Club Med Survey Ranks Best Euro Cities for Culture

View of Salzburg at night. City is ranked #1 in survey for Best Cultural City in Europe. (photo ©Tourismus Salzburg)

Ron Bernthal

If you are of a certain age, you probably remember Club Méditerranée as a chain of hedonistic Caribbean resorts, where ‘culture’ would not be the first word a visitor would use to describe a Club Med vacation.

Founded in 1950 as a straw hut “village” on a beach in Majorca, the company now operates more than 71 resorts around the world, as well as offering cruises on the 5-mast Club Med 2 sailing ship, and luxury tours with Circuits Découverte by Club Med.

The company recently published a survey of European cultural hot spots, and although the survey focuses on its UK travelers, it should be of interest to everyone thinking of spending holidays immersed in European, urban culture.

According to the Club Med survey, Salzburg tops the culture rankings. Looking at 43 cities across Europe, when it comes to culture, Salzburg, Austria, is the best place to go. It beat many of the tourist culture hotspots to the top spot, including Venice, which slipped into 2nd place, Paris, which was down in 8th, and Rome, which only ranked as average for culture, in 28th place.

Salzburg has a strong balance of attractions that are museums, nature, expensive restaurants, and landmarks. Not to mention the average restaurant score on TripAdvisor is a reliable 4.6. At the same time, it’s not too big on nightlife, it’s a place you’ll go to for an unforgettable trip rather than one you’ll forget after too much beer.

Other European cities that ranked highly for their culture, according to the survey, include the Portuguese city of Funchal in 3rd place, the Swedish capital of Stockholm in 4th, and the Norwegian capital of Oslo in the 5th. Position.

Here are the standings:

Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Warsaw (photo courtesy Muzeum POLIN)

Another part of the survey involved ranking cities based on value – using various costs in each city, including airfare from the UK, compared to the actual number of cultural amenities, where would visitors get the most bang for their buck, euro or pound?

As it happens, Warsaw is the place. Club Med compared the city’s culture score to the average cost of the essentials of a cultural holiday: return flight cost, meal cost, and attraction cost. In Warsaw, you can get a return flight, 14 meals, and 17 attractions for £300 ($378.00), or just £74.44 ($93.84) for a weekend of culture in the city, excluding your flight.

Here are the ten best destinations for the best balance between culture and cash spend:

For UK travelers, there is a wide array of airports with flights to cultural destinations. Comparing the percentage of high culture destinations offered to the percentage of passengers flying to these destinations, and factoring in the average culture score for the destinations offered, Club Med calculated that London Heathrow came out on top, getting an average culture score of 5.2, with 33% of its destinations offered being high culture, and 27% of passengers flying to them. The second most ‘cultured’ airport was Southampton, while the Scottish capital of Edinburgh was third.

View of Heathrow Airport, UK’s airport with the most ‘cultural’ destinations ( photo courtesy Heathrow Airports Limited)

Here’s the list of UK airports with the most cultural destinations.