If you’re anything like us, your social media pages have been flooded with ads for great flight deals to Europe and they’ve gotten your wheels spinning. But with so many countries to choose from, how can you make sure you plan your perfect Eurotrip? We’re glad you asked! De-stress and get ready to scroll as you check out the best places to visit in Europe so you can plan a once in a lifetime European adventure.
Best Places to Visit in Europe:
Austria | Belgium | Bosnia & Herzegovina | Bulgaria | Croatia | Cyprus | Czech Republic | Denmark | Estonia | Finland | France | Georgia | Germany | Greece | Iceland | Ireland | Italy | Latvia | Luxembourg | Netherlands | Norway | Malta | Monaco | Poland | Portugal | Romania | Russia | Serbia | Slovakia | Slovenia | Spain | Sweden | Switzerland | UK | Ukraine
Best Places to Visit in Austria
Recommended by Anne from Girl Chasing Sunshine
Also known as the ‘City of Music’ because of its musical history, Austria’s beautiful capital city is defined by stunning baroque architecture, cultural events, imperial traditions and an authentic coffeehouse culture experience.
Vienna’s musical and artistic legacy was shaped by famous intellectuals and composers, such as Mozart, Beethoven, and Sigmund Freud, who made the city their home. Today, Vienna boasts a lot of concert halls that stage opera and jazz concerts and music festivals, providing tourists a pulsating experience. If you’re in the area, hear the music at the State Opera or Musikverein.
Aside from the buzzing musical scene, Vienna’s roads are punctuated with pretty prefectures. From royal-imperial palaces to world-renowned museums, from charming buildings to works of art, Vienna is indeed a pretty city!
The heart of the historic centre is the Ringstraße, a circular boulevard lined with Vienna’s best-known sights such as the Imperial Palace, the Natural History Museum, the Austrian Parliament Building, and the Rathaus, among others. It’s a leisurely walk that any first-time tourist should experience. Another important historical monument in Vienna is the Schönbrunn Palace, the former imperial summer residence and one of Europe’s most breathtaking Baroque complexes.
For those who are coming into the city for an authentic Viennese Coffee House culture experience, Café Griendsteidl is the perfect place to start.
Perched on the border of Germany, Salzburg is literally a tale of two cities. Separated by the Salzach River, on one side you’ll find the Old Town, an UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its medieval buildings, and on the other you’ll love discovering the bustling New City and all there is to do.
Music lovers definitely need to have Salzburg on their list of the best places to visit in Europe because not only is it the birthplace of Mozart, but it’s also where The Sound of Music was filmed. If it’s possible to ever get tired of music, you’ll be happy to know that Salzburg is more than just music, as it has everything you need for an amazing vacation.
Whether you’re exploring the city or taking a day trip to experience the surrounding beauty, getting around Salzburg is going to be a breeze because of their public transportation system.
When it’s time for dinner, Salzburg satisfies everyone from the carb-lover to the gluten-free eater as top of the line restaurants are scattered throughout the city.
With picturesque views of the Eastern Alps, it has proven to be a nature-lover’s dream as well, as there are so many hikes and walks that you could never possibly do them all in one trip. After experiencing all that Salzburg has to offer, you’re sure to leave with a smile on your face and a song in your heart.
Recommended by Linda from Travel Tyrol
Also known as the Capital of the Alps, Innsbruck is a city of contrasts in the Alpine province of Tyrol. From a tiny golden roof in the historic old town to the majestic Nordkette mountain range, there is always something to see and do for active nature lovers as well as culture vultures. If you are both, Innsbruck is heaven.
While the Golden Roof, a balcony from the 15th century adorned with 2,657 fire-gilded copper tiles, is the symbol of Innsbruck, other well-known landmarks include the Bergisel Olympic ski jump and Ambras Castle. The Hafelekarspitze, an Alpine peak, can be reached within an hour from the city center via the Nordkette cableway.
Or you can opt for an easy stroll from the triumphal arch down to the golden roof on Maria Theresa Street. The market square next to the Inn River, with its views of the mountains and a row of colorful old houses, is always a good place to end a day in Innsbruck.
Given its central location, Innsbruck remains one of the best places to visit in Europe, especially if you want to explore the rest of Europe. Italy, Germany, and Switzerland are only a short drive or train ride away.
Recommended by Tripti from Live Free and Discover
Hallstatt is listed as an UNESCO World Heritage site and is one of the most beautiful towns in Austria. It is the perfect place for both adventure seekers and people looking for some relaxing down time.
Sitting right beside the most romantic lake in Austria, Hallstatt is home to about 900 residents. You can easily spend a day or two canoeing on the lake, biking around town and hiking to nearby mountains and glaciers. This little town can be crisscrossed on foot in 20-30 minutes while enjoying lakeside restaurants, street food kiosks, and many art and souvenir shops.
Also, when in the area, visit the oldest salt mine in the world called Salzwelten, which apparently has been in use since 70BC. A funicular railway takes you up the nearby mountain where you can explore this underground salt mine. Here you can take a guided tour to learn about the history, geology and process of salt mining.
There is also a lookout point in Salzwelten which has amazing views of the lake, surrounding mountains and the town of Hallstatt.
Best Places to Visit in Belgium
Recommended by Collette from Roamaroo
With its rich history, lush landscape, Epicurean enchantments, and bountiful collection of beers, Brussels is a travelers dream. Its closest capital cities, Amsterdam and Paris, are both under two hours away, while Brussels is under 90 minutes away from the nearby Belgian towns of Bruges, Liege, and Namur. Brussels is a rather small town compared to its sister cities, therefore walking and cycling are terrific options for transportation. In addition to walking and cycling, there is a fantastic public train system that can take you anywhere you’d like to go around the city.
Skip the skinny jeans when you head to Brussels because it’s a city filled with Epicurean offerings. Spend your days biking or walking from friteries (restaurants dedicated solely to french fries!) to Belgian chocolate shops and spend your evenings enjoying local Trappist beers (beers made by monks) at La Porte Noir or Moeder Lambic and some mussels in Brussels at Chez Leon. However, despite all of the delicious delights in Brussels, the food that reigns supreme is the waffle.
Brussels waffles, known to Americans as the “Belgian waffle,” are best ingested at Maison Dandoy. This restaurant, dedicated solely to waffles, creates a wide variety of sugary selections including chocolate waffles, strawberry waffles, and waffles with whipped cream. To continue your adventure through candy land, head over to Laurent Gerbaud Chocolatier for bespoke, handmade chocolates.
Recommended by Suzy from Wunderlander
Antwerp is known for its huge port, which is important to worldwide trade, and for being the home of baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens. But the second largest city in Belgium has more to offer.
This charming fashion metropolis has a population of around 500,000 and will welcome you with a big heart! Cool clubs and bars, a great food scene and many art locations attract open-minded people of all kinds.
Designers to-be from one of the many fashion schools run shows all throughout the year, which are always inspiring events. In the diamond district, there is a lot to see and an astounding 80% of the world’s diamonds are traded here.
Close to the diamond district is Antwerp Centraal, a beautiful old train station with lots of bars. Have one of the many great tasting Belgian beers and a Belgian waffle at the Grote Markt for dessert, take a historic boat tour on river Scheldt or visit Antwerp’s historic brewery De Koninck – you won’t get bored!
Best Places to Visit in Bosnia & Herzegovina
Transformed into one of the most popular weekend destinations in the Balkans, Mostar will definitely leave an impression like no other place you’ve been. The city is highlighted by the UNESCO World Heritage Old City and Old Bridge.
Old Bridge not ring a bell? Maybe you know it as “Stari Most”, the iconic bridge exuding impeccable Balkan Islamic architecture as it spans the river Neretva. The “bridge keepers”, or the two fortified towers that protect it (the Halebija tower on the northeast and the Tara tower on the southwest), also deserve a visit and a climb.
Once you’ve taken all your pictures at Old Bridge, from street art to the Bruce Lee statue, you’ll find tons of beautiful and quirky things to do that’ll make you fall more in love with Mostar. Still housing some reminders of the Bosnian War, there are plenty of places that will impact you greatly with their stories. The Sniper Tower is one of those places. Used for snipers to easily spot their targets below, it is now decorated with street art and open for you to discover.
You can easily walk around and explore for hours enjoying historic Austro-Hungarian architecture, sitting by the river, swimming or even training for a jump from the bridge.
When the sun sets the crowds of tourists will disperse and the city will light up. When it’s time for dinner, take your pick of countless restaurants with beautiful river views, traditional live music and local cuisine. In addition, Mostar is great on the budget; just another reason why you should take time to visit this amazing melting pot.
Best Places to Visit in Bulgaria
Recommended by Daniela from Ipanema travels to…
Veliko Tarnovo is certainly one of the less known most beautiful cities in Europe. It has rich history – being a capital of Bulgaria in the period XII – XIV c., beautiful location – houses perched on hills and the Yantra River meandering through the city, and quite specific architecture, characteristic of the Bulgarian XIX c. Revival.
The most famous attractions in Veliko Tarnovo include: Tsarevets (the ruins of the fortress, the king’s palace and the church from the once glorious capital of Bulgaria); Gurko street; Samovodska charshia (a famous street with small shops selling antiques, crafts and souvenirs); the Multimedia Visitor Centre (a historical wax figure museum); the Archeological Museum.
Plan to stay at least a week to explore the city and its surroundings. A long weekend can also be a good option, but then you won’t be able to visit the various museums.
Best Places to Visit in Croatia
Recommended by Kristen from Travels & Treats
Often referred to as the Pearl of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik, Croatia is a traveller’s dream. The city sits on the coast of the Adriatic Sea in southern Croatia with a population that exceeds just over 40,000.
The city has become a summer hotspot for tourists, but it’s easy to see why it has become one of the best places to visit in Europe. The city’s Old Town is impressively preserved and sits protected by its high surrounding walls, which visitors can walk atop of for stellar views of the city and the turquoise sea. A number of islands are within reach for an easy one-day boat trip, or you can spend the day lounging on one of Dubrovnik’s picturesque beaches.
In addition to the warm beaches and stunning scenery, Dubrovnik is a foodie’s paradise. Restaurants in the area excel in dishes using locally-caught seafood and traditional recipes including lots and lots of meat. If you’re a wine lover, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the quality of wines available in Dubrovnik and the surrounding area.
Recommended by Sarah & Kris from Jetsetting Fools
Rovinj is a jumble of pale yellow and pink buildings perched on a peninsula in the Adriatic Sea in Croatia’s northern Istria region. Winding cobblestone lanes – crisscrossed with laundry hanging on the line – lead up to the hilltop of St. Euphemia Church. The soaring bell tower that pierces the sky is a symbol of the city – and the views from the top stretch all the way to Italy.
Along the rocky shore, the translucent sea splashes the coastline, which invites brave swimmers to dive in head first in the heat of the day. In the late afternoon, as the local fishermen head out to sea in hopes of a catch, people gather along the coastline to watch the sun sink into the horizon.
Scrumptious seafood is heaped on plates at sea view restaurants and family-run pizzerias hidden on small squares serve piping hot pies cooked in wood-burning ovens. The Italian influence is strong – and so are the truffles and local brandy, called rakija.
The historic core of the city is limited to pedestrian foot traffic, and bikes can be used to explore the nearby vineyards and parks. Rovinj exudes simple pleasures and a peaceful atmosphere of life by the sea.
Recommended by Sarah from Live Dream Discover
Split is often overlooked in favor of its showier and better known sibling, Dubrovnik. However, Split is so much more than just a pretty face with millions of adoring fans. Who, by the way, flood the tiny center of Dubrovnik every year making it difficult to fully appreciate the beauty in high season.
Split, on the other hand, feels more real and although it is attracting more and more tourists it still maintains a quieter charm and offers a real taste of Dalmatian life. In Split you can explore the historic center of Diocletian’s Palace, stroll along the modern Riva waterfront, relax at the sandy beaches, hike through Marjan Forest Park and eat at charming fresh seafood cafes or gourmet restaurants.
In other words, Split offers a little of everything and all at a still fairly reasonable price. Add to this the fact that Split is located perfectly for exploring other Croatian sights such as Hvar, Krka Falls, Plitvice Lakes National Parks, and Trogir, and it becomes a true winner, topping the list of the best places to visit in Europe.
Recommended by Jan from Budget Travel Talk
Vis, Croatia’s least known but most interesting island, was once Yugoslavia’s major naval base. Twenty-six years later, civilians have nurtured a delightfully low-key tourist island. There are military tours or you can get your 007 on and explore the island’s submarine pen all by yourself.
Ferries from Split tie up in Luka, the busy end of Vis harbour, and with the warships gone, sailing boats now invade each evening. Have a port-side drink while the mass moorings unfold, or stroll along the Riva, to the quieter village of Kut.
When it’s time to eat, you shouldn’t be surprised that fish dominate the grill, but lamb does too, with traditional Pekas and Italian-inspired risottos and pizzas. For a tasty addition to your meal, Vis pie is a pastry snack filled with a blend of anchovies, tomatoes, onion and black olives.
After the sun sets and you’re ready to explore the nightlife, one place you don’t want to miss is the 200-year-old Fort George. There you’ll dance the night away at open-air garden parties from 11 pm Tuesdays and twice weekly all-night yacht parties in August. It’s also an intriguing venue to visit by day.
You’ll never have to worry about where to stay because along with your choice of hotels, islanders have opened their houses and apartments to provide accommodation, with more than 300 places on offer.
Whether you come to relax at a restaurant on the beach or party in a hidden bay, Vis Island will invade your senses and make it difficult to sail into the sunset.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
Recommended by Joren & Katherine from The Belgian Wanderers
With its breathtaking views, beautiful fauna and unique turquoise waters, Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of Croatia’s oldest and largest national parks. It was founded in 1949 and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO 30 years later. This national park is located in the centre of Croatia (roughly 130km from their capital city, Zagreb), close to the Bosnian border. It is home to 16 lakes, all connected by a series of waterfalls and streams. Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of those national parks that are beautiful to visit in every season – you will be amazed whole year round!
Best Places to Visit in Cyprus
Recommended by Chloe from Backpack to the Future
The island of Cyprus could be summed up in one word as ‘biblical’. The country is steeped in history and the town of Larnaca has some stories to tell. It is said that the town of Larnaca was originally called ‘Kition’, as it was believed that Kittim, the great-grandson of Noah, had established the first settlement around 6,000 years ago.
Now Larnaca isn’t just a stopover the night before you fly! The bustling town has much to offer for a variety of travelers. History buffs will enjoy storming castles and feasting their eyes upon a 9th-century church, said to be the final resting place of Lazarus!
Thrill seekers will be in awe of some incredible scuba diving. As the MS Zenobia, a ship wreck that rests in Larnaca Bay, is said to be one of the best wreck dives in the Mediterranean.
And if that isn’t your cup of tea and people watching is your thing, then find a cafe on the promenade and tickle your taste buds with some local treats. No matter your preference, this little island is one stop not to be missed!
Best Places to Visit in Czech Republic
Recommended by Dean from Living la Vida Global
Its name means “crook of the river”, and when you view the fairytale town of Cesky Krumlov from the hills around the town, it is obvious how it derived its name.
Often overlooked in favor of a visit to nearby Prague, UNESCO listed Cesky Krumlov is too picture perfect to be ignored. It is a town that can be fully explored in a day and yet deserves so much more of your time.
The unique faux stone buildings appear as nothing out of the ordinary until it is pointed out to you that the effect is achieved with paint and not actually stone at all. In addition, the cobbled streets and lanes dare you to explore deeper as they curve through a perfect mix of pubs, coffee shops, restaurants and shops.
Cars are heavily restricted in the town which helps build the feeling that you have stepped back in time. Hire a private guide at the Information Centre on the town square to learn not only of the medieval history, but of life behind the Iron Curtain and how the town survived during and after communist control.
There are plenty of transport options to allow you to reach Cesky Krumlov from Prague, and you are truly missing one of the best places to visit in Europe if you don’t take the opportunity.
Recommended by Savvi from SavviScouts
Known as the birthplace of the Pilsner beer, Pilsen (Plzeň) is more than just a good beer. Just under 50 miles west of Prague, this Bohemian city has much to offer.
The hotels are cheap, the beer is flowing, and the sleepy Baroque-style Republic Square offers the perfect backdrop for a nice evening of food and drinks with your friends/family. Pilsen is like a smaller, more chill version of Prague.
If you only have one day, grab lunch at the Purkmistr or U Mansfelda, then chill out in the green municipal park ring before your tour of the Brewery Museum and the historic underground tunnel/cellar network (be sure to buy a ticket ahead of time – the English tours fill up fast!).
You go to Pilsen for the beer, but you’ll stay for the atmosphere.
Recommended by Anke from Fun Traveling with Kids
Prague, Czech Republic’s beautiful capital, also known as Zlata Praha (Golden Prague), is one of the most charming cities in central Europe.
The majestic Prague Castle is overlooking the beautiful river Vltava that bends picturesquely through the city and can be crossed via 18 bridges. The most famous bridge is the iconic Charles Bridge. We highly recommend you come here either early in the morning or at sunset when you can enjoy a spectacular view of Prague Castle.
All year round tourists from all over the world are exploring this fairy-tale like metropolis with its maze of narrow cobblestone streets and historical buildings dated back as far as the 9th century. Visit Old Town Square where hundreds of visitors are rubbing shoulders to watch the hourly appearance of the apostles in one of the oldest astronomical clocks in the world.
Only a few blocks away from the busy tourist center that’s where you find hidden treasures like rustic pubs and restaurants with hearty meals such as pork roast or gúláš served with lots of gravy, bread dumplings, and sauerkraut. For people with a sweet tooth, palacinky, a thin pancake filled with whipped cream, ice cream, and fruit should be on top of your list.
Even though Prague has an extensive public transport system, the city is easy to explore by foot. So, put on your most comfortable walking shoes and wander the narrow streets.
Tired of exploring the magnificent historical sites? Well, a visit to Prague won’t be complete without tasting some of the traditional home-brewed beers, which are known as some of the best in the world. U Medvidku, U Fleku, U Kalica Original Svejk Pub and U Pinkasu are amongst our favorites for delicious beer, traditional rustic Czech cuisine, and welcoming atmosphere. One thing is for certain, the captivating and lovable city of Prague tops the list of best places to visit in Europe and will keep you coming back for more.
Recommended by Kami from My Wanderlust
While the majority of tourists visiting Czech Republic focus on Prague only, just a short hour drive away you can find a real gem that not many know about – Liberec. This beautiful Czech city offers a great mix of interesting history, beautiful architecture, a good culinary (and cafes!) scene and amazing nature around.
The most impressive place is the town hall, built at the end of the 19th century. From the outside it looks similar to the city hall in Vienna, but the interior will make your jaw drop – that’s how stunning it is! You’ll often see the Liberec town hall in movies, recently it is seen in “Genius” – a TV series about Albert Einstein.
One of the most pleasant things to do in Liberec is just walking around – the city has so many beautiful villas from the turn of the 19th and 20th century! Since the city is surrounded by Jizera Mountain, it’s super easy to hit the trail here and escape into nature.
If you’re feeling lazy but still want to enjoy amazing views, you can take the cable car to Jested Mountains from where you can admire a beautiful landscape of Czech Republic.
Liberec can make a great day trip from Prague, but it’s definitely worth it to stay there longer!
Best Places to Visit in Denmark
Recommended by Eran from The Laughing Traveller
The Faroe Islands are a group of 18 islands in the North Atlantic located somewhere between Scandinavia and Iceland, just north of Scotland. It’s a remote destination but well worth it, as it was voted one of the top destinations by National Geographic in 2015.
The word “Faroe” means “sheep” in Old Norse, and once there you understand why it got this name :) Beautiful nature with fjords and waterfalls that fall from cliffs to the ocean decorate the treeless landscape. At the end of practically every fjord lies a small village with turf houses and a church.
The gems of the islands are a few “unpronounceable” villages – 1) Mykines, which is located on an island by the same name, is reachable via a ferry or a helicopter. 2) Saksun – a 40-minute drive from the capital city. 3) Gjogv – a remote village on a neighboring island surrounded by scenic roads and fjords in every direction!
The islands are connected with a system of bridges and sub-sea tunnels, and driving is fairly easy, but watch out for the sheep. In order to reach the more remote islands ferries are being used.
Best Places to Visit in Estonia
Recommended by John from From Real People
Giving you countless reasons to visit Estonia, the city of Tallinn is a vibrant and exciting city that is attracting more and more visitors. It’s is a compact city that’s easy to walk around. Just get lost in the cute streets of the old town and take a rest to enjoy the hustle and bustle of the town square.
Head up to Toompea Hill and check out the Parliament Building, St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and the artillery tower Kiek in de Kök. While you’re in the old town, seek out the cute St. Catherine’s Passage and shop for authentic local souvenirs. Then make sure to pause in Freedom Square and remember how recently this country gained its independence.
Take a bus tour to reach all the best spots outside the centre without missing anything. Be sure to visit the TV Tower and get the best view of the city. Finally, don’t miss the Seaplane Harbour. It’s an amazing building from the city’s Russian past, as well as an outstanding museum.
Best Places to Visit in Finland
Recommended by Raisa from Dream Work and Travel
Lapland is a wide, northern area of land that stretches from Russia in the east through Finland and Sweden all the way to Norway in the west. Lapland is also connected to the Arctic Sea in the north, which is a great diving site to those who are comfortable diving in the cold waters. The water is crystal clear, so the visibility under the water can be great.
If you are looking for a great ski resort, you should visit Saariselkä where you can try swimming in an icy lake followed by deep relaxation in a traditional smoke sauna.
Or if you are interested in a more remote location, Inari is a great spot to enjoy the surrounding nature and to watch the Northern Lights change color. Inari is well-connected too, as the nearest airport of Ivalo is only a 30-minute drive away.
Husky sledges, snow mobiles, snow shoes, horse rides and amazing ski slopes await you in Lapland!
Best Places to Visit in France
Recommended by Margherita from The Crowded Planet
The French city of Bordeaux is very well known by wine lovers, being located in the centre of one of the world’s most famous wine regions. As such, many things to see in Bordeaux are wine-related – there are dozens of wine bars and places organizing wine tastings, wine tours and even a full-on wine museum, the recently-opened Cite du Vin, shaped like a decanter and including wine-related interactive exhibits.
If you happen to be a teetotaller, fear not – Bordeaux is still worth a visit! The city is located on the banks of the Garonne River, a wonderful place to run, cycle or even enjoy a sunset cruise… with wine, if you so wish!
The city itself is a delight to tour around – the historic center of Bordeaux is UNESCO-listed because of its wonderful 18th century architecture, lending the city a real harmonious look, with its elegant sandstone buildings. The best view of the city can be had from the top of the Tour Pey-Berland, a Gothic tower located right next to the Cathedral, and one not-to-be-missed sight is Le Miroir d’Eau near Place de la Bourse, a row of mini-fountains turning the square into a giant water mirror. Take note, though – the fountain is closed in winter!
Recommended by Sharon from Where’s Sharon?
Paris is a place that needs no introduction thanks to being home to perhaps the most widely recognized structure in the world, the Eiffel Tower. Paris is much more than the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre though. It’s a fabulous place to visit on your European adventure because it is filled with attractions and experiences in addition to its most famous landmarks. In fact, your biggest problem in Paris is going to be working out what not to see as you probably won’t have enough time to see it all.
What we love about Paris is not the big attractions, as awesome as they are. It’s wandering around the streets, trying little bars and cafes, enjoying the food and getting a baguette and croissant from the local boulangerie and having a picnic. There is always more to see, do and experience. Despite being one of the most visited cities in the world, it’s also quite easy to escape the tourist masses and enjoy just being in Paris.
Recommended by Dean from Living la Vida Global
It is easy to imagine how imposing this walled city would have appeared to visitors during medieval times, and even more so to potential attackers. For 800 years the Castle has stood overlooking this French countryside, growing in size and stature over the next 100 years.
Carcassonne is special. Listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, you will not only experience the awe inspiring view from a distance but can fully immerse yourself in history as you enter the gates and explore the alleys and buildings.
Make your way past the souvenir shops selling tacky helmets and swords and you will find yourself transported back in time. Friendly restaurateurs greet you outside their establishments offering tastings of traditional cassoulet, a hearty peasant stew dating back as far as the Castle itself.
Carcassonne is the perfect midpoint on a southwest France road trip as you travel between Montpellier and Toulouse.
Recommended by Karen from Big Adventures for Little Feet
When considering the best travel destinations, there are four big things to look for….. beautiful scenery, an interesting village or town to explore, opportunities to get active amongst nature, and super tasty food. Not every destination can boast all these attributes, but Annecy in the French Alps can tick every single box.
An hour from Geneva and close to some of France’s highest profile ski resorts with the likes of Chamonix a stone’s throw away, it is the summertime that Annecy gets its chance to shine.
Annecy is simply stunning with castle-studded mountains bordering the old town and Lac d’Annecy. The lake is claimed to be the cleanest in Europe and swimming in the surprisingly warm waters is a must in the summertime.
You can also take some scenic boat rides or hire a kayak to get out on the water, or wander the lakes’ edge on foot to take in the prettiness of the place.
The old town of Annecy is intriguing with Venice-like canals of aqua-coloured waters crisscrossing the old streets. The shopping is fantastic as well for those who like a little retail therapy.
Of course, France spells delicious when it comes to food and Annecy has a huge number of tasty eateries and delectable patisseries to try out during your stay.
Recommended by Sam from As the Sparrow Flies
Although not the most obvious city to visit in Europe, Lille is a city full of many surprises. With a history spanning across Spain, France and Belgium, it owes more of its culture and architecture to Flemish influences, which makes this northern French city a feast for the eyes and tastebuds.
Take a look around some of its grandest buildings like the Town Hall and its 104-meter tall Belfry, the opulent Vieille Bourse and the Musee de l’Hospice Comtesse before stopping off for a traditional merveilleux – a sandwich of two light meringues stuffed full of whipped cream and covered in chocolate shavings.
After getting your sweet fix, you can explore the Jardin Vauban, a garden full of grottos, sloping lawns and statuettes which make you feel you are in another world entirely – not in the middle of a city. Lille is easy to visit in a day, and you’ll have just enough time to sample a typical Lille microbrew in a local estaminet before heading home!
Recommended by Luke & Meagan from Two Restless Homebodies
Whether you’re a Disney fan, a history lover, or just looking for something other than beaches to enjoy in Normandy, head to Mont Saint-Michel. What began as a humble religious structure in the 8th century AD has morphed over the centuries into the incredible walled city that inspired illustrations of Rapunzel’s family home in Disney’s recent Tangled.
For €20, you can tour the abbey from top to bottom, taking in winding stairways, architectural models, gorgeous coastal views, and even the sounds of mass from the church at the top of the compound.
But beware if you arrive at high tide. Home to some of the highest tides in Europe, once the tide comes in, the compound is completely cut off from land and is only accessible by boat. At any other time, Mont Saint-Michel is easily-accessible for a day-trip from Paris, thanks to the high-speed train.
Insider Tip: Once you arrive, it’s highly recommended that you approach on foot, if you’re able, instead of taking the tram. You’ll be treated to exquisite views the entire way!
Recommended by Nadine from Le Long Weekend
Provence encompasses the very best that France has to offer. And it does so in a uniquely colourful way! From the purple lavender fields, to the azure blue coastlines, to the ochre mines and lush green forest – the palette of Provence has inspired countless artists throughout the years.
Not only is it a beautiful region, it’s also bathed in a healthy dose of sunshine. Provence boasts the best weather in France! And there’s plenty to do in every season.
History lovers will be in their element exploring the ancient chateaux that sit atop many hillside villages. Foodies will be spoiled with the fresh produce and locally made delicacies on offer at daily markets. Wine connoisseurs can sip on the region’s finest rosé. Nature lovers will marvel at the dramatic landscapes. Those wanting to get active can kayak through the deepest canyon in France, hike the mighty calanques, or cycle Mont Ventoux – one of the most famous climbs in the Tour de France!
Despite its popularity – both with the French and foreigners – it rarely feels overtaken by tourists, and you can easily retreat to the quieter areas of the region to seek respite.
Recommended by Pierre from French Moments
Situated one hour by road from Strasbourg, the historic town of Colmar lies at the heart of the vineyards of Alsace. Since the Middle Ages, Colmar has been a prosperous economic and cultural centre in the Upper Rhine Valley. The old town boasts many monuments, mansions, churches and museums that make a trip to Colmar unmissable in this part of Europe.
The historic centre is organized around the Saint-Martin Collegiate Church, a massive Gothic-style sanctuary dating back to the 14th century. The rue des Marchands is bordered with remarkable half-timbered houses from the Renaissance era such as the Pfister House. It leads to the Old Customs House, the former administrative and economic centre of town.
A bit further spreads the picturesque Krutenau district where wine producers, market gardeners and boatmen used to live. With its old houses built on both sides of the River Lauch, the district is therefore nicknamed the Little Venice of Colmar.
The Alsatian town is home to one of France’s richest Fine Arts museums: the Musée Unterlinden, renowned for the beautiful Issenheim altarpiece. During the holidays the historic town provides a fairy-tale setting for the popular Christmas market.
Recommended by Pierre from French Moments
Set where the Weiss Valley opens onto the Plain of Alsace, Kaysersberg is one of Alsace’s most attractive towns. Dominated by the ruins of the castle, the town was built during the Middle Ages. Its name means “the Mountain of the Emperor”, as Kaysersberg was once an imperial city in the Holy Empire.
From this prosperous era, the little town has kept parts of its medieval walls and the round keep of its castle from which the view extends from the Vosges Mountains to the vineyards, the Plain of Alsace and the Black Forest Mountains in Germany.
The winding pedestrian streets of Kaysersberg are bordered by opulent half-timbered houses, many from the 15th and 16th centuries and decorated with magnificent geraniums. The fortified bridge that links the upper to the lower town is unique in Alsace. It leads to the church of the Holy Cross whose construction was spread out across 1230 and the 16th century. Inside is a remarkable wooden altarpiece from 1519.
Voted France’s favorite village in the 2017 edition of Le Village Préféré des Français, it should be no surprise that this former commune is one of the best places to visit in Europe.
Best Places to Visit in Georgia
Recommended by Trisha from P.S. I’m On My Way
Tbilisi is probably the lesser known European city that we all have yet to explore (facts are still confused as to whether it’s located in Europe or Asia but anyway, their political geography screams Europe). It is one of the cheapest European cities, where $25 per day can take you a long way.
Georgian food is also something to consider – all the dough translates to different levels of taste that made the country an up and coming gastronomic destination in the region.
And of course, the wine, oh the wine: The Georgians pride themselves as one of the oldest wine regions in the world, although we can never come across it in best wine regions listicles. Historically speaking, Georgian wine is believed to be the first wine produced in the world because of its blessed geographic location and perfect climate.
Tbilisi’s art scene (okay, it’s hipster) is also one to look out for. This city has joined the bandwagon of quirky cafes, underground (literally) bars that are not known to many and an emerging scene of co-working spaces. The Vogue editors frequent Tbilisi because of the cheap antique shopping in the Day Bridge Bazaar.
Nightlife is exceptional. There is always something happening in the city even if you randomly walk in some hipster bar. And oh, the Georgians are very friendly, too!
Best Places to Visit in Germany
Recommended by Sonal from Drifter Planet
Hamburg has a bit of everything – canals, pretty houses, historical architecture, interesting street art and an amazing party scene. Believe it or not – this city has more bridges than Amsterdam and Venice combined. Housing one of the largest harbors in Europe, make sure you take time for nice walk or photoshoot along one of the waterways.
This city also has Europe’s biggest red light district – Reeperbahn. Reeperbahn is in St. Pauli, and it is the same place where the Beatles played in their early music career before they became famous all over the world. Hamburg also has the longest underwater river tunnel that goes under the Elbe River.
Foodies will appreciate the increase in multicultural eateries, and you can’t miss a chance to stop by the Hamburger Fischmarkt, the local fish market right near the Elbe River. Every Sunday morning from 7am – 9:30am, join thousands of other visitors as you barter for fish and shop for just about anything else you could need; from souvenirs to flowers to fruit, they have it all!
Navigating Hamburg is super easy as you’ll have access to a light-rail network, underground trains, buses, and even ferries. The best part – Hamburg’s buses have bookshelves and you can borrow the books for free!
Recommended by Thomas & Myrthe from Nomada How Far
If someone is talking about an art space in an old abandoned church, driving a bicycle on the tarmac of an airport, or clubbing in an old power plant, then there’s no other place in the world than Berlin that can offer all these things.
After the fall of the wall, Berlin has quickly established itself as the cultural center of Europe. Squatters converted abandoned buildings to creative places, the city created more parks and open spaces, and heaps of creative businesses started popping up. Add the low cost of living and a serious amount of history, and you have the perfect mix to become the best city in Europe.
Over the years, a lot of international creatives have moved to Berlin and helped to grow the whole scene. When going to Berlin, you get a special feeling that you won’t get anywhere else. This isn’t the city for 9-5 jobs and men in suits, this is the city where you can chill out in the park with a Club Maté or a beer in your hand and no one will ever be bothered. This is the city where you just can be yourself.
Recommended by Michela from Rocky Travel
If you love cities, then Munich must be on your list of the best places to visit in Europe. With a population of 1.5 million people and a thriving economy, Munich offers an intriguing vibe for locals and visitors alike.
It’s an amazing city that shows its glow from spring to autumn, when the weather is at its best. Long summer days are the ideal time for making the most of Munich’s great outdoor lifestyle.
A way to discover the city’s flair is to enjoy the beer gardens and get active in the city’s parks. A stroll in the English Garden, a bike ride along the Isar or a train trip to the surrounding lakes are just a few of the activities you can do.
Starnberg See, Tegernsee, Schliersee or Chiemsee are top destinations that you can visit by public transport on a day trip from Munich.
And if you love food festivals, then you must visit at the end of September and go to the Oktoberfest, a 2-week beer festival which draws millions of visitors every year to the world famous “Wiesn”, as the locals call it.
With its many cultural and natural attractions, Munich is a delight for both culture and outdoor enthusiasts that will not disappoint.
Recommended by Carolyn from Holidays to Europe
Just an hour from Frankfurt, Boppard is a great place from which to explore the surrounding towns and villages of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, which stretches 65 kilometers from Koblenz to Rudesheim.
The town itself is situated on the largest bend of the Rhine River and dates back to Roman times. It’s pretty medieval centre features cobblestone streets, a market square and a good selection of shops and restaurants.
Enjoy a stroll along the riverside promenade or hop aboard a river cruise boat for a relaxing look at the valley from the water. The cliffs on either side of the river are planted with vines and dotted with ruined castles, so there’s plenty to see.
If you’re feeling a little more energetic, there’s an extensive network of cycling paths alongside the river and the lush green countryside offers lots of opportunities for hiking, too.
Within easy reach of Boppard are numerous pretty medieval villages on either side of the Rhine. Bacharach is jaw-droppingly beautiful whilst the views from Schönburg Castle at Oberwesel are not to be missed. Treat yourself to lunch on the castle’s terrace for a meal to remember.
Best Places to Visit in Greece
Recommended by Brian & Amanda from Eat Work Travel
If you are looking for incredible water views, fresh seafood and friendly people, then Milos tops the list of the best places to visit in Europe for you. Milos Island is found in the Cyclades group of the Aegean Sea, and in our opinion is completely underrated. It is known as the “island of color” due to the varying rock formations that make up the island.
Most of the island is not accessible by car, therefore boat and catamaran travel is highly recommended to truly explore. There are about 70 beaches found throughout Milos that can be explored during your water journey. Due to the abundance of beaches, the most popular activities are centered around the water. Sea kayaking, sailing, snorkeling, scuba diving and windsurfing are all popular options around Milos.
After spending the day on the water, head to the notable cities of Plaka and Pollonia. Both offer views of the water and several dining options that specialize in fresh seafood and traditional Greek dishes.
Milos is much less crowded than the more popular Greek Islands of Santorini and Mykonos. For a true Greek cultural experience with all the beauty of the famed Greek islands, head to Milos!
Revitalized after the 2004 Summer Olympics, contemporary updates combine with unforgettable history to make Athens the perfect vacation destination. You’ll be welcomed by a uniquely contagious vibe as Athens is decorated by several districts that each have a personality of their own. Whether you’re looking for culture, nightlife, tavernas, or something else, Athens has a neighborhood with your name written all over it.
Hip and fun accommodations are scattered throughout the districts, so you’ll be able to stay where you feel most comfortable and still have easy access to the best sites in Athens. Obviously the Acropolis can’t be missed, but there are so many other historic sites that should make it on your itinerary, like the Parthenon and the Temple of Olympian Zeus.
Whether you want to spend some time at the National Archeological Museum or check out the historic and pedestrian-only neighborhood of Plaka, with easy access to public transportation, Athens is your oyster. Packed with so much history, it’d be a mistake to skip over Athens during your time in Europe.
Natural beauty abounds on Greece’s largest island. From mountains to beaches to picturesque villages, you’ll love getting out and exploring every inch of Crete.
The birthplace of the Minoans, the first advanced European society, and of the Greek god Zeus, Crete is packed with enough history to keep you occupied throughout your stay. History buffs need to make sure to visit the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, as the world-class museum is filled with Minoan art and artifacts. Castles, churches, and monasteries also decorate the island and make for interesting visits and excellent pictures.
At least one evening during your trip you should make your way to one of the village tavernas for a mouthwatering dinner as many of them often catch their own seafood and produce their own wine, olive oil, meat, and cheese.
With a great climate almost all year round, you’ll find the best deals without the crowds of tourists if you visit from April-May or late September-October. No matter what time of year you decide to visit, you can guarantee it’ll be hard to leave.
Step on this active volcano and get ready for the time of your life. A group of islands within the Cyclades islands, Santorini was devastated by a volcano thousands of years ago, but it created one of the things that makes it so unique – its caldera is in the sea.
A great getaway with your friends or significant other, stunning houses cling to the cliffs as they overlook the sea and beaches decorated with black, white, and red lava stones make for an impressive sight and also a nice pause from the action.
With so many things that make it stand out from the rest on the list of the best places to visit in Europe, you’ll be happy that you moved Santorini to the top of your bucket list.
Some of its true standouts include Oia, a serene village known for its sunset, and Santorini Brewing Company, a microbrewery that is a fan favorite for craft beer lovers. When you add great art, fine dining, and top of the line accommodations, Santorini more than lives up to the hype.
Best Places to Visit in Iceland
Recommended by Luke & Meagan from Two Restless Homebodies
From mind-bendingly expansive and beautiful volcanic fields to picturesque villages, Iceland’s Snaefellsnes Peninsula is a must-see as you explore this amazing island.
Choose from Arnarstapi and Hellnar, tiny fishing villages with equal shots at mountain, pebble beach, and ocean views. Or Lóndrangar, a windy, coastal overlook with sunset views of the Atlantic and some of Iceland’s famous “trolls” (bonus, find a native to tell you some troll folklore!). You can also visit Djúpalónssandur and Dritvík, black pebble beaches famous for the rusting skeleton of a shipwreck – if you’re lucky, you might even see an arctic fox!
Or climb or 4-wheel up an inactive volcanic crater to take in one of the most alien landscapes you’ve ever seen. You can even listen to a concert from inside one of the region’s seemingly countless craters, if you visit in the warmer months. Regardless, you’re guaranteed to walk away with memories, pictures, and experiences to last a lifetime.
Thingvellir National Park
Recommended by Facundo from Pie & Pata
UNESCO World Heritage Site Thingvellir National Park is historically known to be the place where the first parliamentary assembly of Iceland was formed in the year 930, and was the meeting place of the Parliament for an uninterrupted period of 868 years, until 1798.
There they met from all over the country, people who traveled for up to 17 days to be part of that holiday that was the Parliament meeting, a unique occasion to get drunk and dance with other faces beyond the few that they saw during the long and hard winters.
It is one of the most sacred places in the country since it began to build the nation and the identity of the Icelandic people, and it was there when in 1944 the country was declared independent.
It is also home to Silfra, a once in a lifetime dive and snorkel spot where you can swim between tectonic plates and actually touch Europe and North America at the same time.
Arriving by car there are different parking lots from where to start a beautiful day of hiking amongst great mountain scenery, surrounded by the sound of the flowing river and waterfalls. Walking there is a pleasure, at least by day, as at dusk it is said that the ghosts of people executed there for centuries wander around the park.
Recommended by Emily from Kids & Compass
If you make it as far as northern Iceland, then you should definitely consider spending a couple of days at Lake Mývatn. This area is jam-packed with outdoor activities, including walking, birdwatching and bathing in hot springs.
Lake Mývatn sits directly on top of a seismic rift and it’s surrounded by volcanic features. The enormous black crater, Hverfjall, looms over the lake and you can get fantastic views from its summit. To the south, pseudo craters pockmark the landscape on the lake’s shore.
Spend an afternoon walking amongst eerie lava formations and collapsed lava tubes at Dimmuborgir, near Hverfjall, and paddle your toes in Grjotagja, a hot underground pool said to have inspired a scene in Game of Thrones.
If you’re more interested in active volcanic features, head a little further from the lake and you’ll find the volcanic area of Krafla. Here you can walk around the Viti crater, now home to a sapphire pool, and explore the still-steaming lava flow nearby.
Perhaps the most memorable area at Lake Mývatn is the sulfurous vents at Hverir. The ground is a scorched red, and hissing fumaroles belch noxious fumes into the air. You’ll smell Hverir before you see it!
The sheer variety of amazing attractions in such a small area means Lake Mývatn gets our vote for best places to visit in Europe.
Best Places to Visit in Ireland
Recommended by Janet from Journalist On The Run
The Causeway Coast in northern Ireland is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Europe for many reasons. It’s been listed as one of Lonely Planet’s top 50 road trips in the world, is home to UNESCO World Heritage Site, Giant’s Causeway, and is also the filming location for many scenes in popular TV show Game Of Thrones, which was filmed in northern Ireland. You can cross one of the scariest rope bridges in Europe, explore untouched beaches and coastline, watch the sunset at the second oldest castle in Ireland and visit the Giant’s Causeway, one of the most unique attractions in all of Ireland and visited by millions from around the world.
With the Guinness Storehouse continually being Dublin’s most visited attraction, we all know Ireland’s capital is famous for drinking. However, not many people know Dublin has so many more layers…so let’s peel some of them back.
With so many places to see, the historic sites are a great start. The main historic attractions are definitely the 13th century Dublin Castle and St. Patrick’s Cathedral that was founded in 1191, but you’ll find many other castles, buildings, and streets that ooze with history from the Viking, Victorian, Georgian, and medieval eras.
Dublin is situated at the mouth of the River Liffey and boasts great picture backgrounds and several historic bridges, each with their own unique story. If you’re heading to Dublin in late August or early September, you may even catch the annual Liffey Swim, almost 100-years-old, it’s one of Ireland’s most famous sporting events.
Beautiful parks are scattered throughout the city with gorgeous settings for you to chill out and have a picnic or take a stroll.
Fine dining and affordable accommodations complement all that Dublin has to offer, and the best part is that you can get all of this and more without breaking your budget.
Best Places to Visit in Italy
Recommended by Claudia from My Adventures Across the World
Not many people outside of Europe and the Mediterranean region know where Sardinia is. Most of those that travel to Italy completely skip it, preferring to go to more famous and catchy places.
Yet, the second biggest island in the Mediterranean is packed with beautiful sights, and it never fails to amaze visitors. Those who decide to venture to Sardinia end up falling in love, and to their first visit will follow many more.
You’ll always enjoy its gorgeous beaches and pristine waters, which have nothing to envy to the ones of tropical islands and which are perfect for all water sports. Discover its unique archeological sites and the beautiful cities and villages. You’re sure to appreciate its nature through its incredible, challenging hiking trails and climbing walls. Take your time sipping on fine wines and gorging down delicious food. Look forward to learning about its traditions at one of the many festivals.
As soon as you arrive, get ready to feel welcomed by the reserved, resilient people.
Recommended by Kirsty from Barts Go Adventuring
Genoa is a city that is often overlooked in the north of Italy because of the appeal of other cities such as Milan and Turin, or more prettier coastal towns. We were pleasantly surprised on our visit there and think that more people should visit.
Genoa lies on the Ligurian coast in the northwest of Italy and is the capital of the region. Being on the coast, it has been an important centre for maritime history and a walk along the harbor will remind you of that. Many boats line the waterfront and if you like history and want to learn about the area, you can’t miss the Museo del Mare that’s also there.
Going away from the port and into the old town there is a wealth of amazing architecture, a 9th century cathedral and beautiful fountains. Combine it with the Mediterranean climate and a gelato, and it’s a lovely area to walk around and explore. It’s a perfect day trip if you’re on a cruise or just in the area.
Recommended by Angela from Rome Actually
Rome’s moniker of Eternal City wasn’t given by chance. With almost 3,000 years of history and culture, the Italian capital never fails to bedazzle visitors from all over the world. One of Europe’s highlights, you can explore endless Roman sites in many different ways depending on your style and preferences.
Admire the majestic ruins of Ancient Rome’s imperial times all along Via dei Fori Imperiali, a stone’s throw away from central Piazza Venezia, and where you can visit the Imperial Forum, the Coliseum to see where the ancient Romans spent their leisure time and, going further towards the Circus Maximus, the Baths of Caracalla, the best place to understand how much Romans cherished their spa/wellness time.
Are you more into modern history? Fret not, Rome won’t let you down. Get lost in the countless churches and basilicas dating back to medieval times and admire the majesty of Renaissance-era elegant palaces belonging to Roman noble families.
Rome is also home to contemporary creativity, and going to see the beautiful street art of the Quadraro neighborhood, the fascinating remains of industrial archaeology at the Ostiense district and the Centrale Montemartini Museum for an intriguing collection of modern and ancient exhibits and mosaics, will prove just that.
If you are a foodie and would rather spend your time digging into pasta and gelato, the Eternal City has you covered, too. A delicious traditional meal that pleases both vegetarians and meat-lovers, with dishes such as spaghetti cacio e pepe (pecorino cheese and pepper) and bucatini all’Amatriciana and saltimbocca alla romana (veal escalopes covered with ham and sage), finds its happy ending with scrumptious desserts and multi-flavored gelato.
Recommended by Angela from Chasing the Unexpected
The birthplace of the Renaissance, in Florence you will soak in art and beauty like nowhere else. The city center is best experienced on foot as it’s small, made of narrow, winding alleys and reeks of history and grandeur around every corner.
Art lovers will be inevitably exposed to countless episodes of Stendhal Syndrome (quite tellingly, also known as Florence Syndrome) at the Uffizi Gallery, a huge museum, one of the world’s oldest, displaying the masterpieces of artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli, Raphael, Caravaggio and Cimabue, just to name a few, or when wandering the halls and corridors of 15th-Century Palazzo Pitti, a complex of museums and royal residences.
With a glorious past marked by the influence of the Medici family, with Lorenzo Il Magnifico standing out as “the needle on the Italian scales” at a time when the different powers in Italy were struggling to dominate, history buffs will be spoilt for choice. If you are one, don’t miss 13th-century Palazzo Vecchio, formerly Palazzo della Signoria, towering over its namesake piazza, built on the site of an ancient Roman theater. The complex of Santa Maria del Fiore in Piazza del Duomo, visiting the Cathedral, climbing Giotto’s bell tower, admiring the mosaics of St. John’s Baptistery and staring at the Brunelleschi Cupola from inside with the frescoes of Vasari and Zuccari and outside to take a great postcard picture of the rooftops are also experiences that need to make it on your Florence itinerary.
If art and history fans have found their ideal destination, foodies won’t be let down either. From the Florentine T-bone steak to the pici handmade spaghetti to the panzanella salad, Florence tradition has something for everyone.
Recommended by Willemijn from Dutchess on the Road
The Republic of San Marino is a tiny enclaved country in the Apennine Mountains. It’s the perfect place for a relaxed pitstop during an Italian road trip. San Marino has a population of roughly 33,500 people, spread out over an area of just over 61 square kilometers.
Although the country is small, it has a rich history, dating back to the 4th century. The main tourist attraction is the capital’s old city centre and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mount Titano.
If you’re here by car, we’d recommend taking the cable car from Borgo Maggiore. Wander through the charming cobbled streets of the city of San Marino. Visit the three fortress towers and admire the view over the surrounding area.
If you’re interested in seeing more than just historical buildings and panoramic views, be sure to visit one of the city’s museums. There’s something for everyone, from a fascinating collection of historical weapons at the Sammarinese Museum of Ancient Arms, to the rather creepy wax statues of the Vampire Museum.
However, to see the best side of San Marino, leave the city and explore the countryside. Drive along winding roads and discover green hills and peaceful little villages.
Recommended by Rand from Well Traveled Mile
As one of the most northern cities in Tuscany, Lucca may be one of the most overlooked destinations in Tuscany. However, this beautifully preserved walled city is one you will not want to miss if you’re planning on exploring Tuscany.
If you are already planning to visit Pisa and Florence, Lucca is a great place to stop over as it is very easy to reach by car, train, or bus.
Located at the foot of the Apuan Alps, Lucca is surrounded by rolling hills and awe-inspiring valleys which are full of hidden gems. Although the city can be visited in a day, Lucca makes a perfect base camp for exploring surrounding Tuscan villages on a 2-3-day stop.
You’ll feel like you are walking back in time when you enter the city via a passage through its ancient walls. Some must see things in Lucca include the oval-shaped Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, the 12th century church of Saints Giovanni and Reparata, several well-preserved villas and towers, and of course, no visit is complete without circumnavigating (by either foot or bike) the city’s four-kilometer long wall.
Recommended by Lori from Travlinmad
Bologna is quite possibly the most underrated city in Italy. Its Italian nickname, “La Dotta, La Grassa, e La Rossa”, sums up the very best of what this central Italian city has to offer.
La Dotta, or “the Educated” honors the University of Bologna, the oldest university in the Western world. La Grassa or “the Fat” praises Bologna’s renowned cuisine, some of the best Italian food in the world. And la Rossa or “the Red” refers to the stunning red buildings and rooftops throughout the historic medieval city made of clay.
Yet for all its medieval charms, Bologna remains relatively unknown by tourists on their quest to see Italy’s most iconic landmarks, which is precisely the reason you should go. It lies in between two of Italy’s most visited cities – Venice and Florence – and is just an hour from both. If you want to visit an authentic part of Italy, don’t miss Bologna and the Emilia Romagna region.
Recommended by Daniela from Ipanema travels to…
Padua is a beautiful university city in the Italian province of Veneto. It’s a quiet city with a moderate number of tourists, which makes it the perfect place if you are looking for an off-the beaten-track destination in Italy.
Padua is a very pleasant city to walk around – cobbled streets and porticoes, beautiful squares (Piazza dei Signori, Piazza dei Frutti, Piazza delle Erbe, Piazza Eremitani) and this special vibe that only a students’ city can offer.
One of the most famous attractions in Padua is the Scrovegni Chapel with the masterpiece frescoes of Giotto – the father of the Italian Renaissance. Another must-visit place is the Basilica of Saint Anthony with the tomb of St. Anthony. The Botanical Garden of Padua, created in 1545, is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and for sure an attraction not be missed.
Recommended by Justine from Lost in the Midlands
With stacks of terracotta houses set between forested cliffs and sparkling water, the Amalfi Coast really is as beautiful as it looks in the photos.
This is the place for relaxation with just a splash of indulgence. The ocean is so calm and warm that the hours will float by with you, although choosing which ocean view restaurant to eat at can become a small saga. Each serves the latest catch from across the bay and has access to groves of oranges and lemons that’ll make your mouth water. The Amalfi Coast is a treat for all the senses.
There’s a surprising number of towns and villages to explore here, each with its own vibe and set of offerings to suit almost everyone. Ravello is my pick for history, culture, and some of the best views of all, and Positano for beaches and restaurants. They’re all linked by impossibly narrow roads with enough hairpins to make you dizzy, which means that getting from one village to the next is half the fun.
Recommended by Alana from Family Bites Travel
Lake Como, or Lago di Como in Italian, is located in the north of Italy in the Lombardy region. It is only a 40-minute train ride from the capital of Lombardy, Milan. It approximates the Swiss border and is overlooked by the Swiss Alps.
The views from every angle of Lake Como are nothing short of spectacular. Many towns have been established on the shores of the lake. The town of Como is the most well-known and the biggest with 80,000 residents. Como is quintessentially Italian with a mix of passionate people, flawless fashion, beautiful villas and delicious food. Como feels quaint, has a sense of calm about it and does not feel touristy. It is very unlike the frenetic almost scary energy of Rome or the touristy areas like Florence. Given its proximity to Milan, unsurprisingly, the shopping in the area is excellent.
The lake is large, the third largest in Italy, with an area of nearly 150 square kilometers. The depth of the lake can reach an impressive 420 meters plus. Given its beauty, a boat ride is essential. Como township also has a funicular train to a vantage point that allows for breathtaking views of the nearby Swiss Alps.
Recommended by Alan from Frequent Traveller
As a major hub for cruise ships, Venice hosts thousands of visitors a year, and it’s no wonder tourists flock to this picture perfect city. With its old world charm of cobblestone streets and the famous gondola boats that line the waterways, it’s a romantic city that should be on everyone’s bucket list.
The centrepiece of Venice is St. Mark’s Square and nothing can prepare you for the grandeur of St. Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace, the Clock Tower or St. Mark’s Campanile (Bell Tower). With so many other old world European buildings that enclose this square, you’re sure to be impressed as you explore Venice.
Nightly, St. Mark’s square comes alive to the sound of string quartets and big bands as people meander through the alleyways and cafes that line the central square, enjoy a meal in some of Italy’s finest restaurants, or just soak up the atmosphere.
By day, wander through the narrow Venice streets before relaxing with a coffee and people watching in one of the many sidewalk cafes. Next, pick up something from the designer shops that stock the latest Italian fashions. No visit to Venice would be complete without picking up a handmade mask, or a visit to the famous Murano Glass stores that line the streets.
Venice is a city that enlightens the senses.
Best Places to Visit in Latvia
Recommended by Chantell from Adoration 4 Adventure
If you are looking to get off the well-worn tourist path in Europe, then find your serene escape in Sigulda, Latvia. Sigulda is an easy hour train ride from the capital, Riga, and worth spending 2-3 days.
A thrill seeker’s dream, Sigulda has two adventure parks, a bobsleigh and luge track, cable car rides, zip lines, and bungee.
Get back to nature with hiking, camping, kayaking, and rafting in the Gauja National Park. Sigulda is made to be enjoyed outdoors, with a large network of connected walking paths and hiking routes that connect the various attractions, including the three castles.
While visiting the castles and Turaida Museum Reserve, get caught up in the medieval history and the legends of Sigulda, including the beautiful tale of the Rose of Turaida.
Also considered a gastronomic region, Sigulda has many high-quality restaurants and cafes, with the specialty being “Wild at Palate” cuisines with ingredients from the local forest.
Overall, Sigulda is a unique and unforgettable destination that is perfect for families, couples, and groups of friends.
Best Places to Visit in Luxembourg
Recommended by Paulina from Paulina on the Road
Situated in the heart of Europe, Luxembourg is an absolute must-visit when going on a European road trip. Unfortunately, the only Grand-Duchy in the world is often limited to its banks and fiscal paradise. But Luxembourg is much more than this!
There are several fairy-tale castles on its tiny territory, and it has more than 112 km of hiking trails and it produces some of the best white wines worldwide. The old city of Luxembourg capital with its fortifications has been declared UNESCO World Heritage.
The east of the country, also known as Little Switzerland of Luxembourg, with its surprising rock formations is a paradise for hikers. Echternach, located in the heart of Little Switzerland is the oldest town of the country and has a lovely abbey.
Also culturally speaking, Luxembourg is well worth a visit. Packed in between Belgium, Germany and France, Luxembourg knew how to absorb the best of the surrounding cultures.
Food is as delicate as French cuisine, but served as abundantly as in Germany. Nowadays the population of one of the smallest sovereign countries is fairly multicultural with one of the highest expat rates in Europe.
Best Places to Visit in Netherlands
Recommended by Bilyana from Owl Over The World
When thinking about the Netherlands, most people think of Amsterdam, but actually, there are other awesome places to visit in the country besides the capital. Den Haag is one of them and also the third largest city in the Netherlands.
Often skipped by travelers, Den Haag is one of the best places to visit in Europe without a doubt. As everyone knows, the Netherlands in general is not the most budget-friendly destination, but there are lots of cool things to do in Den Haag for free.
One of them is visiting the nice beach, called Scheveningen. You can even go bungee jumping on that beach. Nice, a? Den Haag has also many parks and in some of the most central ones, there are ducks and deer that you can feed or just watch.
The city is also the best place from where you can get the tram and go on a day trip to Delft, another lovely, small town in the Netherlands.
Overall, the city has an authentic Netherlands atmosphere and a chill vibe, a must-stop on your Eurotrip.
Recommended by Victor from Victor’s Travels
Amsterdam doesn’t feel like a capital, but more like a growing city that has retained the charms of a small village. It’s a city with a long history, which reflects in the many different architectural styles in its neighborhoods. From the tall, 17th century warehouses in the canal district to the Art Deco style theaters and (public) buildings, it’s a city where every structure has its own story.
The local food isn’t too exciting and consists mostly of snacks and hearty winter dishes, but Amsterdam is a great place to try unique dishes from places such as Suriname, Indonesia, Caribbean and West Africa. In recent years, Amsterdam has become a place for trendy foodies, with new restaurant concepts popping up around the city like mushrooms. If you’re a bit of a coffee snob, Amsterdam has plenty of little cafés serving great coffee and delicious baked goods on the side.
There are plenty of things to do in Amsterdam and discovering the vibrant nightlife is definitely one of them. There is something for everyone, from illegal warehouse raves to massive commercial venues and everything in between. It’s the time you’ll see Amsterdammers from different walks of life come together and enjoy music with a beer in their hands.
Recommended by Esther from Your Dutch Guide
Most tourists visit Utrecht on a day trip from Amsterdam, but Utrecht is worth much more than a one day visit. Utrecht is over 2,000 years old, a place where Roman garrisons were once stationed and the most powerful political and religious epicenter of the region was housed in the 16th century is now the 4th largest city in the Netherlands and a great place to visit.
Utrecht has a compact city centre that can easily be discovered by foot in a day. Don’t skip the grand Dom Tower, the canals and wharves and the impressive Centraal Museum with the largest Rietveld furniture collection in the world.
A little outside the city centre (yes, be Dutch and hop on a bike) you can visit the iconic, one of a kind Rietveld-Schröder house, or one of the castles surrounding the city, like Haarzuilens or Slot Oud-Zuilen. The gorgeous historic buildings will take you back to the Middle Ages as you take on the amazing Utrecht.
Best Places to Visit in Norway
Recommended by Sam from Travelling Sam
Nestled at the top of Europe and protecting Scandinavia from the ravages of the sea is the gem that is Norway, a country with one of the most spectacular and rugged coastlines in the world. Norway is a country with natural extremes such as Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) and Kjeragbolten.
However, if you can brave the journey north amongst the Norwegian Fjords and past the boundaries of the Arctic Circle, Norway will reward you even greater than you could ever imagine. The coastline of the country is staggering and breathtaking, but it culminates in the Lofoten Islands.
There have been settlements here for over 11,000 years, which means that the islands are steeped in history – they even have working Viking longboats in the museum! It is a mystical place famous for stockfish (dried cod), fishing villages perched on piers, and rising rock formations where you can jump between peaks.
Not only that, in summer the sun doesn’t set for two months, and in winter there is a month of darkness where the sky is rich with the Northern Lights. They are islands of extremes, which make it one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Best Places to Visit in Malta
Recommended by Iris from Mind of a Hitchhiker
Comino is the smallest inhabited island in the Maltese archipelago, and also the quietest one. Only three people live there permanently. Lodged between the larger Gozo and Malta islands, one can easily do a day trip to Comino’s nature reserve, or stay longer.
Enjoy the birds, the azure sea beyond the cliffs and the sheer serenity. On windy days you’ll see little yachts circling the island. You can easily hike around the entire island in one day. There’s one public camping site where you can pitch your tent for free.
When visiting the famous Blue Lagoon, make sure to be there really early before the crowds roll in. From the beach you can swim the 100 meters to the little islet of Cominotto. Bring your snorkeling glasses! Afterwards, hike to Saint Mary’s Tower, Saint Mary’s Battery, and Comino Chapel for some history and culture.
There’s a good reason this extraordinary little island has been used as a movie set; its rock formation game is incredible. If you’re lucky you’ll find the namesake plant on your hike: the herby and flavorsome cumin plant!
Best Places to Visit in Monaco
Recommended by Peter from Passports to Life
You haven’t experienced true luxury until you’ve visited Monte Carlo in Monaco. Nestled on the Mediterranean Sea about 30 minutes east of Nice, this city-state is the most densely populated country in the world.
With a harbor full of mega yachts and supercars lining the streets, it is clear luxurious living is the norm in Monaco. What’s also amazing is the small city-state is home to 5 Michelin-starred restaurants including restaurants by celebrity chefs Joel Robuchon and Alain Ducasse.
You may recognize the Casino de Monte-Carlo from several movies including James Bond Casino Royale, so try your hand at some baccarat like 007 and maybe you’ll be lucky enough to win enough money to stay in the city an extra day!
For much of the year the city is fairly quiet, but for two weeks each year, Grand Prix and Yacht Week, the city comes alive and it becomes even more clear how much money is actually in the city.
You don’t have to be a millionaire to experience Monte Carlo, Monaco, but chances are you’ll be rubbing shoulders with one when you do!
Best Places to Visit in Poland
Recommended by Natasha from The World Pursuit
Zakopane is one of the best places to visit in all of Europe. Zakopane is situated right in the heart of the Tatra Mountains and is the perfect spot to enjoy winter sports. The whole town is like a winter amusement park – ski lifts, quaint towns, mountains, blue lakes, and lush forests.
For the culture lovers, Zakopane is also decorated with museums and Tatra National Park gives the nature lovers a chance to explore some stunning flora, fauna, caves, and streams.
Previously an art colony, this premier resort town is one of the best places to visit in Europe for anyone who wants to explore the world on a tight budget. Poland is well known for being a cheap destination in Europe and Zakopane is no exception as it’s super affordable. Sometimes lift tickets can go as cheap as 15 Euro! Zakopane also makes for a great day trip since it’s only a few hours from Krakow.
Recommended by Dorota from Born Globals
If you love spending your time outdoors in the wildest places which are hardly discovered by foreign tourists – Bieszczady Mountains is the place to go. It is a mountain range located in southeastern Poland with over 400 km of hiking trails with stunning views. You can either do short and easy day hikes or long and demanding ones; you can even spend a couple of days on trails with your backpack.
Our recommendation is to hike to Winnie the Pooh Hut (Chatka Puchatka), to the stunning Połonina Caryńska or to climb the highest peak of Polish Bieszczady – Tarnica. On these three trails you will see Bieszczady at its best.
The best villages to stay are Wetlina or Ustrzyki Górne, and the easiest way to reach them is by car. They can also be reached by bus, but you might need to change the bus once or twice. Whatever way you choose to travel, Bieszczady is so worth the effort.
Legend says it was built on the cave of a dragon defeated by King Krak, but now Kraków has been transformed into one of the most significant cities in Poland and its most popular tourist destination. The central site of the Nazi General Government during WWII, Kraków is steeped in history.
Home to the Old Town, the Kazimierz district, and Wawel Castle, Kraków’s historic centre has been named an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Kazimierz district was Kraków’s center for Jewish life for over 500 years before it was destroyed in WWII, and now it’s an exciting bohemian area known for its sites, art galleries, and cafes.
You will probably also want to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, but if you’re pressed for time, you can head to the Podgórze district to visit the Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp or make your way to Oskar Schindler’s Factory.
Rynek Główny, the main market square, is also a must-see, as it’s not only 10 acres, but it houses one of the city’s top icons, Cloth Hall – a 14th century hall that was basically the world’s first shopping mall.
The public transportation network makes it easy for you to travel throughout the city, but it’s also possible to explore on foot if you choose. Kraków boasts many stunning walking routes you can take advantage of, like the Royal Way, and even a river bank along the Vistula next to the castle.
If you’re still trying to finalize your itinerary, a walking tour, food tour, or craft beer tour is a great way to introduce you to the best of Kraków. History, culture, nightlife, cuisine, and art combine to keep Kraków at the top of the list of the best places to visit in Europe.
Best Places to Visit in Portugal
Recommended by Soumya from Travel, Books and Food
Algarve, on the southern coast of Portugal, is a beautiful region with turquoise waters, golden cliffs and golden beaches, and it is hard not to fall in love with it. With over 100 beaches to choose from, you can choose from the touristy ones or some hidden gems along the coast.
If you thought Algarve was only about the beaches, then you got it wrong. You can party the night away at Portimao, go relax in one of the numerous golf resorts at Vilamoura, surf as you wish at Sagres, go swimming in the coves including the world-famous Benagil Caves or soak up some history at Lagos. Algarve gives you the perfect escape to relax and refresh.
Recommended by Julie from Julie Dawn Fox
With patterned cobblestones, tile-clad and brightly painted buildings and a quality of light that inspires poets and photographers, Lisbon is easy on the eye. With seven hills, there is no shortage of viewing spots, parks and terraces from which to gaze across the red rooftops of the city.
This dynamic city has everything from delicious eateries, amazing hostels and hotels, and stunning architecture, each with their own exciting style. Ancient neighborhoods with laundry flapping from upper story windows, sardines grilling in the streets and the haunting strains of traditional fado music are balanced by slick contemporary architecture and superb urban art.
A thriving nightlife scene has reclaimed the former red light district of Cais do Sodré, now known as Pink Street, and continues to dominate Bairro Alto after dark.
Some of the traditional markets have been given a makeover and in addition to selling fresh produce, bustling food halls tempt locals and visitors with Portuguese and international delicacies.
World-class museums and art galleries, such as the Berardo Museum the Gulbenkian and the National Museum of Ancient Art, contain treasures from around the globe.
As a European destination, Lisbon is in vogue and understandably so.
Recommended by Julie from Julie Dawn Fox
Arguably the most scenic wine region in the world, the Alto Douro has already earned UNESCO World Heritage status. The undulating landscape has been shaped by man over the centuries with the construction of countless terraces of grape vines which create a patchwork of striped patterns on almost every hillside. As the vine leaves change with the seasons, so does the scenery.
Harvest time, which is usually around mid-September, attracts an increasing number of visitors wishing to participate in harvest activities such as treading grapes barefoot in traditional granite wine vats. Many of the wine estates (quintas) have opened their doors to wine tourism and offer tours and tastings throughout the year. As a result, the Douro has become a popular day trip destination from Porto, although there’s more to see and do than drink wine.
A boat trip on the mighty Douro River offers a different perspective of the unrivalled scenery while the towns and villages are filled with medieval and Baroque architecture, magnificent monasteries, hilltop sanctuaries and cute chapels. Museums showcase local traditions including wine and olive oil production as well as local bread.
Recommended by Darren & Shelley from Finding Beyond
Lisbon is crowned as Portugal’s most popular city, but pretty Porto in the north of the country is beginning to get the attention it deserves. Like Lisbon, Porto has its own frozen-in-time old town known as the Ribeira District, which sits on the north banks of the Douro River.
When standing on the south bank looking across the river, the city looks like one of those pretty pop-up Christmas cards. Illuminated by the Mediterranean sun, it’s a picture of colorful aging terraces, ornate baroque churches, magnificent beaux-arts structures and rising bell towers, all jumbled on top of one another. Just as eye-catching is the impressive iron structure of Dom Luis I Bridge. The bridge magnificently curves over the river to connect the north and south of the city.
Porto is also the birthplace of port wine and the gateway to Portugal’s popular wine producing region, the Douro Valley. Vila Nova de Gaia in the south of the city is an area packed full of cellars and bars for tasting Porto’s finest ports and wines. To see the wines being produced, a scenic trip by boat, train or road to the stunning Douro Valley is easy from Porto city.
Best Places to Visit in Romania
Recommended by Amy & Nathan from Two Drifters
Brașov is a city in Transylvania nestled right up against the mountains. While it is a big city with lots of culture and activity, there is peace to be found in nature just on the edges of town and beyond.
The Old Centre itself could consume your entire visit. This area looks like a beautiful fairytale with gabled roofs and a majestic cathedral looming over the main square.
In less than an hour, you can visit a medieval fortress, gorgeous castles such as “Dracula’s castle” (Bran Castle), and a ski resort, with plenty more just a train ride away.
Add delicious coffee, hearty food, and really affordable prices to the mix and you’ve got the answer as to why Brașov is one of the best places to visit in Europe.
Recommended by J. Harvey from My Normal Gay Life
Bucharest is a slightly off-the-beaten path destination for most people who only think of the area as the home of Dracula. There is so much more to this city than meets the eye with its history dating back to Roman times, a rich diverse culture, and the opportunity to experience a post-communist world. Yep, that’s right… Communism plays an important part in this city’s charm as it goes through a revival and enters the modern world.
If you’re a fan of urban exploration, then this city is for you. It’s an excellent place to explore abandoned buildings that sit empty as a result of the confusion caused by the fall of Communism. The city also offers a charming old town good for exploring during the day and partying by night.
Not only that, parks are the name of the game and this city is overflowing with green space you can hike and explore. Top it all off with excellent cuisine (featuring gratuitous amounts of garlic) and friendly, open-minded people and you’ve got the makings of an excellent holiday.
Best Places to Visit in Russia
Recommended by Margherita from The Crowded Planet
Despite its reputation of a grey and somber city, Moscow is a very interesting place to visit, offering an incredible variety of sights and activities with few equals in Europe. If you are planning to visit and wondering what to do in Moscow and how long to stay, the correct answer will be ‘as long as possible’.
The city is huge, and traffic is a nightmare – luckily, the most convenient kind of transport is also the most spectacular way to travel around the city. The Moscow Metro is a true ‘underground palace’, with a network of richly-decorated stations all over the city.
Other sights that shouldn’t be missed in Moscow include the Red Square, one of the largest squares in the world with super-famous St. Basil’s Cathedral with colorful domes, Lenin’s tomb and the Kremlin, that alone takes about half a day to visit.
Those looking for quirky sights and attractions should definitely pay a visit to the Museum of Cosmonautics, dedicated to space exploration during Soviet times. The museum is well laid out and full of interesting exhibits, including a replica of the famous MIR space station, but the museum entrance and nearby Monument to the Conquerors of Space is truly spectacular – Soviet architecture at its best!
Recommended by Yulia from The Foodie Miles
Built from scratch on the marshlands by Peter the Great, who was inspired by the beauty and grandeur of European cities, Saint Petersburg served as the capital of the Russian Empire until 1917. Although after the revolution the capital was moved to Moscow, Saint Petersburg is still referred to as “the cultural capital of the country” by Russians.
A visit to this gorgeous Russian city is a must if only to see with your own eyes how tsars used to live. Palaces and cathedrals so beautiful your jaw will drop quite literally. The architecture of the city so majestic and imperial that sometimes what you think is a palace turns out to be a supermarket (stop by Eliseevskiy Store to see it for yourself).
Saint Petersburg is often called the Venice of the North because of its many canals, over 300 bridges, Italianate mansions, and baroque and neoclassical styles of architecture noticeable in the city center. If you stay up late at night in summer you can even watch the bridges rise over Neva River to let the ships pass by. Possibly, the most romantic thing you’ll ever witness.
Best Places to Visit in Serbia
Recommended by Megan from Megan Starr
Belgrade is the capital of Serbia in southern Europe in the Balkans. Belgrade was formerly the capital of Yugoslavia and today is often known as the capital of partying and nightlife. You can find everything in Belgrade from a thriving cafe culture to mammoth architecture to some of the greenest parks in Europe.
The capital city is accessible from every other city in Serbia, but also is well connected with the rest of the Balkans from Montenegro to Bulgaria and beyond. The cuisine, ingenuity of the locals, and cool vibe that the city exudes are a few of the many reasons that Belgrade should be on every traveler’s wish list.
Belgrade is also home to Europe’s first ‘kafana’, or coffee shop. Due to the presence of the Ottoman Empire in the region, Belgrade saw coffee shops a century before the rest of Europe. Turkish coffee is regularly served here, but the city is also home to a new and burgeoning specialty coffee scene.
So whether you picked up coffee while exploring or are taking advantage of the free coffee at your amazing hostel, you’re sure to appreciate how Serbians have perfected the art of delicious coffee. Whether you’re a lover of culture, parties, beaches, sports, or all of the above, Belgrade’s contagious energy will have you hooked.
Best Places to Visit in Slovakia
Recommended by Nicole from Family with Latitude
Tired of seeing Starbucks and KFC on every street corner while you are traveling in Europe? Longing for a bit of authenticity? Bratislava might be just the place for you.
Bratislava has a small compact old town, only about 1 square km. It is easily walkable and much of it is closed to vehicular traffic as well. However, if you are not able to walk the hilly streets, there is a tram which is very affordable.
The old town is visually a reminder of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, including the church where many of their monarchs were crowned.
As you leave the old town area you can see the reminders of Communism as the architecture changes to concrete block and rectangular buildings. A perfect place to visit if you want to see these two historical periods side by side. If that were not incentive enough, it is just an hour away from Vienna by train and it is about half the cost.
Best Places to Visit in Slovenia
Recommended by Freya & Chris from The Sandy Feet
With its laid-back vibes and unhurried pace, you’d be forgiven for thinking Ljubljana was just another quaint town in Slovenia rather than its capital. It’s a city of few major attractions causing many visitors to hurry through in a day or so, but given time, it’s definitely a place that will charm.
The pedestrian-only historic centre lends well to hours of aimless wandering along cobbled lanes, taking the time to peer at quirky storefronts and appreciate the thriving food scene.
Focused along the river, you’ll find cute dessert houses dotting the waterfront, a number of trendy bars catering to the student population in town and the bustling central market where blushing figs and fragrant peaches trade hands, alongside dates, flowers and homemade treats.
Culture nerds can explore the castle overlooking the city or lose hours in one of many museums. The kooky street art of Metelkova Mesto will have those with a taste for the alternative gawking. While others craving an escape to nature will find solitude in the leafy parks that sprawl across the city.
You can also head to Slovenia’s showpiece destination, Lake Bled, or its rugged, untamed sister, Lake Bohinj, just an hour bus ride away. The unique combination of Mediterranean, Slovenian, and German culture will quickly put Ljubljana at the top of your own personal list of the best places to visit in Europe.
Best Places to Visit in Spain
Recommended by Jub from Tiki Touring Kiwi
Barcelona is the best place to visit in Europe as it caters to everyone, regardless of your interests. With endless things to do for all types of travelers, those who appreciate architecture should thank Gaudi, the hills are great for those who like to have space in the city and for those who love sports, Barcelona is a haven for you (Camp Nou anyone?).
The language barrier isn’t totally removed, but there’s always someone somewhat nearby and the locals are friendly and like to do things their own way. They’ll eat dinner after 9 pm, pour water or milk on you from their apartment window if you’re too loud at night and they love to spend the evenings outside.
Speaking of evenings outside, the weather is pretty spectacular year round thanks to the location. This feeds down to the local produce that’s equally as spectacular year round with many restaurants focusing on proximity menus. Wow, Barcelona is actually awesome, do you agree? We haven’t even mentioned the many day trips available!
Recommended by Jason from An Epic Education
When it comes to travel in Spain, Barcelona and Madrid often share the spotlight. That’s okay with Valencia, Spain’s third largest city. It doesn’t mind staying a secret. Valencia has a unique mix of old and new.
There are stunning cathedrals, medieval towers, and remnants of the city’s place in the Roman Empire. Further south is the shockingly modern City of Arts and Sciences, which includes an outlandish opera house, science museum, and Europe’s largest aquarium. Connecting it all is Turia Park. This 9-kilometer strip of green has fountains, walking paths, and shaded picnic spots.
Many know of Tomatina, the massive annual food fight in nearby Buñol, but Valencia’s Las Fallas Festival, with its hundreds of ornate statues set ablaze every spring, must truly be seen to be believed.
Valencia is all about outstanding al fresco dining — usually at a fraction of Barcelona’s prices. Cooking for yourself? The modernist Mercado Centro is one of the most diverse and beautiful markets in Europe.
Valencia is an exceptionally walkable city, with broad sidewalks lined with orange trees. Public transportation is cheap and navigable, and the local taxis are fair and found everywhere. But with around 320 days of sunshine a year, you’ll enjoy taking a stroll throughout Valencia to see exactly why it’s one of the best places to visit in Europe.
Recommended by Tom from The Travelling Tom
San Sebastian may not be the most well-known destination in Spain, but it’s one that should definitely be visited! This beautiful city in the Basque Country is full of great sights, food and buildings!
San Sebastian is arguably the most beautiful place in Spain! The old town is full of beautiful architectural buildings and small winding streets. It also has the highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe!
However, where San Sebastian comes into its own is its beaches. La Concha is a beautiful beach, with great views out into the Bay of Biscay. Playa Zurriola is a surf beach and is a great spot to watch the sunset.
Perhaps the best thing to do in San Sebastian is to head to Monte Igueldo and admire the view of the city and the mountains in the background. If you’re going to Spain, don’t leave San Sebastian off your itinerary!
Recommended by Talek from Travels with Talek
When most people visit Spain, they head to the great cities of Barcelona or Madrid. But we recommend you spend some time in northern Spain. The northern coast is full of fascinating sites, but there is one city that thrives under the radar and few visitors to Spain are even aware of; Oviedo, capital of Asturias province. In fact, Oviedo has been called “Party Central” by many who have visited.
The city has three main sections where revelers can party until their heart’s content. “Cider Street” has great regional cuisine and cider is served from bottles held up to four feet away from the glass. “Tapas Street” has a collection of great bars offering mouthwatering tapas. Finally, “North Street” is where you can find more formal meals at very reasonable prices.
In all three of these areas local musicians wander around the streets and the restaurants playing music and encouraging the customers to sign along. Add to that some of the best wine in all of Spain and the end result is the Spanish version of a rip-roaring good time.
Recommended by Abby from The Winged Fork
White sands and sunny beaches – the makings of a perfect beach vacation. That’s what Majorca is known for, from Platja D’Alcudia and Cala Tuent in the north to Cala Blava and Cala D’Or in the south.
But this little Spanish island has a lot more to offer the divergent traveler, from rugged landscapes for trekking to curving hilly roads for cycling. The serpentine Tramuntana roads are a good challenge for daring cyclists. Capdepera, Puig de Santa Maria, and so many more puigs with cobbled and gravelly pathways leading up to them present hikers with good workouts.
Watersports present action and adventure for the active traveler; while monasteries, castles and ancient cathedrals are a pleasure for the history buff. The limestone formations of Cuevas Drach (Dragon Caves) leave you in awe of nature; while olive trees and almond farms join in the chorus. And food is a treat, from ensaimadas for breakfast to paella and barbecues for dinner.
Majorca is a treasure with everything you want. Every type of traveler can feel at home in Majorca.
Best Places to Visit in Sweden
Recommended by Melanie from Your Family Can Travel
The capital of Sweden, Stockholm is an archipelago in the Baltic Sea, comprised of 14 islands. There’s something quite intoxicating about sightseeing from the deck of a ferry or tour boat on a gorgeous summer day.
For history buffs, there are no shortage of palaces, cathedrals and museums. Gamla Stan, the old town, is a veritable labyrinth of cobbled lanes, wending between crumbling terracotta walls.
Skansen, the world’s oldest open-air museum, is a popular attraction for families. Recreated villages depict life in Sweden long ago, while amusement rides and a farmyard nursery add a little fun to the education.
Of course, no trip to Sweden would be complete without a visit to the ABBA Museum, but if the mere thought makes you shudder, never fear, the Absolut Vodka Spirit Museum is right next door!
Stockholm is not only renowned for its historical charm though, it’s also a thoroughly modern trendsetting metropolis. Cutting-edge fashion can be sourced from high end stores in Ӧstermalm, Stockholm’s most exclusive neighbourhood.
Stockholm’s nightlife includes trendsetting restaurants, cool bars, and hip nightclubs where you can dance the night away.
Stockholm is an idyllic city and undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Europe.
Best Places to Visit in Switzerland
Recommended by Vanessa fom Turnipseed Travel
Bern is the perfect European destination. The Swiss capital has been untouched for centuries, giving visitors all the cobblestones, clocks, and old world charm imaginable. It’s small enough to explore on foot – and public transportation couldn’t be easier. All hotels and hostel guests receive free public transportation passes for the duration of their stay!
Bern has the best cheese, chocolate, and gelato you could ask for and there’s a thriving cafe scene too – like the Einstein Cafe next to the museum celebrating the famous scientist’s tenure in Bern as a patent clerk.
Best of all, the river, which curls through the city center, is a natural amusement park! All summer long, locals make their way to Bern’s Lower Town and jump in the river to enjoy a refreshing trip downstream with the current doing all the hard work (don’t worry – there are ladders to help you climb out again!) Bobbing in the river is a quintessential Bern pastime – one not to be missed.
Recommended by Mia from Jetlag on the Rocks
Besides what most tourists think, Zürich is not the capital city of Switzerland, but it is by far the largest city in the country. Famous for its banks and chocolate, it has much more on offer. In fact, Zürich has become a lively city over the last years and is a popular destination for many travelers.
In summer you should book one of the countless boat tours on the beautiful lake of Zürich or visit one of the mountains such as the “Zürichberg” or “Üetliberg” that surround the city and offer stunning views. In wintertime you can find many traditional restaurants that offer the famous swiss cheese fondue. There is even a fondue boat tour on the lake.
For shopping or just to have a few drinks, the old town called “Niederdorf” is a great spot. Try out the Kronenhalle Bar if you like cocktails, it is one of the oldest and most beautiful bars in the city, and was long a hangout for famous artists such as Pablo Picasso, or designers like Coco Chanel.
Zürich is also a great base from which to explore the rest of Switzerland, since most of the places can be reached within a few hours by train.
Recommended by Michelle & Jedd from Intentional Travelers
The natural beauty and crisp mountain air of the Swiss Alps simply can’t be beat. Perched above an epic valley, the tiny ski town of Nendaz is a fantastic home base to explore the Valais region in early fall. You will especially enjoy the many trails that follow old irrigation channels from village to village.
In summer, you can hike or ride a tram to the top of the ski lifts, where the tinkling of cow bells can often be heard from the fields as you take in stunning panoramic views of the mountains. There are a good number of charming Swiss chalets and cozy condos within walking distance of the town center.
Nendaz has a variety of restaurants, several equipment rentals, a sports park, a few markets, and many bus routes connecting to other towns in the mountains as well as the valley below. By car and/or train, great day trips to Martigny, Interlaken, Bern, and Zermatt are all within reach. Although not the cheapest destination in Europe, it is certainly one of the most beautiful!
Recommended by Carolyn from Holidays to Europe
For a quintessential Swiss Alpine experience, a visit to Lauterbrunnen is a must. Just a twenty-minute drive from Interlaken and an hour by car from Bern, Lauterbrunnen is the perfect road trip destination.
Nestled in a valley, the village of Lauterbrunnen is surrounded by huge cliff faces on each side, from which 72 waterfalls spill over.
Chocolate box chalet-style buildings, their flower boxes a riot of colour in summer, line the pretty main street, but it’s the towering snow-capped mountains all around you that will take your breath away.
Despite its small size, Lauterbrunnen offers plenty of activities and excursions. The village is the main departure point for visits to the Schilthorn (by cable car) and the Jungfraujoch (by train), as well as numerous other mountain excursions.
Summer visitors can enjoy hundreds of hiking trails, suitable for all fitness levels, as well as cruises on nearby Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, whilst in winter, skiers and snowboarders from all over the world flock to this popular region.
Regardless of how you spend your time in Lauterbrunnen, the spectacular views in this stunning region are sure to be the highlight of your visit.
Recommended by Wendy from Travel Drink Dine
Lucerne is a beautiful medieval town that sits at the foot of the Swiss Alps. A walled city that is famous for the Chapel Bridge, a water tower and its pre-17th century architecture, the old town features cobblestone streets, pedestrian-only thoroughfares and beautiful buildings with interesting facades.
Lucerne boasts the world’s oldest covered bridge, Chapel Bridge, that was built in the 14th century. You can enjoy a stroll across the wooden bridge and admire the floral displays and the 17th century paintings that are displayed in sections of the bridge’s roof.
If you are feeling more energetic, then there is a chance to walk along the old city walls. The walls are mostly intact, with nine towers, four of which are open to the public. The biggest tower also houses a 15th century clock that is allowed to ring its bell one minute before all the other bells in the city.
Being close to the Swiss Alps, there is a ferry that goes to Mount Pilatus. At the foot of Mount Pilatus is the world’s steepest cogwheel train that will take you to the summit of Mount Pilatus for some amazing views of the mountains and clouds.
Lucerne makes for a great day trip in history and culture, and is easily reached by train from a number of large cities.
Best Places to Visit in the UK
Recommended by Jo from Indiana Jo
Samuel Johnson once said: “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” And this famous British author wasn’t wrong.
A thriving capital where century-old structures butt against modern monoliths, London is a city of superlatives.
Yes, England’s capital has a reputation for being expensive, but with a glut of free museums and many of the city’s most iconic architecture sitting there to be snapped for free, you can get by relatively cheaply.
After you’ve taken in the top sites – Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, the London Eye, the Tower of London… the list goes on… take time to explore some of London’s less touristy areas.
A walk along historic South Bank will take you past Medieval ruins; Greenwich offers the Cutty Sark; and London’s East End is where you’ll find the city’s hipster side with street art and more cool cafés than you have the caffeine tolerance to visit.
And all of this vibrance is before the evening has arrived. Performances, bars, pubs and clubs, it really is hard to get tired of life in London.
Recommended by Lindsay from The Neverending Wanderlust
The Cotswolds are by far one of the best places to visit in Europe. Time has stood still for 300 years in this gorgeous rural area that boasts rolling hills across six countries.
Sometimes known as the “Heart of England”, not only will you enjoy gazing at the historic stone buildings, churches, and stately homes, but it’s also the perfect place for fishing, golfing, camping, and even a great spot to stop if you’re caravanning through the UK.
With close proximity to Stonehenge, you can tick that off your bucket list and still manage to see many of the lovely villages on a day trip or overnight getaway.
The best way to get around the area is by car, but if you don’t feel comfortable driving, you can always hire a private car for the day or take one of several tours leaving out of London or Bath.
As there are numerous villages in the Cotswolds each with their own unique personality, you may not have the time to see them all. Be sure to see Castle Combe, Bibury, Lacock (especially if you’re a Harry Potter fan), and the Avebury Stone Circle.
Hidden gems are scattered throughout the Cotswolds. From the famous gardens to the award-winning pubs and cottages, there is a delightful surprise around every corner.
The best time to visit is in May, just as the spring flowers are blooming. There’s no place quite like it and you’ll never get tired of visiting the Cotswolds.
Recommended by Caroline from Pack the Suitecases
Liverpool, on England’s northwest coast, is a vibrant and exciting city. It’s famous abroad for football and The Beatles, but there’s much more to it than that.
The waterfront is where you’ll find the Albert Dock, home to many of Liverpool’s best museums. At the pier head, you’ll see the Three Graces that make up Liverpool’s iconic skyline – the Liver Building, Cunard Building and Port of Liverpool Building.
Liverpool boasts two cathedrals, Anglican and Roman Catholic. Poignantly, Hope Street links them. This was voted ‘Best street in the UK’ for its culture, food and architecture.
The city has a thriving art scene, with many unique galleries. Street art and sculptures are everywhere – spot the Lambanana, a giant lamb crossed with a banana!
Liverpool is a real foodie city. Eat fresh fish and chips or try the local dish, scouse (a sort of hotpot). Trendy street food and independent eateries abound on Bold Street and in the Baltic Triangle. These areas are also great for experiencing Liverpool’s nightlife. The city knows how to party.
Nature lovers will enjoy beaches a short train journey away: Formby has rare red squirrels, while Crosby has Anthony Gormley’s art installation, ‘Another Place’.
Recommended by Gemma & Craig from Two Scots Abroad
Edinburgh is a contrast of two cities. The Old Town with its cobbled streets, dark past and high buildings and the New Town with its swanky shops, busy locals and busy trams.
Dividing the two areas is Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens where, on the random nice day, holidaymakers and natives alike eat lunch and people watch. However, the park goers are never alone as the Castle is always watching, towering over the Gardens as it sits atop its extinct volcano, Castle Rock (yes GoT fans, similar!)
Another popular spot in the city centre is Calton Hill, a short hike takes you amongst monuments and to beautiful views. A lesser-known area of Edinburgh is the New Town’s Leith. Leith is like a village within the city, full of bars, restaurants and cute shops. The peaceful Waters of Leith Walkway takes you back to the city along the canal.
Edinburgh is one of the best cities in Europe because it is a perfect combination of two cities and there are lots of things to do, many of them for free, in Scotland’s capital.
Recommended by Natasha from Meldrums on the Move
For any family travellers, Scottish Borders is great for getting outdoors often without breaking the bank. One of the main reasons you will love the Scottish Borders is because there are so many hiking trails and nature walks that every single day you could find a new and interesting route to explore. A lot of the hikes are family-friendly, and some are more challenging for the more adventurous traveller.
There are biking routes for cyclists and mountain bikers alike. You can go ape in the treetops of Glentress and spend the night in a teepee. You can take on a monster burger challenge at the Tweedside Hotel in Innerleithen or enjoy one of the many quiet but beautiful gardens in Innerleithen or Galashiels. Like a challenge? Hike up Grey Mare’s Tail waterfall to find the reservoir at the top.
If you have more time and money, you can explore the royal home at Traquair, get lost in their maze and taste one of their locally brewed ales. If you like the outdoors you can head to Melrose Abbey or take a walk or cycle on the dedicated paths to Nashys Coffee House.
One thing is for sure, you will never be short of natural beauty, trails or delicious cafes.
Recommended by Bernadette from A Packed Life
If you’re a fan of history, then Stratford-upon-Avon should be high on your list of the best places to visit in Europe. Birthplace of William Shakespeare, the Bard’s town is full of timbered buildings, watery pursuits on the River Avon, and plenty of cultural activities to keep your brain fully engaged.
Let’s start with the Bard himself; all of the historic sites associated with Shakespeare can be visited in a day. There’s his birthplace, now a museum, his bride Anne Hathaway’s cottage at nearby Shottery and his mother Mary Arden’s Tudor Farm, faithfully restored. Stratford itself is filled with typical black and white Tudor architecture. You can also catch plenty of plays (both Shakespearean and other works) and more artsy treats in town.
For something a bit out of the ordinary, don’t miss the MAD (Mechanical Art and Design) museum, full of things that clang, whistle and judder. If you want to get the endorphins going, you can hire a rowing boat to take out on the river, where swans will be entertained by your efforts. And finally, enjoy some local brews at the Stratford Alehouse, a micropub with a tiny stage for live gigs.
Best Places to Visit in Ukraine
Recommended by Jennifer from Made all the Difference
Chernobyl isn’t an easy place to visit. Despite being only a two-hour drive north of Kiev and near the border with Belarus, access to Chernobyl is strictly controlled and is limited to workers and tour operators. The city is infamous for being the site of the world’s first major nuclear reactor accident. On 26 April 1986, Chernobyl reactor 4 suffered a critical power surge and sent radioactive material into the atmosphere. The surrounding area was contaminated, including the cities of Chernobyl and Pripyat. This area is called the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. The entire area was evacuated within days of the explosion. Most tour groups visit Chernobyl and Pripyat (the city built for the power plant workers). Chernobyl is still inhabited by clean-up workers and offers two hotels and a restaurant, bar, and small shop. The tours are offered of Chernobyl and the abandoned city of Pripyat. The cities showcase Soviet architecture and the memorials built in the zone. It is possible to walk the streets of cities, but due to safety concerns, entrance into abandoned buildings is not allowed. The abandoned cities stand as a stark reminder of how nature will reclaim the land when humans leave.
And there you have it, the best of the best places to visit in Europe! We’re excited to see where your travels take you. If you want to cosign or you think there’s something we missed, let us know in the comments! Bon voyage :)