There simply is no way to tour Europe and not be awestruck by its natural beauty, epic history and dazzling artistic and culinary diversity.
Europe’s almost unmanageable wealth of attractions is its biggest single draw: the birthplace of democracy in Athens, the Renaissance art of Florence, the graceful canals of Venice, the Napoleonic splendour of Paris, and the multilayered historical and cultural canvas of London. Less obvious but no less impressive attractions include Moorish palaces in Andalucía, the fascinating East-meets-West brew of İstanbul in Turkey, the majesty of meticulously restored imperial palaces in Russia's former capital St Petersburg and the ongoing project of Gaudí's La Sagrada Família in Barcelona.
Despite its population density Europe maintains spectacular natural scenery: rugged Scottish Highlands with glens and lochs; Norway's fabulous fjords, seemingly chipped to jagged perfection by giants; the vine-raked valleys of the Loire; and the steppe-like plains of central Spain. For beaches, take a circuit of the Mediterranean's northern coast where beach holidays were practically invented. Or strike out to lesser-known yet beautiful coastal regions such as the Baltic and Black Seas. Mountain lovers should head to the Alps: they march across central Europe taking in France, Switzerland, Austria, northern Italy and tiny Liechtenstein.
Raise a Glass
Cheers! Salud! Prost! Cin cin! À votre santé! Europe has some of the best nightlife in the world. Globally famous DJs keep the party going in London, Berlin and Paris, all of which also offer top-class entertainment, especially theatre and live music. Other key locations for high-energy nightlife include Moscow, Belgrade, Budapest and Madrid, while those hankering for something cosier can add Dublin's pubs or Vienna's cafes to their itinerary. Continue to party on the continent's streets at a multiplicity of festivals, from city parades attended by thousands to concerts in an ancient amphitheatre.
Once you've ticked off the great museums, panoramic vistas and energetic nightlife, what's left? A chance to indulge in a culinary adventure to beat all others. Who wouldn't want to snack on pizza in Naples, souvlaki in Santorini or even haggis in Scotland? But did you also know that Britain has some of the best Indian restaurants in the world; that Turkey's doner kebab is a key part of contemporary German food culture; and that in the Netherlands you can gorge on an Indonesian rijsttafel (rice table)? Europe's diversity and global reach is its trump card.
Add visiting these must-see local hot spots and culture centers to your next travel itinerary.
Browse the various transportation options to make your trip that much easier when you arrive.
These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Europe.
Topkapı is the subject of more colourful stories than most of the world's museums put together. Libidinous sultans, ambitious courtiers, beautiful…
GalleryGalleria degli Uffizi
Home to the world's greatest collection of Italian Renaissance art, Florence's premier gallery occupies the vast U-shaped Palazzo degli Uffizi (1560–80),…
Founded by Pope Julius II in the early 16th century and enlarged by successive pontiffs, the Vatican Museums boast one of the world's greatest art…
BasilicaLa Sagrada Família
The Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família (Expiatory Temple of the Holy Family) is considered to be the symbol of Barcelona by many residents, and the…
The Alhambra is Granada’s – and Europe’s – love letter to Moorish culture. Set against the brooding Sierra Nevada peaks, this fortified palace started…
A magnificent marriage of Christian and Mudéjar architecture, Seville’s royal palace complex is a breathtaking spectacle. The site, which was originally…
It’s impossible to overemphasise the beauty of Córdoba’s great mosque, with its remarkably serene (despite tourist crowds) and spacious interior. One of…
CathedralCatedral & Giralda
Seville’s showpiece church is awe-inspiring in its scale and majesty. The world’s largest Gothic cathedral, it was built between 1434 and 1517 over the…
Archaeological SiteAncient Olympia
This is where the Olympic Games took place every four years for over 1100 years, until their abolition by Emperor Theodosius I in AD 393. The Olympic…
Archaeological SitePafos Archaeological Site
Nea Pafos (New Pafos) is, ironically, the name given to the sprawling Pafos Archaeological Site, to the west of Kato Pafos. Nea Pafos was the ancient city…
Archaeological SiteRoman Forum
An impressive – if rather confusing – sprawl of ruins, the Roman Forum was ancient Rome's showpiece center, a grandiose district of temples, basilicas and…
Archaeological SiteAncient Mycenae
On a hilltop backed by powerful mountains stand the sombre and mighty ruins of Ancient Mycenae, home of Agamemnon, the legendary king who commanded the…
MuseumMuseo del Prado
Welcome to one of the world's premier art galleries. More than 7000 paintings are held in the Museo del Prado’s collection (of which only around 1500 are…
BasilicaSt Peter's Basilica
In the city of outstanding churches, none can hold a candle to St Peter's, Italy’s largest, richest and most spectacular basilica. Built atop a 4th…
A splendid mixture of architectural styles, Westminster Abbey is considered the finest example of Early English Gothic. It's not merely a beautiful place…
BasilicaBasilica di Santa Maria Novella
The striking green-and-white marble facade of 13th- to 15th-century Basilica di Santa Maria Novella fronts an entire monastical complex, comprising…
Sandwiched between the Roman Forum and the Circo Massimo, the Palatino (Palatine Hill) is one of Rome's most spectacular sights. It's a beautiful,…
MuseumMusée du Louvre
It isn’t until you’re standing in the vast courtyard of the Louvre, with its glass pyramid and ornate façade, that you can truly say you’ve been to Paris.
The world’s largest and oldest continuously occupied fortress, Windsor Castle is a majestic vision of battlements and towers. Used for state occasions, it…
Archaeological SitePalace of Knossos
Crete’s most famous historical attraction is the Palace of Knossos, the grand capital of Minoan Crete, located 5km south of the city of Iraklio. The…
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