SD › Where to Visit in Europe
Updated: January 29, 2023
- Amalfi Coast – Where to Stay
- Amsterdam – Where to Stay
- Athens – Where to Stay
- Barcelona – Where to Stay
- Budapest – Where to Stay
- Dublin – Where to Stay
- Edingurgh – Where to Stay
- Florence – Where to Stay
- Lisbon – Where to Stay
- London – Where to Stay
- Madrid – Where to Stay
- Milan – Where to Stay
- Mykonos – Where to Stay
- Paris – Where to Stay
- Porto – Where to Stay
- Prague – Where to Stay
- Rome – Where to Stay
- San Sebastian – Where to Stay
- Santorini – Where to Stay
Best Places to Go in Europe
- My favorite countries to visit in Europe are Greece and Italy.
- My favorite cities in Europe are London, Paris, Barcelona, and Florence.
- The best destinations for a honeymoon in Europe are Santorini and the magical cave hotels in Matera.
- The best beaches in Europe are in Greece.
- Europe with Kids: My favorite places in Europe for families are London with kids, Paris with kids, Barcelona with kids, Amsterdam with kids, Rome with kids, and Naxos with kids.
- Top Tip for Visiting Europe: Arrive and depart from different cities to save the time, hassle, and expense of retracing your steps to catch your return flight. For example, fly into London, train to Paris, train to Amsterdam, fly home from Amsterdam. The best destinations for first-time visitors are those that have a direct flight from home (or as close to direct as possible) and are close to each within Europe – cutting down on costs and travel time.
- Best Time to Visit Europe: July and August have wonderful weather but are busy everywhere in Europe so if you have the option (and families usually don’t) then June and September are better as the weather is remains great and every beach on the Mediterranean is still wonderful. For outdoor sightseeing April, May, October, and early November are pleasant in most of Europe.
- If you’re a museum lover then early December, January, February, and early March see wonderfully short lines at the top attractions in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Barcelona, Madrid, Florence, Milan, and Rome. The weather can be miserable but these big cities have lots to see indoors.
- My favorite book on modern Europe is Tony Judt’s fantastic Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945.
- The most magical things to do in Europe are island hopping in the Greek Islands and staying at an Agriturismo in Tuscany.
The 15 Best Places to Visit in Europe
1. Paris, France
Paris has it all, which is why it’s as close to a must-see as there is in Europe. Food, history, art, culture, and beauty around every corner. A highlight for me is doing a bike tour around the city. Paris Travel Guide • Best Paris Hotels • Best Paris Family Hotels • Best Cheap Hotel in Paris • Best Time to Visit Paris • Paris with Kids • Best Restaurants in Paris • Best Things to Do in Paris • Where to Stay in Paris
2. Florence, Italy
There are so many places to go in Italy, but Florence is so special you really can’t miss it. The art and history are obvious perks but doing food tours and cooking classes are also favorites of mine. And Florence makes a great base for exploring the treasures of Tuscany. Florence Travel Guide • Best Florence Hotels • Best Florence Family Hotels • Best Cheap Hotels in Florence • Best Time to Visit Italy • Best Things to Do in Florence • Where to Stay in Florence
3. Santorini, Greece
The best holiday destination in Europe (but I might be biased). The caldera views are as incredible as anything you’ll see anywhere. Sunsets, hikes, boat tours, local wines, black volcanic beaches, and the most luxurious hotels along the Mediterranean. Mykonos, Naxos, and Paros are just a few hours away by ferry. Santorini Travel Guide • Best Santorini Hotels • Best Santorini Family Hotels • Best Cheap Hotels in Santorini • Best Time to Visit Santorini • Santorini with Kids • Santorini with Kids • Best Restaurants in Santorini • Best Things to Do in Santorini • Where to Stay in Santorini
4. London, England
Everyone knows London is packed with world-class sights, museums, and historical landmarks. What might be surprising is all the great local markets, shops, neighborhoods, cafes, and restaurants. Be sure to get away from the most popular attractions and seek out the less-touristy neighborhoods of greater London. Best London Hotels • Best London Family Hotels • Best Cheap Hotels in London • Best Time to Visit London • London with Kids • Best Things to Do in London • Where to Stay in London
5. Amsterdam, Netherlands
One of my absolute favorite cities in Europe. A wonderful city center that’s as pedestrian and bike friendly as you’ll find. Loaded with fun cafes, restaurants, great museums, and leafy parks. Perhaps more than any European city Amsterdam is a place you’ll want to live in after your first day. Best Amsterdam Hotels • Best Amsterdam Family Hotels • Best Cheap Hotels in Amsterdam • Best Time to Visit Amsterdam • Amsterdam with Kids • Where to Stay in Amsterdam
6. Barcelona, Spain
My favorite city in Spain. Jammed with great food, lively nightlife, art, architecture, and eye popping sightseeing. A great holiday destination for families too. Best Barcelona Hotels • Best Barcelona Family Hotels • Best Cheap Hotels in Barcelona • Best Time to Visit Barcelona • Barcelona with Kids • Best Restaurants in Barcelona • Best Things to Do in Barcelona • Where to Stay in Barcelona
7. Rome, Italy
The Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Roman Forum, Pantheon, Spanish Steps, Sistine Chapel, and Vatican. Rome is packed with some of Europe’s top attractions. Then throw in the food, shops, cafes, and funky neighborhoods. Anything less than 5 days in Rome and you’ll feel cheated. Rome Travel Guide • Best Rome Hotels • Best Rome Family Hotels • Best Cheap Hotels in Rome • Best Time to Visit Rome • Rome with Kids • Best Things to Do in Rome • Where to Stay in Rome
8. Reykjavik, Iceland
Reykjavik is the cool capital of Europe. Great nightlife, cafes, and restaurants. The Blue Lagoon, whale tours, and mesmerizing scenery are all easy day trips. Best Reykjavik Hotels • Best Rekyjavik Family Hotels • Best Cheap Hotels in Reykjavik • Best Time to Visit Iceland
9. Edinburgh, Scotland
An awesome mix of castles, history, stunning scenery, and modern Scottish life, Edinburgh is one of the must visit cities of the U.K. Best Boutique Hotels in Edinburgh • Best Edinburgh Family Hotels • Edinburgh with Kids • Where to Stay in Edinburgh
10. Prague, Czech Republic
As close to an idyllic European city as there is. Prague is a favorite of almost anyone who visits. Loads to see and do here – and the beer is pretty darn good too. Best Prague Hotels • Best Prague Family Hotels • Best Cheap Hotels in Prague • Where to Stay in Prague
11. Galway, Ireland
Dublin has become a thriving international city where it can be hard to find the Irish culture you came here to experience. In Galway you really feel like you’re in Ireland. The town itself has a wonderful vibe and there’s tons to see within a 90-minute drive. Galway Family Hotels
12. Nice, France
A fantastic base for exploring South France and a wonderful mid-sized town in its own right. Easy train connections to Monaco, Cannes, Lyon, and many great beaches along the Mediterranean coast. Best Nice Family Hotels
13. Istanbul, Turkey
People come for the monumental historical sights but leave in awe of the markets, street culture, neighborhoods, and incredible Turkish cuisine. Best Istanbul Hotels • Best Istanbul Family Hotels • Best Cheap Hotels in Istanbul • Best Time to Visit Istanbul • Where to Stay in Istanbul
14. Naxos, Greece
The best beaches in Greece and maybe all of Europe. But it’s not just sea, sun, and sand. The Chora (main town) is as charming as any Greek town and the interior of the island is dotted with enchanting villages and stunning hikes. Best Naxos Hotels • Best Naxos Family Hotels • Best Time to Visit Greece • Where to Stay in Naxos
15. Agriturismo Farm Stay in Italy
This is one of the funnest, most interesting things to do in Europe. Stay at a working farm in Italy (mostly Tuscany, but Umbria and Sicily are also popular). Great for everyone from families (those are my two boys playing in the pool) to honeymooners. Stays will usually include 2 to 3 meals per day. Some farms have cooking classes, horse riding, or wine-related activities. Agriturismo in Tuscany • Agriturismo in Umbria
Europe Itinerary – Where to Travel
• One Week in Europe: London and Paris – Eurostar train between the two cities. Fly into one and out of the other.
• 10 Days in Europe: London, Paris, and Amsterdam. Train between the three. Fly in and out of different cities.
• Two Weeks in Europe: London, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, and Florence; or London, Paris, Athens, and the Greek islands. Train between London, Paris, and Rome; and between Rome and Florence. Ferry between Athens and the Greek islands. Fly the other routes.
• Three Weeks in Europe: London, Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Rome, Florence, Athens, and the Greek islands. Train between London, Paris, and Rome; and between Rome and Florence. Ferry between Athens and the Greek islands. Fly the other routes.
Best European Destinations by Month
- Best places in Europe to visit in January: London, Paris, Florence (for short museum lines); Sicily, Crete, Southern Spain (for good weather)
- Best places in Europe to visit in February: London, Paris, Florence (for short museum lines); Sicily, Crete, Southern Spain (for good weather)
- Best places in Europe to visit in March: Florence, Santorini, Paris, London, Barcelona
- Best places in Europe to visit in April: Florence, Rome, Santorini, Paris, London, Barcelona, Lisbon, Porto
- Best places in Europe to visit in May: The Greek Islands, Florence, Rome, Paris, London, Barcelona, Lisbon, Porto
- Best places in Europe to visit in June: The Greek Islands, Paris, London, Barcelona, Lisbon, Porto, South France, Reykjavik
- Best places in Europe to visit in July: The Greek Islands, Ibiza, Menorca, Mallorca, Reykjavik (but all are busy)
- Best places in Europe to visit in August: The Greek Islands, Ibiza, Menorca, Mallorca, Reykjavik (but all are busy)
- Best places in Europe to visit in September: Santorini, Mykonos, Barcelona, Lisbon, Porto, South France, London
- Best places in Europe to visit in October: Santorini, Crete, Florence, Barcelona, Sicily, Lisbon, Porto
- Best places in Europe to visit in November: Santorini, Crete, Florence, Barcelona, Sicily, Lisbon, Porto, Paris
- Best places in Europe to visit in December: Barcelona, Rome, Paris
- The Best Time to Visit Europe
- Best Things to Do in London
- Best Things to Do in Paris
- Best Things to Do in Barcelona
- Best Things to Do in Rome
- Best Things to Do in Santorini
- Best Things to Do in Madrid
- Where to Stay in London
- Where to Stay in Paris
- Where to Stay in Rome
- Where to Stay in Barcelona
- Where to Stay in Madrid
- Where to Stay in Seville
- London with Kids
- Paris with Kids
- Amsterdam with Kids
- Barcelona with Kids
- Rome with Kids
- Amsterdam – Best Hotels
- Athens – Best Hotels
- Barcelona – Best Hotels
- Dublin – Best Hotels
- Florence – Best Hotels
- Istanbul – Best Hotels
- Lisbon – Best Hotels
- London – Best Hotels
- Naples – Best Hotels
- Paris – Best Hotels
- Prague – Best Hotels
- Reykjavik – Best Hotels
- Rome – Best Hotels
- Venice – Best Hotels
Top Travel Sites for Europe – My Recommendations
Best For Flights: Kayak.com • Skyscanner • Momondo
Kayak is the easiest to use. Skyscanner finds the cheapest rates. Momondo is the best for first and business class tickets.
Best For Renting A Car: Rentalcars.com
Great prices from all the biggest rental companies. Easy to use, safe, and reliable.
Best For Hotels: Booking.com
Awesome rates and great for vacation planning. All price ranges. Luxury hotels, 5-star boutiques, cheap hostels, house and apartment rentals.
Best For Tours: GetYourGuide.com
My favorite for booking tours and private tour guides.
Best for Travel Insurance: InsureMyTrip
Compare costs from over 30 insurance providers.
Myself and a friend are looking at a two week holiday in May – we were thinking of spending a week in Santorini and then possibly another nearby close island? We would like to stay in a hotel with Caldera view, however mobility with steps is an issue! Do you know of any mid range hotels in Oia or Imerovigli that have few or no steps to access rooms etc. i appreciate that being built into a mountain this is probably a challenging request! Mobility on flat ground is not an issue. Many thanks
Fira has several good hotels with few or no stairs: Aria Suites, Atlantis, and Aressana. In Imerovigli Kasimatis is a good choice. In Oia try Aspaki by Art Maisons.
Come and visit Bulgaria! The country of yogurt and rose oil. Doesn’t matter what will be the season. Mountains and beaches. Visit the oldest city in Europe – Plovdiv. The oldest country in Europe. Some of the places offered here are not that much good as they present them. Travelling years already and have been visited all the European countries. My opinion for some countries. From 1 to 10: Spain 8, France 6, Netherlands 6, England 6, Italy 7, Turkey 7, Portugal 7, Greece 6, Germany 7.
Wonderful. Thanks for sharing.
Hi Dave, I’m planning a trip to Germany for this coming October but would like to spend a few days (2 to 3 days) in another city or country at the end of the trip before returning to the US. What would your top suggestions be for places to visit if you only have a few days?
Paris would be right at the top of my list. Amsterdam, London, Florence, and Barcelona are all wonderful too (and many more). Take a look at flights and connections to see what works best for your itinerary and use that as a tie-breaker.
What are the best cities to visit in Europe for a first-time solo female traveler?
For all first-time visitors to Europe top cities would be Paris, Florence, London, Amsterdam, Rome, and Barcelona. I’d recommend visiting at least one smaller place to get a more local feel of European life. Good suggestions include Galway, Perugia, Utrecht, and Seville – although the list of quality places is very very long.
Hi Dave. Do you think it would be too cold to go Greek Island hopping in April/May? And how many nights per island do you think would be required?
April is too cold for swimming. Early May can start to have some warm/hot days when swimming is possible though the water will still be cool. But if by island hopping you mean sightseeing and exploring the islands then late April and early May are wonderful on the Greek islands. The weather is great, crowds are smaller, and costs are cheaper.
We are looking for a beach holiday destination for September. We want good weather and wonderful beaches. Good food and a fun atmosphere (but not big parties) are also important. Where would you suggest?
The Greek islands have the best beaches in Europe. If you want to ferry hop around several islands then the Cyclades (Naxos, Paros, Mykonos, Santorini, and several more) are best. If you only want one island (with great beaches) then go with Naxos, Mykonos, Crete, or Rhodes – or smaller islands like Ios, Sifnos, Antiparos, or Ikaria.
We have a week to spend in Amsterdam as part of our honeymoon. We plan on 3 or 4 days in Amsterdam but would like to do an overnight bike trip outside of Amsterdam – probably two days but could also do a three day trip if needed. We’re in decent shape (can easily walk 5 to 10 miles in a day) but are only on a bike a few times a year. What bike trips would you recommend outside of Amsterdam?
My two favorite bike trips from Amsterdam are:
Amsterdam to Edam – Start by taking the free ferry from the train station across the canal to North Amsterdam. From there it’s a 90 minute ride to Edam (be sure to ride through the small town of Broek in Waterland.) Stay at the Hotel and Restaurant de Fortuna (idyllic location on a small canal, plenty of bike parking) in the center of this charming town. The restaurant at the hotel is fantastic. The next morning catch the ferry from Volendam to Marken and then return to Amsterdam along the sea coast.
Amsterdam to Utrecht – This ride is a bit longer (about 2.5 to 3 hours, one way). If you put Amsterdam to Utrecht into Google Maps you’ll get two different bike routes (mostly on opposite sides of the canal but departing a bit more close to Amsterdam), take one route to Utrecht and the opposite route back as they feel very different (but both wonderful rides). Utrecht is a medium-sized college town with nightlife, local attractions, and lots of restaurants along the main canal. Stay at the Grand Hotel Karel V (center of town, plenty of bike parking) which is fabulous.
Both of these rides are wonderful and highly recommended.
Traveling from London to Paris and then Rome. What is the best, easiest, fastest way to get between the 3 cities – fly, train, or car rental?
From London to Paris take the Eurostar. From Paris to Rome get a cheap flight – probably with Ryanair or Easy Jet.