Is Europe also a dream trip for you? Wondering what to see in Europe while there’s so much to do and visit. I’m going to present my Ultimate Europe Bucket List where travelers share their best recommendations.
I remember the day I landed in Paris, all alone in the French capital. Confused, scared, nervous but all excited to start my first international travel from the city of love. My nerves weren’t alright and it took me a while to like more as each day passed. Now sitting in my home in India, sipping coffee, I feel I have missed so much. Probably because I was too conscious and now I know how unprepared I was. Within 6 months I landed at Munich airport, much more confident to catch my connecting flight to Vienna. This time I made fewer mistakes and enjoyed every inch of my stay, took a weekend trip to Prague, a day trip to Budapest. It was an unforgettable trip for me. It made me fall in love with Europe all over and now I have a deep urge to see the entire European continent. I know I can’t see all of it at once. So I have collated a Europe Bucket List for me (& for you) hoping to see them in the coming years.
It’s always a nice idea to read a few books or novels before planning your trip to your dream destination. I recommend reading some of the European Royalty Novels when you plan your travels to this gorgeous continent. This Europe bucket list covers all of my secret fantasies. From the Icelandic waterfalls to swiss alps, to the charming Portuguese cities, the love for Eastern Europe and Russian adventures.
Ultimate Europe Bucket List
Iceland has become the sweetheart of travel bloggers and the country seemingly at the top of everyone’s bucket lists lately, and it’s easy to see why! Iceland is easily one of the most breathtaking destinations in the world. Geologically speaking, Iceland is one of the “newest” countries in the world due to the collision of the North American and Eurasian plates, and the volcano-dotted land. These features make Iceland a truly otherworldly visit, and sometimes you might feel like you’ve landed on another planet entirely. Before planning your trip, I suggest to be prepared, know what to pack for Iceland.
Waterfalls, hikes, and the Golden Circle!
Love waterfalls? Iceland is full of them. You might even get what I call “waterfall fatigue”. Love hiking? Iceland really has endless possibilities when it comes to getting outdoors and hiking. Love animals? Iceland’s got incredible creature sightings as well – pull over and pet some of the infamous Icelandic horses, head to Dryholaey to spot puffins careening into their cliffside nests or book a whale tour to spot orcas off-shore on the west coast of Iceland. For a newbie, Iceland’s Golden circle is the perfect way to know more about the country.
If planning to visit Iceland anytime soon, read this guide about the best time to visit Iceland by Julianna.
There are a number of activities to do in Iceland in winters, I’m all excited about it. Looking at these pictures by Gabby, I’m sure no one can go wrong with Iceland.
No mention of Iceland can be complete without talking about the impressions the Northern lights leave on everyone. I’m already bewildered by looking at the pictures of this marvelous natural phenomenon, and can’t wait to experience it myself. The Northern lights as their name suggest can be best witnessed in the far end of the Arctic without any light pollution. And without any lights, it is extremely difficult to photograph them too. They’re not something which can be clicked from a mobile phone. Even with a DSLR or point and shoot camera, you’ll need to brush up your photography skills. If you’re planning to visit Iceland, here’s all the information you’ll need about photographing Northern Lights.
Staring at these pictures, Iceland is on top of my Europe Bucket List, would it find a place in yours?
If you travel with family or with kids, refer to this amazing guide on Iceland with kids.
The Places to see in Russia
What do you think about when you hear ‘Russia’? Most likely, you immediately remember St Petersburg, Moscow, and Siberia. Some people might even think of the Lake Baikal and the Trans-Siberian Railway. But Russia is so much more than the royal palaces of St Petersburg and the Red Square in Moscow. Being the largest country in the world, it has incredible landscapes in Karelia, Altai and the Ural Mountains, and endless snowy plains in the North. The picturesque Putorana Plateau, Valley of Geysers, Manpupuner rock formations, Lena Pillars and volcanoes of the Kuril Islands are just some of the natural wonders of Russia.
The history and architecture!
And don’t forget about many historical cities with amazing architecture. These cities, like Suzdal, Vladimir, Kostroma, form the so-called Golden Ring, which is a must-see. If you have ever wanted to visit the Arctic or the North Pole, Murmansk may be your starting point.
Local Celeberations in Russia
Besides visiting many tourist attractions of Russia, another way to get to know the country and its people is attending the local celebrations. New Year is the biggest holiday, and all cities turn into a fairy tale. Moscow is particularly stunning during the winter celebrations with lights, fireworks, concerts, merry-go-rounds, Christmas trees, and Father Frost. Another notable holiday, full of traditions, is Maslenitsa, or Pancake Week when Russians celebrate the coming of the spring with crepes, songs, dances and burning effigies of straw. Russia has so much to offer, people just need to put their fears aside and come to see it. Some of these underrated destinations in Russia should also be added to Russia itinerary which are beyond the mainstream cities.
Finland had been on my Europe bucket list for as long as I could think. And when I finally visited, I loved it so much I returned only a few months later and stayed for four years. Although living in Finland came with its own challenges, Finland is still one of my top destinations in Europe. And it should be one of yours as well.
Finland is most widely known for its incredibly beautiful nature. Dubbed the land of a thousand lakes, there are actually almost 200.000 lakes in the country. Cute red summer cottages dot the shores of these lakes as well as the Finnish coast on the Baltic Sea. A vast wilderness invites you to explore and beyond the Arctic circle lies a magical winter wonderland. Finland is perfect for those trying to reconnect with nature or with their inner child. After all, Finland is the home of Santa Claus! Adding to that, Helsinki is an emerging hub for art and design, bustling with life. How could Finland not be on your bucket list?
Portugal is definitely a bucket list destination in Europe. It has everything from gorgeous beaches to picturesque cities and villages.
The capital of Lisbon is well known for its street art and beautifully tiled buildings, as well as its yellow trams and plentiful hills! Make sure you go to the Alfama district to listen to traditional Fado music, and along the river to the Tower of Belem.
Know more about how to get the best photos in Lisbon, Portugal.
Sintra is a popular day trip from Lisbon for its mountains, lush forest, and the stunning Pena Palace. In Porto, you can explore the Port wine cellars, taste test the port, and learn about how it’s history is intertwined with the city. Head to the Douro Valley to wander the ancient vineyards that supply the grapes for the port.
On the southern coast of Portugal is the Algarve, home to towering sand-colored cliffs framing secluded beaches with turquoise waters, it’s certainly worth a road trip!
My whole life I’ve played it safe. I’ve always worn my seat belt, saved my pennies and eaten all my veggies. I’m just one of those people who color within the lines. That was until I set off for my first solo backpacking trip through Europe. I had a whole ocean away from my well-ordered life and people’s expectations. I was determined to see who I could be when I was free to just be myself. Wait, let me be clear, I didn’t go hog wild or anything like that. I jumped off the plane ready for adventure, not a personality transplant. I just wanted, for the first time, to do something that scared me. Something that I deep down really wanted but never let myself have. I found that thing in Interlaken, Switzerland.
The human language has no words that properly convey how magnificent Interlaken is. I felt like the train dropped me in a fairy tale & I spent my days sitting next to Lake Brienz and gazing at the still blue water. Hiked through the mountains, went searching for waterfalls, ate ridiculously expensive, but delicious, food. I hopped on a train to Lauterbrunnen and witnessed the beauty of Trummelbach Falls, a waterfall of melted glaciers. Then on the very last day, I did what I came all this way for, I went paragliding.
Some might not know Interlaken is famous for its adventure sports. People come from all over the world for paragliding, hang-gliding, bungee-jumping, white-water rafting, the list goes on. I was ready to be one of those people. On a fateful day, we drove up to the mountains, I got strapped up to a complete stranger, and then we ran off a hill and wind did the rest. It was, in a word, amazing.
There are so many reasons to visit a place and so much more reasons to put it on a bucket list but the reason that matters is if that place changes you and how you see the world. Switzerland is at the very top of my Europe bucket list because it’s a place where you can commune with nature and with yourself. My time there taught me that I wasn’t defined by the limits I set for myself. If I want to, I can fly. So, go. Between the picturesque town, incredible hikes and adrenaline fixes, you won’t be disappointed. While planning your trip to Switzerland, read more about the Swiss Travel system.
A trip to beautiful Switzerland cannot be complete with including Zurich on the itinerary. The old world charm of the city, Lake Zurich, nearby Mount Titlis or the top of Europe in Mount Jungfrau is enough for a lifetime of memories. Zurich is beautiful in the spring but there are amazing things to do in Zurich in winter as well.
The country where I first solo-traveled to with nothing but a small backpack, lots of uncertainties and the curiosity of a wide-eyed 22-year-old girl. The rich history, the amazing castles, the beautiful romantic villages, the tasty brewed beer, the tough but funny language, the diverse and inclusive locals and the stunning landscapes. What’s not to love about Germany?
Love backpacking? See this guide about choosing the best travel backpack.
Heading to Germany? Check out these amazing Germany Travel Tips!
Berlin should be a stop on every European bucket list simply because there is so much to see, do and learn. The latest time I visited Berlin, I made sure to skip the regular city tour and go for an offbeat one instead. I took the counterculture tour which led us through the history, diversity, and beauty of Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg Districts. Friedrichshain was surprisingly affordable and had unique boutiques, exhibitions, food and pubs all at the same time.
Besides great art and culture, Germany also has beautiful castles like the castle at Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Visiting this fairy-tale town will take you straight back to the middle ages. If you’re lucky you may even find a local festival with middle age clothes, festivities, beer, food and everything else a history buff’s dreams are made of.
If you’re looking to visit Germany for its romantic cities and Christmas markets, make sure to stop by at Nuremberg. The view from the castle alone is totally worth the visit! The city has a typical old world charm, a Nazi history, and a magnificent castle, Nuremberg’s Old Town is a perfect place to discover Germany in the true sense.
Munich & Neuschwanstein Castle
Munich is the Bavarian capital and one of the most visited places in Germany. Famous for its gorgeous architecture, snow-laden mountains, and palaces. The view of the city from the top of the city hall will give you one of the famous Insta-worthy pictures. If one plans to stay in Munich for a week this awesome guide about the fun things to do in Munich will keep them going.
Germany is famous for its stunning castles, and one of them is the famous Neuschwanstein Castle. The castle in Bavaria is extremely close to Munich which can be covered as a day trip. The castle for inspiration for Disney is an absolute delight to see in person. Planning to see the castle then I recommend checking out how to reach Neuschwanstein Castle from Munich.
It is unbelievably hard to write about Greece and not fill books, if not whole libraries. I’ve fallen for it badly when I started my first job in a travel agency and since then I’ve kept falling for it times and times again.
I will skip the history and location part – seriously, everyone knows where democracy came from, right? – and get to the point. Why on Earth should you visit Greece?
Firstly, because of history. Especially if you paid attention in classes, you’d want to see the historic sites with your own eyes. Start in Athens and walk all the way up to the Acropolis. Once your feet are tired – I spent more than 4 hours exploring the site – walk down to the Acropolis museum. Now all makes sense even better. Perfect. Time to explore the Roman Agora, the Greek Agora, and if you have time the Temple of Zeus.
Tired? The National Gardens are waiting for you! Not tired? Stroll on Ermou street for some good old window shopping and don’t stop until you reach Monastiraki Square. Check out the market. Or maybe check out Plaka.
There are plenty of other places to explore on the mainland, some quite close to Athens.
Now make your way to Thessaloniki by way of Meteora, with its magnificent “monasteries in the sky”. Thessaloniki offers quite a contrast compared to Athens. And I promise you’ll have fun.
How about exploring an island, too? Personally, I love the Cyclades and have endured torturous ferry rides to visit. Skip the popular Santorini and Mykonos. Instead, choose Ios, Paros, or Amorgos. The same charm, the fewer the crowds.
Sticking closer to the mainland? Then choose a day trip to Hydra. There are plenty of ferries available and the island is charming.
No matter what area you visit, make sure to indulge in the amazing Greek food. From the classic Horiatiki salad to giant baked beans, spanakopita, and fried calamari, you’ll be licking your fingers in no time. Don’t forget to read more about the best monuments to visit in Athens.
The beauty of Plaza de Espana in Spain’s city of Seville overwhelmed me. I LOVED the colorfully painted vignettes around the park. The patterns the whimsical blue brushstrokes formed on the balustrades almost mimicked the shape of the smile on my face! It’s a very famous plaza, built for an exposition in the 1920’s; the city has kept its beauty well intact. There isn’t a bad view in the park but my favorite is atop one of the two bridges that span the manmade waterway, looking back towards the gorgeous fountain. I recommend bringing some picnic snacks and drinks, and sitting on a bench to enjoy people watching and Spanish weather for at least 30 minutes to an hour! I loved it so much I went back twice in three days when I visited Seville. Spain is a stunning country and if you wish to visit nearby countries, read more about Insight Vacations tours. If you are planning to explore the entire country I recommend checking out the best things to do in Cordoba too.
My Personal Spain Bucket List 😉
The architecture, the history, and the Gothic churches, Barcelona is a complete package for a history lover like me. Hanging out at Barcelona’s beaches is one of the top things on my list to do in Spain. Lastly, the views of the city from the hilltop make the perfect Insta-worthy moments. Spending 3 days in Barcelona would give you a lifetime of memories.
The palaces and museums are some of the top things to do in Madrid and one can’t visit Spain & miss out on the capital city. Madrid has a special place in my Europe Bucket list for its exceptional architecture. Even as less as a day in Madrid is also well-spent. The cafes & the restaurants and the chilled out vibe of the Spanish capital will not go unnoticed.
More than a few days in Madrid? Read more about a day trip to Segovia from Madrid!
One of Europe’s gems without a doubt is the beautiful country of Poland. I had the fortune of visiting Warsaw in Poland, for a short day, at Christmas time and I was still stunned by the beauty of the city. My favorite part of Warsaw at Christmas time is 100% the Old Town Square. Bustling with a Christmas market, and decorated with lights and a massive Christmas tree – what more do you need to get you into a jolly good mood?
Check out this mini guide if you only have 24 hours in Warsaw.
Poland is not only limited to Warsaw. The country is home to some of the gorgeous cities including Wroclaw for its gorgeous architecture and dwarf statues, picturesque Gdansk, one of the biggest cities & unique buildings of Lodz.
Check out this guide if you plan to spend as much as 3 days in Gdansk.
Poland is on my bucket list mainly because of my deep interest in WWII. But the country does have a lot to offer than just its saddening history.
Would you add Poland to your Europe bucket list?
Did I get you interested in Europe? Know more about some of the most underrated cities in Europe. So which one of these places would you like to add to your Europe bucket list? Share your thoughts with me.
HAVE YOU TAKEN A TRIP TO EUROPE? WHAT DID YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT IT? WHICH PLACE IS ON YOUR EUROPE BUCKET LIST TOO? DO YOU LIKE MY RECOMMENDATIONS? TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!
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– The Wanderer