The Old Continent might be small when compared to its neighbours, but it’s home to a huge variety of countries, cultures and histories. Deciding where to go and what to see on a Europe trip can be hard.
Which is why I’ve put together this ultimate Europe bucket list! In this guide I’ve put together all the best things to do, most beautiful places to see and most incredible experiences to have in Europe.
From the Mediterranean all the way to Cape North, from historical landmarks to foodie experiences, this Europe bucket list has it all. So what are you waiting for? Let’s dive in and explore Europe together!
- 1 Historical landmarks & places to visit in Europe
- 1.1 Visit the Colosseum
- 1.2 Ride the London Eye
- 1.3 Explore the Acropolis in Athens
- 1.4 See Tower Bridge
- 1.5 See the Mona Lisa at the Louvre
- 1.6 See the Eiffel Tower
- 1.7 Admire the Sistine Chapel
- 1.8 Admire Gaudi’s artworks in Barcelona
- 1.9 Explore the Royal Alcazar of Seville
- 1.10 See the Berlin Wall & East Side Gallery
- 1.11 Explore the castles in Bavaria
- 1.12 See the change of the guard at Buckingham Palace
- 1.13 Visit Schonbrunn Palace in Wien
- 1.14 See the Old Town of Dubrovnik
- 1.15 Explore the Old Town of Prague
- 1.16 Enjoy the view from Fisherman’s Bastion in Budapest
- 2 Must see natural wonders and places in Europe
- 2.1 Swim in the crystal clear water of Sardinia
- 2.2 Explore the Tuscan countryside
- 2.3 Hike the Sentiero Azzurro in Cinque Terre
- 2.4 Explore the tulip fields in the Netherlands
- 2.5 Explore the lavender fields in Provence, France
- 2.6 Hike in the Azores
- 2.7 Go waterfall chasing in Iceland
- 2.8 See the geysers in Iceland
- 2.9 See the Northern Lights in Lapland
- 2.10 Cruise the fjords in Norway
- 2.11 See the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland
- 2.12 Explore the waterfalls of Croatia
- 2.13 Admire the views in Kotor, Montenegro
- 3 Once in a lifetime experiences in Europe
- 3.1 Go for a gondola ride in Venice
- 3.2 Ski in the Alps
- 3.3 Hike in the Alps
- 3.4 Go island hopping in Greece
- 3.5 See the blossoms in London
- 3.6 Enjoy a Mediterranean cruise
- 3.7 Learn to surf in the Canary Islands
- 3.8 Hike in Tenerife
- 3.9 Cycle around the colourful streets of Copenhagen
- 3.10 Visit the Christmas markets in Germany
- 3.11 Go island hopping in Croatia
- 3.12 Go dog sledding in Lapland
- 3.13 Explore Lake Bled
- 3.14 Cruise the Danube River
- 4 European food & drink bucket list
- 4.1 Eat pizza in Naples
- 4.2 Eat pasta carbonara in Rome
- 4.3 Eat a croissant in France
- 4.4 Eat fondue in Austria
- 4.5 Eat raclette in Switzerland
- 4.6 Eat tapas or pinchos in Spain
- 4.7 Drink beer in Belgium
- 4.8 Drink a pint of Guinness in Dublin
- 4.9 Eat goulash in Budapest
- 4.10 Eat poffertjes in the Netherlands
Historical landmarks & places to visit in Europe
I wanted to start this Europe bucket list with the most famous landmarks and experiences in every European country. Those iconic landmarks you’ve seen photos of, but you might not be able to name or know where they are.
Visit the Colosseum
The Colosseum in Rome is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most iconic symbols of Rome and Italy.
No European bucket list would be complete without a visit to the Colosseum.
Ride the London Eye
The London Eye is one of the most iconic landmarks in London. With its 135 metres in height it’s also one of the best views in London, looking over the River Thames and the Houses of Parliament.
Riding the London Eye will not only give you an incredible view over London, but will also allow you to tick off a classic European bucket list experience.
Explore the Acropolis in Athens
The Acropolis of Athens is an ancient citadel located on a rocky outcrop above the city of Athens. Here you will find the remains of several ancient buildings, as well as incredible views over the rooftops of Athens.
It’s of the most important historical landmarks in Greece. It’s a must-visit for anyone with an interest in history and architecture.
See Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge is one of my favourite spots in London. With its recognisable towers it’s one of the most famous and visited attractions in the UK.
Whether you choose to do a full tour and visit the inside, or just admire its distinct outline at sunset, it’s a must on any Europe bucket list.
See the Mona Lisa at the Louvre
Some say it’s an underwhelming experience, but that doesn’t take away the fact that the Mona Lisa is one of the most famous pieces of art in the world.
Housed at the Louvre in Paris, the Mona Lisa is a must-see on any Europe bucket list.
While you’re there, make sure to visit the rest of the Louvre too. The museum is home to many famous historical artworks, and you’ll be glad to have visited it.
See the Eiffel Tower
Is there anything more French than the Eiffel Tower? If you visit Paris on your European travels, you have to add a stop to the Eiffel Tower.
I went to Paris on a school trip when I was 13 and still remember standing in awe in front of this huge metal structure. You can also go to the top and enjoy beautiful views over the rooftops of Paris.
Admire the Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel ceiling, painted by Michelangelo in the 1500s is one of the most famous and important pieces of High Renaissance art. No trip to Europe would be complete without seeing it.
Admire Gaudi’s artworks in Barcelona
Barcelona is home to many of Gaudi’s colourful artworks. You can see Gaudi’s architecture around the city, some of the most famous being Park Guell, Casa Battlo and the Sagrada Familia.
When you travel to Spain you have to factor in some time for wandering around Barcelona, looking for Gaudi’s artworks dotted around the city.
Explore the Royal Alcazar of Seville
The Royal Alzacar of Seville is the largest royal palace still in use and a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The building of the Royal Alcazar was heavily influenced by the Arabic presence in Spain, and that is reflected in its architecture.
It has a very unique history and appearance, which make it a very interesting place to visit. It’s a European must-see for anyone who loves history and architecture.
See the Berlin Wall & East Side Gallery
The Berlin Wall was a guarded concrete wall that physically divided East Berlin and West Berlin from 1961 to 1989. Today sections of it have been painted over with murals with positive messages, as part of East Side Gallery.
It stands as a reminder of Berlin’s history, and is a must-see for anyone planning a trip to Germany and Berlin.
Explore the castles in Bavaria
If you’re looking for fairy-tale castles, Bavaria is the place to go.
Neuschwanstein Castle and Hohenzollern Castle are amongst the most famous castles in Germany, and with their gorgeous architecture and surroundings, it’s easy to see why.
These castles look like they could be the backdrops to a Disney princess cartoon. For anyone searching for a taste of the “Old Continent” on their European travels, you have to add these castles to your bucket list.
See the change of the guard at Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace is the London residence of the royal family, as well as the administrative headquarters of the British monarchy. It’s an icon of British history and a must-see on your European travels.
Make sure to time your visit to Buckingham Palace so you can be there during the change of the guard. This happens every day at 10:45AM; you don’t want to miss it!
Visit Schonbrunn Palace in Wien
Continuing on the castle and palaces trend, you have to add Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna to your Europe bucket list. This 1,400-room palace was the summer residence of the Habsburg rulers.
You can visit the inside of the palace as well as the palace garden and grounds, and learn about the history of Vienna, Austria and Habsburg rulers in the process.
It’s an incredibly beautiful palace, which you won’t regret visiting.
See the Old Town of Dubrovnik
The Old Town of Dubrovnik is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful and incredible places in Europe.
The Old Town is incredibly well preserved, and walking around its quaint streets will make you feel like teleporting back in time.
The Old Town stands right on the sea and is surrounded by its ancient city walls.
In my opinion walking along the Old Town walls of Dubrovnik, admiring the red rooftops, white walls and bright turquoise of the sea in the background, is one of the best things to do in Europe.
Explore the Old Town of Prague
I’ve only been to Prague once but I fell in love with the city. Wandering around the Old Town of Prague feels like taking a step back in time.
What I particularly liked about it is that the architecture gives it a different vibe compared to other old town centres around Europe. The view from the Gothic Church of our Lady before Tyn is one of the best you’ll see.
Enjoy the view from Fisherman’s Bastion in Budapest
Budapest is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. The stunning architecture that you can see throughout the city, combined to its rich history and fun makes it a pretty unique city.
One of the most bucket list experiences to have in Budapest is to enjoy the view from Fisherman’s Bastion, a monument located in Buda Castle, over the river and the Hungarian Parliament.
The view of such an impressive building, framed by the Neo-Romanesque lookout terraces isn’t something you see every day.
Must see natural wonders and places in Europe
Everybody knows the Old Continent is full of historical riches and landmarks, but what about the natural beauties? Dotted all over Europe you will find spots of incredible natural beauty.
In this Europe bucket list I’ve outlined the most noteworthy ones.
Swim in the crystal clear water of Sardinia
Especially in the north, int the Archipelago of Maddalena, the water is so clear and turquoise that it looks like a gigantic and natural swimming pool. Swimming in these waters is a must for anyone travelling to Europe.
Explore the Tuscan countryside
With its green rolling hills the Tuscan countryside has been a source of fascination for travellers for many years now.
Many tourists come to Italy with the intention of doing a Tuscany road trip, driving around the beautiful landscapes, drinking the lovely wine and tasting the delicious food.
Hike the Sentiero Azzurro in Cinque Terre
I’ve done a lot of hikes around the world, but the Sentiero Azzurro is always going to be one of my favourites. This 12km trail has uninterrupted views over the turquoise sea and lush green hills all throughout the hike.
As you hike you will also see the colourful towns of Riomaggiore, Monterosso, Manarola, Vernazza and Corniglia.
These beautiful towns are perched on the cliff side, with their colourful houses contrasting the greens and blues of nature. The Sentiero Azzurro is a stunning hike and a must-have experience in Europe.
Explore the tulip fields in the Netherlands
Colourful tulip fields might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the Netherlands, and yet they’re a must-see attraction. In the Dutch countryside you can find rows upon rows of brightly coloured tulip fields.
You can only see these in spring so make sure to time your Europe trip right. It’s a truly spectacular show of nature that will leave you mesmerised.
Explore the lavender fields in Provence, France
Continuing with the flower theme, if you love colourful flower fields, you have to add a visit to the lavender fields in Provence to your European bucket list. These bright purple fields are a unique sight.
The main flowering season here is mid June to early July, later than the tulips in the Netherlands, meaning you don’t have to choose one flower field but can visit both during your Europe trip!
Hike in the Azores
Also known as the Hawaii of Europe, the Azores Islands have some of the most incredible natural landscapes I have ever seen.
The Azores are volcanic islands with a huge variety of scenarios, from black sand beaches to natural rock pools, or from lush green valleys to colourful floral hikes.
If you’re an outdoors and hiking lover, you have to add a hiking trip to the Azores to your European bucket list. I visited the Azores last summer without any expectations, and it blew me away.
Go waterfall chasing in Iceland
My favourites were the waterfalls, which I think everyone should add to their Europe bucket list.
With over 10,000 waterfalls dotted all over the country, Iceland is the perfect destination for anyone looking for beautiful falls.
The impressive Icelandic waterfalls have a way of making you feel small in front of the power of nature.
See the geysers in Iceland
Another iconic natural must-see in Iceland are the geysers. Iceland is a very volcanic territory, where you can regularly see the Great Geysir of the Golden Circle erupting.
You will find yourself in awe, waiting for a natural phenomenon you can’t predict. First the ground will start rumbling, and then a huge column of hot water and gas will explode towards the sky.
It’s unlike anything I had ever seen before.
See the Northern Lights in Lapland
I know the Northern Lights are visible also in other parts of the world, but for a truly mesmerising trip I recommend doing so in Lapland.
Finnish Lapland is also the home of Father Christmas, so you can pair your Northern Lights trip with an iconic Winter Wonderland experience.
Standing in the middle of a snowy forest, at -20°C looking up at the dark night sky and watching the colours of the aurora dancing amongst the stars is a truly unique experience.
Cruise the fjords in Norway
A few years ago I did a cruise in the Norwegian fjords, and to this day it’s one of the most incredible experiences of my life. The definition of a fjord is a “deep, narrow and elongated sea or lakedrain, with steep land on three sides”.
Now imagine being on a boat, cruising inside a narrow fjord with tall and steep cliffs on every side. It’s an awe-inspiring experience to say the least.
The Geirangerfjord is possibly the most famous, and highly recommend you add it to your Europe bucket list.
See the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland
The Cliffs of Moher are steep sea cliffs located on the south-western coast of Ireland. The cliffs run for about 14km, and at their peak they rise about 120m over the Atlantic Ocean.
They’re a must-see on any Ireland road trip, and one of those places that will leave you open-mouthed and admiring the beauty of nature. Watching the power with which the sea meets the cliffs is not something you see every day.
Explore the waterfalls of Croatia
Another incredible country to go waterfall chasing in is Croatia. The waterfalls in Croatia are completely different from those in Iceland, but are equally as stunning.
Some of the most famous are those in Plitvice and Krka National Parks. These waterfalls are surrounded by lush greenery, and in Krka you can even swim in the waterfalls! For any nature lover they’re a must-see in Europe.
Admire the views in Kotor, Montenegro
Kotor in Montenegro reminded me of my experience cruising the fjords in Norway. Fjord-like limestone cliffs surround the small medieval town of Kotor, located on the Adriatic Coast of Montenegro.
You can hike to the top of a viewpoint and admire the view from above. From here you can see the small town on the waters edge, and the sheer volume of the cliffs towering over Kotor.
Once in a lifetime experiences in Europe
We’ve covered the best things to do and most beautiful places to visit in Europe, but what should you actually be doing? Time to uncover those once in a lifetime experiences that you can have only in Europe!
Go for a gondola ride in Venice
Venice is one of the most romantic and unique cities in Italy. With its canals and bridges it attracts thousands of visitors each day. A Venice must-do bucket list experience is going for a gondola ride in the canals.
Yes it might be a somewhat touristy activity, but it allows you to see this beautiful city from a completely different angle. As you glide along the canals of Venice your gondolier will tell you the history of the city, and maybe even sing for you!
Ski in the Alps
I’m lucky enough to have grown up only a few hours drive away from the Alps. As a child I always used to spend my winter holidays and weekends skiing, and I can confidently it’s an experience you will cherish forever.
I’ve been skiing in the Austrian Alps and the Italian Alps, and can guarantee that whichever side of the Alps you choose as your skiing playground, you’re guaranteed to find loads of slopes for all levels, stunning views, fun après ski and tasty food.
If you’re visiting Europe in winter, you have to add a ski trip to your bucket list.
Hike in the Alps
The Alps aren’t a must-visit place only in winter. If you’re not confident on skis, you can still visit the Alps in summer and have an incredible time hiking around the valleys and mountain passes.
The mountains are just as incredible in summer as they are in winter. If you’re an outdoors and adventure lover, hiking in the Alps in summer is a must.
Go island hopping in Greece
The Greek islands are one of those dreamy destinations we all hope to visit one day. From the party beaches of Mykonos or the picture perfect white houses of Santorini, any Greek island is a must-visit in Europe.
With so many islands to choose from I know it can be hard to pick, which is my suggestion is, don’t pick just one!
Board on a sailing boat and spend one week (or more) cruising around all the most beautiful Greek islands. It will be a once in a lifetime experience.
See the blossoms in London
While London is always a beautiful city, spring is a fantastic time to visit it.
All over the city the magnolia and cherry blossoms bloom in spring, adding a pop of colour to the streets of London, perfect for Instagrammable London shots!
Enjoy a Mediterranean cruise
Travelling around Europe isn’t always easy. With delayed trains, traffic jams and long airport queues it can turn a brief Europe trip into a continuous transfer.
One way that you can travel around Europe, and soak in every moment of it is by doing a cruise.
Sure cruises have a lot of negative connotations, but they can also be fun way to wake up every day in a different European city.
The classic Mediterranean cruises will take you to some of the most beautiful cities in Europe, while you can spend the travel time tanning on poolside.
Learn to surf in the Canary Islands
I love going to the Canary Islands in winter because they provide a warm weather European escape. While it’s grey and raining in London, you can tan and surf on a beach in Fuerteventura.
Hike in Tenerife
I spent two months living in Tenerife and I was surprised to love it as much as I did. The island is home to stunning and varied natural landscapes, as well as many exciting things to do.
High on the Tenerife bucket list are without a doubt the many incredible hikes. From the barren volcanic landscape of Mount Teide at 3,700m to the green cliffs of Anaga, you can find hiking trails for every level.
You can pair your Tenerife hikes with a bit of relaxing at the world famous beaches, as well as exploring the cute historical towns, for a fun and well rounded European holiday!
Cycle around the colourful streets of Copenhagen
Denmark is one of the most cycling friendly countries I’ve ever visited. You will find cycling lanes on all the main streets of big and small cities alike.
One of my favourite European experiences is cycling around Copenhagen, the Danish capital.
Nihavn is the famous neighbourhood, but there are lots of other colourful streets dotted around the city, which you can explore on two wheels.
Visit the Christmas markets in Germany
If you visit Europe in winter, you will find a lot of Christmas markets everywhere. However the German Christmas markets deserve a special mention.
They are famous for being the most colourful, with fairy lights everywhere and delicious food. You can enjoy some mulled wine and huge pretzels while soaking in the Christmas atmosphere.
Go island hopping in Croatia
Croatia isn’t just about waterfalls and Old Town centres, it’s also blessed with an incredible coastline. Croatia has beautiful islands not far from the coast, where you can find pristine white sand beaches and clear turquoise water.
Go dog sledding in Lapland
If you visit Lapland in winter, you have to add dog sledding to your bucket list. It’s a traditional experience, and a very fun winter holiday activity.
The husky dogs love running, make sure to choose a husky farm where the retired dogs are adopted or kept on the farm, and you’re sure to have a great experience!
The feeling of zooming through the snow capped trees and over frozen lakes is unlike anything I had ever done before.
Explore Lake Bled
Whether you explore it cruising around the lake by boat, or by hiking the hills that surrounding it, Lake Bled is one of the most stunning spots in Europe.
With its bold colours and Bled Island located right in the middle of the lake, it’s a unique landscape that you can’t really find anywhere else.
The colours will be even more magical if you’re visiting Europe in the fall, with all the changing red and orange hues of the autumn shades.
Cruise the Danube River
We’ve looked at a Mediterranean cruise already, but have you ever thought of doing a river cruise?
By cruising the Danube River you can visit some of the most famous and beautiful cities in Eastern Europe, such as Budapest, Bucharest, Wien, Sofia and Belgrade.
European food & drink bucket list
Just as it has a huge variety of cultures, religions and histories, the food scene in Europe is also extremely varied. It’s almost impossible to say what the best food in Europe is.
However there are some incredibly tasty, and very iconic dishes that represent their countries, and which you should definitely add to your Europe bucket list.
Eat pizza in Naples
Pizza isn’t just a dish. Pizza is a way of life, one that is taken very seriously in Italy.
Forget every pizza you’ve eaten until this day. On your European trip you have to add a stop in Italy (preferably in Naples) and taste the true Italian pizza.
Eat pasta carbonara in Rome
Similarly to pizza, Italians take pasta very seriously too. Each region has its traditional pasta dishes. I can’t list them all as it would completely take over this Europe bucket list and become an Italy foodie bucket list.
However my personal favourite, which I really think everyone should taste, is pasta carbonara in Rome. When done properly this is one of the best pasta dishes you will ever taste.
Eat a croissant in France
While the croissant wasn’t actually born in France, it’s considered today one of the most traditional French dishes. For a true European experience, start your day with a coffee and a croissant.
Eat fondue in Austria
On my ski trip to the Alps I had the pleasure of tasting fondue in Austria. If you’re a cheese lover, this is a must-eat! What’s not to love about bread pieces dipped into hot and melted cheese?
Eat raclette in Switzerland
Continuing on the cheese trend, another must-eat is raclette in Swizterland. Instead of dipping your food in melted cheese, this time the cheese gets scraped off
Eat tapas or pinchos in Spain
For someone like me who is always undecided on what to eat, the Spanish way of dining with tapas or pinchos is perfect. These are small dishes that you can share with your friends.
That way you get to sample lots of little bits and bobs, without committing to one main dish. If you’re coming to Europe, you have to add a tapas dining experience in Spain to your list!
Drink beer in Belgium
They say Belgium is the home of beer, so how could you not taste Belgian beer while in Europe?
Drink a pint of Guinness in Dublin
Belgium might be the home of beer, but Dublin is the home of Guinness. In Dublin you can visit the Guinness factory, learn how it’s made, pour your own pint and drink it while enjoying the view over Dublin!
Eat goulash in Budapest
Goulash is a soup of meat and vegetables that is quite common throughout Europe, but originated in Hungary. It’s a must-eat if you’re travelling to Budapest.
Eat poffertjes in the Netherlands
Pojjertjes are one of my favourite desserts. These tiny Dutch pancakes are usually covered in chocolate and fresh fruit. You can often find them at street markets all over the world, but the ones you find in the Netherlands are the best!
Final thoughts on the best things to do & places to see in Europe
This turned out to be a pretty long bucket list, thanks for reading all the way to the end!
Europe might be a small continent, but it’s blessed with a huge variety of countries, cultures and experiences. Deciding what to see in Europe can be tough.
I hope this compilation of the must visit landmarks in Europe and best things to do in Europe will be useful in planning your own Europe trip! It’s based on all my own experiences and travels around Europe.
Any questions just let me know in the comments below! But that’s enough reading for today; time to have some life changing experiences in Europe!