Europe is a landmass located wholly in the Northern Hemisphere and primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, and is alternatively seen as part of Eurasia or a continent in its own right.
It consists of the westernmost peninsulas of Eurasia’s continental landmass, shares the Afro-Eurasia continental landmass with both Asia and Africa, and is bounded to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the west by the Atlantic Ocean, to the south by the Mediterranean Sea, and to the east by Asia.
The watershed of the Ural Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian Sea, the Greater Caucasus, the Black Sea, and the waterways of the Turkish Straits are usually seen to separate Europe from Asia.
Because of its vast physical size and the weight of its history and traditions, Europe is nearly usually recognized as its own continent, despite the fact that much of the boundary lies across land.
Because of Europe’s vast breadth, topography and terrain vary greatly from one location to the next. To the north, you’ll find rugged terrain, glaciers, and the famous Scandinavian fjords, which emerge when a glacier retreats.
Central Europe is less rocky and more forested than northern Europe. The Ardennes in Belgium, the Vosges in France, and the Black Forest in Germany are among its most famous highlands.
The Balkan and Italian peninsulas, on the other hand, are home to some of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations. The Pyrenees, the Alps, the Apennines, the Balkans, and the Carpathians, as well as the infamous volcano Mount Vesuvius, are all part of the Alpine Mountain Range.
Look no further than the European Alps for a winter vacation that includes skiing, snowboarding, and après-ski fun – a must-do in Europe tourism.
Europe’s weather, like its topography, varies greatly by season and place. Spring is from March to May, Summer from June to August, Autumn from September to November, and Winter from December to February because Europe is totally in the Northern Hemisphere.
However, depending on how far north or south you are,’ summer’ might mean quite different things in terms of temperature and climate.
As a general, countries around the Mediterranean, such as Spain, Portugal, and Italy, are warmer than their Scandinavian equivalents to the north, which means their summers will be much drier and hotter, and their winters will be significantly milder.
This makes Mediterranean countries a popular choice for many tourists visiting Europe, but don’t forget that Northern Europe has its own allure. In fact, summertime in Scandinavia is the finest season to come because of the eternal sunshine, which is commonly celebrated by the celebration of Midsummer celebrations across the country.
The enjoyment of the arts is a strong feature of European culture. Music, literature, philosophy, film, architecture, and fine art are all significant aspects of the continent’s past and present.
Immersion in this amazing world is a fundamental feature of European travel, whether it’s visiting the Louvre in Paris, attending an open-air opera in Rome, attending a flamenco festival in Spain, or attending one of the many film festivals that take place throughout the year in Europe.
Mixed woodland is the most common natural vegetation cover in Europe. The conditions for expansion are excellent. The Gulf Stream and North Atlantic Drift warm the continent in the north. The climate in southern Europe can be defined as warm but mild. Droughts are common in this area during the summer.
Mountain ridges have an impact on the weather. Some of them (Alps, Pyrenees) are oriented east-west, allowing vast amounts of water from the ocean to be carried through the interior by the wind.
Others are oriented south-north (Scandinavian Mountains, Dinarides, Carpathians, Apennines), and because rain falls largely on the side of mountains that faces the sea, trees thrive on this side, while conditions are much less favorable on the opposite side.
Few parts of continental Europe have never been grazed by livestock, and the clearing of pre-agricultural forest habitats disrupted the natural plant and animal ecosystems.
But don’t forget that Europe is one of the world’s most multicultural regions! As a result, the continent serves as a melting pot for new ideas and experiences.
You can now eat authentic and updated versions of traditional European cuisine, listen to music that is a pleasant fusion of old and new sounds, and even get a taste of the East by visiting one of the continent’s many Chinatowns.
With the enormous appeal of locations such as Paris, Rome, Venice, and London, European tourism has been expanding for decades. However, in recent years, there has been a surge in interest in Europe’s lesser-known countries, such as Croatia, Montenegro, Malta, Iceland, and others.
The beauty of traveling to and within Europe is that no matter what your preferences or budget are, you can always locate and construct an engaging itinerary.
Today, getting around Europe is a breeze, thanks to the well-connected Eurail system, which connects 28 countries, safe and affordable interstate buses, and inexpensive airplane tickets from low-cost carriers like Easy Jet, Ryan Air, and others. If you’re traveling with a large group of family or friends, renting a car and going on a road trip is typically convenient – and a lot of fun.
In most European cities, taxis are readily available, and ride-sharing apps such as Uber are frequently available. Local taxis are normally metered and quite safe and comfortable to ride in during the day and night; however, you won’t need them very much because the local train and bus systems are quite well connected.
When you purchase a daily or weekly travel pass, these become much more affordable.
If you’re looking for some shopping therapy, Europe is the place to go — not only for popular high-street brands but also for unique, quirky souvenirs that can be found at most countries’ flea markets and booths.
Avoid tourist traps and buying souvenirs in touristy areas, as prices will almost probably be inflated. Instead, travel off the main path and discover local shopping areas wherever you go; not only will you find cheaper prices, but you will also find superior things.
History Of Europe
The earliest hominid discovered in Europe is Homo erectus georgicus, who lived around 1.8 million years ago in Georgia. In Atapuerca, Spain, more hominid bones dating back 1 million years have been unearthed.
Neanderthal man (called after the Neandertal valley in Germany) first appeared in Europe 150,000 years ago (115,000 years ago in present-day Poland) and vanished from the fossil record around 28,000 years ago, with their final resting place being present-day Portugal.
Modern humans (Cro-Magnons), who first appeared in Europe around 43,000 to 40,000 years ago, superseded the Neanderthals. Riparo Mochi (Italy), Geissenklösterle (Germany), and Isturitz (Austria) are the oldest sites in Europe, dating back 48,000 years (France).
Around 7000 BCE, the European Neolithic period began in Greece and the Balkans, influenced by earlier farming traditions in Anatolia and the Near East. It was characterized by the cultivation of crops and the raising of livestock, increased numbers of towns, and widespread use of pottery.
It stretched from the Balkans to the Danube and Rhine rivers, as well as along the Mediterranean coast (Linear Pottery culture). Between 4500 and 3000 BCE, these central European neolithic tribes spread west and north, passing on newly acquired expertise in copper item production.
The Neolithic period in Western Europe was marked by field monuments such as causewayed enclosures, burial mounds, and megalithic tombs, rather than major agricultural towns. The Corded Ware cultural horizon flourished throughout the Neolithic-Chalcolithic transition.
During this period massive megalithic monuments, such as the Megalithic Temples of Malta and Stonehenge, were created throughout Western and Southern Europe.
The European Bronze Age began in Greece around 3200 BCE with the Minoan culture on Crete, which was Europe’s first advanced civilization. The Mycenaeans followed the Minoans, who abruptly disintegrated around 1200 BCE, ushering in the European Iron Age.
Early Mediterranean cities arose as a result of Greek and Phoenician colonization during the Iron Age. From roughly the 8th century BCE, early Iron Age Italy and Greece progressively gave way to historical Classical antiquity, which may be traced back to 776 BCE, the year of the first Olympic Games.
The founding culture of Western civilization was Ancient Greece. Ancient Greece is frequently credited with inventing Western democracy and rationalist culture. The polis, or Greek city-state, was the basic political unit of classical Greece. Cleisthenes established the world’s first democratic government in Athens in 508 BCE.
European philosophers and idealists rediscovered Greek political principles in the late 18th century. Many cultural contributions were made by Greece, including Aristotle, Socrates, and Plato in philosophy, humanism, and rationalism; Herodotus and Thucydides in history; Homer’s epic poems in dramatic and narrative verse; Sophocles and Euripides in drama; Hippocrates and Galen in medicine; and Pythagoras, Euclid, and Archimedes in science.
Several Greek city-states would eventually check the Achaemenid Persian advance in Europe through the Greco-Persian Wars in the 5th century BCE, which are considered a pivotal moment in world history, as the 50 years of peace that followed are known as the Golden Age of Athens, the seminal period of ancient Greece that laid many of the foundations of Western civilization.
Then came Rome, which influenced law, politics, language, engineering, architecture, government, and many other facets of western civilization. By 200 BCE, Rome had conquered Italy, as well as Greece and Hispania (Spain and Portugal), the North African coast, much of the Middle East, Gaul (France and Belgium), and Britannia (England and Wales).
The Romans steadily extended from their base in central Italy in the third century BCE to finally govern the entire Mediterranean Basin and Western Europe by the turn of the millennium. When Augustus declared the Roman Empire in 27 BCE, the Roman Republic came to an end.
The Pax Romana, which lasted two centuries, was a period of exceptional peace, prosperity, and political stability throughout most of Europe. Emperors such as Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius, who spent time on the Empire’s northern border fighting Germanic, Pictish, and Scottish tribes, continued to expand the empire. After three centuries of imperial persecution, Constantine I legalized Christianity in 313 CE.
In 330 CE, Constantine permanently relocated the empire’s capital from Rome to Byzantium (modern-day Istanbul), which was called Constantinople in his honor. In 380 CE, Christianity became the empire’s sole official religion, and pagan cults were prohibited by Emperor Theodosius in 391–392.
This is sometimes considered the end of antiquity; conversely, the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 CE, the closing of the pagan Platonic Academy of Athens in 529 CE, or the birth of Islam in the early 7th century CE are all believed to be the end of antiquity.
During the decline of the Roman Empire, Europe saw a long period of transformation known as the “Age of Migrations,” according to historians. The Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Goths, Vandals, Huns, Franks, Angles, Saxons, Slavs, Avars, Bulgars, and, later, the Vikings, Pechenegs, Cumans, and Magyars were all involved in various invasions and migrations.
Later Renaissance intellectuals like Petrarch would refer to this period as the “Dark Ages.” Isolated monastic communities were the only places to preserve and compile previously accumulated written knowledge; aside from this, very few written records survive, and much classical literature, philosophy, mathematics, and other thinking vanished from Western Europe, though they were preserved in the east, in the Byzantine Empire.
In the largely Greek-speaking Eastern Roman Empire, now known as the Byzantine Empire, although the Roman empire in the west continued to crumble, Roman traditions and the Roman state remained strong. The Byzantine Empire was Europe’s most powerful economic, cultural, and military entity throughout most of its existence.
Emperor Justinian, I presided over Constantinople’s first golden period, establishing a legal code that is still used today, funding the construction of the Hagia Sophia, and putting the Christian church under state control.
As the Byzantines and neighboring Sasanid Persians became increasingly weakened as a result of protracted, centuries-long, and frequent Byzantine–Sasanid wars, Muslim Arabs began to make inroads into historically Roman territory, capturing the Levant and North Africa, as well as making inroads into Asia Minor.
Following the Muslim conquest of Persia in the mid-seventh century, Islam spread to the Caucasus. Muslim forces conquered Cyprus, Malta, Crete, Sicily, and sections of southern Italy over the next few centuries.
Except for tiny territories in the northwest (Asturias) and predominantly Basque districts in the Pyrenees, most of the Visigothic Kingdom of Iberia was brought under Muslim dominion between 711 and 720. The growing Umayyad Caliphate included this territory, which was known in Arabic as Al-Andalus.
The Umayyad dynasty was weakened and their prestige was lost after the second siege of Constantinople was failed. The Umayyads were then destroyed at the Battle of Poitiers in 732 by the Frankish general Charles Martel, putting a halt to their northward push. The dominance of the Muslims in the south was barely felt in the isolated territories of northwestern Iberia and the middle Pyrenees.
The Christian kingdoms of Asturias, Leon, and Galicia were founded here, and it was from here that the reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula would begin. However, there would be no coordinated effort to drive the Moors out. The Christian kingdoms were primarily concerned with power battles inside their ranks.
As a result, the Reconquista lasted nearly 800 years, during which time a slew of Alfonsos, Sanchos, Ordos, Ramiros, Fernandos, and the Bermudas fought their Christian foes as fiercely as the Muslim invaders.
Various tribes took control of the Western Roman Empire during the Dark Ages. The Germanic and Slav tribes alternately established their territories in Western and Eastern Europe. Clovis I eventually united the Frankish tribes.
In 800, the Pope proclaimed Charlemagne “Holy Roman Emperor,” a Frankish monarch of the Carolingian dynasty who had conquered most of Western Europe. This resulted in the establishment of the Holy Roman Empire in 962, which was centered in the German principalities of central Europe.
How To Reach Europe
1. By Roads
In Germany, expressways (autobahns) were first envisioned in the 1930s. In the mid-twentieth century, other European countries, such as the Netherlands and France, built expressways as well.
Today, a network of high-speed, limited-access motorways connects much of Europe, allowing commerce and travel to move quickly. Under the Alpine passes, road tunnels supplement railway tunnels.
2. By Railways
Railways connect European ports to their hinterlands and branch out from capitals and large cities to international border crossings, where they meet up with their neighbors’ train systems.
This has necessitated a gauge change in some circumstances, most notably from France to Spain and from Belarus and Ukraine to Poland and Slovakia. Countries, including Spain, have addressed the issue of varied gauges by adopting the European standard, constructing mixed-gauge rails, and employing technology that allows a train’s wheels to be modified to match multiple gauges.
Railways allow travel between western and eastern Europe, but not to the far north; they have also lost some passengers and freight to the vehicle, bus, and truck, and many unprofitable local lines have been decommissioned.
Even yet, the deployment of the electrified track or diesel locomotives, as well as quicker intercity passenger trains and container freight trains, has significantly enhanced rail services.
Western and central Europe has developed an integrated network of very fast passenger trains—notably the French TGV (trains à grande Vitesse, “high-speed trains”)—led by early developments in France, Italy, and Spain and integrated with the Channel Tunnel, the rail tunnel beneath the English Channel.
Railways are still extremely significant in Russia and the former Soviet countries. Underground trains (subways), streetcar systems, and suburban railways are also essential for metropolitan commuters throughout Europe.
3. By pipes and waterways
To deal efficiently with the rising size of ships and volume of maritime trade, seaports have been updated and expanded. Landlocked Switzerland has seagoing ships that use Dutch ports. Large freighter tonnages are also available for hire in the United Kingdom, Norway, and Greece.
Inland canal transportation is vital for the transportation of large and bulky goods in the region since it is sluggish yet inexpensive. The Rhine below Rheinfelden (Switzerland) and the Danube below Belgrade (Serbia) are the best waterways for carrying 1,500-ton barges.
The navigable Rhine has international waterway status and is open to all users. Smaller vessels can navigate other rivers and canals. The Volga is a vital river that connects Moscow with Caspian ports and provides water access to the Donets Basin via the Volga-Don Shipping Canal.
Pipelines supply commodities to giant tankers with gross registration tonnages of up to and beyond 300,000 gross registered tonnage and draughts too deep for most seaports. Pipelines are the cheapest overland mode of transport for petroleum, natural gas, and water.
They were created in the UK for North Sea gas and oil, in France, Spain, and Italy for North African oil, and within and beyond Russia and Ukraine for crude oil and natural gas transport to various European clients.
4. By Airline
Air services are well-organized between major European cities and to other regions of the globe. The busiest airports are London, Frankfurt is Main, Paris, Madrid, Amsterdam, Munich, and Rome. Air transport is used by passengers, mail, and items of a high value relative to their weight, such as diamonds and early spring flowers.
5. By Animal transport
Animal transportation is of minor importance, but it continues to exist locally, attracting visitors from more rich locations where the basic technology has long since vanished.
In regions of southern Europe, the horse-drawn cart and the loaded ass, mule, and donkey—affordable and sure-footed in the rough, steep country—are still utilized. Sleds hauled by dogs or reindeer may be employed in locations with long, snowy winters, such as northern Russia and Scandinavia.
Best Time to Visit Europe
Deciding when to go on vacation is one of the most crucial components of organizing any trip, but it isn’t as simple as it may appear. Europe is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. With its mountains, wildlife and fauna, and history, tourism in Europe has seen a significant increase as a result of hordes of people.
If you’re planning a vacation, Europe should be at the top of your list. Summertime, from June through September, is the finest season to visit Europe. The sun is shining brightly, the beaches are warm, and the weather is pleasant.
Temperatures have been known to reach the upper thirties, so check the forecast before heading out. This is also the season for cultural events, galas, and even end-of-season fashion sales in most nations. Hikes, road vacations, and adventure activities are also good at this time.
If you’re planning a winter vacation, keep in mind that there’s a chance of rain and snow. If witnessing the Northern Lights is something you’ve always wanted to do, winter is the best time to do it. Before you book your Europe vacation, keep in mind that not all nations will have the same weather at the same time.
If Southern Europe is hot, Northern Europe’s odds of experiencing the same weather are slim to none. The best time to visit Europe is determined by several factors, including the weather, the cities you intend to visit, and, of course, your personal preferences and vacation budget.
With that in mind, we’ve divided the year into three major European travel seasons, describing what you can anticipate from each.
1. Summer in Europe
The summer months of June to August are the busiest. Many people believe that the summer months of June through August are the greatest time to visit Europe. The weather is warmer, the days are longer, and the sheer level of activity and energy is higher – but keep in mind that visiting Europe during peak season comes with some restrictions.
To begin with, expect to encounter swarms of other tourists wherever you go, but especially in major places such as Paris, Rome, Barcelona, and Amsterdam. This implies lengthier lines – whether it’s to get into major tourist attractions or just to eat at a restaurant.
Of course, you may get around this by purchasing tickets in advance for major tourist attractions and landmarks (many provide priority passes online) and arranging restaurant reservations a few weeks before your flight.
You may avoid the worst of it by organizing your day ahead of time and visiting tourist destinations early in the morning or late in the evening. Nonetheless, you may encounter large crowds of tourists, which might be daunting for some.
Traveling during peak seasons means that most aspects of your trip will be more expensive, in addition to the crowds. Make sure to book your flight tickets, hotels, and rental vehicles well in advance to avoid paying excessive fees or, worse, having your alternatives completely sold out! Having said that, Europe in the summer is breathtakingly stunning – and summer is the greatest season to visit Europe for some important cities (particularly beach resorts).
Furthermore, many activities, such as celebrating Bastille Day in France or taking part in the La Tomatina festival in Spain, are only available during the summer. If you’re traveling with children, the excitement and bustle of peak season will undoubtedly appeal to them!
2. Europe Travel in the Off-Season
The months leading up to and following peak season — April to June and September to November – are ideal. If you have some flexibility and aren’t arranging your trip around definite dates like school vacations, the months immediately before or after summer can be the greatest time to visit Europe.
Without the masses of visitors that come during the summer, you may enjoy wonderful weather and long days, allowing you to make the most of your time in each place and have a more authentic experience.
Furthermore, you will most likely be able to do more with the same amount of money – flight tickets will be less expensive, hotel rooms will be more affordable but also more readily available in good neighborhoods, and many other charges such as vehicle rental and city tours will be less expensive.
The one disadvantage of traveling before or after peak seasons is that the weather can be unpredictable, so bring clothing for both warm and cool weather.
When deciding whether to visit Europe in the Spring or the Autumn, you must evaluate the sites and cities you intend to visit to choose the best time to visit Europe for you and your travel companions.
Again, certain experiences are only available during specific seasons, such as the Tulip Festival in Amsterdam in the spring or the legendary Oktoberfest in Munich in the autumn.
3. Winter in Europe
The off-season, which runs from November to March, allows you to discover a different side of Europe. If you are a lone traveler, a budget-conscious adventurer, or simply want to be more flexible with your trip dates, the winter months are unquestionably the ideal time to visit Europe.
The cheapest months to visit the continent are November through March. Furthermore, you will be able to fully appreciate many tourist landmarks and monuments in your own time, rather than being packed and overwhelmed by other tourists at every step.
However, it’s worth noting that many summertime hotspots are often closed or underwhelming throughout the winter months, so make sure to prepare ahead.
Winter in Europe is an entirely different experience, even though the days are shorter and the weather is significantly cooler. You’ll get to experience how the continent celebrates Christmas, which is one of the most important holidays in Europe.
Winter activities such as visiting Christmas markets, staying in nice hotels, and skiing, and other snow-based activities are only available during the winter months – and are a must-do for anybody visiting Europe. This is also the greatest time to visit Europe if you want to see the Northern Lights. Just remember to bring your beloved winter jacket and your woolens!
Europe’s Best Attractions
European countries have a lot to offer travelers, from cultural attractions in France to a richness of historical sights in Italy and a great list of stunning architectural places in Germany.
As a result, choosing which attractions to visit might be a challenge. Nonetheless, whether you’re seeking a mystical site like Stonehenge or a chance to immerse yourself in a world of art and architecture in historic Prague Castle or the beautiful Louvre Museum, we’ve put together a list of the top-rated attractions in Europe.
With this list of the top European attractions, you can learn about the greatest sites to visit in this culturally rich continent.
1. The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France
One of France’s most recognized sights is the Eiffel Tower. The wrought-iron tower, which stands amid Paris’s Champ de Mars, was created to serve as the entry to the 1889 World’s Fair. The 324-meter-tall tower (equivalent to an 81-story skyscraper) was the world’s highest structure at the time of construction.
Engineer Gustave Eiffel received severe criticism for his design, with people labeling it a monstrosity and “an impossible undertaking.”
Restaurants and cafés, gift stores, displays about the tower’s history, the original reconstructed Gustav Eiffel office, and many viewing decks are located on the tower’s three levels.
The Eiffel Tower’s first two levels are accessible via a stairwell or a lift, but the third level is only accessible by elevator. The entire tower is lighted with golden lights at night.
2. The Colosseum in Rome, Italy
The Flavian Amphitheater, commonly known as the Colosseum, is one of Imperial Rome’s most iconic icons and one of Italy’s most visited tourist attractions. It was constructed of travertine limestone and volcanic rock between 70 and 80 AD.
It was the world’s largest amphitheater at the time of its construction, and for a long time afterward, with a capacity of 80,000 spectators.
The Colosseum is a massive edifice with an exterior wall height of 48 meters and a base area of 24,000 square meters.
It had a velarium (a retractable awning to shield spectators from adverse weather) and a thick wooden floor covered with sand at its highest. An underground maze of tunnels sheltered animals and gladiators before the contests beneath this floor.
The Colosseum was known for gladiator contests, but it also hosted a variety of other shows and spectacles, like re-enactments of famous battles and executions.
It was also the site of mimic sea battles, in which the arena was swiftly filled and drained with water so that the vessels could float during the exhibitions. The amphitheater was used as a stronghold, a shrine, and improvised homes over the years. Stone robbers looted it heavily as well.
3. Athens Acropolis, Greece
The historic citadel, perched on a rocky outcrop overlooking Athens, is one of Greece’s most well-known tourist attractions. The most prominent buildings on the Acropolis were all built in the fifth century BC under the supervision of statesman and general Pericles.
The Parthenon, at the center of the Acropolis, was built to thank the gods for the triumph over Persian invaders (though it also served as the city treasury for a time). The gateway Propylaea (which acts as the Acropolis’ entrance), the Erechtheion Temple (dedicated to Athena and Poseidon), and the modest but lovely Temple of Athena Nike are among the other notable structures.
During the Morean War in 1687, several of the buildings on the Acropolis were damaged. The majority of the ancient antiquities discovered within the temples that escaped the damage have now been relocated to the neighboring Acropolis Museum.
4. England’s Stonehenge
Stonehenge is an ancient structure that is one of the most well-known sites in the United Kingdom. Stonehenge was built between 3000 and 2000 BC in an area of England noted for its many burial mounds.
Stonehenge and its environs are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, consisting of a large ring of four-meter-tall sandstones with an inner horseshoe-shaped stone circle.
The function of Stonehenge is still unknown. It could have been a burial ground dating back to 3000 BC, according to archeologists. It could have also been used as a Neolithic calendar, a holy site, or a scientific observatory (due to the pattern of the stones being arranged to chart sun motions). The stones were hauled at least 19 kilometers to their current site, weighing an estimated 25 tons each.
5. The Louvre Museum in Paris, France
The world’s largest and most visited art museum is located on the Seine River’s bank. Over the ages, the original 13th-century Louvre Palace that formerly stood here has been enlarged and restored, resulting in the vast roughly 73,000-square-meter structure that you see today.
The glass and metal pyramid that stands outside the museum has become a modern icon of the Louvre. It presently serves as the museum’s main entrance, measuring 34 meters on each side and standing 21.6 meters tall.
About 35,000 artifacts from the Louvre’s spectacular collection of 380,000 are on permanent display. Not only paintings, but also drawings, sculptures, and archaeological artifacts are included.
The museum also has the eight-foot-tall Winged Victory of Samothrace sculpture and the enormous six-by-nine-meter Coronation of Napoleon painting, in addition to Leonardo da Vinci’s La Mona Lisa and the Venus of Milo.
6. Prague Castle (Czech Republic)
Every year, about two million people visit Prague Castle, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Czech Republic. The largest castle complex in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records, Prague Castle is a beautiful blend of Gothic and Romanesque architectural styles.
While the castle itself dates from the 9th century, several of the other structures within the complex’s 70,000 square meters were constructed centuries later. St. Vitus Cathedral, St. George’s Basilica, and the 16th-century Golden Lane are among the most beautiful structures inside the Prague Castle complex.
The palace guards and goldsmiths previously lived on this road of modest medieval cottages, as did writer Franz Kafka and Nobel Prize laureate Jaroslav Seifert decades later.
The President of the Czech Republic’s office and a hidden room housing the Bohemian Crown Jewels are both located on the grounds of the Castle. Within the castle, there is a small museum branch of the National Gallery, as well as a toy museum dedicated to wooden toys.
7. Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany
The Brandenburg Gate, which was built on the orders of Prussian King Frederick William II in the 18th century, has become a symbol of Berlin. The gate, which is 26 meters high and 65 meters long, is crowned by a quadriga, or four-horse chariot.
Because it is located where the road between Berlin and Brandenburg town begins, the gate is named after the town of Brandenburg a der Havel. The gate has played a significant role in many of Germany’s historical events during the last two centuries.
Despite extensive damage from explosions and gunshots, it was utilized as a Nazi symbol and survived WWII. Years later, until the Berlin Wall was built, the gate served as an unofficial border between East and West Berlin. When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, 100,000 people gathered at the Brandenburg Gate to celebrate.
8. Canals of Venice, Italy
Every tourist will be enchanted by Italy’s magical “floating city,” which is rich in beauty, romance, and history. Venice has around 150 canals that connect 118 small islands via 400 bridges and several walkways. The allure of Venice is not limited to the water.
The canals’ banks are lined with charming lanes and passageways, hidden courtyards, and spectacular examples of Gothic and Renaissance architecture. On a gondola sightseeing tour or a Vaporetto, Venice’s water bus, much of the gorgeous architecture may be enjoyed better from the water as you travel under bridges and around corners of the Grand Canal.
The Grand Canal, Venice’s principal waterway, is surrounded by several palazzos and churches, including the 15th-century Venetian Gothic Palazzi Barbaro and the Rococo-style Ca’ Rezzonico Palace, which has a white marble exterior.
9. Switzerland’s Matterhorn
The Matterhorn is one of Europe’s highest peaks, standing at 4,478 meters. The magnificent mountain towers over the Swiss town of Zermatt, which is on the Swiss-Italian border. The Matterhorn is a pyramid-shaped mountain that can be climbed on all four sides, making it a popular hiking destination in the Alps.
It is also possible to finish a 10-day walk around the peak for non-climbers. This hike, which passes through glacial lakes, Alpine woods, and flowery meadows, is regarded as one of the most beautiful in the Alps.
During the winter, the area around the Matterhorn and Zermatt draws skiers and snowboarders, with ski lifts high up the Theodul Pass at the Zermatt and Breuil-Cervinia resorts. There’s also the Matterhorn Museum, which chronicles the interesting history of Alpinism, and a helicopter trip that allows you to get a close-up glimpse of the snow-covered peaks.
10. The Canals of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
The many hundreds of kilometers of grachten (canals) that cut through Amsterdam have earned it the nickname “the Venice of the North.” The city’s three main canals – Herengracht, Prinsengracht, and Keizersgracht – are connected by nearly 1,500 bridges.
The Prinsengracht canal is possibly the most well-known canal in the Netherlands, as it is home to several important buildings. Anne Frank’s house, Amsterdam’s tallest church, Westerkerk, the 17th-century Deutzen Hofje mansion, and a variety of other historically significant structures are among them.
The Singelgracht canal, though not the largest, is well-known for its proximity to the affluent Jordaan area, where Rembrandt spent his final years.
The Brouwersgracht, another well-known canal, was originally utilized by ships returning from Asia with spices. It’s now a popular spot for houseboats to dock, and it’s flanked by warehouses that have been turned into fashionable, high-end apartments and lofts.
11. The Vienna Opera House Austria’s Hofburg Palace
The palace was built in the 13th century by the Seat of Habsburg to house one of Europe’s most powerful royal houses. The Hofburg, once an imperial palace that housed the Holy Roman Empire’s monarchs and emperors, is now the official residence of Austria’s president.
Royal residences, a chapel, the Hofreitschule (Spanish Riding School), the Court Library, and the imperial court theater were all added to the palace over the ages (which is the National Theater of Austria in Vienna today).
With 240,000 square meters divided into 18 wings, the Vienna Hofburg is huge — and much of it is open to the public. There are 19 courtyards and over 2,500 rooms in the huge complex, many of which are still occupied by the people who work and live here.
12. Spain’s Alhambra and Generalife Gardens
The palace and castle complex Alhambra – which translates to “the red one” – was first built in 889 CE, but it wasn’t completed until the mid-13th century that it took on its current appearance and huge 142,000-square-meter dimensions.
Over the decades, the fortress was neglected and vandalized, and while it was largely restored, it wasn’t always done with care. Despite this, the Alhambra remains one of Spain’s most spectacular exhibits of Muslim art and architecture.
The Alhambra’s natural earth red tint is its most beautiful characteristic, constructed from a blend of red clay, stacked brick, and stone. Inside, the magnificent Moorish palaces, royal baths, and fortified towers are covered in beautiful stucco work.
The adjacent Palacio de Generalife, with its terraced Persian gardens, is certainly worth a visit – not only for the spectacular views of the Alhambra but also because of the summer palace, with its various colonnades and pavilions, is a work of art in and of itself.
13. Portugal’s Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
The Jerónimos Monastery is one of the most well-known structures in Portugal. The UNESCO World Heritage Site monastery in Lisbon, near the Tagus River, is a remarkable example of Manueline or the Portuguese late Gothic style.
Manueline architecture is distinguished by intricate details such as semicircular arches in doors and windows, as well as the use of sea elements such as shells and pearls in the design.
The monastery’s construction began in 1501 and lasted slightly over 100 years. The original construction is made of gold-colored limestone, but over time, several monarchs and architects embellished it with magnificent paintings, gold-tiled ceilings, and intricate woodwork.
The monastery’s primary entrances are through the Church of Santa Maria’s gates, which include a 32-meter, two-story-high side entrance and a smaller southern gateway that leads directly to the main altar. The grounds and gardens of the monastery are extensive, with fountains, 16th-century buildings, and pavilions to explore and discover.