14 Best Holiday Destinations In Europe To Visit

23 July 2023
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1. Why Europe Has Some Of The Most Beautiful Places To Visit In The World

Europe is a continent full of rich history, different cultures, amazing architecture and some of the best restaurants in the world.  Every city in Europe boasts numerous destinations that provide different unique views and charm. So choosing the best places to visit in Europe is challenging and dependent on what pleasures you are looking for. 

I have been fortunate in travelling to many countries in Europe. My experiences of visiting these places means I can personally recommend what many consider among the best destinations to start with. These include romantic Paris with its Eiffel Tower, vibrant architecture of Barcelona, historic grandeur of Rome, and calming canals of Amsterdam.

These European destinations offer amazing attractions ranging from castles and beautiful old towns, to breathtaking national parks with stunning scenery. There is something for everyone planning a trip to Europe, so if it’s on your bucket list this guide will help.

Many of these beautiful cities are equally enchanting if you are planning a summer vacation in Europe, or looking for some winter magic. So see why these 14 best places in Europe to visit should be on your list with many top attractions that are worth a visit.

1. Paris, France

14 Best Holiday Destinations In Europe To Visit
The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel at sunset in Paris, France

Who doesn’t hear the word Paris and immediately think of it’s main attraction the stunning Eiffel Tower, and romantic dinners. It’s one of the most beautiful European destinations, and high on most peoples list. It’s one of the best places to visit in Europe for incredible architecture, mouthwatering cusine, and amazing art and culture.

There are many things to do including seeing some of the best views of the city from the top of the Eiffel Tower. Taking a stroll along the Seine River enjoying the fantastic riverside views,  and visiting museums like the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay are all must-dos.

Art and history lovers will enjoy the artistic Montmartre neighbourhood with its lively street art, and the stunning Sacré-Cœur Cathedral on top of Montmartre Hill. Food enthusiasts will adore some of the worlds best restaurants and the many quaint bistros with delicious french cuisine. 

Paris is worth a visit any time but especially in the summer months as you can dine outside and enjoy the delights of Parisian life.

2. Rome, Italy

14 Best Holiday Destinations In Europe To Visit
The Arch of Constantine and Colosseum in Rome, Italy

Rome also sometimes called the Eternal City, is another well known destination in Europe for history, architecture and food lovers. It is one of the best places in Europe to visit to experience culture and art. The most iconic and visited landmark is The Colosseum which was once the largest amphitheater in the world.

Visiting The Colosseum and the historical ruins in the nearby Roman Forum provides a beautiful insight into the grandeur of the old Roman Empire. Strolling through the old center cobblestoned streets, and picturesque alleys and beautiful squares are all wonderful experiences to enjoy.

Plan your trip to make sure to visit other top attractions like the gorgeous Trevi Fountain, the majestic Pantheon, and the charming Piazza Navona. You must also visit one of Rome’s favorite places for tourists, Vatican City. Here you can see St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums which are home to a vast collection of art and historical pieces.

3. London, United Kingdom

14 Best Holiday Destinations In Europe To Visit
An illuminated London Bridge and The Shard at night, London, United Kingdom

Ok I’m slightly biased here as London is my home! Many will however agree that it’s one of the best multiculturally rich cities to visit with a blend of historic sites, museums and art galleries.

History lovers will enjoy Buckingham Palace, and the Tower of London, a Unesco world heritage site historic castle that is in the middle of London. Other wonderful attractions include the Big Ben clock, Houses of Parliament, and the London Eye for some of the best views of the city skyline.

Art and cultural enthusiasts will love the many museums and art galleries like the Tate Modern and National Gallery. Theatre lovers will likewise be spoilt with the many plays and shows that can be seen at big and small-fringe theatres. 

London’s multi-diverse culture also provides a unique opportunity to indulge in food from traditional English to Asian, African, European and fusion cuisines. London is also a great destination in Europe for people who want a base for day trips. There are many tourists opportunities for day trips to see wonderful traditional English cities, villages and English countryside around small towns.

So if you’re deciding where to go in Europe, London’s unique blend of people, history and sights definitely makes it worth a visit.

4. Barcelona, Spain

14 Best Holiday Destinations In Europe To Visit
Porter's Lodge pavilion (Casa del Guarda) with tile shard mosaic roof at main entrance of Park Güell, Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is among the best places in Europe to visit for people who love stunning architecture, and dining on delicious food in lovely squares. It has a wonderful mediterranean charm that makes people want to come back for an unforgettable experience.

The city’s top attractions include the incredible Sagrada Familia designed by Antoni Gaudí, whose brilliant architectural work can be seen throughout Barcelona. This includes Park Güell which also offers great views of the city.

Other enjoyable things to do include taking a stroll down La Rambla street with it’s cafes, shops, and street performers providing entertainment. In the nearby old town Gothic Quarter, with it’s narrow medieval streets and beautiful squares, is Barcelona Cathedral, another lovely example of Gothic architecture.

Barcelona’s many night-time activities will entertain lovers of vibrant social scenes with a choice of late dining, nightclubs, music festivals, and flamenco shows.

Lastly, don’t forget to unwind and enjoy the Mediterranean sun on the beautiful beaches of Barcelona, especially in the summer months. As you can see, Barcelona offers a taste of something for everyone, making it a captivating European destination to visit.

5. Amsterdam, Netherlands

14 Best Holiday Destinations In Europe To Visit
Canalside view of Amsterdam, Netherlands

Famous for picturesque canals, historic houses, and vibrant culture, Amsterdam is a gorgeous place to visit and definitely one of the best destinations in Europe. One of the lovely ways to see the city and views of the lovely gabled houses lining the waterways is to take a canal cruise

Some of the best Amsterdam sights include the Anne Frank House, and the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum for art-lovers. These world-class museums have exhibitions of works by many great Dutch masters and other great historic artists from around the world.

A stroll in the trendy Jordaan district is also recommended with its fashionable art galleries, independent boutiques, and great bars and restaurants. With its laid back relaxed atmosphere and rich culture, Amsterdam will be one of the best places in Europe to visit.

6.   Berlin, Germany

14 Best Holiday Destinations In Europe To Visit
Panoramic view of Berlin cityscape, Berliner Dome and Brandenburg Gate at sunset from the Fernsehturm, Berlin, Germany

Berlin is a city with a rich turbulent history and vibrant culture, whose unique blend of historic and modern attractions will keep you entertained. Visiting the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Wall Memorial, Checkpoint Charlie, and the German Parliament Reichstag building are memorable must-dos on a trip to Berlin.

Another of the city’s most famous attractions is Museum Island Berlin. This is a complex of five museums exhibiting archaeology and artworks from different centuries.

Berlin has also grown in reputation as one of the best places to visit in Europe for people who enjoy a lively social nightlife scene. There are plenty of trendy bars and nightclubs around the city to keep you entertained throughout the night.

Outdoor lovers will like the lovely open green space of Tiergarten Park, which is great for a peaceful stroll, or a leisurely picnic. You can also enjoy some food and drink in one of the several beer gardens, restaurants, and cafes in the park.

7. Istanbul, Turkey

14 Best Holiday Destinations In Europe To Visit
View of the Galata Tower and Istanbul skyline from the Bosphoros, Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, a city of Asian and Western influences is one of the most photogenic cities in Europe with fascinating history, architecture and cultures. The most famous landmark to visit is Hagia Sophia which is a stunning building with an equally fascinating history. Built in 537 AD it was initially a cathedral which then became then a mosque, a museum, and is now once again a mosque. Close by is the Blue Mosque, another beautiful building famous for its blue Iznik ceramic tiles.

Other landmarks include The Topkapi Palace, the Ottoman Sultans’ main residence, and the Basilica Cistern, an ancient underground water storage facility. The East meets West cultural influences makes Istanbul one of the best places in Europe to visit to enjoy culturally diverse food and neighbourhoods. A wonderful place to visit is the trendy area of Beyoglu, famous for lovely cafes, boutiques and vibrant nightlife.

Lovers of markets will also enjoy the Grand Bazaar, one of the biggest and oldest covered markets in the world. It’s a great place to shop for a variety of products from different spices to traditional Turkish merchandise.

Lastly, a trip to Istanbul will not be complete without taking a cruise on the Bosphorus Strait, a waterway that separates Europe and Asia.  I am sure you will find Istanbul to be, without doubt, a lovely place to visit in Europe.

8. Prague, Czech Republic

14 Best Holiday Destinations In Europe To Visit
View of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk monument and the Hradcany Square at the entrance to Prague Castle, Prague, Czech Republic

Prague, especially the Old Town area, is a magical city and one of the most visited destinations in Europe. Perhaps the most recognisable landmark and first on the list for most tourists is the stunning Charles Bridge, the oldest bridge in Prague. Crossing the Vltava River, it is an architectural delight with intricate details and is lined with 30 statues representing historical figures. It’s a fantastic place to visit from sunrise to sunset, with beautiful views on either side of the stone bridge.

Other famous landmarks include Prague Castle and the Old Town Square. Prague Castle is the largest castle complex in the world. It is also home to the stunning St. Vitus Cathedral, the lovely Golden Lane, and several other historic buildings. You can also get some fantastic views of the city and the Vltava River from the castle grounds. The attractions of Old Town Square include the spectacular mechanical Astronomical Clock, over 600 years old, and the breathtaking towering Gothic Tyn Church.

A boat trip on the Vltava River is also a lovely way of getting a different perspective of Prague. A cruise at any time is good, especially at sunset and evening when the bridge and buildings are lit up. Prague will certainly keep you captivated with its cobblestone streets, picturesque squares, and mix of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture.

9. Vienna, Austria

14 Best Holiday Destinations In Europe To Visit
Prince Eugene of Savoy and Archduke Karl Equestrian Statues in Heroes' Square outside Hofburg Palace, Vienna, Austria

Vienna is a delightful city for indulging in cultural activities like classical music concerts, visiting art galleries and museums, and exploring buildings with beautiful architecture. 

Famous places to visit include the spectacular Schönbrunn Palace and the Hofburg Palace. The 18th-century Schönbrunn Palace, with its stunning landscaped garden and park, was the summer residence of the Habsburgs, who ruled Austria from 1282 until 1918. The impressive Hofburg Palace complex was the main residence of the Habsburgs and includes several buildings, gardens, courtyards and squares.

Many of Vienna’s main landmarks can be seen by strolling along the Ringstrasse, a circular tree-lined boulevard that encircles almost the entire city centre. Attractions include the Rathaus (City Hall), Burgtheater (national theatre) and lovely parks like the Stadtpark with its famous golden statue of Strauss playing the violin.

Cultural enthusiasts will also love the range of cultural activities on hand. These include watching performances at the State Opera House, or seeing collections of old master prints and exhibitions in museums like the Albertina and Kunsthistorisches.

Vienna is also one of the best places in Europe to visit if you have a sweet tooth and enjoy mouthwatering deserts. So don’t forget to take time to enjoy some traditional Viennese coffee and pastries in one of the city’s lovely cafes.

10. Lisbon, Portugal

14 Best Holiday Destinations In Europe To Visit
View of Cristo Rei statue and Ponte 25 de Abril in Alfama, Lisbon, Portugal

Portugal’s coastal city of Lisbon is one of the most beautiful and best summer destinations in Europe, with exciting streets, historical landmarks and lively culture.

One of Lisbon’s most famous monuments is the 16th-century Belém Tower. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which was the starting and ending entry point for Portuguese explorers. Located nearby is the magnificent Jerónimos Monastery, a religious building designed to celebrate the return of Vasco da Gama from India.

Lisbon is a hilly city, and a great way to explore is to catch one of the many trams, especially the iconic yellow trams. Tram 28, in particular, is worth riding as it passes through some of the city’s most picturesque neighbourhoods. Jump on it for a ride up to the Alfama district, the oldest quarter in the city and get fabulous views of the city.

Beach lovers will enjoy visiting Lisbon. It has some of the best beaches in Europe, with several along the Cascais shore, and in Costa da Caparica, Arrábida, and Sintra. A day trip to Sintra is highly recommended whether you are seeking beach pleasures or wonderful scenery. The beautiful area includes Sintra-Cascais Nature Park, which houses a range of attractions, including the medieval Castle of the Moors, and stunning Pena National Palace.

11. Copenhagen, Denmark

14 Best Holiday Destinations In Europe To Visit
The magnificent Rosenborg Castle and landscaped garden Copenhagen Denmark

Copenhagen is a charming city known for its history, culture and sights, including beautiful waterfronts and innovative designs.

One of the city’s main attractions is the wonderfully colourful Nyhavn district, a historic waterfront area with brightly coloured 17th-century townhouses. It’s a lovely photogenic place and great for a leisurely walk or boat tour. The famous fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen is known to have lived in No. 20, Nyhavn, whilst No 9 is the oldest house dating back to 1681. Don’t also miss visiting the iconic Little Mermaid statue, inspired by Andersen’s fairy tale, at the Langelinie promenade.

Another popular attraction is the vast Kongens Nytorv square, surrounded by many impressive historical buildings with an equestrian statue of Christian V at the centre.

No visit to Copenhagen is complete without having some fun at Tivoli Gardens, a fantastic amusement park in the city’s centre. It’s a lovely place for adults and children with roller coasters, landscaped gardens and places to drink, eat and relax. Visiting at night is great fun as the twinkling lights give it a magical fairy tale charm everyone enjoys.

12. Edinburgh, Scotland

14 Best Holiday Destinations In Europe To Visit
Balmoral Hotel clock tower, Edinburgh Castle, Scott Monument, and St Giles' Cathedral from Calton Hill in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

Edinburgh’s rich heritage, dramatic Scottish scenery, stunning architecture and vibrant modern attractions make it one of the top European cities to visit. The centrepiece attraction is the imposing Edinburgh Castle which sits majestically at the top of an ancient volcano, offering great city views. Highlights in this complex of buildings include visiting the St. Margaret’s Chapel, the Great Hall, and the Royal Palace. Try and time your visit for the famous firing of the One o’Clock Gun, which dates back to 1861. It happens at 1pm every day except on Sundays, Good Friday and Christmas Day.

Other famous areas to visit include the historic Old Town, and panoramic views of Holyrood Park, and Calton Hill. The best way to explore Old Town is to walk along the famous Royal Mile from the castle down to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. 

For some fresh air, take a leisurely walk up to Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park which has spectacular panoramic views of the city. Another recommended comfortable climb is to the top of Calton Hill for more spectacular views of the city as well as some classical Greek-style monuments. 

Edinburgh is one of those lovely cities that provides something for everyone, whether you visit in summer or over the winter months. Culture lovers will enjoy visiting during the summer Fringe Festival period or winter Hogmanay celebrations to enjoy a vast range of shows and activities.  

13. Madrid, Spain

14 Best Holiday Destinations In Europe To Visit
The stunning Almudena Cathedral in Madrid, Spain

Madrid is a laid-back city known for historical sites, beautiful plazas, art, culture, wonderful cuisine and vibrant nightlife. The best time to visit Madrid is during spring or autumn for taking pleasant, comfortable walks in the streets and parks and for alfresco dining.  Some must-visit attractions in the city include Puerta del Sol the main square in Madrid, the Royal Palace, Prado Museum, and El Retiro Park. 

Puerta del Sol is a great starting point with exciting sights, including the nearby Plaza Mayor, a lovely square with stunning architecture and outdoor dining. A trip to the Royal Palace, the Spanish Royal Family’s official residence, is worth the visit to see the stunning interiors and beautiful gardens.

There are several parks in Madrid, and the gorgeous green oasis of El Retiro Park is one of the best ones to wander around in. There are many fascinating monuments and gardens, including a man-made lake and the Palacio de Cristal, a glass building.

Art enthusiasts will be spoilt with the many museums and art galleries, including the Prado Museum, Reina Sofia, and Thyssen-Bornemisza. These are 3 of the best and most popular places to visit with an extensive classical and contemporary art collection.

Foodies will love Madrid. One of the greatest pleasures of visiting is the opportunity to eat delicious food in alfresco local restaurants and tapas bars, whilst people watching. And don’t forget to try the mouthwatering try churros at Chocolatería San Ginés.

14. Bruges, Belgium

14 Best Holiday Destinations In Europe To Visit
Nighttime view of the Belfry of Bruges from Rozenhoedkaai, Bruges, Belgium

Also known as the ‘Venice of the North’, Bruges is one of my favourite European  destinations and one of Belgium’s most picturesque cities. It’s unique blend of gothic architecture, charming canals, and cobblestone streets make it one of the best places to visit in Europe.

A journey to Bruges must include visiting the Markt, a gorgeous square surrounded on all sides by colourful buildings, including the stunning  Belfry of Bruges. A climb up the many winding steps to the top of the tower will reward you with spectacular panoramic city views. Not far away is Burg Square with more wonderful buildings including the magnificent Stadhuis (City Hall).

Another must-do is the Church of Our Lady where you can also see Michelangelo’s white marble statue Madonna and Child. Art lovers will also enjoy visiting the Groeningemuseum with its extensive collection of Flemish and Belgian paintings.

But Bruges is much more than buildings and art. Bruges is a city of many canals. Nothing is more memorable than walking along the canals especially at night with house and street lamp illuminations casting a magical glow over the canals.

Finally, foodies and beer drinkers will love Bruges amazing range of tasty beers, delicious cuisine including mussels and Flemish beef stew, and lots of chocolates.

Final Thoughts On The Best Places To Visit In Europe

As you can see Europe is a wonderful continent rich in history, culture, stunning locations and mouth-watering food. My list of 14 of the best holiday destinations in Europe will hopefully give you a good taste of the memorable experiences waiting for you. So get planning, and also get your free copy of my Your Ultimate Travel Packing Checklist Guide For Your Next Trip to help your planning. You can then use my free Personalised Online Travel Checklist tool to make sure you have packed everything you need when you go.

FAQs

Q: Which Destinations In Europe Should I Prioritise If I Only Have A Week?

A: One week in Europe can be difficult if you try and do too many things, as you will miss out getting some great experiences. You can easily visit London and Paris as they are connected by the Eurostar high speed train, and you can spend 3 days in each. At a pinch you could add a third place like Bruges or Amsterdam using the same Eurostar connections.

Q: What top travel destinations are recommended for 10 days in Europe?

A: For 10 days in Europe, you could visit London and then catch the Eurostar high speed train to Paris. You can then  move on to Barcelona and/or Rome.This will give you a good taste of the European delights and differences between 4 countries.

Q: What’s the best time to visit Europe’s most beautiful places?

A: The best time to visit Europe very much depends on your what interests you. Summer is great for cities like Barcelona and Lisbon with beaches and outdoor fun and dining. Spring and autumn are great times to explore the stunning streets of Rome, Copenhagen and Bruges. Winter is perfect for enjoying the magical European Christmas markets of Vienna, Berlin and Prague.

Q: Which European Destinations Should I Visit If I Like Seeing Castles?

A: Some of the best European destinations to see castles include Prague (Prague Castle), Lisbon (Pena Palace) and Edinburgh (Edinburgh Castle). London (Buckingham Palace & Windsor Castle), and Copenhagen (Frederiksborg Castle) are also must visit places.

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14 Best Holiday Destinations In Europe To Visit

Hello, I’m Ivan. Welcome to my website. I am a travel photographer based in London, United Kingdom, with a love of traveling the world to meet and photograph new people and places. I am lucky to have visited so many beautiful places and look forward to sharing some of my photographs and travel photo tips with you.

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This is a personal blog and all content provided is for information only. All photographs unless otherwise stated are taken by myself and are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Please note that this article may contain affiliate links where I earn a small commission to help cover the cost of running this site, if you go through them to make a purchase. See details for full disclaimer information.



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