European Bucket List

Every home has a story, and they are as vast and varied as the world is wide. But they all start with inspiration, and inspiration starts with our surroundings. That’s what home is. Family. Friends. A sense of place. An amazing view. It is all part of what makes a space a home because your home is where you truly live. As homeowners ourselves we understand that your best life begins with a home that inspires you.

(This page includes affiliate links – our full disclosure statement is available {here}

““Summertime. It was a song. It was a season. I wondered if that season would ever live inside me.” – Benjamin Alire Saenz

Narrowing down things to do during your travels can be tough, so with the help of other travel writers, we put together a European bucket list compilation. Since everyone has their own style of travel and interests, in this article you will find a range of European landmarks and things you should not miss when visiting Europe.

Some of the things you will find in this European bucket list are a given, like the Eiffel Tower. Others may be a bit more off the beaten path or a little lesser known. But that is the wonderful part about traveling. We all find something that inspires us and encourages us to share with the world as a must place visit.

1. CINQUE TERRE

Cinque Terre should be on your European bucket list because it is picture perfect Italy! Cinque Terre isn’t just one city, it is a collection of small and picturesque villages along the Ligurian Coast of Italy.

Notable for being one the top Italy bucket list destinations, the buildings and coastlines are unmissable. 

Access to Cinque Terre is easy to get to from Genoa and only a few hours away from Milan by train or car! Make sure to spend plenty of time walking around, experiencing local cuisine, and enjoying the sunset from one of the villages. Because the area is popular, it would be wise to consult a Cinque Terre travel guide before venturing over to learn all the ins and outs of the region. 

Don’t forget to try one of the most traditional food from Italy: Neapolitan pizza, and overlook the stunning city!

2. NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE

Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany is one of the dreamiest castles in the world, it even inspired the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland. It was built in the 1800’s, so it’s not really that old, even though it has a romantic style and architecture. It was built on order from King Ludwig II of Bavaria, and it’s situated near Fussen in the Bavaria region in Southern Germany.

I have been to quite a few castles and palaces in the world, but Neuschwanstein is certainly one of the best. The architecture is fantastic, but what’s even more satisfying is the interior. It’s a truly royal castle and King Ludwig II sure knew how to decorate. The amount of details and different themes are striking as you walk around inside the castle.

The only way to get inside is by joining of the guided tours. No photos are allowed, which is actually a good thing because then you don’t know what to expect. So many places these days can build up expectations from photos and lead to disappointment, but I can assure you that Neuschwanstein will not disappoint. It’s truly a fairy-tale castle that should be on every person’s European bucket list!

3. EIFFEL TOWER

A huge, sparkling tower at night in the most romantic city in Europe and equally delicious city, what’s not to love? Perhaps the best reason for coming here is the sheer iconic value of the Eiffel Tower. In every movie you’ve ever seen that involved France, there was the gorgeous tower, standing in all its glory.

The ultimate European bucket list destination with popular day trips from Paris as well. 

Perhaps the best thing you can do is go to the top of the tower in the evening or the daytime, if you prefer, for an unforgettable look at the City of Lights.

Once you get closer to it, you begin to realize just how huge it is. And after your visit, you will certainly appreciate the history behind the tower more than you ever have.You will need tickets to get in, so be sure to book those in advance. Crowds of people hoping to experience this sight may slow you down in your visit, but it will be worth it. Be patient. Also, be advised that an Uber or a cab home may take a while due to the popularity of the landmark. The best time of all to go is during New Years when the entire tower is lit up, it is one of the best things to do in Paris in the winter. Bring a camera so you can take photos of this amazing sight.

4. ACROPOLIS OF ATHENS

The Acropolis of Athens is one of the most iconic ancient sites of Europe and one of the awesome things to do on mainland Greece, if not the world. It’s the birthplace of democracy, the cradle of Western Civilisation, and a top travel European bucket list item.

You can’t visit Athens and miss the Acropolis. Quite literally, in fact – it has a prominent position on top of a hill in the centre of the city. You can see it from most streets in the centre of town. Most people think first of the famous Parthenon temple but the term acropolis (which translates as citadel) refers to the wider hilltop archaeological site that encompasses several ancient Greek temples and civic structures.

Before you go it’s worth knowing that part of the Parthenon is currently clad in scaffolding – and will be for some time as part of an ongoing restoration project. If you see any photos minus scaffolding the have probably been photoshopped (or are really old!). But don’t let that put you off. You can also admire the the Propylaia, the Erechtheion and its famous Caryatids (although the originals are in the museum), and the Temple of Athena Nike, as well as the spectacular views across the city and out to sea.

If you want to dodge the masses of tour groups visiting the ancient site then try to get there early (before 10am) or later in the day (after 4pm). And bring a bottle of water because it can be a hot, steep walk. Entrance is usually €20 but it’s worth checking for the occasional free admission days (particularly on Sundays during the winter).

Only licensed (and expensive) guides are allowed in, so brush up on your history first – or take a trip to the Acropolis Museum. It requires a separate €5 ticket but is well worth it. Not only is the sleek modern design rather lovely, but it gives you the context you need to really appreciate the marvels of the Acropolis.

5. SANTORINI

Santorini is one of those places that you see on postcards and think “this cannot be real”, and then you go there and you discover that it is even better in reality, that is the reason it is on everyone’s European bucket list. The moment you lay your foot on the caldera, you will fall in love with the island.

The scenery is unique. The whitewashed houses and the tiny blue- domed churches perched on the cliff along with the view of the blue sea and sky make a breathtaking sight. Apart from the beautiful landscape, Santorini has great cuisine, many wineries that produce some unique varieties due to the volcanic soil of the island, and interesting archaeological sites.

It may not have the best beaches compared to other Greek islands (like the beaches in Mykonos) but its beaches are different because of the volcano and have crystal clear waters. Apart from the villages on the caldera, there are some other pretty villages on the island like Pyrgos and Emporio, with unique architecture, a maze of cobbled alleyways and blossomed bougainvilleas. Even the hotels on the island are beautiful, carved on the rock with infinity pools overlooking the sea and the volcano.

6. SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS

The Scottish Highlands are an absolutely magical place in Scotland on many travelers’ European bucket list – here are a few reasons why:
 
The lochs! These incredible bodies of water (loch translates to lake) dot the Scottish Highlands, ranging in size from tiny to massive. Loch Lomond and Loch Ness are two of the most famous lochs, but some lesser known lakes, such as Loch Lubnaig, are even more visually stunning.
Traditional Scottish pub experiences! Because the Scottish Highlands are such a tourist attraction, there are many pubs and restaurants that cater to the tourist crowd. However, their prices are often inflated and the food isn’t necessarily the best. An absolutely top-notch option is The Clachaig Inn in Glencoe, which offers 365 different types of whiskey, a roaring fireplace, friendly staff, and piping hot, delicious fresh meals to satisfy any appetite.
 
Expansive, otherworldly landscapes such as Rannoch Moor, which contains around 50 square miles of boggy moorland to the west of Loch Rannoch. Visiting it has been likened to going to the moon.
 
The mountains – particularly those surrounding Glencoe, like the Three Sisters. They are take-your-breath away beautiful and so majestic!
 
Welcoming, kind locals! The people of the Scottish Highlands are true Scots and are so friendly and lovely to chat with. Making connections with the communities in the Scottish Highlands is an unforgettable experience and will certainly make you want to go back!

7. MONT SAINT-MICHEL, FRANCE

Like something out of a fairy-tale, Mont Saint-Michel on France’s Normandy coast, feels like a mythical Disney kingdom come to life. Mont Saint-Michel is a tidal island, connected to the mainland via a causeway. This UNESCO heritage site has been a site of religious significance since the 8thCentury and a must on visit on your European Bucket List.

The current monastery is of Romanesque design. You can climb up to it to view the beautiful chapel and to take in the views from the top of the hill.  With only around 50 permanent residents, the tiny island receives millions of visitors each year. A photographer’s dream, visiting the area overnight so that you can see both a sunrise and a sunset over the monastery’s spire is an absolute must.

While at Mont Saint-Michel, be sure to take a low-tide tour of the mudflats around the island – remember don’t do this alone because the tides and quicksand can be dangerous. Take a walk around the fortified sea wall and stop for dinner at one of the many restaurants overlooking the water. Mont Saint-Michel has a fascinating history of siege, pilgrimage, and different kingdoms claiming it as their own, it has even been a prison!

Around 3 hours from Paris by bus or train, Mont Saint-Michel is a very achievable European bucket list item to tick off your list.

8. GLACIER LAGOON IN ICELAND

Atop every European bucket list should grace Glacier Lagoon in Iceland. Not only is the Glacier Lagoon magnificent but a lot of people haven’t been there yet. The glistening blue color of the ice formations as they are scattered about will take your breath away.

Directly across the street from the Glacier Lagoon is Diamond Beach where you will find gorgeous black sand and large chunks of ice that have broken off from the glacier. In recent years both locations have grown increasingly popular on European Bucket List travels.

The Glacier Lagoon is a bit of a drive from Reykjavik. You could take a tour there or rent a car and explore on your own.

Wine Tasting in Catalonia

The DO Empordà is the oldest wine region in Spain, and is one of the least known of the Spanish wine regions. The wine itself takes on the characteristics of the Costa Brava — the sea, the mountains, and the winds. But the people behind this Costa Brava wine region offer some great opportunities for exploration by wine lovers and visitors to Catalonia, the northeast corner of Spain.

There are over 400 wine growers in Empordà, and about 50 DO Empordà wineries, which together produce almost 4 million bottles of wine a year. Approximately 30 of these wineries are specifically dedicated to preserving the history of the region by forming the DO Empordà Wine Route.
 
Exploring the Catalan wineries of the Empordà should be added to every European bucket list. It’s a unique wine region, unlike any other. And it helps that in addition to tasting wines from a historic region, it’s also possible to dine at some of the top restaurants in the world, all while drinking Catalan wine. Girona is home to the current number 2 restaurant in the world, El Celler de Can Roca. It’s a destination to explore for any food and wine lover.

9. CHARLES BRIDGE AND PRAGUE OLD TOWN

In consort with what some consider to be the most picturesque Old Town in Central Europe, Prague’s Charles Bridge is a legendary European bucket list item. Prague first timers will be captivated by the medieval atmosphere, the bridge’s amazing statuary, and the views over the Vltava River.

Open to modern foot traffic only, the Charles Bridge was constructed over a period of almost 50 years beginning in 1357. The timing of the bridge’s foundation stone was selected with a numerological pyramid in mind. Fortified multi-story towers were built on each end of the bridge’s sandstone block span with statues representing monarchs and saints appearing over the next few centuries.
 
Prague’s Old Town is anchored by a large square in which the statue of Jan Hus, the famous Bohemian theologian, dominates. Also prominent are the distinctive twin towers of the Church of Our Lady before Tyn.
 
Historic records from 900AD cite settlements and marketplaces occurring in the vicinity, with township privileges granted by King Wenceslas I of Bohemia. Prague’s prosperity catapulted when King Charles IV became an Emperor of Rome in 1355.
Old Town Hall’s tower offers panoramic views of the “City of Seven Hills” and boasts a magnificent mechanical astronomical clock well over 600 years old. Its animated sculptures – the Twelve Apostles, death skeleton, and other semi-sinister figures – provide macabre entertainment daily at noon.
 
Rounding out the attractions in the square is the Church of St. Nicholas, an 18th century late-Gothic and Baroque edifice with distinctive domed steeples. During the 1945 Prague uprising, the church was a secret site for the partisan Radio Prague. Later in the 20th century, the square was the site of the Velvet Revolution demonstrations and Soviet repression of the Prague Spring in 1968.
 
While the city is blanketed in snow, Prague in the winter is one of the most beautiful times to visit. 

10. NYHAVN IN COPENHAGEN, DENMARK

If you are going to do a roundup Europe trip, you can’t miss this tiny but magical country in the Scandinavia region – Denmark. Denmark is the oldest monarchy in Europe. Visiting the Nyhavn in Copenhagen, you will have a great taste of its charming monarchy vibe and their Viking ancestor.

The colorful and very north European architecture will capture your heart. While taking a boat ride from here to the famous attractions in the city, it will convince you that Denmark is definitely representing traditional Europe. After your boat ride, have a seat on one of the cute cafes because you’re not leaving without having a bite of Danish cakes and cookies. To wrap up your visit, hop on a bicycle, ride along and be amazed at how many locals uses this type of transportation every single day and how easy it is to cycle around the cities of Denmark. Stroll around until you reach Christiania, the free town. Make sure to stay long enough and head back to Nyhavn in time to watch the sunset and enjoy a Danish beer.

Getting to Copenhagen is very easy, you can either hop on a flight, there are very affordable ones offered by Ryanair from the major cities in Europe while you can also take a train or bus to enjoy the scenery.

That’s it! Our Top 10 Uropean Destinations that make for a great bucket list. We would love to hear about some places you’ve been and share with us places not on our list. 

Tags:
1 Comment
  • Larch
    Posted at 15:58h, 07 August Reply

    I have visited quite a few of these European cities and can’t decide which is my favourite. Maybe Copenhagen or the Scottish Highlands? I would love to visit all of them so will bookmark this post for when I can travel again.

Post A Comment