The 18 Most Beautiful Places in Europe to Add to Your Bucket List
There's beauty to be found on every continent, but Europe, with its 51 independent countries made up of vastly different landscapes, languages, and time zones, is spoiled with variety. We narrowed it down to 18 spectacular places that will leave you speechless.
Amalfi Coast, Italy
There are a few destinations in the world that make it onto every traveler’s bucket list, and the Amalfi Coast is one of them. From legendary Positano to hilltop Ravello, the glamour of Italy’s most famous peninsula—with its pastel-colored towns cascading down to the Mediterranean, olive groves, and endless limoncello—has not waned for centuries.
Lavender fields that stretch over the horizon are an iconic image of Provence, but there’s far more beauty here than just its sweet-smelling flowers—including Michelin-starred cuisine, art studios used by names like Matisse and Cézanne, and scenic roads that pass by sugar-white beaches, mountain passes, and the glittering blues of the Mediterranean Sea.
The Faroe Islands
They’re calling them the “next Iceland”—a collection of 18 treeless islands somewhere between Iceland and Norway, dominated by nature and far from tourism. Life in the Faroes revolves around the sea, just as the landscape is shaped by it: craggy cliffs carved from the north Atlantic’s strong swells level off into verdant meadows, where colorful cottages and churches disappear and reemerge from the clouds.
The Storr, Scotland
The Isle of Skye, in the far west Scottish Highlands, is home to landscapes so supernatural that it’s become a go-do backdrop for countless fantasy movies. Especially moving are the Storr, a formation of rocky pinnacles that jut out like spikes from a grassy hillside overlooking the island’s rugged coastline. You have to hike to get there, but don’t be deterred by the weather: Scotland’s famous rain and mist make it look that much more magical.
Look past the crowds and you’ll find that one of the most storied cities in the world hasn’t lost an ounce of romance. Cruising the Adriatic lagoon by gondola, taking tours of its historic palazzi, snapping a photo in Piazza San Marco—it’s all been done before, but few spots in the world are as worth braving the masses to experience as this.
Lake Bled, Slovenia
Slovenia can’t compete in size, but its scenery is second to none. Every serious photographer who ends up here makes a beeline for the hills surrounding Lake Bled, where they can take in its fairytale-like central island (home to a single Gothic church built in the 1400s) and surrounding Julian Alps.
This tiny, Iron-Age hamlet spills down a slope to the shores of Lake Hallstatt and is surrounded by mountains on all sides, where scenic trails take in the area’s glaciers and incredible fall foliage come autumn. Winter is equally beautiful, especially when snow covers the alpine houses and Baroque churches and a Christmas market takes over the main square.
Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
Western Ireland’s majestic Cliffs of Moher draw millions of visitors a year thanks to their sweeping vistas of where land meets sea and have become a symbol of their country’s beauty. See if you can spot colonies of puffins, which nest in its most isolated corners, as well as the distant Aran Islands.
This addition might come as a surprise, but we love its backstory: in 1860, a local knight in Kromlau, now part of Kromlauer Park, commissioned this arched bridge with the hope that the watery reflection beneath it would create the illusion of a perfect circle. Pictures speak for themselves.
There’s not a single ugly corner to be found in the whole of the Norwegian fjords, but some hikes outdo others. One of those is the demanding 16.8-mile hike (round-trip) to Trolltunga (meaning “the troll’s tongue”), a rock formation jutting out over Lake Ringedalsvatnet.
Similarly to Trolltunga, one of Iceland’s most iconic landmarks is as naturally beautiful as it is remote—a freestanding (and eye-pleasingly symmetrical) mountain near the northern coast of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula surrounded by beaches, waterfalls, and everything you’d picture Iceland to be. Its colors change drastically with the seasons, which makes for a great photo op no matter the month.
Only four of Meteora’s 24 original 11th-century monasteries, which were built on top of sandstone towers to protect them from pillagers during medieval times, survive. They still don’t look real.
This Flemish “Venice of the North” is its own kind of canal city—one where winding river-ways share space with secret gardens, quaint chocolate shops, atmospheric breweries serving Trappist beers, and medieval architecture spared from WWII.
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Icy forests, husky-led sled rides, herds of reindeer, tiny log cabins blanketed in snow…. Finnish Lapland, high up in the Arctic Circle, is the real-life version of the North Pole, complete with Northern Lights viewings and igloo hotels to watch them in.
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Fantasy novels must have been inspired by Sintra. Just outside Lisbon, this gorgeous corner of Portugal is crowned by a colorful palace and the ruins of a Moorish fortress, which lord over the town. Don’t miss the Gothic national palace or time to stroll its cobbled streets when you go.
Bay of Kotor, Montenegro
Croatia was all the rage for the past few years, but now that the sun is setting on Game of Thrones, its Mediterranean neighbor is stepping into the spotlight. Many of the country’s best draws lie in Kotor, a UNESCO-listed town overlooking the bay home to centuries-old palazzos and alleyways, standout food, and primeval forests.
Plitviče Lakes National Park, Croatia
Everyone knows about the Grand Canyon and the Serengeti, but have you heard of Plitvice Lakes? If not, that’s a shame, because Croatia’s oldest national park deserves a spot up there with the bigwigs. Here, a river flowing through a mountain valley forms 16 ethereal emerald-green lakes fed by countless waterfalls. Wooden walkways let visitors explore them one by one in between hikes through the surrounding forest.
Fabulous black-pebble and red-sand beaches. Iconic whitewashed buildings that cling to rocks overlooking an underwater caldera. A picture-perfect blue-domed monastery (and Instagram mecca). Legendary sunsets from its main town of Oia. We said it once and we’ll say it again: this crescent-shaped Aegean island is romance gold.
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