Best Places in Europe to Travel To: Hidden Gems and Iconic Spots

This is my personal selection of the best places in Europe to travel to, after visiting all these spots in Europe.

Best places in Europe to travel to, let’s go! I’ve been to all European countries.

In 2023, I finally lived my dream to finish visiting the rest of Europe and visited over 29 countries in just 12 months. 

As a European who has visited other continents as well, I have to say I will forever stay faithful to my native lands. 

But before we dive into this list of the best places in Europe to travel to, I need to point out something that might not be so obvious at first.

While Europe isn’t a huge place, especially when you compare it to the U.S., Australia, or even compared to some Asian countries, it is a place of many different nations, all with similar and not-so-similar customs and traditions, and most of them with their own language.

And even so, being rather small and a perfect continent for road trips, there are countless gorgeous corners and spots you might not have even heard of. 

Even I, after travelling extensively all around Europe, doing road trips in all possible corners, I still have so many places in Europe to travel to, and I have a feeling that the more I see, the longer my list will get. 

But I want to make this list a special kind of list, a list I personally recommend to anyone looking for hidden gems in between more icon spots in Europe.

So here is my list of places I’ve personally been to and the best places in Europe to travel to. 

Best places in Europe to travel to

According to the World Tourism Organization, tourism is now back to pre-pandemic levels. In 2022, a total of 595.75 million tourists came to Europe, a 97.8% improvement over the previous year.

The most popular months for travelling to Europe are July and August, when each month Europe receives over 85 million tourists. 

Now, do remember there are inbound tourists, which means they live outside Europe, and we can count the numbers.

However, what this statistic doesn’t count are the European tourists, who, guess what – also take their summer holidays in July and August. 

That’s why I have crafted this perfect list of the best places in Europe to travel to, which includes some really cool hidden gems.

For the super popular places, I’ve also added my personal experience about when to visit. 

Trust me, enjoying a visit to a popular place in Europe has everything to do with when you visit.

There is a time to visit everything in Europe, and it’s not all during the summer. So let’s get to it – the best places in Europe to travel to. 

9 Best Things To Do In Gibraltar On Your First Trip

The Rock of Gibraltar

Gibraltar is like another world in Europe. It’s the only place in Europe where you will find wild monkeys. 

But beware, they’re used to tourists bringing snacks over there, and they watch you like crazy when you open your backpack. We got attacked for a banana in our backpack.

The monkey opened the backpack and took it. There was nothing we could have done. So don’t be stupid like we were.

Also, it’s illegal to feed them or touch them. So don’t tell anyone about our adventure in Gibraltar. 

I visited Gibraltar as part of a longer road trip in the South of Spain. You can see Morocco from there, and I truly loved it. Here’s my entire guide on things to do in Gibraltar

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Ponta de São Lourenço (Madeira)

Madeira is known as the island of eternal spring. The landscape is fantastic, the flowers are beautiful everywhere you go, and the views of those cliffs will make you wanna move there. 

No wonder everyone is buying an apartment in Madeira. The real estate market is crazy in Madeira. 

It might be a small island, but it’s gorgeous, and you’ll never get bored. 

Read my full travel guide for visiting Madeira

Tarifa, Spain best places in europe to travel to
Tarifa, Spain

Tarifa (Spain)

While I was based in Portugal in 2023, I rented a car and did a lot of short and longer road trips. And I really wanted to visit the Southernmost point in continental Europe, which is in Tarifa, Spain. 

This is also one of the windiest places you’ll visit in Europe.

Just to give you an idea, people from all over the world come here for kitesurfing. 

I could spend hours watching people kitesurf. Also, this is the spot where the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean meet.

It’s truly a fascinating place and one of the best places in Europe to travel to, which not a lot of people put on their European itinerary (but you should!). 

Europe Road Trip: From Planning to Packing Cabo de Roca, Portugal
Cabo de Roca, Portugal

Cabo de Roca (Portugal)

Portugal is a very popular place for holidaying in Europe ever since the ‘70s.

Of course, there you will find many gorgeous spots, towns, and beaches, but I believe that Cabo de Roca, which is the Westernmost place in continental Europe, is a place you have to visit at least once in your lifetime in Europe

As with all extremities, this is a windy spot, but if you visit in spring or summer, the weather is warm enough to wear shorts and slippers. 

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Algarve (Portugal)

On my first trip to Portugal, I chose to spend one month in the Algarve, which was one of the best decisions ever. 

I went there in February – March, and it was perfect because it was almost free of tourists, so I  could enjoy all the must-see places in the Algarve, without the usual crowds. If you have read my other travel blogs, you know I always aim to travel off-season when the crowds are smaller and prices are lower. 

Algarve is a beautiful place and one of the best places in Europe to travel to, but you must go off-season. This is my personal rule for all locations in the south of Europe and around the Mediterranean Sea. 

aerial view of mdina fortress
Photo by Polina Kovaleva on Pexels.com

Mdina Rabat (Malta)

Not a lot of people talk about Malta, this rather small country in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. 

I went in January and March, and I would not recommend going later than March. So, aim to visit Malta in winter.

Even in Winter, the weather is great (although not exactly beach weather, but the sun is bad for your skin either way).

Malta is gorgeous, has a fascinating history and is surprisingly easy to get around (that’s probably because everyone speaks English).

europe itinerary 3 weeks

Aphrodites Rock (Cyprus)

I don’t see a lot of people travelling to Cyprus, but I think that’s because of its remote position in the Mediterranean Sea. 

But as with many places around this gorgeous sea, Cyprus is a perfect destination for winter in Europe. I visited Cyprus in January 2023 and did a gorgeous 4-day road trip around the country/island, and that’s how I discovered this unique place in Europe. I loved it.

I was so lucky that I had some sun that day, so I was just in a T-shirt, soaking in the air, with just a few people around (this place is packed during high season). 

Cappadocia juliasomething iulia vasile

Cappadocia (Turkey)

Some may say Turkey is not Europe, but a part of Turkey is Europe and the countries in the East are also considered Europe, so let’s just assume all of Turkey is Europe. 

And in the middle of Turkey, you will find one of the most iconic spots in Europe, a palace that looks populated with sand castles and where local agencies offer hot air balloon rides at sunrise. 

This hot air balloon ride is, to this day, one of my favourite experiences from when I lived in Turkey, and I would always love to go back.

Since this is one of those iconic spots on all travellers’ vision boards, you will need to plan your trip in advance, including the hotel and hot air balloon experience. But it’s worth it. 

best places in europe to travel to Tbilisi Georgia
Tbilisi, Georgia

Narikala Fortress (Tbilisi, Georgia)

Georgia is a lovely destination for anyone looking to find authentic spots in Europe and with lots of history. The capital city. Tbilisi has some really cool hidden gems, like this fortress and the surrounding area. Trust me, you’ll be surprised. 

Not many travellers put Georgia on their European travel bucket list, but you should. 

I find that you really get to understand the culture and local lifestyle when you travel to places that are moderately popular, where you can still feel the authentic vibe of a place and grasp its history. 

I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and go off the beaten path when planning your next European trip. Check out the best things to do in Tbilisi, Georgia.

best places in europe to travel to Armenia

Sevanavank Monestary (Armenia)

The Sevanavank monastery is a 7th-century old monastery that stands on the edge of a beautiful lake, where you can talk to locals, enjoy some local cuisine, and just soak in the landscape and outstanding landscape. 

Armenia is such a hidden gem, and it has lots to offer. As one of the places where the oldest civilizations lived, with amazing history and beautiful nature spots, it should not be a miss. I visited Armenia in October 2023, and the weather was just perfect; the locals were super friendly and helpful, and I know that it deserves at least a road trip. 

Here’s my guide on visiting Armenia for the first time.

Gobustan Azerbaijan best places in europe to travel to
Stone carving in Gobustan, Azerbaijan

Gobustan (Azerbaijan)

If ancient civilisations is a must-see for you, then you need to check out this place, where you’ll find wall paintings from the 10 millennia BC. 

I strongly recommend getting a private guide for this place or simply renting a car and doing a trip on your own. 

This place should definitely make it to your itinerary during your first trip to Baku, Azerbaijan.

voronet romania best places in europe to travel to

Voronet Monastery (Romania)

The worldwide famous Voronet blue has made Romania an international tourist destination. 

I haven’t been there since I was a child, as you can imagine it’s a popular destination for Romanians too. But it’s gorgeous; the entire area is beautiful, and you’ll not get to visit a monastery but an entire complex of Romanian monasteries, which are some of the most gorgeous old religious (Orthodox) buildings you’ll see in Europe. 

Traditional fishing village Tulcea Romania What to see in Dobrogea, Romania on a 3-day road trip from Bucharest

Danube Delta (Romania)

The Danube flows in 10 countries in Europe and then spills into the Black Sea by forming this unique delta, which is a one-of-a-kind ecosystem in Europe. 

The entire place is huge, there are multiple villages to visit, and they are accessible only by boat. 

The Delta is like another planet; the traditions there are different from what you’ll see anywhere else in Romania, and the locals are super friendly. If you like eating fish and watching birds, then this is one of the best places in Europe to travel to. 

Bucegi mountains hike

Bucegi Mountains (Romania)

I love hiking, and I have been hiking in Romania since I was little. I have also been hiking on popular trails all around Europe, but these mountains will always have my heart.

In Bucegi, you’ll find many trails, some accessible even to small children, while others are more challenging but have some of the most gorgeous views. 

No wonder we have tourists from all over the world hiking in our mountains in Romania. 

Oh, we have other mountains as well, and all of them are worth the hype, but this is the most popular spot to hike in Romania. 

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Ancient Theatre of Philippopolis (Plovdiv, Bulgaria)

You would have never guessed that Plovdiv is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. It has been inhabited for over 7000 years now. 

The old city is simply stunning, and these old Roman ruins will shock you. The best way to visit this place is to do a road trip in Bulgaria.

If you’re not European, you might not know that the Roman Empire was huge, influenced more than half of Europe, and left ruins of citadels all over the place. But few of them have been preserved, as well as this amphitheatre. 

visit kaliakra

Kaliakra Cape, Bulgaria

I believe Bulgaria doesn’t usually make it on travellers’ bucket lists because it’s part of Eastern Europe, and it simply feels so far away from everything. 

But you travel to find places like Cape Kaliakra, which makes you wonder if you’re still on Earth, giving you the ultimate feeling of freedom. 

And that’s why I love road-tripping so much in Europe. You get to discover hidden gems like this one, which only locals and neighbouring countries know about. 

saint john the theologian kaneo ohrid north macedonia
Photo by Osman Karagöz on Pexels.com

Church of Saint John the Theologian (Ohrid, North Macedonia)

Ohrid has a very interesting mix of historical influences, from the Ottoman Empire, with an Orthodox church and Roman ruins. It’s when you visit spots like these in Europe that you realize how our civilization was moulded throughout history. 

The surrounding lake is extremely picturesque, and you’ll want to stay forever admiring the church and the landscape. 

scenic photo of sveti stefan island in montenegro
Photo by Eugenia Remark on Pexels.com

Sveti Stefan (Montenegro)

If I had said from the beginning that Montenegro has a fjord that’s comparable to the world-famous Norwegian fjords, you would have started laughing. But it’s true. 

Right there, where the fjord disappears, and the Montenegro coastline meets the Adriatic Sea, this small old town of Sveti Stefan rises.

It’s a spot where it feels like the time spots and the rest of the world doesn’t exist anymore. 

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Dubrovnik (Croatia)

I promised I would include some iconic spots as well in this list of the best places to visit in Europe, and here you have Dubrovnik. 

You’ll also notice that I haven’t included the most obvious places and cities because I believe those are so crowded that their charm disappears.

But still, I have included Dubrovnik, as its old fortress is one of the most stunning pieces of architecture in Europe. It’s crazily crowded (and has one of the most expensive parking in Europe), but it’s still very much worth the visit. 

tartini square facing harbor in piran slovenia
Photo by Pham Ngoc Anh on Pexels.com

Piran (Slovenia)

Most people still mix up Slovenia with Slovakia, although they aren’t even neighbouring countries. But Slovenia is a neighbour of Italy and has a small coastline of about 46 kilometres, which is plenty of room for building gorgeous little coastal towns, such as Piran, that will remind you of Italy but without the crowds. 

view of canal and brick buildings in bruges belgium
Photo by Beata Makuch on Pexels.com

Bruges (Belgium)

Belgium is generally boring (in my opinion), but Bruges is a gorgeous town that’s worth the hype. If beer is your thing, but you want to admire some gorgeous streets, then skip Brussels and take the direct train to Bruges.

Frederiksborg Castle (Hillerød, Denmark) best places in europe to travle to
Frederiksborg Castle (Hillerød, Denmark)

Frederiksborg Castle (Hillerød, Denmark)

Europe has a lot of castles. I have visited more castles in the last years than I can count. 

But if I had to pick the perfect castle, the one that literally looks like what you imagine a castle to look like, inside and outside, then this is it. This is my favourite castle in Europe. I knew that from the moment I saw its front gate, and it did not disappoint. You can visit Frederiksborg Castle during a day trip from Copenhagen.

I have visited even more castles since (I have seen what Sweden, Germany and France have to offer). And this is still my favourite one. 

best places in europe to travel to Birka Stockholm sweden

Birka- “The Viking Island” (Stockholm, Sweden)

The Viking culture started in Scandinavia, and it is only natural to find lots of remains that we can trace back to that time. The Vikings were like the pirates of the North, with lots of boats, ships and remote villages like this one on Birka. 

I recommend visiting during summer, when you’ll find locals doing reenactments on the island, to see how Vikings used to live, the lands they owned, and uncover more of their history. It’s truly fascinating.  

riga latvia Eastern Europe road trip itinerary 2-4 weeks (Baltic road trip itinerary) cheapest countries in Europe

Riga, Latvia

Riga is the most underrated capital in Europe.

In a way, I’m happy it is like this because it doesn’t have to put up with massive crowds like you see in Paris or Rome. But the architecture, the warmth of the locals and their lifestyle will make you wanna go back there again and again. 

Santa Claus Office (Rovaniemi, Finland) best places in europe to travel to

Santa Claus Office (Rovaniemi, Finland)

Lapland and Santa’s village is a more touristy spot in Europe, but an interesting one nevertheless. 

I visited Santa off-season (in September 2022), and I met not one, but two Santas, took a picture with both of them (it’s not cheap) and told them my wish. 

Do know this place is open all year long, but the crowds come in December when the prices also rise exponentially. 

north cape norway driving to north cape norway

North Cape (Norway)

Out of all the three extremities of Europe, the North Cape in Norway is the most other-worldly. That’s also because this is incredibly remote, and you need a serious travel plan to reach this place. I would also not recommend visiting outside May-September, because the roads are probably closed anyway. 

The winds are unbelievable, which makes it feel super cold, even on a sunny day. But wow, what a place that is. 

If you visit in September, you might be lucky enough to even see the Northern Lights. I was lucky to see them in September 2022, and this is truly one of my favourite travel experiences ever. 

Reine, Lofoten Islands (Norway) best places in europe to travel to
Lofoten Islands, Norway

Reine, Lofoten Islands (Norway)

I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of this gorgeous city of Reine, from the Lofoten Islands in Norway.

This is the kind of palace that gets picked for calendar photos, and photographers win photography content with shots from this spot. This might not be a hidden gem anymore, but given its remote location, it’s still a place that will leave you in awe and will make you forever addicted to Norway. 

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Atlantic Road, Norway

It was rainy and windy when I visited this place, but what would you expect from a set of islands, united by a man-made road, in the ocean? I truly can’t believe this is what you get to experience when human engineering works in favour of nature. 

What a place and what a life we live. 

Geiranger fjord, Norway, best places in europe to travel to
Geiranger fjord, Norway

Geiranger, Norway

I can talk about Norway for days. That’s how much I love this country. But if I were to recommend one fjord, it would be Geiranger. Possibly one of my favourite top 5 spots in Europe. 

No picture, video or story will ever make this place any justice. 

You can drive up there, and then you need to take a ferry (you can take your car on that ferry) to see it from the water level. That specific ferry is a combination of a utility ferry and a cruise. That’s the most remarkable ferry I’ve been on in Europe. 

Crossing over the Iceland Arctic Circle: Grimsey Island Day Trip

Grimsey Island, Iceland

If Iceland itself isn’t remote enough for you, then let me tell you about this tiny island of only about 60 inhabitants, which is in the North part of Iceland, which is the only part of Iceland that has a part of its land in the Arctic Circle. That is the Grimsey island in Iceland.

A palace like no other, but make sure to visit during June or July, so you can admire the puffin colonies. 

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East Fjords, Iceland

Didn’t know Iceland had fjords? Well, they do, and they’re stunning.

I once read on a blog that this part of the Ring Road trip, the road that goes all around Iceland, is a bit boring. I was there, and I can assure you it is not boring. Sure, if you’ve seen the Norwegian fjord already, you might be thinking, “Yes, I’ve seen something like this before”, but the combination of these fjords and the endless black beaches is something you cannot otherwise imagine. 

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Glacier Lagoon, Iceland

This lagoon is the most popular spot to visit in Iceland, and it’s one of those iconic places to visit in a lifetime. It’s crowded, the parking is paid, and you need to go during summer when the prices go crazy all around Iceland. And still, I am here to tell you that it is worth it. 

This lagoon is proof that we’re melting the glaciers, the Earth is melting around us, and we are causing it to melt, and still, this is a once-in-a-lifetime landscape. 

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Giants Causeway, Northern Ireland

The Giants Causeway is a spot in Northern Ireland and it is proof that the entire surface of the Earth was one connected as a one gigantic continent. 

This is the spot that will look like many other vulcanic spots in Iceland. 

However, when you visit it, you will also learn about the local legend of the giants. Expect rain, and pack a raincoat. 

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Cricova Winery, Moldova

There are many spots in Europe that will promise you excellent wine. But there’s only one winery in Europe that has this impressive underground tunnel network, and that is Cricova, in Moldova

You’ll be drunk by the end of it because locals want to give you a good time and make sure you will be back. 

visit Lviv Ukraine Europe road trip

Lviv, Ukraine

I have visited Ukraine twice, and my plan was to go back at least once a year. Unfortunately, that has not been possible. 

But once it is safe to visit Ukraine, I urge you to visit Lviv. This is known as the most youthful city in Ukraine, with a gorgeous old town that truly feels unique and has so much to offer. And there are some gorgeous castles around Lviv too,

church spilled on blood st. petersburg

St Petersburg, Russia

If I had to choose a capital of culture in Europe, then it would be St Petersburg. The Russian history regarding culture is undeniable, and that is one thing no other event will ever be able to erase. 

scenic view of spain square under blue sky with white clouds at daytime
Photo by Reinhard Bruckner on Pexels.com

Seville, Spain

Spain is fun, and has great weather, amazing food and lovely people. Now, the question is where to go first. 

I haven’t been everywhere in Spain, but I have been to a lot of places to know that Seville is gorgeous and should not be missed. 

old roman catholic cathedral and aged buildings at sundown
Photo by Robert Stokoe on Pexels.com

Krakow, Poland

The first word that comes to mind when I think about Krakow is “heartbreaking” . But this is also a place full of culture and optimism that is hard to ignore and not place as one of the best places in Europe to travel to. 

Please keep in mind that my intention is to give you the most complete image of Europe you can possibly get, from travelling to all these places in Europe. 

teufelsberg berlin

Teufelsberg, Berlin, Germany

Many see Germany a bit boring, a bit too normal, and too politically correct these days. 

But Berlin is a place of its own, and if you’re ready to get acquainted with the real multiculturalism vibes that have embraced our culture, then this is the spot to put on your Europe travel itinerary. 

Looking for a European itinerary? 

As you can see, there’s so much to see, visit and experience, I myself don’t know what to pick as a first choice. 

As always, I truly believe travelling is a deeply personal experience that must start within. Not all travel destinations fit us all the same, as not all clothes do. 

I believe some of these places in Europe will suit you better, and others will be a bit bland to you. 

But I created this list after visiting all these spots in Europe and experiencing them first-hand. I am so eager to share my home with you and get you acquainted with its history and natural beauty. I created this unique mix of old and nature, of culture and authentic lifestyle. I want you to want to visit all these spots truly. 

And if you do, I know for sure you will be back to see more because it will make you addicted. I know because I am. 

Travel safely, and shoot me a message on Instagram if you’ve taken any of my travel recommendations. 

Iulia Vasile

Iulia is a travel expert, blogger, engineer, freelance copywriter, and a curiosity-driven personality. She sees travel as the ultimate tool for self-improvement and personal growth, and that's the main topic of her blog, Juliasomething.com.

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