seven museums within a mile radius in the city centre – though the Bank Museum (well there had to be one given Luxembourg’s reputation for, well, luxury) isn’t one of the seven.
It’s also easy to take day trips to some of the area’s exceptionally picturesque spots, including the 11th century Vianden castle, a real picture-postcard affair complete with hilltop setting and Romanesque majesty.
Monaco is known for luxury, glitz and glamour but the destination is surprisingly accessible even to those on a modest budget; it’s advisable to simply stay in nearby Nice or elsewhere on the Riviera and take the fast efficient train into Monaco itself.
Eyeing the super yachts in the glitzy harbour won’t put a strain on your bank balance, but there is actually a more normal side to the Monaco area – as well as the super rich this is a working city and it may come as a surprise to find that there are cafes, restaurants and shops catering to the population, so you can actually shop in Monaco without necessarily breaking the bank.
Ambling round the pretty pink hilly streets, enjoying the exotic gardens or just meandering around the harbour and casino you’ll notice that it doesn’t have to be about cashola in Monte Carlo, and in fact here the best things in life really are free.
Zurich has a semi-deserved reputation for being the base for big banks and financial institutions and not a hive for hedonism, but aside from the obvious other attractions in the waterfront city, such as chocolate – Zurich is also famously the home of ‘Master Chocolatier’ Lindt, which first opened here back in 1845 – there’s plenty to do without breaking out the Francs.
The city really comes alive in summer when swimming in the Swiss-standard clean waters of Lake Zurich (also known as Zürichsee) is de rigeur, as is drinking at one of the city’s waterside bars.
As well as the lake Zurich is set on a river – the Limmat – and the combination of being surrounded by water and mountains, and breathing in the cleanest city air you can imagine gives this metropolis a relaxing and back-to-nature feel which couldn’t be more at odds with the concept of stock markets and skyscrapers, insurance and finance.
Another city with a reputation for number crunching – and chocolate, but Brussels has some hidden sides to it.
The best time to visit is without a doubt during the the Plaisirs d’Hiver celebrations – a whopping 240-stall, 2km-long Christmas shopping extravaganza with chalet-style stalls decorated to look like gingerbread houses, complete with twinkling fairy lights and snow top roofs.
At this time of year the city goes all out, hosting ice skating rinks, a giant Ferris wheel and the pièce de résistance,a spectacular nightly light & laser show at the Grand-Place set to music and projected onto the gothic Hôtel de Ville.
Year-round Brussels is an inspiring place to shop – give the business districts a miss and head for the area around Bourse station for ethnic finds or look up the nearest outdoor food market, which are equally easy to stumble upon, for a taste of the real Belgium.
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