Home to majestic mountain ranges, captivating coastlines, and idyllic islands, Europe boasts some of the most beautiful scenery on Earth. While its world-class capitals of London, Paris, and Rome attract the most visitors, the continent’s 44 countries each have delightfully different cities and attractions to explore.
From Scandinavia’s striking snow-coated scenery to the charming coastlines of the Mediterranean, Europe is full of diverse and dreamy landscapes that belie its relatively small size.
For instance, the towering Alps alone are home to everything from sparkling waterfalls and twinkling lakes to fantastic rock formations and jaw-dropping panoramas. With so many sublime sights and so much sensational scenery to see, visiting all the most beautiful places in Europe could take a lifetime.
25. Picos de Europa
Made up of three majestic massifs, the Picos de Europa is a breathtakingly beautiful mountain range that lies in the far north of Spain. Sprawling over a vast area, its peaks and plateaus straddle the Autonomous Communities of Asturias, Cantabria, and Castile and Leon.
A popular place to go hiking and rock climbing, the ‘Peaks of Europe’ and the surrounding national park boast astonishing scenery, with phenomenal panoramas wherever you go. Towering to more than 2,400 meters are the mighty peaks of Macizo Andara, Macizo El Cornion, and Macizo Central, with pretty meadows, plunging river gorges, and glistening lakes below.
Lying in the south of the island is Seljalandsfoss, one of Iceland’s most famous and photographed natural attractions. Plunging some 60 meters off the top of a cliff, the stunning waterfall shimmers in the sun before merging in a cloud of spray with the pretty pool below.
While the falls and cliffs look incredible, the best photos are actually to be had from behind its cascading curtain of water. Entering the waterfall’s small cave is an awe-inspiring experience as you hear the roar of the water, feel its spray, and gaze out at the sparkling Seljalandsfoss before you.
23. Seven Rila Lakes
Nestled among the rearing Rila mountain range, the Seven Rila Lakes are one of the most popular and picturesque places to visit in Bulgaria. Set in the southwest of the country, the seven lakes sparkle in the sun and are connected by a small series of streams, cascades, and waterfalls.
Each lake is named after its defining characteristic, so after visiting the clear waters of ‘The Tear,’ you can stop by the oval-shaped shores of ‘The Eye.’ Lying at more than 2,000 meters above sea level, the lakes are surrounded by magnificent mountains, home to scenic hiking trails with fantastic viewpoints dotted here and there.
One of the world’s most romantic and resplendent cities, Venice is like no other place on Earth, with astounding art and architecture wherever you look. Located in the northeast of Italy, the ‘Floating City’ is set across 118 small islands, linked by charming canals and beautiful old bridges.
Lining its wonderful waterways are magnificent marble-coated palaces, centuries-old churches and astonishing art museums, with countless other historic landmarks and cultural sights dotted here and there. Exploring Venice’s atmospheric alleys, pretty piazzas, and idyllic islands is always a treat. One of the best times to visit is during its colorful carnival.
21. Scottish Highlands
Home to lovely lochs, gorgeous glens, and marvelous mountain ranges, the wild and rugged landscapes of the Scottish Highlands count among the most beautiful places in Europe. Very sparsely populated, the region covers a vast area and is generally thought to encompass everything north and west of the Highland Boundary Fault.
Here you’ll find Ben Nevis – the highest mountain in the British Isles – the famous Loch Ness, and several fabulous national parks. While the scenery on show is simply stunning, the Scottish Highlands are also noted for their rich history and heritage, with crumbling castles and quaint villages and towns scattered here and there.
20. Transfagarasan Highway
Winding its way through the Carpathian Mountains, the Transfagarasan Highway is widely considered one of the most spectacular and scenic drives in the world. Built between 1970 and 1974 as a strategic military route, the road runs through a number of high mountain passes and river valleys in the center of Romania.
Due to its hair-raising hairpin turns, its steep and sharp descents, and stunning scenery, the highway is very popular to hike, cycle or drive along. Besides taking in the marvelous mountains all around, visitors can also stop off at the beautiful Balea Lake and waterfall on their way to or from the historic regions of Transylvania and Wallachia.
Surrounded by the wild waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the spectacular sub-tropical archipelago of Madeira lies some thousand kilometers or more off mainland Portugal. Often called the ‘Garden Island’ due to its unspoiled nature, it boasts breathtaking scenery, with mighty mounts and coastal cliffs lining its scenic sun-kissed shores.
While sailing, surfing, and scuba diving around the islands is divine, there are some great beaches and towns to check out, such as Porto da Cruz and Paul do Mar. In addition, the archipelago is crisscrossed by a wonderful series of hiking trails with astounding views over the ocean.
Located far north in the Arctic Circle, the winter wonderland of Lapland straddles the snow-coated, frozen expanses of Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Russia. Full of endless forests, glacial lakes, and glinting ice fields, the picturesque polar region is magical to explore. Hiking, skiing, and dog-sledging are all popular.
Staying in a cosy cabin in the woods or one of its scenic, snow-covered towns is an excellent way to experience the best of Lapland. To top it all off, no visit to the land of elves, reindeer and Santa Claus can be complete without catching a glimpse of the sensational Northern Lights.
17. Pulpit Rock
One of the most famous and phenomenal attractions in Norway, the prominent Pulpit Rock – or Preikestolen – lies in the southwest of the country, overlooking the lovely Lysefjorden.
Formed during the last ice age, the sheer cliff towers 604 meters above its surroundings, with staggering views on offer of the deep, dark waters and dramatic landscapes below. Due to the outstanding beauty, Pulpit Rock attracts hordes of tourists every year.
16. The Dolomites
Home to sweeping valleys, alpine meadows, and jaw-dropping peaks, the Dolomites are a majestic mountain range lying in the northeast of Italy. Straddling several different regions, the ‘Pale Mountains’ are one of the most popular and picturesque places to visit in the country, with lots of great hiking paths and skiing pistes to be found amidst its spectacular landscapes.
Standing at 3,343 meters, Marmalada is its highest park. The distinctive Tre Cime di Lavaredo and the six summits of the Vajolet Towers count among the range’s most impressive sights. Whether summer or winter, the Dolomites are delightful to visit due to their stunning scenery and epic panoramas.
15. Korcula Town
Bordered by beautiful blue waters and lush forests, with mountains rising in the distance, Korcula Town is certainly set in a scenic spot. Lying at the eastern-end of Korcula, Croatia’s most populated island, it boasts an attractive and alluring Old Town, full of exquisite Renaissance and Gothic architecture.
Enclosed within its imposing fortifications are centuries-old churches, Venetian palaces, and atmospheric alleys, as well as a charming harbor and waterfront. In addition to its pleasant historic center, Korcula Town lies near some brilliant beaches if you want to take a dip in the warm and inviting waters of the Adriatic Sea.
14. Kravica Waterfalls
Located in the south of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Kravica Waterfalls are a gorgeous set of falls hidden away among the craggy karst landscape. Towering 25 meters in height, the gentle cascades span 120 meters in length. Powerful jets of water gush between the dense green overgrowth that threatens to engulf the lovely pool below.
Due to their peaceful nature and breathtaking beauty, Kravica Waterfalls is a popular day trip from Mostar, Medjugorje, and Dubrovnik, with swimming and picnicking to be enjoyed in the summer months.
13. Faroe Islands
Lying almost abandoned in the Atlantic, the attractive and atmospheric archipelago of the Faroe Islands is located almost equidistance from Iceland, Norway and the UK. Part of Denmark, the isolated isles boast lots of stunning scenery, with rearing, rugged mountains overlooking wild and rugged coastal cliffs and coves.
Coated in sheep-filled fields and picturesque pastures, the Faroes are dotted with small settlements, towns, and villages. Whether hiking around its lovely landscapes, taking a memorable boat trip through its fabulous fjords, or delving into the archipelago’s unique culture, the Faroe Islands don’t disappoint.
12. Bay of Kotor
One of the most incredible natural sights in the Balkans, the Bay of Kotor almost defies description with its mesmerizing attractions. Hemmed in by lofty mountains and commanding cliffs, the beautiful bay and its glittering gulfs, straits and coves lies in the southwest of Montenegro, just inland from the Adriatic Sea.
While its splendid setting attracts the most praise, the bay is also home to centuries-old citadels and isolated island monasteries, with Kotor’s old town being the standout attraction. Here, you’ll find astounding architecture, historical sights, and cultural landmarks aplenty – all lying within the ancient city walls that border the bay’s breathtaking waters.
11. Tulip Fields in Holland
Stretching endlessly into the distance, the Netherlands’ colorful tulip fields are one of its most evocative attractions. Ever since the late 16th century, when the beautiful bulbs first arrived and ‘tulip mania’ struck Europe, visitors have been attracted to its fantastic flowerbeds and lavishly landscaped gardens.
By far the biggest and best of its flower parks is Keukenhof, home to around seven million tulips, daffodils, and roses. Cycling around Holland’s fetching fields or strolling around its gorgeous gardens is a delight, with loads of great photos to be had of pretty purple, pink, orange, and red flowers waving in the wind.
10. Verdon Gorge
With its blindingly bright white limestone walls and its twinkling turquoise waters, Verdon Gorge certainly makes for a beautiful sight. Located in the southeast of France, the ravine stretches more than 25 kilometers in length and at times drops to a depth of 700 meters.
Sometimes billed as the ‘Grand Canyon of Europe’, its epic landscapes lend themselves perfectly to all kinds of outdoor activities, with hiking, rock climbing and kayaking particularly popular.
Formed millennia ago by the Verdon River, the grand gorge is best accessed from Castellane or Moustiers-Sainte-Marie; its most startling stretch lies between the two towns.
Perched atop teetering rocky pillars, the Eastern Orthodox monasteries of Meteora are one of the most arresting and awe-inspiring sights in Greece. Rising from the picturesque Plain of Thessaly, the magnificent monasteries with their fresco-covered chapels and churches look out over the sublime scenery below.
Founded during the 14th century, they house priceless religious treasures and are only accessible by traipsing up steep stone steps cut into the side of the cliffs. While many now lie in ruins, there are still six functioning Byzantine monasteries. One of the most important and impressive spiritual sites in the country, the captivating complex of Meteora is not to be missed out on.
8. Lake Bled
One of Slovenia’s most popular attractions, Lake Bled is set in a scenic spot surrounded by forests and mountains, with the Julian Alps rising impressively in the distance. Adding to its splendor is the lovely island lying at the heart of its reflective waters.
Here, you can find a glorious Gothic church full of gorgeous frescoes. The bell tower can be spied from across the lake, peeking out from the treetops. Due to its picture-perfect nature, Lake Bled is fantastic to visit at any time of year; many people take boat trips to the island, snapping photo after photo on the way.
Home to grand castles, palaces and historic villas, Sintra is a fabulous place to visit; it lies just 30 kilometers to the northwest of Lisbon. Due to its spectacular scenery, it was here that generations of Portuguese royals erected extravagant edifices atop soaring hills and mountains.
Besides the romantic architecture of the Sintra and Pena Palaces, there are also lovingly landscaped gardens and luxury estates for visitors to explore, as well as the crumbling Castle of the Moors. The center of town is just as delightful: its faded pastel-hued buildings host cosy cafes, artisanal shops, and traditional restaurants.
Often called the ‘Pearl of Austria’, Hallstatt looks every bit the fairytale town due to its spectacular setting and outstanding natural beauty. Perched between majestic mountains and a looking-glass lake, the picturesque, pastel-colored town tumbles down to the reflective waters below.
Widely considered the oldest still-inhabited settlement in Europe, it has long been known for its salt deposits; various caves and mines can be visited from the town. Although usually quite crowded, ambling around scenic streets and atmospheric alleys before emerging at Hallstatt’s divine waterfront with its sensational views is a magical experience.
The southernmost member of the Cyclades, the awe-inspiring archipelago of Santorini lies in the south of the Aegean Sea, surrounded by beautiful blue waters. A very popular destination, the small cluster of barren and rocky islands are the remnants of what was once a volcanic caldera.
Lining the top of its steep ridge are quaint villages, full of brilliantly bright white houses and blue-domed churches. The main towns of Fira and Oia can get quite crowded in summer, but hiking around the caldera or taking a boat trip allows you to drink in the iconic image of the Greek islands in peace and quiet.
4. Lofoten Islands
Rising dramatically from the sea, the Lofoten Islands’ rugged peaks, plunging fjords, and scenic beaches and coves make for an impressive sight. Located just off the northwest of Norway, the attractive archipelago is home to sheep-filled fields and untouched landscapes, with sheltered bays and sleepy fishing villages dotted about.
Connected to the mainland by tunnels and bridges, the islands are fascinating and photogenic to explore, with hiking, cycling and sailing all popular. To top it all off, there are sensational views wherever you go. The Lofoten Islands are also a great place to watch the marvelous Aurora Borealis light up the skies.
Lying in the far south of Bavaria, the enchanting Fussen is set in a lovely spot at the foot of the Alps; it is the last stop on Germany’s Romantic Road. While its well-preserved historic center is pleasant to explore, the town is mostly known for the three fabulous fairytale castles that lie in the surrounding hills and mountains.
Of these, the undoubted highlight is Neuschwanstein – the magical palace that was the inspiration behind Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. Besides its important and impressive historical sights, Fussen also has lots of excellent hiking trails that offer superb views of the nearby mountains, lakes and forests.
2. Amalfi Coast
Located just to the south of Naples is the Amalfi Coast – one of Italy’s most alluring and attractive stretches of coastline. Rising steeply above the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean are rugged cliffs and stunning mountains, with idyllic towns and villages dotted about.
As well as boasting beautiful scenery and gorgeous landscapes, there are also the pastel-colored palaces and piazzas of Positano, Amalfi and Ravello to explore. Whether lounging on a beach, hiking in the hills, or sailing along its sun-kissed shores, the beauty of the Amalfi Coast is undeniable.
1. Lauterbrunnen Valley
Lined by magnificent mountains, glinting glaciers, and an astonishing 72 waterfalls, Lauterbrunnen Valley is picture-perfect. Dotted around its picturesque pastures and alpine meadows are cosy chalets and charming mountain villages, such as those of Lauterbrunnen, Murren, and Wengen.
Framed by sheer cliffs and sparkling falls, the valley is a nature lover’s dream, with lots of hiking trails, mountain bike paths, and rock climbing routes to explore. Its outstanding beauty and spectacular scenery make Lauterbrunnen Valley one of the most memorable places to visit in Switzerland.