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15 Best Countries to Visit in Europe (with Photos & Map)

Packed full of incredible historical sights, important cultural landmarks, and beautiful scenery, Europe is a treat to explore. With each of its 44 countries home to different people, languages, and cultures, however, it can be hard to know where to start.

Besides its world-class cities, which are full of amazing art and architecture, Europe has a myriad of historic towns and idyllic villages for you to discover. Tucked away among its scenic mountains, valleys, and countryside, you can also find astounding archaeological sites and magical fairytale castles. Add in picture-perfect beaches and coastlines, as well as exciting culinary and nightlife scenes, and it is easy to see why Europe attracts more than half of all of the tourists in the world.

Map of Europe

15. Netherlands

Netherlands© dreamstime

With a lovely laidback feel to its cities and towns, the Netherlands is a wonderful place to visit that is very tolerant and progressive. Traveling around is also very easy and convenient, as it is one of the most densely populated countries in the world.

While Amsterdam, with its art-filled museums, canal-lined cobbled streets, and pounding nightlife, is the most popular destination, Utrecht, Rotterdam, and The Hague each have their own charms.

Famed for its clogs, canals, and windmills, the Netherlands is also home to lots of picturesque farmland and tulip fields. With much of its land having been reclaimed from the North Sea by an impressive series of dams and dikes, its iconic low-lying landscapes are not to be missed out on.

14. Poland

Poland© dreamstime

In recent years Poland has become an increasingly popular tourist destination as visitors flock to Gdansk, Krakow, and Warsaw.

Exhibiting a wide array of architectural styles, their streets are lined with communist-era blocks, towering church spires, and epic castles, with beautiful historic centers also on show. Having suffered terribly in WWII, they also host lots of moving memorials, monuments, and museums to the victims of the Holocaust. Of these, visiting Auschwitz is a must for the important light it shines on the past.

Bordered to the north by the Baltic Sea, with lots of mountains, forests, and lakes also on offer, Poland is a very pretty, pleasant, and picturesque place to visit.

13. Portugal

Portugal© dreamstime

Hugging the west coast of the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal is blessed with a long, scenic coastline dotted with beautiful beaches and sleepy fishing villages. Add in its warm and welcoming weather, and it’s no wonder at all that it is a very popular holiday destination.

Full of amazing churches, cathedrals, and castles, its historic towns and age-old cities of Lisbon, Porto, and Sintra are very pretty and pleasant to visit. In addition, astonishing archaeological ruins and historical sights from the Romans and Moors dot the country.

While many people stick to the coastal region, its mountainous interior is also well worth exploring for its gorgeous scenery and hilltop towns. On top of all this, Portugal’s wild and wonderful Atlantic Ocean archipelagos of Madeira and the Azores make for exotic and exciting getaways.

12. Romania

Romania© dreamstime

Lying in the southeast of Europe, Romania is, in many ways, dominated and defined by the Carpathian Mountains and Danube River that run through it. As so much of it consists of pristine and untouched forests and rolling hills, the country really is a nature lover’s dream.

While its endless nature reserves deserve exploring, its medieval towns, fairytale castles, and age-old monasteries attract just as many visitors. History and heritage are all around you as you wander around Sighisoara and Brasov’s charming streets and market squares, while Bucharest boasts the best restaurants, bars, and nightlife.

With a lovely Black Sea coastline – as well as one of Europe’s most spectacular drives in the shape of the Transfagarasan Road – Romania isa great travel destination.

11. Croatia

Croatia© dreamstime

In recent years, Croatia has experienced a tourism boom as visitors from all around the world flock to its shores, and it is very easy to see why.

Located alongside the glimmering Adriatic, its rugged coastline is breathtaking to behold, with thousands of idyllic islands lying offshore. Hidden away among its stunning scenery, you can explore incredible seaside towns and cities, such as Dubrovnik, Split, and Hvar.

While its mountainous northern regions offer up a less touristy and more authentic experience, the awe-inspiring Plitvice Lakes are not to be missed out on. Magical to gaze upon, the sparkling lakes count amongst the country’s most popular attractions and are the highlight of many people’s visit.

10. Germany

Germany© dreamstime

Home to fairytale castles, medieval old towns, and lots of romantic landscapes, Germany is an absolutely magical place to visit. The largest and most populous nation in Central Europe, it has a surprising number of different sides to it.

While the north boasts the beautiful Baltic Sea and the Hanseatic League city of Hamburg, the affluent south has the Black Forest, Munich, and Oktoberfest. In the west, the rustic Rhine River valley awaits, while in the east, Berlin’s great museums and famous nightlife need to be experienced.

With a wide array of historical sights and cultural landmarks on show, as well as lots of delicious cuisines to sample, Germany has something for everyone to enjoy.

9. Russia

Russia© dreamstime

The largest country in the world, Russia and its many riches could take a lifetime to explore. Stretching from the Baltic Sea in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east, everything about it is epic in size and scale.

Replete with enormous cathedrals and fortresses, art-filled museums, and astonishing architecture, visiting the world-class cities of Moscow and Saint Petersburg is a must. Home to the Kremlin and Hermitage, they also boast some of the best ballets, circuses, and operas on Earth.

While their dazzling treasures are alluring, venturing further afield to Lake Baikal, the Caucasus, and Kamchatka is equally rewarding. With fantastic cities such as Yekaterinburg and Irkutsk found along the Trans-Siberian Railway, Russia’s vast and varied landscapes beckon you on.

8. United Kingdom

United Kingdom© dreamstime

As it is made up of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, it’s fair to say that each part of the United Kingdom has something new and different to offer.

Full of charming countryside, the British Isles are dotted with lots of quaint villages, centuries-old castles, and vibrant cities. Of these, London is a must-visit for its impressive historical sights, amazing museums, and fantastic dining and nightlife scenes. Edinburgh, too is worth visiting, as are Oxford and the northern cities of Manchester and Liverpool.

Having had such an impact on the world through its culture, music, and sport, the UK has a wealth of attractions for you to delve into. Whether it’s Buckingham Palace, Harry Potter, or the Premier League, it all depends on your interests and where you want to begin.

7. Austria

Austria© dreamstime

Home to some of the most heartachingly beautiful scenery on the planet, Austria’s many mountains, valleys, and lakes need to be seen to be believed. Set in Central Europe, the landlocked country is defined by the majestic Alps, with arresting views and landscapes wherever you go.

Tucked away among its alpine valleys and along glimmering lakeshores, you can find cute and charming villages and towns. Awash with incredible historical sights, grand buildings, and a lively arts and culture scene, the nation’s capital Vienna is one of Europe’s most elegant and refined cities.

While many people head to Austria in winter to go skiing and snowboarding, it is just as worthwhile visiting in summer. This is because its many lakes and mountains sparkle in the sun, with lots of excellent hiking and swimming to be had amid the marvelous scenery.

6. France

France© dreamstime

A sophisticated and culturally rich country renowned for its cuisine, France is one of the most popular places to visit in the world.

A delight to explore, its fantastic landscapes include such stunning sights as the Loire Valley, French Riviera, and the awe-inspiring Alps. Tucked away among its picturesque countryside, you can find everything from Disneyland and Versailles to regal chateaux, quaint villages, and verdant winelands.

While Lyon, Marseille, and Strasbourg all have their charms, the undoubted star of the show is Paris. Boasting world-famous sights like the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, and Notre Dame Cathedral, France’s capital is an artistic and architectural gem that, for many, is without equal.

5. Switzerland

Switzerland© dreamstime

Although it is renowned for its magical mountains, which include the mighty 4,478-meter-high Matterhorn, landlocked Switzerland has much more to offer.

One of the most culturally and linguistically diverse nations in Europe, it actually has four national languages. Consequently, exploring its different regions really is a treat; places such as Bern, Geneva, and Zurich all proudly showcase their unique history and heritage.

Interspersed amongst the stupendous Swiss Alps are over 1,500 lakes, such as those of Lake Geneva and Lake Lucerne. With so much gorgeous scenery on show, Switzerland is a great place to head if you want to go hiking, skiing, mountaineering, or swimming.

4. Spain

Spain© dreamstime

From the Pyrenees to the Sierra Nevada, the Bay of Biscay to the Mediterranean, Spain is truly blessed when it comes to gorgeous scenery. With the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands also on offer, it’s no wonder that it is such a popular place to visit.

While the two main cities of Barcelona and Madrid are full of incredible sights, such as La Sagrada Familia and the Prado Museum, it is well worth venturing further afield. Sevilla and Granada, for instance, sport some exquisite Moorish architecture, while Roman ruins dot the peninsula.

Famed for its wines and rich culinary heritage, great bars and restaurants greet you wherever you go. With warm and welcoming weather, Spain certainly is a fantastic holiday destination.

3. Norway

Norway© dreamstime

Famed for the fabulous fjords that scar its long and jagged coastline, Norway is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Throw in the spectacular Northern Lights, its many majestic mountains, and icy glaciers, and it is easy to see why.

Its myriad of gorgeous landscapes lend themselves perfectly to all kinds of adventure sports, with hiking, mountain biking, and white-water rafting being particularly popular summertime activities. In winter, its snowy panoramas make for perfect dog-sledding, skiing, and snowboarding conditions.

While its natural wonders and wildlife are what entice most visitors, Norway’s vibrant cities serve up a unique brand of Scandinavian cool. Full of trendy bars, exquisite restaurants, and sleek modern architecture, Bergen and Oslo are well worth stopping by on the way to the great outdoors.

2. Italy

Italy© dreamstime

Home to not only Rome, Florence, and Venice, but a staggering array of equally alluring smaller towns and cities, Italy really is like nowhere else on Earth.

Replete with stunning art and architecture, ancient historical sights, and cultural landmarks, its many riches and treasures veritably sparkle before your eyes. Add in fabulous weather and a divine culinary scene, and it can be hard to ever tear yourself away.

Just as special and spectacular is Italy’s marvelous scenery with the Alps, Italian lake district, and Italian Riviera counting amongst its must-see sights. The perfect package of history, culture, nature, and cuisine, Italy has much more to offer than just the Colosseum and Pompeii.

1. Greece

Greece© dreamstime

Although Greece boasts over 13,500 kilometers of idyllic coastline, this ancient land is much more than just a beach holiday destination.

Indeed, for many, Western Civilization was born in Greece, so while traveling around, you’ll come across lots of astounding archaeological sites that date back millennia. From Delphi and Olympia to Knossos and the Parthenon, the country is littered with impressive historical attractions, with many of them found in Athens.

Having said this, the lovely laidback islands of Crete, Mykonos, Rhodes, and Santorini really need to be seen to be believed, such is their beauty and charm. Blessed with a fantastic climate, their wonderful beaches border the sparkling Aegean Sea. Coupled with its age-old history and culture, Greece’s sun, sea, and scenery make it one of the best places to visit in Europe.

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