Embarking on a tour of Europe is on almost every traveler’s bucket list. Each country rich in its own culture, choosing which to explore first can be a struggle. To make choosing your next destination a bit easier, we’ve picked the 15 best countries to visit in Europe.
1. Experience all of Italy
Italy has a rich and fascinating history, making it a destination to visit time and again. Starting in Rome, explore the city’s iconic sites like the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, and the Pantheon. Want to experience something unique? Head to the Vatican where you can actually stand in two countries at once. Hop on a train to Pisa and take that mandatory shot holding up the famous leaning tower for your Instagram. If you have somebody special with you, a trip to Venice wouldn’t be complete without a romantic gondola ride and kiss under the beautiful bridges. Of course, don’t forget to fill your stomach with all the delicious dishes and gelato Italy has to offer.
2. Fall in love with France
No trip to France would be complete without a visit to the Eiffel Tower in Paris. While you may have seen it on post cards and refrigerator magnets, nothing beats seeing the real thing up close. Want to take the experience up a notch? How about a dinner up in the tower? There’s just something about the height that makes your Cassoulet (French stew of beans and meat) taste even more delicious. But France has plenty to see beyond Paris. For the history buff, make sure to visit the coastal region of Normandy, famous for its role in World War II. And if you’re a wine enthusiast, nothing beats a trip to Bordeaux.
3. Galavant through Greece
Greece is as intriguing as its mythology and as charming as its culture. While there’s plenty to see in the country, don’t skip out on Athens. A visit to the capital’s famous archeological sites, like the Parthenon, Acropolis, and the Ancient Agora, will inspire your inner archaeologist. Make sure to indulge in the local Greek cuisine, like bofteki the world-famous gyro. Off the mainland, head to the smaller Greek Isles of Santorini, Mykonos, and Crete to see the islands’ iconic white and blue buildings overlooking the Aegean sea.
4. Make your way to Bulgaria:
Don’t be surprised if Bulgaria captures your heart immediately. Touch down in Sofia and start your trip by exploring the country’s gigantic castles. Once you’ve had your fill of awe and wonder, make your way outside the city to discover the rest of the country. Feel like being a wine connoisseur for a day? Head to Plovdiv for a wine tour and sip with class. Before leaving, make sure to visit the rocks of Belogradchik. This stunning ancient fortress will surely make your jaw drop to the floor.
5. Explore the United Kingdom:
Home of the most famous royal family, fish and chips, and the Fab Four, the United Kingdom is an eclectic place. Start with a trip to the Buckingham Palace in London to see the legendary guards for yourself. If it’s your lucky day, you might even get the chance to see the Queen enter the palace gates. Pay homage to the greatest boy band in history and snap a picture at the iconic Abbey Road. Need a little mystery added to your trip? Take a trip to the Stonehenge and satisfy your curiosity with this strange and mystical remnant from the past.
6. Get inspired in Ireland:
If stunning natural landscapes are what you are after, Ireland will not let you down. You can start by heading to the Cliffs of Moher for incredible views of the north Atlantic ocean. Make your way to Dublin next to get a taste of the Emerald Isle’s most famous export, Guinness. During your time in the capital, you can hop on a trip to Cork and touch the famous Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle. For travelers who enjoy a good drive, the Ring of Kerry provides an iconic Irish road trip experience.
7. Find more in Finland:
Finland is a favorite for those seeking adventure in mother nature. While the country can get particularly cold, even the winter activities will bring a warm smile to your face. Head to snowy Lapland, the country’s northern most region. Book a safari from Rovaniemi for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. If you’re lucky (and you plan it right), you can catch the northern lights dancing across the night sky.
8. Go big in Germany
With old charm and modern convenience, Germany provides travelers with a little bit of everything. Make your way to the old town of Heidelberg. The gothic architecture and cobblestone streets will take you back to the past. If you’re feeling adventurous, head to the southwest of Bavaria to visit Neuschwanstein, the castle that inspired Walt Disney. In fact, Germany is filled with castles. Stop by Linderhof Castle to see King Ludwig II’s ostentatious mirrored halls. Of course, Germany is well known for its beer. Don’t miss out on your chance to clink glasses at the Hofbräuhaus in Munich, a traditional beer hall where people gather for crisp lagers.
9. Sweeten your trip in Sweden:
A trip to Sweden is sure to be a sweet. This country packs more eclectic attractions than Abba’s got chart-topping hits. Try the Disgusting Food Museum in Malmo, for instance, and see how they turn the delicious into the disgusting. For fans of the haunted, scare yourself on a historical ghost tour in Stockholm. And mamma mia! Before you go (again), make sure to visit the Abba Museum to complete your Swedish experience.
10. Check out the Czech Republic:
At the heart of Czech Republic sits its historic capital, Prague. With its winding river and beautiful fortresses, the city offers plenty to see. Looking for a more out-of-the-ordinary experience? Enjoy a medieval dinner complete with belly dancers, swordsmen, and jugglers. For a more contemporary evening, the Black Light Theater Show is sure to provide a psychedelic experience.
11. Discover the incredible in Spain:
Looking for the authentic Spanish experience? Only a trip to Spain will do. With iconic architecture, stops at incredible structures like the Sagrada Familia and the Casa Batlló are a must. Make your way to Madrid, the country’s capital, and stop at the city’s Golden Triangle of Art. If you’re game for some thrilling outdoor excursions, a hike through the cliffs of Malaga is sure to pump up your adrenaline.
12. Catch the coast in Croatia:
Would you like to see gorgeous cliffs, scenic valleys, and stone-walled cities? If these sound appealing, then Croatia should be your next travel destination. One of the country’s most unique claims to fame is setting the scene for Game of Thrones. Yes, that’s right. This is where the iconic TV series was filmed. But don’t be surprised if winter isn’t coming in Croatia. Coastal cities like Split and Zadar have plenty of sunshine to enjoy.
13. Cool off in Iceland:
While other European countries capture you with castles, churches, cobblestone roads, and other man-made wonders, Iceland will captivate you with the raw power and beauty of nature. While cities like Reykjavik are certainly worth a visit, Iceland is geared for adventure. From the relaxing Blue Lagoon to the stunning northern lights, the country’s natural make up is guaranteed to impress. Explore the geysers and volcanoes or get wet under Iceland’s tumbling waterfalls. Just make sure to pack a rain jacket.
14. See the best of Switzerland:
Prepare for a high altitude experience in the Swiss Alps. Switzerland offers incredible ways to see and experience its natural beauty. If you’re looking for a relaxing approach, how about a cruise through the Swiss Riviera? For something a little more exhilarating, take a cable car ride up Mount Titlis for an expansive view from the top. And for a really daring and adrenaline-pumping experience, strap yourself in a paraglider for the ultimate view from the sky.
15. Let loose in Lithuania:
While it may be small, Lithuania offers a wide variety of incredible things to do for visitors. Explore from Vilnius, the country’s vibrant capital, to the coastal beauty of the Baltic Sea. Make a stop at Trakai, where you’ll find an island castle that was instrumental in the country’s history. For nature lovers, a hike in Aukstaitija National Park will get you acquainted with Lithuania’s wild nature. To refuel, make sure to try some kepta duona, a garlic-fried bread with melted cheese that pairs perfectly with a cold beer.