10 Must-See Places in Europe
Thinking about taking a holiday to Europe? The continent is blessed with a diverse blend of beachside and cultured city-break destinations like no other, satisfying holiday cravings regardless of preferences. To get your travel dreams kickstarted, here are 10 must-see places in Europe.
1. Ljubljana, Slovenia
Ljubljana, Slovenia’s leafy capital, is ideal for a European getaway. Go back in time with a visit to Ljubljana Castle, a medieval fortress perched above the city, or unwind in its largest open space, Tivoli Park. This is located on the northern outskirts of the Center District and is home to a number of fascinating sculptures and buildings, like Tivoli Castle, a 17th-century landmark harking back to the Renaissance period.
Otherwise, fill your boots on one of Ljubljana’s food tours. You’ll find Germanic, Hungarian and even Mediterranean influences here, with lots of cured meats and different strengths of cheeses finding their way onto diner’s plates. To sum it up, Slovenia’s capital is as much of a treat to the taste buds as it is to the other senses.
2. Bay of Kotor, Montenegro
Venture off the beaten track with a trip to Montenegro’s Bay of Kotor. A short drive from Dubrovnik, the Bay delights holidaymakers with its placid waters and surrounding verdant hillsides. Spend your days here wandering cobblestone streets or making your way up the Ladder of Kotor to be rewarded with prime coastal vistas.
When it comes to cuisine, seafood and Kotor go hand in hand. Tuck into local dishes like buzara, a concoction of shellfish, prawns and shrimps cooked in either a white or red wine sauce. If you’d rather something else, the town has a wide selection of restaurants serving up variations of cuisine from Italy and other nearby countries.
3. Krakow, Poland
According to local legend, Krakow was founded by a hero called Krak who killed a dragon many thousands of years ago – you’ll find dragon statues dotted around the city as a form of tribute. The city also boasts a charming Old Town, the turreted Wawel Castle and Main Market Square, which is Europe’s largest market square.
If you can drag yourself away from the city’s attractions for a day, then the nearby Wieliczka Salt Mine is well worth a visit. Also known as the Saltworks Castle, the site features exquisite statutes, a cathedral and several chapels carved out of salt rock. In short, this UNESCO-listed tourist hotspot should be included on any Eastern European itinerary.
4. Bavaria, Germany
Bavaria is the land of fairytales. Explore the ancient Bavarian King Ludwig II's castle of Schloss Neuschwanstein near Fussen (said to have inspired Disney's classic Sleeping Beauty) or relive fictitious magic while reading Grimm and travelling through the snow-capped Alps.
Nowadays, Bavaria is more renowned for festivals like Munich's Oktoberfest. The event is held between late September and early October and sees revellers served steins of local beer by lederhosen-clad German locals. Drink up, wander among vibrant beer tents, sample bratwurst and liverwurst then sing along to traditional German songs. Whether you're partying at Oktoberfest or reliving mythical tales in forests, Bavaria makes for the perfect German holiday.
5. Highlands & Islands, Scotland
Scotland's heart lies in the rugged and remote beauty of the Highlands and Islands. Marvel over pristine white-sanded beaches, visit Neolithic monuments or gaze out over Loch Ness, home to the fabled Loch Ness Monster.
The Glenfinnan Viaduct, situated just outside of Fort William, is a railway bridge made famous from the Harry Potter movies. Glenfinnan as an area, aside from its whisky production, is known for bloody battles which took place in the 18th century. The Glenfinnan Monument helps give tourists a feel for the ferociousness of these battles, leaving them with a poignant insight into the history of the Highlands.
6. Florence, Italy
Florence, metaphorically at least, was the birthplace of the Renaissance. Art lovers can delight in the opportunity to see well-regarded masterpieces like David by Michelangelo or The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli, while others can explore world-class museums like Museo dell’Opera del Duomo.
Wander through streets and squares dating way back to the 17th century, stopping off for delicious Florentine biscuits washed down with a token Italian espresso. The Historic Centre of Florence is another UNESCO World Heritage Site – a testament to the sheer historic value of the city.
After a spot of sightseeing, try out the magnificent cuisine and wine from the wider Florence region. Florentines are extremely proud of their culinary traditions, and visiting local vineyards will likely leave you for a taste for the local blends which you’ll savour long after your return.
7. Barcelona, Spain
Soak up Spanish sunshine with a trip to the Catalonian city of Barcelona. Whether you’re staring up at Gaudi's psychedelic architecture or revelling in the works of Pablo Picasso, Barcelona is packed with cultural and scenic highlights few other cities can match.
After sightseeing, lap up the sun by one of Barcelona’s sandy Mediterranean beaches. Local bars serve sangria, while seaside restaurants whip up delicious variations of paella. If you’re feeling adventurous, why not try your hand at paddle boarding in the shallows?
After the sun sets, Barcelona’s nightlife takes centre stage. From passionate flamenco dances to contemporary electronic music clubs, the city’s nightlife is revered worldwide, with parties continuing well into the early hours of the morning.
8. Mostar, Bosnia
Mostar's mixture of Middle Eastern and European culture is fascinating. Drink Turkish coffee alongside locals at riverside cafes, explore the rebuilt Ottoman section or watch daredevils dive from the Stari Most bridge into the waters below.
Despite the city’s turbulent wartime past, it has recovered remarkably and that is a testament to the great resilience of the Bosnians. Many of Mostar's buildings, including Tito’s Palace and the 16th-century Stari Most bridge, were destroyed during the Yugoslav Wars. Since then, they’ve been painstakingly rebuilt and today serve as a reminder of the devastating impacts of war.
9. Amsterdam, Netherlands
More than just one of Western Europe’s party towns, Amsterdam is home to touching museums, famous galleries and tranquil canals. The Dutch capital offers historic sites like the Anne Frank House, allowing visitors to get a feel for Jewish life under Nazi occupation, along with cultural gems like the Van Gogh Museum.
After exploring these sites, take a trip into the quieter side of Amsterdam. The city’s Vondelpark is a verdant haven of duck ponds, grassy banks and romantic bridges. There’s no shortage of secluded spots here to enjoy a picnic or a refreshing drink, providing the suns out. Otherwise, hire a bike and explore the park and its surrounding areas at your own pace.
10. Dubrovnik, Croatia
Croatia's Adriatic coastlines and stunning white stone towns offer beauty beyond compare. The walled city of Dubrovnik gives tourists the chance to learn about the country’s medieval history, while still getting the chance to relax by one of the nearby pebbly beaches.
For a more contemporary take on Croatia, take one of the famous Game of Thrones tours and explore alleyways and gardens which helped to make up the set of King’s Landing. Afterwards, walk along the city’s legendary walls, gazing out over the Adriatic Sea and watching as local fishing boats make their way between local ports.
To get away from the hustle and bustle, hop on a boat to Lokrum, a nearby island complete with lagoons, clifftop viewpoints and a large population of rabbits! Regardless of whether you travel for more commercial attractions or the immense scenery, trips to Dubrovnik don’t disappoint.