Europe is one of the more popular travel destinations in the world due to it’s cultural heritage, beautiful scenery, and lavish lifestyles. It’s impossible to tour Europe in one trip let alone ten, but we can at least give some popular destination spots to check off your bucket list.
European Countries to Visit
Most countries lie within the European Union (EU) and share a common currency, the Euro. This makes passage within the region easier and multi-country holidaying a reality. Europe is also well connected via a complex, but simple network of trains. Efficient travel combined with fewer trips to the currency exchange counter equal more time and money saved.
Map of European Countries
European Countries and Capitals
Welcome to Europe!
Sophistication, history, wealth, and wild — Europe has it all. Long admired by travelers, there is an attraction for everyone in Europe. As the second smallest continent, falling just in front of Australia, Europe crams a lot into a little. The continent’s cultural history alone is abundant. When topped with fine art and culinary masterpieces — Europe is irresistible.
Europe’s history is far too long to sum up in a few paragraphs. However, travelers are frequently drawn to the ancient world’s greatest feats. Epic showdowns have occurred in Europe where West meets East as cultures clash and ideologies collide. In some places, like Turkey, the mix of both cultures is prominent on the street. Germany was divided by West and East with the Berlin Wall lasting from 1961 to 1989.
Yet, Europe’s history isn’t all about show downs. This continent is well-known for the British monarchy, ancient democracy in Greece, and the Enlightened art in Italy. Throughout all the periods of time, Europe has found ways to keep thriving. Plagues and wars have tried to stand in the way but no matter the obstacle, Europe continues to thrive.
The Four Stars
Millions of people visit Europe each year. Though, there are four top countries that stand out from the other nations. France, Spain, Italy, and the United Kingdom top the list as Europe’s most visited countries. Tens of millions of travelers flock to these four nations to experience the art, culture, food, and history.
Unsurprisingly, France comes in at number one on the list with Paris as its most visited city. Iconic is the only way to describe the City of Lights, whose remarkable landmarks include the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Louvre Museum, and Notre Dame Cathedral. As a city packed with small cafes and romance in the street, Paris fuels the soul.
Outside of Paris, France’s most visited areas include Normandy and the Southern region. Travelers from the United States are most familiar with Normandy because of World War II and the battleground beaches. Aside from a dark past, highlights in Normandy include Mont-Saint Michel and Étretat.
Southern France is a playground for the rich and famous. In this area of the country, the French Riviera is widely sought for its wealthy resort towns like Cannes and Saint-Tropez. In the quiet areas of the south, away from the glitz and glam, travelers can explore the Southern Alps or sniff lavender in Provence.
France’s southern border meets Spain, which happens to be the continent’s second most visited country. Barcelona is the must-see city in Spain, where guests can visit important landmarks like the Bascilica de la Sagrada Familia or Park Güell. Gaudi’s architecture is a major draw for tourists as his creations make the buildings come to life.
Madrid is another hotspot destination in Spain. The city is filled with art, museums, and elegant boulevards. The Prado Museum holds works of art by Spanish masters and in the Royal Palace and Armory, you can view antique weapons. On the streets, the Plaza Mayor is the place to be when you aren’t strolling through parks like the Buen Retiro.
One of Spain’s best regions to visit is Andalusia on the Southern Coast. Seville and Granada are the two most popular towns. Both towns have historic landmarks like a castle and Moorish quarter. Alhambra is Granada’s go-to spot, which is a preserved Moorish fort and a big attraction in Andalusia.
Following Spain, Italy is the most visited country on the European continent. Icons like the Roman Empire, Vatican, and Renaissance masterpieces have put Italy on the map. Rome is the country’s capital and most visited city.
Once the stronghold of the Roman Empire, Rome’s ancient landmarks include the Parthenon and Colosseum. The Vatican is also in Rome, though it’s city is officially an independent state. One also can’t forget the city’s fountains, which are used as receptacles for tossed coins. The Trevi Fountain is the prime spot to toss your coin.
Florence and Venice are Italy’s two other great cities. They are renowned for their art and canals. The epicenter of Renaissance art, Florence displays masterpieces by Donatello, Raphael, and Leonardo da Vinci. Michelangelo’s “David” also stands tall in Florence.
Venice is world-famous for its watery canals, bridges, and Gothic architecture. Tourists can hire a boat to explore the canals or hit the streets to see the Piazza San Marco square. The Venice Carnival is a popular event that is held annually before Easter.
Finally, Europe’s fourth most visited country is the United Kingdom. Technically, the UK is comprised of four countries that form a union. England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are a part of this union. However, England draws in the most visitors.
England is undeniably famous for London, it’s epic history, and still reigning monarchy. The Queen is a tourist attraction as visitors are eager to see Buckingham Palace. Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London are also tourist attractions that are closely associated to the Crown.
London’s other iconic landmarks are the Big Ben Clock Tower and London Eye. The Thames River runs throughout the city with the banks being a popular place to walk and view the skyline.
Situated in Central Europe, the forever iconic Alps are a place of wonderment. If you’re looking for a picturesque mountain holiday, look no further than a myriad of distinct countries and mountain cultures. They are located within:
- northern Italy
- southern France
From high class watches and fine milk chocolate, to ringing cowbells and towering mountains, Switzerland has its fair share of iconic stereotypes. The Alps strategically divide the country making domestic travel here an absolute delight for the senses.
With the steep vertical rises high above the valley floors, and the wicked, winding alpine passes, it’s as of a pretty place to be in Europe as they come. The Swiss know how to cater too so expect top notch, timely service across the board.
Far in the North
Northern Europe boasts some of the countries most remote landscapes of snow and ice. In this region, the Nordic countries dominate. Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Iceland are the five Nordic nations. Three of these nations also comprise Scandinavia.
Scandinavia consists of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. Together, the three countries share cultures, history, and somewhat similar languages. Comfort is key in Scandinavia, but so is not standing out from the crowd. Excess is frowned upon here.
Though try as they might, the three Scandinavian countries do stand out from the crowd as their frosty landscapes are perfect for winter wonderland adventures. From snowcapped peaks, deep lakes and jagged rocks, Scandinavia is beautiful. Even under blankets of thick snow.
While Finland and Iceland aren’t a part of Scandinavia, they are Nordic. Finland is most famous for Helsinki. A modern city with neoclassical vibes. Iceland is mostly remote, but a recent boom in eco-tourism has sprung up because of the country’s green way of life. Legendary landscapes also entice visitors to bundle up and head to Iceland.
Off The Beaten Trail
Additional highlights in Europe include cities in nations that receive fewer visitors than the popular hotspots. Still, these destinations deserve their chance to shine. As you’re touring Europe, you might want to take the time to explore great cities like Berlin, Prague, Moscow, and Istanbul.
Each city has a different feel, which demonstrates Europe’s diversity. Never a dull moment, travelers will love to explore these mega metropolises and learn their unique stories.
Europe can’t be traveled in one tour. Even the most epic tours will miss the nooks and crannies. As a traveler, you shouldn’t rush through Europe. Instead, take the time to enjoy the cities, explore the land, and learn the history.
The best part about Europe is returning. The continent awaits and whether it is your first trip or your hundredth, Europe seeks to amaze.
Latest in Europe
While visiting the capital of Galicia, Ourense, in northwestern Spain, stop by Termas de Outariz, a…
Situated in Spain’s southernmost region, you will find Balneario de Zújar, a polished hotel featuring beautiful…
View more Europe articles