Europe

The Top 50 Destinations in Europe to Visit (11-20)

When I was a kid, I used to look thru the National Geographic magazines and picture what it would be like to visit some of the faraway places that I saw on those pages.  Many of those places that I dreamed of exploring were beautiful cities and small towns throughout the continent of Europe.  Among the things that Europe is not in short supply of are beautiful cities with a rich history and enchanting small towns that look like they come right out of storybooks.  Throw a dart at a map of Europe and chances are that you will hit one.  Better yet, make sure you follow this series of articles as I am going to countdown 50 of Europe’s Top Destinations to Visit.

Europe's Top Destinations - Amsterdam

We are over half-way thru my list of Europe’s top destinations and so far I have covered some really fantastic vacation destinations.  In this installment, I will continue counting down to my top destination in Europe by covering destinations 11-20 on my list.  To be honest, the destinations in this installment are some of my absolute favorite travel spots in Europe.  Truth be told, I have so many favorite spots in Europe that it was extremely difficult for me to narrow this list down to just my top fifty.  If you feel like there are cities and towns that I have left off my list that would be in your Top 50, I would love to hear from you in the comments.  More importantly, I am sure that other readers would love to hear from you as well.

Berlin The Top 50 Cities in Europe to Visit (41-50)
Munich The Top 50 Cities in Europe to Visit (31-40)
Santorini The Top 50 Cities in Europe to Visit (21-30)
Amsterdam The Top 50 Cities in Europe to Visit (11-20)
The Top 50 Cities in Europe to Visit (1-10)

20. Tbilisi

Georgia

Europe's Top Destinations - Tbilisi

The first city in this installment of my list of Europe’s top destinations is one that I am guessing not too many travelers have heard about, and even fewer currently have on their bucket list.  As the capitol city of Georgia, a former state in the Soviet Republic, the beautiful city of Tbilisi is often overlooked by travelers looking to explore Europe.  If you are one of those travelers who have been to Europe frequently, but haven’t given much thought into visiting this amazing city, I hope its inclusion on my list inspires you to give it another look.  Tbilisi is one of the cities in Europe that I would classify as a little, big city.  Even though it is home to over one million people, it still retains that charming small city feel.  It is just one of the many delightful contrasts that I love about Tbilisi.  In addition to being a much larger city than it seems, the city also feels much more modern than you would likely guess it to be.  The city of Tbilisi dates back to the 4th Century, and is one of the oldest wine regions in Europe, but at the same time feels like a much more modern metropolis.

There is much about the beautiful city of Tbilisi that will fascinate travelers of all interests.  For those who love history, you will be enthralled by the rich and often times turbulent history of Tbilisi.  With incredible landmarks and monuments like the Narikala Fortress, Mtatsminda Pantheon, and famed Mother of Georgia statue, there is enough history to keep you busy touring for weeks.  Not to mention, Tbilisi is also home to some of Eastern Europe’s most remarkable cathedrals.  You will be awe struck as you tour the breathtaking Metekhi St. Virgin Church, the Sioni Cathedral, and the renown Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi.  If you’d prefer to enjoy the outdoors while visiting, then you will be delighted to know that Tbilisi has some absolutely incredible park lands and gardens.  The breathtaking National Park of Tbilisi is an absolute must-visit for adventure travelers and the beautiful National Botanical Garden of Tbilisi city is gorgeous.  When you have tired yourself out after all of the sight-seeing, you can relax in the amazing Royal Baths of Tbilisi and recharge your batteries.  So if you are looking for someplace new to travel in Europe, I would definitely recommend adding the incredible city of Tbilisi to your list of Europe’s top destinations.

19. Edinburgh

United Kingdom

Europe's Top Destinations - Edinburgh

I love a lot of cities in Europe, but one of my absolute favorites is undoubtedly the incredible city of Edinburgh in Scotland, United Kingdom.  There are so many amazing things to see and do in Edinburgh that I could write an entire article article on the many reasons why this amazing city is undoubtedly one of Europe’s top destinations for travelers to visit.  In addition to being the world’s number one festival destination and the home to Harry Potter, it is also one of the most beautiful cities in all of Europe.  With a gorgeous medieval Old Town, an elegant Georgian New Town, and a seemingly endless supply of fantastic pubs and eateries for visitors to explore, you will have no trouble packing your travel itinerary with wonderful things to see and do when you visit Edinburgh.  Whether you plan a visit to experience some of the city’s remarkable history, soak up some of the local culture, or to attend one of the city’s many wonderful festivals, there is something in Edinburgh that will delight every traveler.

With over 112 parks and more trees than citizens, the city of Edinburgh is one of the UK’s greenest cities.  For those who love the outdoors, this is one city that certainly won’t disappoint.  Outdoor enthusiasts will love exploring the likes of Holyrood Park, the Fife Coastal Path, or the views from Calton Hill.  If history is your thing, then the city of Edinburgh has enough historical sites and monuments to keep you busy for days.  A visit to the infamous Edinburgh Castle alone will take you more than a day to fully explore.  Not to mention the other incredible historical sites in and around the city, such as the Scott Monument, St Giles’ Cathedral, and the beautiful Palace of Holyroodhouse.  The Harry Potter fans out there will also be thrilled to learn that Edinburgh was the filming location for many scenes in the movies.  In fact, J.K. Rowling wrote some of the books in a local Edinburgh café named “The Elephant”.  So as you walk about the Royal Mile and other renown locations within Edinburgh, be on the lookout for familiar Hogwarts references.  For those that have the time, I would also recommend making a trip to see the nearby Rosslyn Chapel.  If this breathtaking old church sounds familiar, its because it was referenced in the incredible Dan Brown film “The Da Vinci Code”.  In case you would like to learn how to visit the incredible city of Edinburgh and why it continues to be one of Europe’s top destinations to visit, I have provided a link to my comprehensive Traveler’s Guide to Edinburgh for you to review below.

READ MORE:
Europe's Top Destinations - Edinburgh
Traveler’s Guide to Edinburgh

18. Nice

France

Europe's Top Destinations - Nice

Many of the cities on my list of Europe’s top destinations have an interesting history, but perhaps none are as interesting or as colorful as the beautiful city of Nice, France.  The nickname for Nice is la Belle, which translates to mean “the beautiful”.  There may not be a more fitting nickname, as the city of Nice is beautiful in every regard.  Because of this, it should come as no surprise that Nice is one of the favorite playgrounds in Europe for the rich and famous.  Located on the French Riviera, its beautiful golden sand beaches, warm weather, and breathtaking coastline have been attracting tourists to Nice for ages.  When I say ages, I mean that quite literally.  Fossil evidence shows that Nice’s first tourists arrived in the area nearly 400,000 years ago while hunting wooly mammoths.  I guess this makes the city of Nice one of the oldest tourist destinations in the world.  To this day, Nice remains France’s second most popular tourist destination after Paris, attracting millions of visitors each year to enjoy its fabulous hilltop views, delightful restaurants and cafes, and its stunning beaches.

One of my favorite things about the city of Nice is that it offers a wonderful blend of relaxing beach destination and cosmopolitan city vibe.  There are other cities in Europe that have a similar feel, but none that seem to blend the two so perfectly.  For those who would like to get away from the stresses of everyday life, the city has plenty of beautiful beaches for you to enjoy.  In fact, the beaches of Nice are known for their beautiful naturally occurring smooth rocks.  If a cultural experience is what you are after, you will find plenty of opportunities in Nice’s amazing Old Town district or in the city’s fanciful market centers.  Having been given to France by Italy as thanks for defense against Austria in 1860, the city of Nice is one of the few cities in France where many citizens speak both French and Italian.  This cultural diversity is also wonderfully apparent in the amazing local cuisine that you will find in Nice’s many renown restaurants and cafes.  So if you are a travel foodie, you won’t be disappointed when you visit Nice on your next big European adventure.  One thing is for certain, no matter what brings you to the city of Nice, it won’t take much to convince you that it is deserving of its place amongst Europe’s top destinations.

17. Porto

Portugal

Europe's Top Destinations - Porto

Known for its delicious port wine, incredible seafood, and colorful riverside houses, the city of Porto, Portugal is on many lists of Europe’s top destinations.  One visit to the city and it won’t be hard for you to see why.  While Porto may not be Portugal’s largest city (that honor goes to Lisbon), it just may be the country’s most colorful.  The stunning colored houses that line the river banks of the Douro River are breathtaking to behold and the city’s bridges are some of Western Europe’s most beautiful.  In fact, the Maria Pia Bridge was designed by Gustave Eiffel, the very man who designed the infamous Eiffel Tower in Paris.  These amazing bridges are what earned Porto the nickname of the “City of Bridges”.  However, Porto is much more than just another pretty European city.  As the home of Port Wine and with some of the best seafood in all of Europe, it isn’t hard to understand why many consider Porto to be one of the culinary capitals of Europe.  No trip to Porto is complete without enjoying a fresh seafood meal in one of the many delightful riverfront cafes with a glass of Port Wine to wash it down.

While Porto is famous for its pretty bridges, tasty wine, and incredible seafood, one of the most underappreciated aspects of this city is its beautiful architecture.  If you love to tour European cities with beautiful, old buildings, then you are going to love seeing the likes of the Monument Church Of St Francis, the Igreja do Carmo, and the beautifully ornate Chapel of Souls.  You could spend days walking around the city and just enjoying the beautiful buildings and colorful houses from scenic riverfront viewpoints like the Cais da Ribeira.  As a travel photographer, Porto is near the top of my list of places to visit just because the street photography in the city would be absolutely incredible.  Not only that, but Porto has some of the prettiest green spaces in Western Europe.  With treasures like the Jardins do Palácio de Cristal and Parque de Serralves, it isn’t hard to escape the city and find a little tranquility during your visit.  These are just some of the many reasons why I think Porto is one of Europe’s top destinations and why I would strongly recommend adding it to your travel bucket list.

16. Copenhagen

Denmark

Europe's Top Destinations - Copenhagen

When I started to put together my list of Europe’s top destinations for travelers to visit, one of the countries that I was the most excited to write about was the incredible country of Denmark.  While Denmark may not be the real home of Danish pastries, they are actually Viennese, it is the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen, Lars Ulrich of Metallica, and one of the most beautiful cities in all of Europe.  Of course, the city I am referring to is the breathtaking city of Copenhagen.  As the center the Danish Empire, which has been around for a thousand years, the city has more than its fair share of landmarks and monuments with historical and cultural importance.  The Amalienborg Palace, Rosenborg Castle, and Christiansborg Palace are all amazingly ornate buildings that will captivate visitors. In addition to its steep history and beautiful palaces, the city of Copenhagen is also a great place to come to have fun.  After all, the UN World Report has rated the Danes the “happiest people on Earth” multiple times in recent years, and the people of Copenhagen are certainly no exception.

The city of Copenhagen is home to the amusement park Bakken, which first opened its doors back in 1583, is one of the longest running amusement parks in all of Europe.  The nearby amusement park Tivoli, which first opened in 1843, has been delighting its visitors for centuries as well.  In many ways, I guess you can say that Copenhagen is the amusement park capital of Europe.  Not only that, but Copenhagen is also home to Den Blå Planet (or the Blue Planet in English), which is the largest aquarium in Northern Europe. Home to over 20,000 fish and marine animals, the aquarium is a spectacular way to spend a rainy day (and there are a lot of those in Copenhagen).

While these are all great reasons to visit Copenhagen, the best reason I can give you to visit this wonderful city is the absolutely spectacular food.  There are a lot of great foodie destinations in Europe, but no other city in Europe is home to as many Michelin star restaurants.  In fact, the city of Copenhagen has a staggering 16 restaurants that are Michelin star rated.  Undoubtedly, the most famous of these is the renown smørrebrød restaurant.  Some of the recipes on the restaurant’s menu have been handed down by generation for over a hundred years and the menu itself is in the Guinness Book of World Records because it is so long.  So, if food is on the top of your mind when you think of Europe’s top destinations, the incredible city of Copenhagen, Denmark should definitely be near the top of your travel bucket list.

15. Ronda

Spain

Europe's Top Destinations - Ronda

There are some destinations in this world that are so incredibly beautiful that, one look at a picture of it, and almost every traveler shoots it towards the top of their bucket list.  The incredible village of Ronda, Spain is one such destination.  While there may be a lot of incredible places on my list of Europe’s top destinations, few if any are as unique and as beautiful as this quaint Spanish village.  Located on an Andalusian Mountain plateau about two hours from Seville and a half hour from Malaga, Ronda is a place unlike any other in Europe.  The village’s rolling hills, famous whitewashed buildings, and orange and olive trees are so stunning that you will literally have to pinch yourself to believe they are real.  In fact, the city is so picturesque that famed American artists Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles spent many summers living in Ronda.  The city is famous for many things, including having one of Spain’s oldest and most cherished bull rings, but most tourists who visit Ronda come to see the incredible El Tajo Gorge, which splits the city in half and has made the city one of the biggest tourism draws in the country.

For those who love history and culture, there are few spots in Spain that are as steeped in both as Ronda.  Francisco Romero, the father of Spanish bullfighting, is said to have introduced the sport to the country in 1726, and the city’s bull ring is a shrine to the sport.  In addition to being the country’s oldest bull ring, it is also one of the most beautiful.  So beautiful, in fact, that Madonna shot her music video “Take a Bow” in the bull ring in 1994.  However, bull fighting isn’t the only thing that Ronda has to offer visitors.  Those who love beautiful architecture will find plenty to admire in this delightful village.  The Arab Baths of Ronda and the Mondragon Palace are both incredible old buildings that are worthy of touring.  If you prefer breathtaking vistas, then you won’t want to miss out on the views of the valley from Alameda del Tajo or the sight of Puente Nuevo (the new bridge) that spans the El Tajo Gorge.  Though my favorite viewpoint in the city is on the bridge looking out over the city’s terraced gardens.  It is one of my favorite views that I have seen in all my many travels.  This view alone makes Ronda worthy of being one of Europe’s top destinations for travelers. But don’t take my word for it, go see this incredible city for yourself!

READ MORE:
Europe's Top Destinations - Ronda
Visitor’s Guide to Ronda, Spain

14. Lauterbrunnen

Switzerland

Europe's Top Destinations - Lauterbrunnen

When describing someplace that is incredibly beautiful, it is common place to compare it to a fairytale.  We’ve all heard the expression, “it is straight out of a fairytale” before.  While there are are plenty of places on my list of Europe’s top destinations that are pretty enough to be compared to a fairytale destination, very few have actually inspired the tales.  One of these destinations that is so impossibly beautiful that it has woven its way into the imagination of more than a few storytellers is the amazing town of Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland.  This jaw-droppingly gorgeous small alpine town is so stunning and so unique that it served as the inspiration famed author J.R.R. Tolkien’s amazing fictitious city of Rivendell.  One look down Lauterbrunnen Valley, and it won’t be difficult to understand why Tolkien and others who have visited this magical town were so inspired.  With some of Europe’s tallest and most beautiful mountains surrounding the valley, which is enclosed by towering rock faces with 72 beautiful waterfalls cascading down into the valley from above, Lauterbrunnen really is a magical place.

Unlike Tolkien’s Rivendell, the town of Lauterbrunnen is of this Earth.  While it’s beauty may seem unreal, the town itself is not only real, it is also one of Switzerland’s top tourist destinations.  One of the biggest draws for tourists visiting Lauterbrunnen are the town’s incredible waterfalls, of which Staubbach and Trümmelbach Falls are most famous.  The incredible Trümmelbach Falls is actually located inside the rock walls, which makes it one of the most unique waterfalls in Europe, in addition to being one of the most beautiful.  If you are looking for some peace and solitude, then you can stop looking at Lauterbrunnen.  The town is full of peaceful mountain inns where you can spend your days nights in between days filled with quiet walks down the valley and blissful gondola rides up into the surrounding mountains to enjoy the incredible vistas.  The best part is, Lauterbrunnen is only a short train ride from neighboring Interlakken and Grindelwald.  So if the Swiss Alps is high on your list of Europe’s top destinations, the wonderful town of Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland should be near the top of your bucket list.

READ MORE:
Europe's Top Destinations - Lauterbrunnen
Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland Visitor Guide

13. Amsterdam

Netherlands

Europe's Top Destinations - Amsterdam

With more canals than the Venice, Italy and more bridges than Paris, France, the city of Amsterdam in the Netherlands is one of my favorite spots in Europe and definitely one of Europe’s top destinations to travel.  The city is located on 90 small islands, and what many travelers don’t realize is that the city is actually built on poles.  That’s right, roughly 9,000 poles between 15-20 meters in length were placed roughly 11 meters deep into the sandy soil to support many of the buildings in the city.  In my opinion, that makes Amsterdam one of the most unique cities in all of Europe.  However, Amsterdam is every bit as beautiful and fun to visit as it is unique.  This incredible city has 165 canals that stretch for more than 100 kilometers for visitors to explore, over 1,500 incredible bars and cafes that serve some of Europe’s finest beer and food, and more museums per capita than any other city in the entire world.  In short, you will never run out of fun things to see and do when visiting Amsterdam.

When visiting the city, make sure you check out Amsterdam’s world-renown flower markets.  The floating flower market has been in operation since 1862 and has quickly grown into one of the most famous flower markets in all of the Netherlands.  The flower stalls, which are situated in boats, harken back to the days in which flowers were delivered by boat.  In addition to the markets, Amsterdam is also famous for its biking culture.  There are an estimated 1 million bicycles in the city of Amsterdam, which is astounding when you consider the fact that the city only has around 821,000 inhabitants.  For those who love to bicycle, you will love exploring the city and its many biking paths, canals, and bridges.  The three most important canals in the city are the Herengracht, Prinsengracht, and Keizersgracht.  Built in the 17th century during the Dutch Golden Age, these canals are where most of the beautiful monumental buildings are located.  When you get tired of exploring, you can always head to Kalverstraat to do some shopping and find a quiet coffee shop to do some people watching.  Or you could always hit a bar and try some of the infamous local beer that Europeans can’t seem to get enough of.  Amsterdam has a legendary microbrew scene that alone has made the city one of Europe’s top destinations for many travelers.  Regardless of why you decide to visit, I am sure Amsterdam is a city that you will quickly grow to love.

12. Seville

Spain

Europe's Top Destinations - Seville

If you haven’t already noticed, I have a deep fondness for the country of Spain.  Something that I am sure was very apparent to some of you with the number of Spanish cities that have been included on my list of Europe’s top destinations.  However, no list of the top destinations in Europe, let alone the top destinations in Spain, would be complete without including the incredible city of Seville.  With warm, sunny weather year-round, breathtaking architecture, and some of the best food that you will find in all of Europe, Seville is a traveler’s dream.  The city is considered to be the cultural and artistic capital of southern Spain, and that distinction is well-deserved.  After all, the city is the birthplace of two of Spain’s most iconic cultural treasures.  In the 18th century, the fusion of the cante gitano with Andalusian folk music gave birth to the dance style that we know today as Flamenco.  There are many theatres throughout Seville where you can catch a performance of this dance art, and believe me, it is worthwhile to do so.  They are performances like no other, with more energy and emotion than I can articulate in words.  The city is also the birthplace of the famed Spanish dish known as Tapas.  While many Spanish cities claim this distinction, the city of Seville may have the strongest claim.  Since their conception, these small, sharable dishes have quickly evolved into Spain’s most recognizable cuisine.

However, you won’t just find food and dance when you visit Seville.  The city is chalk-full of incredible things to see and do.  Throughout the city, you will find many structures and monuments that symbolize different periods in the city’s colorful history.  The Catedral de Sevilla, Torre del Oro tower, and the incredible bull ring Plaza de Toros are all incredible and worthy of exploration.  One of my favorite places to visit when touring Seville is undoubtedly the amazing Plaza de España.  In my opinion, this is one of Europe’s most breathtaking plazas and includes some of the most beautiful decorative ceramic tiles.  If you have the time, a horse-drawn carriage ride through the plaza or a boat ride thru the plaza’s canals are great ways to spend an afternoon.  Another great way to spend a lazy afternoon is to visit the city’s wonderful food markets.  There are many to choose from, but my favorite market in the city is the Mercado de Triana.  Located in the beautiful Triana neighborhood, it is widely considered to be Seville’s best food market.  It’s a great place to try some tapas or other local favorites and do some people watching.  It’s just one of the many things that I love the city and why it continuously ranks amongst Europe’s top destinations to travel.

READ MORE:
Europe's Top Destinations - Seville
Traveler’s Guide to Seville, Spain

11. Amalfi

Italy

Europe's Top Destinations - Castiglione di Ravello Beach, Amalfi Italy

As the birthplace of the mythical super hero Wonder Woman and the favorite vacation destination for celebrities like the Kardashians, the breathtakingly beautiful city of Amalfi on Italy’s Amalfi Coast is a legendary destination in most travel circles.  With jaw-droppingly gorgeous coastline, vibrant cities, fantastic beaches, and some of Italy’s most treasured historical sights, the Amalfi Coast has certainly earned its strong reputation as one of Europe’s top destinations for travelers to visit.  There are a lot of stunning coastlines around this world, with the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, the Great Ocean Road in Australia, and Big Sur in the United States being some prime examples.  However, few, if any, stretches of coastline that you will find in your travels will match up to the awe-inspiring coast you will find near Amalfi.  While Italy’s big cities like Rome, Florence, and Venice may attract bigger crowds of tourists, the travelers who are really in the know circle the Amalfi Coast on their maps when they plan their trips to Italy.

Not only is the Amalfi Coast a celebrity hot spot, but it also attracts a fun mix of backpackers hopping from small town to small town, working their way down the coast.  In addition to its incredible coastline and colorful, small towns, the Amalfi Coast is home to some of Italy’s most beautiful beaches.  Nearly every town you encounter has a quaint, wonderful beach where you can escape the hustle-and-bustle of travel life and unwind.  While relaxing, visitors can enjoy some of the area’s amazing cuisine.  Beyond the fact that the Amalfi Coast have some of Europe’s fresh seafood, it is also a citrus growing hot spot, with lemons being a specialty of the area.  No visitor to Amalfi should leave without trying the incredible local liqueur known as Limoncello, which will surprise you with its tart, yet delicious taste.  If you are up for some adventure during your visit, I would also recommend a trip to nearby Pompeii.  This lost city way buried when the nearby Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, burying the city and all its inhabitants in hot ash.  The eruption occurred so suddenly that you can still see the fossilized remains of some inhabitants in their final resting positions to this day.  So if you are looking for a great European getaway where you can enjoy beautiful beaches, tasty food, and incredible history, you may not find a more worthy spot on my list of Europe’s top destinations than the stunning Amalfi Coast.

READ MORE:
Europe's Top Destinations - Amalfi
The Definitive Amalfi Coast Visitor Guide

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