Are you dreaming of a European escapade? Here are some of the most captivating, picturesque, and unique things to do in Europe. These sights, events, and attractions are sure to make your vacation experience truly unforgettable and one-of-a-kind.
Europe, known for its rich history, diverse cultures, and exquisite cuisine, is a treasure trove of experiences. From the sun-kissed beaches of Spain to the snow-capped peaks of the Swiss Alps, from the romantic canals of Venice to the bustling streets of London, there is no shortage of places to visit and things to do in Europe. There truly is something for everyone. That, of course, makes it all the more important for you to know which places are best suited for your particular interests. To help, I’ve compiled a list of some of my personal favorite European attractions. Check it out!
With a wealth of architectural marvels, countless historical sites, and stunning natural landscapes, there are numerous European attractions that will appeal to every kind of traveler. Here’s everything you need to know about these fun things to do in Europe.
Ready for a rundown of all the coolest things to do in Europe? As noted above, there’s something for everyone in this wonderful continent. You will surely find the list below useful. This will help you decide which things to do in Europe suit your interest and preference.
Are you looking for some exhilarating adventure? Or would you prefer a calm, peaceful and secluded getaway? Perhaps you’re a history buff, or a foodie, or an art lover? Whatever you’re into, Europe has something to satisfy your soul.
Looking for the best things to do in Europe? Don’t miss this one! Paris, often referred to as the ‘City of Love’, is home to numerous iconic landmarks. However, none are as renowned as the Eiffel Tower. For those who appreciate architectural marvels, the Eiffel Tower is a must-visit.
The Eiffel Tower, an emblem of France, is an iron lattice tower located on the Champ de Mars. This 19th-century structure is not just a symbol of Paris, but of France as a whole. As a European attraction, it draws millions of visitors every year.
The intricate architecture of this tower takes its inspiration from the industrial era, with its iron lattice structure. The panoramic views of Paris from its top are unparalleled. Its twinkling lights, which illuminate the Parisian skyline every evening, add to the splendor of this iconic monument.
The Eiffel Tower was designed by Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 Exposition Universelle. This event was held to celebrate the 100th-year anniversary of the French Revolution. The tower has three levels accessible to the public, with restaurants on the first and second levels. The highest accessible level offers a breathtaking view of the city.
Whether you’re an architecture enthusiast or just someone with a taste for iconic landmarks, the Eiffel Tower is definitely one of the best places in Europe worthy of a visit.
Get in touch with history at this unique place to visit in Europe. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. And the Romans, they visit the Colosseum. This ancient amphitheater is a testament to the grandeur of the Roman Empire. It makes it one of the most recognized structures in the world.
The Colosseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, was built in the heart of Rome between 70-80 AD. It’s the largest amphitheater ever built and a symbol of the Imperial Rome. It’s a sight to behold, especially when you consider that it was built nearly two millennia ago.
In its prime, the Colosseum could hold an estimated 50,000 to 80,000 spectators. They would come to watch gladiatorial contests, public spectacles, and dramas based on Classical mythology. Today, it stands as a monument to Roman engineering and architecture, and a testament to the city’s rich history.
Walking through the Colosseum, you can almost hear the roar of the crowd and the clash of swords. It’s a trip back in time that’s sure to thrill history buffs and casual tourists alike.
Visiting the Colosseum is not just about witnessing an architectural marvel; it’s about immersing yourself in the rich tapestry of history that it represents. This makes it one of the coolest things to do in Europe. It’s an experience that’s sure to leave you in awe of the grandeur of the Roman Empire.
Looking to visit one of the best places in Europe? Add this to your bucket list! Steeped in history and mythology, the Acropolis of Athens is a symbol of the ancient Greek civilization. This rocky hill in the heart of Athens is home to several ancient buildings of great architectural and historic significance, the most famous being the Parthenon.
The Parthenon, dedicated to the goddess Athena, is a former temple and the most important surviving building of Classical Greece. Its decorative sculptures are considered some of the high points of Greek art. The Parthenon is regarded as an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece and Athenian democracy. It is also recognized as one of the world’s greatest cultural monuments.
The Acropolis is also home to other significant structures such as the Erechtheion, the Propylaia, and the Temple of Athena Nike. Each of these structures has its own unique history and architectural style, making the Acropolis a treasure trove for history and architecture enthusiasts.
Walking through the Acropolis, you can’t help but feel a sense of awe at the grandeur of these ancient structures. The view of Athens from the Acropolis is equally breathtaking, offering a panoramic view of the city and its surrounding landscapes.
Visiting the Acropolis is like taking a step back in time, offering a glimpse into the rich history and culture of ancient Greece. It’s one of the best things to do in Europe that’s sure to leave a lasting impression.
For a unique experience like no other, you’ll want to check out this top place to visit in Europe. Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, is often referred to as the “Venice of the North” due to its extensive network of canals. These canals are built during the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century. They are a testament to the city’s historical development and are a major part of its charm.
The city’s three main canals, Herengracht, Prinsengracht, and Keizersgracht, were dug during the 17th century. They form concentric belts around the city, known as the “Grachtengordel”. Alongside the main canals are 1550 monumental buildings. The 17th-century canal ring area, including the Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, Herengracht, and Jordaan, were listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010.
One of the best ways to explore Amsterdam is by taking a boat tour of the canals. These tours offer a unique perspective of the city. This allows you to see the beautiful houses, bridges, and landmarks from the water. Some tours even offer dinner cruises, where you can enjoy a meal while cruising through the canals.
The canals of Amsterdam are not just a tourist attraction, but a way of life for the city’s residents. Many people live in houseboats on the canals, and the waterways are always bustling with activity.
Exploring the canals of Amsterdam is one of the coolest things to do in Europe. It offers a glimpse into the city’s history and culture. It’s a must-do for any visitor to the city.
For those seeking a truly magical experience, witnessing the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, in Iceland, is one of the best things to do in Europe. This natural light display, caused by the interaction of solar particles with the Earth’s magnetic field, is one of the most breathtaking spectacles in the world. I’ve seen them in Iceland 3 times, and it’s been among the most profound experiences of my life!
The Northern Lights are visible from late September to early April, but the best time to see them is on clear, dark winter nights. The lights appear in many forms from patches or scattered clouds of light to streamers, arcs, rippling curtains, or shooting rays that light up the sky with an eerie glow.
Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, is one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights. There are several tour operators in the city that offer Northern Lights tours. These tours typically include transportation to a remote location away from the city lights for the best viewing experience. In my experience, you’ll want to go into remote places at least 1-2 hours from the capital for the best viewing. I also recommend this app to check the solar activity beforehand: Aurora Forecast Tracker.
Witnessing the Northern Lights is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This is sure to leave you in awe of the beauty of nature. It’s a spectacle that is sure to leave a lasting impression and create unforgettable memories. As such, I recommend this thing to do in Europe to everyone I meet.
Attractions in Europe come in all shapes and sizes, but this one is among the best! For those who love the great outdoors, the Swiss Alps offer an unparalleled natural playground. Known for their stunning beauty and majestic peaks, the Swiss Alps are a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a range of activities from hiking and skiing to mountaineering and paragliding.
The Swiss Alps are home to some of the highest peaks in Europe, including the famous Matterhorn. The Matterhorn, with its distinctive pyramid shape, is one of the most photographed mountains in the world and a symbol of Switzerland.
In addition to the breathtaking landscapes, the Swiss Alps are also home to charming alpine villages like Zermatt and Grindelwald. These villages, with their traditional chalets and serene mountain settings, offer a glimpse into Swiss alpine culture.
Whether you’re skiing down the slopes of Verbier, hiking the trails of the Jungfrau region, or simply soaking in the views from a mountain-top restaurant, the Swiss Alps offer an unforgettable experience.
The Swiss Alps are not just a winter destination. In the summer, the mountains come alive with greenery, wildflowers, and wildlife, making it a great destination for hiking, mountain biking, and wildlife spotting.
Visiting the Swiss Alps is one of the best things to do in Europe for any nature lover. It’s an experience that’s sure to leave you in awe of the beauty of nature and the majesty of the mountains.
Art lovers will love this top thing to do in Europe. Art enthusiasts visiting Europe should not miss the chance to visit the Louvre Museum in Paris, the world’s largest art museum and a historic monument in the city. The museum is a former royal palace and holds some of the world’s most famous works of art, such as the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo.
The Louvre’s collection is one of the richest in the world, spanning from the birth of great civilizations up to the 19th century. The works are displayed in eight curatorial departments: Near Eastern Antiquities, Egyptian Antiquities, Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities, Islamic Art, Sculpture, Decorative Arts, Paintings, Prints, and Drawings.
Walking through the Louvre, you’ll be taken on a journey through time and across cultures, with each piece telling its own story. The museum’s vast collection, combined with its stunning architecture, makes it a must-visit for any art lover.
Whether you’re an art connoisseur or a casual visitor, the Louvre Museum offers an enriching and inspiring experience. It’s a place where you can lose yourself in the beauty of art and history. As one of the top Europe attractions, you’ll definitely want to add this to your travel itinerary.
Looking for the coolest things to do in Europe? Look no further than the Alhambra. The Alhambra, located in Granada, Spain, is a stunning palace and fortress complex that exemplifies Moorish architecture and the Islamic culture that flourished in Spain during the Middle Ages. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Spain.
The Alhambra was originally constructed as a small fortress in AD 889 and was then largely ignored until its ruins were renovated and rebuilt in the mid-13th century by the Nasrid emir Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar. The complex is known for its stunning Islamic art and architecture, lush gardens, and panoramic views of Granada and the Sierra Nevada mountains.
The Alhambra is divided into three parts: the Alcazaba (the military base), the palatial zone (which includes the Palace of Charles V, the Palace of the Lions, and the Palace of the Nasrids), and the Generalife gardens. Each of these areas offers a unique glimpse into the history and culture of the period.
Visiting the Alhambra is like stepping into a different time and place. The intricate carvings, the serene courtyards, and the stunning views all contribute to an unforgettable experience. It’s a must-visit for anyone interested in history, architecture, or culture. With so much charm and personality, the Alhambra is one of the top places to visit in Europe.
It would be a crime to write an article on the top things to do in Europe without mentioning the Sistine Chapel. Located within Vatican City, the Sistine Chapel is one of the most famous chapels in the world and a must-visit for any art lover. Known for its breathtaking frescoes painted by legendary artists like Michelangelo, the Sistine Chapel holds immense historical, religious, and artistic significance.
The Sistine Chapel is best known for its ceiling, painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512. The ceiling’s most famous section is perhaps ‘The Creation of Adam’, a fresco that depicts the Biblical story from the Book of Genesis in which God gives life to Adam.
In addition to Michelangelo’s work, the Sistine Chapel also features frescoes by other prominent artists, including Botticelli and Perugino. These frescoes depict various biblical stories and contribute to the chapel’s rich artistic tapestry.
Visiting the Sistine Chapel is not just about admiring the art, but also about appreciating the history and religious significance of the place. It’s one of the best things to do in Europe that’s sure to leave you in awe of the beauty and grandeur of Renaissance art.
See the wonder of nature at this unique place to visit in Europe. For those who love natural wonders, the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland is a must-visit. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is known for its distinctive hexagonal basalt columns, formed by volcanic activity over 60 million years ago.
According to legend, the columns are the remains of a causeway built by a giant. The story goes that the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool) was challenged to a fight by the Scottish giant Benandonner. Fionn accepted the challenge and built the causeway across the North Channel so that the two giants could meet.
The Giant’s Causeway is not just about the stunning rock formations. The site offers breathtaking coastal scenery, and the area is a haven for birdwatchers, with a variety of bird species calling the area home.
Whether you’re exploring the site’s walking trails, learning about the area’s geology and mythology at the visitor center, or simply soaking in the stunning views, a visit to the Giant’s Causeway is sure to be a memorable experience. As such, this European attraction is one of the most popular sights in the continent and one of the coolest things to do in Europe.
If relaxation and rejuvenation are what you seek, then the Blue Lagoon in Iceland should be on your list of the best places in Europe. This geothermal spa, located in a lava field in Grindavík on the Reykjanes Peninsula, is one of the most visited attractions in Iceland.
The Blue Lagoon is known for its milky-blue seawater, which is naturally heated by the earth’s geothermal power. The water temperature in the bathing and swimming area averages 37–39 °C (99–102 °F), making it a perfect place for a warm, relaxing soak.
The mineral-rich waters of the Blue Lagoon are reputed to have healing powers. The lagoon’s silica mud is known for its positive effects on the skin, and many visitors apply the mud as a mask to reap its benefits.
In addition to the geothermal lagoon, the site also features a sauna, a steam room, and a restaurant. There’s also a range of spa treatments available, including massages and facials.
Visiting the Blue Lagoon is one of the unique things to do in Europe that combines natural beauty, relaxation, and wellness. It’s a must-visit for anyone seeking a bit of pampering in a stunning natural setting.
Is the Blue Lagoon all booked out during your travel dates? I highly recommend the Sky Lagoon – it’s one of my favorite geothermal spas in the country!
Nature lovers visiting Europe should not miss the chance to visit one of the best places in Europe: Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia. This UNESCO World Heritage site is known for its stunning lakes, waterfalls, and rich wildlife.
Plitvice Lakes National Park is the largest national park in Croatia and one of the oldest national parks in Southeast Europe. The park is famous for its 16 terraced lakes, which are formed by natural dams of travertine and are all interconnected.
The lakes are renowned for their distinctive colors, which range from azure to green, grey, or blue. The colors change constantly depending on the quantity of minerals or organisms in the water and the angle of sunlight.
The park is also home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. It’s a haven for many different species of birds, as well as wolves, bears, and many other animals.
Whether you’re chiking the park’s many trails, taking a boat ride on one of the lakes, or simply soaking in the stunning views, a visit to Plitvice Lakes National Park is sure to be one of the best things to do in Europe and a highlight of your European adventure.
Looking for more content on the top things to do in Europe? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to Europe:
What is the #1 tourist spot in Europe?
Determining the #1 tourist spot in Europe can vary based on criteria such as popularity, annual visitors, or cultural significance. However, one of the most visited and iconic landmarks in Europe is the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.
Paris, often referred to as “The City of Light”, attracts millions of tourists annually, and the Eiffel Tower remains a symbol of romance, architectural innovation, and French national pride. It’s an enduring emblem that people worldwide recognize, and many desire to visit at least once in their lifetime.
That said, Europe is home to a myriad of culturally rich and historically significant sites. Other top contenders for popular tourist spots include the Colosseum in Rome, the Acropolis in Athens, and Big Ben in London, among others. It’s always hard for me to decide on the best tourist attraction in a country or region, but these sights are truly special!
The best time to visit Europe depends on what you want to do. For sightseeing and outdoor activities, the summer months (June to August) offer the best weather. However, this is also peak tourist season, so popular destinations can be crowded. For skiing and winter sports, the winter months (December to March) are best. The shoulder seasons (April to June and September to November) offer a good balance of pleasant weather and fewer tourists.
How many days is enough for Europe?
The ideal duration for a trip to Europe heavily depends on your goals as a traveler. Europe is a diverse continent with a wealth of cultures, landscapes, and historical sites. Here’s a general guideline for visiting Europe:
- Brief overview (1-2 weeks): If you’re looking to see a few major cities and get a taste of Europe, then 7-14 days would allow you to explore 3-5 major capitals, like London, Paris, and Rome. You’d likely spend 2-3 days in each city.
- Moderate exploration (3-4 weeks): A 3-4 week trip allows for a deeper dive into several regions or countries. You might travel through France’s major sites, then into Italy, and perhaps end in Spain, spending several days in each place.
- Extensive journey (2-3 months or more): If you want a comprehensive European experience, you might consider a longer stay. This could allow for a journey through Western Europe to Eastern Europe or even a trip focusing on the Mediterranean countries.
- Special interests: For those focused on specific activities or themes, like wine tours in France and Italy, hiking in the Alps, or historical tours of ancient sites, the duration might be different based on the depth of experience desired.
Remember, these are general guidelines. Factors to consider include travel pace preference, budget, key interests, and whether you envision a return trip in the future. The key is to ensure you don’t rush too much; it’s better to fully enjoy a few places than to blitz through many and miss the depth of experience. Europe is a continent that you’ll want to visit again and again!
What cool things does Europe have?
Europe is a treasure trove of unique experiences, historical landmarks, natural wonders, and vibrant cultures. Here are some cool things that Europe offers travelers:
- Historical sites: From the Roman Colosseum in Italy and Stonehenge in the UK to the Acropolis in Greece and the medieval castles of Germany, Europe is steeped in history.
- Art and museums: Europe is home to world-renowned museums. This includes the Louvre in Paris, the Uffizi in Florence, and the Hermitage in St. Petersburg.
- Natural wonders: The fjords of Norway, the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, the geysers of Iceland, and the Alps spanning multiple countries are just a few of Europe’s breathtaking natural attractions.
- Architectural marvels: Think of Spain’s Sagrada Família, France’s Mont Saint-Michel, and the windmills of the Netherlands.
- Gastronomy: From the pizzas of Italy and wines of France to the tapas of Spain and the chocolates of Belgium, Europe is a food lover’s paradise.
- Cultural diversity: Within a relatively small geographical area, you can experience a vast array of languages, traditions, and customs.
- Enchanting towns: Europe is dotted with charming towns such as Hallstatt in Austria, Cinque Terre in Italy, and Èze in France.
- Northern Lights: Head to northern Europe (i.e. Iceland, Norway, and Finland) during winter to witness this celestial display.
- Island paradises: From the sun-kissed Greek Islands to the rugged beauty of Scotland’s Isle of Skye, Europe offers a range of stunning island getaways.
- Spas and thermal Baths: Enjoy therapeutic waters in places like Hungary’s Budapest or Iceland’s Blue Lagoon.
The sheer variety of experiences ensures that no matter what interests a traveler, Europe has something fascinating to offer.
It depends on your nationality. Citizens of many countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, can visit Europe for up to 90 days without a visa. However, starting in 2023, these travelers will need to apply for an ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) authorization before their trip.
What is the most popular way to travel in Europe?
The most popular way to travel in Europe is by train. Europe’s extensive and efficient rail network makes it convenient for travelers to move between cities and countries. Here’s why trains are especially popular:
- Connectivity: Major cities and even many small towns are connected by rail. This makes it easy to get from one place to another.
- Scenic routes: Some of Europe’s train journeys, such as the Glacier Express in Switzerland or the West Highland Line in Scotland, are attractions in themselves due to the breathtaking scenery they traverse.
- Economic and efficient: With options like Eurail passes, tourists can travel through multiple countries or regions at a reduced price. Plus, trains often have fewer delays compared to air travel.
- Environmental concerns: Trains are one of the most eco-friendly ways to travel.
- Comfort and space: Trains offer more space than planes. So passengers can move around, enjoy spacious seats, and have access to amenities like Wi-Fi and dining services.
- Central stations: Train stations are typically located in the heart of cities. This makes it convenient for accommodation and sightseeing, whereas airports can be situated far from city centers.
- Border transitions: Trains simplify the process of crossing borders within the Schengen Zone, without the extensive security checks associated with air travel.
While train travel is hugely popular, many travelers also use a mix of other methods depending on their itinerary. This includes budget airlines for longer distances, rental cars for more flexibility especially in less-connected areas, and buses for budget-friendly options.
The Euro is the most widely used currency in Europe, used by 19 of the 27 EU countries. However, some countries, including the UK, Switzerland, and Denmark, use their own currencies. It’s always a good idea to check the currency of the countries you’re visiting before your trip.
Europe is home to more than 200 languages. English is widely spoken in many countries, especially in major cities and tourist areas. However, each country has its own official language(s), such as French in France, German in Germany, and Italian in Italy.
What is Europe best known for?
Europe is best known for its rich history, iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Colosseum, diverse cultures and languages. It’s also renowned for its art and museums, picturesque landscapes ranging from Mediterranean beaches to Alpine mountains, and its influential contributions to music, literature, and philosophy. Additionally, Europe is famed for its gastronomy. This includes wines, cheeses, and a wide array of regional cuisines.
Yes, Europe is generally very safe for tourists. However, as with any travel destination, it’s important to take precautions. Be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded tourist areas where pickpocketing can be a problem. Also, check travel advisories for the countries you’re visiting before your trip.
Europe, with its rich history, diverse cultures, and stunning landscapes, offers a wealth of experiences for travelers. Whether you’re exploring ancient ruins, marveling at architectural wonders, soaking in a geothermal spa, or simply enjoying the local cuisine, there’s something for everyone in Europe. So pack your bags, book your tickets, and get ready for an unforgettable European adventure!