Europe bucket list: 50 amazing ideas for your European adventure

Madeira

I feel very lucky to live in the UK where I have the whole of Europe on my doorstep, with its compelling offering of history, culture, and natural beauty just a hop, ski and a jump away from me.

I’ve spent my whole life exploring all the corners of Europe so I have plenty of experience with European travel – from family adventures as a child to more grown-up escapades across the continent.

A good Europe bucket list will take you on a journey through urban climes, pristine beaches, rolling countryside and snow-capped mountains.

From the winding canals of Venice and the romance of Paris boulevards to the sunlit olive groves of Greece and the northern lights of Scandinavia, Europe offers a seriously impressive mix of travel experiences and adventures.

Whether you’re after cultural city breaks, unforgettable foodie destinations, epic scenery or arctic adventures, I know you’ll find it in Europe.

With so much choice and variety, it has been both a challenge and a pleasure for me to put together the ultimate Europe travel bucket list.

So pack your bags and join me on a journey across a land where every corner whispers tales of bygone eras and promises memories of a lifetime.

Author Bio: Jessie Moore

Jessie Moore is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.

1. Soak up the Harry Potter vibes in Edinburgh 

One of my personal favourite cities of all-time is enchanting Edinburgh. You can’t visit Edinburgh without feeling a bit of magic in the air. It’s no wonder that J.K. Rowling found her inspiration in this magical city.

Victoria Street Edinburgh

Wander the winding streets of the historic old town and make your way to Victoria Street, rumoured to be the inspiration for Diagon Alley.

Don’t forget to stop by Greyfriars Kirkyard, where you can find gravestones bearing names familiar from the Potter universe.

Pause for a well-deserved butterbeer or other spellbinding cocktail in The Dog House, or indulge in a Wizard Afternoon Tea at The Cauldron.

I’d recommend booking a Harry Potter walking tour of Edinburgh or read my guide to the best Harry Potter things to do in Edinburgh.

2. Explore the Bavarian countryside of Germany

One of Germany’s most popular travel destinations, Bavaria offers breathtaking nature and unique local culture.

From snow-capped mountains and crystal clear lakes to mediaeval riverside towns and mystical forests, Bavaria is a treasure trove of enticing attractions.

Bavarian Town

I don’t think you can beat a long walk through the stunning scenery of the Bavarian countryside to really absorb the surroundings.

The Romantic Road, a scenic route that winds through mediaeval towns and past pristine lakes, is an ideal route for soaking up the region’s beauty. 

Bavaria is also home to the fairytale Neuschwanstein Castle, the real-life inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle. I find it difficult to comprehend that this place actually exists in real-life!

Bavaria Castle

A nineteenth century Romanesque Revival palace perched on a rugged cliff, it’s not one to be missed.

Plus, don’t forget to sample traditional Bavarian treats like pretzels, weisswurst sausages, and of course, a cold glass of local beer.

3. Spend a weekend in Barcelona

Another of my favourite European city breaks, the cosmopolitan capital of Spain’s Catalonia region, Barcelona, should be high on your Europe bucket list of cities.

It’s a treasure trove of art, culture, and delicious food. You can’t miss the iconic Sagrada Família, Antoni Gaudí’s unfinished masterpiece, as well as the intricate Gothic Cathedral

Wander through the quaint alleys of the Gothic Quarter and then take a stroll down La Rambla, a bustling promenade lined with shops, cafes, and street performers.

Then head to Park Güell for a mosaic wonderland offering panoramic views of the city.

A hub of trend-setting culture, fashion and cuisine, I love that it combines the charm of the old town with the avant-garde feel of the modern neighbourhoods.

Barcelona

From famous sites to culinary delights – and not to mention the beautiful views over the Mediterranean Sea – there is plenty to keep visitors occupied.

When the sun goes down, seek out the very best tapas spots and rooftop bars for a cocktail or two. I can’t think of a better way to spend an evening in Barcelona!

Read my guide to the best things to do in Barcelona or discover my pick of the top luxury hotels in Barcelona.

4. Enjoy a gondola ride in Venice

A city as unique as Venice could not be missed off the ultimate Europe bucket list. I love the romance of this city and that upbeat Italian hospitality.

Built on the waters of the Adriatic Sea and with no cars or other modes of transport, it’s a very special place.

It doesn’t get more romantic than a gondola ride in Venice – even if it is a bit cliched, trust me it’s worth it!

Venice

Glide through serene waterways in a traditional gondola, as you’re serenaded with Italian melodies (or not, if you’d prefer!).

You’ll pass under historic bridges and beside grand palazzos, getting a waterside view of this incredible city. 

Other incredible things to do in Venice include:

While you’re in the city, I recommend hopping from restaurant to restaurant inhaling all the mouthwatering pasta you can muster.

I think I returned from Venice a stone heavier but it was absolutely worth it!

Venice Waterway

Be sure to pause for a classic Italian cocktail in one of the many beautiful bars in Venice – are you choosing a Negroni or a Bellini? It’ll be a Negroni for me, my all-time favourite cocktail!

There are plenty of things to do in Venice to keep you busy – just meandering around the winding streets on foot is enough. It’s a picture-perfect Italian city.

5. Go skiing in Zermatt

When you picture the perfect wintery ski town, it’s likely that it’ll look something like Zermatt in Switzerland.

Nestled in the shadow of the iconic Matterhorn, Zermatt is a premier skiing destination. I had the most magical stay in this impossibly pretty resort.

Zermatt Sunset

Beyond its powdery slopes, the car-free village retains a serene alpine charm that is utterly enchanting.

One of the best luxury ski resorts in Europe, it’s a haven of high-end hospitality and endless opportunities for adventure. 

Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, the Zermatt area (which also links up to the Italian ski resort of Cervinia), caters to all skill levels.

Don’t miss the charming chalets, fine dining restaurants and cosy après-ski spots in the town itself. 

And if skiing isn’t your thing, there are numerous other winter activities like tobogganing, paragliding or ascending the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise cable car

Zermatt is where I tried snowshoeing for the first time and I absolutely fell in love with the activity!

In the summer, it is a haven for hikers, mountain bikers and rock climbers. With a range of epic activities for adventure seekers, you’ll never get bored.

Discover more of the best ski resorts in Europe.

6. Take to the skies in a hot air balloon in Cappadocia

Located in southern Turkey, Cappadocia is a land of fairytale scenery that should have a prominent place on your Europe bucket list.

With a moon-like landscape, remarkable rock formations and cave dwellings, Cappadocia carries an ethereal beauty.

Imagine yourself gently rising above the earth on your hot air balloon ride as the sun peeks over the horizon, illuminating a dreamscape of otherworldly rock formations. 

I don’t know about you but a sunrise hot air balloon ride has been on my Europe bucket list for a long time!

As you soar over the valleys, you’ll witness the grandeur of nature-carved structures, and the remnants of human civilizations that have inhabited these formations over centuries.

The best time to visit is during spring and fall when the weather is most favourable – and without the searing heat of the summer months.

Afraid of heights? I’d recommend trying a sunset horse riding tour or ATV adventure tour instead. 

Once you descend, explore Göreme Open-Air Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage site, to delve deeper into the region’s history.

Book a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia.

7. See the Northern Lights

The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, is a natural spectacle that tops many Europe travel bucket lists.

These celestial lights dance in vibrant hues of green, pink, yellow, blue, and violet across the polar skies.

To maximise your chances of witnessing this marvel in Europe, head to the Arctic regions during the long, dark winter months.

Norway, Finland, Sweden and Iceland are the most popular destinations for seeing the Northern Lights.

Consider staying in places like the SnowHotel in Kirkenes, Norway, or the glass igloos in Finnish Lapland to combine comfort with a front-row seat to the light show.

Northern Lights

Remember to dress warmly and be patient; the auroras are unpredictable, but the wait is well worth the reward.

Insider travel tip: My personal advice is not to go chasing the Northern Lights. As there’s never any guarantee, you can spend a lot of money on a tour only to not see them.

Instead, plan an incredible holiday in places like Iceland or Finland, and look out for the Northern Lights along the way.

Some hotels will ask if you want to be woken up in the night if the Northern Lights make an appearance – this is how I managed to see them when I visited Iceland in November.

8. Immerse yourself in the food scene of Copenhagen

Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, is a gastronomic powerhouse and one of my favourite foodie-focussed European city breaks.

Beyond the iconic smørrebrød (open-faced sandwiches), the city boasts an abundance of Michelin-starred restaurants.

For a holistic food experience, visit the Torvehallerne Market, where over 60 stands offer everything from fresh produce to gourmet chocolates. 

Join a food tour to learn about traditional Danish delicacies or, for something more lively, book a guided bar crawl.

Copenhagen also champions the New Nordic food movement, focusing on local, seasonal, and sustainable ingredients.

Don’t miss out on the city’s thriving street food scene, especially at Reffen, a bustling food market and personal favourite of mine.

I inhaled so much food at this market, as I couldn’t resist all the mouth-watering smells and sights!

Discover my top pick of the best brunch and breakfast places in Copenhagen.

9. Embrace your cottagecore fantasy in the Cotswolds

The Cotswolds, located in the heart of rural England, is like stepping into a storybook setting. Anyone who follows me on Instagram will know about my obsession with this part of the UK!

This region, characterised by its honey-coloured limestone villages and rolling green hills, epitomises the cottagecore aesthetic: a romanticised interpretation of rural life.

Misty Morning in Castle Combe

Wander through impossibly pretty towns like Castle Combe and Bourton-on-the-Water, often referred to as the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’ due to its picturesque bridges.

Spend your afternoons in cosy tearooms or explore historical landmarks like Sudeley Castle.

Consider renting a traditional stone cottage and experience life at a slower pace. Or for a touch of pampering, I’d recommend indulging in a relaxing Cotswolds spa break.

Engage in activities like picnicking by the river, visiting local farmers’ markets, or simply revelling in the peaceful countryside ambiance.

Read my guide to the best things to do in the Cotswolds or seek out my pick of the top luxury hotels in the Cotswolds.

Having spent many staycations in the Cotswolds, it’s an area that now feels like a second home for me.

Want up to 25% off hotels?

Subscribe to my newsletter and get immediate access to my guide on how to save money on flights and hotels. Our weekly emails are filled with adventure inspiration, insider travel tips and exclusive discounts.


10. Bathe in the beautiful Blue Lagoon in Iceland

Located just 40 minutes from Reykjavik, the Blue Lagoon is a geothermal wonder and a must-visit when in Iceland.

Rich in minerals like silica and sulphur, the milky-blue waters are said to possess healing properties.

Submerging myself in its warm embrace, especially against the stark contrast of the cold Icelandic air, was both rejuvenating and otherworldly.

I’d recommend treating your face to a silica mud mask from the mask bar. Or swim up to the drinks bar and grab a beer or a healthy smoothie. 

The lagoon’s facilities are top-notch, complete with a sauna, steam room, and an in-water bar where you can grab a drink while soaking.

You can choose from a few different ticket options:

If you’re looking for a more exclusive experience, I’d recommend staying at The Retreat or Silica Hotel, two of the best luxury hotels in Iceland.

Read my guide to visiting the Blue Lagoon, based on my own personal experience of spending a day at this iconic Icelandic spot.

11. Go on a road trip through The Dolomites

The Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage site located in northern Italy, is a haven for road trippers.

Picture yourself driving through serpentine roads, flanked by jagged mountain peaks that turn pink during sunrise and sunset, a phenomenon called “Alpenglow”.

I’d recommend starting your journey in Bolzano, an intriguing blend of Italian and Austrian cultures.

The Dolomites

As you ascend into the mountains, you’ll come across the Gardena Pass, a highlight for its sweeping views.

Make sure to stop in charming towns like Cortina d’Ampezzo, famed for its winter sports, and Ortisei, known for wood carving.

For an immersive experience, opt for mountain lodges or ‘rifugios’ as accommodations. They provide cosy retreats after a day of driving and exploring.

Dolomites

Or for those who prefer a spot of luxury, you’ll find high-end spas to recharge in – which is most definitely where you’ll find me!

While foodies will find a number of Michelin star restaurants to tantalise your tastebuds.

If you’d like a true Europe bucket list hotel option, book into Forestis Dolomites for an unforgettable treat. 

12. Visit the pristine Lake Bled in Slovenia

Lake Bled is one of Slovenia’s most iconic landmarks – and an unmissable spot in Europe.

Nestled amidst verdant hills and dense forests, this glacial lake boasts an island with a 17th-century church.

The church can be reached by traditional wooden boats called “pletna”, and you can climb the 99 stone steps to ring the church’s wishing bell.

Lake Bled

I’d recommend taking to the water itself – book a kayaking tour in a transparent kayak or go on a stand-up paddleboarding tour

Don’t miss Bled Castle, perched high on a rocky cliff, offering panoramic views of the lake and its surroundings.

Around the lake is a scenic pathway, perfect for a leisurely walk. For a local treat, taste the famous Bled cream cake in one of the lakeside cafes.

Book a trip from Ljubljana to Lake Bled and Bled Castle.

13. Go on a Scottish adventure in Cairngorms National Park

I adore the epic beauty of the Scottish countryside. Cairngorms is the largest national park in the UK, offering sweeping scenery and beautiful landscapes.

Vast moorlands, dense Caledonian forests, icy river valleys and five of the UK’s six highest mountains await adventurers. 

Cairngorms National Park

Choose from a range of activities, including hiking, climbing and biking. The more intrepid can ascend Ben Macdui, the park’s highest peak.

While those looking for gentler treks can opt for the trails around Loch an Eilein, a picturesque lake with a ruined castle in its centre. 

Plus, with significantly less visitors than other National Parks in the UK, it will feel like you’ve got the place to yourself, which is why I think it’s such a special place.

Cairngorms Scotland

Wildlife enthusiasts might spot red squirrels, golden eagles, and even Scottish wildcats. In winter, Cairngorm Mountain becomes a snowy playground for skiing and snowboarding.

Book a Cairngorms National Park and Whisky Tour from Inverness

14. Explore the impossibly pretty Amalfi coast

I first visited the Amalfi Coast when I was a young teenager and I definitely don’t think I appreciated its immense beauty back then!

The Amalfi Coast, stretching 50 kilometres along southern Italy’s Sorrentine Peninsula, is a blend of luxury, nature, and history.

Picture cliffside towns with colourful buildings, lemon groves, and panoramic sea views.

I’d recommend starting in Positano, a postcard-perfect town with steep, narrow streets brimming with boutiques and cafes.

The hilltop town of Ravello offers cultural gems like Villa Rufolo, known for its beautiful gardens and music festivals.

The winding coastal roads provide an exhilarating drive but be prepared for tight turns and narrow lanes.

Discover more of the best coastal towns in Italy for your Europe bucket list or book a full-day tour of Sorrento, Positano and Amalfi from Naples

Good to know: The Amalfi coast is an incredibly popular holiday destination, especially in the summer months.

I’d recommend visiting in the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn to avoid the heavy crowds and enjoy a slower pace. 

15. Have a romantic weekend in Paris

Paris, the City of Love, needs little introduction. Walk hand-in-hand with your loved one along the Seine, as you pass by iconic landmarks like Notre Dame and the Louvre.

Book a dinner cruise to enjoy the city’s illuminated sights or seek out the best museums in Paris.

No trip to Paris is complete without ascending the Eiffel Tower, either during the day for city views or at night when it twinkles every hour.

Wander through Montmartre, where artists like Picasso once roamed. Visit the Sacré-Cœur Basilica for another panoramic view of Paris, or see a show at the iconic Moulin Rouge.

For an intimate moment, find a cosy café, order a glass of wine, and simply revel in the Parisian atmosphere – it’s my favourite way to while away a few hours in the city.

Plus, if you’re based in the UK like me, Paris is so wonderfully accessible via the Eurostar – in fact if you live in London, you can get to Paris far quicker than many places in the UK!

Read my guide to the best things to do in Paris and discover my pick of the top luxury Paris hotels.

16. See the dramatic scenery of Lofoten

Located above the Arctic Circle in Norway, the Lofoten Islands are a dramatic mix of rugged mountain peaks, deep fjords, squawking seabird colonies, and coastal villages.

These islands offer a blend of sea and mountain landscapes rarely seen elsewhere – and I think they are utterly mesmerising.

I recommend basing yourself in towns like Reine or Svolvær, where traditional red and yellow fisherman’s cabins (known as ‘rorbuer’) dot the shores.

Lofoten Norway

Go on a midnight sun hike during summer or hunt for the Northern Lights in winter.

For photographers and nature lovers, Lofoten’s landscapes are a dream come true, especially the panoramic views from Reinebringen or the secluded beaches like Kvalvika.

Be sure to book one of the many unforgettable tours in Lofoten:

While you’re in the area, I’d really recommend staying at Manshausen Island, a 55-acre private island that’s accessible only by boat.

Accommodation comprises sea cabins perched on stilts. An eco-getaway and activity resort that will bring you right back to nature.

Channel your inner polar explorer and breathe in the impressive mountain and sea views.

Want up to 25% off hotels?

Subscribe to my newsletter and get immediate access to my guide on how to save money on flights and hotels. Our weekly emails are filled with adventure inspiration, insider travel tips and exclusive discounts.


17. Go island hopping in Greece

You can’t keep me away from the Greek Islands – any opportunity go have my Mamma Mia moment!

Greece’s islands, scattered across the Aegean and Ionian seas, are a plethora of cultures, landscapes, and ancient tales.

Start in the Cyclades with Santorini, known for its white-washed buildings, blue domed churches, and stunning sunsets over the caldera.

Sunset from Kalua Beach Club in Mykonos

Mykonos beckons with its vibrant nightlife and iconic windmills – or for something a little quieter (and easier on the bank balance), head to Paros or Milos.

Delve into history in Crete, Greece’s largest island, home to the ancient Minoan civilization.

For a more laid-back vibe, visit the Saronic islands like Hydra, where no cars are allowed and it’s about as quaint as it gets!

Or explore the rich history and unforgettable scenery of Rhodes in the Dodecanese group. I very recently spent a long weekend here and totally fell in love with the island.

Discover the crystal clear waters of Kallithea Springs, the history of the Old Town and the beauty of Lindos

18. Embark on a winter adventure in Ruka-Kuusamo

Winter adventurers, this one’s for you! Nestled in the Finnish Lapland, Ruka-Kuusamo is a winter wonderland offering a plethora of snowy adventures.

Picture yourself mushing a team of huskies across frozen lakes or riding on a reindeer sleigh through snow-laden forests. Or for something more relaxing try a spot of river floating

Rukatunturi is one of Finland’s most popular ski resorts. As a lesser known European ski resort, it offers a more enticing and unique experience compared to the more mainstream resorts.

For a touch of magic, embark on a night snowmobile safari in search of the elusive Northern Lights.

To truly immerse yourself in Finnish culture, end your days with a traditional sauna experience, followed by a dip in a frozen lake if you’re feeling brave.

As well as skiing, you can enjoy visits to reindeer farms and the more relaxing river floating.

If you love nature and the great outdoors then the Ruka-Kuusamo is a must for your Europe travel bucket list.

19. See the epic landmarks of Rome

Rome is an utterly charming city and another personal favourite of mine. 

The Eternal City of Rome is a living museum, where every cobblestone and corner seems to whisper stories of emperors, gladiators, and artists.

Walk through history at the Colosseum, imagining the roar of the crowds and fierce battles.

Wander the Roman Forum’s ruins, the epicentre of ancient Rome’s political and commercial activities. Throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain, ensuring your return to this magical city.

Explore the Vatican City, marvelling at the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling painted by Michelangelo and St. Peter’s Basilica’s grandeur.

The city centre is vibrant and buzzing, providing a captivating atmosphere. If you’re like me and love Italian food as much as life itself, you’ll be in your element!

There are plenty of sights to see in Rome; with every turn, the city offers a blend of antiquity, architecture, and artistry.

20. Feel fancy on the French Riviera

The Côte d’Azur, or the French Riviera, stretches from the southern Alps to the Mediterranean’s azure waters. I spent a week here this summer and I had the most wonderful time exploring and relaxing.

This coastline exudes luxury, glamour, and a touch of artistic inspiration. Walk the famous La Croisette boulevard in Cannes, known for its film festival and upscale boutiques.

Enjoy the vibrant nightlife of Saint-Tropez and the serene beauty of its beaches.

Visit Nice, with its Promenade des Anglais and rich art heritage, boasting museums dedicated to Chagall and Matisse.

If you’re staying in Nice, it doesn’t get better than the iconic Le Negresco Hotel – read my review here – or discover more of the best hotels in Nice.

Pretty BnB in Antibes

While in the area, be sure to enjoy some day trips from Nice to nearby towns and villages. My personal favourites are Antibes, Villefranche-sur-Mer and Saint Paul de Vence

For a touch of royalty, the independent microstate of Monaco offers the Prince’s Palace and the famed Monte-Carlo Casino.

21. Spend the weekend in lively London

I’m a little biased with this one as it’s my home city but there’s no denying that London is a vibrant city, bursting with energy and diversity.

It may not have the best weather in Europe (far from it), but the list of tourist attractions in London is almost endless.

London in Spring

Dedicate a morning to visiting iconic landmarks such as the Tower of London, where you can admire the Crown Jewels, or witness the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace.

Take a leisurely stroll along the River Thames, passing by Shakespeare’s Globe, and don’t forget to snap a picture with Big Ben in the backdrop.

Art and history enthusiasts can get lost in the vast collections of the British Museum or the Tate Modern.

My personal favourite museum is the Natural History Museum – and it’s free to visit, as are many of the museums in London.

Come evening, catch a West End show or explore the exceptional food scene in the city – from eclectic food markets to Michelin-star dining.

For a panoramic view of the city, take a ride on the London Eye or head up to Aqua Shard for a cocktail or two, especially enchanting during sunset.

If you’re looking for somewhere extra special to stay, have a read of my guide to the best luxury hotels in London.

22. Wander the cobbled streets of Tallinn in Estonia

Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, is a charming blend of mediaeval magic and modern allure.

The Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, beckons with its fairy-tale-like ambiance.

Walk the narrow alleys flanked by old merchant houses, and step into history at the Town Hall Square, which has been a market place since the 11th century.

Visit the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, an orthodox cathedral showcasing Russian Revival architecture.

Traditional Estonian Christmas Market in Tallinn

Don’t forget to climb the tower of St. Olaf’s Church for a bird’s-eye view of the city.

Beyond the Old Town, the Telliskivi Creative City offers trendy cafes, shops, and street art, showcasing Tallinn’s contemporary side.

I’d really recommend visiting Tallinn during the festive season, as it has one of the best Christmas markets in Europe

23. Go on a wine-tasting tour of Tuscany

The rolling hills of Tuscany in Italy, are synonymous with some of the world’s finest wines – and any holiday which involves a focus on wine is a win for me!

Embark on a sensory journey in renowned wine regions like Chianti or Montepulciano.

Visit traditional vineyards, where you can learn the art of winemaking, from grape cultivation to the fermentation process.

Savour the distinct notes of wines like Brunello di Montalcino or Vino Nobile as you overlook the verdant landscapes.

Enhance your wine-tasting experience with pairings of local cheeses, olive oils, and Tuscan bread.

For a holistic experience, I’d recommend staying in a ‘agriturismo’, a farm stay that often includes local produce and a deep dive into the rural Tuscan lifestyle.

Insider travel tip: A number of wine tasting tours in Tuscany depart from Florence, making a perfect day trip from the city. Some of the top tours are:

24. See the picturesque canals of Amsterdam

Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, is often fondly referred to as “The Venice of the North” due to its extensive canal system.

The city benefits from a relaxed and welcoming ambiance, and feels like a home from home no matter where you’ve arrived from. I always feel incredibly safe and welcome in this city.

Canal Boat Tour Amsterdam

Known for its beautiful canals, local craft beers and impressive selection of museums, there are plenty of reasons to add Amsterdam to your Europe bucket list.

Rent a bike, the local’s favourite mode of transport, and ride along the canal rings, lined with historic 17th-century homes.

Alternatively, hop onto a canal cruise – I’d recommend opting for one with a cheese and wine option!

Visit the Anne Frank House, where the young diarist went into hiding during World War II, and immerse yourself in art at the Van Gogh Museum or the Rijksmuseum.

The vibrant De Pijp neighbourhood offers bustling cafes and the city’s most famous market, the Albert Cuyp Market, where you can sample Dutch treats like stroopwafels.

If you’re planning a visit, have a read of my Amsterdam guides:

Want up to 25% off hotels?

Subscribe to my newsletter and get immediate access to my guide on how to save money on flights and hotels. Our weekly emails are filled with adventure inspiration, insider travel tips and exclusive discounts.


25. Stay in the iconic Ice Hotel in Sweden

Situated in Jukkasjärvi, the Ice Hotel offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience in Swedish Lapland.

Carved afresh from blocks of ice every winter, this architectural marvel provides unique suites, each designed by different artists. 

Wrap yourself in thermal sleeping bags on beds made of ice; but fear not, the hotel provides warm communal areas and saunas for comfort!

Apart from the ethereal ambiance of the hotel, venture outside to experience activities like dog sledding, ice sculpting, or snowmobiling.

And if you’re really lucky, the clear Arctic skies may reward you with the mesmerising dance of the Northern Lights.

26. Tour the historical landmarks of Gdansk in Poland

Gdansk, a port city on the Baltic coast of Poland, tells a tale of resilience and rebirth. It’s a beautiful seaside city with a rich heritage and a number of important historical attractions.

Begin your journey at the Royal Way, the historical path trodden by monarchs, featuring grand buildings and Golden Gate.

The Main Town Hall, with its towering spire, offers panoramic views of the city.

Gdansk

I’d recommend a stroll along the Motlawa River, where the mediaeval Gdansk Crane is a symbol of the city’s trading history.

The Solidarity Centre Museum is a must-visit, chronicling the rise of the Solidarity movement and the eventual fall of communism in Eastern Europe.

For the history buffs, Gdansk is a fantastic European city break destination for some epic WWII history.

Insider travel tip: While in Gdansk, don’t miss the opportunity to taste the local Goldwasser liqueur, infused with real gold flakes!

27. Explore the wonderfully whimsical Sintra in Portugal

Located a short drive from Lisbon, Sintra seems like it has been plucked straight out of a fairytale.

Nestled among the Sintra mountains, the town is dotted with pastel-hued villas, mysterious forests, and extravagant palaces.

The Pena Palace, perched high on a hill, offers a kaleidoscope of colours and architectural styles.

Visit the mediaeval Castle of the Moors, with its crenellated walls providing sweeping views of the Portuguese countryside.

Dive into history at the Sintra National Palace, recognisable by its twin chimneys.

The Quinta da Regaleira estate is an explorer’s dream, with its gothic facades, enchanting wells, and labyrinthine grottoes.

Insider travel tip: It’s possible to visit Sintra on a day trip from Lisbon, which is a great way to see this beautiful spot while you’re in the area. 

28. Visit the Christmas markets in Prague

Prague, the Czech capital, transforms into a winter wonderland during the festive season.

The Old Town Square forms the epicentre of celebrations, with its gigantic Christmas tree, twinkling lights, and wooden stalls. Trust me, there is no better way to get into the festive spirit!

Warm your hands with a cup of svařené víno (mulled wine) as you browse crafts, toys, and traditional Czech Christmas ornaments.

Prague Christmas Market

Feast on trdelník, a sugar-coated pastry, or klobása, the Czech grilled sausage.

The sound of carol singers resonates in the air, adding to the festive spirit at this unforgettable European Christmas market

For a romantic experience, head to the Charles Bridge, where the surrounding lights cast a magical glow on the Vltava River.

29. Feel the magic of Ireland’s Ancient East

Ireland’s Ancient East is a mesmerising combination of myths, legends, and history – I recently discovered this beautiful part of Ireland on a trip to the region.

Traverse the Boyne Valley, the birthplace of Ireland’s ancient legends. Here, the prehistoric site of Newgrange, older than Stonehenge or the Pyramids, awaits exploration.

Rock of Cashel

The Rock of Cashel, with its mediaeval architecture, stands as a testament to the power of Irish kings and churchmen.

Dive into the tales of Viking invasions in Waterford, Ireland’s oldest city, and admire the intricate craftsmanship at the House of Waterford Crystal.

The mediaeval city of Kilkenny beckons with its castle, artisanal craft shops, and tales of witches.

If you’re staying in the area, I’d highly recommend the Mount Juliet Estate – I had an unforgettable stay here. Read my full review of staying at the Mount Juliet Estate.

Book a three-day tour of Blarney Castle, Kilkenny and Irish Whiskey.

30. Have a blast at Croatia Yacht Week

Experience the Adriatic Sea like never before during Croatia’s Yacht Week.

Assemble your crew and charter a yacht to navigate the azure waters, anchoring at idyllic bays, and mingling with other sea adventurers.

The journey isn’t just about sailing; it’s a blend of beach parties, exploration, and immersion in Croatia’s rich coastal culture.

Croatia Yacht Week

From the historic town of Split to the party island of Hvar, every stop promises new adventures.

Dive into the Blue Caves of Biševo, sunbathe on the pristine beaches of Brač, and dance the night away at Carpe Diem Beach Club in Hvar.

For a quieter experience, drop anchor in the Pakleni Islands, a cluster of wooded islets with hidden coves and crystal-clear waters.

31. See the Harry Potter train at Glenfinnan Viaduct

If you’re a Harry Potter fan like me, you’ll love this one! Nestled in the scenic Highlands of Scotland, the Glenfinnan Viaduct is not just a marvel of engineering but also a beloved landmark for Harry Potter enthusiasts.

As you stand on the verdant hills of Glenfinnan, watch the Jacobite Steam Train, famously recognised as the Hogwarts Express, chug across the iconic arched bridge.

Glenfinnan Viaduct

The scene is so picturesque that you can almost hear the iconic movie score in the background. Be sure to time your visit to coincide with the train’s schedule to witness this magical moment.

Nearby, the Glenfinnan Monument offers insights into the Jacobite uprising, adding a touch of history to your visit.

Insider travel tip: I’d recommend visiting Glenfinnan on a day trip from Edinburgh, where you can also see Fort William and Glencoe.

32. Have your Sound of Music moment in Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart, is equally renowned as the backdrop for the classic film, The Sound of Music.

Relive Maria’s footsteps with a guided tour visiting memorable filming locations. Dance around the Pegasus Fountain at Mirabell Gardens, where “Do-Re-Mi” was filmed.

Salzburg Austria

Visit the picturesque Leopoldskron Palace, the movie’s Von Trapp family home, and sing on the steps of the Hellbrunn Palace. The Nonnberg Abbey, where Maria was a novice, is also a must-visit.

Beyond the film, Salzburg enchants with its Baroque architecture, the majestic Hohensalzburg Fortress, and the melodious strains of Mozart wafting through its charming streets.

Insider travel tip: Don’t miss a day trip to the impossibly pretty town of Hallstatt.

33. Experience the fairytale town of Bruges in Belgium

The fairytale city of Bruges transports visitors to a mediaeval wonderland – I love that visiting Bruges feels like stepping back in time to a magical bygone era.

The town’s heart, Market Square, bustles with horse-drawn carriages, historic buildings, and the prominent Belfry tower.

Beautiful Bruges

If you have it in you, I’d recommend climbing its 366 steps for a panoramic view of the town’s terracotta rooftops and winding canals.

Just don’t watch the film In Bruges before you do (great film by the way, definitely worth a watch if you haven’t seen it!).

Speaking of canals, a boat tour offers a unique perspective of Bruges, gliding past swans and under quaint stone bridges.

Don’t miss the serene Begijnhof, a secluded courtyard with white-washed almshouses.

And, of course, indulge in Belgian chocolates, waffles and beer – all hallmarks of the Bruges food and drink scene.

Have a read of my Bruges travel guides:

34. Marvel at the Acropolis in Athens

Perched atop a rocky hill, the Acropolis perfectly embodies Ancient Greece’s grandeur – and is an unmissable landmark on your Europe bucket list. 

This UNESCO World Heritage site, overlooking Athens, boasts architectural masterpieces from the 5th century BC.

The Parthenon, dedicated to the goddess Athena, dominates the skyline with its iconic Doric columns.

Athens Acropolis

Nearby, the Erechtheion, known for its Caryatid porch with statues of maidens, whispers tales of gods and mortals.

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus and the Theatre of Dionysus are ancient performance venues that still resonate with artistic fervour.

After exploring the ruins, the Acropolis Museum provides detailed insights into the site’s history and artefacts.

35. Get a taste of luxury in Lake Como

Situated in the foothills of the Italian Alps, Lake Como offers a heady mix of natural beauty and opulence.

Known for its lavish villas, lush gardens, and serene waters, this lake has been a retreat for aristocrats and celebrities for centuries.

Embark on a boat cruise to appreciate the lake’s splendour and catch glimpses of luxurious estates like Villa del Balbianello and Villa Carlotta.

The town of Bellagio, often dubbed the “Pearl of Lake Como,” mesmerises with its cobblestone streets, elegant boutiques, and panoramic terraces.

For a more immersive experience, consider staying in one of the lakeside villas and savour gourmet Italian cuisine with vistas of the sun setting over the shimmering waters.

It’s just the most serene spot – I definitely dream of getting married here one day, what a beautiful setting that would be!

Want up to 25% off hotels?

Subscribe to my newsletter and get immediate access to my guide on how to save money on flights and hotels. Our weekly emails are filled with adventure inspiration, insider travel tips and exclusive discounts.


36. See the epic scenery of Madeira 

Madeira, a Portuguese archipelago situated in the North Atlantic Ocean, is nothing short of a nature lover’s paradise.

First up, dive into the lush, terraced gardens of Funchal, Madeira’s capital.

Madeira

From here, venture to the mountainous heart of the island, where trails like the Levada do Caldeirão Verde invite you to wander amidst waterfalls, emerald pools, and moss-covered forests.

Don’t miss the Cabo Girão Skywalk, Europe’s highest cliff skywalk, where a glass platform offers vertigo-inducing views of the ocean below.

The coastal town of Porto Moniz, with its natural volcanic rock pools, is another must-visit spot, providing a perfect blend of relaxation and natural wonder.

Insider travel tip: For an unforgettable Europe bucket list activity, book a dolphin and whale watching tour

37. Journey through Switzerland by train

Switzerland is a country of epic scenery, breathtaking nature and extraordinary hospitality.

The best way to explore Switzerland is by train, offering some of the most scenic train journeys in the world.

I’d recommend starting with the Glacier Express, connecting St. Moritz to Zermatt. And if you can, treat yourself to Excellence Class – trust me, it’ll be worth it!

Glacier Express Switzerland

This panoramic ride takes you through alpine valleys, over stunning viaducts like the Landwasser Viaduct, and offers a close-up of the Swiss Alps’ majesty.

Another iconic route, the Bernina Express, weaves from Chur to Tirano, crossing the Bernina Range and passing glaciers on its way.

For a lakeside treat, the GoldenPass Line from Lucerne to Montreux showcases Switzerland’s diverse landscapes, transitioning from mountain terrains to the serene shores of Lake Geneva.

38. Go gothic with a Transylvanian road trip

Transylvania, in the heart of Romania, is a land steeped in myths, legends, and gothic architecture.

Start your journey in Brasov, where the Black Church looms large and the charming Council Square bustles with activity.

A short drive away, Bran Castle awaits, often linked to the Dracula legend, though its history is much richer than just that of the famed vampire.

As you navigate the winding roads, stop at Sighișoara, a UNESCO-listed mediaeval town, known for its clock tower and the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler.

Further on, Corvin Castle in Hunedoara stands as one of the largest castles in Europe, with its imposing drawbridge and tall towers evoking tales of mediaeval times.

Insider travel tip: I’d recommend exploring Transylvania on a day trip from Bucharest, so everything is organised for you.

39. Go for a swim in Turkey’s rock pools 

The surreal landscapes of Pamukkale in Turkey are unlike anything you’ve seen before and are a must on any Europe bucket list.

Here, terraces of carbonate minerals left by flowing water gleam under the sun, forming natural rock pools.

Often termed the “Cotton Castle,” this UNESCO World Heritage site invites you to dip into its warm, mineral-rich waters, with the ancient ruins of Hierapolis nearby adding a touch of history.

Not too far away, Kapuzbaşı Waterfalls, located in Kayseri province, offers another set of natural pools formed by cascading waterfalls amidst a serene forested backdrop.

40. See the lavender fields of Provence

Come summer, the French region of Provence transforms into a purple-hued dream. Fields upon fields of lavender bloom under the Provençal sun, filling the air with their calming fragrance.

Valensole Plateau is the epicentre of this lavender extravaganza, where endless rows of these purple blooms create a mesmerising pattern against the backdrop of distant mountains.

Provence Lavender Field

While in the region, I’d recommend visiting a distillery to understand the process of turning these flowers into essential oils.

The Senanque Abbey, with its 12th-century architecture and surrounding lavender fields, offers a peaceful spot to reflect and enjoy the beauty of nature.

41. Hike the Caminito Del Rey in Malaga

For those craving an adrenaline rush paired with breathtaking views, the Caminito Del Rey in Malaga, Spain, is a must for your Europe bucket list.

Once known as the “world’s most dangerous walkway,” this pathway, suspended over the El Chorro gorge, has been fully restored and made safe for adventurers.

As you traverse this 7.7 km route, you’ll be met with panoramic vistas of turquoise waters, deep canyons, and rugged cliffs.

Each step on the narrow boardwalk, clinging to the side of the mountain, promises heart-pounding excitement and photographic opportunities that will be the envy of every travel enthusiast.

42. Stay in a cave hotel in Matera

Step back in time in the ancient city of Matera, Italy. Known for its ‘Sassi’ – stone-carved homes and churches – Matera offers a unique lodging experience: staying in a cave hotel.

These aren’t your typical dark and dank caves. They’ve been transformed into luxurious accommodations, offering modern amenities amidst millennia-old architecture.

Matera Italy

The dimly lit interiors, arched ceilings, and stone-carved details promise a stay that’s both atmospheric and comfortable.

Here are some of the best cave hotels in Matera – recommended by locals and fellow travellers:

As you step out, the town’s labyrinthine alleys, rock-hewn churches, and panoramic views of the Murgia plateau will transport you further back to a time where history seeped through every stone.

43. Have tea at the New York Cafe in Budapest

Dubbed the “Most Beautiful Cafe in the World,” the New York Cafe in Budapest, Hungary, is an utterly opulent spot and a must for your Europe bucket list.

As you walk in, prepare to be awestruck by the ornate gold details, crystal chandeliers, and frescoed ceilings.

Every corner screams of a bygone era where artists, intellectuals, and writers would congregate for spirited discussions.

Sink into the plush red velvet seats and order a pot of tea or perhaps try their Hungarian pastries.

Amidst the soft hum of live piano music and the café’s historical ambiance, it’s easy to feel like you’ve stepped into a chapter from a European fairy tale.

44. Go on a Game of Thrones tour of Northern Ireland

For fans of the iconic series, Northern Ireland offers the chance to step into the real-world Westeros.

Embark on a ‘Game of Thrones’ tour, where you’ll be transported to some of the show’s most iconic locations.

Walk through the Dark Hedges, known to fans as the Kingsroad. Gaze upon the Cushendun Caves, where Melisandre gave birth to a shadow.

Castle Ward, with its familiar archways and fortresses, served as the backdrop for Winterfell.

As you journey through these locales, stories from behind the scenes and tales of the Seven Kingdoms will enrich the experience, making it a pilgrimage for every fan.

Want up to 25% off hotels?

Subscribe to my newsletter and get immediate access to my guide on how to save money on flights and hotels. Our weekly emails are filled with adventure inspiration, insider travel tips and exclusive discounts.


45. Feel the opulence at the Palace of Versailles

Located just outside of Paris, the Palace of Versailles is a symbol of the absolute monarchy of the Ancien Régime and the epitome of opulence.

Wander through its grand Hall of Mirrors, where light reflects off of crystal chandeliers and ornate mirrors, a place where historical treaties were signed.

Palace of Versailles

The palace’s countless rooms, adorned with gold, exquisite frescoes, and intricate artworks, showcase the lavish lifestyle of the French royalty.

Outside, the vast gardens of Versailles, designed by André Le Nôtre, are a maze of perfectly manicured lawns, fountains, and sculptures, offering a serene escape.

Whether you’re a history buff or an admirer of art, Versailles is bound to leave an indelible mark.

If you’re planning a trip to the French capital, have a read of my Paris guides:

46. Get back to nature in the Lake District

Nestled in the northwest corner of England, the Lake District is a haven for nature lovers and literary enthusiasts alike.

I absolutely adore this part of the UK and it’s one of those places you can return to time and time again, and never get bored or run out of things to do.

As you wander through this UNESCO World Heritage site, you’ll be surrounded by shimmering lakes, rolling hills, and rugged fells.

Windermere and Ullswater lakes beckon with opportunities for boat rides or a tranquil picnic by the shore.

The region has also been an inspiration to writers like Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth; visiting Dove Cottage, Wordsworth’s home, offers a poetic retreat.

Whether you choose to hike up Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain, or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll in the picturesque villages, the Lake District is a dreamy destination.

If you’re planning a trip to this beautiful part of the UK, discover my Lake District travel guides:

47. Visit Munich during Oktoberfest

Gear up for a frothy adventure in Munich, Germany, as you join the world’s largest folk festival, Oktoberfest.

This iconic event, which runs from late September to the first weekend in October, draws millions to Munich every year.

Oktoberfest Munich

Don the traditional Bavarian attire – lederhosen for men and dirndls for women – and dive into the festive atmosphere.

Beyond the countless tents offering a range of German beers, you’ll find a whirlwind of traditional music, hearty Bavarian food like pretzels and sausages, and amusement rides.

Raise your glass, or ‘maß,’ with fellow revellers and embrace the lively chorus of “Prost!”

48. Tour the Golden Circle in Iceland

Iceland’s Golden Circle is a route that encapsulates the raw beauty and power of this island nation’s landscape.

I was completely blown away when I visited the Golden Circle – it was unlike anything I’d seen before.

Start with the Geysir geothermal area, where the ground trembles, and Strokkur geyser shoots water 30 metres into the air every few minutes.

A short drive away, Gullfoss waterfall roars with a mesmerising intensity, as glacial water plummets down into a deep canyon.

The Þingvellir National Park, another stop on this route, is a geological wonder.

It’s where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates are visibly drifting apart and a site of significant historical importance for Iceland.

Each location on the Golden Circle offers a spectacle of nature’s prowess, making it an essential Icelandic experience.

Book a full-day Golden Circle tour or read more of my Iceland guides:

49. Enjoy a long weekend in lovely Lisbon

Lisbon, the hilly coastal capital of Portugal, is a delightful blend of tradition and modernity.

Begin your exploration in the historic Alfama district, where narrow alleys weave past ancient houses, and the haunting melodies of Fado music echo in traditional taverns.

The iconic Tram 28 offers a quaint ride, covering major attractions like the São Jorge Castle.

Lisbon

Venture to Belém to taste the famous ‘pastéis de nata’ (custard tarts) and visit the monumental Belém Tower.

As the sun sets, the vibrant Bairro Alto district beckons with its eclectic mix of bars, restaurants, and street performances.

With its rich maritime history, contemporary art scenes, and sumptuous gastronomy, Lisbon promises a feast for all senses, earning it a well-deserved spot in this Europe bucket list.

50. Retreat to the mountain village of Theth in Albania

Tucked away in the Albanian Alps, Theth is a gem waiting to be discovered. This remote mountain village, accessible only during the warmer months, offers a tranquil retreat from the bustle of urban life.

Traditional stone houses dot the landscape, with the mighty peaks of the Shala mountains serving as a dramatic backdrop.

Nature enthusiasts can hike to the picturesque Blue Eye, a natural spring with crystal-clear blue waters.

The Theth Church, with its simple yet charming architecture, hints at the village’s deep-rooted traditions.

The lack of digital distractions and the enveloping silence, save for the murmurs of nature, make Theth an ideal spot for reflection and rejuvenation.

Book a three-day tour of Komani Lake, Valbona and Thethi from Tirana


Whether you’re chasing epic scenery, ancient wonders, or a touch of luxury, this Europe bucket list has hopefully given you plenty of inspiration for your next adventure. 

If you have your own suggestions or favourites, let me know in the comments or get in touch on social media – I always love hearing from you!

Want up to 25% off hotels?

Subscribe to my newsletter and get immediate access to my guide on how to save money on flights and hotels. Our weekly emails are filled with adventure inspiration, insider travel tips and exclusive discounts.

Jessie Moore
Jessie Moore

Jessie is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.

Find me on: Web | Instagram

Share:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Want up to 25% off hotels?

Subscribe to my newsletter and get immediate access to my guide on how to save money on flights and hotels. Our weekly emails are filled with adventure inspiration, insider travel tips and exclusive discounts.