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Top Countries & Cities to Visit on a European Vacation

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London, England

London, England

What to see and do on a trip to Europe can be challenging to determine, but knowing what you want to experience most can help you to narrow your choices to the right itinerary for you. With so many cities, towns, monuments, and museums to choose from, deciding where to visit and what to do can be a challenge. From viewing the Eiffel Tower to visiting a storybook village in the Black Forest, sailing the Adriatic Sea to sipping Tuscan wine, Europe is effortlessly enticing and endlessly exciting.

1. Italy

The Roman Forum ruins in Rome, Italy

The Roman Forum ruins in Rome, Italy

Italy is a country of marvelous history, fantastic art, and delicious cuisine. Cities act as open-air museums that represent masterworks of architecture, and the charming atmosphere emanates from the clothing to the cafes. Endless feasts and surprising natural grandeur featuring turquoise water to rolling Tuscan hills, Alpine grandeur and blankets of vineyards underscore the marvels of Italy.

Top Destinations

Italy is not just about witnessing some of Europe’s most iconic sites but also about having an experience unique to your trip. What to see and do in Italy can add dimension to your travel with every activity you participate in, every meal you enjoy, and every city or town you visit. From a moonlit gondola ride to a hike across the Umbrian hills, what you see and how you discover Italy should become timeless memories.

Rome

Rome is a fascinating mixture of ancient ruins, medieval streets, and vibrant contemporary life that feeds into its romantic and charismatic ambiance. Rome contains multitudes, with layers of Imperial architecture displayed along the streets and elegant shops offering shimmering window displays. You can unravel the layers of the past with medieval streets to ancient catacombs or witness the wonders of art through the millennia.

Florence

Florence is the Cradle of the Renaissance with an indelible connection to artistic and architectural masterpieces as well as an irresistible perspective of Tuscan cuisine. As a representation of the greater region, Florence can feel overwhelming in its beauty, immersing you in images of world-changing architecture, the drama of Michelangelo’s David, the wonders of the Uffizi Gallery, and panoramic views that spread from the rooftops to surrounding lush hills.

Venice

Venice is a regal city that rises out of the eponymous lagoon. Renaissance palaces, Venetian feasts, and artisanal crafts symbolize the conventions of the former Republic. With marbled architecture arising from the lagoon, Venice embodies opulence and iconic beauty from glassblowing on Murano Island to a gondola ride down the charming canals. You can sample the traditional local dishes, find delicious regional wines, and uncover a hidden history connected to the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Square.

Learn more: Italy Tours & Vacations | Top 15 Things to Do in Italy

2. Greece

Santorini, Greece

Santorini, Greece

Greece is not just about the beaches or the wonders of the ancient world. What to see and do in Greece provides extra insight into the beginnings of Western Civilization as your activities give you better access to the culture, heritage, and customs of every city and village you visit from the mainland to the islands. From a sunset over a caldera to trekking to view hanging monasteries, how you wish to discover Greece will determine your overall experience.

Athens

Athens remains the ancient capital of Europe with equal measures of graceful ruin and contemporary cafe culture. Layers of history and endless creative energy reveal the crossroads at which the past and present meet. With inviting aromas capturing broader culinary traditions, inspiring museum galleries, and exceptional portraits of modern life weaving through the historic streets, Athens is a tapestry more than just a city that represents the essential beauty within and beyond borders.

Santorini

Santorini is a pearl in the Cycladic Islands with whitewashed buildings that shine with bougainvillea and blue-domed churches. With towns that overlook the steep cliffs of the caldera to highlight the ancient, romantic, and beguiling, the island provides an immersive chance to sample delectable wines, discover ancient ruins covered in ash, or lounge on colorful beaches.

Mykonos

Mykonos represents glamour and glitz in Greece. Beyond the shoreline, the island brings charm to life in town and connects to the splendor of mythology with boats reaching the nearby island of Delos, the birthplace of twin gods Artemis and Apollo. From whitewashed buildings that create a warren of streets to chic boutique shops and opulent cafes, Mykonos is a celebration of Cycladic Island living.

Crete

Crete is a mosaic of ancient wonders, diverse landscapes, and charming villages. The island can feel like an entire country unto itself with Venetian harbors, staggering canyons, and cultural villages hidden in the rugged mountains. From rumors of the minotaur to whispers of Ottoman invasions, tradition remains palpable in the generous cuisine, welcoming locals, and vibrant beaches.

Learn more: Greece Vacations & Tours | Top 7 Things to Do in Greece

3. Spain

The Basílica de la Sagrada Família in Barcelona, Spain

The Basílica de la Sagrada Família in Barcelona, Spain

The passion of Spanish culture becomes an immersive experience inspired by delicious cuisine, tasty wine, and diverse heritage spread across the Iberian Peninsula. Mountain ranges, winelands, and gold-sand beaches represent the natural splendor, while surreal architecture, regal artwork, and Moorish designs reflect the nation’s distinctive history.

Top Destinations

Spain is much more than the golden coastline and grand boulevards. What to see and do in Spain will uncover the essential spirit of a country known for its passion and connection to life’s simple pleasures. From dancing and singing to the intimate details of a seemingly simple delicacy, your activities in Spain can demonstrate the continued heritage, preserved customs, and historic artistry found in the cities, villages, and soils.

Madrid

The masterful Spanish capital has become one of Europe’s culinary epicenters, features a remarkable artistic pedigree, and retains a regal charisma. With world-renowned museum galleries, celebrated cuisine, and lively contemporary culture, you can find a unique culture separate from greater Spain with wide boulevards and an energetic atmosphere that bolster the reputation of Madrilenos’ zest for life.

Barcelona

The sunny Mediterranean lifestyle and scenery of Barcelona are world-renowned. Relax on golden sands. Discover a Gothic cathedral. Enjoy the charismatic Mediterranean ambiance. Medieval streets, exotic cuisine, and surreal embellishments of famous architectural designs reveal elements of the vibrant culture.

Seville

Seville opens a doorway into Spain’s past with Gothic architecture and Mudejar palaces. As the capital of Andalusia, Seville embodies the essence of the region with whitewashed buildings, a prevailing scent of oranges, and distinctive neighborhoods. Winding medieval lanes combine with the aromas of typical tapas and the sounds of flamenco for an intimate and intense introduction to the tradition.

Learn more: Spain Tours & Vacations | Top 10 Things to Do in Spain

4. France

Eiffel Tower in Paris, France

Eiffel Tower in Paris, France

The culture, cuisine, artwork, and beauty of France seduce visitors, whether within the purple lavender fields of Provence or the galleries of the Louvre in Paris. From Mont Saint-Michel in the north to the Promenade des Anglais in the south, the wines of Bordeaux to the chateaus of the Loire Valley, France embodies opulence and charm.

Top Destinations

France is all about indulgence and surprise. What to see and do in France’s top destinations will capture the essential luxuries of a country known for its decadent cuisine, colorful landscapes, and ties to artistic culture. From lavender fields to luxurious beaches, the weaving galleries of classic museums to dramatic coastal cliffs, your activities in France can uncover the importance of tradition and elegance in the heritage found in the vineyards, cityscapes, and charming towns.

Paris

Paris is an icon of Europe with quintessential monuments and museum galleries that display recognizable works of art. Find the works of artistic masters on display. Roam through charismatic gardens. Hosting the epitome of fashion boutiques and the embodiment of cafe culture, Paris remains a creative force that brims with gastronomy, style, and artistic treasures.

Loire Valley

The Loire Valley embodies French opulence, authentic style, and traditional gastronomy. With an essential connection to luxurious lifestyles and luscious cuisine, you can find castles, chateaus, villages, and vineyards. No matter how you experience the scenery and culture, the Loire Valley turns its dreamy surroundings into a picture of artistic and architectural marvels that easily span over a millennium.

Normandy

Normandy contains layers of European history and artistic drama. Experience the drama of Mont Saint-Michel or pay homage to the infamous beaches. With a vital role in World War II, fascinating works of art that depict scenes of 11th-century life, epic medieval towns to stunning coastal cliffs, Normandy is visceral, impressive, and serene.

Cote d’Azur

Chic, glitzy, and colorful represent the lavish ambiance of the French Riviera. The Mediterranean Sea shimmers blue. Impressive yachts weigh anchor in the harbors. Private beaches glitter with golden sand. The inland medieval villages offer views from the mountaintops, while the seaside embraces a reputation for opulence. The Riviera personifies the pleasure and beauty of France.

Learn more: France Tours & Vacations | Top 10 Things to Do in France

5. Croatia

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Croatia is a fantasy on the Adriatic Sea with ancient walled towns, sapphire waters, and succulent cuisine. The coastline and islands offer treasured beaches, while the hinterlands of the Istrian Peninsula provide a serene countryside escape. From waterfalls to glistening lakes, delicious wines to Venetian palaces, the dreams of the Mediterranean become reality in Croatia.

Top Destinations

Croatia is famous for its stunning islands and historic streets hidden within towering protective walls. What to see and do in Croatia will bring to life the essential charm of a country steeped in natural beauty and preserved medieval heritage. With unique culinary customs and vibrant waters leading to nearby shores, your activities in Croatia can reflect the local culture, immerse you in the tapestry of ancient ruins, or introduce you to the flavors of a secluded peninsula.

Split

Split represents the exuberant lifestyle of Dalmatia that showcases the incredible balance between tradition and contemporary culture. The modern city weaves into the historic remains that have shaped the progress of the culture along the seaside.  Impressive Roman monuments, vibrant restaurants, chic boutique shops, and atmospheric old walls blend modernity with thousands of years of tradition.

Dubrovnik

The timeless glint of the Adriatic Sea reflects the beauty of Dubrovnik’s limestone streets and Baroque architecture. Sail along the Adriatic Sea, enjoy a scenic cable car ride, or visit the quiet museums. Medieval walls protect the historic district beneath the looming peak of Mount Srd. From picturesque lanes to artistic Venetian palaces, Dubrovnik amazes and delights.

Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes is Croatia’s most popular national park and dazzles with 16 emerald-blue lakes and a network of resounding waterfalls that are representative of Croatia’s opulent scenery. As one of the country’s most visited attractions, the combination of thundering water and crisscrossing wooden bridges gives you unforgettable access to the pleasures of untouched nature.

Learn more: Croatia Vacations & Tours | Top 8 Things to Do in Croatia

6. Portugal

Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

Diversity linked by rivers and the sea encapsulates the marvels of Portugal. Steep mountain ranges and lush plains lead to sunbaked beaches and picturesque coves. Stone-built villages and charming towns stand beneath grand medieval castles and elegant monasteries. Rich wines, enticing rhythms, and delicious cuisines support the deeply rooted history of Portugal.

Top Destinations

Portugal is often overlooked and displays far more than its size would initially share.  With Moorish palaces and golden beaches, Roman ruins and world-renowned wines, what you see and do in Portugal will represent the quintessential charisma of a country often overshadowed by its larger neighbor despite capturing an intriguing love of the land, sea, and tradition. From colorful tiles to storybook castles, cobblestone streets to spiced cuisine, how you prefer to travel can determine how you experience Portugal’s beauty.

Lisbon

Lisbon’s collection of cobbled alleyways and hills that overlook the banks of the Tagus River provide pristine panoramas of culture and history. As Portugal’s capital city, Lisbon embodies a unique combination of traditions and cultural heritage. With white-domed cathedrals, ancient ruins, and world-class museums, Lisbon offers equal parts exploration and relaxation.

Porto

Porto exemplifies Portuguese culture along the maze of narrow streets and lively waterfront at the mouth of the Douro River. As the gateway to the terraced vineyards of the Douro Valley and museums capturing diverse mediums, Porto offers a unique perspective of national culture. Architectural treasures and preserved neighborhoods showcase historic extravagance and charm while brimming with modern art, music, and cuisine.

The Algarve

The Algarve shines with postcard-perfect beaches and alluring coastal cliffs. Portugal’s southernmost region hides sea caves, scalloped bays, and protected lagoons that protect birdlife. It is easy to be swept into the natural beauty and cultural charms of the coastal region. Impressive castles, whitewashed villages, and orchards stuffed with almond and citrus trees only enhance the overall beauty.

Learn more: Portugal Vacations & Tours | Top 8 Things to Do in Portugal

7. UK & Ireland

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland

Rich tradition, lively contemporary culture, and dramatic wilderness define the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. London captures the prestige of the former empire while the mythology of Ireland spreads from Trinity College’s fascinating library to the epic coastline at the Cliffs of Moher. Ethereal Stonehenge, mysterious Edinburgh, historic Cardiff, legendary Blarney Castle, and ancient Bath only scratch at the surface of the United Kingdom and Ireland’s dynamism.

Top Destinations

The UK and Ireland bring rich heritage into tangible existence with centuries of exceptional history. From Gothic ambiance to rolling greenery, dramatic cliffs to remarkable castles, what you see and do in the UK and Ireland peel back the layers of culture and tradition. How you choose to explore will help introduce you to the point at which mythology, tradition, and contemporary culture converge along the historic towns, cities, and landscapes.

London

London is both timeless and ancient, immersing visitors in rich antiquity while displaying constant artistic and cultural innovation. Cosmopolitan ambiance emerges from the nation’s capital, and leafy gardens separate urban density to reveal the city’s dazzling contrasts. Whether finding history along the River Thames, heritage in the British Museum, or culture in a quintessential pub, London is a staple of European tradition.

Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a city of medieval grandeur. Monuments top craggy cliffs, and the architecture sprawls across rugged hills. Castles, palaces, Christmas markets, and summer festivals bring to light the transfixing charm of the city’s contemporary culture and rich history. Stone walls and famous authors, hidden Gothic pockets to a regal boulevard, Edinburgh feels like a crown on the treasures of Scotland.

Dingle

Dingle is enchanting, authentic, and diverse. Visit fishing towns, sail along the cobalt waters, and listen to the rhythmic lilt of locals speaking Irish. From the hilly narrow lanes to the shops painted with kaleidoscopes of color, views of the cobalt bay to traditional songs pouring out of pubs, Dingle brings the storied marvels of Ireland to life whether in town or on the scenic Ring of Kerry.

Learn more: UK Tours & Vacations | Ireland Tours & Vacations

8. Germany

Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany

Germany has a distinctive spirit with romantic castles and half-timbered towns. Large cities balance tradition with modern engineering while the scenery transitions from coastal dunes to moody forests, expansive vineyards to the snow-blanketed Alps. Powerful history, captivating technology, and a profound effect on contemporary cuisine unfold to reveal Germany’s indelible intrigue.

Top Destinations

Germany is a treasure of contemporary and traditional culture where you can experience the top destinations in specific ways that can shape your overall trip. From storybook villages to delicacies hidden in ancient forests, contemporary artwork to natural alpine wonders, the way you prefer to travel will help determine the best ways you experience Germany’s distinctive beauty, culture, and charm.

Berlin

Berlin is a testament to contemporary German culture with a flair that stems from vibrant museums, lively art galleries, and a famous opera house. Discover the changing perspectives of Checkpoint Charlie or the evolution of the Brandenburg Gate as a symbol. The eclectic combination of classic architecture, cultural institutions, preserved relics, and distinctive entertainment reveals the glamour and grit of Berlin’s tangible history.

Munich

Munich embodies the German word Gemütlichkeit, which is a feeling of warmth and good cheer. Experience the beer hall culture or the colorful markets, the sounds of the Glockenspiel to the flavors of customary Bavarian cuisine. The city always feels festive and cheerful with elaborate palaces, preserved historic walls, and a distinctive blend of preserved traditions intermingling with edgy contemporary art and modern high-tech.

The Bavarian Alps

The natural divide along the Austrian border has been discovered for more than its remarkable ski season. With the shores of Lake Constance shimmering in the sunlight and the mountain peaks creating a dramatic skyline, villages make pockets of active charm from hiking and canoeing to skiing and snowboarding. The Bavarian Alps are celebrated as much for the fresco-adorned villages as for the relaxing spa retreats and fairytale castles.

The Rhine Valley

The Rhine Valley exudes romance and charm as the river winds between slate mountains and hillsides topped with castles. You can hike along the riverbanks or cycle the trails linking the historic towns. The natural beauty has inspired composers and authors, influenced artists, and continues to enchant visitors from around the world. Terraced vineyards, dramatic forests, and idyllic villages with half-timbered houses bring the world of storybooks to life.

Learn more: Germany Tours & Vacations 

More Travel Information & Tips

Cliffs of Maher in Ireland

Cliffs of Maher in Ireland

Visiting Europe is a way to discover new perspectives on ancient life, contemporary culture, historic glamour, and distinctive vision. From masterpieces in art to captivating scenery, mouthwatering cuisine to enticing wines, a Europe travel expert understands the intricate details and specific nuances of countries across the continent to craft a priceless trip custom-tailored to your preferences. You can find more inspiration for your vacation with our Europe Travel Guide. Planning a trip? You can speak with a Europe travel specialist for free by filling out a Trip Request Form or by calling 1-888-265-9707.

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