Podcasts are arguably more popular in the U.S. and the English-speaking world than they are in Europe. But English-language podcasts about Europe are steadily becoming more popular. Some of the best European news podcasts or EU politics podcasts provide high-quality coverage of European affairs. Travel and lifestyle podcasts take you on a journey through some of Europe’s most famous places. And history podcasts remind you why we call it the Old Continent.
I’ve compiled a list of the 12 best podcasts about Europe and EU politics, available in English. The list features shows for those curious about European affairs and perspectives. I’ve also included some great Europe-themed travel podcasts for those who don’t fancy politics as much. The list is five categories and you can jump down to whichever is your favorite:
Europe News and Politics Podcasts
EU Confidential is the twice-weekly podcast produced by the European arm of political news organization Politico. Politico is well-known for its sharp analysis of current affairs both in the U.S. and Europe. The EU Confidential podcast is no exception. Each episode follows the same format – excepting special events – which includes a round-table interview between host Andrew Gray and Politico correspondents in Berlin, Paris, and London.
After bringing pan-European perspectives on the issues of the week, the podcast then turns to an interview with an influential figure in EU politics. One of the latest interviewees on EU Confidential was European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, speaking about EU internal borders during the coronavirus crisis.
The World in 30 Minutes, hosted by European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) Director Mark Leonard, is an analysis of European and global issues from the previous week. Leonard usually has three experts in that week’s subject area as guests and facilitates a discussion. The episodes are informative and insightful, like the recent “Many elephants in the room: the EU and the Turkey, Syria, coronavirus and refugee crisis” episode.
Often, when we say “European affairs” we tend to assume we’re discussing Western Europe. If you want to distinguish from the likes of France, Germany, the UK, Spain, Italy, or the Netherlands, you have to add the word “Eastern” in front. Which is a shame, because the affairs of Poland, Ukraine, Romania, Hungary, and the Balkans are fascinating in their own right. On Talk Eastern Europe, the official podcast of news magazine New Eastern Europe, hosts Adam Reichardt and Maciek Makulski discuss current issues as they affect Central and Eastern Europe. They also regularly feature guests for interviews.
In their latest installment, they evaluate Eastern European countries’ responses to climate change. You can also visit the New Eastern Europe website for articles, analysis, and updates coming out of Central and Eastern Europe.
The Europeans is a sunny take on European affairs, brought to you by Katy Lee and Dominic Kraemer. The premise behind the Europeans is that Europe is full of refreshing cultural, political, and social events that are probably much more interesting to Americans and Brits who are tired of politics in the Trump and Brexit era. The weekly, thirty-minute installments include interviews with Europeans who have fascinating stories to tell.
While the rainbow backdrop on the podcast logo and stream of positivity talk might have you thinking this a fluffy, sweetened take on European affairs, you’d have to think again. Lee and Kraemer dive into serious issues with their guests. The most recent episode featured Danish activist Emma Holten, who’s fighting for tighter consent laws when it comes to sharing private images and videos over the internet.
Related: A Belgian Experiment in Democracy
Inside Europe is German news media DW’s one-hour news magazine in English. DW releases a new episode each week, covering the latest events across the continent. Host Peter Walker speaks to DW’s correspondents around Europe for their coverage on issues affecting European countries. Each episode is a crisp look at Europe’s current events; it’s a great place to start for those just diving into European affairs.
Talking Europe from France 24 is a weekly television program that releases an audio version as a podcast. Although in English, the show follows the very French style of news analysis and reporting – gathering some experts together and stoking a lively, critical discussion. In a particularly spirited recent episode, the program tackles Europe’s progress on women’s rights and gender equality. On their website, you can select from their previous shows to view as videos. On popular podcast apps, you’ll find the audio-only versions.
The London School of Economics and Political Science’s European Institute hosts regular public lectures, which it records and publishes online as podcasts. The European Institute invites experts on European studies and politics to speak, either for a presentation or panel discussion. Normally, events take place frequently. But at present, the spread of COVID-19 has forced the Institute to cancel them for the foreseeable future. You can still scroll their archived podcasts, though. Start with the recent “The State of European Banking Union: two proposals to resurrect it” then make your way to one of the many Brexit-themed episodes.
LSE publishes other podcasts as well, which you can find on their website. These aren’t strictly limited to Europe, but European affairs do come up as a topic somewhat often.
Stories from the Eastern West is a show from culture.pl, a project of a state-run institute under the Polish Minister of Culture. On this podcast, you’ll find exactly what the title advertises: stories, interviews, and features about people and events from Central and Eastern Europe. The show is driven by characters and narrative, with one person’s story at the heart of each episode. Each person is situated in a politically significant time and place, however, connecting their personal experiences to broader trends.
Worth listening to is the Season 3 episode, “Stateless” which gives a platform to former Polish TV host Marian Marzyński. He talks about the anti-Semitic campaign against Polish Jews in the 1960s and his career as a journalist.
Related: Women and Tourism
European Travel Podcasts
The Travel with Rick Steves audio program is a weekly podcast featuring small segments on travel destinations and cultural curiosities. Host and acclaimed travel writer Rick Steves interviews a few guests per episode. They discuss everything from local customs to historical landmarks. Although technically a worldwide travel program, Steves’ writing and publications are usually centered on Europe.
The most recent episode delves into the significance of lighthouses, Welsh traditions, and England’s modern aristocracy. If you haven’t yet discovered Steves’ vast travel resources, I suggest checking his website out before planning your next trip.
Hosts Katy Clarke and Josie Armao bring you weekly episodes jam-packed with practical Italy travel tips on the Untold Italy Travel Podcast. Both Clarke and Armao are travel veterans with tons of Italy-specific tips, guides, and itineraries. Episodes range in length, including short pieces on quick topics like “Do you need to tip in Italy?” Additionally, they do longer features with special guests like the most recent episode, “Introduction to Italian Wine.” The focus of Untold Italy is group traveling, rather than solo travel.
To see a side of Italy that’s less traveled, check out the website and listen to the recent podcast episodes. You won’t be disappointed.
After a recent six-month hiatus, host David Nikel returned to his bi-monthly episodes of the Life in Norway show. Nikel covers everything from travel, to Norwegian lifestyle, to current affairs. He takes each topic from the perspective of fellow expats living in Norway. Episodes feature interviews with people who call Norway home. One was with a Michelin star chef in “Sustainable Food in Trøndelag” and onther was with a diplomat in “The British Ambassador to Norway.”
The Life in Norway website also features articles, expat resources, and English-language news updates about Norway. If you dream about living the Nordic lifestyle, then this podcast is for you.
The Join Us in France Travel Podcast is your first stop for anything travel-related in France. The cheerful host Annie divides her time between the U.S. and Toulouse, France. Consequently, she has a wealth of practical travel knowledge from an American and anglophone perspective. Episodes range from functional travel tips, like the recent “Where to Settle in France for a Month?”, to destination reviews like “6 Days in the Dordogne and Aveyron.” There are also discussions with sometimes-cohost Elyse about French history and culture, like in “UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France.”
European History Podcasts
As a current Brussels resident, I have to include a podcast about Belgium! The Random History of Belgium podcast is an informative look into the culture, people, and events that shaped the modern state of Belgium. With episodes covering everything from the origin of Belgian elections to the history of Brussels’ famous Manneken Pis statue, you’ll learn all you ever wanted to know about Belgium.
The History of Netherlands Podcast is on an ambitious quest. The show wants to cover the entire human history of the country we know today as the Netherlands, starting from prehistoric times. The first few episodes cover large swaths of time because, well, there wasn’t much going on with humans in the Netherlands’ early days. After those beginning episodes, the podcast takes a deep dive into formative events in the country’s history. The historical coverage isn’t limited to the geographical boundaries of the modern-day Netherlands, either. It also includes regions in Belgium, Luxembourg, and Northern France, an area the show’s hosts refer to as the “lowlands.”
If you’re yearning to know all about the history of this region and the peoples of it, then tune into The History of the Netherlands Podcast.
Still looking for podcasts about European news and stories?
Check out Europod, a network of journalistic, cultural, and political podcasts about Europe. They feature shows in English, Italian, and French.
What Do You Think?
Have you listened to any of the podcasts on this list? What did you think? Do you have any favorites you’d add? Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts and suggestions for other podcasts!