From England and France to Italy and Germany, European countries are full of vibrant cities known for their museums, restaurants, nightlife and architecture. So, it comes as no surprise that deciding which ones to visit can be difficult.
That’s why U.S. News considered the highlights of each destination – as well as user votes and expert opinions – to round up the best vacation destinations in Europe. Use this list to help you plan your next trip.
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Venice may conjure up images of romantic gondola rides down the Grand Canal, but this European destination isn’t just for swooning lovebirds. With an abundance of theatres, churches, historical sights and eateries, this city on Italy’s northeastern coast will enchant all types of travellers.
View opulent architecture at St. Mark’s Basilica, stroll across the famous Rialto Bridge or snap a photo in front of the iconic Bridge of Sighs.
Travel to this coastal region in Italy for once-in-a-lifetime views of the Mediterranean Sea from beautiful cliffside towns. Spend your days hiking the nearly 4-mile-long Il Vallone dell, Ferriere trail, wandering the dreamy streets of Positano or retreating to more secluded places like Furore Fiordo beach.
To soak up even more sun, consider an Amalfi Coast boat tour, which may stop at points of interest like the Emerald Grotto and the waterfalls of Marmorata.
Visit this Greek island for its abundance of diverse beaches. You’ll find red sands at Red Beach and black sands at Kamari Beach. You should also save a day to travel to archaeological attractions like Ancient Thira and Ancient Akrotiri,
where you’ll discover ruins and abandoned settlements from the ninth and 17th centuries B.C. (respectively). No matter where you go, you’ll discover stunning views of the electric blue sea and whitewashed buildings Santorini is known for.
A vacation in Prague will leave you feeling as if you’ve stepped into a fairy tale. Take in the Gothic architecture and vibrant atmosphere of Old Town Square, and be sure to tour Prague Castle (and the other attractions on its grounds, including St. Vitus Cathedral and the Royal Palace).
Prague’s affordability compared to other captivating destinations in Europe makes it a great place for travellers on a budget.
There’s more to Amsterdam than its notorious “coffee shops” and Red Light District. Spend the day biking through the city’s stylish streets before exploring noteworthy museums, such as the Van Gogh Museum,
Verzetsmuseum or the Anne Frank House. Plan a picnic in Vondelpark for lunch, or opt for a boat tour along the city’s many canals when it’s time to rest your feet. Friendly locals and affordable hotels keep bringing travellers back, especially during the warmer months.
Barcelona’s diverse architecture sets the city apart from other European destinations. Gaudí’s Park Güell and La Sagrada Familia are beyond impressive,
as are Catedral de Barcelona (also known as La Seu), Montjuïc Castle and the many medieval buildings in the Gothic Quarter. When you tire of taking in the city’s stunning architecture, relax on La Barceloneta beach, eat local food (tapas) or sip sangria along Las Ramblas.
Travel to Firenze for an authentic taste of Italy. Florence boasts top-notch museums, quaint hotels, stunning architecture and mouthwatering cuisine. Must-dos include admiring Michelangelo’s David at the Galleria dell’Accademia,
taking in city and river views from the Ponte Vecchio and climbing to the top of the Duomo – Florence’s most recognizable attraction. When hunger strikes, head to the Mercato Centrale Firenze to stock up on fresh meats and cheeses or sit down for pizza or gelato.
Paris is filled with highly regarded museums, monuments and churches. You could easily spend your entire vacation admiring iconic sights like the Eiffel Tower and wandering through exhibits at the Louvre. Still,
you should save some time for people-watching and munching on fresh croissants at sidewalk cafes during the day. Once the sun sets, sit down for a drawn-out meal with amazing wine.
Exploring the world-class British Museum, seeing a musical in the West End, touring the Tower of London and gorging on fish and chips at a local pub are all part of the London bucket list experience.
However, London’s high hotel prices can make budget travellers cringe. To save some money, book your accommodations far in advance or consider a vacation rental.
Roma is a can’t-miss spot on your trip to Europe. The aroma of fresh Italian cooking wafts through the alleys, and historical sites stand proudly at every turn. No visit to Italy’s capital would be complete without checking out the Colosseum,
St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and the awe-inspiring Trevi Fountain. If you have additional time, venture beyond the main sights to the Roman Forum, Trastevere and the Spanish Steps.