The Big Europe Bucket List: 58 Hidden Destinations & European Landmarks You Have to See!
Whether you’ve been to Europe or are planning your first trip, you no doubt have the favorite spots in your mind you have to see — the Eiffel Tower, London Bridge, the Leaning Tower of Pizza (much more interesting and tastier too!) The world is getting smaller and smaller, until you actually get out into it and discover it’s really a huge place. Europe alone will take an entire lifetime to explore if you do it right and don’t rush it. Yes, there are plenty of must-sees you should add to your Europe bucket list (there are more than several here) — and you should see them. But many more incredible hidden gems are waiting to be unearthed — places, events, once in a lifetime kind of happenings that get little attention or are just coming on the tourism radar.
Then there are the true bucket list experiences made better by where you’re at, like drinking Burgundy wine in Burgundy, diving in at the Krka waterfalls, or road tripping the Azores. How about a concerto at the Hamburg Elbphi, exploring Scotland’s Inner Hebrides, or drinking beer in Europe’s original beer city (Mmm)! We asked travelers and travel experts around the world what we should add to our European bucket list, and here’s what they had to say.
Go see them… and discover new ones of your own along the way!
Table of Contents
(click to jump)
Albania - Berat
Austria - Hallstatt; The Heart-Shaped Road; Graz Glockenspiel; Melk Abbey; Hohensalzburg Fortress; Vienna’s Prater Ferris Wheel
Belgium - Bruges canals
Croatia - Krka National Park; Rovinj Wine Festival; Island hopping
Czech Republic - Olomouc; Cesky Krumlov; Ceske Budejovice, The Original Beer City
England - Teesdale; St. Michael’s Mount, Cornwall; Stonehenge; Mount Snowdon, Wales
France - Burgundy wine tasting; Wildlife of Camargue; Lascaux IV Caves; Mont Saint Michel; Impressionist art in Nice
Germany - Bamberg; Elbphilharmonie Hamburg
Greece - the Acropolis; Ancient Delphi; Meteora
Hungary - Dohány Synagogue; Széchenyi Thermal Baths
Ireland - Blarney Castle; Cliffs of Moher; Glendalough
Malta - Scuba Diving
Netherlands - Amsterdam canals
Poland - Zakopane
Portugal - Lisbon’s Time Out Market; Sintra; Azores road trip; Algarve beaches; Madeira
Scotland - North Coast road trip; Inner Hebrides; Edinburgh Castle
Slovakia - The Narrowest House in Europe, Bratislava
Slovenia - Ljubljana Castle; Hike Velika Planina; Lake Bled
Spain - Andorra; Costa Brava beaches; Pyrenees road trip; Tramuntana Mountains road trip, Mallorca; Sagrada Familia; Salvador Dali's house, Cadaqués
Switzerland - Chapel Bridge, Lucerne; Jungfrau-Aletsch in the Swiss Alps
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Mar Pages, Once in a Lifetime Journey
Andorra is one of Europe's smallest countries and it only has 60,000 inhabitants. Located between Spain and France, the country of the Pyrenees, as was always its slogan, is a heaven for nature lovers and skiers for it is filled with lakes, mountains and sky resorts in winter. Because there is no airport, the easiest way to get there is from Barcelona, driving. It is important to have your own car because public transportation will not allow you to go visit the best parts of the country, such as its only UNESCO site, the Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley. This beautiful park has plenty of hiking routes and rivers leading up to a valley where old medieval structures used by shepherds can be found.
Downtown, Andorra has one of the largest thermal complexes in Europe, Caldea, where you can enjoy warm thermal waters even under the stars or when it is snowing outside. And of course, the country is made of interconnected ski resorts with hundreds of kilometers of slopes. If you are looking for culture, there are also Romanesque churches that are as quaint as they are old.
Erika Bisbocci, Erika’s Travels
Berat, also known as the Town of 1000 Windows, is one of the prettiest cities in Albania and one of the country’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Like a hilltop town from a bygone era, Berat’s cobbled streets and picturesque whitewashed houses look as though they have remained unchanged for centuries. Berat clings to a mountainside and overlooks the Osum River.
The city is divided into two parts. The upper part of Berat lies within the walls of the Kala Castle and contains a handful of museums and churches worth visiting. Viewpoints along the walls of the fortress afford stunning panoramas of Lower Berat and its surrounding mountains. The lower part of Berat cascades down the mountainside, showing off its pretty clusters of whitewashed houses. With hidden cobbled alleyways, tucked-away churches and unique Ottoman architecture featuring oversized windows, Albania’s prettiest city offers photo opportunities at every bend.
Berat has been able to retain its authenticity and charm, thanks in large part to Albania’s isolationism throughout much of the 20th century. Still stuck in time and remarkably free from tourist crowds, Berat is a Balkan gem that is sure to get discovered in the coming years.
Arzo Nayel, Arzo Travels
Hallstatt is a beautiful town in Austria, not too far from Salzburg — many say it is one of the most beautiful towns in Europe — and this place seems straight out of a fairy tale. Funnily, most people who visit just come and stroll the lower streets and the market square and take tons of pictures but skip heading to the upper part known as the "Welterbeblick", or World Heritage View. But hiking up to the Skywalk Platform (or taking the funicular) is actually an activity that makes Hallstatt even more beautiful — the views from there are incredible. You have Lake Hallstatt in front of you plus the mountains, which proves that there is more to this pretty town than the church and the cute houses (and they are quite pretty).
There is no entrance fee for the skywalk (just for the funicular if you’d rather not hike) and hiking up takes about one hour. There is lots to see and fun things to do in Hallstatt, and enjoying the view from the Welterbeblick is an activity for any Europe bucket list!
Find Love on the Heart Shaped Road
Lori Sorrentino, Travlinmad
Steiermark, the lush verdant region of southern Austria is one of the country’s most scenic areas. So scenic in fact that the southern part of Steiermark — Südsteiermark — is known as The Green Heart of Austria! With rolling hills and vineyards as far as the eye can see, you might think you’re actually in Tuscany were it not for the charming alpine houses dotting the landscape. It’s a great part of Austria to visit especially during harvest season, when the South Styrian Wine Road is buzzing with activity and lots of good Austrian wine. But a must-see attraction in this part of the Green Heart is the Heart-Shaped Road! Ironically, this famous stretch of road is located in Špičnik, Slovenia (Slovenia and Austria share a border and a friendly diplomatic relationship) though you can’t actually see the heart when you’re standing in Slovenia — that little miracle of tourism and the view of the road is granted to Austria! So stop by Spicnik Dreisiebner for a glass of wine and toast to your love on Austria’s (and Slovenia’s) heart-shaped road!
>>> Where We Stayed in Gamlitz — Dreisiebner Stammhaus. This quaint winery has everything: a great location, the most amazing vineyard views, one of the best eateries in the area, and with just a handful of modern rooms with good views, ultra-comfy beds, and luxurious showers! Check rates and availability.
Explore Hohensalzburg Fortress
Kris Morton, Nomad By Trade
Hohensalzburg Fortress towers high above Salzburg, Austria and combines fascinating history with spectacular views over the city and surrounding mountains and should be on every European bucket list. Visitors can access it via a funicular or by climbing up the steep walkway from the bottom (when the path is open in warmer months). However you choose to arrive, once at the top, you can soak in the view of Salzburg from one of the balconies before heading inside to tour the historic rooms. The décor is understated compared to other European castles, but the formal rooms still have beautiful murals and carvings. One of the most interesting parts is the exhibit showing how the fortress evolved over the years as it became more and more secure. There is also a restaurant at the top and there are many concerts offered in the evenings. These offer a great opportunity to catch sunset views over the city depending on the time of year you visit.
See the Dancing Glockenspiel, Graz
Lori Sorrentino, Travlinmad
Graz is Austria’s second largest city outside of Vienna, and is known today as Austria’s culinary city with so many creative restaurants, fresh markets, and great experiences for foodies to enjoy. Some may know it as the home of Arnold Schwarzenegger, and there’s a fun little museum you can visit in his honor. And if you’re looking for charming attractions in Europe — the quaint, alpine, Sound of Music kind of charm — then you have to visit the Glockenspiel Graz is famous for. Several times a day — at 11:00am, 3:00pm, and 6:00pm — a dancing Austrian couple carved from wood and clad in traditional costume pirouette high up in the gable of the building on Glockenspielplatz square. The cheerful 24 bells play three different melodies and it’s a charming site to behold. So grab a local beer or crisp Austrian white wine and catch the show.
Ride the Prater Ferris Wheel, Vienna
Violeta Loredana Pascal, Earth’s Attractions
When planning a Vienna trip, make sure to book a half a day for Prater, the amusement park in Vienna. I especially wanted to take a ride in its famous Ferris wheel (erected in 1897) and I wasn't disappointed! The cabins are nice and comfortable and the ride offers great views over the city! Prater Amusement Park is one of the city's landmarks and one of my favorite things to do in Vienna. The Ferris wheel was designed by Walter Bassett and it was erected to mark the 50th year of Emperor Franz Joseph's accession to the throne. Prior to that here used to be a hunting ground until 1766 when Emperor Josef II gifted the Prater to the citizens of Vienna. The idea was to be used as a public park and entertainment center. During WWII the wheel was destroyed, but it was rebuilt and it's been used ever since. You may wait in line (we did), but the wait is worth it! And there are souvenir shops in case you want to buy something to remind you of your visit here.
Tour Melk Abbey
Angelo Sorrentino, Travlinmad
This magnificent 11th century Benedictine Abbey sits prominently high above the Danube River and the village of Melk and is an absolute must-see in Austria’s Wachau Valley. The original building was destroyed by fire and replaced by the present day baroque structure in the 18th century (the most recent restoration project was completed in 1996). There’s so much to see here — the beautifully frescoed abbey church with its ornate gold adornments, the marble hall with its frescoed ceiling, the library and the spiral staircase between the library and the church to name just a few. Alongside the abbey is its lovely park and a cafe with outside seating. This is one of Europe’s premier sites and can be almost overwhelming in its magnitude. That’s why we suggest taking a guided tour. The groups are generally small and it’s always good to learn the history of what you’re seeing. Plus, the fees help to maintain the abbey and support the monks who still reside there.
>>> Where We Stayed in the Wachau Valley — Hotel-Restaurant Zum Schwarzen Bären (Black Bear Inn). We absolutely loved the location of this charming hotel on the Danube River in Emmersdorf. The indoor pool and spa here are amazing (included for every guest), the rooms are comfortable, and the restaurant is one of the best in the area. And it’s so close to Melk Abbey you could walk! Check rates and availability.
See the Romantic Canals of Bruges, Belgium
Paulina Rubia, Paulina on the Road
Bruges is one of the most romantic places to visit in Europe. Forget about Paris, the narrow streets and gingerbread houses of Bruges will conquer your heart from the first second.
Bruges is located at only 1h, 30 from Brussels and makes it thus a great day trip. You can explore Bruges by walking or by bike, however, one of my favorite ways to explore the less known side of Bruges is by a canal cruise. Don't forget your camera, as Bruges holds some real gems for photographers. Also known as the Venice of the north, the canals make much of Bruges’ charm. They can be compared to the arteries of a body, as you'll find canals on the least expected corners.
A cruise on Bruges' canals will take you below medieval bridges, along picturesque mansions and quaint plazas. A cruise on Bruges' canals should definitely be part of your Europe bucket list.
Take the Plunge at Krka National Park
Sam and Natalia, Something of Freedom
Krka National Park is one of the most beautiful natural spots in Croatia. Home to stunning waterfalls, monasteries and ruins, the park shouldn’t be missed out when travelling in the Balkans. Swimming at the base of the park’s amazing Skradinski buk waterfall is definitely an activity for your bucket list. The wonderful nature makes it a truly incredible experience, allowing you to relax in the cool waters whilst surrounded by lush, green forest. It’s certainly an experience you won’t forget in a hurry! Unfortunately the waterfall can get overcrowded at times during the peak summer months, but if you’re willing to arrive early you can still enjoy swimming in the falls in peace before the crowds arrive. Although Skradinski buk is the park’s main attraction, there is plenty more to see too! The rest of the park is best accessed by car, with highlights including the small island of Visovac and the impressive Manojlovacki slap waterfall.
Živjeli! Drink Istrian Wines at the Rovinjo Wine Festival
Lori Sorrentino, Travlinmad
You won’t believe the city of Rovinj on the Istrian peninsula of Croatia until you see it for yourself, and when you do you’ll swear you’re in Italy. Rovinj (pronounced row-VEEN or row-VEEN-yo in Croatian) is Old World charm at its best, a jewel with so many facets it’s hard to know where to begin. The city is perched at the water’s edge opposite Venice on the beautiful Adriatic Sea, and the charming and narrow cobblestone streets recall its long Venetian rule. Today, the city is a great place to base yourself to discover all the riches Istria has to offer: incredible olive oil, elegantly crafted wines, and luscious truffles are just a few of the tasty souvenirs you’ll being home from Croatia. There are so many things to do in Rovinj like excellent restaurants, great cycling, and boating. But a good addition to your European bucket list is attending the annual Rovinjo Wine Festival, when many of the local vintners from Istria and throughout Croatia bring their best wines to Rovinj for you to taste. The weekend is filled with live music and lots of good food, so plan your visit around the end of September and go. Živjeli!
Island Hop Croatia’s Coastline
Eric Wychopen, Penguin and Pia
If you’re heading to Europe, you might be looking to catch some sunshine in beautiful Croatia. This popular country along the Adriatic Sea is known for many things - from Game of Thrones filming locations to stunning waterfalls. However, visiting some of the Croatian islands on an island hopping adventure can certainly be a highlight of your Croatia trip! Since there are just so many islands off the Croatian coast, you should spend some time planning out your Croatia island hopping trip to make sure everything runs smoothly. While there are different ferries that run between the main islands like Brac and Korčula, you should check the schedules thoroughly since they can sometimes be irregular. There are a few islands that are more popular than others. If you are traveling from Split, you could head to the popular island of Hvar - known for a lively nightlife and lavender fields. Tiny islands like Biševo have natural attractions like the famous Blue Cave while Budikovac features great snorkeling and beaches. And if you’re lucky, you might even see some dolphins in the open water while heading from one island to the next. If you don’t want to spend your time creating your own itinerary, you can always book an island hopping tour via a chartered boat. This way you get to see some of the incredible natural sights that Croatia’s islands have to offer while safely navigating the sea and overall having a bucket list worthy experience!
Explore Old Town of Olomouc
Veronika Primm, Travelgeekery
The Old Town of Olomouc will surprise you with its many amazing monuments and things to see on a small area. The historical center of Olomouc is made up of two squares – Upper Square and Lower Square. The Upper Square is where most of the action is – including a beautiful city hall with its own astronomical clock! That’s right, the Prague astronomical clock is not the only one in the Czech Republic.
The Upper Square also has two baroque fountains and a Holy Trinity Column. This one is special, though. And not just because it’s inscribed on the Unesco World Heritage List. Its lower part is so large that there’s a small chapel on the base! The whole historical center is dotted with fountains, some dating as far back as to the 17th century. Beautiful architecture lines the small winding streets, with several prime examples of Art Nouveau.
Olomouc is also rich in breathtaking churches – from Gothic to Baroque, with one of the largest pipe organs in the world and other notable features. The St. Wenceslas Cathedral is as striking as Prague’s cathedrals. Overall, Olomouc is a gem of a city to visit. It’s a lot more compact than Prague, much less discovered and incredibly beautiful.
Drink in Europe’s Original Beer City
Lori Sorrentino, Travlinmad
If your European bucket list is packed with food and local spirits, chances are you’re a foodie, and Ceske Budejovice, the original European beer city in South Bohemia should be at the top of your list! This charming city has the distinction of being the birthplace of Budvar beer, the original Budweiser beer! How cool is that? You can take the Budvar factory tour in town, or soak yourself in a beer spa at Svachovka, a local golf retreat near Ceske Budejovice. Both are great for trying the beer that the Czech Republic is famous for, or take a food tour in Prague and combine it with some of the best local food in the country!
Live the Fairytale in Cesky Krumlov
Lori Sorrentino, Travlinmad
If your idea of Europe is romantic Baroque architecture, bucolic countryside, and knights in shining armor, then a visit to charming Cesky Krumlov in the South Bohemia Region of the Czech Republic is in order.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1992, this pretty medieval town has a rare Baroque theater, narrow cobbled streets, an enchanting castle, and a meandering river you can stroll or paddle. There are a lot of fun things to do in Cesky Krumlov, though part of you will just want to wander aimlessly taking in all the beautiful views and imagining what life must have been like back then!
>>> Where We Stayed in Cesky Krumlov — Pension U Kaplicky. This small guesthouse (c. 1620) in the center of everything is as charming as the town of Cesky Krumlov. If you’re looking for the fairytale in your accommodations too, this is the place. The owner delivers your breakfast cart each morning with all sorts of goodies, the rooms are quaint with comfy beds and roomy showers. It’s located on Městské Sady Park and a 2-minute walk to the Cesky Krumlov castle. Check rates and availability.
Hike the Stunning Pennine Way, Teesdale
Sarah Carter, A Social Nomad
The North Pennines in Northeast England is of the most stunning areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty to see in the United Kingdom. The market town of Barnard Castle, which has been here since the castle of the same name was built in the 12th century, is known as the gateway to Teesdale, in the north Pennines. It’s well worth a visit for the great places to stay, excellent English pubs and the famous Bowes Museum with incredible displays and links to the Queen Mother.
The true beauty of Teesdale, though, lies further up the dale, where the River Tees flows over the Whin Sill in a series of spectacular waterfalls. First, you’ll encounter Low Force, at just 5.5 meters, these falls can be observed from the pedestrian-only Wynch Bridge. Come in summer and it’s a great place to cool off. The color in the water is the peat from the surrounding moors. Go further upstream, just another 2.4 kilometers, to High Force, one of the most spectacular falls in England, dropping 21 meters into a plunge pool below.
You’re now following the trail of the Pennine Way, and even if you walk just a little of it, do it in this stunning area of the country – it’s peaceful, beautiful and really rather friendly!
Climb Mount Snowdon in Wales
Nicky Williams, Go Live Young
Mount Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales, at a height of 1,085 metres. It is in fact the highest mountain in the British Isles, outside of Scotland. It is located in North Wales in the Snowdonia National Park. Hiking Snowdon is a challenging hill walk, taking somewhere between 5-8 hours to hike up and back down the mountain. There are 7 routes up Snowdon. The easiest but longest path (and the least interesting!) is the Llanberis Path which follows the mountain railway. The Pyg and Miner’s Tracks offer spectacular views and are popular with hikers. The Snowdon Ranger Track is one of the most pleasant routes up Snowdon being one of the easier routes, with fewer people and good views. The most challenging routes are the Snowdon Horseshoe which tackles the Crib Goch spine, and the Watkin Path - both these routes require much hill walking experience and a head for heights! There is an alternative to hiking up Mount Snowdon as the Snowdon Mountain Railway runs all the way to the top of the mountain, meaning that everybody can access the summit and the stunning views. Booking is very much advised as seats sell out on sunny days. However you get to the top of Snowdon, the views are spectacular, both on the way up and from the summit. You can see for miles on a clear day. Summiting Snowdon is something not to be missed when in Wales.
Gaze on St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall
Danielle Lawson, Live in 10 Countries
It's not every day you get to come face to face with a fairytale on a walk, but a trip to St Michael's Mount in Cornwall, England might just be the closest you'll get. It's a coastal ramble unlike any you've tried before. Owned by the National Trust, it sits on a romantic island off the coast of South West England and can easily be seen from the beach opposite. There are people who live on the island and so they don't accept visitors on Saturdays (one day off per week!) but the rest of the time you can either walk over on a golden causeway if the tide is in your favor, or take one of many fishing boats, which glides over the water all the time. Stepping off into sunshine and bright blue seas feels great. Make the walk up to the medieval castle and soak up the incredible views — great for coastal walks and the feeling of falling into a tale written by the Brothers Grimm.
Planning a trip to merry ‘ol England or UK? Chances are, you’ll be connecting through Heathrow airport. Here are some brilliant ideas for how to spend a long London layover!
A Must Visit: Stonehenge!
Anisa Alhilali, 2 Traveling Texans
Stonehenge is one of the most famous ancient sites in the world and it’s a place you need to experience in person. It’s located about an hour and half drive from London so it’s doable as a day trip. Built over 4000 years ago, it is hard to comprehend how they were able to move those huge stones without modern technology. It is also impressive to think about the planning that went into the stone circle. They aligned the stones with the sunrise of the summer solstice and the sunset of the winter solstice.
Your visit to Stonehenge begins with a stop at the Visitor’s Center. From there, you can take a bus or walk the mile to the Stone Circle. The audio tour explains more about the site’s history and what archeologists have learned. Normally, you are not allowed to go close to the Stone Circle. Unless you visit for the solstice, when admission is free, or on a premium tour.
The Stonehenge Stone Circle is not the only ancient monument in the area. There are about 20 different ones that make up the UNESCO World Heritage site known as Stonehenge, Avebury, and Associated Sites. If you want to explore all the ancient sites in the area, it is best to drive. The monuments are not all close to each other and there is limited public transportation in the area.
See the Flamingos of Camargue
Nadine Maffre, Le Long Weekend
The Camargue is a natural wonder situated in the South of France. Known as Europe’s largest river delta, it’s largely covered in lagoons and marshes, making it a hotspot for wildlife and therefore, wildlife watching. Indeed, the Camargue is home to hundreds of bird species, but perhaps most notably it’s one of the only habitats in Europe for greater flamingos - who flock here in their thousands each year.
Flamingos can be seen throughout the natural park, but the easiest place to spot them is at the Parc Ornithologique de Pont de Gau — a reserve and educational centre where the birds are observed, but free to come and go as they please. It makes for an excellent day trip and there are lovely walks that will keep you busy between bird sightings.
But this area of France isn’t just famous for its birdlife, it also has its own distinct breed of both white Camargue horses and black Camargue cattle. The horses can be seen roaming semi-freely within the park, as can the cattle.
To explore the park, your best bet is to drive yourself, but day tours are available from nearby cities such as Avignon and Arles.
Tour Versailles Palace
Elisa Subirats, World in Paris
Many travelers have Versailles in their European Bucket List and for a reason! Versailles Palace is one of the most amazing palaces in the world and a jewel of Baroque Architecture in France. Located at only 17 km from the French capital, the connection Paris to Versailles is so easy that there’s no excuse to miss Versailles during your trip to Paris. Home of the Kings of France from King Louis XIV until the French Revolution, the Versailles Palace has awesome rooms and halls, being the Hall of Mirrors the most spectacular one. Château de Versailles is also surrounded by vast and magnificent French-style gardens. These gardens were designed by André Le Notre, the author of the most beautiful gardens in France, and they are decorated with ponds, fountains, and grooves. A Paris to Versailles day trip is very easy to organize independently, with trains going from Paris to Versailles hourly. Guided tours with skip the line access are also very popular in Versailles.
Go Wine Tasting in Burgundy, France
Dana Freeman, Dana Freeman Travels
There is no better place to taste French Burgundy wine than in the vineyard in which it was produced. While on a barge cruise in Southern Burgundy, I had the opportunity to experience several private wine tastings at family-owned vineyards. Most notably we visited Chateau de Chassagne Montrachet, which has been owned by the Picard family since 1951 and the Philippe Leclerc Wine Cellar located in the tiny town of Gevrey-Chambertin.
These types of private tours offer more sipping and swirling wine than a tasting room. Our outings included visits to the actual cellars and a comprehensive overview of this wine growing region. The vintners took the time to educate us explaining the quality categories of Burgundy Wine which are Bourgogne, Village, Premier Cru, and Grand Cru. The category is determined by the location of the grape vines on the slopes within each vineyard. The higher up on the hill the better the sun and drainage, thus producing the best (Grand Cru) wines. This in-depth wine tasting experience led me to a new appreciation for Burgundy wines as well as the addition of twelve more bottles in my cellar at home.
Marvel at the Lascaux IV Caves
Gillian Denovan, Bucket List France
Back in 1940, a group of school boys discovered by chance the entrance to the world-famous Lascaux cave which houses some incredible 20,000 year old prehistoric art. The original cave, located in the Dordogne in France, soon became a popular tourist attraction. However, due to concerns around the damaging effects caused by the large visitor numbers, it was closed to the public in 1963. Since then, various replicas have been the created and the latest iteration ‘Les Grottes de Lascaux IV’ deserves a spot on your French bucket list.
The brand-new Lascaux experience starts with the exterior of the ultra-modern multi-million-pound visitor centre just outside the town of Montignac. Your visit will take you on a journey back in time – some 20,000 years to the prehistoric period – with the use of cutting-edge multimedia technology including 3D cinema. It took three years to create the new very authentic replica with its stunning artwork created using prehistoric methods. There are some amazing detailed cave paintings of bison, bulls and horses.
A guided tour takes you around the main area, however, kids and adults can enjoy the large interactive section at their own pace afterwards. It’s definitely a must on your Dordogne itinerary!
Explore Mont Saint Michel
Claire Drinkwater, Backpacking Bella
France is on many people’s European bucket list for good reason. Outside of Paris, the most popular must-see attraction is Mont Saint Michel, which welcomes 2.5 million visitors a year. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a 16th century abbey located on an island just off the coast of Normandy in northwest France.
This year is the 75th anniversary of World War II’s D-Day Landings and the Battle of Normandy, so it’s a notable time to visit the region.
As you approach this majestic site, along the bridge, it looks like a fairy-tale castle perched in the sea. No wonder it has inspired several Hollywood movie locations. There's a small town on this island and it even has its own mayor. Wandering around the winding streets, with their quaint shops and restaurants, is like stepping back in time. The imposing, fortified abbey has a fascinating history – at one point, it was even used as a prison. From the top you can enjoy sweeping views over land and sea, and spot the gilded statue of Archangel Michael on the abbey’s spire that inspired its name. If you stay in one of the island’s hotels, you can take a romantic evening stroll, long after the day-tripper tourists have left, and feel like you have this magical place to yourself.
Marvel at Impressionist Art
Carol Perehudoff, Wandering Carol
The city of Nice and its surrounding towns in the South of France are terrific destinations for sun and beaches, but a visit here is made so much richer by exploring the French Riviera’s history as a hot spot for Impressionist art, and for the rich legacy of artists who were drawn by the region's unique Mediterranean light, the breathtaking scenery and appealing climate. Monet is one of the artists who visited, as did Renoir, who would make his home in Cagnes Sur Mer. Another famous artist who will be forever linked with the South of France is Henri Matisse, who moved to Nice in 1917. Today, visitors can view his work at the renowned Matisse Museum in the upscale Cimiez neighbourhood of Nice where he lived. Another great art museum to see in Nice is the Musée Marc Chagall, which showcases the artist’s luminescent Biblical Message series of paintings. Also top on an art-lover's list should be the Picasso Museum in Antibes. There are so many things to do in Nice and its environs, but its artistic heritage might be the best reason to explore it of all.
Visit Bamberg, Germany
Megan Indoe, Bobo & Chichi
Easily one of the most charming villages in Germany and in Central Europe in the heart of Franconian and Bavarian beer country is Bamberg, Germany. The cobbled lanes and medieval city looks like it was the inspiration for fairy tales. What makes this city especially unique in the area is that it was almost completely untouched during WWII, making it a beautifully preserved medieval city with gorgeous half timber homes and orange roof tops. What makes this small, magical city a great addition to your Europe bucket list would be the Brewery Trail. Bamberg is famous for its beer scene and even has its own famous smoked beer, or Rauchbier as the locals call it. This is a must try while you’re here as its served at the Schlenkerla restaurant and brewery out of a wooden barrel, just like old times. This is also one of the stops on the BierSchmecker Brewery Trail experience you can do with the local tourist office. Visitors can get a booklet or pass that gives you 4 beer vouchers, 2 smoked beer truffles, a local beer stein, and a bottle opener to tour among the 8 different historic participating breweries. Each brewery offers a specialty beer that’s different than the others and has been brewed under the German Purity Law only allowing 4 ingredients for the beer making process - including malt, yeast, barley, and water, a 500 year old law still in effect today. As you’re making your way to one brewery after another you can enjoy the magic of this city along the way.
Looking to visit some of Germany’s dark tourism sites? Our visit to the Mittelbau Dora concentration camp, site of the tunneled V2 Rocket operation, was fascinating, and sobering.
See a Performance at Elbphilharmonie Hamburg
Maria Haase, Europe Up Close
Elfie, as locals like to call the new iconic concert hall in Hamburg, is rapidly climbing the ranks of Germany’s most photographed buildings. Better watch out, Neuschwanstein! Built in Hamburg’s HafenCity, and on top of an old port warehouse, the stunning glass structure symbolizes the close connection this city has with water. The Elbphilharmonie Hamburg opened its doors in January 2017 and is not only home to two concert halls, but also to the Westin Hotel Hamburg and the longest escalator in Europe (80 m or 262.4 ft). Staying at the Westin is a bit pricy, but the service is excellent and the views over the Elb river and the city of Hamburg are breathtaking. Inside, the futuristic design is beautiful and functional. The acoustics of the concert hall is improved by a huge mushroom amplifier that is lowered above the orchestra and distributes the sound evenly throughout the room. No seat in the big concert hall is more than 30 m (82 ft) from the conductor and has excellent views over the orchestra. Truly one of the most unique things to see and do in Hamburg!
Keen to see Hamburg with kids? It’s a city surprisingly fun for wee ones and a perfect city break!
Climb the Acropolis, Athens
Dave Briggs, Dave’s Travel Pages
If you visit Athens in Greece, one of the places you should definitely spend time at is the Acropolis of Athens. This ancient citadel, built in the 5th century BC, is a large complex on a hill, containing a few ancient temples and other ancient buildings. The site was only awarded a UNESCO status in 1986, but its popularity has been increasing ever since.
The most important building still standing within the Acropolis area is the famous Parthenon, a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena, who used to be the patron of the city. Its architecture is amazing, and shows the height of the civilization in Ancient Greece. Perhaps as interesting as the Acropolis itself though, is the view it gives you out over the city. Looking out on a clear day, you really feel like you are in the land of the Gods, with Athens stretched out all around! Did you know that Greece has 17 other UNESCO sites?
Check out Dave’s guide to the UNESCO sites in Greece for more!
Stephanie Mayo, The World As I See It
If you’re looking for an incredible place that tops any European bucket list then head to central Greece and visit Meteora, another of Greece’s many UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Amongst a flattened landscape giant rock pillars rise up from the Earth, and it was here in the 14th century that 24 monasteries were built atop these astounding rock pillars. Now only six of the original monasteries remain and are still inhabited by monks and nuns. Each monastery is unique, some small while others are larger. The Great Meteoron Monastery is the grandest of them all. Here you can browse the museum that is home to artifacts and books that are hundreds of years old.
There’s also a stunning church from the 15th century with a twelve-sided dome towering 78 feet high and decorated with frescoes. A visit to these enchanting monasteries will not only fill you with wonder but also peace. Sitting precariously on cliffs thousands of feet in the air you’ll wonder how did they build these structures and why. You’ll wander the gardens, museum, and grounds in peace as the magic of Meteora envelops you. And if you get the chance, watch the sunset over this awe-inspiring European gem.
Uncover Ancient Delphi
Rhonda Krause, Travel Yes Please
Ancient Delphi is a standout archaeological site in Greece, a country full of historic attractions. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was considered by ancient Greeks to be the centre of the universe, attracting pilgrims from all over the world. Today, people still flock to the archaeological site at Delphi to learn about its legacy and mythology, from the Delphic oracle to the Pythian Games.
In addition to its fascinating history, Delphi’s ruins are a sight to behold. Contained within the Sanctuary of Apollo and Sanctuary of Athena, are the remains of temples, treasuries, monuments, a stadium, and a large theatre.
As impressive as the sanctuary buildings are, what makes Delphi even more special is its setting between two towering rocks of Mount Parnassus, overlooking a valley of olive and cypress trees. It’s a scenic location that should not be missed on a trip to Europe!
See the Stunning Dohány Synagogue
Sue Davies, Travel For Life Now
We had just arrived in Budapest and I was standing outside of Dohany Synagogue. It was dusk and I saw a silver weeping willow tree through the gates. In the quiet and stillness, I thought about the Jewish Ghetto and the 600,000 Hungarians Jews lost to the Holocaust. Dohány is the 3rd largest synagogue in the world. Built in the 1850s it has Moorish, Catholic and Jewish architectural elements and should be on your European Bucket List. The inside of the Synagogue is stunning. The Memorial of the Hungarian Jewish Martyrs is in the courtyard. The leaves of the weeping willow tree have the names of people lost to the Holocaust. Behind the memorial is a tribute to Raoul Wallenberg, Carl Lutz and others who risked their lives to save Jews during the war. It’s best to take a tour of the Synagogue so that you can learn about the history of Dohany, the Jewish community and WWII. After that, you’ll walk the streets of the Jewish Quarter with a different perspective.
Take a Dip in Széchenyi Thermal Baths
HaLef, The RTW Guys
One of Budapest's top attractions is to experience the famous Budapest thermal baths, and Széchenyi Baths are a must-visit. Széchenyi Baths is the largest thermal baths complex in Budapest, and offers sauna, steam rooms and 18 pools with varying degrees of heat. These baths are located both outside and inside, and are especially popular during the winter months. The bath house itself is an architectural gem in Budapest. The structure of Széchenyi was completed in 1913 in a neo-Baroque style, and is considered one of the most romantic places in Budapest for both locals and visitors. A pastime at Széchenyi is to join locals to play chess. You will find many games happening during the day, and you can try your luck to beat them if you are good! If you happen to be in Budapest on a Saturday, you should join the Széchenyi thermal bath party. It is simply legendary - lights, music, drinks and hot baths may not be for everyone, but it surely an experience not to miss!
Visit Blarney Castle, Ireland (and learn the art to kissing the stone!)
Cath Jordan, Passports and Adventures
If you are going to create a European bucket list, then Blarney Castle in County Cork, Ireland has to be on it. One of the most popular tourist attractions in the southern half of Ireland, visiting Blarney Castle with kids or without, is something everyone must do once. And for very good reason. Not only can you find the castle and stunning gardens, but Blarney Castle is famous for one thing. At the very top of the castle you will find the Blarney Stone. A block of Carboniferous limestone built into the battlements of Blarney Castle. Legend has it that if you kiss the Blarney Stone you will be bestowed with the gift of the gab and never be lost for words again. And there is an art to kissing the stone. You lie on your back and aids help you kiss the stone up-side-down. This is not for the faint-hearted and also not suitable for children under 8 years of age. The stone is the main draw of Blarney Castle, and the gardens are simply stunning. They are vast and you need a whole day to explore them. With waterfalls, a poison garden, ferns gardens and more, they are the highlight of visiting Blarney Castle.
See the Cliffs of Moher
Bruna Venturinelli, Maps ‘n Bags
Green undulating landscapes, a fresh breeze of the sea, and the blue Atlantic Ocean right in front of you, the Cliffs of Moher are a must for any European bucket list. First, because it’s a unique spot for a pleasant hike as the cliffs rise 509 ft at its highest point above sea level, near the O’Brien Tower, and occupy approximately 8.5 miles of County Clare coast. Second, because it’s a ridiculously pretty place with a gorgeous view, or better put, with a breathtaking view. And I don’t mean metaphorically. The wind blows extremely hard at the coast, so be sure not to walk too close to the edges. Also, know that we could often feel water sprinkling over ourselves from the upside down waterfall - the wind would blow the waves crashing below over the cliffs. Such a unique experience!
Naturally, the Cliffs of Moher is a traditional day tour from Dublin, that’s why we recommend you try to arrive here at 4 pm or just before that as the tour shuttles will be on their way out. (Cuteness overload ahead)… And finally, because from April through June cute little puffins go to the Irish coats to breed and raise their cute burrow of puffins. You won’t forget your binoculars, will you?
Jessica Schmit, Uprooted Traveler
While Europe has many gems, the Emerald Isle offers a unique mixture of religious history, stunning landscapes, and rich local culture. Perhaps no other spot in Ireland encapsulates these traits more than the Glendalough Valley, just a short hour from Dublin, where Saint Kevin chose as his hideaway over 500 years ago to seek solace amongst the Wicklow Mountains. Other monks followed in Saint Kevin’s footsteps, and soon Glendalough quickly became one of Ireland’s largest monasteries, offering sanctuary to the monks from the invading Vikings.
The site still remains one of the most important monastic sites in all of Europe, where you now wander through extensive ruins dating back to 10th through 12th centuries. While you explore the site’s cemetery, see if you can single out Saint Kevin’s Celtic cross — legend has it that anyone who can fully wrap their arms around the cross body and close the circle by touching fingertips will have their one wish granted.
While the ruins themselves are bucket list worthy in their own right, the surrounding landscape is truly what makes this site special. The monastery resided in a glacial valley adorned by two breathtaking lakes, and no stop to Glendalough is complete without a hike to see its Upper and Lower Lakes, set at the foothills of the stunningly green Wicklow Mountains. Once you reach the Upper Lake, take a moment to drink in the peace, serenity, and natural beauty that Saint Kevin found in these hills so many years ago.
Italy is truly one of our favorite places in the world, and the home of our ancestors who emigrated from Campania and Sicily. No matter what part of the country you visit, it’s all unique from the rest — the medieval Bologna and Emilia Romagna region is so different from Naples, Capri, and the Amalfi Coast. Venice of course, is so popular and on so many of our bucket lists, the city recently passed a tourist fee to start protecting its overcrowded canals. Is it worth seeing? Yes it is — but plan your visit around the busy seasons or visit the lesser-known parts of Venice like the lagoon islands nearby. Sant’Erasmo is one of our favorite places to see authentic Venice without the crowds. Florence and Tuscany are also must-sees and can get crowded, but there are alternative ways to see this region from a slow travel perspective.
Italy is Old World and new at once, with exciting food, architecture, culture and history to explore. In fact, it’s so packed with hidden gems and bucket list worthy places we think it needs its own list, so look for our Italy bucket list to follow!
Go Scuba Diving in Malta
Alex Trembath, Career Gappers
There are many places where you can scuba dive in Europe, but few offer an underwater experience as special as Malta. The island’s history of naval conflict has left its waters riddled with authentic wartime shipwrecks, and the Mediterranean climate creates excellent conditions for exploring them. HMS Maori, a World War II vessel sunk during a 1942 night raid in Valletta Harbour, is one of the best examples of Malta’s fascinating wrecks. At just 13–17 metres below the surface, it is accessible to divers with basic qualifications. For more advanced divers, the Um el Faroud oil tanker wreck at 30–35 metres is a spectacular specimen to explore, nestled between 35 and 15 metres down. Diving in Malta is not only limited to shipwrecks, however. You can also discover mesmerising underwater rock formations around the archipelago, such as the Double Arch Reef and the Santa Maria Caves, and a diversity of Mediterranean marine life. Malta’s warm, azure waters are conducive for diving at any time of year. The summer months from June to August are the best time for diving, with high visibility levels, calm seas and warm water.
Take an Amsterdam Canal Boat Tour
Constance Panda, The Adventures of Panda Bear
Canal boat tours are always amazing when visiting a city like Amsterdam that is well known for its beautiful canal houses. But even better, is taking a small boat canal boat tour in Amsterdam! These smaller tours are more intimate and provide you with a closer look at the canal houses within the Amsterdam Canal Ring which also happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The boat tours are limited to a maximum of 10 people and the boat captains are super friendly. Because it’s a smaller group, they’re always on hand to answer any questions you might have about the city or tour, and they’re more than willing to help you snap photos of picturesque stops while you’re in the boat. The tours are also a great way to see the city from the canals because you’ll be able to sail into the smaller canals that the larger canal boat tours cannot. This definitely allows for a more unique way of experiencing Amsterdam that’s otherwise difficult to achieve! Explore Amsterdam from a small boat on your next trip!
See the UNESCO Village of Kinderdijk
Penny Fernandes, Globe Trove
One of my favourite destinations in Europe also happened to be the first destination that I ever visited. Located in the south of Netherlands is a small village called Kinderdijk. It doesn’t feature on many tourist’s list of places to see because a large majority of people prefer to stick to the places closer to Amsterdam. Kinderdijk however is a beautiful spot which is also a UNESCO heritage site and is closely linked with the Dutch people’s mastery over water management.
Canals, dykes, windmills, green fields and even a museum mean that this spot is like a collation of all the most iconic things that Netherlands is famous for. If you do visit Kinderdijk, I would suggest heading to the museum first. They talk about the history and why the heritage site is so important to the Dutch. After that you can take a photograph at the iconic National Geographic box and then head down the scenic routes to climb up a windmill and see how it works. If you have a lot of time on your hands, then make sure you pack a picnic lunch because the fields are a gorgeous place to relax in.
Hike Zakopane, Gateway to Tatra National Park
Karolina Klesta, KarolinaPatryk
The idyllic city of Zakopane should be one of the places listed in a nature lover's bucket list.
The gateway to the wonders of the Tatra National Park, Zakopane is the perfect start off point for hikers, rafters, skiers, and snowboarders, and makes a perfect weekend break for families with kids. The slopes of Zakopane spoil avid skiers and snowboarders with its steep ski slopes and modern lift services. Teeming with tree-lined trails with a backdrop of majestic mountains, Tatra National Park has a hiking experience for all levels and for all seasons.
In the summer, the gurgling rivers, wildlife, and the impressive cascades of the Siklawa Falls in the Strazyska Valley are bound to impress even the most experienced trekkers. And, if this trail seems too easy, the hike up the ragged facade of imposing Mount Giewont can pose a challenge to hiking enthusiasts.
During winter, the Strazyska Valley, which is still passable becomes a winter wonderland, complete with a frozen waterfall. Aside from all the activities it offers, Zakopane also has the best cheese in Europe. The beautifully decorated Oscypek has a smoky flavor and soft texture that will add a new dimension to wine and cheese night. The flavors of the other culinary delights found in this small town will be the perfect complement to your skiing and hiking trips.
Take an Azores Road Trip
Megan C. Starr, Megan Starr
Taking a road trip in the Azores is absolutely one of the most unique and exhilarating experiences you can have in Europe. The Azores are easy to get to from mainland Europe or the United States despite their remote location and no place is better to start your Azores itinerary than on the main island of Sao Miguel. Once you arrive in Ponta Delgada, you will have an entire island at your disposal and every place on the island looks different than the next.
If you head east, you will get to experience the wonders of Furnas, a geothermal area with health resorts, natural spas, botanical gardens, and places to enjoy Cozido das Furnas, a local dish that is cooked underground with volcanic heat. If you head west next, you will get to see some of the most stunning lakes in all of Europe at Sete Cidades. There are naturally heated pools along the ocean as well as parks dotted with hydrangeas.
The north coast is rugged but actually has the most sunshine of anywhere on the island. Lastly, you will find yourself in beautiful Ponta Delgada, the capital city of the Azores and one that is teeming with black volcanic rocks on Colonial style buildings. Taking a road trip in the Azores is affordable and something everyone should embark on at some point when in Europe.
Susan Connelly, Portugal Exposure
Sintra, Portugal is a trip for castle lovers with its numerous regal monuments scattered everywhere — it’s less than an hour’s journey from Lisbon, yet worlds apart. A day trip to Sintra is easy to do and easily accessible by train — plus, there are so many things to see and do here. It has been recognized as a UNESCO Heritage Site since 1995, and the town draws thousands of visitors throughout the year.
The main attraction is the Palácio Nacional de Pena, surrounded by a beautiful park, but there are so many palaces and castles to see. There’s an old Moorish castle from the 9th century and a 19th century mansion inspired by Islamic architecture, Palácio de Monserrate. This was our favourite palace very well preserved with the most magnificent gardens full of exotic trees and flowering shrubs. Although its history dates back to the Moors, Palácio de Monserrate was bought and transformed into its current glory in 1856 not by a king but by an Englishman, Sir Francis Cook. Sintra is also located near Cabo da Rocha, the westernmost point in continental Europe.
Portugal for Foodies: Pig Out at Lisbon’s Time Out Market
Amber Hoffman, With Husband in Tow
Lisbon’s iconic Mercado da Ribeira dates back to the end of the 19th Century. Located in the Cais do Sodre neighborhood, Mercado da Ribeira began its service to the residents of Lisbon as the largest central wholesale market in the city. Fruits, vegetables, fish, and meats were all sold under its roof. As time went on, and shopping habits changed, Mercado da Ribeira suffered and was forced to close it doors.
Thankfully in 2014 the market reinvented itself, becoming home to the Time Out Market Lisboa. Time Out rounded up some of the top Lisbon food producers and chefs to transform the historic building into a go-to destination for food lovers. A unique concept in dining, Time Out Market allows travelers and locals to sample Lisbon’s rich culinary offerings all under one roof. One-half of the building also remains dedicated to a traditional fresh food market during the week. Open seven days per week, Time Out Market has over 20 restaurants cooking up traditional and contemporary Portuguese dishes. Two Michelin Star Chef Henrique Sa Pessoa has brought his take on Portuguese to Time Out Market including the famous leitão suckling pig sandwich.
The market also offers international favorites like hamburgers, pizza and sushi. If you want to enjoy a classic Portuguese dish in an iconic building, head over to Manteigaria and order up one of their delicious pastel de nata custard tarts. Time Out Market is within easy walking distance to the main tourist areas in Lisbon.
Swim the Beaches of Algarve
Diana Becevello, Diana’s Healthy Living
Portugal seems to be the hottest country to be visiting this year and I can see why — Portugal has some of the most beautiful scenic beaches I have seen. The Algarve is Portugal’s most southernmost region and is known for its beautiful Atlantic beaches. The Algarve has become one of the hottest tourist destinations as well as a great place to visit in the winter months as it is a warm climate and also known to have sunshine year round. The once quaint fishing villages are now developed with hotels and restaurants.
There are several photogenic and beautiful beaches along the Algarve coast but my favorite was Praia da Marinha beach, or “Navy Beach”. Praia da Marinha is located near the city of Lagao. Marinha beach can only be accessed by car. There is public parking available with spectacular aerial views of the clear turquoise waters. You have to walk down a staircase that eventually ends at the sandy beach that is surrounded by orange limestone rocks. It almost looks unreal with the cliffs, rocks and caves. Pack your hiking shoes as the trails and paths offer spectacular views. Hiking the seven hanging valleys is a great way to see the beaches in the area. The Seven Hanging Valleys is one of the most scenic hiking routes of the Algarve. This scenic route runs from Praia da Marinha in the east to Praia de Vale Centeanes in the west and takes approximately 3-4 hours to hike.
Julie Fox, Julie Dawn Fox in Portugal
The volcanic island of Madeira in Portugal is breathtakingly beautiful and surprisingly varied with lush green forests, exotic flowers, dramatic mountains and cliffs, villages within craters, countless waterfalls and bewilderingly steep terraced fields. All this natural beauty makes it a paradise for hiking, from scaling the dizzy heights of the 3rd highest mountain in Portugal, Pico Ruivo, to the flat levada walks that follow irrigation channels through forests and are enjoyable for almost anyone. You do need to select your walks with care as some of them involve tunnels, are not advisable at certain times of the year or are unsuitable for vertigo sufferers but there is lots of practical information available online to help you find the most appropriate hike.
One of my favourites is the Levada do Rei in the north of Madeira island, which takes you through beautiful forest, with glimpses of rugged peaks in the distance, to a delightful pool with boulders and a small waterfall. Depending on the time of year, you may need to walk behind a waterfall to reach this so pack a poncho.
Take a North Coast 500 Road Trip
Kathi Kamleitner, Watch Me See
The North Coast 500, or NC500, is Scotland's version of America's Route 66. Although it is significantly shorter - just over 500 miles, hence the name - it provides a taste of everything that Scotland has to offer. Starting in the bustling city of Inverness, the route heads across to the west coast and its dramatic scenery. Bizarrely shaped mountains made from sandstone that are millions of years old tower over white sandy beaches, pristine bays and clear shallow waters. The beaches of the NC500 recall memories of the Caribbean, but the undeniable Highland hospitality, wildlife and not at least the water temperature take you back to Scotland in an instant. In the north and east, mountains make room for lighthouses, sea stacks and delightful villages like Helmsdale or Dornoch. Highlights include Dunrobin Castle and the Black Isle peninsula, and before you know it you are back in Inverness. You can drive the route in 4-5 days, but to experience everything the North Coast 500 has to offer, you will need at least one week
See Edinburgh Castle
Gillian Denovan, Scotland Bucket List
Who says Edinburgh, says Edinburgh Castle! Built on Castle Rock, Edinburgh Castle perches atop a 700 million year old extinct volcano. This imposing fortress dominates the Edinburgh skyline and is a must on your visit to the Scottish capital. It's the number one tourist destination in Scotland attracting in excess of one million visitors every year and its history stretches back a staggering 1,000 years from bloody battles during the Wars of Scottish Independence to the Jacobite uprisings. It was the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots’ son, the future King of Scotland & England, James IV (and I).
Highlights include the Scottish Crown Jewels (the oldest in Britain!), the 1 o’clock gun (a tradition started in 1861 to allow ships in the Firth of Forth to set their clocks), Mons Meg (a giant medieval cannon that was able to launch 150kg stone balls up to 2 miles away), the Great Hall and more.
And for a true bucket list experience, bag yourself some tickets to the Edinburgh Tattoo which takes place on the Castle Esplanade. This is a world-famous spectacular military show that takes place every August – think bagpipes, drums, dancers, the haunting lament of the Lone Piper – all set against the iconic backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. Magical.
Explore Scotland's Inner Hebrides
Bret Love & Mary Gabbett, Green Global Travel
Exploring Scotland's Inner Hebrides was on my personal European bucket list long before I knew that my family descended from Clan Mackinnon, and originated in these islands off the country's west coast. The archipelago consists of 35 inhabited islands as well as 44 uninhabited islands with an area greater than 30 hectares (74 acres). The largest and most well-known of these are the Skye, Islay, and Mull, which have populations ranging from 2,800 (Mull) to more than 10,000 (Skye).
The Isle of Skye offers the most things to do and accommodations options, with activities for those who love history (visiting Armadale and Dunvegan Castle), nature (the Fairy Pools, hiking the Quirang), or a good Scotch (tastings and tours at the Talisker and Torabhaig Distilleries). You can also take a wildlife-watching boat tour from the southern town of Elgol, which will take you to smaller islands such as Canna, Eigg, Rum, and Soay.
On the island of Mull you can visit the Maclean Clan's Duart Castle, explore the quaint town of Tobermory, and take a day trip to the ancient Iona Abbey and the balsalt columns of Fingal's Cave. We spent more than a week exploring the Scottish Highlands and Hebridian islands, and it's the rare place we would go back to in a heartbeat.
Squeeze in the Narrowest House in Europe, Bratislava
Pashmina Binwani, The Gone Goat
Imagine walking through an 18th-century town and by-passing modern cafes and buildings only to come across an unassuming small alley next to a kebab shop known as the narrowest house in Europe. In the end of 18th century, when town walls were demolished in Bratislava, Slovakia, a narrow space was created between Michael’s tower and Michael’s gate called the “zero point”.
Measuring just 130cm, when you see the narrow building it isn’t immediately obvious that this is a narrow house until you follow the line of sight from top of the building to the bottom. It is often a unique stop during every walking tour and even a casual passer-by would often wonder how this unusual alley became the narrowest house in Europe.
Bratislava on its own bears a lot of eccentricities for a young metropolis - from the narrowest house in Europe to even an alien-like UFO spaceship dotting the city’s skyline. This often forgotten city is usually a day trip from Vienna and is slowly coming out of its shell to showcase its uniqueness and to what makes it truly Slovak.
Hike to Velika Planina and the Herdsmen Settlement
Lori Sorrentino, Travlinmad
A start contrast to much of Slovenia, the mountain plateau of Velika Planina north of Ljubljana lies in the Kamnik Slovenian Alps, and one of the most fun you can have hiking in Slovenia. The herdsmen in these lower Alps have summered their cows here for centuries, and a visit to their settlement at the top of the mountain is discovering a cultural gem and a unique way of life that’s rarely seen anymore.
Plus, getting here is half the fun. Take the gondola, or cable car, up the mountain from the Kamniška Bistrica River Valley below, just a few miles outside of Kamnik. You’ll then hop on a chairlift for the rest of the ride up, which lets you off near the mountain top overlooking an amazing views of this part of Slovenia. Spend the day hiking the pastures, and visit the settlement — the chapel and a small museum are open and you just might run into a herdsmen who invites you to try his homemade cheese. This gem is truly one of the most unique sites to see in Europe, and one for your bucket list!
>> Where We Stayed near Velika Planina — Eco Terme Snovik. This family mountain retreat and thermal spa is one of the coolest places we’ve ever stayed. There are indoor and outdoor pools, thermal spas you could spend the whole day in, a restaurant serving locally sourced dishes, and trail heads leading in every direction! Not far from the gondola to Velika Planina. Check rates and availability.
Eat Creme Cake at Lake Bled
Angelo Sorrentino, Travlinmad
If you’re not already familiar with this charming lakeside town in Slovenia, one look at this church on the tiny island and you’ve probably seen it a hundred times. Iconic Lake Bled is one of the prettiest towns in all of Europe — yes, I said it! Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj, its sister lake nearby, are two of our favorite day trips from Ljubljana, less than an hour away. These idyllic destinations are full of fairytale charm, alpine architecture, and delicious Slovenian food, but perhaps the most yummy of all is the Creme Cake that Bled is known for. Not only is the rich-looking dessert actually very light, but it makes one of the most photogenic sweets we’ve ever seen. You have to try it!
>> Where We Stayed in southern Slovenia — Resort Big Berry. Looking to immerse yourself in Slovenia’s natural world? How about overnighting it in uber-comfy riverside mod pods? This is the perfect place to go glamping in Slovenia! With modern mobile houses (pods) with enough room for the entire family, and a beautiful scenic location along the Kolpa River. Check rates and availability.
Climb to Ljubljana Castle
Leondro Aguilar, Safari Nomad
The emblem of the Slovenian capital is undoubtedly its famous castle, the Ljubljanski grad, of medieval origin and located on a hill that enjoys a central location in the middle of the city. This gives you views over the entire capital that are already worth the climb up there. Even on a clear winter day you can see the snowy peaks of the Alps.
Getting to the castle is very easy: it is constantly visible from anywhere in the capital and there are several paths that meander to the foot of the castle. However, for those who do not have the courage to do it on foot, take the historic funicular that connects the castle with the base of the small mountain.
The castle is a cultural gem reflecting the lifestyle and history of the city, and besides having permanent and temporary exhibitions, it is also a good place to enjoy concerts, lectures and plays. The permanent exhibition is called "Slovenian History", which covers the development of the country and the city from the first humans who lived there, around 200,000 BC, until the independence of Slovenia in 1991.
Relax on the Beaches of Costa Brava
Gábor Kovács, Surfing the Planet
There are people who are fond of beaches and others who like hiking in the mountains. What about a destination that is ideal for those who love both? Visiting the Costa Brava in the Northeast of Spain, you can get the most out of both worlds. This part of the Spanish coastline is called the Rough Coast due to its mountainous rocky landscape with hundreds of beautiful beaches and coves in this area.
The best way to explore this area is hiking the trail that follows the coastline and you can explore the most beautiful beaches one by one. The hiking trail starts in Blanes in the South and it goes to Portbou near the French-border, therefore you will need several days, if you want to walk the whole trail. The best option is pick a segment of it and explore the beaches around. For instance the hidden coves that you can discover following the track between Roses and Cadaqués or in the area around Begur are simply amazing, and you will be almost alone there even during the high season.
Road Trip through the Pyrenees in Northern Spain
Dave Anderson, Jones Around the World
Ever since my first visit to Barcelona nearly a decade ago, Spain has been my favorite country in Europe! They've really got life figured out over there, and I'm just obsessed with their delicious food, wine, and vibrant culture. During my most recent trip over there, I embarked on a week-long road trip through the Pyrenees, which is this massive beautiful mountain range that also serves as a natural border between France. My first day on the road trip, my mind was absolutely blown from the landscape, and I couldn't believe it took me so long to visit this amazing destination! From sleeping in medieval castle hotels and driving through unbelievably scenic mountains, it was a trip I'll never forget!
If there's one place that really impressed me though, you must make it to BIELSA, and do some hiking through the national parks! The scenery is seriously next level, and you'll fall in love with Spain all over again.
Take a Mallorca Road Trip Through the Tramuntana Mountains
Linn Haglund, Brainy Backpackers
The Tramuntana mountain range in northern Spain was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the category cultural landscape in 2011. The dramatic coastline with steep overhanging cliffs makes a perfect scenic route for a road trip through Mallorca. The foot of the cliffs hides mesmerizing beaches, some that you cannot get to by foot.
If you like the outdoors, the mountain range has numerous hikes to explore. It is also popular among cyclists in the cooler months. Dotted through the Tramuntana mountain range you find countless picturesque, villages with cobbled streets. Some of these villages are placed to give the most amazing sea views past rolling olive fields and colorful citrus trees. No wonder why artists have come to this part of Mallorca from years and years back.
It is said that the well-known pianist Chopin wrote some of his most beautiful pieces from the Tramuntana village Valldemossa. The English poet Robert Graves lived in the hillside village of Deia during years. Even today, the artists seem to love Tramuntana and several art galleries are present in these charming villages.
Marvel at the Sagrada Familia
Justine Ancheta, Latitude 41, a Barcelona travel blog
The Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain, is one of the biggest attractions for visitors of Spain and one of the most famous works of Catalan Modernist architecture. This unique unfinished basilica was designed by architect Antoni Gaudí, who tragically died in 1926 and couldn't see his church to completion. Parts of the church that Gaudí designed, the Nativity Facade and the Crypt, are also UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The architecture isn't just a wonder to look at, but its also full of obvious and hidden symbolism. For example, the Nativity facade tells the story of the life of Jesus Christ, and the church's interior has towering pillars that emulate trees in a heavenly forest. Once you get to know the works of Antoni Gaudí, you'll be interested in his other emblematic works in the city like colorful Park Guell or the dragon-like Casa Batlló. The use of organic shapes, vivid colors, and broken tile work enhance the beauty of Barcelona. It's no wonder that it's one of the most photogenic cities in Europe!
Crawl into Dali’s Mind at Cadaqués
Charles McCool, McCool Travel
Whether or not you have seen or toured Dali's buildings in Barcelona (including Sagrada Familia), you should head 2 hours northeast to the beautiful Mediterranean beach village of Cadaqués and the place where Salvador Dali chose to live. The man lived large and you can see his eclectic property, transformed from a simple fisherman’s hut to a sprawling estate with a couple dozen rooms.
Appointments are necessary to visit Salvador Dali’s home and while you wait for your time slot, kayak the magnificent bay. Tours of the house are guided, and some of my favorite features include the mirror Dali and Gala (his wife) could lie in bed and watch the sea, the various eclectic collections (including stuffed animals and eggs), and the working studio.
Prior to or after the guided house tour, explore the remainder of the property on your own. I absolutely love the pool area and the funky chairs at the top of the hill. You can also climb into and emerge from one egg, creating the perfect selfie (if you like that sort of thing).
Cross the Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge) in Lucerne
Joanne Norman, Sunsets and Rollercoasters
The Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge) is the most recognized sight in Lucerne, Switzerland. The Kapellbrücke is a wooden covered bridge that crosses the Reuss River which runs through this beautiful Swiss city. The bridge was built in the 14th century as part of the city’s defense. Over the years, the water tower in the center of the bridge has been used as a prison, a torture chamber and a municipal archive. It is especially known for its beautiful interior paintings showing daily activities and dress of the people dating back to the 17th century.
You may wonder, how can an open-air bridge have paintings? Well, you’ll have to look upwards as they are found on the trusses of the bridge’s wooden roof! Among many others, you’ll see a legendary giant, paintings detailing stories of the history of Lucerne and others detailing the lives of Lucerne’s two patron saints. Many of the paintings were damaged or destroyed during a fire in 1993 so you’ll find several of the originals at the center of the bridge charred. At the end of the bridge, you’ll find beautiful white swans. These swans were originally a gift from King Louis XIV of France to Switzerland in appreciation for the care and attention provided to his family by the Swiss Guards during the French Revolution. If you want to find out more about this little bit of French/Swiss history, make sure to visit the Lion Monument a little further away in Lucerne.
See Jungfrau-Aletsch in the Swiss Alps
Simon Falvo, Wild About Travel
The Alps are not short of outstanding beauty, and one of the places to add to your European bucket list is the Jungfrau-Aletsch region, in Switzerland. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001, the Jungfrau-Aletsch boasts breathtaking views and the largest and longest glacier in Europe.
You can easily reach the Jungfrau area and the Aletsch Arena by train and cable car, but for a truly unique experience, you should go on a day hike. There’s a wide choice of easy/moderate difficulty trails, which you can also walk with kids, provided you wear a good pair of shoes. One of the most scenic hikes starts in Bettmerhorn (2647m.), where you can get by cable car from Betten. From there, the trail heading to Märjelensee and back to Bettmeralp runs along the Aletsch glacier, offering spellbinding views of the cracked ice.
The overall circuit takes about 6 hours, but if you have limited time or don’t feel fit enough, you can also walk a section of the trail and then head back to Bettmerhorn. A couple of hours are enough to get in one of the most unforgettable panoramas of Europe.