So you’re set to go to Europe!
The family holiday is going ahead and you’re off on a Euro trip. Or perhaps you’re stopping by for a week or two of solo travel or even travelling with a large group of friends for gap year and a big backpacking trip.
No matter how you are doing your trip in Europe here is the top 10 must see destinations! If you can fit all these cities in then you will see the real Europe and if you can’t… Well you just gave yourself permission to plan out a 2nd trip to Europe. Maybe mix it up and do that second trip in winter to see a different side of Europe.
No trip to Europe is complete without stopping by London.
Tower Bridge, Big Ben, Parliament House and Piccadilly Circus are just a few attractions that make this one of a most exciting cities to visit in Europe. Now I can’t forget to mention the endless pubs, coffee shops and restaurants that seem to line the streets of London. Nor can I discount the day trips that are so easy to do from London.
There is something for you to see in London no matter what you are looking for in a trip. If you are after the high life of shopping on Regent street and spending more money then you should (ladies I’m looking at you!) or if you are a fan of history and want to see some war museums and just appreciate the centuries of culture and architecture then London is for you!
Check out my one day London stopover guide for even more cool things to do in London.
Paris also known as the city of love and will always have a place on any top 10 European city list including mine! This fairly tale town has fashion, history, culture and food. You could spend months in Paris and not see everything this magical city has to offer.
Do you want to see some world famous tourist attractions? Well you can’t go past the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre and Notre-Dame. The Eiffel Tower has a restaurant on the first level. Why not grab a beer and a meal while you’re there. It’s what I did!
Want something a bit more exciting to get your heart racing? How about the Paris Catacombs where you can navigate a maze of tunnels lines with real human bones and skulls. Kind of creepy right?
Love your food and wine? There are thousands of restaurants and wine bars that you can visit. Paris is well known for it variety of cheeses also. Love your pasties? Paris is yet again famous for this also!
Or you might be a bit more daring and eat some snails at La Fermette Marbeuf.
Sin city of Europe is one way to describe Amsterdam although it really doesn’t want to be know that way. As there is more than the shady antics of the red light district in this vibrant city!
Amsterdam is full of culture and marvelous architecture. You just have to take a stroll though Dam Square and then move on to loosing yourself in the endless maze of canals. How about seeing the Anne Frank house if you love your history.
Of course if you are coming to Amsterdam to party you will be happy to know that the city has some excellent clubs, pubs and live music. Head to Rembrandt Square for great nightlife. If you like to ‘relax’ to a joint while listening to music then a place called Smokey’s in Rembrandt Square might be the place for you.
If you love your beer then head to the Heineken factory to take a tour. It’s one of the coolest beer factory tours in Europe!
Now if you do decide to check out the red light district and take a peek at what it’s all about don’t start flashing pictures unless you want to be chased down the street by one of the window girls! You have been warned! Although being serviced by ladies of the night might be frowned upon by some, Amsterdam has been known for the practice since before the middle ages and it’s actually classed as a real profession in Holland.
Prague, Czech Republic
Known for its cobble stone streets and fantasy like feeling the capital of the Czech Republic is regarded as one of the finer cities in Europe. It’s also go the nickname the Paris of the east.
If you love castles you might want to check out the Prague castle that you literally can’t miss as it over looks the city perched on a hill top across the river. Once you’re up there it will truly make you feel like you have just time warped back in time about 1,000 years. Plus you’ll get a magnificent view of the city.
Then head down and over Charles Bridge if you didn’t cross it in the first place to get to the castle. At the end of the bridge it’s only a short walk to the spectacular Old Town Square. Once you get there how does trying to decipher a 15th century clock sound? In Old Town Square you will find the Town Hall and see the Astronomical Clock that has held its place since 1490.
If you love your wild and wacky architecture then the Dancing House is something you want to get on your to do list.
Love your beer? Then don’t forget to visit a traditional Czech pub and try some Czech Budweiser. No I’m not talking about the American brand. The original Budweiser came from the Czech Republic. You might even want to try their strongest type that is a massive 16% alcohol content. Yes, that’s a beer that is 16% alcohol, not a spirit! Drink two and it’s all you’ll need!
Prague has something for everyone. No one leaves this city disappointed!
Modern day architecture in the business district coupled with buildings designed by some of the greatest architects of our time and all topped off with the beach. Barcelona has variety for any traveler.
The best way to explore this fabulous Spanish city is by foot. If you do happen to get the need to get somewhere quite far then you are never more than five minutes from a metro station but I encourage you to discover this city by foot as much as possible.
You don’t need to be a fan of great architecture to appreciate the work of Gaudí. Just walking though the city you will see his works but the more famous sites to visit are Sagrada Família, Park Güell and La Pedrera. Finally a trip to Barcelona is not complete without seeing Gaudi House Museum.
Seafood is next! If you leave Barcelona without sampling some of the fine seafood I can say ‘you’ve done it wrong!’. You will find seafood restaurants all over the city but a great place to sample the local delicacies is on the boardwalk at the beach has more restaurant that you can sample. You’ll also enjoying the great view of the ocean with sipping wine and dinging.
And finally get yourself to La Rambla (pronounced Las Ramblas). A street located in the center of the town full of fresh street food being cooked on the spot to snack on. The most amazing and out there buskers. All the way to the randomness of being about to buy a live chicken. La Rambla is a must see and will be a few hours of memories you will never forget.
At one point in history Rome was considered the capital of Europe and had an impressive amount of power. What comes of this? Naturally a thousand or so years later a city full of history, culture and impressive structures that are an absolute must see for anyone going to Italy. A trip to Italy is not complete if you don’t visit Rome, period!
So what is there to see in Rome?
Where do you start! There are endless things you can see and do in Rome such as visiting the Colosseum, the Pantheon, St Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City and the Museum. These are only a few of the amazing historical sites that have shaped Italian history.
How about the food? Italy is well known for its fine dining, especially pizza and pasta. The streets of Rome and lined with endless small boutique restaurants. And make sure you watch your wallet in Rome as it’s easy to spend a lot of money with out even realising it!
Cheap like Eastern Europe but considered by most as really being Western Europe, Berlin can prove to be an amazing experience for a quick trip to Europe without the need for a large holiday budget.
The list of things to do in Berlin is really endless. Perhaps you could start with a bike ride along the east side galley to see how far the wall really goes. Then head over to Museum Island but not before checking out the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag Building.
Want to relax and just watch life go by for a relaxed lunch? Then Alexanderplatz might be your cup of tea.
If you’re really into your war history then don’t forget to visit checkpoint Charlie and get lost in the maze of stone blocks the Jewish memorial has to offer while pays your respects.
After you are done with this how does a proper doner kebab sound? Originating from Turkey the doner kebab is cheap and popular street food. Don’t be fooled though as it’s not the same as other doner kebabs. The one you’ll get in Berlin is unique to Berlin and you won’t see it anywhere else in Germany or the world. Why? Well, Berlin has the highest population of Turkish people outside of Turkey so they came up with this new awesome tasting style to be unique!
Top this off with a stop at one of the thousands of pubs that are in Berlin and you will surely have a great time in this amazing an vibrant city.
The capital of Hungary is a riverside city full of amazing sights and activities to get involved in.
By far the best way to explore this city is through a walking tour or simply getting a tourist map and designing your own adventure. If you take a ride down the Danube you will get beautiful views of Buda and Pest while also getting a great view of the Hungarian Parliament Building. On a budget? You can get the same awesome view by walking over one of the many bridges that connect the two sides of the city together.
Now if politics is not your thing then that’s perfectly fine as I don’t like politics either! But you will appreciate the sheer power of this architecturally impressive building. The Hungarian Parliament Building is my favourite building by far in all of Europe.
Make sure you also take a stroll over Chain Bridge. Then it’s a bit of a walk so take the metro head to Hero’s Square. Hero’s Square is dedicated to the memory of the hero’s who once gave their lives to the fight for the freedom and independence of Hungary. Visit at night for a great photo opportunity in front of the Millennium Monument.
Finally make sure that you don’t skip over going to a local restaurant and trying some goulash. Goulash actually originates from Hungary so as a tourist you are somewhat ‘obliged’ to try the local delicacy.
After a meal you might consider going to one of the bathing houses in Budapest. The are several to choose from and you relax for hours on end in a natural heat of hot springs. Perfect in winter with the combination of the cool crisp air and the nice hot springs. Or in summer some of the bathing houses actually hire DJs and host parties.
Vienna is an interesting city to explore with lots of history and culture. During your visit an absolute must is check out the Kunsthistorisches Museum for a glance at some fine arts that come from all around Europe.
If you love your history another interesting place to visit is the St. Stephen’s Cathedral or locally known as the Stephansdom. The cathedral has stood in the same place since the 12th century. Along with this cathedral be sure to check out Schonbrunn Palace.
But Vienna is not all about old buildings and historical sites. Wandering the streets is by far the best way to see the city. Take a stroll through musical park that is easily accessible via a U-Bahn station.
Are you a wine lover? Did you know that Vienna has the largest square vineyard dedicated area in the world within a capital city? There are several wine tours that you could take and once you are back in town make sure you grab some Würstelstand street food that translates to ‘sausage stands’. These stands sell all types of sausage snacks. Then for dinner don’t forget to try some local Wiener Schnitzel (Vienna Schnitzel in English) as you can’t say you visited Vienna without trying one of the cities most famous dishes that has spanned the globe that everyone basically knows the name of.
If you want to go for a swim why not hit the beach? Literally! But not exactly what you think. The Danube has section where you are able to go for a swim and you can easily access the area by the U-Bahn.
A little bit further away from the rest of the cities I’ve talked about but Krakow is well worth a visit. Especially if you’ve got Prague on your list as Krakow is only a short train ride away.
Krakow is commonly known as the gateway to getting to the Wieliczka Salt Mine and Auschwitz. A trip to the salt mines will be roughly a half day tour. Auschwitz is the the biggest concentration camp built by the Nazi’s and if you are into your war history it is well worth a visit. You will find people pitching you on the streets to get you to go to Auschwitz but it’s always a better idea to pay for an official tour that can be easily organized. Look online or just asked the reception of where you’re staying for the best options.
You can also visit the Tatra Mountains quite easily from Krakow for a day trip or two to get out into nature. You will be on the border of Slovakia and be surrounded by a magnificent view. I can’t recommend this enough. I did this as a child of a family holiday and the Tatra’s are awesome!
Within Krakow itself is the Main Square (or locally known as Rynek Glówny) where you will find a market style area full of souvenirs and street stalls cooking up local snacks.
Now in the east corner of Main Square you will also find St. Mary’s Basilica (Kosciól Mariacki). A gothic church that has some spectacular architecture to take in and. The good part is it will only cost you about $2 for the entry fee.
Now Poland might be a bit to far away to take a train so taking a cheap flight to get out to Krakow and then off to your next destination could be a good idea.
So there you have it the top 10 European destinations. If you can fit all of these cities into your trip you will have a magnificent time in Europe with many memories that will last a life time!
Don’t forget to read this guide on how to travel around Europe by trains very cheaply and if you have not booked a flight to Europe yet read this awesome guide on getting budget flights to Europe.