Embarking on a business trip to a new city offers the perfect opportunity to inject some excitement into your regular work regimen. Whether you’re in the fashion, finance, manufacturing or automotive industry, Europe offers fantastic destinations for business travelers.
Below are our top 10 most popular destinations for European cities with thriving business sectors, impressive event venues and plenty of leisure activities to be enjoyed during your free time.
Let’s take a look at the top 10 best business travel destinations in Europe.
1. London, England
London – where Canary Wharf's financial prowess meets the creative pulse of Camden and Shoreditch – is the unrivalled epicenter of European business brilliance. A huge amount of the UK's economic output thrives in the realm of services, spanning finance, tech, hospitality and the arts, all flourishing within London's dynamic ecosystem.
World-class venues like ExCeL London, The Shard and Olympia London inspire success, while annual events like the Business Travel Show and Going Global Live fuel networking and growth. London City, Heathrow and Gatwick are among the key airports that make getting to the city easy.
In your downtime, explore iconic landmarks like the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace, enjoy the best of theatre the West End offers or take a tranquil Thames-side stroll. As evening falls, experience the city’s diverse culinary scene in Covent Garden before taking to the vibrant cobbled streets of Soho to revel in London’s infamous nightlife.
2. Paris, France
Paris, the ‘City of Love,’ enchants in the heart of Europe, making even a business trip a passionate affair. Discover top-notch business events venues like the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles and the elegant Maison de la Mutualité, where networking, conferences and exhibitions become more than just a productive use of time but an experience.
Paris hosts vibrant annual events like Viva Technology and Paris Retail Week, connecting you with global visionaries with a rich story to tell. Whether you're a seasoned traveler or a first-time visitor, access to this urban oasis is as smooth as the country's fine champagne, thanks to Charles de Gaulle Airport and Orly Airport.
Beyond business, explore treasures like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum. Business or no business, what's a trip to Paris without sampling the local bread, wine and cheese? Wander along the Seine's banks to discover hidden gastronomic gems and cosy cafés.
3. Berlin, Germany
Berlin, the vibrant capital of Germany, beckons business travelers with a unique blend of innovation and history. As one of the top business cities in Europe, it’s a dynamic hub for tech startups and creative industries. Key venues like the Messe Berlin with its world-class facilities make it an ideal destination for business opportunities and general inspiration.
The Express Train FEX, connecting the regional airport to Berlin Central Station, covers the distance in just 30 minutes. It departs from Terminal 1's railway station every half hour. So whether your business compass points to any corner of Berlin, rest assured you'll arrive effortlessly.
When your work schedule permits, don't miss the chance to immerse yourself in Berlin's rich history, from the remnants of the Berlin Wall to the magnificent Brandenburg Gate and the cultural oasis of Museum Island. If you have time to spare, consider getting lost in the lively neighborhoods of Kreuzberg and Prenzlauer Berg, where Berlin's true soul comes to life.
4. Madrid, Spain
Madrid is a prime destination for a business city trip, offering a mix of modernity and tradition that caters to professional needs and leisure pursuits. The city boasts brilliant business event venues like IFEMA – Feria de Madrid and Palacio Municipal de Congresos, ideal for conferences of any size. Madrid also hosts renowned annual business-related events such as the Madrid International Real Estate Exhibition (SIMA) and Madrid Fusión, a global gastronomy summit.
The Spanish capital is a hub for various industries, including finance, technology, fashion and tourism. Business travelers can easily reach Madrid city center from the airport by taking the efficient Airport Train (Cercanías Line C-1), which stops at major train stations such as Chamartín and Atocha.
Businesspeople can engage in networking opportunities while enjoying its vibrant culture. Outside of work, you can explore historic sites like the Royal Palace and Prado Museum, savor culinary delights in Michelin-starred restaurants or unwind in the picturesque Retiro Park.
5. Munich, Germany
Munich, located in southern Germany, is a business traveler's dream. Known for its economic strength and technological innovation, the city hosts significant events like EXPO REAL and BAUMA, perfect for industry networking and growth. The ICM Munich and Messe München provide top-tier venues for businesses worldwide.
Munich's Franz Josef Strauss Airport ensures convenient access, and the city's cultural scene offers leisurely exploration. During your downtime, visit Nymphenburg Palace and Marienplatz to soak up some culture. Indulge in Bavarian cuisine and raise a stein in one of Munich's famous beer halls. While many locals speak English, learning a few basic German phrases can go a long way in establishing rapport. Locals often appreciate the effort, even if your German is limited.
6. Warsaw, Poland
Warsaw, the capital of Poland, is rapidly emerging as a European business hotspot. The city offers modern conference facilities, with the Warsaw International Expocenter and Ptak Warsaw Expo leading the way. Annual events like the Warsaw International Economic Meeting attract professionals from various sectors.
With Warsaw Chopin Airport close by, reaching the city is simple. And once you’ve arrived, Warsaw boasts an efficient public transportation system, including trams and buses. Consider purchasing a Warsaw Card for convenient access to public transport, which will make getting around the city stress-free.
Beyond business, delve into Warsaw's rich history by exploring the Old Town, Royal Castle and Wilanów Palace. Polish cuisine awaits with hearty pierogi and delectable pastries, offering a taste of authentic local flavors.
7. Rome, Italy
Rome, known as the ‘Eternal City,’ combines history with business opportunities. It offers venues like the Fiera di Roma and Palazzo dei Congressi, along with events like the Rome International Film Festival. Consider connecting with local professionals or expatriate communities – joining industry-specific groups or attending local business events can significantly expand your network.
Business discussions often unfold over dinner, providing a chance to try Rome's authentic regional dishes like Cacio e Pepe or artichokes alla Romana. When dining with clients or colleagues while on a business trip in Rome, observance of local dining etiquette is vital, with the host typically initiating the toast.
Rome has two airports – Fiumicino and Ciampino, serving more than 45 million passengers annually, making Rome the busiest Italian city in airline traffic. Getting to and from Fiumicino and Ciampino airports in Rome from the city center is straightforward. You can use the Leonardo Express train for Fiumicino Airport, which takes you directly to Termini Station. For Ciampino Airport, various bus services, like the Terravision or SitBus, offer convenient transportation to the city center too.
For convenient navigation throughout the city, consider purchasing a Roma Pass. This pass provides unlimited access to public transportation and offers discounts on entry to various attractions to gain inspiration before your next meeting. Be sure to visit the Roman Forum or explore lesser-known archaeological sites like the Baths of Caracalla or the Appian Way. These locations offer a quieter but equally captivating glimpse into Rome's fascinating history.
8. Milan, Italy
Milan, Italy's vibrant hub for fashion and finance, lures business travelers with an enticing blend of sophistication and commerce. Here, you'll discover top-tier business venues, exemplified by Fiera Milano and MiCo-Milano Congressi, equipped with cutting-edge facilities for conferences and exhibitions. Milan's dynamic spirit extends to its annual highlights, notably Milan Fashion Week and Salone del Mobile, drawing global influencers and industry leaders from various sectors. Whether your focus is on fashion, finance or technology, Milan offers a fertile ground for professional advancement.
Milan's airports, Malpensa and Linate, are strategically located for travel convenience in Northern Italy. Additionally, it's hassle-free to travel to Rome from Milan via high-speed trains, making it a seamless journey between the two major cities.
When business demands allow, check out what else Milan has to offer. Explore picturesque landmarks like the stunning Duomo di Milano or delight in the world of opera at the historic La Scala Opera House. Dining in Milan is a sensory journey, with a plethora of gourmet restaurants to choose from, serving exquisite Italian cuisine. Take a leisurely stroll through charming neighborhoods like Brera to unveil the city's charm in all its glory.
9. Frankfurt, Germany
When it comes to top European destinations for business travelers, Frankfurt is an absolute must-consider. Positioned as the financial hub of Germany, Frankfurt magnetizes professionals in search of opportunities and connectivity. The city's impressive skyline, dominated by sleek skyscrapers, reflects its status as a global finance center. Key venues like Messe Frankfurt and Kap Europa offer exceptional spaces for business executives.
Frankfurt hosts significant business events like the Frankfurt Book Fair and Ambiente, drawing professionals from various industries. The city's strategic location and efficient transport infrastructure, including Frankfurt Airport – one of the most connected airports in Europe – make it easily accessible for international travelers.
During your downtime, explore cultural gems such as the Städel Museum and the historic Römer square. Enjoy traditional German cuisine at local taverns or discover international flavors at Michelin-starred restaurants.
10. Hamburg, Germany
Hamburg, the port city of Germany, brims with maritime heritage and contemporary business opportunities. The city is one of the best business travel destinations in Europe, boasting outstanding business event venues like the Hamburg Messe und Congress and the Elbphilharmonie.
Business travelers can engage in networking at events like the Hamburg Summit, which showcase the city's innovative spirit. Hamburg's accessibility is facilitated by its well-connected airport, known in German as Flughafen Hamburg.
In your free time, explore Hamburg's maritime history at the International Maritime Museum, stroll along the scenic Alster Lake or taste fresh seafood at the bustling Fish Market.
The top 20 business travel destinations in Europe:
The research for this article is part of the Booking.com for Business 2023 Business Travel Destinations project. It is based on bookings made by travelers for business purposes between August 2022 and August 2023.