12 Cities Known as the ‘Paris of the East’

A city like Paris is hard to come by. Often romanticized for its cosmopolitan beauty, this City of Love is the epitome of urban glamour. This said, cities that bear such a nickname as The Paris of the East leave us filled with wonder.

But first, let’s talk about Paris…

Think of Paris and your mind will drift towards a city lined with world-class architecture, enlivened streets, and extraordinary art museums. But beyond its spangling elements, Paris also commands major industries.

In Europe, Paris is known as an economic center as much as it is known as a center for fashion. Both the sciences and the arts thrive in the city, too. It houses airports and major railways; renowned landmarks dot the area, as well. 

We must remember all of these as we think of the cities that have been crowned as The Paris of the East. With all the traits of the city, what exactly does it take to gain this almost venerable title? To answer our question, these following cities tell us all.

12 cities that are known as The Paris of the East

1. Saint Petersburg, Russia

saint petersburg

Saint Petersburg, Russia’s second-biggest city, proudly bears two honorifics: the Venice of the North and the Paris of the East. Its beauty, mostly resembling classical and baroque style, is truly remarkable. Like Paris, Saint Petersburg boasts of breathtaking architecture and world-class art museums. 

Some must-see attractions in Saint Petersburg: State Hermitage Museum, Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, Peterhof Palace, Saint Isaac’s Cathedral, Nevsky Avenue, Peter and Paul Fortress, Vasilyevsky Island

2. Budapest, Hungary

budapest parliament

Donning a breathtaking skyline, Budapest is one of the most photogenic cities in Europe. Sprawling alongside the Danube River are magnificent structures that exude Parisian vibes. Providing an idyllic escape, Budapest welcomes visitors who seek Art Nouveau sites and beatnik bistros.

Some must-see attractions in Budapest: Buda Castle, Hungarian Parliament, Széchenyi Baths, St Stephen’s Basilica, Children’s Railway, Hospital in the Rock, Memento Park

3. Beirut, Lebanon

beirut mosque

Luxury embraces Beirut, a Lebanese city also known as the Paris of the Middle East. Withstanding the aftermath of the Lebanese Civil War, this war-torn metropolis proves its resilience with much grace. Today, Beirut is considered a center for art and fashion as well as a breeding ground for fresh ideologies. 

Some must-see attractions in Beirut: National Museum of Beirut, Sursock Museum, Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque, Martyrs’ Square, Nijmeh Square, Pigeon Rocks, Grand Serail, Beirut Souks

4. Shanghai, China

shanghai skyline

Europe on one side, Asia on the other — this is how most would describe Shanghai. What was once a languid city has grown into one of China’s hippest urban spots. Now, tourists get to see the best of both worlds. Shanghai resembles a sleepy village on a foggy afternoon; but, during days with clear skies, it most definitely highlights its sophistication.

Some must-see attractions in Shanghai: The Bund, Longhua Temple and Pagoda, Nanjing Road, Yu Garden, The Jade Buddha Temple, Tianzifang, Shanghai Disneyland Park, Shanghai World Financial Center

5. Manila, Philippines

manila

Given that Manila stayed under the Spanish rule for 333 years, the European influences that remain in the city are unsurprising. Many foreigners flocked to mystifying Manila, then dubbed as the Most Beautiful City in the Far East and the Paris of Asia. Today, Manila thrives as the bustling city capital of the Philippines.

Some must-see attractions in Manila: Intramuros, Fort Santiago, Binondo, Rizal Park, San Agustin Church, National Museum of the Philippines

6. Bucharest, Romania

bucharest bridge

Early travelers liked to refer to Bucharest as Little Paris because of its elegant atmosphere and glamorous architecture. Nowadays, the city bustles with people so much that it sometimes gets a bad rap among visitors. But underneath the hubbub of modernity, one will certainly find its Parisian charm. 

Some must-see attractions in Bucharest: Stavropoleos Monastery, Pasaj Macca-Villacrosse, CEC Palace, Curtea Veche, Annunciation Church of Saint Anthony

7. Lahore, Pakistan

lahore india

Architecture fans must visit Lahore, a city that stretches out with detailed and symmetrical structures. Its significant landscape has led to its moniker Paris of Pakistan, as coined by British Foreign Secretary William Hague during his visit to the city. 

For the ultimate Parisian experience in Lahore, visit the Minar-e-Pakistan tower. This national monument, which features a fusion of Mughal/Islamic and modern architecture, lights up beautifully at night — in a way, resembling the Eiffel Tower.

Some must-see attractions in Lahore: Wazir Khan Mosque, Badshahi Mosque, Lahore Fort, Minar-e-Pakistan, Shalimar Gardens

8. Pondicherry, India

pondicherry

At first glance, Pondicherry might seem more of a city-beach break than a Paris of the East. But look closer, and you will recognize pieces of evidence that Pondicherry was, indeed, a part of French India for the longest time. Until today, the city and its people ooze of elements of France: historical French buildings, busy nightlife, diverse traditions, and laidback lifestyles. 

Some must-see attractions in Pondicherry: Seaside Promenade, Paradise Beach, Auroville Ashram, Aurobindo Ashram, Chunnambar Boat House, Basilica of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus, Raj Niwas, French War Memorial, Pondicherry Museum

9. Isfahan, Iran

isfahan bridge

Brimming with rich history, Isfahan melds heritage and modernity for the most of it. Vibrancy envelopes the place, so much so that some consider it a Paris in Iran. One can’t miss its elegant Perso–Islamic structures and grand establishments for the arts. The fullness of the city has granted it the famous Persian proverb: Esfahān nesf-e- jahān ast (Isfahan is half of the world). 

Some must-see attractions in Isfahan: Naqsh-e Jahan Square, Jameh Mosque of Isfahan, Aali Qapu Palace, Si O Se Pol Bridge, Chehel Sotoon Palace, Khajoo Bridge, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque

10. Istanbul, Turkey

istanbul mosque aerial

With its rich heritage and iconic structures — think Hagia Sophia! — Istanbul definitely offers a slice of Paris in Turkey. The city sprawls with cafés overlooking the Bosphorus River, vast and vibrant gardens and parks, chic fashion hubs, and many more!

Some must-see attractions in Istanbul: Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace Museum, Grand Bazaar, Basilica Cistern, Galata Tower, Sultanahmet Square

11. Prague, Czach Republic

prague skyline

Aside from being known as the Paris of the East, Prague is also nicknamed the Magical City, the Golden City, and the City of a Hundred Spires. Obviously, this city promises wonders to a traveler. It has numerous museums, theaters and galleries; it dons historical spots and grandiose structures. Moreover, Prague, like Paris, has been known as a center for major industries in Europe including culture, economics, and politics.

Some must-see attractions in Prague: Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, Saint Nicholas Church, Písek Gate, Milunić’s and Gehry’s Dancing House, The Franz Kafka Museum, Lennon Wall, Strahov Monastery, Wenceslas Square

12. Hanoi, Vietnam

evening in hanoi

An offbeat city with remnants of the golden age — Hanoi most definitely deserves the title, Paris in Asia. While the town teems with local treasures, visitors will surely spot the French influence in the land. Beyond its European architecture, Hanoi also mimics the very landscape of Paris. Stroll through Hanoi streets, and you might just feel the Vietnamese-Parisian ambience: thoughtfully placed outdoor areas, harmonious French but oriental designs, and scenic views that go on and on.

Some must-see attractions in Hanoi: Hanoi Opera House, Hotel Sofitel Metropole Legend Hanoi, The President Palace, Dong Xuan Market, Saint Joseph Cathedral

Other cities known as the Paris of the East

  • Baku, Azerbaijan
  • Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
  • Irkutsk, Russia
  • Jaipur, India
  • Kabul, Afghanistan
  • Leipzig, Germany
  • Phnom Penh, Cambodia
  • Riga, Latvia
  • Ross Island, India
  • Warsaw, Poland

What about Paris of the North, South and West?

Hop on to other articles in our Parisian series:

Who knew you could taste a slice of Paris wherever you are in the world? Now, it’s time to make your Parisian dreams come true. Which Paris of the East city will you be visiting first?

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