It’s hard to narrow down the most beautiful places in Europe. After all, Europe consists of forty-four different countries, more than 700 million people and thousands of years of diverse history.
So, I reached out to some of the best female travel bloggers across the web and asked them to help me narrow down a list of the fifteen most beautiful places in Europe. (If you don’t see someone credited under the photo, then you can trust that it’s my own personal recommendation based on my travels throughout Europe.)
It was a tough job, and there were some truly beautiful places that just missed the cut. My apologies to Hvar, Ljubljana, Interlaken and Valencia… you’re beautiful, but these stunning European destinations have you beat (for now!).
So what made the list? Only the most beautiful cities, islands, regions and parks spanning the entire continent from west (Iceland) to east (Macedonia) and north (Latvia) to south (Spain).
To keep things fair I’ve listed these beautiful places in alphabetical order. Keep reading all the way to the bottom, because the last destination is just as beautiful as the first (really!).
There’s a reason I’ve traveled to Barcelona, Spain at least five times. It is easily one of the most beautiful places in Europe, and it just may be one of the most beautiful cities on the entire planet.
For example, consider the photo that I took above. I took this photo with a simple camera in the middle of winter (I actually think it may have been Christmas Day). Despite my basic gear and the wintery setting, you can still see so much of what makes Barcelona beautiful: a never-ending beach, palm trees for days and stunning modern architecture. No matter which neighborhood in Barcelona you choose to explore, you’re bound to find something that takes your breath away, whether it is a stunning building designed by Anton Gaudi in Eixample, a mysterious courtyard in the Barri Gotic or a waterfront promenade in Barceloneta. I’ve always believed that Barcelona is a city best explored by foot, as the sights, sounds and smells of the Catalonian capital are truly incomparable.
Submitted by Christine from And the Story Goes
“Connemara in County Galway, Ireland, is a beautiful 7,000-acre national park. With little development, the grasslands, bogs, and rivers are a perfect look at the natural Irish landscape. While you can drive around the region to see it, the best views are from the top of the seven-kilometer Diamond Hill Hike, where gravel and wooden footpaths lead to the the 445-meter summit. Interestingly, the top portion of the trail is pure granite (with steps carved in). On the way up, make sure to stop occasionally and look down, because these views are some of the best along the whole hike! Because it’s a loop, you’ll be on the backside of the mountain on the way down and won’t get to see then views again.
The Diamond Hill Hike loop can be strenuous at points, but the views are worth it. Bring some snacks once you get to the top so you can sit and enjoy the view (just remember to pack out anything you pack in). The whole trail is well marked so you won’t get lost. If you run out of time or want to turn back, you can follow the yellow or blue markers to make a shorter loop. The hike starts at the Visitor Center, which is a ninety-minute drive or three-hour bus ride from Galway.”
De Hoge Veluwe National Park, The Netherlands
Submitted by Lesia from Dutch Wannabee
“De Hoge Veluwe National Park is an absolute must for all nature-lovers and wildlife observers that set foot in The Netherlands. This huge park is a perfect day trip from Amsterdam, as it’s easily accessible by public transport (two hours) or car (one hour). In classic Dutch fashion the park is fully accessible not only to cars but also to bicycles. There are free bikes and parking spots throughout the area so that you can experience every part of the park to the fullest.
The park combines different landscapes: you will pass through sand dunes and into woodland, which gives way to magnificent heathlands filled with vivid purple fields of heather. Be prepared to spot the occasional deer, boar, badger or even fox. Photographers from all over come equipped with their most far-reaching lenses during the mating season, prepared to wait for hours for a shot of deer emerging from the thick treeline. If you’d like to join in on the fun, you should rent a car and bring a lens over 300mm – the deer are very shy and the photographers mean business!
Once you’ve had your fill of nature, head to the centre of the park into the Kröller-Müller Museum, which houses the second largest collection of Van Gogh paintings in the whole world (after the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, of course). The art museum has its own park filled with sculptures and interactive art displays in a forest setting.”
Isle of Skye, Scotland
Submitted by Kristin from Countdown to Friday
“Have you heard of the Isle of Skye in Scotland? It’s probably the most famous island of the whole country, and rightly so. It has some seriously impressive natural landmarks, like the rock formations at the Old Man of Storr, the cliffs of the Quiraing, and the waterfalls of the Fairy Pools. If you like a bit of adventure when you travel, hiking to these beautiful spots is a must. Even just driving around the island, it’s as if every view deserves to be on a postcard or the scene of an epic movie. The landscape is filled with rolling mountains and valleys in vibrant greens, yellows, and browns, with sheep and Highland cattle roaming about and moody skies overhead. You’ll also see castle ruins and old cemeteries, reminding you of the real history of the place. And while you can also enjoy things like whisky tasting at Talisker Distillery, a world class meal at Three Chimneys Restaurant (the UK’s Restaurant of the Year in 2018), or a performance at Aros Theater, nothing compares to the natural beauty of the Isle of Skye. It still feels raw and authentic, which can be hard to find in travel nowadays. The Isle of Skye is without a doubt one of the most beautiful destinations in all of Europe.”
Submitted by Dorothy from Oz and Other Places
“The Jungfrau region of Switzerland is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. I don’t typically thrive in cold weather situations but I couldn’t help falling in love with these mountains. Jungfrau (which means “virgin”) is named for its most famous peak and is located in Bernese Oberland, in central Switzerland. Each town in the area has something unique to offer. Interlaken has two gorgeous lakes, Lauterbrunnen offers great hiking trails, and Mürren sits up in the clouds with the world’s oldest ski resort. Chalets scatter the countryside and make you feel like you’re in a fairy tale with their wooden shingles and intricate designs.
With most of the towns nestled in the mountains, taking in the views is wonderful. However, if you get a clear day, I highly recommend getting an even higher vantage point. There are plenty of easily accessible lifts and trains to take you up, even if you’re not skiing. With Jungfrau being the most famous, it will be the busiest and most expensive, but there are some other great options too. We went to the top of Grindelwald First and were not disappointed. The views are so breathtaking it’s almost hard to believe they are real!”
Lake Ohrid, Macedonia
In my opinion, Lake Ohrid, Macedonia is actually home to two of the most beautiful places in Europe: Sveti Naum Monastery and the Church of Saint John at Kaneo.
The Sveti Naum monastery was built more than one thousand years ago on the southernmost banks of Lake Ohrid. Built in typical Byzantine style, it features red brick walls, a large terrace overlooking the lake and river below, and a family of friendly peacocks that stroll the grounds. There is a gorgeous lagoon at the base of the monastery; I suggest enjoying a quiet lunch at one of the waterfront restaurants (I can highly recommend the vegetables cooked in a terracotta pot!) and then hiring a boatman to take you through the natural waterways.
Equally beautiful is the Church of Saint John at Kaneo (shown above), possibly the most iconic religious site in the entire Balkan region. It’s an easy walk along the water from the town of Ohrid, although it’s worth taking the “scenic route” (okay, the long route) by first walking up to the fortress and then approaching the church from the north. This way, your first views of this thirteenth-century church will be postcard perfect: a tiny red church set high above a blue lake and against a blue sky.
Loire Valley, France
Submitted by Kathleen from Dream, Wander, Repeat
“If you’re not from Europe, the Loire Valley is a part of France that you may never have heard of before. But you have most likely seen photos from the area. And that is because of how stunning the region is! If you love fairy tale castles and countryside hills lined with vineyards, then the Loire Valley region should definitely be on the top of your must-visit list. From historic towns, beautiful castles and gardens, to stunning scenery and great outdoor activities, the Loire Valley has it all.
The châteaux of the Loire inspired the castles in some of the most-loved Disney films, including Beauty & the Beast and Cinderella. There are more than 300 châteaux in the Loire region, and more than a hundred are open to the public. While they will almost all feature creamy white stone walls and grey-blue roofs, each one is unique and has something different to offer. The gardens attached to many of the châteaux are spectacular. There is even one château that you can canoe under!
In the year 2000, the United Nations officially recognized the beauty and importance of the region by designated part of the area a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Known as the Garden of France, the Loire Valley is also teaming with orchards, vineyards and farmland. The lush green valley is pockmarked by limestone cliffs. Some cliffs feature troglodyte dwellings which have been built into the rocks, as well as caves and tunnels created by the quarries that provided the châteaux with their trademark white stone. Many of the tunnels have now been converted into wine cellars, restaurants, cave tours, and even mushroom farms, making for unique attractions for your itinerary.”
The Maramures mountain range spans the northern border of Romania, and the region surrounding these mountains is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in Europe.
My introduction to the region started in Viseu de Sus, a quaint town in the Carpathian mountains. Viseu de Sus is home to one of the last remaining steam-powered mining trains in Europe, and each morning they allow tourists to join the loggers as the train chugs through the hills, deep into the forest.
From there, I headed further west to Sighetu Marmatiei, a city on the border of Romania and Ukraine. I visited “Sighet” especially to see the Merry Cemetery in the nearby village of Sapanta, but also enjoyed visiting the attractions in town, like Elie Wiesel’s birthplace and the Memorial of the Victims of Communism Museum.
Finally, I caught a slow-moving morning train south towards Cluj-Napoca. It was on this morning train that I took in some of the most beautiful views I had ever seen, as the sun rose over the hills and shone down upon the lush green fields. Along the way we passed by some lesser-known fortified churches and picturesque farming villages. Years later it remains one of my favorite train rides in the world.
On my first day in Riga, Latvia, I had no idea that I was visiting one of the most beautiful places in Europe. You see, I actually spent most of the day in a bunker deep underneath the city, shooting old Soviet guns (with suspiciously little eye and ear protection…). Apparently nothing goes with guns quite like beer, so I then joined the rest of the crew from the Naughty Squirrel Hostel for dinner and drinks that stretched way into the early hours of my second day in the city.
So, it was Day Two when I really discovered all of the different ways that Riga is beautiful. My hostel was in the Old Town, where the narrow, cobblestone streets are packed with houses painted in beautiful pastel shades. We were only a few blocks away from a number of historic guild buildings, as well as the famous House of the Blackheads (kind of like a Renaissance Chamber of Commerce). That evening, I headed over to Alberta Iela, the heart of the city’s Art Nouveau district. Here, dozens of ornate buildings were erected between 1901 and 1908, featuring details like emotion-filled reliefs of human faces, looming gargoyles and even a Sphinx-like statue guarding a doorway. For architecture lovers, Riga’s beauty is unparalleled.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
“Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a medieval walled city majestically perched beside the Tauber River Valley. It has a storied past as to how it managed to escape destruction (on multiple occasions), and the walls still stand today. Many tourists make it a day trip from Munich or Wurzburg, but it’s definitely worth spending the night there because the views of the valley at sunset are stunning.
Walking down the streets and around the squares is like walking through a postcard of Germany. Pick up a local treat called a Schneeball (a ball-shaped pastry infused with plum schnapps) or step into the Kathe Wolhfahrt Christmas Shop for year-round Christmas. Don’t say auf Wiedersehen to Germany without stopping by!”
Submitted by Chantal from Alleen Op Reis
“Sicily is definitely one of the most beautiful places in Europe. Did you know that it’s the largest island in the Mediterranean? Because of its strategic location between Europe and Africa, Sicily has had many cultural influences. The island has been dominated by Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans and Spaniards. From Roman theaters to Greek temples, Sicily has some of the most sensational ancient sights in Europe. Combine this with beautiful beaches and nature, vibrant cities and amazing, low-priced food, and you understand why I can’t wait to see more of this Mediterranean gem. I particularly enjoyed the southeastern part of the island with beautiful Baroque towns like Ragusa and Noto. But even a city like Catania, which doesn’t have the best reputation, amazed me with its beautiful architecture, colorful markets and great restaurants. Make sure you try a cannolo when you visit Sicily, a popular Sicilian sweet treat made from pastry filled with ricotta and topped with chopped pistachios.”
“Sifnos, a small island in the Cyclades, is one of Greece’s best-kept secrets. It has all the natural beauty of the more popular Greek islands but with fewer crowds and more affordable prices. There is no airport on Sifnos, so we took a ferry from Athens. My husband and I chose to stay in Kastro, a sleepy hilltop village on the east side of the island. We soon embraced the slow pace of island life. We spent each morning hiking through wildflower-covered hills and along the rugged coastline. Aside from the occasional goat or donkey, we typically had the trails to ourselves. When we worked up an appetite, we feasted on delicious Sifnos specialties like revithithada (chickpea soup) and xinomizithra cheese at restaurants with patios overlooking the Aegean Sea. In the afternoons we wandered through Kastro’s narrow, whitewashed alleyways and visited several of the island’s 365 picturesque churches. We fell asleep each night with the salty scent of sea air wafting through our open window. The days quickly melted away, and we were already planning our return visit when we reluctantly boarded a ferry to Athens four days later.”
I can’t believe that I almost missed out on visiting one of the most beautiful places in Europe – Suzdal, Russia. When I took the Trans-Siberian Express from Vladivostock to Moscow, I didn’t plan to stop at any of the cities in the famous “Golden Ring”. In fact, I rode right past Vladimir (the nearest train station to Suzdal) and checked in to my hostel in Moscow. However, I had a nagging feeling in the back of my mind that I would regret not escaping the city for a day or two, so I hopped back on the train to Vladimir and then caught a small minibus to Suzdal.
In the end, Suzdal turned out to be one of my absolute favorite stops across the entire country of Russia. The whole town is nothing but rolling green fields, babbling brooks, wooden footbridges and more domed Orthodox churches than you can count. Suzdal has a fortified riverfront Kremlin, five historic monasteries and convents (including the one shown in my photograph) and fourteen bell towers. The town continues to embrace Russian traditions through its mead tasting room, artisan shops selling traditional floral dresses, horse-drawn carriages and restaurants that cook using locally-grown ingredients. Everything seems to be moving in slow motion, especially compared to Moscow (which is only four hours away).
Submitted by Clare from Bohemian Bites
“Tuscany’s landscapes are iconic for good reason. Its dreamlike vistas of rolling hills, dotted with giant cypress trees and ochre stone farmhouses, has to be seen to be believed. In the springtime it’s impossibly green, while it takes on burnt yellow hues under the intense summer sun. Come late summer, fields bloom bright with endless sunflowers before the whole region becomes a riot of fiery red, yellow and golden autumn hues. But it’s more than just those famous rolling hills – Tuscany has everything from dense forest and mountain trails to sandy beaches and its own island, Elba.
While driving through Tuscany is mostly very scenic, the best ways to see the vast expanses of unspoiled Tuscan countryside are on foot, by bike or by train – especially the slow steam trains that depart from Siena to visit the food and wine festivals around the region. And that has to be my absolute favourite thing about Tuscany: every single town and village in the region seems to specialize in some type of wine, cheese, ham or another delicious local treat, and celebrate it often. No wonder this region is synonymous with la dolce vita!”
Submitted by Greta from Greta’s Travels
“If you’re looking for one of the most beautiful destinations in Europe, the Westfjords in Iceland have to feature on your bucket list. Also known as “Iceland’s Best Kept Secret” the Westfjords are one of the most rural regions in Iceland and one of the most stunning from a nature point of view. In the Westfjords you will find epic waterfalls, red sand beaches, huge cliffs, cute puffins and much more. If you visit in winter you might also be lucky enough to see the famous Northern Lights, while in summer you will see the midnight sun. The biggest town in the Westfjords has only 2,500 inhabitants, so if you’re a city person you might not enjoy a trip in this rural part of Iceland. However, if you’re a nature lover you have to add the Westfjords to your Iceland itinerary.”
Traveling to Europe with kids? Check out Everyday Wanderer’s guide to the best European cities to visit with kids!
Have you been any of the most beautiful places in Europe? Did we miss anything on our list?
Let us know in the comments!