From England and France to Italy and Germany, European countries are full of vibrant cities known for their museums, restaurants, nightlife and architecture. So, it comes as no surprise that deciding which spots are the best places to visit in Europe can be difficult. That’s why U.S. News considered the highlights of each destination – as well as user votes and expert opinions – to round up the best vacation destinations in Europe. Use this list to help you plan your next trip, and cast your vote below to have a say in next year’s list. Meanwhile, if you’re seeking lodging, head to our Best Hotels in Europe ranking.
Paris is filled with highly regarded museums, monuments and churches. You could easily spend your entire vacation admiring iconic sights like the Eiffel Tower, wandering through exhibits at the Louvre and strolling through the beautiful green space admiring flowers at the Luxembourg Gardens. Still, you should save some time for people-watching and munching on fresh croissants at sidewalk cafes during the day. Once the sun sets, sit down for a decadent French meal with amazing wine.
Exploring the world-class British Museum, seeing a musical in the West End theater district, touring the Tower of London and gorging on fish and chips or a Sunday roast at a local pub are all part of the London bucket list experience. However, London’s high hotel prices can make travelers with tight budgets cringe. To save some money, book your accommodations far in advance or consider reserving a vacation rental.
Rome is a can’t-miss spot on your trip to Europe. The aroma of fresh Italian cooking wafts through the alleys, and historical sights stand proudly at every turn. No visit to Italy’s capital would be complete without checking out the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and the awe-inspiring Trevi Fountain. If you have additional time, venture beyond the main attractions to Trastevere and the Spanish Steps.
Florence, Italy, boasts top-notch museums, stunning architecture and mouthwatering cuisine. Must-dos include admiring Michelangelo’s David at the Galleria dell’Accademia, taking in city and river views from the Ponte Vecchio and climbing to the top of the Duomo – Florence’s most recognizable attraction. When hunger strikes, head to the Mercato Centrale Firenze to stock up on fresh meats and cheeses or sit down for pizza or gelato at a charming outdoor eatery.
Barcelona, Spain’s diverse architecture sets the city apart from other European destinations. Antoni Gaudí’s Park Güell and Basilica de la Sagrada Família are beyond impressive, as are Palau de la Música Catalana and the many medieval buildings in the Gothic Quarter. When you tire of taking in the city’s stunning architecture, relax on La Barceloneta beach, sample a smattering of tasty local tapas at Boqueria Market or sip sangria along Las Ramblas.
Located south of Zurich, Bern and Basel, the Swiss Alps are a haven for winter sports enthusiasts. While skiing, hiking and snowboarding tend to dominate this region, you’ll also discover quaint towns, serene lakes and gorgeous scenery. Luxury mountain resorts are available throughout the region as well, making it a playground for all sorts of travelers. Additionally, no trip to the Swiss Alps would be complete without indulging in some warm, gooey cheese fondue.
These are some of the best European destinations worth a visit.