Europe Bucket List - Iconic Travel Experiences
Europe has enough places to keep us hooked for a lifetime and we are constantly drawn there to explore new destinations. There are 44 countries in Europe and all of them are incredibly beautiful with something unique to offer. Planning a trip to the continent can be challenging & overwhelming. From vibrant cities, quaint villages & historical landmarks to idyllic islands, sublime beaches & snow-capped mountains – Europe has countless stunning places to visit and amazing things to do & experience. You will fall in love with Europe time & time again, and the wish list will keep getting longer instead of shorter. As you cross destinations off your list, you may be adding twice as many places to your bucket list. However, we have tried to cover the most iconic European attractions that are definitely once-in-a-lifetime experiences. This is not the final list and we will keep updating it as we come across hidden treasures. Let’s start and explore the highlights of Europe together.
1. Chase the Northern Lights
Northern Light is a magnificent spectacle that people wait for years to witness. Electric shades of pink, green, blue, and violet shimmer across the black sky and provide an ethereal experience. Whether it’s in Finland, Norway, Sweden, or Iceland – chasing the Northern lights has to find a place on your Europe bucket list.
2. Ride a Gondola in Venice, Italy
Can you think of anything more romantic than riding a gondola through the canals of Venice? The picturesque under bridges, the cobbled alleys, the Venetian architecture, and a maze of waterways & canals make the ‘floating city’ one of its kind. A gondola ride may be expensive and touristy, but there are few experiences that are timeless. And a gondola ride in Venice is definitely one of them.
3. Listen to Opera in Vienna, Austria
There is no dearth of opera houses in Europe, but nothing beats the charm of visiting a classic opera in Vienna. Vienna Opera House is one of the busiest opera houses in the world and produces more than 60 shows a year. The city has nurtured the talents of legendary Mozart and Beethoven, who have left much of their legacy behind here. If you want to spend your evening in the most elegant of settings, book your tickets for an opera in Vienna.
4. Take a cruise down the Danube in Budapest, Hungary
The Danube River passes through 7 countries in Europe, but a Danube cruise in Budapest is dazzling. Most sailings either start or end in Budapest because of that reason. The glorious city was meant to be seen on the water. The Hungarian Parliament is one of the most flamboyant buildings in the world. Watch it glow at night
5. Admire the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain
The Art Nouveau movement in Spain was started by the famous architect Anthony Gaudi. The incomplete masterpiece Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is a must-see for all art lovers. You might have seen plenty of beautiful cathedrals in Europe, but this is your chance to see a contemporary marvel in the making. Parc Guell, Casa Batllo, and Casa Mila are other examples of Gaudi’s work.
6. Stay at the Icehotel in Sweden
If you have always wondered how Eskimos live, this is your chance to get a glimpse. The Icehotel located in Jukkasjarvi is constructed entirely of ice and snow. The beds are sculpted out of ice and the room is decorated with ice sculptures. Don’t worry, there are fur blankets and thermal sleeping bags to keep you warm during the freezing nights.
7. Take a dip in the thermal waters of Blue Lagoon, Iceland
Swimming in the stunning blue waters of the Blue Lagoon is worth its own bucket list entry. The man-made Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa located in a lava field near Reykjanes in Iceland. The spa allows you to relax & rejuvenate in the mineral-rich waters and soak in the beauty of your scenic surroundings.
8. Admire the Tulips in Amsterdam, Netherlands
If you get a chance to visit Europe in March-April, you cannot skip Amsterdam. The bright-colored tulip blooms in shades of pink, red, yellow, & orange fill the fields and you can see rows & rows of tulips as far as the eyes can see. The Keukenhof Tulip Gardens near Amsterdam is one of the most popular places to see the stunning display. Amsterdam’s spring flower markets are also a sight to behold.
9. Smell the Lavender fields of Provence, France
No road trip to France can be complete without visiting the fragrant Lavender fields in Provence. The spectacle is best seen in early-mid summer when the flowers are in full bloom. It is impossible not to be captivated by the fields’ sheer scale, fragrance, and beauty. The best places to see the sun-soaked lavender fields in France are the Valensole Plateaus and Luberon Valley.
10. Visit a Christmas market
If you have not shopped at the wonderfully gaudy Christmas markets in Europe, you are definitely missing something. Christmas Markets are an age-old tradition where local vendors sell their goods in a square that is decorated with sparkling lights and a huge Christmas tree. Handcrafted gifts, mulled wine, huge pretzels, delicious food, and decorative ornaments add a festive touch to your shopping experience. Austria, Prague, and Germany are famous for their Christmas Markets.
11. Go Island-hopping in Greece
There are 227 Greek Islands that are inhabited and it is not easy to choose as all of them are gorgeous. Be sure to visit a couple of not-so-touristy islands like Paros, Zakynthos, and Naxos besides Santorini and Mykonos. You can reach most of the islands by cruise ships, ferries, catamarans, or hydrofoils, so start planning for Island-hopping in Greece. You are definitely going to have a whale of a time.
12. Watch a sunset in Santorini, Greece
There is no better place to witness a spectacular sunset than Santorini. As the sun melts over the horizon, the views from Oia are incomparable. The warm reddish-orange hues make the whitewashed houses and the shimmering seawater look truly magical. Another way of watching one of the world’s famous sunsets is embarking on a sunset cruise and waiting for the magic to unfold.
13. Walk to the top of the Acropolis in Athens
Climbing all those stairs to reach the ancient citadel located above the city can be daunting. But when you reach the top, you won’t regret the effort. The Acropolis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the center of cultural life in ancient Athens. The entire complex is a lesson in history with many landmark structures. The Parthenon continues to be the most popular.
14. Drive down the Amalfi Coast, Italy
Definitely, one of the most scenic drives in the world. The stunning coastline, picturesque villages, winding roads, rugged hills, and the blue Mediterranean Sea – Amalfi Coast is a photographer’s delight. Amalfi coast has to find a prominent place on every European bucket list.
15. Attend the Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany
If you are a lover of beer, you must make plans to attend the 16-day Oktoberfest that is held annually in October. Around six million people attend the gigantic event from all over the world. During this over-the-top festival, the whole city becomes festive, there are concerts & parades, and beer flows like water.
16. Visit Monaco to watch the Grand Prix & hit the casino tables
The tiny country is the playground of the super-rich. The legendary casinos of Monaco are your chance to get a brush with celebrities. If you want to try your luck at the tables in style, visit them. For the lovers of Formulae One, there is nothing more exciting than watching the race that is held annually on the Circuit de Monaco.
17. Admire the beauty of Hallstatt, Austria
Hallstatt is considered one of the most beautiful towns in Europe. When you visit Hallstatt, you will definitely realize why. Situated on Lake Hallstatt, the fairytale village has striking landscapes, charming villages, an ancient salt mine, an ice cave, and unparalleled views of the Austrian Alps.
18. Walk around the Vatican City in Rome
A visit to the smallest city in the world should definitely be on your wish list. Vatican City is the home to the Pope and has famed structures like St. Peter’s Basilica, the Apostolic Palace, St. Peter’s Square, & Sistine Chapel within the premises.
19. Indulge in the mouthwatering fries & waffles in Belgium
Belgium is not only known for its elegant architecture and history. The travelers also get the satisfaction of tasting the ultimate waffles and fries in the world. Belgian waffles originated in Belgium and you can find them on nearly every corner in cities like Bruges, Brussels & Antwerp. The waffles are thick and fluffy and served with cream, strawberries, or syrup. Belgian fries may not be good for your waistline, but who cares? Thick-cut potatoes are fried twice and served with mayo – a delish combo.
20. Experience the castles in Germany
If you love castles, there is no better place than Germany to explore them. Scores of dramatic castles & fortresses are sitting on cliffs, riverbanks, and almost everywhere. Burg Elz Castle, Hohenzollern Castle, and Marksburg Castle are a few of the best castles in Germany. Don’t miss the fairytale Neuschwanstein Castle which is perched on a rugged cliff. The 19th-century Romanesque Revival palace is a perfect mix of Roman, Gothic, & Byzantine architecture.
21. Go skiing in the Alps
Snow-covered mountains can be found all over Europe in winter. However, if you want to go skiing, nothing can beat the gorgeous ski slopes of the Alps. They offer a wide range of ski slopes that cater to all ability levels. Head to France and Switzerland to have the time of your life in the picturesque Alps. If you are not into skiing, visit the Alps in the summer to hike the scenic mountains and valleys.
22. Enjoy wine tasting in Tuscany, Italy
There is no better way to enjoy a glass of wine than lounging outside a stone villa and admiring the rolling hills & luscious vineyards of Tuscany. The entire Tuscany region is dotted with picturesque villages, olive groves, cypress trees, hot springs, vineyards, farmhouses, and an abundance of history & culture. The towns of Florence, Pisa, and Siena have added attractions for visitors to the region.
23. Take a selfie with the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy
Who can resist the temptation of taking a selfie with the iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa? Or (however, cliché it may look) a picture of yourself pretending to hold the leaning tower? You may not get a chance to visit the popular landmark again, so grab your chance now.
24. Take a cruise to see the breathtaking Fjords of Norway
Undoubtedly, one of the most beautiful places to visit in the world, the Fjords of Norway offer breathtaking views and endless hiking trails. As you cruise inside a narrow fjord, you are surrounded by steep cliffs from all sides and the whole experience is truly unparalleled. Don’t miss Naeroyfjord & Geirangerfjord (UNESCO World Heritage Site).
25. Visit Stonehenge in England
If you are interested in prehistoric history you cannot miss Stonehenge. Built 5000 years ago, the megalithic consists of 100 huge upright rocks arranged in a haphazard circle. The mysterious monument has intrigued historians and visitors for thousands of years. Stonehenge’s significance and the mode of construction are still a question mark. ,
26. Admire the Colosseum of Rome
As you wander around the cobbled lanes of Rome, you will find historical sites scattered all over the city. However, nothing can be more striking than the Colosseum. The sheer size and magnificence of the Colosseum will leave you awestruck. A visit to the historic Roman amphitheater is truly a rewarding experience.
27. Stroll across the Charles Bridge in Prague
If you are looking for some old-world charm, stroll the streets of Prague. The Charles Bridge, the Astronomical Clock, the Old Town, and the incredible architecture are a few of the best things to see in the gorgeous city. The whole of Prague is easily accessible on foot, so you can just wander about taking in all the beautiful sights and centuries of history.
28. Walk the famous city walls of Dubrovnik, Croatia
Dubrovnik in Croatia is emerging as a hot destination in Europe. It is a stimulating experience to walk around the imposing city walls encircling the Old Town and reach the vantage point. The sparkling Adriatic Sea dotted with tiny islands, the surrounding Old Town with its orange terracotta rooftops, the old-fashioned churches, and the clear blue sky – the panoramic view is just phenomenal
29. Go for a hike in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
If you are a nature lover, Plitvice Lakes must find a place on your bucket list. Sixteen turquoise lakes fall into each other and create gushing waterfalls and canyons in the process. The falls are surrounded by lush forests, making them a haven for hikers & adventure lovers,
30. Take a hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia, Turkey
Cappadocia located in southern Turkey is known for its fairytale vistas, remarkable rock formations, and cave dwellings. What has made Cappadocia a must-visit destination are the hot air balloons that float over the moon-like landscape every morning. Take a balloon ride over the historic region to witness a vivid sunrise and then descend into the valleys and canyons.
31. Take a boat ride on Lake Bled, Slovenia
Nestled between lush forests and snow-capped mountains, Lake Bled is undoubtedly a photographer’s dream. A medieval castle clinging to the rocky cliff and the picturesque island church make the region as dreamy as it can. Row your boat over to the tiny isle to absorb the beauty of your tranquil surroundings. Don’t forget to eat the scrumptious Bled Cake while you are in the area.
32. Rent a Bike and ride along the canals in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is a city of two wheels. It is made to be explored on a bicycle and you don’t need to use any other form of transport for your rendezvous. You can cycle almost everywhere and see the city from the streets – endless waterways, tulip fields, windmills, and museums. Use your hands as turn signals and follow all the rules of the land. If you can’t ride, you can walk around to enjoy the city’s canals and other popular landmarks.
33. Eat pizzas in Naples, Italy
If you are a pizza lover, add Naples to your wish list. The Napoli-style pizza uses a chewy crust with a focus on fresh, minimal ingredients. You might have eaten pizzas in hundreds of places, but nothing can beat the experience of eating authentic Italian pizzas in Naples
34. Drive Romantic Road in Germany
Romantic Road is a stretch of road in Southern Germany that passes through the mountains and forests of Bavaria & Baden-Wurttemberg. Cheese farms, postcard villages, lush landscapes, sparkling lakes, and UNESCO heritage sites line this route, making it one of the most coveted road trips in Europe.
35. Hop on the Iconic Red Bus and explore London
London is crammed with world-famous landmarks like Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Madame Tussaud, Westminster Abbey, Tower Bridge, Tower of London, London Bridge, and umpteen museums, theatres & parks. And what can be more memorable than riding the iconic red double-decker bus to explore all the famous attractions?
36. Live in an Igloo Resort in Finland
One of the amazing things to do in Europe is to spend a night in an igloo. And there can be no better place than Hotel Kakslauttanen in Finland to have this unique experience. The igloo-shaped cabins are made of glass and from the warmth of your bed, you can gaze at the stars & the green dancing lights (aurora borealis).
37. Admire the beauty of the Palace of Versailles in France
Take a day trip from Paris to spend a day at the Palace of Versailles. The past royal residence of France will leave you spellbound with its beauty, architecture, and grandeur. It is your chance to gain some insight into the French monarchy and modern history.
38. Take a scenic train ride and visit the fairytale villages of Switzerland
Nothing can be more magical than taking a train ride amongst the breathtaking panoramas of Switzerland. The snow-covered mountains, crystal-clear lakes, cascading waterfalls, quaint bridges, and idyllic villages – you will find unparalleled beauty in every corner of Switzerland. The Glacier Express and GoldenPass line are two of the most epic trains in Switzerland offering incomparable mountain views. The alpine & lakeside villages in Switzerland are picture-perfect with an old-fashioned appeal – an idyllic retreat away from urban life.
39. Go on a pub crawl in Dublin, Ireland
There are over 1000 pubs throughout the city and there can be no better place than Dublin for a pub crawl. Pubs are part of Irish culture and Dubliners are known for their love of beer and whisky. No wonder Dublin is called the ‘city of pubs’. Stay away from shady pubs, and you are all set for an authentic Dublin experience.
40. Make a wish at the Trevi Fountain in Rome
Trevi Fountain is a remarkable baroque-style sculpture with gushing water. It is also the place where wishes are supposed to come true. Stand with your back to the fountain, throw a coin over your left shoulder, and make a wish. According to legend, if you fling a coin into the fountain, you are sure to return to Rome.
41. Admire Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower
The huge, sparkling tower has become the symbol of France and deserves a place on this bucket list. Climb the iconic Eiffel Tower to get an unobstructed birds-eye view of Paris. If you scale the tower after sunset, the view of the twinkling Paris is truly mesmerizing. Besides the Eiffel Tower, there is an abundance of famous attractions like the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, and Notre Dame in Paris to keep you entertained for days.
42. Bargain at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey
If you want to absorb the spirit of Turkey, there can be no better place than the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. The lively bazaar stretches over an area of 61 streets and is home to around 4000 shops. It is an intriguing maze of booths, stores, cafes, and workshops. Nothing can beat the thrill of shopping and bargaining in the Grand Bazaar for quirky treasures & souvenirs.
43. Marvel at the Alhambra in Granada, Spain
Alhambra, a palace complex built by the Moors, sits high on a hill overlooking Granada. The Nasrid Palace & Generalife Palace with their intricately carved tiles and domes are the highlights. The sprawling gardens adorned with fountains, pools, & roses add to the beauty of the palace. Try to book tickets far in advance as they sell out months ahead.
44. Visit the Berlin Wall, Germany
The Berlin Wall was a concrete wall that physically divided West Berlin and East Berlin for nearly two decades. Berlin was united in 1990 and the original wall was demolished. But you can still see sections of it intact. It is now the world’s largest open-art gallery with murals painted across about a mile.
45. Explore the Scottish Highlands
The wild landscapes, turbulent history, ancient Caledonian forests, mysterious lakes, tropical-style beaches, and exotic wildlife are enough to add Scotland Highlands to our bucket list. The Highlands are over 750 years old and cover 10,000 sq. miles. Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Navis, can be found in the Highlands. And keep a lookout for the Loch Ness monster as you explore the Scottish Highlands in blissful seclusion.
46. Eat Tapas and Churros in Spain
While you admire the magnificent architecture of Spain, take some time to gorge on the Tapas at various late-night bars. Tapas is a variety of small savory food items in Spanish cuisine. Leave some space for the yummiest street-style Churros. It is impossible to resist the sugary aroma of these fresh, hot, deep-fried goodies with chocolate dipping sauce on the side.
47. Soak in a thermal bath In Budapest
Taking a dip in the famed thermal baths in Budapest is another experience that is highly recommended. The mineral-infused waters have therapeutic powers and are helpful in treating many ailments. Budapest is also called the ‘City of spas’ and your visit to Budapest would be incomplete without a dip in the healing waters. The city is flooded with thermal spas, but the must-visits are Szechenyi Thermal Baths and Gellert Thermal Baths.
48. Hit the slopes of the Italian Dolomites
Besides the Alps, the Dolomites in Northeastern Italy are another mountain range that is worth visiting in Europe. The magnificent mountains with their well-groomed slopes are most sought after by skiers in winter and hikers & bikers in summer. High-end spas, luxury resorts, Michelin-star restaurants – you get the gist.
49. Stroll the streets of the Old Town of Tallinn, Estonia
Walk through the cobblestoned streets of the Old Town of Tallinn and you will feel the magic of the place. The fairytale castles, amazing museums, artistic districts, quaint cafes, vibrant nightlife, and warm locals make this city a must-visit destination. The views from Toompea Hill are quite remarkable.
50. Go backpacking
There can be no better place to experience backpacking than Europe. It is safe, the hostels are good, and transport is efficient & affordable. You will get an opportunity to mingle with people from different cultures & countries without any sort of discrimination.
Feel free to add more items to your bucket list as you come across new and unheard places in Europe. One thing is sure – you will never see the end of this list.