To-do lists for a continent like Europe is one of the most challenging decisions that you need to make as a traveler. The sheer amount of history, culture and cosmopolitan wonders that need to be considered means that you’re sure to spend a few weeks deciding what to add and what to leave out.
No two attractions are the same and no two countries offer a similar experience. Every corner is brimming with historic attractions and each place has its own story to tell. This list of the 30 best things to do in Europe in 2016 is all you need for inspirations for your next European adventure. Pick out your favorite attractions and build your own adventures. Easy peasy.
Colosseum, Rome (above image)
Colosseum, also known as the Flavian amphitheater, is the greatest and the most imposing structure ever built by the Romans. Constructed in the year AD 80 by Emperor Vespasian, this mammoth structure could host as many as 60000 spectators who would come to see blood-curling gladiator battles and battles between man and beast. But it’s not just those gory fights that the Colosseum is famous for. It is also known for its unimaginable architectural ingenuity. Over the centuries, it has been left as a ruin, used as a shelter and even used as a stone quarry for the construction of palaces in Rome. Despite all that, it still manages to stand in all its beauty and grandeur. Soak up the spirit of Rome like a Roman through Colosseum by night.
- Skip The Line: Colosseum, Roman Forum & Palatine Hill
- Underground Colosseum By Night With Arena
- VIP Caesar’s Palace Tour With Colosseum
- Colosseum And Ancient Rome Semi-Private Tour
Lake Bled, Slovenia
You look at those pictures and you think twice before visiting Lake Bled. Not because it looks bad, but because it looks so amazing that you feel it’s been photo-shopped to perfection. But Lake Bled is actually more beautiful than it is given credit for. The emerald colored lake, that medieval castle holding onto the cliff’s edge for dear life, a picture-perfect church and some of the most beautiful peaks come together to attract romantics, honeymooners, couples, adventure lovers and backpackers. We recommend that you avoid the destination in mid-summer as the place is swarming with tourists and almost everything is over-priced.
Grand Bazaar, Istanbul
Europe is big on shopping and it has some of the best malls and markets in the world. Dubai is huge on brands and is home to the largest shopping mall. But how do you classify a bazaar that attracts more than 90 million visitors each year!! Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar left the rest else behind to become the world’s most-visited attraction, and those 5000 stalls ensure that there is something perfect for your exact tastes. The bazaar is home to all kinds of goods and products, but is most famous for its carpets, textiles, jewelry, watches, handbags and shoes.
Old Town, Krakow
Don’t believe every legend you come across. Krakow certainly wasn’t founded to celebrate the defeat of a dragon! That said, it does feel alluring and mystical, so it is easy to understand where those rumors come from. Krakow is perhaps the most picture-perfect city in Poland. It presents an outstanding history and culture, a medieval palace and a beautifully preserved Old Town. For the ultimate experience, simply hop onto one of those horse carriages for a leisurely ride around Rynek Glowny, the largest market square in Europe. Other things to see include exciting museums and majestic churches.
Bike Tour, Amsterdam
In a planet riddled with pollution problems and exhausting resources, cycling has emerged as a convenient and preferred mode of transportation in a number of urban centers. And Amsterdam is one of those cities that has always been at the forefront of the biking revolution. It not only has its own bike-sharing system and a convenient bike rental program, it also has an outstanding network of cycling routes. As they say, biking isn’t a necessity in Amsterdam, it’s a way of life. Cycling certainly has a ring to it, doesn’t it? It’s a lot of fun, it is an exciting thing to do, and it is one of the best ways of exploring all that beauty.
Sailing, Greek Isles
The Greek Isles aren’t a secret anymore. Places such as Santorini and Mykonos are always full of visitors, and lesser-known islands such as Paros, Patmos and Antiparos are also beginning to catch the tourist eye. The biggest charm here is all that unspoiled natural beauty and the sheer lack of modernization. You don’t come across cafes, nightclubs, restaurants or luxe brands, but you certainly get to see whitewashed towns, hidden caves, beautiful marine life and picturesque beaches.
Just a spa, you say! Well, Gellert may be a spa, but it is the most photographed attraction of Budapest. Gellert Baths is an architectural gem that surrounds a vast network of saunas, natural pools, steam rooms and mineral-infused springs. Built in an Art Nouveau style, this beautiful spa has been treating its visitors to skin-loving hot springs ever since the 15th century. Not exactly the fabled fountain of youth, but as close as it gets. Other baths worth checking out in Budapest include Rudas Baths and Kiraly Baths.
Northern Lights, Iceland
Northern Lights is a natural phenomenon that presents a majestic display of lights in the winter sky. There are a number of places in the north that offer amazing views of this splendid phenomenon, but nothing comes close to the kind of experiences that Iceland has in store for you. What makes this country so special is all that natural beauty, unspoiled wilderness and those remote locations. For the ultimate experience, check out the lights between 11.00 PM and 02.00 AM, for that’s when they shine at their beautiful best.
Avenida de Liberdade, Lisbon
Avenida de Liberdade, the main boulevard of Lisbon, is a beautiful tree-lined avenue that is home to all things cool and exciting. Those delightful streets present beautiful tilework (a Portuguese specialty) and leave you confused about what to see – these artistic tiles or those spectacular surroundings. The area is also full of whimsical characters, street artists, boutiques, luxe shopping, bars and restaurants and is the perfect place to see Lisbon vibrancy at its romantic best.
Vienna isn’t called the City of Music for nothing. After all, the city gave birth or nurtured the talents of some of the greatest musicians such as Beethoven, Mozart, Strauss, Schubert, Brahms and Haydn. Vienna boasts of an incredibly rich musical heritage and the best way to explore its connection with music is to visit one of those legendary opera houses such as Theater an der Wien and Staatsoper. And theater is just the beginning. Bach and Handel is still played in many churches around the city. The city is also home to the fabulous Haus der Musik, the perfect place to understand exactly how music is created.
The Kremlin, Moscow
Moscow has some of the most iconic and historic attractions in Europe, but none are more important than The Kremlin, the very heart of Russia. The Red Square and Kremlin tend to move something deep within you, and it’s not just because of the tantalizing art displays, the rich history and the majestic St. Basil’s Cathedral. There’s just something special about the area! Kremlin is fascinating and daunting at the same time, and it presents a mix of mysteries and luxuries unlike any other. It is alluring, scary, seductive and attractive, and what human has ever managed to resist such a combination! Two-thirds of Kremlin still remains closed to visitors, but the remaining one-third is more than enough to warrant hours (perhaps days) of sightseeing.
Viking Ship Museum, Roskilde
Roskilde is most famous for its four-day musical extravaganza that has attracted bands such as Metallica, Nirvana and Arctic Monkeys and easily ranks among the biggest rock festivals in Europe. However, for an entirely unique and enriching experience, you need to dive into the Viking legacy of Roskilde. The place was a thriving Viking community and is home to some of the best artifacts of this ancient civilization. The Viking Ship Museum is the best place to explore the Viking legacy, try out traditional Viking gear and ride around fjords on Viking ships.
Norwegian Sognefjord, Norway
Norway: A country that every living soul wants to call home. Norway: One of the most beautiful spots on earth. Norway: Home to the most exotic wildlife in Europe. Norway: The land of the fjords`! Sure, there’s so much to see and do, but you simply cannot think of Norway without thinking of fjords in the same breath. They are, after all, some of the best creations of nature. The ideal place to explore these fjords is Western Norway. Sognefjord, the most beautiful, most majestic, deepest, longest and most famous fjord landscape is also located here. Popularly called the king of fjords, this is the one fjord you must see while visiting the country.
Giant’s Causeway, UK
The Irish Coast has many things that are borderline exotic, but the Giant’s Causeway is nothing like you’ve ever imagined before for the simple reason that it feels as if it belongs to another time or perhaps another planet altogether. The shoreline is full of gray stones that are created out of basalt, and climbing hilly formations for jaw-dropping views is perhaps the best thing to do here. Apart from clicking countless photos for your social media profiles! These simple formations remind you exactly how amazing Mother Nature truly is and just how rewarding travel can be. And if you still need another reason, need we remind you that Northern Ireland is also home to some of the best eating and drinking experiences the planet!
Eiffel Tower, Paris
The Eiffel Tower doesn’t need any introduction, does it? Famous as one of the magnificent seven, Eiffel is where you go to for the best views of the city. But, for an entirely unique experience, we recommend a trip to one of those rooftop terraces that overlook the Eiffel Tower. Have a drink or two enjoying the sheer beauty and ingenuity of this mammoth steel sculpture and then head over to the tower itself for a face-to-face meeting. The Eiffel tower, one of the most amazing creation of engineering that offers the best view of the city.
If there is time for just one thing while in Athens, drop everything else and visit the Acropolis. Coming so close to the Parthenon is sure to be a life-changing moment, a moment you cherish all your life. As an added advantage, the views that the hill offers are some of the best you’ll find in the city. Bookmundi recommends you to visit as early as possible. You don’t want to share all that beauty with hundreds of tourists and visitors. And don’t forget to wear walking shoes either.
Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris
Notre Dame Cathedral is perhaps the most mesmerizing gothic structure to have been built by man. Located in the midst of the River Seine, Notre Dame presents a fascinating collection of gargoyles, a world-famous organ – the Cavaille-Coll, spectacular architecture and a thrilling experience. Built in the 14th century, Notre Dame was considered to be the heart and soul of medieval-era Paris. It soon fell into disrepair, only to rise from a period of neglect in the 19th century and become one of the most popular attractions in the City of Light. The cathedral’s stained glass, statues, towers and spire are sure to leave you spellbound, and climbing the North Tower to come close to a gargoyle is a must-do for adventure lovers and adrenaline junkies. A chance to reflect upon yourself in the calmness of Notre dame Cathedral.
Wine Tour, Chianti
Italy is home to more than 10% of the vineyards, some of which date all the way back to the Roman era. It is also famous for its wine regions such as Chianti, places that promise an incredibly romantic, adventurous, amazing and beautiful experience. A wine tour not only introduces you to the best food and wine of the region, but also lets you check out old-world towns and become a part of the local culture. Bookmundi recommends the Chianti region as it is the Italy you dream of. Wine-fuelled dinners, enchanting vineyards, sun-drenched slopes, terra-cotta towns and a slow-paced life. Enough said.
The Louvre, Paris
The Louvre doesn’t need any introduction. Famous as one of the top museums in the world, a trip to the Louvre is a must. There are thousands of arts and artifacts to check out. Renaissance-era paintings, Egyptian wonders and the IM Pei pyramid are a few of the highlights to watch out for. And make sure that you reserve at least one day for a trip to the Louvre and a decent amount of time for the Mona Lisa alone. Remember, you need to factor the time you will spend trying to make your way to the front as well as the time you remain transfixed when you finally get to see that magnificent painting.
Stonehenge, the most iconic archeological site of Britain, is sure to leave you confused and mesmerized at the same time. A launching pad for aliens? An ancient burial ground? A site for sun worshipping? No one really knows the mysteries behind Stonehenge and the meaning of those central trilithons that have been attracting poets, writers, artists and travelers for more than 5000 years. Stonehenge is as mysterious as ever and it is sure to leave you mesmerized with its unique architecture, countless beauty and untouched natural beauty.
Canal Tour, Amsterdam
Of course, you’ve got to visit the water when you’re exploring a city that has been entirely built on water! A canal tour presents unique sights that cannot be seen otherwise and offers an entirely unique introduction to Amsterdam. Those canals may not be anywhere close to the ones in Venice, but they certainly pack a punch. When visiting Amsterdam, all you have to do is grab some Heineken and enjoy a canal tour. The locals aren’t big on curtains so you get to see people living their everyday lives in those palatial townhouses that float by.
Ribeira literally translates to ‘riverside’ in Portuguese, a perfect representation for Cais da Ribeira, a beautiful district located on the banks of the Duoro River. Porto has often been called a living museum, and it certainly holds true for Cais da Ribeira. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the district presents a network of streets that are full of ancient buildings, old-world alleys, spectacular architecture, insights into the local way of life and the beautiful Ribeira Square, the best place to see life go by. Ribeira is also home to a delightful nightlife scene and some of the hottest bars of Porto.
Vatican City, Rome
The Legend. The center of Christianity. An ancient power. Home to two of the best attractions on the planet – Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica. A pilgrimage destination. A world-renowned tourist spot. The smallest country in the world. Vatican City goes by many names and is known for a lot of things. Its architecture, artworks and fountains are sure to be the main highlight of your trip, but the atmosphere itself is so special. The moment you step into the Vatican, you realize that you’re walking along the footsteps of some of the greatest men in history and exploring majestic wonders made by some of the most skilled artists of time.
- Museums, VIP To Sistine Chapel & St.Peter’s Basilica
- Sistine Chapel & St. Peter’s Basilica Early Entry
Museum Island, Berlin
Museum Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in located in a small island located on River Spree in the very heart of Berlin. The island presents five temple-like buildings – Pergamon Museum, Bode Museum, Neues Museum, Alte Nationalgalerie and Altes Museum –that preserve and showcase almost 6000 years of human history. Some of the superstar attractions of Museum Island include the Pergamon Altar and the bust of Nefertiti.
Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
Visit Barcelona and it is impossible to not come across more than one Antoni Gaudi creation. However, you’ve not seen Barcelona till you visit its most popular, most beautiful and most controversial attraction, the Sagrada Familia. You only need to look up to realize what makes this church so special and so unique. Its spires cast shadows across the city and its stained glass interiors leave you spellbound and breathless for hours. After all, when something is being constructed for more than 100 years, it must be unique, right?
- Skip-the-line: Guided Sagrada Familia Tour
- Skip-The-Line: Sagrada Familia – Gaudi Tour
- Skip-the-line-ticket To La Sagrada Familia With Towers!
British Museum, London
Considering the might of the Great British Empire and the number of colonies it governed during the imperial era, you can expect to find all kinds of ancient wonders and beautiful treasures here. The museum’s collection dates back to the Egyptian, Roman, Middle Eastern, Greek and Etruscan empires and it easily attracts more than 6 million visitors every year with its spectacular arts, relics and exhibits. The most famous residents of British Museum include Anglo-Saxon Sutton Hoo burial relics, the Parthenon Sculptures, the Rosetta Stone, Winged Bulls from Khorsabad and Egyptian mummies.
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Plitvice Lakes National Park hosts 16 beautiful lakes are connected to each other by a series of waterfalls and are located in a heavily forested national park that is full of bears, boars, deer, wolves and rare birds. The park is spread over 300 sq. kms. and presents two outstanding treks, the ideal ways of experiencing Plitvice Lakes at its enchanting and exhilarating best. The mineral-laden waters continuously carve through the surrounding rock, leaving behind ever-changing formations in their wake, and clouds of butterflies drift over those wooden pathways and footbridges that run along the edges. It takes around 6 hours to explore the lakes on foot, but expect this to be the most beautiful 6 hours of your life. And if time is a precious commodity, you can also complete the upper section of the lake in 2 hours.
Neuschwanstein Castle, Schwangau
Any castle that was good enough to inspire Disney is good enough for me. Well, that’s one way of putting it. It is true that Neuschwanstein Castle was the inspiration behind the Sleeping Beauty Castle, but it is also true that this architectural beauty was designed as a stage to showcases Germanic mythology by King Ludwig II. Built as a romantic medieval-era castle, Neuschwanstein Castle presents the Tristan and Isolde bedroom, a beautiful Gothic bed, the Byzantine Throne Room and mosaic flooring. For the perfect photo op, head over to the Marienbrücke. King Ludwig himself used to come here to see his home lit up in candlelight.
Doge’s Palace, Venice
Doge’s Palace is a grand palace in Venice that delights tourists with its splendid architecture, historic and biblical scenes painted onto walls and ornate works of arts. Also called Palazzo Ducale, Doge’s Palace is a gothic beauty that once hosted the erstwhile ruler of Venice, the Doge. It also acted as the headquarters for the Venetian Republic, a city-state that existed for 1000 years. Today, this beautiful palace has been transformed into a museum and its elaborate interiors and priceless paintings by Venetian masters are well loved by all. Some of the most popular attractions at Doge’s Palace include the Collegio, Scala d’Oro, Sala delle Quattro Porte and Sala del Senato.
- Skip The Line: Doge’s Palace Guided Tour
- Skip The Line: St Mark’s Basilica And Doge’s Palace Tours
- Morning Venice Walking Tour & Doge’s Palace Guided Visit
- Secret Venice Combo Tour & Skip-the-line Doge’s Palace
Grand Prix, Monaco
Monaco is the second-smallest country in the world, but it is certainly big on lifestyle, glitz, glamor and attitude. The Monaco Yacht Show is an ideal time to be in the city as it lets you check out some of the richest, most famous and sexiest people and also see beautiful yachts from all over the world. Casino Royale, yes the one that starred in the James Bond movie, is also located here. Another time to visit Monaco is during the Grand Prix. You really get to become a part of some of the best and most exciting events held in Europe. Better yet, the thrill of watching those speed machines live in action also gives you an adrenaline rush unlike any other.
Hagia Sophia, Istanbul
Hagia Sophia, also known as Ayasofya or Church of Holy Wisdom, is a former Ottoman mosque and Byzantine church located in the city of Istanbul. Today, Hagia Sophia has been transformed into a museum, simply because it is one of the greatest buildings ever built by man. Istanbul is home to a number of attractions that seduce and excite visitors, including the most-visited site on the planet, the Grand Bazaar, but visiting the Hagia Sophia still presents a feeling that cannot be felt anywhere else in the world. The first thing that you see once you enter the complex is a magnificent mosaic of Christ as the Ruler of All. The 9th century Virgin and Christ Child mosaic is also located here. Once you access the galleries by walking up the ramp at the northern end, you come across a number of mosaics depicting Christ, The Virgin Mary, emperors and empresses. And as you exit the building, the 10th century mosaic of Constantine the Great and the Beautiful Gate, an enchanting bronze gate dating back to the 2nd century BC, are sure to take your breath away.