It’s honestly so hard to say exactly what the best things to do in Europe are! The thing is, this dream destination is just so diverse and there are just so many incredible experiences to enjoy! Here are 50 must-see places to visit in Europe in the form of the ultimate Europe bucket list!
Editor’s note: Between sipping wine in a world-famous vineyard to quite literally following in the footsteps of a prominent literary figure you had to study at school, there’s no shortage of cultural, historical, and foodie activities to keep you occupied. And so, if you’re looking for the best of Europe, then this is it…
However, as with any personal preference list, there are going to be things you think should be in the guide and other attractions you’d miss off! I have a number of European destinations still to visit and so it’s only inevitable that this list will grow with time; Malta, Norway, Lithuania, Croatia, more of Greece, and San Marino is just a sample of what I have yet to cover, and so these European destinations and more will surely be added in time!
50 Best things to do in Europe
#1 Spend a weekend in Dublin
If you’re looking for a great place for a weekend getaway with friends, then Dublin may well have it all. Great bars, plenty of cultural museums, and all of the live music. And, as the gateway to the rest of Ireland, Dublin provides the perfect place from which to explore the rest of the Emerald Isle…
Elsewhere in this beautiful city, you’ll soon discover a plethora of incredible libraries (Marsh’s Library, the Trinity College Library) as well as plenty of hidden gems such as forgotten churches and underrated bookshop. Visit in the spring and you’ll even be treated to the beautiful cherry blossom and magnolia!
Read more: A walking tour of Dublin, Ireland
#2 Visit Stonehenge in England
For those who are interested in history, specifically prehistoric history, Stonehenge likely needs no explanation. Built around 5000 years ago, this set of stones have seen plenty of history in their time! What you may not know is that by the beginning of the 20th-century, Stonehenge was in a pretty ruinous state.
Many of the stones had collapsed and so much of the monument you see today was actually ‘restored’ during the 1900s. However, with all that being said, the monuments make for the perfect day trip from London, particularly when combined with a visit to a nearby historic city such as Winchester.
Read more: Some epic reasons to visit Salisbury
#3 Take a Gondola ride in Venice
When it came to creating this ultimate Europe bucket list, I couldn’t form a list without at least mentioning one of the most romantic cities in Europe, Venice. A maze of waterways, canals, and cobbled lanes, Venice is a beautiful city best-known for being the floating city which reached its peak of influence during the Renaissance era.
Read more: How to spend 2 weeks in Italy
#4 Experience winter in Europe
From snow-covered slopes to frozen lakes that look like something straight out of a storybook, there is no shortage of winter wonderland scenes to be found across Europe. Some of the best places to experience winter in Europe include the magic of the Swiss mountains, the Christmas markets across Germany, and the magic of the timber-framed houses of Colmar.
Read more: Why you need to visit Paris in the winter!
#5 Experience Castles of the Rhine Valley
For millennia, people have lived, worked, and died in the Rhine Valley. And they’ve constructed castles. And so, if you’re looking for the ultimate castle road trip in Europe, then you should book yourself a ticket to the Rhine Valley in Western Germany. After all, it’s there where you’ll find the likes of Burg Eltz Castle and Marksburg Castle.
Read more: Kaiserswerth District Guide, Düsseldorf
#6 See the Tour de France
An annual bike race that typically traverses across several countries, the Tour de France is one of the most famous and eventful sporting events in Europe. Though, as its name would suggest, the race predominantly takes part in France, watching this iconic event is a must for any sports lover.
Read more: A brief history of the Tour de France
#7 Visit a French Château
From the Loire Valley to the windy valleys of Normandy, the French countryside is quite literally awash with magical castles and formal stately homes. Indeed, no trip to l’Hexagon would be complete without paying a visit to at least one of the incredible palaces, fortresses, or manor houses that the country has to offer.
If you’re looking to experience some medieval France, be sure to book a trip to the Château de Quéribus in the Aude Department of Southern France. For those seeking a more palatial trip, the world-famous Château de Versailles is a must. Personally, my favourite Château in France is probably that of Chantilly, which can be found around half an hour from Paris.
#8 Discover the cherry blossom season in Europe!
For those who love the pops of pink that are cherry trees, Europe is the ultimate destination for spotting these sweet smelling flowers. Highlights of places to visit during the cherry blossom season include Bonn in Germany (the town even has its very own blossom festival), Paris in France, and Edinburgh in Scotland!
Read more: Best spring destinations in Europe!
#9 Learn some German, Germany
If English is your first language, then you’ll likely never have had to deal with complex grammar terms like ‘case’ (German has four; nominative, accusative, genitive, and dative) and grammatical genders (German has three; masculine, feminine, and neuter).
However, learning a new language always comes with its own set of rewarded, particularly if you get to learn some magical new words like ‘Fernweh’ (the literal opposite of homesickness). To get you started, why not purchase a simple German phrase book like this one?
#10 Road Trip the Bohuslän Coastline, Sweden
Home to some eight thousand islands, the impossibly picturesque Bohuslän Coastline stretches along Sweden’s West Coast, from the super cool city of Gothenburg and North up to the Swedish border with Norway. One of the top highlights of this European destination is Marstrand, a pretty coastal town complete with its own centuries-old fort and countless hiking trails.
#11 Go backpacking in Europe (somewhere, someplace, sometime)
Hostels, backpacking, and all the train rides: the sense of community and the sheer number of cultures you’ll get to see if you choose to travel this way are innumerable. After all, some of the best reasons to go backpacking in Europe are that train transport is generally very affordable, convenient and safe, and that you’ll experience the chance to quite literally walk through history you never even knew existed…
#12 Go cycling in Amsterdam
While a friend of mine maintains that ‘maybe tourists should not be cycling through Amsterdam,’ I make it my mission to rent a bicycle every time I visit the Venice of the North. After all, the city is made to be explored on a bike (however do only rent a bicycle if you feel comfortable riding a bike back at home)!
From the endless waterways to the stunning canalside brick houses, during springtime, you can even cycle to the nearby windmills and tulip fields. During my last trip to the Dutch capital, I happily explored the city’s many green spaces, small museums, and great foodie locations, all without the need for public transportation!
#13 Sip on wine in Provence, France
Rosé, and wine in general tastes better when you’re able to drink it within the very vineyard that produced the grapes. That’s a fact. And so, if you’re able to while in Provence, be sure to head out to one of the many vineyards the region has to offer, take yourself on a self-guided tour of the vines (many vineyards offer this!), and even go wine tasting in the South of France.
Read more: The best day trips from Aix-en-Provence
#14 See the sunset in Santorini, Greece
There’s a reason that Santorini remains one of the most popular destinations in Greece, and admittedly Europe as a whole, year-in-year-out. After all, thanks to its bright houses, glittering sea views, and endless sunshine, the island is simply stunning and the views at sunset from Oia are incomparable.
Top tip: if you want to capture the place with the three domes of Santorini without any people, then be sure to head to the town of Oia as early in the day as possible. We went prior to the rest of the tour buses arriving and soon discovered that we largely had the place to ourselves- bliss!
Read more: Epic reasons to visit Santorini
#15 See some castles
If you love history, architecture, and fairytale settings, then Europe has no shortage of stunning castles, forts, châteaux, mansion houses, and more! Some of the best castles in Europe include the fairytale Vianden in Luxembourg, the expansive Château de Chambord in the Loire Valley, and the ominous Bran Castle (i.e. Dracula’s Castle) in Romania.
Read more: Best castles in Europe
#16 Take a scenic train route
Whether it be through mountain passes, along the fringes of the sea, or over centuries-old viaducts, one of the best ways to see the scenery of Europe is by enjoying one of the many scenic train routes that this quintessential destination has to offer.
Among some of the best train rides in Europe are the Harry Potter famous Jacobite Steam train in Scotland, the Bernina Express that snakes its way between Switzerland and Italy, and the ever-so-stunning Rauma line in Norway, Nothern Europe.
#17 Ride on a red bus in London
The UK capital is bursting to the brim with museums, restaurants, theatres, and much, much more. But if there’s one iconic thing you must do in London (because you’ll want to take public transport at one point or another, simply to get from a to b!), it’s to ride a red bus!
The reason London buses are that iconic red is pretty interesting in of itself and was actually due to a form of advertising! You see, during the early 1900s when public transport was run by private companies, each would try and outdo each other to stand out from the many options available. In a particularly bold move, London General Omnibus Company painted its fleet red!
Read more: Your ultimate London bucket list!
#18 Take a road trip through Wales
In order to travel through much of the UK, you’ll want to rent a car. While buses are convenient and fairly cheap for travelling between major cities and towns, trains are incredibly expensive, particularly where I come from in the South West.
As a result, if you’re looking to go a little off the beaten path, then renting a car is essential. And aside from the Cotswolds and the Lake District, one of the more iconic places to enjoy a road trip in the UK is through South Wales. After all, it’s there where you’ll discover delights such as Hay on Wye book town and the crumbling ruins of Tintern Abbey.
#19 Discover Eastern Europe
While many people venture through Paris, soak up the sight of the Cotswolds, and eat their way through Italy, most people make the European travel mistake of ending their travels there. However, if you want to get a true feel for Europe, then you simply must head to Eastern countries such as Romania, Latvia and Lithuania.
Read more: A guide to the best things to do in Brasov
#20 See the Book of Kells, Dublin
Of all the amazing literary locations you can enjoy in the Irish capital of Dublin, the Book of Kells and the Library at Trinity College rank among some of the top ‘must-sees’. For those unfamiliar with the Book of Kells, it’s essentially an illuminated manuscript Gospel book in Latin which dates all the way back to the 9th-century, making it one of the most important literary works in European history!
Read more: Your ultimate Dublin bucket list!
#21 Enjoy the foodie scene of Gothenburg
While other European destinations such as Paris and Barcelona enjoy their status as ‘foodie hotspots,’ smaller cities often miss out of much of the press they deserve in lieu of their more famous counterparts. Such is the case with the highly underrated and often overlooked city of Gothenburg.
Located in the West of Sweden and home to treasures such as the historic Haga District and a plethora of beautiful boutique shopping experiences, what really stands out about this gem of Europe is its foodie scene. Some of the best spots to eat in the city include Restaurant Norda and Restaurang Atelier.
Read more: A foodie guide to Gothenburg
#22 See the Eiffel Tower at Sunrise
If you make it your mission to see just one sunrise during your time in Europe (though I highly recommend making a concerted effort to see a good view), make it sunrise in Paris. Head to Trocadero in the early morning, before the rest of the crowds arrive, and you’ll largely have the place to yourself, with the exception of a few wedding photographers and the like.
Read more: How to enjoy sunrise in Paris
#23 Go skiing (or snowshoeing) in the French Alps
Snowy mountainous scenes are common throughout much of Europe in winter, and cold-inspired pastimes are fairly common. So whether you want to go skiing or snowboarding, there’s plenty of opportunities at almost every price point, dotted across all of Europe. And if you’re looking for another way to enjoy the mountains without going skiing, snowshoeing is also a great option!
Read more: Snowshoeing in the French alps
#24 Visit Milan’s Duomo
Of all the places to visit in Europe, Milan (or Milano as it is so-called in Italian) consistently ranks at the top of everyone’s list. And for good reason. As the capital of the Lombardia region, the city is home to fashion houses, museums, and foodie delights galore. And for one of the very best examples of Renaissance architecture in Europe, you simply need to head to the city’s Cathedral (Duomo in Italian)!
Read more: How to spend 24 hours in Milano
#25 Go road tripping in Iceland
A land of sand, fire, and ice, Iceland is a European hotspot that has exploded in popularity during the past decade or so, thanks, in part, to the rise of social media platforms. Well, the ultimate way to explore Iceland, a country which is well-known for its many volcanoes, glaciers, and breathtaking waterfalls, is undoubtedly on a road trip!
#26 Admire the architecture of Switzerland
Mountainside chalets, sloping rooftops, and carved wooden shutters: the architecture of Switzerland is unparalleled in the rest of Europe. Though this landlocked country may be a little pricier than many other European destinations, the ‘wow’ factor to be found in even the smallest of towns makes it (almost) worth it!
#27 Eat gelato in Italy
The best of Europe is not just the attractions and historical sites, but also in the food scene and culture to be found in every country. And so, for the foodies out there, Italian gelato will likely need no introduction. Creamy, melt in your mouth textures can be found in almost every flavour. For a taste of traditional gelato, order a quintessential flavour such as Stracciatella (vanilla chocolate chip) or Bacio (chocolate hazelnut cream).
Read more: Dreamy quotes about Italy
#28 Get lost somewhere in Europe
Anywhere! If you’re looking for the best of a city and wish to escape the crowds of say, London or Paris, then your best bet is to head to a touristic area of the city and ditch the guidebook. Heading a little off the tourist track by wandering into smaller streets will almost guarantee you’ll discover some unusual things to do in Europe that are most certainly not found in any top 10 lists…
#29 Follow in the footsteps of Dracula in Romania
Well, kind of! You see, Romania was once divided into several historical regions that have only been united within the past few centuries. Wallachia is the sunny state in the South where Bucharest, the Romanian capital is to be found, while Transylvania is the Northern mountainous region that’s filled with beautiful towns and countless castles.
When Bram Stoker wrote his Gothic horror novel Dracula during the late 19th-century, he drew inspiration from different historical characters and different areas/ regions of Romania. Though his main vampiric character is thought to have been based on Vlad the Impaler of Wallachia, many believe that ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula Castle’ is actually based on Bran Castle in Transylvania.
Read more: Visiting Bran Castle in Romania
#30 Eat fries in Belgium
Beer, waffles and French fries all originate in Belgium, a small country between Germany, France, and The Netherlands. Home to great food and even prettier architecture, Belgium is a country that has plenty worth discovering. For example, some of the country’s major cities, Antwerp and Brussels, have plenty of interesting history, while the Belgian countryside has plenty of beautiful hikes to undertake.
#31 Visit the largest castle in the world in Poland
It turns out that determining the definite largest castle in the world is actually pretty tricky. Do you go on total area covered? The number of rooms? The original floor plan? Well, of course, the marketing departments of many castles wish to hold this title! Just think of the tourist numbers that kind of statistic would draw…
Well, the largest castle in the world measured on land area is allegedly Malbork Castle in Poland. Built by the Teutonic Knights in the 13th0century and less than an hour from the Port City of Gdansk via train, this impressive and fortified castle is an absolute must-see for any European bucket list!
Read more: Visiting the largest castle in the world!
#32 Drink beer in Germany
Beer is a quintessentially European drink, having been brewed on the continent for thousands of years. The drink can be found in every country across Europe, each having its own unique recipe and brewing strategy. From Belgian microbrewery beers to household names like Guinness, be sure to sample a pint or two during your European adventures.
However, if you want a true taste of beer culture then you simply need to head to the ‘longest bar in the world’. This is the name given to a square mile or so in the old town part of Düsseldorf that’s filled with a staggering 300 microbreweries and bars! For another can’t miss beer experience, Oktoberfest in Munich is an annual event with six million attendees and all the beer!
#33 See the tulips in the Netherlands
If you’re looking to spy just one flower on the European continent when it comes to creating your ultimate Europe bucket list, make it the tulip. This flower is most synonymous with the Netherlands, which has a rich history of trade in the flower. At the height of tulip mania, a single bulb could sell for as much as the price of a house!
As such, there’s no shortage of floral-inspired Dutch activities today, especially during the Netherlands tulip season. Some of the best tulip experiences to have (the flower’s season is typically the end of March through to around mid-April) includes heading to the Keukenhof Gardens and wandering around all of Amsterbeautifulauiful spring flower markets.
#34 Spend time on Europe’s largest lake (Lake Geneva)
Lausanne, Evian-Les-Bains, and Geneva: all of these cities can be found on the shores of Europe’s largest lake, Lake Geneva. Known as Lac Leman in French, this expansive waters can be found nestled amidst snow-capped peaks on the border between Switzerland and France. Highlights of the Lake include plenty of pretty towns, lots of castles, and a myriad of water-related sports and activities.
#35 Discover some hidden gems (anywhere in Europe)
When it comes to Europe, hidden gems and secret spots are abundant. From little, off the beaten track churches, to discovering a coffee shop that’s a little way away from the main tourist attractions, one of the pure delights of travelling in Europe is having the opportunity to scout out secret spots and lesser-known locations…
Read more: Secret spots in Bath, England!
#36 Soak up some history in Rome
Must see Europe doesn’t get more iconic than strolling around the Colosseum, wandering the streets of Rome, or experiencing Italian fine dining at its best. Rome is the eternal city. Characterised by its cobbled lanes, Roman history, and wealth of things to do, this city more than deserves a place on your European itinerary.
#37 Experience the magic of Harry Potter in the UK
If the magic is still real for you too, then experiencing some of the best Harry Potter locations and inspired-destinations is an absolute must. And between visiting the many Harry Potter filming locations in London, strolling around the Potter-inspiring streets of Edinburgh, and visiting the Devonian towns that likely inspired names such as Budleigh Babberton (Budleigh Salterton) and the Chudley Cannons (Chudleigh) in the books, there’s no shortage of UK Harry Potter locations to enjoy.
#38 Drink Glühwein at a Bavarian Christmas Market
When heading to Europe around Christmas time, there is perhaps no drink that is more synonymous with the beautiful Christmas markets than that of Glühwein. Also known as Vin Chaud in France, mulled wine in England, and Glogg in Sweden, each country has its own special recipe, though the basic principle remains the same.
Glühwein (literally translated as ‘glow wine’) is typically heated wine that’s flavoured with a series of spices, fruits, and sugar, making it oh so delicious and the perfect winter warmer when you’re strolling around the many Christmas markets that Europe in the winter is so famous for!
Read more: Christmas Market Glühwein recipe
#39 Learn about the Romans in Pompeii
The story of Pompeii and the nearby town of Herculaneum is a tragic one. In 79 CE, Mount Vesuvius in Southern Italy erupted, burying the city of Pompeii and town of Herculaneum in layer upon layer of volcanic ash. Much of what we know of the exact date and circumstances of the eruption comes from Pliny the Elder, a Roman historian who was alive at the time.
For centuries, Pompeii was undiscovered and long forgotten. That was, until its rediscovery during the 17th-century. From that point on, there have been extensive and ongoing excavation efforts to uncover the buried city. Much of what we now know about Roman life during the 1st century actually comes from discoveries at the site. And if you’re ever in the Naples area, a visit to Pompeii is an absolute must.
Read more: Grafitti from Pompeii
#40 Enjoy a glass of wine in Tuscany
Where better to enjoy a large glass of red than overlooking the very vineyards where the wine grapes were grown? Well, the rolling hills of Tuscany are pretty much as quintessentially European you can get, and are a must visit, even as a day trip from nearby Firenze (Florence).
Read more: Chianti wine region guide
#41 Search for some incredible bookstores in Europe
From towns dedicated entirely to books, to quirky bookshops quite literally in the middle of nowhere, when it comes to finding the best of bookshops in Europe, just keep your eyes peeled and constantly be on the lookout. Some of the more unusual bookshops in Europe include Hay-on-Wye, i.e. the Welsh town that’s entirely dedicated to all things word-related, and Goussainlivres, a bookstore in a former ghost town.
Read more: Bookshops in Europe you need to know about!
#42 Read literature about Europe
Can’t get to Europe straight away? Then why not escape to one of the many regions located there from the comfort of your own home? Some of my favourite Europe-inspired reads include A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle, A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway, and Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes.
Read more: 25 Breathtaking books about France
#43 Visit the only Grand Duchy in the world in Luxembourg
Once upon a time, Europe was full of Grand Duchies, small kingdoms in their own right that there not ruled by a parliament, or even a king or queen, but actually a Grand Duke, Today, the tiny landlocked country of Luxembourg is the last of these and is well worth a visit on any European adventure.
After all, the capital city of Luxembourg, which is also known as Luxembourg, is a historical town filled with incredible coffee shops and cobbled lanes. Elsewhere in the tiny European nation, there are countless castles to explore, as well as some stunning scenery worth exploring.
Read more: How to spend three days in Luxembourg
#44 Eat pizza in Italy
Pizza, pasta, and all the carbs: when it comes to finding incredible food in Europe, Italy is second to none. And so, if you’re looking for tomato-inspired dishes, fresh citrus fruits, and some mouth-watering sweets, then be sure to And if you’re looking for the best pizza in Italy? Be sure to head specifically to Naples!
Read more: The best food in Italy!
#45 Go Island Hopping in Greece
For the very best island hopping experience in Greece, you simply need to head to the Aegean Sea. Whether it’s by cruise, your own boat, or by ferries between the islands, be sure to visit the off the beaten tourist track Greek islands, as well as the ever-popular likes of Santorini and Mykonos.
Read more: Seven days island hopping in the Aegean
#46 Experience the Cotswolds, England
Pretty as a postcard villages and chocolate box scenes: there’s perhaps nowhere in the UK quite as charming as the Cotswolds. Located just an hour or so from London by car, the Cotswolds in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Just one day in this beautiful destination and it will soon become clear why so many great writers and artists have been so inspired by the area. Some of the prettiest places to visit in the Cotswolds include the secret church door at Stow-on-the-Wold, the ninety nine yew trees of Painswick and the gateway to the Cotswolds town of Burford.
Read more: The very best villages in the Cotswolds!
#47 Snap a photo with the leaning tower of Pisa
Because some clichés are meant to be replicated! Though there is little else in Pisa of note, if you’re looking for a cheesy Europe experience, then snapping a photo either leaning on/ jumping over/ any variation of this of the leaning tower of Pisa is an absolute must!
Read more: The travel photography gear I use in Europe
#48 Follow in the footsteps of Gaudi in Barcelona
There is perhaps no architect more famous in Barcelona, a beautiful Spanish city in Eastern Spain, than that of Gaudi. Some must-see Gaudi sites in the city include Parc Güell (which offers beautiful and panoramic views of all of Barcelona), the unfinished Sagrada Familia (Cathedral) and the ever so stunning Casa Milà.
#49 Visit ancient ruins in Cyprus
Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and the most populous. Popular among tourists for decades, the beautiful destination is home to incredible scenery, as well as plenty of sea-inspired cuisine. If you plan your visit just right, you can even expect to enjoy water sports and taste olives almost as soon as they’ve been processed.
Soaking up the sun aside, one of the best things to do in Cyprus is to experience all of the incredible ancient ruins the island has to offer. After all, the mosaics of Paphos date back centuries, while the Tombs of the Kings on the outskirts of town is home to countless burials from ancient times.
Read more: Why you must visit Cyprus
#50 See the lavender fields of Provence
Best seen in early-mid summer when the flowers are in full bloom and the fragrant scent of lavender fills the air, no road trip through the South of France would be complete without a venture through several lavender fields. Best seen at the golden hour when the light is at its best, some of the best places to see lavender in Provence include Notre Dame de Senaque and around the Mont-Ventoux.
Read more: Best things to do in Provence
Things to know before visiting Europe
Whether it’s your first, fourth or five hundredth time exploring Europe, there are a few things to know before you go; must-knows include where to stay, how to get around. As such here are my best travel tips for Europe. I’ve been travelling in Europe all my life and also live here so do have a bit of knowledge on the subject!
Otherwise, when it comes to travel, there are three basic things you’ll need on every visit; food, transport, and accommodation. Whether you’re paying a visit to a large city or out of the way town, you’ll want to plan your accommodation as soon as you’ve booked your flights. Check here for the best accommodation across Europe.
Essentials such as food, accommodation, and transport aside, you’ll need to find some activities to keep yourself entertained when travelling around. And one of the most important questions you’ll need to ask yourself when it comes to activities in Europe is: spend or splurge?
For me, it all depends on whether it’s a really ‘unique’ experience, something that’s integral to the destination (i.e. a viewing tower/ palace/ castle) or simply something I might never have the opportunity to see/ do again. When it comes to finding activities, I use GetYourGuide to find tours, tastings, skip the line tickets, and more!
Last but not least, though the internet provides an invaluable source of information for some of the best things to do in Europe, nothing beats going old school and picking up a good old-fashioned guidebook. You can’t go wrong with something traditional such as a Best of Europe book like this one.
And when it comes to some of the more frequented tourist hotspots in Europe, you’ll probably want to pick up something that’s a little quirkier. Here’s my pick for an unusual Paris guidebook and here’s my recommendation if you’re looking for a hidden gems of London guidebook.