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The tl;dr: on Places to See in Europe

Looking for Europe destination ideas? Find out our recommendations of where to travel in Europe based on our personal experience living in Europe for more than 13 years. 

Did you know that we've visited every single country in the European Union? Let me show you Europe's highlights in addition to European hidden gems. 

Read on for country-by-country recommendations of places to see in Europe. This page contains the tl;dr: (too long...didn't read). 

Click on the linked posts to deep dive on a particular country, region, or city to learn more.

Alternatively, if you'd prefer a 'choose your own adventure' style quiz, take the Sidewalk Safari European Destination picker for a spin.

Places to see in Europe

Countries in the European Union

Let's start with a look at destination ideas in each of the countries that are part of the European Union.

Places to see in Europe: Austria


In our experience, Austria is all about winter fun. 

Start by discovering things to do in Vienna in December including some of my favorite European Christmas Markets

European Destination Ideas: Belgium


Did you know that you can easily explore Belgium by train

Check out four different ways to spend a day in Ghent. Find out if CityCard Ghent is a good value for money. Alternatively, take yourself on a tour to find the best Ghent chocolate

Get off the tourist track and spend a day in Mons in the Spring. Be sure to make time for a beer on the grand square. 

If you don't have a lot of time to spare, make the most of a short layover in Brussels. If you have more time, travel from Brussels to Antwerp for a day.

Belgium at Christmas is magical! Experience Brussels like a local or discover 15 reasons to visit Bruges for Christmas including sampling Bruges chocolate. Take a Bruges to Ypres day trip to explore World War I history. 

Don't forget, when you are considering places to visit in Europe, Belgian beer is some of the best in the world.

Where to travel in Europe: Bulgaria


Bulgaria is one of my favorite Ryanair destinations in Europe. Discover cool things to do in Sofia and then travel from Sofia to Plovdiv for a weekend to taste wines and explore the region's Roman history.

Places to visit in Europe: Croatia


Croatia provides a mix of history and seaside vibes. Learn techniques for how to avoid the crowds on a holiday in Dubrovnik. Better yet, spend 24 hours in Rovinj, a hidden gem on the Istrian Peninsula.

Europe Travel Destinations: Cyprus


Discover this tiny island packed with history on a one week Cyprus road trip. From local wines to Roman ruins to fantastic beaches, Cyprus is a great destination for an enriching sun holiday.

Places to see in Europe: The Czech Republic

Czech Republic

Prague is, of course, one of the best cities in the world with crowds to match. Have you heard of Brno? Visit Brno in winter for a different experience in the Czech Republic.

European destinations: Denmark


I do think the Copenhagen Christmas markets are overrated. However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't plan a weekend city break in Copenhagen in the winter. What about Aarhus, Denmark's second city? Is Aarhus worth visiting in the winter?

Europe Destination Ideas: Estonia


Tallinn, Estonia is another destination we've visited thanks to Ryanair. Of course, the weather can be a bit iffy, but I've got you covered with my list of things to do in Tallinn in the rain.

Places to visit in Europe: Finland


I've spent a fair amount of time in Finland for both work and play. Start with 2 days in Helsinki to orient yourself and then embark on a Southern Finland road trip to explore some out of the way places including the oddest place I've ever seen: Parikkala Sculpture Park.

Places to travel in Europe: France


You can't go wrong with a trip to France. 

Whether you are planning a getaway to Paris for Valentine's Day including a day trip to Reims for a taste of champagne; looking for things to do in Lyon; planning 3 days in Bordeaux including a wine-focused day trip to Médoc or St. Emilion; or celebrating Christmas in Provence, the breadth and depth of experiences you'll find is incredible. 

Looking for something completely off the beaten track? Discover things to do in St. Jean de Luz in French Basque Country. Alternatively, you could spend the weekend exploring Carcassonne and Toulouse

Feel like driving? Explore things to see in Languedoc by car including a visit to the Camargue Flamingos. You could also take a Paris to Normandy road trip and explore World War II history. My personal favorite French road trip was a 5 day Loire Valley itinerary to see some of the most iconic chateaux in the world.

If you are a visual person, check out my pictures of France to help you pick the perfect French destination.

Where to travel in Europe: Germany


Germany has so many cool cities to visit! 

Discover 13 reasons to visit Frankfurt for a weekend. When you're there, explore nearby Mainz

Germany is an ideal place to go for the holidays. Spend Christmas in Stuttgart, visit Dusseldorf for a day and then head to the Christmas markets of North Rhine-Westphalia

Have fun on a business trip to Munich and spend 2 days in Munich in the Spring. Don't forget to see the golden hall on a day trip from Munich to Augsburg

If you visit Bavaria in the winter, head north for about 90 minutes to Regensburg for a less touristy Christmas market experience. From here, you can also visit Germany's most famous Christmas market in Nuremberg

Nuremberg has a darker side as well. The city is home to the Nazi Documentation Centre. Alternatively.

Get off the beaten path and head east for a city break in Dresden and Leipzig

Head to the farthest reaches of Northern Germany and discover things to do in Hamburg including paying a visit to one of my favorite European food markets

Places to see in Europe: Greece


Start your vacation in Greece in Athens, of course. There are many reasons to visit Athens: the Acropolis and Greek ruins, the fabulous food scene, and more. You could easily plan a 4 day Athens itinerary to start your Greek trip. 

Drive to the Peloponnese peninsula for a day trip or push further and discover all the things to do in Nafplio, Greece's first modern capital.

Next, fly to the Greek Islands where, for example, you can discover the unique things to do in Santorini including iconic walks and special wines.

European destination ideas: Hungary


Spend two days in Budapest for a small taste of Hungarian culture including plenty of 20th century history, iconic baths, and delicious cakes.

Places to travel in Europe: Ireland


Ireland was my home for 12 years and I have a lot of opinions on Irish travel. Start with this comprehensive list of things to do in Dublin for inspiration which includes popular attractions as well as Dublin hidden gems

Like to walk? I've got you covered with 22 ideas for a Dublin walk including my insider's guide on where to find the best doors in Dublin if you like photography. 

If you only have a short layover in Dublin planned, pick one of my 25 "Dublin in a day" itineraries based on your unique interests. Once again, if you are a visual person, I can offer you more than 100 pictures of Dublin to inspire your Irish vacation.

Next, consider my picks for the best places to visit in Ireland. Whether you are planning an Irish road trip or would prefer to explore Ireland by train, there are so many spectacular cities, towns, and villages in Ireland to explore! 

I can also offer you more than 130 pictures of Ireland to help you narrow down your options.

Europe travel ideas: Italy


You can't go wrong with a city break in Italy. Start the year with a weekend in Rome in January or spend 2 days in Milan. Is Trieste worth visiting? Yes! This is Italy off of the tourist track.

Plan a Ryanair weekend in Bergamo with a quick day trip to Lake Iseo as well.

Head to Bologna, one of the most fascinating cities we've visited in Italy. From here, you can do a proper Emilia-Romagna food holiday including day trips to Parma or Modena. You could also discover the best things to do in Ferrara as an alternative Bologna day trip.

Head South for a 10 day Sicily road trip, a European adventure of a lifetime! Go on a street food tour in Palermo and discover what to eat in Sicily.  

Travel Europe: Latvia


Spend 3 days in Riga in the Autumn where you'll find a food market housed in a Soviet-era hangar. The best thing about Riga in my opinion is definitely the architecture. Take yourself on an Art Nouveau walking tour.

Best places to see in Europe: Lithuania


Discover all the fun things to do in Vilnius. Many people overlook Kaunas, but I've got 10 reasons that I think Kaunas is worth visiting. Vilnius and Kaunas make for an efficient city break weekend. Fly into Vilnius and out of Kaunas on Ryanair.

Places to visit in Europe: Luxembourg


Looking for a destination that not everyone has been to? Head to Luxembourg City. Here, I tell you how to get the most from a Luxembourg Card and explore some of the best day trips from Luxembourg City.

European destination ideas: Malta


Spend 3 days in Malta to explore the vibrant city of Valletta, colorful fishing villages, and the remains of ancient civilizations.

Europe Travel Ideas: The Netherlands

The Netherlands

There are so many top places to visit in the Netherlands! Amsterdam is one of the greatest cities in the work and a weekend in Amsterdam is definitely worth your time. 

If you like cities and would like to get away from the tourist crowds in Amsterdam, I recommend exploring alternative things to do in The Hague. Did you know that Den Haag even has a beach?

I can also give you many reasons to visit Rotterdam in winter based on my travel experience.

Where to go in Europe? Poland


Poland offers so many delightful destinations to explore. Spend 48 hours in Warsaw to start and discover fantastic Polish foods to try

A weekend in Krakow can't be beat if you appreciate history (even difficult history). 

Tricity Poland which includes Gdansk is another historic gem. The first shots of World War II were fired here and the city is home of the 20th century labor movement. 

Get off the beaten path in Poland with a Ryanair weekend discovering things to do in Poznan and Bydgoszcz. Alternatively, head to Wroclaw in winter where you can go gnome hunting.

Best places to see in Europe: Portugal


I live in Lisbon and have had the luxury of exploring Portugal in depth. Let's start in my home city: discover Lisbon hidden gems and some of the best coffee in Lisbon

Whether you are visiting Lisbon for Christmas or Lisbon in June for the Popular Saints Festivals, Lisbon is worth visiting year round. Visit the National Tile Museum and then hop on the commuter train to Queluz Palace to see the spectacular tiled canal. Alternatively, spend the day exploring Carcavelos Beach.

Take a wine tasting tour to Setúbal or just hop on the ferry to Almada for a memorable day out from the capital. You could also head to Tomar with its UNESCO World Heritage ambiance for a day.

Moving beyond Lisbon, head to Óbidos for the chocolate festival. I can also definitely recommend a trip to the Algarve in December

A road trip in Central Portugal is always fun. Drive to Alentejo and Alqueva Lake for a dark sky adventure. Discover things to do in Castelo Branco and find out if the Cherry Festival in Alcongosta is worth the trip.

Head north to Coimbra for a day, Portugal's university city, and then to Aveiro for a long weekend in the "Venice of Portugal". 

Spend 3 days in Porto and find out why Vila Nova de Gaia is a great home base for a visit to the region. There are plenty of Porto day trip ideas to keep you busy (Douro Valley wines, anyone?).

Don't forget that Portugal also has great island hopping opportunities. Spend a weekend in Madeira and try some of the best foods on the island. Of course, be ready to roll with vacation surprises if you visit Madeira.

Alternatively, choose the Azores for a Portuguese island break. Should you visit São Miguel or Terceira? Why not both! Discover fun things to do in São Miguel and then seek out the Impérios of Terceira if you enjoy photography. 

Countries to visit in Europe: Romania


Easter in Bucharest is the perfect place and time to spend a European weekend city break. Here you'll discover what to eat in Bucharest and also discover some spooky things to do on a day trip from Bucharest to Transylvania.

European destination ideas: Slovakia


Discover 13 cool things to do in Bratislava in winter like go to an ice hockey match.

Europe Travel Ideas: Slovenia


Spend 3 days in Ljubljana discovering all the best things to do, see, and eat including some unique local wines. Then, head to Piran and the Slovene Riviera for a bit of sunshine, rest and relaxation.

Best Places to Vacation in Europe: Spain


We love visiting Spain for Christmas. Which Spanish destination is best for Christmas? I love Bilbao and the city's amazing food experiences. While you are staying in the Basque Country, take a day trip to Santander and make sure to discover the best of San Sebastian in a day and a night

As an alternative to a Basque Country winter holiday, you can't go wrong with Christmas in Granada followed by ringing in the New Year in Málaga.

Celebrate Las Fallas in Valencia, one of Europe's most unique festivals where they literally burn it all down in the end.

Spend 3 days in Madrid and take the train from Madrid to Segovia for a day to marvel at the ancient aqueduct.

Explore Barcelona off-the-beaten path and then head to Costa Brava. Here you can spend a day discovering things to do in Girona or connecting with an alternative side to party-capital Lloret de Mar. Palafrugell is another Costa Brava town with serious heart.

Prefer islands? Why not explore fun things to do in Palma de Mallorca? You could also go further afield to the Canary Islands and experience Lanzarote in January.

Looking for hidden gems in Spain? Find out if Badajoz is worth visiting. From here, you can visit Mérida's Roman ruins for a date with history.

Places to Go in Europe: Sweden


Spend one day in Stockholm including a Nobel Prize dinner. Then, head to Norrkoping for a look at Sweden's industrial past.

Additional Countries in the Schengen Area

The countries below are not part of the EU, but they are located in Europe and have the benefit of being part of the Schengen common travel area. 

The Schengen Area covers 27 European Countries. Once you enter a Schengen country, you can travel to any other Schengen country without border control. It feels like flying domestic in the U.S.

Schengen Area vacation ideas: Iceland


Reykjavik is a lovely destination for a city break. Experience the capital's restaurants and nightlife and then head to the Seltjarnarnes Peninsula for some birdwatching via public transportation. 

Self-drive the Golden Circle to easily see some of Iceland's top natural attractions or drive from Reykjavik to Vik with a goal of seeing puffins from land.

Before you fly home, make sure to stop for a dip at Iceland's Blue Lagoon. Bonus points if you take the waters under the midnight sun. 

Make sure to check if the Blue Lagoon is open before going there. They recently closed for a period due to nearby volcanic activity.

Off the beaten path destinations in Europe: Liechtenstein


Did you know that Liechtenstein is an easy day trip from Zurich? If you plan to visit Switzerland, Liechtenstein is a fun add-on. Make sure to send a postcard from here to get that coveted Liechtenstein postmark.

Beautiful places to travel in Europe: Norway


Norway has some of the most stunning scenery in the world so I definitely recommend a Norwegian road trip

I also appreciate Norway's cities. Discover fun things to do in Bergen. Explore Art Nouveau Ålesund, and spend 2 days in Trondheim, a vibrant university city with a great craft beer scene. Oslo is perfect for a workcation. I never miss a chance to visit the "Angry Boy" in Vigeland Park.

Places to see in Europe: Switzerland


Discover things to do in Zurich in winter. Get a Zurich day pass and use it to explore at your leisure on public transportation. 

Did you know that you can do a Zurich Lake cruise on the cheap via public transit? Lake Zurich is one of the best places to go birdwatching in Switzerland

In terms of day trips from Zurich, I recommend taking the train to Rapperswil or driving to Rhine Falls and Stein am Rhein.

Europe Travel Ideas: Monaco


Travel from Nice to Monaco by bus and gamble the night away at the world-class casino.

The UK

The UK was once part of the E.U., but is now no longer a member. The UK is also not part of the Schengen Area. 

Still, there are many great things to see and do here so this post on places to see in Europe would be incomplete without sharing some destination ideas for England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Places to see in Europe: The UK


Start by exploring different London neighborhoods including South Kensington, Covent Gardens, and Tower Bridge. Feed the birds of St. James Park or head to the WWT London Wetlands Centre. Spend a couple days in Southwest London near Richmond (the town made famous by Ted Lasso).

You'll find a wealth of day trip options from London. Spend a day on the beach in Brighton. Straddle the Prime Meridian in Greenwich or explore seafaring history in Portsmouth. Take the commuter train to Faversham and Rochester or get in touch with your brainier side in Oxford.

Plan a city break to Manchester, Liverpool, or Birmingham. Explore Chester while you're in the neighborhood. Discover fun places to visit in Bath.

Spend a weekend in Canterbury including a day trip from Canterbury to Dover to experience more WWII history.


Spend the summer in Edinburgh for the vibrant festival season. While you're here, walk the Water of Leith and plan a visit to the Royal Botanic Garden

Alternatively, see the best of Glasgow in 2 days including some iconic architecture and discover things to do in Aberdeen. Deep fried Mars Bar, anyone?


Spend a city break weekend in Cardiff or take the ferry from Dublin to Holyhead and explore the charming villages of North Wales.

Northern Ireland

Spend a weekend in Belfast to get in touch with a bit of Titanic history or discover cool things to do in Derry like the Derry Jazz Festival.

There you have it. My quick, yet comprehensive views on places to see in Europe. Happy travels and don't forget...sharing is caring!

Places to see in Europe: Travel Destination Ideas
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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: The tl;dr: on Places to See in Europe
The tl;dr: on Places to See in Europe
Get help picking your European travel destination. Discover the best places to visit in Europe. Explore where to travel in Europe on vacation.
Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog