Travel Ideas

Your Guide to the European Capitals of Culture 2020

Once again, two European cities share the limelight as 2020 European cities of culture. A cultural awakening awaits you as Rijeka, Croatia, and Galway in Ireland as they take up the crown of European Capitals of Culture 2020.

Galway, a city of almost 80,000 people on the shores of the River Corrib in the West of Ireland, is hosting a diversified programme of cultural festivities throughout the year. The same goes for the port city of Rijeka, overlooking the Adriatic Sea in Croatia. This 100,000-people city will be showcasing its rich and diverse history through multiple exhibitions.

Sunny view of the port of Rijeka in Croatia, a European Capital of Culture 2020.
The Croatian port city of Rijeka is one of two cities designated as European Culture Capital in 2020.

What are European Capitals of Culture?

A European Capital of Culture is a city designated by the European Union (EU) for one year during which it organizes multiple events to highlight the richness and diversity of cultures in Europe as well as foster cultural development in cities. 

Cities must apply through their Ministry of Culture to the European Union. Their applications are then reviewed by a panel of members of the EU. This initiative started in 1985 and has awarded this title to more than 50 cities across the European Union. 

This year, Galway and Rijeka took the crown and offer you a diversified agenda of events, workshops, exhibitions, festivities, and musical performances. Their respective opening ceremonies will take place on February 8th, 2020.

Galway: Celtic charm 

An aerial view of the River Corrib, the Claddagh Basin and the street known as The Long Walk in Galway, Ireland, a European Capital of Culture 2020.
Galway, sitting on the River Corrib, will be hosting events throughout the year with a Celtic flair.

Galway’s European Capital of Culture initiative is structured around the old Celtic calendar. With four different sections, Imbolc, Bealtaine, Lughnasa, and Samhain, Galway’s programme is based on the themes of language, landscape, and migration.

Each section of the Celtic calendar represents three months of the year. Throughout the year, you will be able to discover events where European artists display their own interpretations of each theme. 

With a grand opening ceremony on February 8th, all lights will be on Galway. Known for its traditional Irish live music and dancing, their programme is also aimed at reviving the old Irish language. When visiting this city with a rugged landscape, you will for sure find something to your liking.

How to Get to Galway

Galway is easily accessible by bus from many places in Ireland and abroad. Traveling by bus is the cheapest way to get around in Ireland. Most buses offer you WiFi, comfortable seating, USB sockets, and a large baggage allowance.

You can easily get to Galway from Dublin, Cork, and Limerick. Dublin also has many daily connections to cities such as London, Liverpool, and Manchester. Popular bus companies such as National Express, Citylink, Bus Éireann, and will make sure that your trip is as comfortable as possible.

Rijeka: Port of Diversity

The pretty city of Rijeka is often overlooked by tourists looking for picturesque towns on the Adriatic Sea. This is about to change with Rijeka in the spotlight for 2020. This beautiful medieval town based its 2020 European City of Culture programme on the theme of diversity. Open, tolerant, and multicultural, Rijeka’s vibrant cultural scene will attract artists from all over the world.

The city will host over 70 events for people of all ages, backgrounds, and nationalities. The programme has been design to appeal to both tourists and locals alike, highlighting Rijeka’s close connection to water and the sea. Other highlights of the Croatian’s city agenda are several exhibitions on the city’s redrawn borders and the social changes in Eastern Europe in the 1990s.

Aerial view of the city of Rijeka view from Trsat, Kvarner bay of Croatia
Rijeka will showcase its diversity and openness with multiple events spread out across the city for the whole year.

How to get to Rijeka

Croatian and European bus carriers have a very extensive network of bus routes extending far beyond the Balkans. With bus companies such as FlixBus, GoOpti, Autotrans, and many others, visiting Rijeka by bus is incredibly easy. You’ll get to see the stunning Balkans landscape and will easily be able to visit other countries such as Italy, Bosnia, and Slovenia.

2020 is the perfect year to visit these two European capitals of culture. Head to Busbud to book your bus tickets, as seats sell out fast! The earlier you book, the best price you will get.