Looking for somewhere to visit in Europe? From renaissance architecture in Paris to tapas in Barcelona or the adrenaline pumping activities in Croatia. Europe is a continent of diverse culture, cuisine and experiences. If you are stuck for somewhere new to visit, take a look at our top 10 European picks and the must see activities to enjoy whilst you are there.
This week I collaborated with the lovely Elle from Elle Goes Global. She is a 24 year old Food, Travel and Lifestyle blogger who loves visiting Europe and feels super lucky in the fact that there aren’t many places she hasn’t visited. Here are her top five places you should visit.
Elle Goes Global Top five European Picks (in no particular order)
1. Rome, Italy
Rome wasn’t built in a day, but you can conquer it in one! History is literally at every turn in this city, every corner you enter you are confronted with a slice of the roman empire. The forum was an important meeting point and governmental district, Julius Caesar was famously stabbed in the back here but nowadays the ruins are a reminder of history and home to stray cats. You really need to visit the Colosseum, home to epic sea and gladiator battles, it’s crazy to think this was the early form of entertainment whilst we now might not get our kicks out of watching people get killed but we still crave drama and people stabbing each other emotionally in the back – now provided by Love Island.
Although some parts of the Colosseum are in ruins it is in incredible condition and you can’t go leave Rome without visiting it, close your eyes, use your imagination and its not hard to hear the cheer of the roaring crowds and the clatter of the weapons.
Visit Giolitti for the most delicious gelato in the city and tuck into a freshly prepared pizza , once you’ve tasted an Italian pizza nothing else will ever taste the same again. Wander through the Ghetto of Rome to discover some quirky bars and queue up to see the incredible paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine chapel at the Vatican. One of my all-time favourite spots is the Trevi Fountain, throw a coin in here over your left shoulder, make a wish and the saying goes that one day you’ll return to Rome. The only annoyance I have about this area is in recent years its become so commercialised and touristic that you’ll have selfie sticks thrust in your face and roses handed to you at every turn.
Don’t miss: You must go to the Colosseum – not only is it iconic, but it’s spectacular to see how well preserved this historical landmark is. Sure, you must be dreading the queues, but if you pre-book tickets online and join the queue in the later part of the day, you’ll avoid the heat of the day and get to explore without swarms of people.
2. Paris, France
Ooh la la, there’s no escaping the allure of the French capital, with its exquisite cuisine, beautiful renaissance architecture, iconic sights and romantic ambiance – it keeps luring you back in for more. So much so that I have in fact visited so many times over the last twenty-four years that I’ve lost count – six? Maybe seven? Regardless I’d happily go back in a heartbeat and I do plan to perhaps with the boyfriend this time – its the city of love after all and it’s like the 1975 band say ‘Oh how I’d love to go to Paris again’, but if you haven’t been yet you here’s why you really need to say Bonjour to the French capital….
Wander through the stylish boutiques of Monte Marte and climb the summit to see the white-domed Basilica of Sacre- Coeur to overlook the city skyline. Admire the Norte Dame cathedral and go to see the famous Leonardo di Vinci painting of the Mona Lisa in the Louvre. Of course, there’s the Eiffel tower standing at 324 meters tall – will you be brave enough to take the lift all the way to the top?
If you don’t visit Disneyland Paris whilst you are here – what are you doing??!!!! I love love love it there, from your first sight of the pink castle to riding on the virtual reality Ratatouille ride where you are sprayed with water, heat and spun around as you immerse yourself in the world of the film’s rat chef – you are never too old for Disney.
Don’t miss: I’m always discovering new places and things each time I visit Paris but I’d say you can’t go home without visiting a traditional patisserie and Ladurée is my favourite spot. Because no visit to Paris is complete until you have tried a macaroon.
3. Oslo, Norway
Oslo is a beautiful clean city jam packed with art, history and spectacular scenery. As the capital of Norway, it sits at the southern point of the country close to the border of Sweden. From architecturally pleasing buildings which are a mix between Dutch, French and Norwegian to quirky sculptures and museums, there are so many things to see you could spend 72hrs here and still have things left to explore.
Visit the Viking Museum and the Holmenkollen ski jump for a great insight into history and Olympic sport. Why not take a zip line adventure down from the top of the ski jump to really put yourself in the shoes of Olympians? Walk across the roof of the Opera house and look out across the harbour, then climb up to the Ekebergparken sculpture park to admire the weird, wonderful and wacky sculptures that are scattered through the forest.
Don’t miss: Out of everything, I’d say you really must go to the Viking museum. The boats have been beautifully restored and conserved and the film is a real immersive journey into the life of the Vikings. I stood there mesmerised and I guarantee you will leave your visit feeling a lot more informed about this fascinating period of history.
4. London, United Kingdom
I’m sure some of you have this view of Londoners rushing into roads, drinking tea, avoiding eye contact on public transport and wearing top hats, oh and it always rains? Correct on many of those points apart from the top hats and the rain, I mean it rains a lot but not always but best bring your brolly anyway, you know just in case. Many people would question why I’ve even got London on my top picks and some of you will be delighted, London – the capital of England is I’ll agree a bit of a marmite city – yep you either love it or you hate it. I love it for all its art, history, royal connections and quirky bars and cafes.
You should ascend to the top of the magnificent shard at dusk and take a spin on the London Eye both offering sparkling views across the city. Pose for a photo in front of the iconic Big Ben, hail a black taxi as you declare ‘Buckingham Palace please’ wander around the state home of our Queen to see the changing of the guard and jump onto a bike and cycle round Hyde Park and Kensington gardens – you might even catch sight of the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex if you are lucky!
Visit the Science and Natural History museum before admiring art masterpieces at the National Gallery and who could forget the dazzling West End – theatre land. From Les Miserables to the new Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and the masterpiece that is Lion King many a happy afternoon or evening should be spent watching a show. And I wouldn’t want you to miss out on a river boat along the Thames, but if you are looking for something a bit different than the normal sights head to Shoreditch and explore Box Park – home to bars, shops and restaurants, check out one of the cat cafes and dance the night away in one of the bars.
Slide down the orbit at the Olympic Park, learn about gruesome Tudor beheadings at the Tower of London, then enjoy afternoon tea at the Ritz before window shopping at the world famous store Harrods.Don’t miss: If you are a gin lover you won’t want to miss Mr Foggs Gin Parlour, a Victorian styled bar with over 150 different types of gin. And for a real Christmas treat head to Kew Gardens to stroll through trails of illuminated sculptures and lights displays with a mulled wine in hand.
5. Omis, Croatia
Croatia is a captivating country, with a culture and cuisine that blends French, Italian and Greek.
The seafood and steak dishes are spectacular, literally to die for, the locals are friendly and the climate is gorgeous. Omis is surrounded by a picturesque canyon with towering cliffs reminiscent of Thailand, a small town feel, buildings are painted in pastel colours with traditional metal framework and gorgeous views of the ocean.Take a boat trip along the river Cetina to admire the spectacular gorge and towering limestone cliffs. Then stop halfway at the mill for a quick lunch. If you are feeling brave why not challenge yourself to a rock climb or zip line across the gorge – this is paradise for adventure seekers.
Hire a speed boat and feel like James Bond as you cruise along the coastline to visit the nearby islands of Hvar or Brac where you can snorkel in the crystal clear waters.Don’t miss: Visit in mid-August to witness the night skies lit up as the town re-enacts pirate battles to celebrate the areas connection with pirates. Ships take to the ocean and fireworks are fired, food stalls fill the pier and the little town becomes a hive of activity.
Edits Of Jo’s Top 5 Europe spots
1. Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh is unquestionably one of my all-time favourite cities and is also my home. Since moving here just over 6 months ago, I have quickly fallen in love with this gorgeous, medieval city with it’s majestic Old Town and chic, Georgian New Town. With copious amounts of coffee shops, endless sights to see and gorgeous open spaces to escape to, Edinburgh has completely stolen my heart and would definitely recommend it to anyone fancying a city-break!
Things to do and see
On a rainy day, I would highly recommend visiting some of Edinburgh’s many Art Galleries and Museums. My favourites would be The National Museum of Scotland and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery (which also has an excellent cafe- perfect for a lunch stop!) Browse your way through Edinburgh’s fabulous selection of indie bookshops- The Golden Hare and Armchair Books being my favourite and pick a coffee shop to shelter from the rain in the Old Town (Milkman would have to be my top pick here!
Arthur’s Seat, Calton Hill, Edinburgh Castle, the Scottish Parliament building and Holyrood Palace are perhaps the most popular destinations with tourists. If you are wanting to get a taste of local life, pop into Stockbridge and wonder along the Water of Leith to Dean Village. On a sunny day, have a BBQ on the Meadows and wonder into Bruntsfield and Morningside for an afternoon treat (the Chocolate Tree would be top of my list) and browse through the gorgeous boutique and specialist shops.
Do not miss out on: Brunch at The Pantry, Stockbridge, ice-cream at Mary’s Milk Bar and dinner at L’Escargot Blanc.
2. Venice, Italy
Or should I say VeNICE?! (Sorry) Venice is the capital of northern Italy’s Veneto region and is widely know for it’s unique canal system – including the Grand Canal thoroughfare and the central square, Piazza San Marco, which contains St. Mark’s Basilica. An increasingly popular tourist destination, be sure to pick your time wisely when visiting this bustling city!
Things to do and see
Top of the list has to be visiting St. Mark’s Basilica and travelling via gondola – something all together impossible to do in the UK. In you’re into galleries, I would recommend checking out Gallerie dell’Accademia and for architecture lovers, why not try I Frari – a stunning Gothic Church.
Don’t miss out on: The pastries at Pasticceria Tonolo, a drink at Ostaria Dai Zemei and an icecream treat at Gelateria Il Doge.
3. Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is the capital city of the Czech Republic and is perhaps best known for its Old Town Square, colorful buildings, Gothic churches and the medieval Astronomical Clock as well as the (always busy) Charles Bridge. Just a short flight from London Gatwick, this is the ideal long weekender break!
Things to do and see
I would recommend taking an early morning walk across Charles Bridge before the crowds arrive and wonder up to Prague Castle which boasts magnificent views of the city. See St Vitus Cathedral, mooch around the Old Town Square and czech out the magnificent Astronomical Clock.
Do not miss out on: Sampling some of the cheapest beer in Europe at one of Prague’s many bars. As well as the above sites, be sure to check out the Lenin Wall – amazing graffiti with street artists playing tunes as you read the hundreds of messages left on the wall.
4. Piran, Slovenia
Situated by the sea, this small fishing town in Slovenia is absolutely breathtaking. The architecture is beyond gorgeous and there are so many lovely little sidestreets, coffee shops and restaurants.
Things to do and see
The Clock tower is a must-see- although be warned that the wooden steps up to the top are a tad rickety. St George’s Cathedral is also beautiful, as is the Port of Piran. On a warm day be sure to take a dip in the sea, before heading to one of the many seafood restaurants on the shore.
Don’t miss out on: The Church of St. Francis, Tartini Square and the Piran Town Walls. Be sure to take a walk along the port and treat yourself to an ice-cream whilst looking out to sea.
5. Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona is perhaps best known for its art and architecture and for me, paella and tapas. Antoni Gaudí’s artwork is undoubtedly one of the biggest assets of the city but there are some stunning architectural highlights, bars and restaurants galore and some lovely little beaches to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city centre.
Things to do and see
You simply can’t visit Barcelona without making a visit to Las Ramblas. Be sure to go shopping, drink a glass of sangria or two (most likely two) and watch the street performers on this iconic street. Barcelona also has a wealth of Cathedrals and churches – highlights include Barcelona Cathedral and the Sagrada Família Church.
On a sunny day, head over to Barceloneta Beach and the area around Port Vell, dabble your toes in the sea and unwind with a good ol’ book. Be sure to visit Font Magica de Montjuic – they quite often have a water display here to music which is really spectacular.
Don’t miss out on: Montjuïc Hilltop Park. You can either walk here or catch a cable car to the top – the views across the port and city are breathtaking. Sampling the local tapas and paella dishes are also an absolute must.
Where are your top Europe picks? Let Elle and I know, we’d love to hear from you!