Tons of Countries to Explore
Europe is a vast continent bursting with diverse cities, landscapes and attractions. This can make it hard to decide where to go first, particularly if you’re visiting Europe for the first time. Thousands of years of history can be seen in its cities, from the narrow streets of London to the ancient buildings of Athens, while modern, metropolitan cities like Paris and Barcelona offer beautiful art, architecture and culinary delights. Sunny weather, sandy beaches in Southern Europe, and winter wonderland scenery in the north await, making European destinations an amazing year-round experience. If possible, don’t limit yourself to just one - check out the top ten best travel destinations in Europe below.
1. Paris, France
Paris, the capital city of France and the city of love isn’t just for lovers but anyone looking for a destination brimming with world-class cuisine, sweet cobbled streets and some of Europe’s most famous attractions. Take a walk along the Seine River and climb up the Eiffel Tower for stunning city views before visiting the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, where you can spend hours admiring the famous paintings lining its walls.
For more panoramic views, the neighborhood of Montmartre is home to Sacre Coeur Cathedral, which sits on a hilltop overlooking the city, which you can admire before exploring the cobblestone paths and cafes that wind down the hill into the city.
2. London, UK
London is one of Europe’s most vibrant, diverse destinations, with a melting pot of cultures, foods, sights and a rich history to discover. Make sure to book attractions such as the London Eye, Tower of London and West End theatre shows in advance for a fun-filled trip. Some of London’s best sights can be discovered for free!
Big Ben is a vital part of the city’s history, and to continue the theme, wander around Covent Garden or along the Thames to see beautiful old streets and historic pubs where you can enjoy a pint of beer and a pub lunch. From afar, wander past Buckingham Palace before visiting one of London’s many parks, such as Hyde Park or St. James’ Park, around which are many famous luxury hotels offering quintessentially British afternoon tea.
3. Rome, Italy
If Paris is the city of love, then Rome is the city of food. One of the oldest cities in Italy, famous for ancient sights such as the Colosseum, Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain, you can easily spend days here without running out of things to do. Ride around on a Vespa and enjoy a refreshing Aperol spritz or an ice-cold gelato in one of the many cafes, and tick another country off your list in Vatican City, where you might catch a glimpse of the Pope.
Take photos on the Spanish Steps and cycle around the leafy green Villa Borghese; afterward, treat yourself you a delicious bowl of pasta and a glass of fine Italian wine as the sun goes down.
4. Venice, Italy
Italy has so many spectacular areas that it’s hard to choose just one destination to visit; while in Europe, Venice is certainly unmissable. An island floating on a maze of canals, the tiny streets feature hole-in-the-wall pizza shops, wine bars and gelaterias. Travel around by water taxi to see the Rialto Bridge, the Bridge of Sighs and the Grand Canal.
The central St. Mark’s Square is home to St. Mark’s Basilica and Campanile, while you can climb for sweeping views over Venice. Don’t forget to sail around in a gondola or take a trip to other islands, such as Murano and Burano, for even more pretty architecture and historic churches.
5. Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Amsterdam is the crown jewel of the Netherlands, one of the easiest European destinations to explore, thanks to its international flight connections. Narrow houses line the many canals, and you can take a relaxing boat cruise to explore the different neighborhoods. History, art and culture are at the center of Amsterdam, with the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Rembrandthuise and the Anne Frank Museum being some of the most fascinating sights to explore.
Amsterdam is also popular for its nightlife when its Red Light District comes alive with fun clubs and bars, or if you’re searching for a cold drink during the day, the Heineken Experience brewery is also easily accessible.
6. Athens, Greece
For keen history buffs, why not visit one of the oldest cities in the world? Athens is the birthplace of Western civilization and more importantly, the Olympics! To get your fill of ancient history, don’t miss a trip to the Acropolis, the Parthenon or the Temple of Hephaestus, while the Panathenaic Stadium is where the first Olympic Games was hosted. Endless museums, including the National Archaeological Museum and the Museum of Cycladic Art, will give you some background on these beautiful structures.
In addition, Mount Lycabettus may just be the best place for 360-degree views of Athens, and the city also happens to have surprisingly affordable and delicious food - grab a gyros on the go or sit down for a Mediterranean mezze of salads, dips, olives and freshly baked bread.
7. Barcelona, Spain
Sunny Spain has a vast number of cities that make perfect travel destinations all year round, but the top prize goes unequivocally to Barcelona. A city right on the beach while also being home to world-famous architecture, incredible churches, museums, parks and exquisite Spanish cuisine, there’s little not to love.
Words can’t do justice to the Sagrada Familia, a jaw-dropping cathedral designed by Gaudi, who is also behind Park Guell, one of the city’s most unusual outdoor spaces with epic city views. The Picasso Museum is perfect for art lovers and Plaça de Catalunya is Barcelona’s main square around which every delectable restaurant, tapas bar and nightclub revolves, or simply take a stroll down Las Ramblas where street artists, quirky cafes and intricately decorated buildings reside.
8. Prague, Czechia
Steeped in history differently, Prague’s cobblestone squares, chocolate box houses and medieval architecture make it look straight out of a fairytale, particularly when it’s dusted with snow in winter. You’ll spot locals, tourists, artists and photographers wandering the famous Charles Bridge, from where you can also walk to Prague Castle.
The Old Town Square, Spanish Synagogue and St. Vitus Cathedral soon make it clear why Prague is known as the ‘City of a Hundred Spires’. The best and most affordable way to get around is on foot or by tram, and in classic Central Europe fashion, food is both inexpensive and tasty, from warming soups to hot schnitzels and goulash, not to mention the beer, which can be found for less than $3.
9. Dubrovnik, Croatia
If you’ve watched Game of Thrones, you may already be familiar with Dubrovnik’s unique fortress walls, ancient churches and stone battlements. A fort city, meaning it is surrounded by protective walls and entered via a vast gateway, Dubrovnik lies on Croatia’s coastline on the Adriatic Sea. The Rector’s Palace, Franciscan Monastery and a walk on top of the city walls will provide your fill of history, while further afield are stunning beaches, islands and mountains.
A cable car up to Mount Srd provides uninterrupted views over the city and ocean, while a short boat trip to the nearby island of Lokrum is where you can find sandy beaches and swimming spots. There are a lot of steps in this old city, but the steep streets hide authentic restaurants serving Mediterranean cuisine and bars that stay open until the early hours.
10. Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen is the ideal European city for getting a taste of Scandinavian culture. A modern, forward-thinking destination, the city combines stunning medieval architecture with cutting-edge design and warming Nordic cuisine. Copenhagen is a fabulous city throughout the year where in summer, you can visit the Tivoli Gardens or experience cafe culture in Nyhavn, yet if the weather turns, the sleek Opera House or gorgeous botanical gardens make perfect rainy day activities.
Copenhagen’s food scene also derives from many cultures, using freshly caught seafood and local vegetables and imported dishes like frikadellen from Germany and shawarma from Turkey - all of which are surprisingly affordable in this often pricy European city.
While in Europe, check out some great options for train tours.