Curious about the best things to do in Europe–and wondering what exactly to put on your personal Europe bucket list? We have you covered!
We’ve been traveling Europe for years, and every day, week, and month spent traversing the continent seems to result in us crossing several experiences and destinations of our personal European bucket list… only to add twice as many spots to our wish-list for the future along the way.
While we have plenty of guides to planning a practical trip to Europe here on Our Escape Clause (more on that below), this giant list of what to do in Europe is decidedly not that.
If you’re looking to do a little dreaming, on the other hand, this bucket list for Europe–based on a combination of our lived experiences and future travel dreams–is for you.
This list is admittedly incomplete, and always will be: it’s a living document, one that we’ll continue to update as we explore. However, this list of bucket list European tourist attractions and travel destinations is still enough to keep most travelers busy for years.
Here are the best things to do in Europe!
Table of Contents
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Once You Narrow Your Europe Bucket List Down…
Obviously, no one European vacation could possibly cover all of the tourist attractions, bucket list experiences, and incredible destinations listed here (believe me, if there was a way, we’d be all over it).
Once you’ve narrowed your wish list down ever-so-slightly, we recommend hopping over to our Europe itinerary guide to start finalizing your destinations and putting your trip together!
We also recommend reading this list of essential Europe travel tips before you go, as well as our in-depth guide to traveling Europe by train.
To get your packing list in order, check out our complete guides to packing for Europe in the summer, fall, and winter, as well as our suggestions for what to bring on a long haul flight (knowledge gained through many uncomfortable experiences in the air).
To read more detailed travel tips, guides, and itineraries for the specific countries you’re planning to visit, head to our destinations page.
Unmissable Tourist Attractions in Europe
Every one of the Europe bucket list attractions in this section is incredibly famous… but definitely not worth skipping.
Admire the Eiffel Tower from the Trocadero Gardens.
Without a doubt, this is one of the most iconic views on the continent, and enjoying it is one of the best things to do in Europe!
Admire the magnificence of the Sistine Chapel.
As the crown jewel of (and final stop on) a visit to the Vatican Museums, Michelangelo’s stunning Sistine Chapel is far more incredible in person than any photograph could convey.
Just be prepared to share the view with hundreds of others, and to avoid the temptation to photograph it during your trip to Vatican City.
Tour the Acropolis in Athens.
The center of cultural life in ancient Athens is still an incredible sight to behold today, and visiting is part of any Athens itinerary!
Visit Stonehenge in England.
Mysterious, beautiful Stonehenge is the most intricately built prehistoric stone circle on Earth–and its mysteries have been captivating visitors for thousands of years.
As far as experiences in England go, it may be touristy–but that doesn’t mean you should skip it.
Marvel at the Colosseum in Rome.
I’ll never forget the first time that I saw the Colosseum in person: the sheer size of it is incredible, and stepping inside is even more magnificent.
If you book a tour, you can even tour the Colosseum’s underground area beneath the arena.
Take a selfie with the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Yep, it’s incredibly cheesy… but if you make it out to this town about 30 minutes west of Florence, don’t pass up the chance to have fun being silly!
Admire views of Oia in Santorini.
The picturesque white-and-blue village of Oia more than lives up to the Santorini of so many fantasies.
Check out Big Ben.
London’s iconic clocktower is not to be missed during a trip to the city–and neither is the chance to stay in a memorable London hotel!
Explore the Louvre.
The most-visited museum in the world more than lives up to the hype: packed with art and artifacts spanning thousands of years, no trip to the Louvre could possibly cover it all (and that’s part of the fun).
Marvel at the incomplete La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.
We all know intellectually that the great cathedrals of European history took decades or centuries to build–but at the incomplete La Sagrada Familia, you can see a modern version of the process in action!
And, if you climb one of the cathedral’s towers, you can even enjoy the view from one of the most striking Barcelona viewpoints at the top!
Visit the ruins of Pompeii.
… and don’t forget to visit the city of Herculaneum, too, which was buried in the same eruption of Mount Vesuvius that Pompeii was.
Stand in awe of Skogafoss waterfall in Iceland.
There is no shortage of truly epic landscapes to add to your Iceland bucket list, but perhaps none is as popular or iconic as the incredible Skogafoss.
You can find Skogafoss just off of Iceland’s iconic Ring Road–no hike required.
Be sure to bring a raincoat with you, as that mist is even more powerful than it looks!
Admire views of Florence from above.
Whether you climb Brunelleschi’s dome at the Duomo or admire the stunning cathedral from afar at the Palazzo Vecchio, Piazzale Michelangelo, or one of the other best viewpoints in Florence, admiring the Cradle of the Renaissance from above is one of the best things to do in Europe.
Stroll across the Charles Bridge in Prague.
Built starting in 1357, the ornate Charles Bridge is the oldest bridge in Prague, and for centuries was the only bridge in the city to cross the Vltava River.
The bridge links, among many other things, Prague’s central Old Town with its massive castle complex, both among the best things to see in the city.
Hike the Path of the Gods along the Amalfi Coast.
Between the villages of Bomerano and Nocelle along the Amalfi Coast runs one of the most beautiful hiking trails in Europe.
The main portion is only about 4 miles, but you’ll be in for quite the workout if you decide to finish by descending from Nocelle to Positano by foot. The views, however, are worth the effort.
Meander through Amsterdam’s historic center.
Riding a bike in Amsterdam can be a bit intimidating, true–but whether you choose to walk or ride, getting lost among the city’s canals is definitely one of the best things to do in Europe!
We highly recommend stopping into a cheese shop or six along the way.
Experience the thermal baths in Budapest.
There are dozens of incredible things to do in Budapest, but few are as unique to the city as the enormous number of thermal baths located right in the city center!
The Szechenyi Thermal Baths in City Park and Gellert Thermal Baths in Hotel Gellert are among the most popular with visitors, and both are worth a visit.
European Bucket List Experiences
Enjoy a gondola ride in Venice.
Touristy? Absolutely. Expensive? Without a doubt.
There’s no doubt, though, that’s there something magical–not to mention downright iconic, about a gondola ride in Venice!
Walk along the Cliffs of Moher.
These beautiful cliffs on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way are unforgettable.
While you can hike all the way from Doolin to the cliffs, most travelers start at the Cliffs of Moher Visitor’s Center.
From there, consider walking to Hag’s Head (which should take a bit over an hour each way) to ditch the crowds and enjoy more peaceful views of the Cliffs of Moher.
Order coffee or a meal in the local language.
Sure, you’ll probably mispronounce something the first time, and in popular European tourist destinations you won’t necessarily “need” to speak anything other than English to get by… but there is something incredibly gratifying about learning to speak even a tiny bit of the local language on your trip, and restaurants and cafes are the perfect places to start!
Go dog sledding in Lapland.
For a winter paradise in Europe, you can’t beat dog sledding in Lapland.
Jump into the Blue Lagoon in Malta.
The tiny country of Malta has no shortage of rocky swimming locations, but none are quite as spectacular as the Blue Lagoon of Comino, one of the most popular day trips from the main island and one of the best things to do in Malta.
Walk the walls of Dubrovnik.
It’s hard to decide which view from the defensive city walls surrounding Dubrovnik’s Old Town is more incredible: the view looking into the city or the view looking out at the sparkling Adriatic Sea.
Either way, there’s no doubt that this walk is one of the absolute best things to do in Europe, and worth prioritizing when deciding what to do in Dubrovnik.
Walk the Camino del Santiago.
True, this Europe bucket list item is at least a week-long commitment (several weeks if you want to do the whole thing rather than just the last 100km), but there’s a reason this ancient pilgrimage attracts more than 200,000 travelers each year.
Drive Germany’s Romantic Road.
From views of the (rightfully) popular Neuschwanstein Castle to the beauty of villages like Rothenburg ob de Tauber and cities like Augsburg, driving Germany’s Romantic Road is one of the best ways to explore the country.
Snorkel between two tectonic plates.
In Iceland’s stunning Silfra Fissure, you can snorkel between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates–the only place on the planet where you can do so!
Get all of our Silfra snorkeling tips here.
Go wine tasting in Tuscany.
There are European bucket list-worthy level wine regions across the continent, of course, but none has captured the imagination of travelers from across the pond like Tuscany.
Admiring the golden light of the Tuscan countryside from a stone villa while drinking a glass of local wine definitely lives up to the hype!
Soak in the beauty of the colorful harbor of Nyhavn in Copenhagen.
The picturesque, historic harbor Nyhavn may be touristy–but like many tourist attractions in Europe, there’s a good reason for that!
Be sure to add this beautiful spot to your Copenhagen itinerary.
Enjoy afternoon tea in London.
British afternoon tea is a delightful ritual, and nowhere does it quite like London!
Whether you’d like to stick to something traditional in a restaurant or hotel or go all-out with a themed afternoon tea in London (Alice in Wonderland and Harry Potter are both options, as is a tea served on one of London’s iconic double-decker buses), enjoying a full afternoon tea definitely belongs on your list of what to do in London.
Admire the sweeping lavender fields of Provence.
No matter how much lavender you’ve seen in your life, it’s impossible not to be enchanted by the sheer scale of the lavender fields of Provence.
Come summer, you can truly find places in southern France that are coated with fields of purple as far as the eye can see.
Ride a historic tram through Lisbon.
Lisbon, Portugal has many reasons that it is compared to San Francisco, but at the top of the list is definitely its hills… and the charming trams that were built to help citizens contend with them!
Gamble in Monaco.
It doesn’t have to be a lot of money, of course, but there’s something exciting about stepping into the legendary casinos of Monaco!
Experience European Christmas markets.
Mulled wine, handcrafted gifts, Christmas carols, tasty food, and if you’re lucky (and choose the right city), maybe even a little bit of snow: the best Christmas markets in Europe are truly magical.
Enjoy a drink in an Irish pub.
The cities have some lovely options, but for us, nothing beats a night spent with an Irish beer, some pub food, and live music in a tiny village that is tucked away in a quiet corner of the Emerald Isle.
Marvel at the tulips in the Netherlands.
Intricately organized rows of brightly colored tulips that seem neverending, maybe even interrupted by a picturesque windmill in the background: views like these are worth traveling to the Netherlands for!
The popular Keukenhof Gardens are one of the most common places for travelers to start their tulip-spotting, but there is no shortage of places to admire the flowers each April.
Toss a coin into Rome’s Trevi Fountain.
As legend has it, throwing a coin into the fountain will ensure your return to Rome.
Buy a picnic at an outdoor market, and enjoy it outside!
Cured meats in Italy, cheese in France, olives in Spain (or let’s be real, all three, everywhere), and beyond–outdoor markets are a fantastic part of many European cultures, and shopping for your own picnic adds a fun project that makes exploring them more meaningful and fun.
See an opera.
Vienna is the classic travel destination for checking an opera off your bucket list for Europe, but most major European cities boast a stunning opera house that’s worth seeing a show in–even if you’re not the biggest fan of opera.
Visit the fairytale village of Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland.
Overlooked by the towering Staubbach Waterfall, Lauterbrunnen looks like one of those towns that are simply too magical to be real (though, to be entirely fair, quite a bit of Switzerland looks like that!).
Go island hopping in Greece.
Whitewashed villages, stunning sunsets, the sparkling sea, and positively scrumptious food are just a few excellent reasons to enjoy Greece’s island life!
Despite their many similarities, Greek islands vary dramatically in culture and things to do–a trip to Santorini or Mykonos is not remotely the same as one to Crete or Zakynthos.
Hike to San Giovanni Fortress in Kotor, Montenegro.
The climb to San Giovanni Fortress rewards hikers with sweeping views of both the town and Bay of Kotor, and it’s both one of the best things to do in Kotor and a fantastic way to spend a morning in Montenegro.
Step inside a beautiful church.
Whether it’s one of the most famous churches in London, Paris, or Rome, or a quiet community church in a small town, the art, architecture, and history you can experience throughout the churches of Europe is not to be missed.
Take a European road trip.
Deciding which of the best road trips in Europe is right for you is a near-impossible challenge… but no matter which destination (or destinations!) you choose, it’s sure to be unforgettable.
Some of our favorite bucket list European road trips so far have been in Tuscany, Provence, Sicily, Ireland, Southern Spain, and Croatia–but there are many more to come in the future.
A Norway road trip in the summer, a Transylvania road trip, and a Scottish Highlands road trip are all at the top of our wish list!
Attend Oktoberfest in Munich.
There’s nothing like the gigantic–and let’s be real, overwhelming–Munich Oktoberfest!
With 16 enormous (and distinct) tents to experience and a whole new lingo and culture to learn, it’s worth donning lederhosen or a dirndl to experience this over-the-top festival.
Eat street food.
A crepe in Paris, a waffle in Belgium, a kebab just about anywhere: the food itself doesn’t matter nearly as much as the experience of ordering and enjoying it!
See the northern lights.
Whether it’s in Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, or even Scotland, the northern lights are a magnificent spectacle that belongs on your European bucket list.
Enjoy the beaches of Sardinia.
This isolated island off the coast of Italy is one of the most distinct regions in the country–and, despite the fact that it is rarely visited by tourists from outside of Europe, it’s home to some of the most stunning beaches on the continent!
Take public transportation.
Not only is it often the easiest way to get around, but it’s also a fantastic way to learn about the place you’re visiting!
… and an overnight train.
Sure, it may not be the most comfortable sleep you’ve ever had, but there’s something exhilarating about overnight travel via train.
If you’ve never tried it, consider crossing it off your European bucket list on your next trip (plus, it’s better for the environment than flying, anyway).
Take a canal cruise in Bruges.
The city of Bruges, Belgium looks exactly like what a non-European tourist expects Europe to look like before arriving–in other words, like an ancient city worthy of being the setting of a fairytale.
With a description like that, it’s no surprise that Bruges is one of the most romantic cities in Europe.
And, there’s no better place to appreciate the city’s beauty than from the water!
Explore the villas of Lake Como.
From Bellagio to Lecco and beyond, the towns and cities dotting the edges of Lake Como are known for their stunning views and opulent villas.
Road trip the Scottish Highlands.
Whether you’re inspired by Outlander, Harry Potter, the temptation of a good glass of scotch whisky, or simply the sweeping landscapes of northern Scotland, road tripping the NC 500 will take you to some of the most beautiful–and in the case of the sparkling turquoise beaches, unexpected–corners of Europe.
More Fun Things to Do in Europe
Take a food tour.
We’re big believers in food tours: not only will you be able to participate in what is usually a fascinating walking tour of the city in between meals, but you’ll also have a chance to try several different local dishes… without having to commit to ordering a whole portion.
Over the years, in European cities as diverse as Rome, Istanbul, Palermo, and Athens, we’ve discovered new favorite dishes and city streets on food tours!
… and a cooking class.
Looking for something even more hands-on than a food tour? Try a cooking class!
Italy and France are popular choices for these, of course, but you’ll find them all across the continent.
Row to Bled Island.
Tiny, beautiful Bled Island, perched in the center of Lake Bled, is one of the best places to visit in Slovenia.
The best way to check visiting this island off your list of fun things to do in Europe? Row your way across the lake!
Explore Mont Saint-Michel.
Set on an island off the coast of Normandy, Mont Saint-Michel was once famous for only being able to be reached at low tide.
That changed with the completion of a bridge to the island in 2014, however, the charm of the compact island featuring a monastery dating back to the 8th century is still absolutely present.
Visit the tiny country of San Marino.
Landlocked by Italy, San Marino styles itself as the oldest independent republic in the world–and it also happens to be incredibly beautiful.
Set sail to Svalbard.
The isolated Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard is known for its glaciers, its arctic landscape, its incredible beauty, and–above all–its polar bears.
It’s far from the easiest (or cheapest) European bucket list destination to check off your list, but it’s also absolutely unforgettable.
Experience a sauna in Finland.
The Finnish take their cultural tradition of sauna extremely seriously, and taking part in the sauna experience is one of the many fun things to do in Europe (just make sure to check your modesty at the door).
Tour the catacombs of Paris.
Six million skeletons may not be the first thing you think about when planning what to do in the City of Light, but you’ll never forget visiting the catacombs in Paris!
Soak in the beauty of Hallstatt.
The small town of Hallstatt, Austria is often considered one of the most beautiful small towns in Europe–and looking at it, there’s no mystery as to why!
Go for a hike in Croatia’s Plitvice Lakes National Park.
Plitvice Lakes National Park happens to be one of my favorite national parks on the planet, and in my opinion, it belongs on any list detailing what to do in Europe.
Made up of 16 interconnected lakes that are knitted together by a series of stunning waterfalls, it’s hard not to fall in love with these beautiful turquoise lakes.
Take a sunrise stroll through your favorite city.
Whether it’s Paris or Rome, Budapest or Istanbul, there’s some magical about a European city at dawn–consider walking to some of the city’s best tourist attractions to see them both bathed in beautiful early morning light and without crowds!
Explore the castles of Transylvania.
The gorgeous Romanian region of Transylvania lends itself to legend–helped, along, of course, by its association with Dracula.
While the Dracula story is based on Vlad the Impaler, the majority of the legend is of course firmly in the realm of fiction.
However, that doesn’t take away from the magic of visiting Bran Castle, as well as other stunning Transylvanian castles like Peles Castle and Corvin Castle.
Take a tour of one of the world’s best museums.
Even if art history isn’t exactly your subject of choice, taking an organized tour of one of Europe’s great museums absolutely belongs on your Europe bucket list!
Visiting museums like the Uffizi, the Louvre, the Vatican Museums, and the Prado independently can be lots of fun, but there’s something incredibly special about having the history and context of various works brought to life with a live guide.
You don’t necessarily need to book a tour for every museum you visit–but once in a while, it’s definitely worth the splurge.
Take a day trip to Asia.
A quick ferry ride across the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul is all you need in order to take a day trip to Asia from Europe!
Eat pizza in Naples.
There’s a reason that pizza in Naples is widely considered to be some of the best in the world!
Absolutely delicious, with a delightfully chewy crust and a focus on very fresh, but minimal, ingredients, tucking into a true Napoli-style pizza in Naples is an experience that can’t quite be recreated anywhere else.
Get off the beaten path with a visit to the Faroe Islands.
Stunningly beautiful, the isolated Faroe Islands are one of the least-visited corners of Europe… but their dramatic landscapes make it well worth the effort.
… and the Azores.
Sometimes referred to as the “Hawaii of the Atlantic”, this archipelago of Portuguese islands makes for an unforgettable adventure.
Hike on a volcano, visit some incredible lakes, tour historic forts, and get underground at stunning caves during your Azores adventure.
Tour a church decorated with bones.
From the mummies of Sicily to the Capuchin Crypt of Rome, and from the Sedlec Ossuary in the Czech Republic to the Capela dos Ossos in Portugal, there is a startling amount of artwork in Europe constructed with human remains–most of it in or underneath churches or monasteries.
Though quite unsettling on the face of it, these places are also incredibly interesting.
Eat tapas (and churros) in Madrid.
Madrid is well-known for its late-night culture, where bars and clubs often stay open until dawn.
Want to enjoy Madrid’s nightlife in a different way? Enjoy several plates of tapas at various bars, and follow it up with a late-night serving of churros!
They’re amazing year-round, of course, but churros con chocolate are a particular highlight of visiting Madrid in winter!
Explore the villages of Alsace.
Of all the storybook-worthy towns in Europe, it’s arguable that the villages of Alsace, France are among the most picturesque.
Tucked in a corner of northeastern France and home to a distinct culture that blends French and German influences, Alsace is known for its wine, its food, and its Christmas markets.
Spend the night in a castle.
From Ireland to France and beyond, there are plenty of opportunities to sleep in beautiful, historic locations–but none are quite as worthy of a Europe bucket list as the idea of sleeping in a castle!
About Kate Storm
In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.