You may find yourself asking, Where should I go in Europe? Well, Europe offers a vide variety of cultures and experiences throughout its various countries and cities, which makes for a challenge when choosing the best places to visit in Europe. From Spain and Italy to the Netherlands and Switzerland, Europe blesses travelers with vibrant cities that offer an array of museums, restaurants, nightlife, and jaw-dropping architecture.
In 2016, I traveled across Europe during a three-month solo backpacking trip and visited 10 countries. This marked the beginning of my passion for travel. Since that trip, I’ve visited Europe on two separate occasions, adding more places to my list of the best cities to visit in Europe. I’ve done it all; the budget trip to the 12-day stay in one location to a more lavish, AirBnB-driven backpacking trip. I’ve put together this list to save you the trouble deciding where to bring your suitcases overseas.
Looking to visit an art-filled Spanish city that’s nestled alongside the Mediterranean sea? Barcelona is your spot. I like to call Barcelona the place that never sleeps, meaning there is always something for you to do while visiting. You’ll find yourself exploring the Mercado de La Boqueria (Boqueria Market), wandering around La Rambla, soaking up the sun at the beach, and eating an endless amount of mouthwatering tapas, Spain’s signature snacks and small plates.
From morning to night, Barcelona offer activities, a slew of places to eat and drink, top-notch weather, and a unique culture filled with art and expression. Now, I’m a bit bias when it comes to Barcelona, as I lived there while working at a hostel on the back end of my solo backpacking trip. However, I haven’t met someone that didn’t enjoy it after I recommended them to go there. Trust me, you’ll fall in love too.
There are very few places in the world that feel euphoric to me, and Florence happens to be one of them. If you can score a trip in Spring or early Summer, you’re in for an absolute treat, let me tell you. The blissful warm weather brings in art festivals, open-air dining, and an Italian sunshine that will make you believe you’re in a dream. I mean it, there’s nothing like cocktails and aperitivo alongside a cobblestone road. Not only is Florence drop dead gorgeous, but Italy is one of the best countries to visit in Europe.
Florence is a place that boasts a beautiful culture you can’t find anywhere else. From the language to the sunshine to the architecture to the food, Florence is a full-package deal waiting to blow you away. Whether you’re ordering a liter of house red wine with a generous portion of fresh pasta or simply enjoying a sunset over the city at Piazzle Michelangelo, you’ll be buzzing.
Island life is hard to beat, and Mallorca proves that point true. Situated off the coast of Spain, Mallorca, the crown jewel of the Balearic Islands, boasts dream-like sceneries, crystal clear water, and a calming lifestyle. If you choose to travel to Mallorca, which I hope you do because I believe it’s a must see in Europe, you’ll quickly adapt to the lavish and beautiful island life; you won’t want to leave.
There are many different ports to visit, secluded beaches for swimming, and restaurants situated on the edge of the coastline. Because there’s a lot to see on this European island, I highly recommend renting a car; it will unlock a new level of experience while you’re there. Mallorca really is a unique place to see in Europe, and it has slowly became my favorite European city. You’ll understand when you set down your bags and take a stroll around its villages.
While just about every neighborhood is seemingly perfect, there are two spots I’d recommend that offer two different styles. Jordaan, a quiet residential area near the city center, or the Red Light District, a place notoriously known for its bars and late nights.
Amsterdam through me for a real whirlwind when I first visited back in 2016. The locals can easily speak five or more languages fluently, french fries (chips) and mayonnaise are a common snack, and it felt as if everyone owned two bikes each. I was not expecting any of this, but I was completely okay with it. This city is nonetheless dreamy, whether that’s from the movie-like houses that surround you or from the altered state of consciousness you get as you walk by people casually smoking their joints (or smoking one yourself).
Before you visit this top city in Europe, there are a few things you must know:
- Coffee shops sell marijuana and Cafes sell coffee. Confusing, but you don’t want to get that mixed up.
- Rent a bike for the best experience. Amsterdam is entirely a biking city, and it’s inexpensive to get one for a day or two. This is the one thing I recommend to everyone who asks me for Amsterdam pointers.
When you get off the train or out of your Taxi in Rome, it may seem chaotic at first. But give it a moment because this city is romantic, filled with endless amounts of history, and will dish up some of the best pasta you’ve had in your life. Those experiences will make the chaos worth it, and you’ll soon realize Rome is one of the best European cities to visit.
There are a few tips I give everyone that asks me about traveling to Rome, and I want to give you those to you, too. First, don’t try and walk everywhere; get a taxi, the city is massive. Secondly, order the pasta carbonara when you go out to dinner, it will not disappoint you. Lastly, treat yourself to a proper Italian style dinner; order a healthy amount of wine, bread, and pasta, and make your dinner last. There’s no need to be in a hurry when you’re in one of the best places to visit in Europe.
Are you a fan of baked goods, fashion, and the most visited monuments and museums in the world? Well, consider adding a stop in Paris to your itinerary. It’s apparent that Paris is one of the best cities to visit in Europe because it’s the most visited European city every year. Fortunately I spent time there during my backpacking trip, so I can confidently agree that this place is a must see in Europe.
Whether you want to go on a bakery tour, see some of the most amazing art in the world, or meander around the cities different monuments, you’ll enjoy Paris wholeheartedly, as it’s one of the best cities in Europe. Oh, while you’re there, don’t forget to grab your fresh baguette, a bottle of wine, and enjoy a moment of bliss while you sit on the grass and look up at the twinkling Eiffel Tower during a Parisian evening.
I’ve done my fair share of adventuring between road tripping in my self-converted campervan and backpacking overseas. I can confidently say Interlaken, Switzerland is the adventure capital of the world and one of the best places to visit in Europe. Don’t be surprised when you find your jaw dropped to the floor as you try to take in the incredible scenery around you. From the cow bells ringing in the distance to the snowcapped mountains to the small villages that look like an Oscar-winning movie scene, you will be absolutely blown away by Interlaken.
There’s something for everyone in Interlaken. If you’re into high-adrenaline adventuring like canyoneering or skydiving, there’s an activity for you. If you’re into world-class hikes that only a small percentage of the population gets to experience, there’s an activity for you. All in all, if you’re into some type of adventuring and want to experience one of the most beautiful places not just in Europe but the world, drop a pin on your itinerary for Interlaken.
Prague, Czech Republic
Brace yourself for when I say this, but Prague is an 1,100 year old wildly beautiful Eastern European city; it’s out of this world. You’ll have the chance to put yourself right back in its early years as you wander the medieval streets and explore the riverside in the evening. However, Prague offers much more than just its sights: insanely affordable dining and, most importantly, beer! I’m not kidding, you can snag a pint of beer for nearly a quarter. Yes, I said it…25 cents.
So, make sure your wallet is nearby because you won’t be hesitating to say yes to another round of the world’s finest lagers or another plate of Prague’s famous pork knuckles. Beer and food will become your best friend while in Prague, and there’s nothing bad about that.
There are two main areas of Budapest, Buda and Pest, which are situated on either side of the river. Stay in Buda if you want a quiet romantic getaway. However, for most people, Pest will be the best place to stay.
Budapest is hands down one of the most photogenic cities in Europe. The city is made up of three unified cities, with Buda and Óbuda on the west side of the Danube River and Pest on the east side. Regardless of where you choose to stay, you’ll experience Budapest’s incredible history and laid-back artistic lifestyle.
Aside from the cities incredible views and picture-perfect architecture, it offers two unique activities that make it one of the best places to go in Europe: cave tours and natural thermal baths. There’s a lab labyrinth of cave’s beneath Budapest waiting to be explored; sign up for a tour and have a guide show you around. However, if cave adventures aren’t your thing (and that’s totally okay), then kick your feet up at one of Budapest’s thermal spas, which are fed by 120 hot springs.
London, United Kingdom
It’s no surprise that London is one of the top places to visit in Europe, as it offers a diverse city, rich history, and some of the most historic places in Europe. Every district in London, North, East, South, and West London, has its own unique vibrant vibe. You’ll never be out of things to do in London as it offers some of the best art, entertainment, dining, and shopping worldwide.
Whether you’re on a backpacking trip, European vacation, honeymoon, or a family holiday, London is a common place to travel in Europe. When I visited London for the first time on my backpacking trip, I quickly fell in love. It feels movie-like and dreamy, and a spot I highly recommend considering for your next getaway.
Well, there you have it. Once quarantine is lifted and travel becomes a common thing to do, use this list of the best places to visit in Europe as your guide. While I listed 10 cities here, there are many more that will blow you away. One of the best parts of traveling is finding the hidden gems that soon become your favorite spots.
What are some of your favorite spots to travel? Let me know in the comments below!