Europe holds hundreds, if not thousands, of incredible gems that are just waiting for you to come visit. From the obvious and popular sites to the less touristy sites that are off the beaten path, you definitely won’t be disappointed in a trip to Europe.
No matter the type of experience you crave, there’s lots to see in Europe! To help narrow down some possibilities, here is a list of the top 10 European countries to explore, in no particular order.
Made famous by the City of Lights, Paris is likely to be your first stop in France. Some of the most popular attractions include the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Palace of Versailles (just a quick jaunt from Paris), the Louvre Museum, and Notre Dame Cathedral.
For those who want to get out of the bustling city for the beautiful countryside check out the Alps or the French Riviera. For incredible wine regions, try Burgundy, Alsace, Champagne, or Bordeaux.
Don’t forget that France is known for its fine cuisine, bread, and pastries as well as wine. A trip to France is sure to be unforgettable.
Full of delicious food and ancient wonders, Italy would never disappoint. Rome and Venice are usually the most popular cities to visit.
In Rome, be sure to see the Sistine Chapel, Pantheon, Colosseum, and St. Peter’s Basilica. Venice, or the City of Canals, boasts St. Mark’s Basilica, the Rialto Bridge, many other churches and museums, but also the ability to take a gondola ride to see everything.
Don’t forget, Italy has more than the big cities. Littered with gorgeous hilltop towns and coastal villages, areas such as Tuscany, Florence, Cinque Terre, and places in southern Italy will offer a different take on the country.
Sampling the cuisine is also a must here. You haven’t really had Italian food until you eat it in Italy.
In Bavaria, Munich gives you the Marienplatz with the famous Glockenspiel, palaces, churches, and museums galore. Oktoberfest is held annually in Munich and draws over six million people. It is the world’s largest beer festival and traveling funfair. Bavaria also hosts Neuschwanstein Castle, one of the most photographed castles in all of Europe.
Cologne boasts the Cologne Cathedral, as well as incredible castles, churches, and is the largest city on the Rhine River. To see the best sights and the true beauty of Cologne, be sure to book a boat trip on the Rhine.
Berlin is an incredible city as there is still a noticeable difference between East and West Berlin. Don’t miss visiting Checkpoint Charlie, the most well known access point between the east and west. Parts of the Berlin Wall are still visible in areas, too. Apart from the differences within the same city, Berlin also has beautiful palaces, churches, and museums that are well worth a visit.
Known for its larger cities, Germany has lots of villages and smaller towns that are well worth a visit. Rothenburg, the second largest city in the Middle Ages, is Germany’s best preserved, walled city. A charming and fascinating look into history can be easily attained in Rothenburg.
London is a great starting point for England. From the Tower of London, the London Bridge, and the London Eye to St. Paul’s Cathedral, Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, and the British Museum, you won’t run out of things to see.
Outside the big city, the countryside in Bath offers a relaxing and peaceful atmosphere, complete with architecture straight from a Jane Austen novel and England’s only hot springs that you can enjoy. Explore the original Roman Baths and then enjoy more modern versions at your convenience.
A few other places of note include the medieval walls in York, England’s largest mountain in the Lake District, Stonehenge, Liverpool (especially if you have a love for The Beatles), Stratford-upon-Avon (for Shakespeare fanatics), or if you get bored of England, make the trek up to Scotland where the landscape alone will take your breath away.
Boasting the longest Mediterranean coastline and more than 200 inhabited islands, Greece is a crossroads between Africa, Asia, and Europe. You’ll be transported back in time exploring ancient monuments, stuff yourself silly with incredible food, and enjoy the crisp, sea air on a trip to Greece.
Some of the most well-known monuments include the Acropolis, the Parthenon, and the Temple of Zeus. If it’s more nature you’re searching for, check out the National Garden, Samaria Gorge, Amoudi Bay, or Paradise Beach.
When thinking of the Netherlands, Amsterdam is likely the first thing to come to mind. This capital city contains maintained 17th century structures that make touring it like taking a step back in time.
Visit in the spring to experience the Keukenhof tulip festival. Known as the Garden of Europe, it’s one of the world’s largest flower gardens and it does not disappoint. For summer travel, quite a few beach towns can be found along the north sea.
Sporting 48 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, you won’t run out of historical spots to discover in Spain.
The Tower of Hercules (an ancient Roman lighthouse that is still in use), Palau de la Musica Catalana, Historic Centre of Cordoba, and the Caliphate City of Medina Azahara are just a few of the incredible UNESCO World Heritage Sites to visit.
Spain also has a beautifully diverse landscape, varying from lush meadows to deserts and snowy mountains, with coasts along both the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. Don’t skimp on visiting the beautiful beaches and islands that are also abundant in Spain.
A visit to the “Emerald Isle” is unique in the fact that the best destination may not be the capital city. Ireland’s rolling green hills of lush landscape, quaint countryside villages, and medieval castles are abundant and exciting to explore. The trip also won’t be complete without grabbing a pint of Guinness at a pub among the friendly locals.
The best way to see a lot of the landscape as well as historical sites is by traveling the Ring of Kerry, a 111-mile tourist route located in County Kerry on the south-western side of Ireland. Bus tours, driving yourself, or taking the walking or biking baths are all available ways to see Derrynane House, Muckross House, Gap of Dunloe, Rossbeigh Beach, and Staigue Stone Fort as well as explore more sites located in Killarney National Park.
9. Czech Republic
Likely best known for the beautiful city of Prague, the Czech Republic is actually full of unspoiled countryside, national parks, mountains, chateaux, medieval castles, and monasteries. One of the most affordable trips, this landlocked country definitely won’t disappoint.
Prague is home to the largest ancient castle in the world, Prague Castle. Some other notable activities in the city are the KGB Museum, Powder Tower, Dancing House, or a cruise down the River Vltava.
For the more outdoorsy-adventurer type, Norway is your best option for hiking and camping, road trips or a cruise. Almost every town has campsites available, making it a backpacker’s dream. With an abundance of hiking options, dramatic fjords, and snow capped mountains, it’s impossible to be bored in Norway.
For the hiking adventurer, be sure to try the Trolltunga (an incredible rock formation) and Preikestolen (a steep cliff with an almost flat top along a fjord) hikes. The views will not disappoint. The only downside to visiting Norway is that it may be one of the most expensive countries in the world.