Europe is a land that is 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.
Here are some of the best places to see when visiting Europe:
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.
2. Gamla Stan, Stockholm, Sweden
Gamla Stan is the old town of Sweden’s capital of Stockholm. Located in the capital’s scenic archipelago, the colorful area is one of Europe’s finest medieval city centers. Stroll along the cobbled streets and admire the well-preserved historic buildings. It’s like walking through a living museum.
3. Preikestolen, Stavanger, Norway
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.
4. Little Mermaid, Copenhagen, Denmark
Although a lot smaller in real life than many people expect, the iconic Little Mermaid is one of the Danish capital’s most treasured attractions. Perched on a rock in the river, the Hans Christian Andersen character has been attracting tourists since 1913.
5. Buckingham Palace, London, UK
The elegant Buckingham Palace is the official home of the UK’s queen. 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. Pack you walking boots and socks and outdoor gear. Boat trips are also a great way to enjoy the natural splendors.
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.
8. Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain
One of Gaudi’s most famous works, many people are surprised to find that the stunning Sagrada Familia is, as yet, unfinished. Finely chiseled statues and carvings embellish the outside, while stained glass windows create dancing colors inside. The ceilings are especially striking.
9. Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
There is perhaps no other one monument that could stand as the symbol for the entire continent as Paris’s Eiffel Tower can. 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.
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 afterwards 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.
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.
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. Surrounded by forests and mountains, a small island with a medieval castle sits majestically in the middle of the blue waters. Little Osojnica Hill offers terrific views of the lake, island and surroundings.
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.
Europe offers so many wonderful sights; choose any country 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?