Best Vacation Spots in Europe – From England and France to Italy and Germany, European countries are full of vibrant cities known for their museums, restaurants, nightlife and architecture.
It comes as no surprise that deciding which spots are the best places to visit in Europe can be difficult.
Use this list to help select your Best Vacation Spots in Europe.
Best Vacation Spots in Europe – Paris
Paris, France’s capital, is a major European city and a global center for art, fashion, gastronomy and culture.
Its 19th-century cityscape is crisscrossed by wide boulevards and the River Seine.
Beyond such landmarks as the Eiffel Tower and the 12th-century, Gothic Notre-Dame cathedral, the city is known for its cafe culture and designer boutiques along the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.
The City of Light draws millions of visitors every year with its unforgettable ambiance.
Of course, the divine cuisine and vast art collections deserve some of the credit as well.
The gentle River Seine rambles through the city, flanked by stately museums, centuries-old churches, and blocks of Rococo- and Neoclassic-design architecture, further enhanced by cascading trees and glowing streetlamps.
Peppering the Seine’s cobbled walks and graceful bridges are impossibly chic Parisians, probably on their way to the market, cafe or cinema.
Containing world-class museums, fashion, cuisine and an atmosphere all its own, Paris is also a city of “many splendors,” as Ernest Hemingway recalled in his memoir, “A Moveable Feast.”
Visit the beloved Musée d’Orsay, shop the biggest designers on the Champs Élysées or hit the boutiques in Le Marais, take in the view atop the Eiffel Tower, or even plan a day trip to Versailles Palace.
But don’t miss out on the simple pleasure of meandering the marvelous arrondissements (districts), or snacking on street crepes either.
Best Hotels in Paris
Le Bristol Paris
La Réserve Paris – Hotel and Spa
Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris
Most Popular Things to Do in Paris
Notre-Dame Cathedral (Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Paris)
Musée du Louvre
Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel)
Best Vacation Spots in Europe – London
London, the capital of England and the United Kingdom, is a 21st-century city with history stretching back to Roman times.
At its centre stand the imposing Houses of Parliament, the iconic ‘Big Ben’ clock tower and Westminster Abbey, site of British monarch coronations.
Across the Thames River, the London Eye observation wheel provides panoramic views of the South Bank cultural complex, and the entire city.
Life in London is nothing short of invigorating, and travelers find that one visit isn’t enough to experience everything this two-millennia-old city has to offer.
Here, the antiquated clasps hands with the contemporary.
You’ll find the historic Tower of London and the avant-garde Tate Modern.
You can catch both the Bard’s works and modern plays at Shakespeare’s Globe and its accompanying Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.
And while Londoners still praise the power of tea, they now make room for Starbucks and Costa Coffees here and there, and pressed juice too.
A current leader in everything from politics and banking to fashion and music, London’s culture compass is always attuned to what’s next. Discover it all on one of London’s best tours.
Best Hotels in London
The Milestone Hotel & Residences
The Stafford London
Most Popular Things to Do in London
Tower of London
Best Vacation Spots in Europe – Rome
Rome is the capital city of Italy.
It is also the capital of the Lazio region, the centre of the Metropolitan City of Rome, and a special comune named Comune di Roma Capitale.
Rome, the city of seven hills, enjoyed a mythic beginning. Romulus and Remus – twin brothers who were nursed by a she-wolf and fathered by a war god – reportedly founded the Eternal City.
And although historians are a little skeptical about this epic entry into the world, most travelers are absolutely certain that there is something magical about Rome.
Whether it’s the mystery of nearby Vatican City or the ghosts of the Colosseum, an afternoon caffè on Piazza Navona or a piled-high plate of pasta at a trattoria, Roma is sure to enchant.
Italy’s capital city, Rome is also known for a history that dates back to the eras of Octavian, Julius Caesar and Hadrian, among others.
Left behind are structures like the Pantheon, the Roman Forum and dozens of churches, among other historic gems.
Art enthusiasts will relish the trove of art housed at the Vatican Museums, and foodies will enjoy the splendid Italian fare, not to mention the gelato.
And though its momentous past is the focus for many vacationers, Rome is also a fast-paced, modern and relevant city, with gleaming designer storefronts, sleek hotels and cutting-edge restaurants.
Best Hotels in Rome
Hotel de la Ville, A Rocco Forte Hotel
Most Popular Things to Do in Rome
Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi)
St. Peter’s Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro)
Best Vacation Spots in Europe – Florence
Florence, capital of Italy’s Tuscany region, is home to many masterpieces of Renaissance art and architecture.
One of its most iconic sights is the Duomo, a cathedral with a terracotta-tiled dome engineered by Brunelleschi and a bell tower by Giotto.
The Galleria dell’Accademia displays Michelangelo’s “David” sculpture. The Uffizi Gallery exhibits Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” and da Vinci’s “Annunciation.”
This little city, tucked amid the Tuscan hills, casts a long shadow through history.
The wellspring of the Renaissance, Firenze (or Florence) sheltered the powerful Medici family and inspired artists like Michelangelo (David) and Brunelleschi (the Duomo).
If it weren’t for the fashionable Italians and chic shops lining Via Tornabuoni, you might think you had traveled back in time to the 14th century.
But Renaissance art is not the only reason to come: You also visit Florence for its gorgeous sunsets, its Italian cooking and its romantic charm.
Make the most of your time in the city by letting a local show you around on one of Florence’s best tours.
Best Hotels in Florence
The St. Regis Florence
Four Seasons Hotel Firenze
Most Popular Things to Do in Florence
Piazza della Signoria
Duomo (Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore)
Best Vacation Spots in Europe – Barcelona
Futbol Club Barcelona, commonly referred to as Barcelona and colloquially known as Barça, is a professional football club based in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, that competes in La Liga, the top flight of Spanish football.
Barcelona contains both the authentically historic and the wildly bizarre.
From the scenic trails of the colorful Park Güell to the romantic narrow alleys of Barri Gòtic; from the beachside nightclubs to the city’s dozens of sacred churches and architectural marvels, this city by the sea seems to attract all types: the adventurer, the couple, the partier, the culture lover – and more – with an almost overwhelming variety of things to do.
You could stay for a few days, but chances are you’ll need a whole week to explore.
In Barcelona, even the beach is bustling, but it’s really the cosmopolitan city that gets all the attention.
Much of the activity revolves around Las Ramblas, a series of narrow streets and alleys packed with restaurants, nightclubs and a vibrant pedestrian market.
But you should also take a tour of Antoni Gaudí’s masterpieces; Gaudí is responsible for sites like Casa Milà, Casa Batlló and La Sagrada Familia.
You also shouldn’t miss out on the eclectic shopping scene and the region’s exquisite food and wine.
Best Hotels in Barcelona
Cotton House Hotel, Autograph Collection
Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona
Hotel Arts Barcelona
Most Popular Things to Do in Barcelona
Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria (Boqueria Market)
Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter)
Best Vacation Spots in Europe – Swiss Alps
The Alpine region of Switzerland, conventionally referred to as the Swiss Alps, represents a major natural feature of the country and is, along with the Swiss Plateau and the Swiss portion of the Jura Mountains, one of its three main physiographic regions.
Located south of Zurich, Bern and Basel, the Swiss Alps are a haven for winter sports enthusiasts.
While skiing, hiking and snowboarding tend to dominate this region, you’ll also discover quaint towns, serene lakes and gorgeous scenery.
Luxury mountain resorts are available throughout the region as well, making it a playground for all sorts of travelers.
Additionally, no trip to the Swiss Alps would be complete without indulging in some warm, gooey cheese fondue.
The Best Hotels in the Swiss Alps
Carlton Hotel St. Moritz
The Chedi Andermatt
THE OMNIA Mountain Lodge
The Best Things to do in the Swiss Alps
Gornergrat Railway (Gornergrat Bahn)
Jungfraujoch Sphinx Observatory (Sphinx-Observatorium)
Best Vacation Spots in Europe – Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the Netherlands’ capital, known for its artistic heritage, elaborate canal system and narrow houses with gabled facades, legacies of the city’s 17th-century Golden Age.
Its Museum District houses the Van Gogh Museum, works by Rembrandt and Vermeer at the Rijksmuseum, and modern art at the Stedelijk.
Cycling is key to the city’s character, and there are numerous bike paths.
Don’t believe everything you hear about Amsterdam.
Yes, this Netherlands city takes a lax look at women beckoning business in the Red Light District and “coffee shops” selling an unorthodox type of herb to a toking clientele, but these descriptions only scratch the surface.
At some point, during an excellent Indonesian meal, a twilight canal-side rambling or a shopping excursion through the boutiques of Nine Little Streets, you’ll realize – as many travelers have before you – that there’s much more to Amsterdam than you might’ve thought.
And although the city’s loose laws on vice seem to attract a college-age, male-dominant crowd, Amsterdam is also ideal as a romantic getaway for two or an educational excursion with the kids.
With attractions that range from biking along a maze of canals to remembering the Holocaust through the eyes of Anne Frank; from exploring the swirling Expressionism of Vincent van Gogh to lazing in the expansive Vondelpark, Amsterdam suits a variety of traveler tastes.
Best Hotels in Amsterdam
Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam
Most Popular Things to Do in Amsterdam
Anne Frank House (Anne Frank Huis)
Best Vacation Spots in Europe – Prague
Prague, capital city of the Czech Republic, is bisected by the Vltava River. Nicknamed “the City of a Hundred Spires,” it’s known for its Old Town Square, the heart of its historic core, with colorful baroque buildings, Gothic churches and the medieval Astronomical Clock, which gives an animated hourly show.
Completed in 1402, pedestrian Charles Bridge is lined with statues of Catholic saints.
A prosperous and bustling city, Prague now attracts more tourists than ever.
But its picturesque downtown veils both a dark legacy and a resilient past. Dating back to about A.D. 870, Prague has withstood numerous overthrows, invasions, fires and floods.
It’s this reputation for survival and perseverance that has made the Czech capital so fascinating.
Today, its storied churches, narrow streets, daunting hilltop castle and statue-lined bridges create the scene of an urban fairy tale.
Even the most jaded traveler would have trouble resisting this city’s charms.
Prague was once a hidden gem, overshadowed by its flashier neighbors to the west.
But the city couldn’t keep its marvels a secret for too long – now, it’s a haven for travelers seeking awe-inspiring experiences at affordable prices.
Even today, top attractions – including the famous Charles Bridge and the historic Prague Castle – offer free admission and many hotels offer rooms at a fraction of the cost of other European cities.
But this bargain-hunting legacy has a ticking clock on it, so if you’re hoping to find a fire-sale price, now’s the time to do so.
Best Hotels in Prague
Mandarin Oriental, Prague
Four Seasons Hotel Prague
Augustine, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Prague
Most Popular Things to Do in Prague
Old Town Square (Staromestské námestí)
Charles Bridge (Karluv most)
Best Vacation Spots in Europe – Athens
Athens is the capital of Greece. It was also at the heart of Ancient Greece, a powerful civilization and empire.
The city is still dominated by 5th-century BC landmarks, including the Acropolis, a hilltop citadel topped with ancient buildings like the colonnaded Parthenon temple.
The Acropolis Museum, along with the National Archaeological Museum, preserves sculptures, vases, jewelry and more from Ancient Greece.
Few cities rival Athens when it comes to historical importance.
As the sun rises over the smooth marble monuments of the Acropolis and fills the cobblestone streets along its base, the people of Athens emerge from their homes and head to local markets or sidewalk games of chess.
Life moves more slowly, as if the entire city is reveling in blissful retirement from its glory days as a political and cultural powerhouse.
But as the sun sets, Athens’ contradictions come to light.
The aroma of spiced lamb is in the air and music from a nearby taverna, dance clubs blast rock music amidst ancient columns.
The bright lights of Omonia Square mirror the glistening columns of the Parthenon, illuminated for all to see.
Best Hotels in Athens
Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel Athens
Hotel Grande Bretagne, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Athens
Most Popular Things to Do in Athens
Best Vacation Spots in Europe – Vienna
Vienna, Austria’s capital, lies in the country’s east on the Danube River. Its artistic and intellectual legacy was shaped by residents including Mozart, Beethoven and Sigmund Freud.
The city is also known for its Imperial palaces, including Schönbrunn, the Habsburgs’ summer residence. In the MuseumsQuartier district, historic and contemporary buildings display works by Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt and other artists
History is at the heart of Vienna both literally and figuratively.
The narrow streets of the Innere Stadt (Inner City) snake through antiquated buildings, providing an atmosphere so authentic that you almost expect a Vienna native like composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart or psychologist Sigmund Freud to round a cobblestone corner and greet you with “guten tag.”
Extravagant baroque palaces from the Habsburg Monarchy loom over the city, just as Mozart’s classical arias pour from contemporary cafes. If it’s culture you seek, you’ll find it here.
But there’s more to this city than just music and monarchs.
Vienna is also a great place to spend some cash, with independent bookstores competing for business alongside haute couture.
There are also a surprising number of attractions for young ones, including an amusement park and a top-notch zoo.
And although many Viennese retire early in the night, that doesn’t mean you have to; sneak out to one of the bars along the city’s Bermuda Triangle, or drop by one of the wine taverns skirting the Vienna Woods.
Best Hotels in Vienna
Park Hyatt Vienna
Hotel Sacher Wien
Hotel Sans Souci Wien
Most Popular Things to Do in Vienna
St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansdom)
Museum of Fine Arts (Kunsthistorisches Museum)
Best Vacation Spots in Europe – Madrid
Madrid, Spain’s central capital, is a city of elegant boulevards and expansive, manicured parks such as the Buen Retiro.
It’s renowned for its rich repositories of European art, including the Prado Museum’s works by Goya, Velázquez and other Spanish masters.
The heart of old Hapsburg Madrid is the portico-lined Plaza Mayor, and nearby is the baroque Royal Palace and Armory, displaying historic weaponry.
In many ways, Madrid is similar to many other international metropolises – it’s Spain’s largest city, has the largest population, is the capital and is the center for international business.
But, before you jump to conclusions, hush … if you listen carefully, you can hear the gentle melodies of the Spanish guitar, the swish of a flamenco dancer’s skirt, and the happy laughter from a midday meal infused with too many glasses of sangria.
Madrid is for travelers interested in famous paintings and stunning architecture, but it’s also, and maybe more so, for those looking for an unhurried good time.
Best Hotels in Madrid
Four Seasons Hotel Madrid
URSO Hotel & Spa
Most Popular Things to Do in Madrid
El Retiro Park (Parque del Buen Retiro)
Prado Museum (Museo Nacional del Prado)
Best Vacation Spots in Europe – Santorini
Santorini is one of the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea. It was devastated by a volcanic eruption in the 16th century BC, forever shaping its rugged landscape. The whitewashed, cubiform houses of its 2 principal towns, Fira and Oia, cling to cliffs above an underwater caldera (crater).
They overlook the sea, small islands to the west and beaches made up of black, red and white lava pebbles.
A massive volcanic eruption around 1650 B.C. forced the center of what was then a single island to implode and succumb to the sea.
Some say that this was the original home of the lost city of Atlantis, which long ago disappeared into the ocean’s depths.
Whatever remains of this mythological metropolis is now guarded by beautiful beaches and stately whitewashed homes. Today, Santorini consists of two inhabited islands and several islets.
Most visitors spend their time on Thira (the archipelago’s largest island), which is home to Santorini’s major towns, including Fira and Oia.
Sleepy Thirassia makes for a relaxing daytrip too. And don’t count out the quieter islands: Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni are worth exploring.
Your first order of business in Santorini is to hit the colorful beaches – the black and red sands make for a memorable visit.
Next up, indulge in the archaeological delights of the impressively preserved Ancient Akrotiri or hike to Ancient Thera to see the ruins of three empires, including the Romans.
From there, catch a breathtaking view of the caldera, a brilliant turquoise pool of water that serves as the nucleus for the varied isles of this archipelago.
Some would say you only need a day to enjoy these islands’ charms (they are a popular port of call for cruise ships), but to really drink in all Santorini has to offer, you’ll need a few days to a week.
Then you’ll have plenty of time to learn there’s more to these comely dots of the Cyclades than meets the eye.
Best Hotels in Santorini
Canaves Oia Boutique Hotel
Andronis Luxury Suites
Most Popular Things to Do in Santorini
Fira to Oia Hike
Best Vacation Spots in Europe – Stockholm
tockholm, the capital of Sweden, encompasses 14 islands and more than 50 bridges on an extensive Baltic Sea archipelago.
The cobblestone streets and ochre-colored buildings of Gamla Stan (the old town) are home to the 13th-century Storkyrkan Cathedral, the Kungliga Slottet Royal Palace and the Nobel Museum, which focuses on the Nobel Prize.
Ferries and sightseeing boats shuttle passengers between the islands.
One of the most visually arresting cities in Scandinavia, Stockholm is situated on an archipelago containing roughly 30,000 islands that eventually lead to the Baltic Sea.
Among the various islands positioned throughout the city’s vast amount of waterways, bays and rivers visitors will find an assortment of architectural, cultural and natural gems begging for further exploration.
From the quaint and pristinely preserved 13th-century-old Gamla Stan, or Old Town, to the sprawling, attraction-packed Djurgården park island, Stockholm is a floating, visual treat that has the power to leave sightseers awestruck at its incredible landscape.
The city’s uniqueness isn’t only tied to its grand topography – Stockholm also features an astonishing climate and setting.
Visit in summer to experience close to 24 hours of sunlight, a phenomena celebrated with a Midsummer Festival that will leave you with a hearty knowledge of Swedish cuisine and tradition.
Or, test your tolerance during one of Sweden’s notoriously freezing winters for a chance to ice skate on one of the city’s many frozen rivers.
Whenever you choose to visit, know that you’d be hard-pressed to find a city like it anywhere else in Europe. Maybe even the world.
Best Hotels in Stockholm
Most Popular Things to Do in Stockholm
Gamla Stan (Old Town)