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Friends and family often ask me for the best destinations in Europe to visit. Having spent 33 years living and travelling the continent there are so many amazing destinations in Europe that it was difficult to choose my top 20.

Some of the European destinations I have chosen are of historical significance, some are UNESCO World Heritage sites and all of them are beautiful. Some of my choices of best destinations in Europe you may not have heard of but these are the destinations that would make up my recommended bucket list for Europe!

This post will cover my first 10. Apart from the top 3 are in no particular order of preference!

I have included suggested places to stay as well as who each destination will appeal to!


BEST DESTINATIONS IN EUROPE: SPLIT – CROATIA


Before I had visited Split in Croatia Rome was my favourite city in Europe. Split toppled it from its perch and it is a city I would add to any European travel itinerary. The 1600 year-old Diocletian’s Palace is simply breathtaking and the fact that this is at the heart of city still occupied today makes it so special. Spit is also an excellent city to base yourself for trips throughout Croatia.

Appeals to?

History lovers. Those looking for a great city mini-break. Fans of Game of Thrones.

Where to stay?

Within the grounds of the Palace! Don’t stay outside it as you will miss part of the magic of this city. Wandering the labyrinth of streets in the balmy summer evenings will ensure you fall in love with for me the most unique of cities.

We stayed at the Apartments Kaleta which I can highly recommend. They are located in the old town and are perfect for couples. Well furnished and well equipped we throughly enjoyed our time there.

CLICK HERE FOR UP-TO-DATE PRICES AT THE APARTMENTS KALETA.

Alternatively click here for a list of hotels available in Split Old Town 

A view of Split old town in Croatia | Top 20 Best Destinations in Europe to visit featured by top international travel blogger, Tracy's Travels in Time

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BEST DESTINATIONS IN EUROPE: ROME – ITALY


It stays in second place on my list because Rome for me has it all – history, beauty, ambiance, great food and a great climate. If you visit Rome you also have the added opportunity of seeing the Vatican City.

When I plan holiday itineraries for Italy Rome invariably ends up in there somewhere. Attractions in Rome include the Coliseum, the Roman Forum and the Pantheon.

Appeals to?

Everyone! But if you are interested in history/art/architecture this a must-visit city. Great city for a mini-break.

Where to stay?

I highly recommend staying around the Piazza Navona. The atmosphere is fantastic and it is an easy stroll to most sights from there!

We stayed at the Locanda Navona which was a great mid-range hotel in the heart of Navona. We were within walking distance of the Vatican City, the Pantheon, the Roman Forum and Spanish Steps. There are also great restaurants in this area and it has to be the best place to be in the evenings.

CLICK HERE FOR UP-TO-DATE PRICES AT THE LOCANDA NAVONA

 Alternatively check out other hotels available to book in the Navona area.

Piazza Navona at night in Rome Italy | Top 20 Best Destinations in Europe to visit featured by top international travel blogger, Tracy's Travels in Time

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BEST DESTINATIONS IN EUROPE: VALLETTA – MALTA


Valletta , the European city of culture for 2018,  is the capital of my favourite country in Europe – Malta. Valletta is an impressive city with the biggest natural harbour in Europe. The Republic of Malta actually consists of a number of islands – Malta being the largest. Gozo with its capital Victoria is a greener, smaller more lush version of Malta. Comino, home to the Blue Lagoon, should not be missed – spend a day swimming and relaxing in the crystal blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea!

Appeals to?

History lovers, sun-lovers, scuba divers, families – Malta as a destination has something to appeal to everyone!

Where to stay?

We always stay in Mellieha in the north of the island. Public transport is good so getting to and from Valletta is relatively easy and inexpensive. There are a number of great hotels to suit all budgets in both Valletta and Mellieha which you can book through this link!

Valletta in Malta - amazing destinations in Europe | Top 20 Best Destinations in Europe to visit featured by top international travel blogger, Tracy's Travels in Time

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BERLIN – GERMANY

We only recently visited Berlin and I immediately questioned why we had not been before. An interesting city with a history in the last 100 years probably unequalled by any other in the world. The headquarters of Nazi Germany became a divided city which symbolised the Cold War until the fall of the Berlin Wall which symbolically and physically divided the city until 1989.

Berlin has a vibrant arts scene and is a hip city with a very open outlook on life.

Appeals to?

The artsy and hip looking for a cool hangout. History and culture lovers. Great weekend break destination.

Where to stay?

Depends what you are looking for when visiting. We stayed near the main Berlin train station as we were travelling by train across a few major cities.

If you are planning to travel by train I would recommend staying close to the station particularly if you have early connections!

We stayed at Motel One Hauptbahnhof which is a competitively priced hotel in a great location (it was a short walk to the Brandenberg Gate from the hotel).

CLICK HERE FOR UP-TO-DATE PRICES AT MOTEL ONE HAUPTBAHNHOF IN BERLIN

berlin germany | Top 20 Best Destinations in Europe to visit featured by top international travel blogger, Tracy's Travels in Time

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BEST DESTINATIONS IN EUROPE: COPENHAGEN – DENMARK

Wonderful wonderful Copenhagen could not be missed off the list even if I nearly froze when we visited. A charming city – lots to see and do (and eat). I really love Denmark and I think Copenhagen is a very special city – describe it in 3 words….mmm… impossible!

Copenhagen is not cheap (which of the Scandinavian countries are?) so be prepared for a hit to the pocket but it is worth it.

Appeals to?

Those wanting to experience a bit of hygge. Great destination for foodies and also for that city-break!

Where to stay?

We stayed slightly out of the centre nearer the airport at the very beautiful Hotel Bella Sky. This did mean a train journey at the end of the day but the hotel was fantastic.

CLICK HERE FOR UP-TO-DATE PRICES AT THE HOTEL BELLA SKY

Copenhagen Denmark | Top 20 Best Destinations in Europe to visit featured by top international travel blogger, Tracy's Travels in Time

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BUDAPEST – HUNGARY

Budapest in Hungary is on my list as it was one of the first countries we visited when we were backpacking around Europe. On one side of the river is the hilly Buda while the flat Pest is on the opposite bank!

Take a trip on the trams but make sure to get off at your stop. We ended up travelling quite a distance before jumping off and retracing our steps.

Appeals to?

Those looking for an affordable budget destination.

Where to stay?

If you are looking for accommodation in Budapest there are lots of options to choose from – click here to book!

Budapest Hungary | Top 20 Best Destinations in Europe to visit featured by top international travel blogger, Tracy's Travels in Time

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BEST DESTINATIONS IN EUROPE: SALZBURG – AUSTRIA

Salzburg is another city which we included on a backpacking trip around Europe and for me is the loveliest city in Austria. I have been to Vienna but to be honest it wasn’t somewhere that I was overly impressed with. Salzburg is surrounded by mountains and was the birthplace of Mozart!

Appeals to?

Classical music lovers! Those seeking an alternative to Vienna.

Where to stay?

We stayed in a Best Western with a lovely restaurant next door. You can book that hotel by clicking this link!

Salzburg Austria | Top 20 Best Destinations in Europe to visit featured by top international travel blogger, Tracy's Travels in Time

BEST DESTINATIONS IN EUROPE: SARLAT – FRANCE

The Dordogne is one of my favourite destination areas in France. Sarlat-la-Caneda is a beautiful town in the Dordogne and one we loved so much we returned 2 summers in a row.

Sarlat is a a beautiful medieval city with heaps of character. Stroll through its cobbled streets and stop for a cold beer and a croque monsieur and watch the world go by. There are markets to peruse as well and some lovely restaurants to try. Read more about Sarlat from the tourist board.

If you are staying in the area there are many other pretty towns and villages to visit such as La Roque Gageac. If you enjoy wine visit some of the local vineyards. There are also many hikes to do in the area or if messing around on the river is more your thing then hire a kayak and spend a day enjoying the sites along the riverbank as you meander downstream.

Appeals to?

Families. Food and wine lovers. Outdoor adventurers.

Where to stay?

Sarlat can be very busy in the height of summer so I would recommend looking for a gîte a little further away and then into the city. We stayed in Cénac et Saint Julien which is a beautiful little village but has the main things you need – a small supermarket and a bakery! You can’t beat freshly made croissants for breakfast!

sarlat france | Top 20 Best Destinations in Europe to visit featured by top international travel blogger, Tracy's Travels in Time

BEST DESTINATIONS IN EUROPE: LAERDAL – NORWAY

I love Norway and first visited aged 11 to ski in Voss. I never forgot the sheer beauty around me. When my husband was offered a work placement there I was so excited to be able to return.

Laerdal may not be somewhere you have heard of – Oslo, Bergen and Tromso usually come to mind when thinking about a trip to Norway. Laerdal is an adventure in itself to get to! A flight into Bergen then a 4 hour coach journey through some of the most magnificent scenery in the world.

You also have to drive through the famous Laerdal Tunnel the longest road tunnel in Europe. The tunnel is a 24.51-kilometre-long road tunnel which connects Lærdal and Aurland in Sogn og Fjordane. That in itself is an experience!

Situated at the end of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sognefjorden, Lærdal not only features unique wooden houses in Lærdalsøyri but also Norway’s best preserved stave church, Borgund.

Appeals to?

Adventurous souls looking for something different! Outdoor activity lovers – lots of fishing and hiking to be had here. In winter cross country skiing is an option.

Where to stay?

I would stay in Laerdal – we had a wonderful log cabin! It isn’t far to catch the bus or drive to Gudvangen to catch the ferry along the fjord to Flam. From there you can take the famous Flam railway.
Stay at the Laerdal Holiday and Leisure Park and have a wonderful time!

laerdal in Norway | Top 20 Best Destinations in Europe to visit featured by top international travel blogger, Tracy's Travels in Time

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BEST DESTINATIONS IN EUROPE: VENICE – ITALY

I am adding a second city in Italy as one of my must-visit destinations in Europe. The first time you see the Grand Canal in Venice is a memory that lasts forever. I have been 5 times and I never get tired of that first view. It is such a unique city to visit and attracts so many visitors that its attraction could now be its downfall. Attempts to limit cruise ships who regurgitate huge numbers of passengers on a daily basis will surely help.

Appeals to?

Everyone! Its Venice! And it is a great destination for romance along with these other great European destinations for couples.

Where to stay?

You need a view of the Grand Canal in my view! And if you are someone who takes a lot of luggage with you I would suggest somewhere close to a water taxi stop or the train station! Dragging suitcases over the many bridges in Venice is not an ideal situation!

We stayed in the Abbazia-de-luxe. The hotel is near the station and comes with great views of the Grand Canal too! Book this hotel here!

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These are the first 10 of my top 10 amazing destinations in Europe to visit. Have you been to some of them? Which would be your favourite? Are there some places you would add? (They may of course appear in the next 10!)

If you are visiting Europe for the first time there is so much to know before you arrive so you can prepare properly for your visit. There are 100 things every American should know before visiting Europe for the first time which will help make your visit the best it can be!

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Author: Tracy

Over the last 50 years I have lived and worked in 7 countries on 4 continents and travelled to many more. I enjoy exploring and learning about new places and meeting people on my travels. History, reading, photography, nature and wildlife are my interests and I am ALWAYS researching and planning my next trip (preferably by train)

With a lifetime of travel experience, and a network of friends all over the world, I share genuine insider guides, recommended best book lists and train journey inspiration to help YOU travel authentically to some of the most beautiful places on earth.

Come and join me as I travel the world one country (and train journey) at a time!

This post may contain compensated links. Please read our disclaimer for additional information.

40 thoughts on “20 Best Destinations in Europe to Visit (Part 1)

  1. Ruth says:

    Oh my! I have only been to four places on the list but would love to visit them all! Berlin is high on my list. Like you said, I am not sure why I have not been. I am going to Split (and other places in Croatia) in about a month. #feetdotravel

  2. Sharon says:

    This is a great roundup of info on these fabulous places! We are planning a trip to Budapest, so I’m going to study your info on that one! You have quite a lot of travel under your belt!

  3. Anisa says:

    I don’t think I could choose 20 and I don’t have as much experience traveling in Europe as you do. Glad to see Rome made the list. That is my favorite so far. I am looking forward to seeing what cities made part 2. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard

  4. carolyn eddie says:

    great post, living in Copenhagen love that you have put it 5th! Been to half the places, but loving discovering more about where I currently live. I became a tour guide so can bore for hours on history, architecture and culture!

  5. Rhonda Albom says:

    I have been to a number of these cities and I applaud your picks. My daughter loved Berlin for its hip artistic feel and I loved Rome and Venice for the history and food. I would love to go to Split (and Dubrovnik) as they have always fascinated me and I’d like to learn more about their history.

  6. Kat says:

    I haven’t been to those places on your Part 1 list except Rome. Gosh, there are so many places to discover in Europe, wish I could cover them all! Absolutely love your photos – they are spectacular 🙂 #TheWeeklyPostcard

  7. David says:

    I liked Mellieha when I visited it, seems like a smart pick for somewhere to stay in the north. Gozo was my favourite though. Quite an interesting list so far!

    • TracyJane says:

      I also enjoyed Gozo – such beautiful islands! Glad you found it interesting – you have been to so many unusual places in Europe I would love to know your favourites!

  8. Anna says:

    I haven’t been to Split, Sarlat, Laerdal (in fact, haven’t even heard of the last two before). I love Norway and French medieval cites – so placed it to my travel bucket list!

    Completely agree with the rest of the list – loved each and every of these cities! Pinned #feetdotravel

  9. Anda says:

    I totally agree with your list. I am yet to visit Malta and Norway, but I can attest that all the other destinations are absolutely stunning. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  10. Scarlett Begonias says:

    I have only been to 4 out of 10, but I do agree with you on Split, Rome, Valletta, and Venice. I can’t wait to go back, and I dream of going to all of these other beautiful destinations in Europe. Lovely post 🙂

  11. Lisa says:

    That’s such a great list! Happy Austria made it on your list too 😀
    I looove living in Europe and being able to visit so many great places so easily! #WeekendWanderlust

  12. Katherine says:

    Yeah! I’m so glad to see Malta on this list 🙂 I have family there and have visited a million times (or it feels like that anyway). But I can’t go without sneaking in a bus trip over to Valletta to wander the streets. It’s so beautiful! #TheWeeklyPostcard

  13. Trippin' Turpins says:

    Wow! Gorgeous blog post! I feel I am missing so much by not having yet travelled Europe. I do hope to get there one day. I will pin this post with the plan to visit all of these beautiful cities you have mentioned! Thank you for sharing.

  14. Marcelle says:

    Your post brings beautiful memories to my mind. I’ve been in Valletta, Malta, entering the old town’s harbor with a cruise ship. And the best of it, I was laying on a massage bed with warm stones on my body and watched the scenery passing by. It was just wonderful!

  15. Kreete says:

    Omg Tracy! I can’t believe I have only been to one destinations on your list. My god, I better pick up my game haha! These are all places I have wanted to go. Then again I want to go everywhere so.. I hope i’ll do better in part 2. 😀

    • TracyJane says:

      Which of the places have you been to Kreete? I am sure you will love them all – Norway I imagine would really suit you (all those mountains to climb!)

  16. Rob+Ann @TravelLatte(.net) says:

    What a list! We would have picked Salzburg as the place we’re most looking forward to, but then you mentioned Sarlat. We have loved the Riviera, but maybe it’s time to work our way inland. A medieval village in the Dordogne sounds perfect! Can’t wait to see what’s in the next ten. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

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  18. Pingback: Discover all the top things to do in Copenhagen in Denmark

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