It probably comes as no surprise that our continent has a pretty vast amount of the best places in Europe to explore. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that it’s tough to whittle down a list that’s just the best places.
We’re talking beautiful and historic European cities, jaw-droppingly stunning mountains and even some pretty epic shiny cities. Saying that Europe is beautiful is almost like saying water is wet – it fairly obvious!
Despite this, however, some of the best places in Europe truly take the cake when it comes to dramatic beauty. These are the best places in Europe that look and feel utterly unique and are truly unlike anywhere else you’ve ever visited.
This is why I wanted to share some of my very favourite and the best places in Europe to visit this year.
1.) Faroe Islands
Let’s start off with one of the more obvious ones here – the rugged Faroe Islands!
These islands are home to amazing landscapes and some seemingly unbelievable natural sights that easily make it one of the best places in Europe.
Firstly, like Sørvágsvatn Lake in high up on the cliff edge, it’s truly stunning and a place you have to see. And let’s not forget the cute puffins either… Long story short, there are far too many “Oh My Gosh!!!” moments for the Faroe Islands not to be on your travel plans.
Oh, and don’t forget to spend some time exploring the capital city, Torshavn, it’s gorgeous.
Okay, another easy and obvious one here but even if you’ve been to Iceland before, you’ll always find yourself constantly dreaming up new reasons to return to the land of fire and ice. Iceland is truly stunning and one of the best places in Europe to visit that’s a little away from the continent itself.
Once you’re here, make sure to explore the Golden Circle Route, see the gorgeous towns, spend some time at the Blue Lagoon and find the best restaurants in Iceland. Better still, if you want to work for your pudding, head out on one of the many stunning hikes across the country.
This geo-thermally active island has so many dramatic sights to see from active volcanos, even more, active geysers to glaciers, the Northern Lights and lagoons filled with floating icebergs.
Iceland is definitely one place you want to visit if you’re looking for amazing sights on this part of the world.
3.) Potsdam, Germany
This part of Germany, just outside the capital of Berlin, is home to some of the most beautiful buildings in all the land.
In fact, Potsdam was home to the Prussian Kings and the German Kaiser (the Emperors) and as such, all the buildings of note here are designed fit for royalty.
One place you definitely need to see here is the over 250-year-old New Palace – it’s perhaps one of Potsdam’s finest and most intricate buildings. It really is one of the best places in Europe to visit and only a stone’s throw from Berlin.
4.) Sintra, Portugal
The entire town of Sintra is like stepping into some sort of fairy tale, right down to the fairytale castle that’s easily one of the prettiest and best places in Europe to explore.
Honestly, when you’re here if Snow White and Cinderella just popped out of the castle and started singing, it wouldn’t even be surprising as there doesn’t seem to be a more apt place for this more unrealistic of circumstances to actually take place.
Sintra is a Portuguese gem with more UNESCO World Heritage sites than you can shake a stick at and is without a doubt one place you have to visit in Portugal.
5.) Cinque Terre, Italy
Speaking of colourful places, if you’re really into colours – you have to visit Cinque Terre.
These Italian towns are an absolutely beautiful mish-mash of colourful houses, sometimes perched atop a cliff-edge, other times on the shoreline but always home to some stunning views of the Ligurian sea and rather delicious gelatos.
6.) Ronda, Spain
It is said that this city in Spain has been ripped apart by the gods due to incessant fighting between the inhabitants – who later on decided to build a bridge reconnecting it when the fighting ceased.
Whatever reason you decide to visit for, you’ll find that this amazing city in Spain will delight and surprise, even the most cynical of travellers. It really is one of the best places in Europe to visit.
For the best view, head down to the valleys which can be reached in part from a walkway near the top or by driving around to a much lower area of the valley.
7.) The Highlands, Scotland
These wild and rugged Scottish Highlands are known for having some of the most dramatic sights in all of the UK.
There are quite a few amazing pre-historic sights worth seeing here as well as some truly amazing from the Bronze age. If you feel like taking a step back into ancient Scotland, this is where you really should be headed.
Make sure to rent a car, head on the NC500 and explore all the little roads, villages and magnificent castles that seem to be everywhere.
8.) Tuscany, Italy
Tuscany is one of the more subtle ones on this list but is nonetheless quite the sight to see. Its rolling hills are quite as dramatic as the jagged mountains of the Faroe Islands or Iceland and it isn’t quite as colourful as places like Cinque Terre yet there’s something about this region in Italy that’s just so picturesque.
I reckon part of it is the amazing wine and food though I have to admit, it’s old historic towns, cities and villages, like San Miniato make for some of the best sights to see across not just Italy but some of the best places in all of Europe.
On our last visit, we stayed on a blueberry farm and loved it!
9.) The West Coast of Norway
Norway is a fantastic combination of calm yet wild beauty.
I know that sounds cheesy but when you see the ridiculously calm fjords surrounded by gigantic rugged mountains, you’ll start to get a sense of what I mean. Plus, there are so many incredible hikes in Norway to experience.
The main reason you visit the West Coast of Norway, of course, is the aforementioned fjords – they’re absolutely spectacular and never cease to amaze.
10.) Santorini, Greece
Santorini is home to some of the Greek islands prettiest towns and one amazing sunset.
There are lots of reasons to visit Santorini (with wine, surprisingly being one of them) but the sunset here, which transforms the entire island, is definitely at the top of that list!
11.) The Alps
Most people’s experiences of the alps are associated with skiing or snowboarding but one of the biggest reasons to visit the alps is the absolutely stunning views it offers from the top.
One jaw-dropping spot has to be the Matterhorn (based in Switzerland and Italy). It’s one of the highest points in the Alps and is a truly amazing sight to behold. Oh yeah, we stayed in the coolest ice Iglu at the base of the Matterhorn and totally loved it. You should give it a try if you don’t mind a little chill.
12.) Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland
The Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland is one of those natural places that almost seems unreal (kinda like it was planned) and is one sight that you must see when you find yourself in Northern Ireland. It really is one of the best places in Europe for a mix of Natural beauty and warm Irish charm.
Sunset is a particularly great time to visit – just go armed with your camera for the myriad of amazing photo opportunities that will present themselves here.
13.) Rocamadour, France
Rocamadour is a village atop a mountain in South West France that rambles from the top of the village, down the side of the mountain.
It’s a truly stunning place to visit and there certainly aren’t many places in France quite like this.
For the best view of the village, head over to the surrounding mountains (effectively anywhere opposite it with the valley in the middle) before you pop in to take in the sights more slowly.
When you’re done here, be sure to get some of the cheese the area is famous for to mark your visit to this amazing part of Europe.
14.) The Alhambra and Generalife, Spain
This Moorish palace and fortress in Granada is a sprawling showcase of some the finest Arabesque architecture and best places in Europe to explore.
It’s intricate, elaborate and absolutely beautiful. Understandably, as a result of this, it is also very popular to visit and you’re bound to be disappointed if you just show up looking for entry tickets on the same day (in other words, book your tickets as far in advance as possible).
When you visit, also leave some time to wander the area as it’s fairly huge (even a jog from Alhambra to Generalife can take you upwards of 15 minutes) so that you get to fully take in all the sights that these UNESCO World Heritage sites have to offer.
15.) Neuschwanstein, Germany
The famous castle that inspired Disney’s castle, Neuschwanstein Castle is one of those places that needs to be seen to be believed. And probably re-visited, you know, just to confirm… 😉
It’s also one of those places that is amazing no matter what time of the year you visit!
As with some of the other sights on here, the best view is definitely not from the castle itself but instead from the nearby bridge (or the road) where you get this beautiful castle set against the picturesque countryside. It really is one of the best places in Europe to visit a stunning castle.