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Get inspired to plan a vacation like no other by taking a closer look at our rundown of the best places to visit in Europe, and let that wanderlust inside you take the reigns of your emotions as you fall in love with the awe of this diverse continent and everything it has to offer.
To buck the trend of the traditional summer tourist season, we have spread our best places to visit out across an entire calendar year, giving you some incredible vacation spots and experiences to choose from no matter what time of year you want to travel.
Best Places to Visit in Europe
1 – Tallinn, Estonia
If you’re looking for a place where the wonderful Christmas atmosphere lasts well into the new year, Tallinn is one of your best choices. The walled old town has a magical atmosphere in winter when the snow covers the rooftops, and the festive lights adorn the alleys and squares.
The Christmas markets in Tallinn are open until the end of the first week of January, so you can still feel the festive holiday vibes. If you don’t make it in time, you can still enjoy the picturesque old town, go ice skating at the rink in front of St. Nicholas Church, and enjoy heart-warming food.
Related: Estonian Foods You Should Try
2 – Kiruna, Sweden
In the Swedish Lapland, Kiruna is a lovely place to visit in January, when the Kiruna Snow Festival is celebrated. The festival takes place during the last weekend of January in the center of Kiruna, with many activities for adults and children.
From art exhibitions and concerts to ice skating and dog sledding, there is something for every taste. Arguably the most anticipated event is the Kiruna International Snow Sculpture Competition which sees artists from all over the world coming to the city to showcase their spectacular sculptures.
Another famous event to key your eye out for is the Snow Blower World Championship which sees contestants pushing a snow blower through a 20-meter-long snow heap.
Aside from attending the festival, visiting Kiruna in January also means a high chance of seeing the northern lights. And if you have extra time, make sure to visit the Sámi open-air museum to learn about the Sami culture and see the reindeer.
Related: Swedish Foods to Try
3 – Venice, Italy
One of the most famous carnivals in the world is reason enough to visit Venice in February. While the weather may not be as hot as in the summer, the whole city comes together for the biggest party of the year, with parades, contests, and many events taking place on the streets and canals of Venice.
The Carnival of Venice dates to the 11th century and is one of the oldest in the world. It usually takes place for nearly the entire month of February. This is also the best occasion to buy a traditional Venetian mask and wear it in style.
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4 – Tenerife, Spain
There are two main reasons for visiting Tenerife in February. Firstly, you get to escape the cold weather in the rest of Europe to enjoy pleasant temperatures, and secondly, you can witness the liveliest carnival in the Canary Islands, in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
The carnival takes place every February and is among the most important ones in the world. An event you should not miss is the opening parade, which traditionally takes place on the Friday before the start of the carnival. One of the best things about celebrating the Carnival of Santa Cruz is the great weather that accompanies it, making it even more enjoyable.
When you’re not checking out the parades and other Carnival events, you can explore the beautiful hiking trails or even go to the beach in Tenerife South.
Read more: Spanish Foods You Should Try
5 – Tromsø, Norway
One of the best places to witness the Northern Lights is Tromsø, in the far north of Norway. Northern Lights season runs from October to March, so you may want to visit at the beginning of the month for a higher chance to see the famous spectacle.
March also has a high chance of snow, so you’ll get to enjoy the winter landscapes too. Aside from Aurora hunting, you can also take a boat tour around the fjords, go husky sledding, go on a reindeer tour, and check out the museums, like the Polarmuseet, where you can learn about the history of Tromsø.
Related: Best Foods to Try in Norway
6 – Dubrovnik, Croatia
If Dubrovnik can be unbearably hot and crowded in summer, March is a great month to explore the beautiful Croatian city with fewer tourists and pleasant temperatures. Enjoy a stroll around the UNESCO-designated Old Town, go for a walk on the city walls, and take in the wonderful view from the Lovrijenac fortress.
For some more stunning views of the city and the coast, take the cable car to Dubrava Observation Point or hike up. And don’t forget to go on a tour to learn about the Game of Thrones filming locations.
Related: Foods to Try in Croatia
7 – Paris, France
Paris is always a great idea at any time of year, but spring is one of the best times to visit the French capital. Not only do you experience the city without the usual summer crowds, but the spring atmosphere with the blooming trees adds a magical touch to an already beautiful city.
You can experience the sight of the Eiffel tower framed by the cherry blossoms in Champ de Mars, explore the artistic neighborhood of Montmartre, and go for a peaceful walk at Père Lachaise Cemetery, where you’ll also find many blossoming trees.
Don’t forget to pay a visit to the gorgeous Jardin du Luxembourg and, of course, to the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay.
8 – Athens, Greece
If you want to enjoy pleasant weather and visit some of the most famous landmarks in Greece’s ancient city without being overwhelmed by crowds, then head to Athens in April. With the exception of Easter, April is a great month to enjoy a less crowded experience in the city. But if you do want to visit during the Easter holidays, you can get to sample traditional baked goods in most bakeries around town.
The blossoming trees, blue skies, and perfect temperatures make for long walks around the city, picnics in the parks, and hikes on Philopappou Hill. And of course, you can’t miss the chance to visit the world-renowned Acropolis.
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9 – Berlin, Germany
May is a great month to visit most European capitals. The pleasant weather and flowers in bloom are just a couple of reasons for that. But if you could only choose one capital to see in May, Berlin is one of your best choices.
There is so much going on in Berlin at the end of spring. The cherry blossoms may still be in bloom, the weather is perfect for sightseeing, and many events take place all over the city. Listen to jazz music at the XJazz festival, take advantage of the International Museum Day, and attend Berlin Design Week.
One of the most awaited events is the Carnival of Cultures, where Berlin comes together to celebrate cultural diversity. On Pentecost Sunday, you can also attend the parade in Kreuzberg, with thousands of floats filling the streets.
Related: German Foods You Should Try
10 – Amsterdam, Netherlands
Fields of tulips, pleasant weather, and longer days are just three of many good reasons to visit Amsterdam in May. This is the sunniest month in Holland, but temperatures are not yet very high. The city is also not too crowded, so it’s a perfect balance of fewer visitors and good weather.
Although the official Festival of Tulips usually takes place around April, you will likely still find them in early May. Late spring is also great for strolling along the canals, going on a cruise, and checking out the museums. Pay a visit to the classics like Van Gogh Museum or Anne Frank House, and check out the more recent Moco Museum.
11 – Rome, Italy
Right before schools close and thousands of tourists start flooding the streets of Rome, the first half of June is a great time to visit the Eternal City. If you’re lucky, the weather will be just right to walk around in a t-shirt and enjoy all the events taking place in the city in summer.
Walk around the historical center to see the squares and fountains, check out the pop-up restaurants and little artisan stores along the Tiber River, and watch a movie at the open-air cinema on Isola Tiberina.
Early June is also great to still enjoy the Rose Garden near Circus Maximus, with thousands of varieties of roses in full bloom.
12 – Lisbon, Portugal
From late May to early June, Lisbon’s streets are colored purple from the Jacaranda trees in full bloom. This is a magical time to visit the Portuguese capital.
Lots of events take place in Lisbon in June. Every weekend, Out Jazz Festival fills Lisbon’s most beautiful parks with music and good vibes, as locals and tourists take a spot on the grass to listen to music and enjoy a drink.
June is also the month of the Santos Populares. The city celebrates the patron saint, St. Anthony, as well as St. Peter and St. John. Lisbon locals take these festivities very seriously and celebrate for nearly an entire month.
The narrow alleys of Alfama are adorned with colorful decorations, the barbecues are set outside to grill the sardines, and the beer flows constantly at pop-up bars and stands all over the city.
Related: Portuguese Foods You Need to Try
13 – Provence, France
If you have ever seen a photograph of Provence in summer, there’s a very chance it was one with lavender fields stretching as far as the eye can see. From mid-June to mid-July is the best time to see the lavender fields in full bloom. Check them out in the Valensole Plateau, nearby the village of Sault, or in the Luberon Valley.
While you’re driving around Provence, make sure to stop at some of the most charming cities and towns, like Aix-en-Provence, Gordes, Cassis, Avignon, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, and Arles. If you’re a wine lover, be sure to include a wine tour in your itinerary.
14 – Iceland
Provence is not the only region whose fields turn purple in summer. July is the best month to enjoy lupin fields in Iceland. The island country offers some of the most unique landscapes in Europe, beautiful in both winter and summer.
July is one of the best months to enjoy some of Iceland’s natural landmarks surrounded by the purple lupin fields. Check out Skogafoss waterfall, Vatnajökull National Park, and the surroundings of Reykjavik and Vik. This is also the month to experience the Midnight Sun or polar day when the sun never fully sets.
Related: Foods You Should Try in Iceland
15 – Edinburgh, Scotland
While most of central and southern Europe swelters under the intense August heat, you can escape to the northernmost countries, where the temperatures are pleasant, and you have higher chances of avoiding the usual rain. This sets the stage up nicely for Edinburgh, one of the UK’s most beautiful cities.
Of course, you must keep in mind that August is a popular month for travel, so anywhere in Europe will have higher tourist numbers than usual. However, the Scottish capital is famous in August for its many festivals, the most famous being the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, with hundreds of shows ranging from comedy to theatre and circus happening all over the city. This is also the month of the Edinburgh International Book Festival and Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
You can also check out the Edinburgh International Festival dedicated to all things theatre, opera, and ballet and the Edinburgh Art Festival, which explores different kinds of visual art at various venues, most for free.
Read more: Best Foods You Should Try in Scotland
16 – Dublin, Ireland
August is one of the best months to visit Dublin if you want to take advantage of the warm, sunny weather. Enjoy walking around the city and exploring landmarks like the Christ Church Cathedral, St Patrick’s Cathedral, and Dublin Castle, or spend an afternoon in the park at St Stephen’s Green.
To enjoy stunning views of the cliffs just outside Dublin, do the coastal walk from Bray to Greystones, roughly two hours of walking and taking in the beauty of the Irish coastline. If you’re up for a day trip, check out the Kilkenny Arts Festival, just an hour and a half from Dublin city center.
Read more: Foods to Try in Ireland
17 – Barcelona, Spain
A trip to Barcelona is always a good idea, but September is one of the best months to get a taste of how locals celebrate their most cherished festivities. In September, La Mercè brings locals and visitors to the streets for around five days of non-stop partying.
You can see some of the most beautiful monuments illuminated by light shows, watch the Castellers create a human tower, check out the Giants Parade, and participate in the fire run (Correfoc) among other activities.
September is also a great month to explore the city, with the summer heat gone and more pleasant temperatures. Walk along La Rambla, relax on the beach at Barceloneta, and check out Park Güell.
18 – Santorini, Greece
With most visitors flocking to the Greek islands in summer, September may be better to enjoy a slightly less crowded Santorini. The Aegean Island is one of the most romantic places to visit in Europe, with the hilltop towns overlooking the sea and breath
Explore the most famous town of Oia with its whitewashed houses and blue domed churches, visit the Akrotiri archaeological site, enjoy dinner with a coastal view, and check out the beautiful beaches. The weather in September is still great for swimming and sunbathing.
19 – Krakow, Poland
Krakow is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in Poland, and October is one of the best months to visit. Temperatures are usually still pleasant during the day and the foliage changes, so visiting the parks and gardens is a must.
In October, there are also plenty of events going on, like the Unsound Festival, dedicated to contemporary music and visual arts, and the International Book Fair. Another must in Poland is trying local Polish food, like the famous pierogi, ideally filled with mushrooms, which are in season in the fall.
20 – Madeira, Portugal
Good weather and fewer crowds make October one of the best months to visit the Portuguese island off the coast of Morocco. Madeira is filled with amazing hiking trails, beautiful beaches, natural pools, and charming little towns. Explore the capital Funchal, hike to Pico do Arieiro, and check out the beaches and coastal walks.
A great reason to visit Madeira in October is the Nature Festival. For one week, you’ll find lots of free events all over the island that will allow you to take part in activities combining sports and nature. You can try hiking, mountain biking, surfing, and much more.
21 – Hamburg, Germany
In the mood for an early start on Christmas celebrations? In Hamburg, the Christmas markets open at the end of November, so you can already get in the mood for the holidays by drinking mulled wine and shopping for Christmas presents and decorations.
Aside from the many Christmas markets in nearly every square in Hamburg, you can also check out great museums like the International Maritime Museum, the Dialogue House, where you’ll be guided in darkness by visually impaired guides, and the unusual Museum of Popcorn.
Don’t miss out on the unique warehouse district of Speicherstadt and the beautiful landmarks in the city center, like St. Nikolai Memorial, the neo-renaissance town hall, and the world’s largest model railway at Miniatur Wunderland.
Read more: German Foods You Should Try
22 – Cyprus
With warm weather year-round, Cyprus is a great destination to visit in November if you’re not ready to face the cold winter yet. Take advantage of the lower prices and the fewer crowds to explore everything the island country has to offer.
The weather is great for exploring the many archaeological sites like Ancient Kourion, Ancient Salamis, Choirokoitia, and Tombs of the Kings. The capital Nicosia and the seaside cities of Limassol, Paphos, and Larnaca are filled with museums, impressive landmarks, and great restaurants to try traditional Cypriot food.
Read more: Best Cypriot Foods (Recommended by a Local)
23 – Munich, Germany
December is for visiting German Christmas markets, warming up with Glühwein, and eating heart-warming food. While Munich is better known for Oktoberfest, the event draws huge crowds and, hence, the city can become very expensive. So for an alternative option, visit Munich in December, with Christmas lights adorning the streets of the Old Town and Christmas markets popping up in the squares.
During the day, spend some time exploring the Old Town, check out the museums, go ice skating, and ride the adorable Christmas trams. Aside from drinking mulled wine at the Christmas markets, there are a few other ways to warm up, such as enjoying a hot drink in a cozy cafe or relaxing in the sauna at Müller’sches Volksbad.
Read more: German Desserts You Should Try
24 – Zurich, Switzerland
The beautiful capital of Switzerland is another lovely destination to enjoy Christmas decorations and possibly snowy weather. Zurich is the best city for Christmas markets in Switzerland, with around seven or eight of them in the main locations across the city.
Some of the best Christmas markets to check out are Wienachtsdorf am Bellevue in front of the Opera House, the Christkindlimarkt in front of Zurich Central Station, and the Dörfli Weihnachtsmarkt im Niederdorf in the Old Town.
Zurich also has many museums worth visiting, like the art gallery Kunsthaus Zürich, the photography museum ARTEF Galerie für Kunstfotografie, Museum Rietberg, and the Swiss National Museum. In between the visits, stop for a hot chocolate at the historical Café & Conditorei 1842.
Related: Swiss Foods You Need to Try
Best Places to Visit in Europe Summary
Whether you’re looking for cultural-filled city breaks or sweeping green landscapes, the freshness of spring, or the magic of winter, our rundown of some of the best places to visit in Europe truly does have more than a little something for everyone.
Wherever your European trip takes you, we hope your time in this gorgeous continent is filled with magic, exploration, and so many memories you’ll constantly keep bringing the trip up over coffee or dinner with friends and family. Get inspired, get excited, and go forth!
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Contributor: Roxana Fanaru is a Romanian content writer and journalist who has written for various publications in the travel and lifestyle niches, and has a wealth of experience in European travel.
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