I’ve always absolutely adored Europe. When I was twenty, I hit the road with my first travel backpack in my first ever solo backpacking adventure. I dreamed of sipping wine in posh French cafes, meeting an Italian hunk and soaking in the hustle and bustle of a Croatian market.
It was that very first trip that made me fall in love with travel and convinced me to take my first steps into blogging. Since then, I’ve traveled across Europe four times, most recently with my boyfriend by car. Every time I return to Europe I am startled and amazed at the incredible landscapes, cultures, food, and buildings.
Europe is well known for its gorgeous architecture, with medieval castles and churches aplenty dotted around the various countries. There are also plenty of stunning natural attractions too, from splendid beaches and rolling countryside to soaring mountains and marvelous lakes.
World-class museums and art galleries, diverse cuisines, excellent shopping areas and varied cultures all add to Europe’s magnetic appeal.
On my most recent travels around Europe, I was able to peek behind the curtain and explore some more off the beaten track countries, such as Bulgaria and Albania. Exploring Eastern Europe was simply awesome! In order to get you stoked to travel around Europe yourself, I’ve put together the ultimate list of twenty incredible places to visit on your next European adventure.
1. Blue Lagoon, Grindavik, Iceland
One of Europe’s most ethereal attractions, Iceland’s Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa surrounded by lunar-like terrain. The milky blue waters of the Blue Lagoon are hot all year round; you can bathe even when the wind is whipping around your ears. Naturally boiling water is piped from inside the earth, first passing through a geothermal power plant to supply the city with electricity. It is then used in a communal hot water and heating system, before emptying into the stunning Blue Lagoon. I absolutely love Iceland and have been lucky enough to visit the Blue Lagoon twice! The entire country is absolutely stunning and best when road tripped!
2. Venice, Italy
Venice is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places in the world and exploring the winding canals by Gondola is definitely a bucket list experience! Venice isn’t cheap, so it’s well worth looking at staying in a hostel or an Airbnb rather than a hotel, or better yet, keep your eyes open for a housesitting opportunity. I really love all of Italy, it’s full of gorgeous people, tasty food, excellent wine and incredible architecture but Venice might just be my favourite city in all of Europe… For even more Venitian inspiration, check out this post from Hello Cuppies showing the best of Venice in Spring.
3. Preikestolen, Stavanger, Norway
Norway is wild! And it doesn’t get much wilder than Preikestolen – Also known as Pulpit Rock, Preikestolen is a magnificent sheer cliff with a flat area on top. Soaring high above the waters of Lysefjorden, it offers spectacular views of Mother Nature’s handiwork. Wear suitable shoes and take wet weather gear for hiking the 2.4-mile track. If you’re camping, be sure to tell somebody where you are going and when you plan to return.
4. Rural Romania!
Most people instantly think of Dracula, based on the real historical figure Vlad the Impaler (not a particularly chill sounding dude) when you bring up Romania but this is a country that offers so much more than vampires. Romania offers some truly incredible hiking, amazing Romanian food, stunning castles, cheap beer and friendly people in droves. Romania was the first country in Eastern Europe that I properly sank my teeth into and I absolutely loved it. To see what I’m talking about, and get some itchy feet yourself, check out this article with plenty of gorgeous photos summing up some of Romania’s best holiday sights.
5. Buckingham Palace, London, UK
The elegant Buckingham Palace is the official home of the UK’s Queen (the lady, not the band). Located at the end of the sweeping Mall, the palace presents an impressive site. Try and time your visit for the changing of the guard and watch as long traditions are played out before your eyes. Although it’s only possible to go inside the palace at certain times of the year, admiring from the outside is still high for many travelers to London. Book a cheap hotel in London and take time to discover the city’s multitude of other fine buildings too.
6. Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland
Sitting at the end of The Burren, the picturesque Cliffs of Moher soar above the wild waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The cliffs are more than 700 feet tall at their highest point. Rugged and dramatic, like much of the county’s stunning scenery, the Cliffs of Moher are popular with hiking enthusiasts and this is a great place to get out and amongst nature for a spot of camping. Pack you walking boots and socks and outdoor gear. Boat trips are also a great way to enjoy the natural splendors. I’m truly in love with Ireland at the moment and even thinking about moving there for a bit for some chill time so I can focus on building up my new blog. For more Ireland inspiration, check out Drifter Planet’s Guide to the hidden gem of County Mayo – I’ll definitely be paying this hidden corner of Ireland a visit next time I’m in the Emerald Isle!
7. Palace of Sintra, Lisbon, Portugal
The UNESCO-listed Palace of Sintra is often among highlights of a trip to Lisbon. Blending elements of Gothic and Manueline architecture, it is the country’s best-preserved royal home from the middle ages. There are many beautiful decorative touches inside the palace. Lisbon itself is an awesome party city and a great place to kick back with a few beers for a long weekend! Check out this post for an action packed, 5 day, Portugal itinerary.
8. Split, Croatia
Croatia is one of the best countries in the world to go on a road trip. This summer, my boyfriend and I hit the road in a rental car and drove all the way from Dubrovnik, famed for its incredible architecture and use as a Game of Thrones set, to Split – one of the best towns in Europe for partying, shopping and chilling on the beach! Check out this travel guide to Split for more inspiration.
9. Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
I couldn’t exactly miss out The Eiffel Tower! Recognized almost all over the world, the Eiffel Tower is one of Europe’s most-visited structures. Towering high in the city’s skyline, it is impressive when viewed from afar and when gazed up at from underneath. Go to the top too for far-reaching city views! It’s especially beautiful at night.
And if you’ve got up to a week in Paris, be sure to check out this 7-day itinerary. For some insider tips on how to skip the lines for the Paris Catacombs and the Lourve, check out this post from World in Paris.
10. Neuschwanstein Castle, Fussen, Germany
Nestled in the glorious Bavarian countryside, Neuschwanstein Castle is like something straight from the pages of a fairytale book. Towers and turrets rise from the exteriors, with many small windows breaking the walls. The insides are as beautiful as you would imagine. Visit the German capital of Berlin afterward for a more industrial vibe with more historic sites.
11. Houses of Parliament, Budapest, Hungary
Sitting alongside the River Danube, the Gothic Houses of Parliament are one of the Hungarian capital’s most photogenic sites. The red roofs accentuate the cream walls and the jagged spike-like features create an edgy appearance.
12. Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic
Finished in the 15th century, Charles Bridge was, for a long time, the only way to cross the Vltava River to reach Prague Castle. An important part of Prague’s history, the long stone bridge is also very attractive. When viewed from a certain angle it also beautifully frames the elegant Prague Castle behind. Prague might just be one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. If you’re traveling with your other half and looking for some truly special spots to spend time together, check out this post on the most romantic cities in Europe.
13. Auschwitz, Krakow, Poland
A visit to the notorious former Nazi concentration and extermination camp of Auschwitz will never be a pleasant experience. It is, however, somewhere that you should visit when in Europe. Learning about the horrors of the past helps to ensure that similar atrocities play no part in humanity’s future. You can also pay your respects to the thousands of people who died during the Holocaust.
14. Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium
The medieval buildings that surround Brussels’ Grand Place are attractive and photogenic. Many of the historic buildings were guildhalls in times gone by. The city’s main square is especially atmospheric in the late evening when the buildings are illuminated in the darkness.
Visting Bruges isn’t a bad idea to tack on to your stay while you’re in Belguim anyway!
15. Matterhorn, The Alps, Switzerland
One of the most impressive mountains in Europe, The Matterhorn rises up from The Alps like a jaded pyramid. While you probably won’t want to actually attempt to climb the mountain (if you do, make sure you have the appropriate gear and a travel first aid kit!), it is a must-see sight from afar.
16. Sistine Chapel, Vatican City, Vatican City State
One of the most spectacular sites throughout the Roman Catholic world, the Sistine Chapel is within the Pope’s official residence. Known for its stunning paintings on the ceilings and walls, many people visit to see the famous works by Michelangelo, in particular, the Last Judgment.
17. Grand Canal, Venice, Italy
Venice is famous for its network of waterways, with the Grand Canal being the area’s main thoroughfare. Lined with elegant buildings, gondolas and water taxis regularly traverse the waters of the Grand Canal, further adding to the charming scenes.
18. Oia, Santorini, Greece
While there are numerous scenic sights on the Greek island of Santorini, the pretty cliff-side village of Oia is a particularly favorite spot. The famous postcard views of whitewashed buildings and churches with striking blue domes cling to the rugged cliffs, the deep blue waters of the sea in front of them. It’s a great place to soak up a renowned Santorini sunset too.
19. Lake Bled, Julian Alps, Slovenia
Lake Bled is a picturesque lake in Slovenia’s Julian Alps and one of the most amazing places I have ever been! Surrounded by forests and mountains, a small island with a medieval castle sits majestically in the middle of the clear blue waters. Little Osojnica Hill offers terrific views of the lake, island, and surroundings. I only spent one night at Lake Bled but I yearn to return soon! Check out this post for more info on things to do and where to stay if you are visiting Lake Bled.
20. Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
The UNESCO-protected Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia is a natural marvel. Lakes and waterfalls sparkle seductively among the surrounding greenery-clad karsts. The different colored lakes are all connected, with natural stone dams separating bodies of water.
And so there you have it my traveling friends, twenty of my favorite places to visit in Europe! Choose any country on this amazing continent and you’ll find plenty to see and do. Where are your favorite places in Europe? What have you seen that absolutely blew you away? Tell me in the comments! 😀