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The Ultimate Europe Travel Bucket List

Travel is back and Europe beckons! Start planning your dream European holiday with this bucket list of incredible destinations.
The ultimate Europe travel bucket list
The ultimate Europe travel bucket list: Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna

Ask any Aussie where they’ve missed travelling to most over the past two years, and Europe will probably top the list.

It’s a magical part of the world to visit for a variety of reasons. First, Europe boasts many of the most beautiful cities in the world, including Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, and Prague. Second, the region offers centuries of rich history to explore and a cultural heritage that’s nothing short of mind-blowing. Third, Europe is incredibly varied as a travel destination; each country offers its own unique cuisine, experiences, and attractions. And finally, it’s relatively easy to get around Europe, with excellent transport infrastructure and accommodation options to suite every budget.

So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and buy Euros! Here are ten amazing places that should be on your Europe travel bucket list.

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1. Paris, France

Known as the ‘City of Light’ (there are a variety of possible explanations as to where the name originated), Paris is synonymous with incredible architecture, world-class museums, and a romance factor that’s off the charts. No matter what you’re looking for in a European holiday, you’ll find it here.

Those interested in art and culture have come to the right place; the French capital has hundreds of museums and galleries. The Louvre sits at one end of the scale, alongside options like the Musée d’Orsay, the Centre Pompidou, and Musée Rodin. At the other end, don’t discount independent galleries and artist co-operatives like the iconic 59 Rivoli (which is housed in a funky ex-squat).

The ultimate Europe travel bucket list
The ultimate Europe travel bucket list: Louvre, Paris

Similarly, for architecture lovers, Paris is paradise. Structural icons like the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Notre-Dame Cathedral (part-way through restoration following the devastating fire in 2019), and Sacré-Coeur Basilica sit alongside hundreds of lesser-known-but-no-less-remarkable buildings. There’s literally something to ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ over around every corner.

2. Venice, Italy

The northern Italian city of Venice (Venezia to the locals) is one of a kind. This unique city appears to float in a protected lagoon off the Adriatic Sea. It’s actually built on a series of small islands, carved up by a network of canals and joined by hundreds of bridges. The cobbled streets are lined with grand palazzos, most dating from the 16th and 17th centuries. All in all, Venice is an engineering marvel that has largely stood the test of time.

The ultimate Europe travel bucket list
The ultimate Europe travel bucket list: Venice

Memorable must-dos in Venice include cruising down the Grand Canal and being rowed along the city’s smaller waterways in a gondola. The latter is not cheap, but hugely popular. In contrast, doing a spot of people-watching in bustling Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s Square) is equally engaging and absolutely free of charge.

3. Barcelona, Spain

From the moment you arrive in Barcelona, you’ll be enchanted by its unique blend of Catalan culture and cosmopolitan flair. The distinctive, whimsical architecture of Antoni Gaudi is one of the city’s biggest drawcards and no visit would be complete without exploring his recreational masterpiece — Park Güell.

The ultimate Europe travel bucket list
The ultimate Europe travel bucket list: Park Güell, Barcelona

Spend your days drifting from one museum or gallery to the next (the Museu Picasso is a must-see), shopping up a storm along Las Rambla, and feasting on traditional tapas (you can’t go wrong at Bar La Plata, which has been serving up the same four tapas dishes since 1945). After dark, the city’s pulsating bars and nightclubs beckon. Life is there to be lived in Barcelona, so get amongst it!

4. Prague, Czech Republic

European cities don’t come any more breathtaking than Prague — the enchanting capital of the Czech Republic. The Renaissance architecture (in particular, a wealth of Baroque-style buildings) and 17 stunning bridges over the Vltava River define the cityscape. Built in the 14th century, the 621-metre Charles Bridge is lined with Baroque statues and looks its stunning best at sunrise and sunset.

The ultimate Europe travel bucket list
The ultimate Europe travel bucket list: Charles Bridge, Prague

There’s plenty to see and do in Prague: visit medieval castles, admire the beauty of St Vitus Cathedral, browse the collections of the city’s numerous cultural institutions, or simply stroll the streets of the old city and soak up the atmosphere. Don’t leave town without sampling svíčková (a style of beef stew with dumplings). It’s a Czech specialty.

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5. Rome, Italy

Rome remains one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. In fact, there are now direct flights from Australia to the Italian capital, making the opportunity to live la dolce vita even easier for Aussie travellers. Rome hosts a ‘who’s who’ of the world’s best known historic landmarks, including the mighty Colosseum, Pantheon, Roman Forum, and glorious Trevi Fountain. In fact, the old centre often feels like one giant outdoor museum!

The ultimate Europe travel bucket list
The ultimate Europe travel bucket list: Colosseum, Rome

However, don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is a city stuck in the past. Far from it! Italians live life at a hectic pace and weaving around famous heritage monuments on a Vespa en route to work is just par for the course!

6. Amsterdam, The Netherlands

From picturesque canals, cobbled streets, and colourful souvenir clogs, to its infamous Red-Light District, gritty street art, and pungent ‘cafes’, Amsterdam is a melting pot of seemingly incongruous ingredients that somehow work as one. And it’s irresistible! There are few visitors who don’t fall for this amazing mix of liberalism, creativity, and cultural heritage.

The ultimate Europe travel bucket list
The ultimate Europe travel bucket list: Amsterdam

This is another dream destination for culture vultures. Head for Museumplein to visit the world-class Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, and Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art. Alternatively you may like to seek out lesser known cultural caches like the Cheese Museum, Tulip Museum, Museum of Canals, and Museum of Bags and Purses (we kid you not!). There’s something here for everyone!

7. Vienna, Austria

Historically, Vienna — the  captivating capital of Austria — has acted as the gateway between Western and Eastern Europe, and the city’s longstanding power and influence are reflected in the facades of its imposing buildings of state. Encircled by the Ringstrasse (a ring of wide boulevards that replaced the original city wall), Vienna’s old centre was designated a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site in 2001. Don’t miss see the imposing Hofburg (it’s actually quite hard to miss!) — the seat of power of the Hapsburg dynasty, who ruled Austria for six centuries. Parts of the complex date back to the 13th century, and a visit to the Kaiserappartements — the former home of Emperor Franz Josef l — is a fascinating step back in time.

The ultimate Europe travel bucket list
The ultimate Europe travel bucket list: Vienna

You can’t come all the way to Vienna and not tuck into a traditional Wiener schnitzel. Head for the Griechenbeisl restaurant, which was stablished in the late 1400s and has fed the likes of Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert!

8. Budapest, Hungary

Budapest is a tale of two cities; the Hungarian capital is physically split down the middle by the glittering Danube River. On one side sits beautiful Buda — largely defined by its historic castle district. On the other is the larger and somewhat grungier Pest — home to many of the city’s top attractions, shopping options, bars and cafes, and nightlife. Both are intriguing in their own way, and the sum of the two is what makes this such an engaging destination.

One of the most relaxing aspects of a visit to Budapest is its plethora of thermal baths. The largest spa is the Neo-Baroque-style Széchenyi Baths, which has three large outdoor pools and several indoor baths.

The ultimate Europe travel bucket list
The ultimate Europe travel bucket list: Szechenyi Baths, Budapest

For an authentic taste of life in Budapest, pay a visit to the Central Market Hall — the largest indoor market in the city. Graze on local specialties from the onsite food stalls, and shop for souvenirs and knick-knacks.

9. Istanbul, Turkey

Few cities have a backstory as intriguing as the Turkish city of Istanbul. It’s a destination where the legacy of the Ottoman Empire (14th to the 20th centuries) endures, and heritage architecture is fiercely protected. The result is a destination that history buffs, in particular, will love.

The Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Mosque) and Aya Sofia (Hagia Sophia) are probably the city’s most famous buildings. They’re linked by a pedestrian square and beautifully kept gardens. Situated beneath them, the Basilica Cistern once supplied the city with water and now provides an understanding of the engineering skill of those who founded what was then Constantinople.

The ultimate Europe travel bucket list
The ultimate Europe travel bucket list: Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

Istanbul has no end of cultural highlights, but seeing a performance by the legendary whirling dervishes has to be one of the most memorable. As the religious Sufi semazens (dancers) spin around, their white skirts whirl up around them. It’s said to entrance both the dancers and onlookers.

10. Santorini, Greece

Santorini is one of Greece’s tourist hot spots and it’s not hard to work out why. The island is a visual feast — complete with a dramatic volcanic landscape, tranquil beaches, impossibly blue water, and the trademark white-washed architecture of the Greek Islands.

Santorini’s water filled caldera is perfect for sailing, and there are endless day cruise options offering fabulous views of the villages that coat the rim of the extinct volcanic crater like icing sugar on a freshly baked cake. If you’re feeling energetic, the villages are easily accessible by foot along a path that follows the top of the crater from the main town of Fira to uber cute Oia. It will take you about four hours to walk the entire 10-kilometre trail.

The ultimate Europe travel bucket list
The ultimate Europe travel bucket list: Santorini

Seafood is, understandably, a key part of the Santorini diet. Head to Dimitris Taverna at Ammoudi Bay for good value meals and incredible views of sunset.

This post was published thanks to Qantas Money.

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Do you have any suggestions to add to our ultimate Europe travel bucket list? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

Additional images: Bigstock

Adam Ford

About the writer

Adam Ford is editor of Top Oz Tours and Travel Ideas, and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger, and photographer. He has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa, and the Middle East. Adam worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. He loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.

 

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