The 17 Best Places to Visit in Europe

From the England and France to Italy and Germany, European countries are full of vibrant cities known for museums, restaurants, nightlife and architecture, so deciding which one to visit on vacation can be difficult.

From the England and France to Italy and Germany, European countries are full of vibrant cities known for museums, restaurants, nightlife and architecture, so deciding which one to visit on vacation can be difficult.

That’s why we considered these factors to round up the 17 best travel destinations in Europe.
Use this list to guide your next trip, and cast your vote to help us compile next year’s list.

#1 in Best Places to Visit in Europe: Rome

#1 in Best Places to Visit in Europe: Rome

Rome, the city of seven hills, enjoyed a mythic beginning.
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.
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.

#2 in Best Places to Visit in Europe: Porto

#2 in Best Places to Visit in Europe: Porto

Porto has long been a hot destination for wine lovers — it's the go-to place to find the best of that sweet, tasty port wine.
Also, Porto is an attractive European mini-metropolis on Portugal's northwestern coast where travelers can get their fill of culture and the outdoors.
Travelers can visit the city's wealth of museums, admire its varied architecture and, of course, hit the beach.

#3 in Best Places to Visit in Europe: London

#3 in Best Places to Visit in Europe: London

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.
You'll find the historic Tower of London and the avant-garde Tate Modern both considered big must-sees.
While they still praise the power of tea, they now make room for some Starbucks 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.

#4 in Best Places to Visit in Europe: Paris

#4 in Best Places to Visit in Europe: Paris

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.

#5 in Best Places to Visit in Europe: Florence

#5 in Best Places to Visit in Europe: Florence

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 unbeatable romantic charm.

#6 in Best Places to Visit in Europe: Prague

#6 in Best Places to Visit in Europe: Prague

A prosperous and bustling city, Prague now attracts more tourists than ever.
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.

#7 in Best Places to Visit in Europe: Venice

#7 in Best Places to Visit in Europe: Venice

Step off of the Santa Lucia train station and the breathtaking Grand Canal will soon greet you.
You'll see water taxis coast along, passing underneath the Ponte degli Scalzi (Bridge of the Barefoot) and might hear the faintest hint of a serenading violin, or is that your imagination? It might not be all in your head.
Romantic gondolas carrying smitten couples glide through the web of the city's many waterways, and gondola drivers are known to sing when the moment feels right.
On land, narrow passageways twist past Old World storefronts and residences, and over bridges.
You should note that maps aren't all that helpful here and getting lost is the norm — embrace the disorientation.

#8 in Best Places to Visit in Europe: Barcelona

#8 in Best Places to Visit in Europe: Barcelona

Barcelona contains both the authentically historic and the wildly bizarre.
From the tree-lined Las Ramblas to the narrow alleys of Barri Gòtic; from the beachside nightclubs to the city's dozens of sacred churches and cathedrals, this city by the sea seems to attract all types: the family, the adventurer, the couple, the backpacker, 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.
Much of the activity revolves around Las Ramblas, a series of narrow streets and alleys packed with restaurants, nightclubs and a vibrant pedestrian market.

#9 in Best Places to Visit in Europe: Amsterdam

#9 in Best Places to Visit in Europe: Amsterdam

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.
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.

#10 in Best Places to Visit in Europe: Amalfi Coast

#10 in Best Places to Visit in Europe: Amalfi Coast

One look at the Amalfi Coast and you may believe that you've found heaven on earth.
That's the kind of spellbinding effect this stretch of Italian coastline tends to have on the 5 million annual visitors who cross its mesmerizing paths.
Located in the Campania region of Italy, this UNESCO World Heritage site covers 34 miles of majestic terrain; sky-high costal cliffs display vibrant vegetation and multicolored towns live side by side with the disarming turquoise waters of the Mediterranean, creating a scene that has the power to stop even the most seasoned of travelers dead in their tracks.

#11 in Best Places to Visit in Europe: Athens

#11 in Best Places to Visit in Europe: Athens

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 air thickens with the aroma of spiced lamb and music from a nearby taverna, dance clubs blast rock music amidst ancient columns, and the bright lights of Omonia Square mirror the glistening columns of the Parthenon, illuminated for all to see.

#12 in Best Places to Visit in Europe: Vienna

#12 in Best Places to Visit in Europe: Vienna

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.

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.

#13 in Best Places to Visit in Europe: Santorini

#13 in Best Places to Visit in Europe: Santorini

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.

#14 in Best Places to Visit in Europe: Tuscany

#14 in Best Places to Visit in Europe: Tuscany

When the film adaptation of Frances Mayes' "Under the Tuscan Sun" came out in 2003, the idea that Tuscany was indeed a place of romance, chianti wine, olives, aromatic cooking and, of course, sunshine was deeply embedded in our brains.
Today, many travelers visit this glorious region in northwest Italy to escape the hustle and bustle of Rome or Milan and instead take in the Italian countryside.
The combination of castles-turned-wineries-turned-hotels, elegant cypress trees, cascading hills and sprawling vineyards is simply heavenly.

Time seems to slow in this effortlessly idyllic place.
And what better way to unwind than by savoring a glass of vino or eating homemade gnocchi under the Tuscan sun?

#15 in Best Places to Visit in Europe: Madrid

#15 in Best Places to Visit in Europe: Madrid

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.
Yes, 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.

#16 in Best Places to Visit in Europe: Seville

#16 in Best Places to Visit in Europe: Seville

The passion of a flamenco dancer, the dedication of a bullfighting matador and the laid-back indulgence of an afternoon siesta are not merely romanticized memories of a long-ago Spain.
These cultural traditions are prominent aspects of life in Seville and throughout the country's southernmost Andalusia region.
A city marked by Jewish, Islamic and Christian influences, Seville shows evidence of each religion's presence in its church facades, minarets and former ghettos.
Travelers who appreciate a good dose of history between leisurely strolls along narrow streets and relaxed, drawn-out meals will swoon over Seville's centuries-old neighborhoods and cultural offerings.

#17 in Best Places to Visit in Europe: Valencia

#17 in Best Places to Visit in Europe: Valencia

Valencia is as pleasing to the eyes as it is to the wallet.
The green hues found in the Old Turía River Bed Gardens contrast the shimmering golden sand and sparkling cerulean waves of the beaches.
And the color of its oranges is as rich as the taste.
Those who say this Spanish coastal city lacks any sense of charm may have never walked under the citrus trees as they drop blossoms onto the cobblestone streets or listened to the hum of the Valencian dialect amidst the produce stands of the Mercado Central.
Although it has spent years hiding in the shadows of larger cities, Valencia now offers a mixture of Madrid's history and Barcelona's contemporary atmosphere for a fraction of the cost.

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