Europe could be one of the smaller continents, but what Europe gets down in size, it shoulder up in style: staggering alpine views, fields of lavender and vine, limestone cliffs, and art and architecture threatening to upstage some of nature’s finest.
From the England and France to Italy and Germany, European countries are full of vibrant cities known for museums, restaurants, nightlife and architecture, so deciding which one to visit on vacation can be difficult.
Guide your next trip by our list :
The Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul is one of the most underrated destinations in Europe, according to travel expert Cartwright.
It is the only city in the world to span two continents, you can really feel the blend of culture as you walk around, but one attraction which really made me stand and stare in awe was the interior of Hagia Sophia – or ‘The Blue Mosque.’
The intricate details of the mosaic covers every high wall and domed ceiling. The level of attention to the artwork and the sheer volume of the place really makes this a tourist attraction that is worth taking the time to visit.
Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark
It is best to visit during the Christmas period, the whole park is themed with no expense spared on the lights and decorations. There are lakes with small boats, Chinese-themed buildings, and no shortage of small cafés and restaurants to have a glass of Gløgg and take a break from the cold.
Park Güell in Barcelona, Spain
Designed by Antoni Gaudí, these public parks and gardens situated in Barcelona’s GrÀcia district feature elaborate flowerbeds, organic-looking architecture, and every colour under the sun.
“Although it can get busy, it’s a colourful and fun outing to a part of the city you may not otherwise go to,” Tom Hall, editorial director of Lonely Planet, added
Aya Sofya in Istanbul, Turkey
Aya Sofya has been a church, a mosque, and now a museum in the three millennia its existence has spanned. The grand, ornate structure fuses history and beauty into a truly breathtaking site that has to be experienced to be understood.
Aya Sofya in Istanbul can absorb the big crowds that travel here, and remains one of the world’s great buildings.
The Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland
Dmitrijus Konovalovas, co-founder of travel inspiration and itinerary building website IQPlanner, said
“Forget lengthy queues and wildly expensive tickets, The Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland is enjoying a surge in popularity since providing the backdrop for some of the ‘Game of Thrones’ series.”
“While a trip to the visitor’s centre is well worth the £8.50 entrance fee to learn about the science and legends of the area, frugal visitors can access the UNESCO World Heritage Site by an archway at the side of the visitor’s centre.”
Pamukkale, Turkey, is the country’s most visited attraction — with the crowds to prove it. But with a bit of careful planning, experiencing this spectacular geological phenomenon and UNESCO World Heritage Site need not be an ordeal.
The best way to enjoy an uncrowded visit is to spend the night in Pamukkale village as most day-trippers don’t arrive until the afternoon.
Chris Austin, senior vice president of luxury cruise company Seabourn, says, “the silence is mesmerizing. It’s worth all the queues — but my suggestion is to wander off, take a seat, and make the time there your own.”
Sagrada Família in Barcelona, Spain
The world’s largest unfinished Roman Catholic church, the construction of Sagrada Família began back in 1882.
“The pictures never do it justice,” Niamh Walsh, chief editor of holiday and travel search engine HolidayPirates, said
Cattedrale Di Santa Maria Del Fiore in Florence, Italy
Thanks to their lavish interiors and awe-inspiring magnitude, Walsh believes that cathedrals are always worth the queues — and almost always cheaper than a museum.
Walsch says, Toy must take a trip to Florence to see the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore because, like La Sagrada Familia, it’s also far more vivid up close and personal.
Oia on the island of Santorini, Greece
The Cycladic island of Santorini — specifically the iconic blue and white towns of Fira and Oia — should be something everyone sees at least once in their lifetime.
This picture-perfect island has it all: Incredible culture, blazing sunshine, and the most relaxed and peaceful atmosphere wherever you go.
Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal
According to travel photographer and Passion Passport community member Sezgi Olgaç, “Visiting Pena Palace is like stepping into a storybook.” She added: “The huge palace is perched atop the hills above Sintra, and the tour through the grandiose interior helps you visualise Portuguese kings and queens living within its walls. Photographing the pastel colours and extravagant architecture was pure joy.”
Jardins du Manoir d’Eyrignac in Dordogne, France
For Pablo Carrington, managing director of the Marugal Hotel Group, “the extraordinary gardens of Manoir d’Eyrignac in France aren’t to be missed.” These ornate gardens have reportedly been maintained by the same family for 22 generations. Sculpted hedges and expansive ponds make up this serene landscape.
The Royal Palace in Madrid, Spain
The Royal Palace in Madrid is the largest in Europe and probably the least known. Make it your first stop of the day — early in the morning — to skip the queues.
Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, France
James Asquith, founder of the app HolidaySwap, says while it’s near impossible to avoid winding queues of tourists across the city, particularly during the summer, Sainte-Chapelle is one of Paris’ most stunning sites,”
For some unbeknownst reason, it has half the queues of many of the other big landmarks in France’s capital. Prepare to be dazzled by the beautiful stained glass windows.
The Grand Canal in Venice, Italy
You should be prepared for large crowds and literally hundreds of boats in the water in summer — but that in itself is a sight that has to be seen to be believed.
This unique destination can be experienced with little queueing or expense — just be prepared for swathes of people.
The Scream in Oslo, Norway
“For some works of art, you’ll queue for hours just to catch a glimpse of a murky portrait, framed by a stranger’s hair. But Edvard Much’s blood-red sunset work ‘The Scream’ deserves its spot on any must-see list.” Abi King, founder of travel website InsideTheTravelLab said
The queues are short and the art’s arresting. What’s more, the National Gallery in Oslo is packed with so many masterpieces you could easily spend a week here.
The Louvre in Paris, France
When it comes to tackling the crowds at one of the world’s most famous art galleries, King has her own top-tips for visiting the Louvre without eating into the rest of your holiday.
Buy tickets in advance to avoid the worst of the crowds then spend a day searching for ‘Venus de Milo’ amid wing after wing of world-class art.
Seljalandsfoss in Iceland
There is no free attraction that is more impressive than Seljalandsfoss waterfall in Iceland.
It is always better to see it in the summer midnight sun (when the sun setting between midnight and 1 a.m. around the time of the summer solstice) and prepare to be blown away by the radiant light shining through the falls.