Planning a trip to Europe? Great idea. Europe is shared by 50 countries (by some measures) or 44 sovereign nations. Without the United Kingdom it covers an area of over 1.6 million square miles.
One of the many things that makes Europe such an attractive destination is the huge variety of cultures across those 50 countries. From France to Greece to Latvia to Spain and many more all European countries are home to fascinating histories and unique traditions. It’s hard not to want to visit them all.
To help you plan an amazing trip to Europe here are my 45+ Best Places to Visit in Europe. Do you agree?
The south west of is one of the most popular regions in France and it's big! You'll be unlikely to be able to fit in all this beautiful region has to offer in just one trip. So in this article, I'm going to focus on the Nouvelle Aquitaine region which is the heart of the south west of France.
From La Rochelle to Bordeaux to Cognac this region contains a huge variety of delights. It is home to fantastic cities, beautiful beaches, and fantastic wine and spirits. Plus 750 kilometres of sandy coastline. And did I mention how amazing the food is?
Here are 15 highlights of the South West of France that you'll be dying to experience.
I knew I was going to enjoy Bordeaux when I landed and saw vineyards at the airport!
Bordeaux is reasonably often referred to as a mini Paris. It is just as beautiful, easier to navigate and the locals are definitely friendlier. It is home to 362 historic monuments and after Paris, it has the largest number of protected buildings in France.
Since 2007 almost all of Bordeaux's beautiful city centre has been listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. This is a city that is best explored on foot - and by using the city's fantastic tram system.
Normally articles about the best things to do in a city are all about museums and buildings. Well, this article has a museum and some buildings - but it also has a lot of foodie things to do. Trying the local cuisine is one of my favourite things to do so get ready to get hungry while you're reading this article.
History, culture, and nature is the best way to sum up the essence of sightseeing in Germany. From incredible alpine panoramas and lush forests to historic cities and charming towns steeped in history, Germany has it all. Visitors are spoiled for choice when it comes to finding exquisite sights in the land of sausages and beer.
It's a country that boasts some of the world's best artists, musicians, and philosophers, and is where the first car and internal combustion engine originated.
Boasting fairy-tale castles and palace parks, old cathedrals and magnificent monuments, the list is endless. Let's discover some of the most spectacular landmarks in Germany you won't want to miss.
France implores the thought of incredible desserts, from its decadent chocolate mousse and buttery croissants to heartwarming romance that floats through the city. However, this is not the only thing the country has to boot - its magnificent landmarks go above and beyond anything else.
Europe draws millions of visitors worldwide each year, thanks to its delicious cuisines, high fashion, vibrant culture, and many famous landmarks to visit.
No doubt, the country's heart is Paris, home to world-class architecture, museums, and nightlife. However, outside the capital, you'll find an array of small towns, castles, famous landmarks and other incredible attractions that duly belong on your bucket list, too.
Walk through the French streets and feel awed by the spectacular architecture. From the artificial structures of Mont Saint-Micheals to lateral marvels such as Pont du Gard and Mont Blanc, let's visit some of France's most incredible landmarks.
Nowhere else in the world does a palace quite like the Europeans. European Palaces were designed to show off the power and wealth of their inhabitants.
In most cases, those inhabitants were members of the local royal family but bishops, ministers, and other wealthy and/or powerful individuals could also call palaces home.
The key difference between a palace and a castle is their intended use. Castles were built to defend their inhabitants. Palaces were built to showcase their inhabitants.
Architecturally speaking European palaces and castles have much in common such as turrets, slits in the walls, and high towers. However, castles are much more likely to have thicker walls and features like moats to assist in its defense.
Generally, but not always, palaces tend to be more ornate than castles. As they are displays of wealth the materials with which they are built tend to be more about decadence and beauty versus the more functional purpose of a castle which will be fortified.
Confusingly, in France, many palaces and castles are called Chateaux. These tend to be large country houses that in other countries could be called palaces or castles. So, for the purposes of this post if the primary purpose of a French Chateau appears to have been to display wealth and power I have considered it to be a palace.
Now that we have cleared all of that up here are 20 beautiful European Palaces you don't want to miss!
The Karlovy Vary region is the second smallest in the Czech Republic. It is filled with natural beauty, castles, chateaus and best of all its famous hot and cold mineral springs.
The Karlovy Vary region can be visited as a day trip from Prague easily. However, to get the most out of it I highly recommend staying for at least a couple of nights.
It is tough to relax in a Czech Republic spa town when you only have a limited amount of time. Really relaxing requires time. Plus there are so many interesting and lovely things to do in the Czech spa region you will want to have the time to experience as many of them as possible.
This region of Czech became famous in the 14th century for its frequency and diversity of mineral springs - still quite unrivaled in the world today.
For centuries the Karlovy Vary region was visited by royalty and the wealthy from across the world. However, WW1 and WW2, of course, impacted heavily on the area.
I absolutely loved Latvia. Such a cool and interesting country with so much going on.
I first visited Riga and the surrounding areas 10 years ago. I enjoyed my time there but I wouldn't have raved about it.
However, I was blown away on my recent visit. Great food, lots of interesting things to do and so photogenic. Here are my 23 best things to do in Riga and in areas around Riga that can be visited on a day trip.
Austria is often underrated. I feel it can be so closely associated with Germany that it often gets left behind as a must-see European country.
This is such a shame as when it comes to what to do in Austria there are so many fantastic options. I have now visited Austria 4 times and am always finding new and outstanding places to visit in Austria.
Most Austria Itinerary options I see only focus on Vienna and perhaps day trips to Salzburg or even Bratislava.
Both cities are fabulous but please don't take an Austria tour without seeing the mountains and without visiting the wonderful wonderful city of Graz - you will thank me.
Landmarks often become synonymous with a city. It is difficult to think of Paris without imaging the Eiffel Tower, New York without the Empire State Building - and of course the most iconic of the Landmarks of London, Big Ben.
I have lived in London for 18 years and I still feel a bit of a thrill when I see Big Ben - I almost can't believe I am really standing where I can see it after all of those years of seeing it on television in Australia.
To celebrate 18 years of living in wonderful London it seemed appropriate to put together a list of my personal 37 London landmarks. These are my must sees that I recommend to friends who visit and now to you!
From cathedrals and castles to historically significant sites and striking landscapes, The Emerald Isle is home to many famous landmarks. These sites shaped the country and gave it the deserved title as one of the world's greatest countries.
Visitors are awed by Ireland's friendly people, rugged landscapes, and fascinating yet tragic history. Dubbed as one of the most beautiful countries in Europe, you’ll be captivated by war-torn structures, sheer cliffs, ancient tombs, and wild islands.
Embark on one of the many hiking trails along the Ring of Kerry or admire the beautiful stained glass in Dublin’s Cathedral. Sample some world-renowned Guinness beer at their storehouse or learn about some interesting stories from the past.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at some of Ireland’s most famous landmarks to add to your bucket list.
Many of the most stunning castles in the world are in Europe. Castles in Europe have been famous for their magnificence and often beauty for centuries.
The primary purpose of a castle in Europe was to protect its owners - normally members of the local royal family. The difference between a European castle and a European palace is about its intent.
Was the building designed to protect its inhabitants or was it to demonstrate the power and wealth of its inhabitants? If the latter, the structure is deemed to be a palace.
A key differentiator of a castle and a palace is that castles are fortified. Castles are also far more likely to have moats and super thick walls. Both castles and palaces can feature turrets, high towers and slits in the walls.
Generally, but not always, palaces tend to be more ornate than castles. As they are displays of wealth the materials with which they are built tend to be more about decadence and beauty versus the more functional purpose of a castle.
Confusingly, in France, many palaces and castles are called Chateaux. These tend to be large country houses that in other countries could be called palaces or castles. They are often some of the most famous landmarks in Europe.
So, for the purposes of this post if the primary purpose of a French Chateau appears to have been to protect its inhabitants I have considered it to be a castle.
Now that we are clear here are 44 gorgeous castles in Europe.
Iceland is an incredible country, with impressive geological features and diverse terrain, it’s no doubt a bucket list destination for many. From lava fields to glaciers, and cascading waterfalls, this magical land is filled with exciting landscapes to explore.
The choice of what to do can be overwhelming, especially when considering the number of extraordinary things to see. I suggest making Iceland’s capital city Reykjavik your home base for your 3 days in Iceland, while you discover Iceland’s surroundings.
Let’s take a look at the ultimate itinerary to explore the magnificent country of Iceland in three days.
I was so looking forward to my Baden-Baden spa experience. The word “Bad” means bath in German. When it is added to the name of the town it means that it has a spa.
Indeed, Baden Baden Germany has 12 hot springs and has been welcoming those seeking to relax and reconnect for centuries. Baden Baden’s heydays were in the 19th century when its fantastic location, spa facilities, and fabulous casino attracted the elite of Europe to travel to southwest Germany.
Today Baden Baden has managed to keep all of those wonderful historical elements but added in more modern spa facilities, fantastic food, modern art and much more.
The city has so much on offer but in this post, I am going to focus on how to get to choose the Baden-Baden spa options that you will most enjoy.
A critical factor of that choice is your level of comfort in getting naked with strangers. But don't worry, there are Baden Baden spa with clothes options as well.
The Ayrshire region of Scotland sits on the southwest coast and enjoys considerably better weather than most of the country. This is also Robert Burns country – you can’t miss him and his influence when exploring the area.
It is also home to some lovely beaches, fantastic castles, great food, stunning drives and much more.
Here are my top 12 Things to do in Ayrshire Scotland
Greece's second-biggest city also claims to be its foodiest - the only way to find out if this is true is to head there and eat for yourself! I must confess I spent quite a bit of my time in Thessaloniki eating as well there. There is some great food to be consumed.
However, there is much more to this eclectic, busy, vibrant city than just awesome food. Every few steps you'll stumble over a church from the Ottoman Empire or some edgy street art. And there is a lot to experience on the city's fantastic boardwalk which is five kilometres long.
Thessaloniki is home to 1.3 million people and 120,000 of its inhabitants are students. As always, student cities tend to have an extra air of vibrancy and buzz and Thessaloniki is no exception.
Here are 27 of the best things to do in Thessaloniki.
England boasts endless amounts of fascinating landmarks. From ancient buildings enveloped in history to wondrous natural beauty and impressive ultra-modern structures. Scattered all around the country, you’ll find these gems in the bustling streets of London, along the stretches of coastline or deep within the charming English countryside.
Tourists from all over the world flock to England for many reasons, from unique food tours to luxury hotels and stunning parks. But one of the main reasons people travel from afar is to get a glimpse at these phenomenal landmarks. And if you are a local, these should be on the top of your bucket list as well.
Istanbul is one of my favorite cities - I have visited three times. It is literally where East meets West and is a fantastic city to visit if you're curious about the Middle East and Northern Africa but a bit unsure about scheduling a big trip.
It is also a fantastic long weekend away from most places in Europe. There are so many things to do in Istanbul as well as some fantastic food.
Turkey has so much to explore. For me, the two places in Turkey which are completely unlike anywhere else in the world are its capital Istanbul and the magical Cappadoccia.
It isn't possible to see all of this country in a Turkey Itinerary 7 days but you can absolutely get a good sense of both Istanbul and Cappadocia - and develop an appetite to come back and see more of this beautiful country.
From stunning bridges to buildings adorned with colourful tiles to perhaps the world's most colourful palace, Portugal is a country that is filled with interesting and historic places to see. Here are 37 Landmarks of Portugal that have earnt a place on your bucket list.
Maspalomas is the main large city in the south of Gran Canaria - and also one of the most popular places for hotels and resorts. The best part of Maspalomas is when it meets Melonaras on the seafront. If you're not staying Maspalomas it is a great place for a Gran Canaria Excursion.
Here is my guide for the Best 8 Things to do in Maspalomas for Adults.
The Blue Lagoon is at the top of the list for most visitors to Iceland. This well-instagrammed Iceland lagoon is very busy for good reason – it offers a unique and immersive experience.
There are quite a few options on the Iceland Blue Lagoon website - but how do you decide which of the Blue Lagoon Iceland prices and packages are right for you when visiting for the first time?
I feel well placed to provide one of the Blue Lagoon Iceland Reviews as I have actually been there three times. Make sure you read the section on the Blue Lagoon Massage.
All Blue Lagoon Iceland Reviews will tell you that it gets VERY busy. So when it comes to when to book the Blue Lagoon spa in Iceland do it at least a month in advance.
When you book you need to nominate a time. If you nominate say 1 pm you can then enter anytime between 1 and 2 pm. There are separate queues at reception for pre-book vs on arrival and for the different package types.
As a Londoner, I have watched every episode of Netflix's The Crown from season one. Few things make me happier than hearing about a new season of this fantastic show. One of those things is being able to visit The Crown filming locations across the United Kingdom.
As you may imagine many of the scenes of The Crown were not filmed where they are actually set eg they weren't allowed to film at Buckingham Palace.
Originally the production team expected to be able to film most of The Crown in studios. However, it was soon realised that the attention to detail that the series required would not allow for this and instead the production team set about visiting some of the most stately and opulent homes in the UK.
In this post I will let you know the actual site as it appears in the show that you can visit and where it was filmed if it was somewhere different - and whether you can visit.
Scotland is absolutely stunning. If the weather were more reliable it would be absolutely jammed with tourists. The beauty of Scotland is that the weather changes at a pace so even at its worst often blue skies can be literally just moments away.
This is not an exhaustive list of beautiful places in Scotland - there are so so many. I have been to Scotland at least 7 times covering Edinburgh and Glasgow, the less-visited south west coast regions of Dumfries and Galloway and Ayrshire, Glen Coe, Ben Nevis and the Highlands and the centre of Scotland. So these are the 18 most beautiful places that I have visited in Scotland.
I am sure that Verbier Switzerland also looks lovely in the winter. But let's face it, white can be a bit one dimensional. Particularly when compared to the stunning rainbow of colours that is the Verbier summer.
From the insanely beautiful and green of the Swiss Alps to the flower baskets throughout the village to Swiss cows against stunning backdrops the Verbier summer is filled with fantastic and exciting things to do as well as great photo opportunities.
Here are 14 things not to miss when you visit Verbier Switzerland.
Dumfries and Galloway is the least visited area of Scotland - I have no idea why. The region is absolutely stunning, tends much more towards good weather relative to the rest of Scotland and there are some fantastic things to do in Dumfries and Galloway.
From the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse to Wigtown Scotland to Drumlanrig Castle the West Coast Scotland has so much to offer.
Barcelona has it all - beautiful beaches, a fantastic climate, a whopping 8 UNESCO sites, home to many of the extraordinary works of Gaudi and fantastic food. No wonder it is such a popular tourist destination. Barcelona makes for a brilliant European weekend away but really deserves multiple visits or several days of your time.
Here are 23 Barcelona landmarks that you'll want to see.
Find a comfy seat to settle before watching a truly spectacular site, where the sun sets the waters on fire before nightfall, with a display of colours bursting over the Mediterranean. Rich hues of reds, oranges, purples, and pinks seduce onlooking eyes, with sights of pure dreaminess.
Whether you want to be larging it up on the famous Sunset Strip or sipping cocktails in a beach bar, watching sunsets in Ibiza is a serene moment. It’s the perfect time to wind down, just before the island gets pumped up and brims with partygoers.
Let’s take a look at some of the best spots on the island to enjoy the incredible sunsets of Ibiza - a worthy bucket list destination.
Prior to my first visit to Gran Canaria two years ago, I had slightly dismissed the Prior to my first visit to Gran Canaria two years ago, I had slightly dismissed the Canary Islands. I thought of this destination as somewhere people went for fly and flop all inclusive holidays and not somewhere for boutique adventurers.
I was very wrong. One of the pleasures of having a travel blog is being able to find out about destinations that have been given incorrect reputations - and discovering that they are actually hidden gems.
When it comes to things to do on Lanzarote the list is very long. In addition to the activities such as scuba, snorkelling, sailing, cycling etc that you would expect on any island holiday there is a long list of things that are unique to Lanzarote that you must not miss when you visit.
There are few places in the world that are as mystical and rich in history as Greece. While most thoughts of the island country evoke images of idyllic beaches in Paxos and sweeping views of white houses in Santorini, there’s a lot of culture that lays the foundation of this travel hotspot and in some of the most famous Greek landmarks.
Visiting the top Greek landmarks and attractions is a great way to experience this culture first-hand.
If you’re planning a trip to the ancient islands, make sure that you add as many of these famous Greek landmarks to your Greece itinerary as possible.
There’s a beautiful mix of history, the influence of mythology and natural beauty just waiting to be explored.
Spain is a beautiful country full of history, culture, and passion. It’s famous for many things, including its incredible Spain famous landmarks. Each city tells a tale of its past through these different structures, buildings, and sites.
When I hear the word ‘Greece’, my mind immediatetly thinks of pebbled beaches and clear, balmy turquoise waters. These Mediterranean islands are also home to intriguing historical sights, warm and hospitable locals, and scrumptious foods.
Sadly, most tourists follow a Greece Itinerary that only takes them to Santorini or Mykonos.
What these tourists don’t realize is that they’re missing out on some of the most authentic and beautiful islands.
For those of you who want a more unique experience, then this list of the 23 most beautiful islands in Greece is just for you.
What a stunning region. I had never heard of Tarn et Garonne prior to organizing this visit.
The region is located just north of Toulouse. The main town of the Tarn et Garonne France region is the beautiful Rose Village on Montauban – called this because of the lovely pink colour of the clay of the area which was used to make bricks.
The Tarn et Garonne region is all about agriculture - fantastic produce and wine. This is definitely an area to embrace "slow tourism" and to savour.
Here are my top 14 Things to do in Tarn et Garonne.
The architecture of Rome has been celebrated for centuries. This beautiful city is home to some of the most famous buildings and landmarks in the world.
Here are the Rome monuments not to be missed when you visit the eternal city - from the ancient to the more modern, from the famous to the less well known, from the picturesque to the impressive - here are the 25 monuments in Rome not to be missed.
Venice is insanely beautiful. Every step will have you wanting to take out your camera and start snapping. Having visited Venice several times, I would recommend taking the time to just walk through this beautiful city and get a bit lost. It is one of the best ways to appreciate its beauty.
Once you've absorbed the Venetian atmosphere it is time to get out that bucket list and start ticking off landmarks in Venice. You won't be surprised to read that Venice has a lot of landmarks and they are all rather beautiful and worth your time.
So here are the 27 Landmarks in Venice you won't want to miss.
Venetian Palaces are known for being extraordinarily beautiful - both inside and outside. Those located onthe Grand Canal are particularly impressive.
Venice had a small population in its heyday - only 300,000 - but they had many wealthy noble families. The wealthy families of Venice were keen to let everyone know the size of their fortunes so many chose to display this through their homes.
From the 1300s onwards the city became home to many stunning Venetian Palaces that have been well kept over the years. Although many are still in private hands, quite a few are open to visitors.
It isn't cheap to keep a Venetian Palace in good condition so many of these beautiful buildings have been sold, donated or turned into museums.
According to ancient law, only one building was allowed to be called a Palazzo - and that was reserved for the Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale) which was home to the head of state.
As a result many of these magnificent buildings had to take the not so magnificent title of Ca', short for casa.
The front of Venetian palaces always faces the water. The canals of Venice served the same purpose as streets so visitors would arrive from the water.
It is no wonder that Hamburg ranks in the top-ten lists of the world’s most livable cities. Hamburg has done a fantastic job when it comes to town planning.
They have literally designed a city that fosters a sense of community by planning pedestrianized areas, clearly differentiating which area is for work rather than leisure rather than living and loads of other clever things.
Germany's second-biggest city has so much on offer. Whilst it absolutely deserves several days of your holiday time, if that isn't an option here is my guide on how to have a fantastic time on one day in Hamburg.
Italy is a truly spectacular country. It’s known for its authentic cuisine, breathtaking art, and its abundance of historical landmarks. As a first-time visitor, you’ll be spoilt for choice with the number of attractions you can see - you honestly won’t know which ones to choose.
This list of famous landmarks in Italy has been put together to ensure you see some of the most spectacular. Visiting these landmarks will guarantee you a memorable travel experience in Italy.
Montepulciano is quite frankly heaven for wine lovers. This stunning hilltop Tuscan town is ridiculously beautiful and it is just filled with wine. Wineries, red wine, white wine, wine cellars, oak casks, wine shops, wine bars – it really is just wine-tastic. There are so many wineries in Montepulciano.
But I have to say I didn’t find it particularly easy to plan my Montepulciano winery visit before I went. It wasn’t easy to figure out which wineries were in town, out of town, how far etc.
So here is my guide to the Wineries of Montepulciano – with some bonus hedgehogs and great meals thrown in.
Ah, Puglia Italy! I think this must be where Italians go on their holidays and they have decided to keep rather quiet about it. I visited in December for New Year's Eve - not a typical time to head to southern Europe.
It was full of Italians and rather glamorous ones. When it comes to the best time to visit Puglia it is actually a year-round destination.
This confirmed my view that the Italians have been trying to keep this lovely area a secret - especially with all the google searches asking is Puglia worth visiting - well no longer.
I have travelled to Italy quite a few times and it is in my top 5 of all countries in the world. I think Sicily maybe my favourite part of Italy. Possibly because of the amount of amazing food and wine there.
I do think Sicily Italy has been my favourite food destination ever - driven my being able to have ricotta at every meal and then finishing most meals with cannoli. There are lots of lists of the best things to do in Sicily that cover the typical Sicily attractions.
I loved loved loved Paxos Greece. It has managed to escape mass tourism as there is no airport on this small island. Paxos Island Greece is 10km long and 4km wide and filled with olive groves, crystal clear water, dry stone walls, beautiful Paxos beaches, farmhouses and fantastic food.
Life is relaxed on Paxos Island. There are three small main settlements that are at different points along the coast - Gaios, Loggos and Lakka.
There are few inland villages on this greek island and those that exist are very small. It has a wonderful peaceful air. It feels like actual people live on Paxos - not like Santorini.
There, of course, are tourists and the island does cater to tourism. However, the smallest of the Ionian islands seems to have the right balance of being authentic yet still easy. And wow is it beautiful. And Paxos is so photogenic.
Ios Island used to be known as the Greek island for partying - I remember hearing about it when I was backpacking a long time ago (thank god those days are over).
Ios Greece still attracts a young crowd in the old town at the height of summer but it also now has some great boutique hotels, lovely restaurants (the food is amazing), some hidden gems and importantly a long list of fantastic things to do in Ios Greece.
I covered all of the costs associated with writing this article on the best places to visit in Europe. However, this post includes affiliate links. That means if you click through and end up making a purchase I will receive a small commission. I wanted to make sure you were aware of this.
Amanda O’Brien is the creator and editor of The Boutique Adventurer. She has visited 80 countries and is a member of the British Guild of Travel Writers as well as the IFTWTA. She is passionate about wine had has just completed Level 3 of the WSET. Born in Australia, she lives in London.