20 Best Places
to Visit in Europe

Tours of the Louvre, Paris, France

Our Top 20 Favorite Cities to Visit When Planning a Vacation

With all the history, beauty, and tradition Europe offers, it can be overwhelming to try and decide where to go first. From the Eternal City to The Blue Lagoon, here's our take on some of the best places to visit in Europe and why you need to travel there

Small group of tourists at Colosseum, Rome, Italy

1. Rome, Italy

It has been said that if you see just one city in Italy, perhaps even one city in Europe, make it Rome. With ancient treasures such as the Pantheon, Colosseum, and famed Trevi Fountain, there’s almost more to see and do here than a single trip will allow. In addition to the Roman Forum and the Vatican, you’ll also want to leave time to explore modern Rome through its outdoor markets and restaurants. The Eternal City is the ultimate European destination throughout the year, offering visitors a different experience every season. Undoubtedly, Rome is one of the best places to visit in Europe.

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Guard on duty at Buckingham Palace, London, England

2. London, England

From the royal family to the iconic phone booths of yesteryear, London is a land that perfectly pairs history with modern times. Often draped in a misty fog cloud, this isle offers something for everyone. Fashion and shopping fans will enjoy time spent on Oxford Street while the foodie in your group takes in the legendary tea time at Harrod’s. Abbey Road is an epic spot for music and quaint bookshops, and who can travel to London without a trip by “Big Ben,” London Bridge, and Buckingham Palace?

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Two women walking at the base of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France

3. Paris, France

History, art, and culture blend together seamlessly in this city that sparkles every season. From strolling the halls of the Louvre to the lawn of the world-famous Eiffel Tower, the city of Paris has something for everyone. Take your time for lunch at a Parisian bistro, spend your evenings in buzzing Montmartre, the haunt of famous artists and writers, including Picasso and Dalí, and take in a cabaret at the famous Moulin Rouge. The best way to experience Paris is to plan wisely and explore the city’s main attractions with local experts.

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Ireland Dublin Temple Bar Pub Man Woman Expert

4. Dublin, Ireland

Did you know that Guinness beer tastes better in Dublin? Of course, there’s much more to do in the Emerald Isle’s most popular city. Highlights not to miss include St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Trinity College, the National Museum of Ireland, and Dublin Castle. A vibrant shopping scene offers the chance to shop for souvenirs while taking in Dublin’s traditional folk music, literary influence, and traditional dance.

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Tours of Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

5. Edinburgh, Scotland

This medieval capital conjures up images of kings and castles. Edinburgh is the second most visited city in the United Kingdom and offers an exciting glimpse of Scottish culture. Immerse yourself in traditional art, music, theater, and culinary specialties. A visit to a Scotch whiskey distillery completes any trip here, and you’ll also want to save room for some of the local fares. If you’re seeking a world capital that has it all, from history and culture to picturesque panoramas, Edinburgh is where it’s at.

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6. Barcelona, Spain

From hilltops to beaches, this vibrant city on the Mediterranean Sea offers the perfect blend of historic charm and modern convenience. Street art tours and a visit to Sagrada Familia Church reveal the influence of names like Gaudi and Dali. To experience a taste of Barcelona’s modern culture, take a stroll along the bustling La Rambla boulevard, visit the enormous outdoor Boqueria market, and sample a variety of tapas at the city’s many bars and cafes.

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Italy Venice Canal Bridge Iv

7. Venice, Italy

While much of Italy is synonymous with romance, Venice offers the ultimate romantic getaway. The city welcomes visitors with its meandering streets, crooning gondoliers, and ancient historical sites. For a typical Venetian experience, stop by the ever-populous Grand Canal before enjoying a gondola ride through the city’s side canals. You also don’t want to miss a performance at the famed opera house, a trip through Doge’s Palace, and a chance to observe the local art of glassblowing. 

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Spain Madrid Plaza De Cibeles Fountain Of Cybele Flag Lion Chariot Bank Headquarters Army Spanish (2)

8. Madrid, Spain

Spain’s elegant capital is best known for its artistic treasures, from the Egyptian Temple of Debod, which was donated to Spain in 1968, to the great bear statue located in the central Puerta Del Sol. Take in the city’s neo-Gothic architecture and don’t miss a visit to the expansive Royal Palace. Madrid is unlike any other city in Spain and is not to be missed.

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Bridges over Vltava River, Prague, Czech Republic

9. Prague, Czech Republic

Known for its chic Bohemian attitude, Prague entices travelers with its unique cultural offerings and mixture of historic and modern sites. For a taste of local living, stop by one of the city’s cozy locales; most of the best pubs are hosted in cellars where you’re sure to find a vibrant nightlife year-round. Prague is also a popular destination for its general affordability and ease of accessibility to top sites.

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Horse and carriage outside Hofburg Palace, Vienna, Austria

10. Vienna, Austria

When traveling to this Alpine gem, prepare for an immersion into food, art, music, and culture. Austria’s largest city features a former royal residence as well as several modern coffee shops. According to UNESCO, drinking espresso in Vienna is an official cultural pastime! That means you’ll want to carve out time to rub elbows with the locals over a cup of hot coffee. And when it comes to the best views in town, Vienna’s architecture gives the surrounding mountains a run for their money. Be sure to take a walking tour that routes you by the Imperial Palace, the State Opera House, or the Kunsthistorisches Museum.

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Red roofs of Alfama district in Lisbon, Portugal

11. Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon is a celebrated capital city by the sea, famous for its museums and historic sites. Explore the city’s maritime past at attractions such as the Tower of Belem, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Monument of Discoveries. Other cultural highlights include St. George’s Castle, Santa Justa Elevator, and the Feira da Ladra flea market.

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Tours of the Acropolis and Parthenon, Athens, Greece

12. Athens, Greece

Often dubbed the cradle of Western civilization, Athens was arguably the most influential city of ancient times. The home of Greek mythology is beloved by travelers for its history and epic cultural offerings. Ancient ruins dot the capital city, including the 5th-century Acropolis with the Parthenon temple, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, and the Ancient Agora. Nestled in and among the ruins, the modern city offers a treasure trove of culinary and cultural delights sure to please. 

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Two boats on Douro River with Porto in background, Portugal

13. Porto, Portugal

Porto’s historical roots are still alive, and the city provides an excellent snapshot of traditional Portuguese culture. The historic center of the city, the Ribeira district, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Ribeira’s colorful buildings, shops, and taverns line the riverfront, and it’s a perfect spot to spend an afternoon. World-famous contemporary architecture, like the Casa da Música, offers a cutting-edge complement to Porto’s old-world charm. Explore nearby wineries that have been producing Port for hundreds of years.

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14. Budapest, Hungary

Perhaps not the first city that comes to mind when you think about the great architectural capitals of Europe, but Budapest is home to some of the world’s greatest examples of Art Nouveau. Experience the grandeur of the Széchenyi Chain Bridge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as you walk across the famed Danube River. The Central Market, Heroes’ Square & Statue Park, and St. Stephen’s Basilica are attractions not to miss on a visit to Budapest.

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Northern Lights green sky, Iceland

15. Reykjavik, Iceland

Often dubbed the Land of Fire and Ice, Iceland is a geological wonder with so much natural beauty that it is hard to comprehend until you’ve seen it in person. One of the world’s safest cities, Reykjavik is known for its active nightlife and music scene, as well as the milky blue-colored geothermal hot springs, “The Blue Lagoon.” Venture outside the city to see some of Europe’s most incredible natural wonders, including hundreds of waterfalls and volcanoes. Despite being the world’s northernmost capital city, Reykjavik remains temperate year-round and is a delightful destination any time of year. Travelers who wish to see the Northern Lights will want to plan a visit in winter.

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Aerial view of Stockholm, Sweden

16. Stockholm, Sweden

If you see just one city in Sweden, make it Stockholm. The cultural, political, and economic center of the country, the city is one of the most beautiful capitals in all of Europe. Stroll along the cobblestone streets and beautiful waterfront in the medieval city center, or hop a boat and explore the surrounding 14 islands that comprise the archipelago. Don’t miss the renowned Nobel Museum and fascinating Vasa Museum, which houses an intact 16th-century ship recovered from the ocean floor.

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Boats in Nyhavn, Copenhagen, Denmark

17. Copenhagen, Denmark

The city built on canals is known for offering some of the best culinary experiences in Europe’s Nordic countries. The city is famously progressive and noted for its dedication to being superbly pedestrian and cyclist-friendly. Danes are regularly ranked among the “happiest” people in the world, which could be due in part to the significant emphasis on “comfort” as a lifestyle. While many popular tourist activities are free, including a trip to the famous “Little Mermaid” statue, the cost of living here regularly tops the list of the most expensive cities worldwide.

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Amsterdam bicycles and canal at sunrise, Netherlands

18. Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Best known for museums, bicyclists, pancakes, and canals, Amsterdam offers a delightful glimpse of Dutch culture. Don’t miss the city’s top three attractions, the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, and the historical Anne Frank House.

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Brandenburg Gate with sunburst, Berlin, Germany

19. Berlin, Germany

A city that always feels on the edge of something exciting, Berlin is steeped in a rich history that is both romantic, modern, and controversial. While here, you can visit the remains of the Berlin Wall, now covered in street art, or the official Weltzeituhr world clock. Or stop by the old stomping grounds of Napoleon and Beethoven for a traditional meal at the 16th century “Zur Letzten Instanz” restaurant, a traveler's favorite.

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Turkey Bazaar Scafts Colorful Woman Alley Expert

20. Istanbul, Turkey

Lose yourself in Turkey’s most populous city as you soak in the timeless history of the Grand Bazaar and Spice Market in the square, or enjoy a local brew in one of the city’s many taverns. Istanbul is famed for its many open-air markets with open haggling for the best price. Of course, there are many other cultural sites you’ll want to see, including the Galata Bridge and the famous Blue Mosque.

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Frequently Asked Questions About the Best Place to Visit in Europe

The European city to visit first is Rome, Italy. Rome is truly a living masterpiece that transcends much of the credit it is due. London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Venice, and Barcelona are next in line, but not in any particular order. 

There are so many beautiful cities in Europe, it truly depends on what you're looking for. Our top five most beautiful cities in Europe are:

  • Rome, you'll want to visit the gorgeous Vatican City and the Vatican City Museums to see the collection of artwork that spans centuries and stirs the soul. From the intricate ceiling by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel to the detailed Pope portraits from the 16th century to today, you will be lost for words once inside this blessed museum complex.
  • Venice is absolutely breathtaking, with its rose-colored light dancing off the salt-crusted ancient walls that line its canals. Doge’s Palace summarises the sparkle of this city. An opulent example of Venetian Gothic architecture and home to numerous historical works, this museum is a must when you visit Venice. 
  • Prague is also one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Medieval Baroque and Gothic architecture tells a story dating back more than 500 years. Head to Petrin Hill, where you can admire the Vltava River winding through a skyline of spires. 
  • Paris also tops the list as a gorgeous city to visit in Europe. From the grand Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe, there's beauty along every leafy boulevard and winding lane of the French capital. For a real treat, ascend to the top of the Montparnasse Tower for an astonishing aerial view over Paris, including the best views of the Eiffel Tower.
  • Barcelona will delight you with the colorful parks of Antoni Gaudí, the 20th-century architect whose unmistakable approach to Art Nouveau has made its mark on the Catalan city. Walk past Gaudí’s residence, Casa Vicens, pick out his Islamic influences in Parc Güell and watch history being built at la Sagrada Familia.

 

We recommend staying for at least three to five nights (four to six days) to experience one major European city thoroughly. Some smaller cities might only require one or two days. Just make sure to account for travel time between places!

If you’re looking for Expert Travel Advice for your big trip to Europe, check out these articles on how to plan your trip with information on river cruising, going with a group or solo trips, frequently asked travel questions, money, health, travel safety, and more. The best way to plan your trip is to let us handle the details. While you can plan everything on your own, why would you? With time and effort, you could organize everything we do for you. Contrary to what many believe, you can save money when traveling with a group. More often than not, as a travel company, we have great contracts with local operators, museums, hotels, restaurants, and more, which creates the utmost value for your vacation.

There are a few things you can do ahead of time to start getting excited about your trip. 

1. Decide WHERE you want to go

2. Determine WHAT sites you want to see

3. Choose WHEN you want to go

4. Settle on HOW MUCH you want to spend on your trip.

If you already have Steps 1 through 4 down, all you have to do is give us a call and we’ll take it from there!

Europe is a place that continues to amaze the world. With unique innovations from country to country, each with its own history, identity, and scenery to captivate any visitor, there is something or everyone in Europe. Just make sure you visit when it works best for you!