What comes to mind when you think of Europe? This timeless mix of countries and tradition is as diverse in culture as it is in food and landscape. With centuries-old history, fairy tale castles, huge beer halls, snow-capped peaks, amazing architecture, cities of romance and adventure, and much more, Europe truly has something to capture the hearts of all travellers who take the time to explore.
With so many amazing places to see it’s hard to know where to start. These are just 10 of Europe’s stars – some are iconic, and others are hidden gems – all are worth exploring.
London – England
London is trendy, has charm, a bustling atmosphere, and enough sights to keep you going for months. Highlights include Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and Tower Bridge. See a theatre show in the famous West End, go shopping on Oxford Street, and take a ride in an iconic black cab or red double-decker bus.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site consists of five small villages perched precariously on the rugged coast of the Italian Riviera. Small colourful houses are built seemingly on top of each other up the steep coastal mountains overlooking the sea. Stunningly beautiful and like nothing you’ve seen before. Take time to hike the coastline between each of the villages.
With its unique mix of Gaudi’s artistic architecture, delicious food, great nightlife and the Mediterranean coast, Barcelona has something special for everyone. Explore the Old Town, experience the life of La Rambla and enjoy the atmosphere.
A little off Croatia’s ‘beaten track’ is the magnificent Plitvice Lakes National Park. Follow the wooden walkways to explore the many spectacular waterfalls and cascades that join 16 breathtaking lakes. Words can’t describe the beauty of this place, with its green forests and awe-inspiring turquoise waters. If you have the chance to visit – do it.
Intriguing, unique and spanning two continents, Istanbul is a tale of two cities, where Europe and Asia meet at the dazzling Bosphorus. Visit the stunning Blue Mosque and the famous Hagia Sofia. Shop at the Grand Bazaar and get fabulously lost in the crowd of people as you make your way through this winding maze.
Who doesn’t need a touch of the Irish charm? With vibrant nightlife, friendly people, Guinness and history, Dublin is plenty of fun. It’s also the perfect gateway to explore the rolling hills of Ireland – a seemingly magical place filled with legend and folklore.
This small town on the Greek island of Santorini is a photographer’s paradise. Explore the narrow winding streets and wander amongst the iconic pure white buildings with their colourful blue roofs. The sunset from Oia is said to be legendary.
Located on the banks of the Danube, Budapest is known for its scenic setting and beautiful architecture. Relax in one of the city’s thermal baths, explore the mix of old and new, people-watch and enjoy the lively café culture and nightlife.
This Bavarian city is famous for its culture, architecture, and annual Oktoberfest beer celebration – where for 16 days the city hosts the world’s largest fair. Food, beer and fun quickly sum up this festival, so come dance on the chairs and sing with the oompah band, drink from steins, and make new friends from far off places. Explore the city, learn its history and if you have time, take a day trip to the fairy tale castle Neuschwanstein.
Discover this city of romance – walk the Champs-Élysées, take a picnic and sit watching the sparkling Eiffel Tower, visit the Louvre and see the famous Mona Lisa, walk along the river Seine, soak up the café culture, visit the lively district of Montmartre, the options are endless. This cosmopolitan city, with its culture, art and fashion, is fabulous.
If you can’t decide where to start, or just want to visit them all, get advice on your trip to Europe from the consultants at Student Flights Australia.
About the author: Lea Phillips+ has travelled independently throughout the world and loves discovering and photographing new places.