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. 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. With so many sublime sights and sensational scenery to see, visiting all of Europe’s most beautiful destinations could take a lifetime. Number 25. Picos de Europa.
Made up of three majestic massifs, the Picos de Europa is a beautiful mountain range that lies in the far north of Spain. The ‘Peaks of Europe’ and the surrounding national park boast astonishing scenery, with phenomenal panoramas wherever you go. The park’s high mountains and deep ravines appeal to hikers, who need to be alert for deep fog banks. This biosphere reserve also boasts forests, oak groves and several rivers. Non-hikers may want to ride the cable car that reaches more than a mile above sea level, providing stunning views of the park.
Number 24. Seljalandsfoss. One of the most beautiful waterfalls in the whole of Iceland, Seljalandsfoss is also one of its most popular.
This is in large part because you can walk behind its cascading curtain of water. While this makes for some incredible photos, the falls are just as marvellous to view from in front as they gush off the top of a 60 meter high cliff.
Located just off the renowned Ring Road in the south of the island, Seljalandsfoss is not to be missed out on for its scenic setting and unique and unusual cave viewpoint. Number 23. Seven Rila Lakes Nestled among the rearing Rila mountain range, the Seven Rila Lakes are one of the most 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 metres above sea level, the lakes are surrounded by magnificent mountains with fantastic viewpoints dotted here and there.
Number 22. Venice. 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, and centuries-old churches, 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. Number 21. Scottish Highlands. The Scottish Highlands form a rugged, mountainous region of Northern Scotland.
There are many things to do in amongst the dramatic scenery of this picturesque area. There’s Glencoe Valley where red deer roam and waterfalls hide; close to here, Ben Nevis calls with the highest mountain peak in the United Kingdom.
Elsewhere, Loch Ness sits in the Central Highlands and is where you can try to catch a glimpse of the legendary Loch Ness Monster, or simply take a stroll and enjoy the serene atmosphere. The Scottish Highlands are also home to Inverness, the largest city in the region. Number 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 centre of Romania. Due to its hair-raising hairpin turns, its steep and sharp descents, and stunning scenery, the highway is very popular to cycle or drive along.
Madeira. Surrounded by the wild waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the spectacular sub-tropical archipelago of Madeira lies some thousand kilometres 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 are popular activities, there are also some great beaches and towns to check out. In addition, the archipelago is crisscrossed by a wonderful series of hiking trails with astounding views over the ocean.
Number 18. Lapland. 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 Santa Claus can be complete without catching a glimpse of the Northern Lights. Number 17. Pulpit Rock. One of the most famous and phenomenal sights in Norway, the prominent Pulpit Rock lies in the southwest of the country, overlooking the lovely Lysefjorden.
Formed during the last ice age, the sheer cliff towers 604 metres above its surroundings, with staggering views of the deep, dark waters and dramatic landscapes below.
Due to the outstanding beauty, Pulpit Rock attracts hordes of tourists every year. Number 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 metres, Marmalada is its highest park. Whether summer or winter, the Dolomites are delightful to visit due to their stunning scenery and epic panoramas. Number 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 the island of Korcula, 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 waterfront. In addition to its pleasant historic centre, Korcula Town lies near some brilliant beaches if you want to take a dip in the warm and inviting waters of the Adriatic Sea. Number 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 metres in height, the gentle cascades span 120 metres 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 and Dubrovnik, with swimming and picnicking to be enjoyed in the summer months.
Number 13. Faroe Islands. You’ll need at least a week to explore all the captivating attractions the 18 volcanic Faroe Islands have to offer. Just a short flight from mainland Europe, the island country has been associated with the Kingdom of Denmark, but it is actually self-governed. What makes the archipelago so special is that it’s incredibly underrated and untouristy.
Did you know that you can see the Northern Lights here from November to February? Apart from its spectacular scenery of majestic valleys, remote villages, and jaw-dropping waterfalls, it’s also a popular spot for nature enthusiasts seeking a glimpse of thousands of coastal birds, including clifftop puffin colonies.
Number 12. Bay of Kotor. A sweeping bay in the eastern Adriatic Sea, the Bay of Kotor is situated in southwestern Montenegro.
It’s a beautiful spot ringed by jagged green hills and medieval towns, with red-roofed houses spilling down to the coastline. Best explored by car along its winding roads, the region is packed full with incredible sights – from old citadels to islands topped with monasteries. There’s plenty of chances for seafood and delicious dinners by the sea to complement the scenery.
Kotor old town is a Venetian wonder, surrounded by walls with a mountain backdrop that’s well worth using as a base. Number 11.
Tulip Fields in Holland. Stretching endlessly into the distance, the Netherlands’ colourful tulip fields are one of its most evocative sights. 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 is a delight, with loads of great photos to be had of pretty purple, orange, and red flowers waving in the wind.
Number 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 kilometres in length and at times drops to a depth of 700 metres. Sometimes billed as the ‘Grand Canyon of Europe’, its epic landscapes lend themselves perfectly to all kinds of outdoor activities, with hiking and kayaking particularly popular.
Meteora. Meaning “elevated” in Greek, Meteora is a jutting rock formation in Northern Greece – a wild landscape made up of hill-like boulders that dominate the skyline. Part of what makes that magnificent landscape so amazing, however, are the monasteries that precariously cling to the rocks. Set on cliffs with staircases cut into the very stone itself, this religious site dates back to the 15th century, and some still welcome visitors to this day.
The most famous of all, the Holy Trinity Monastery, perches an amazing 400 meters atop a natural rock tower and is a breathtaking sight to set eyes on. Number 8. Lake Bled. Set in Northwest Slovenia close to the town of Bled is a gleaming emerald lake surrounded by stunning verdant hills. Catch one of the old wooden boats over to the small Bled Island in the middle of the lake.
The island is home to the Church of the Assumption of Mary – a 17th-century building with some 15th-century gothic frescoes still intact. Around this incredibly picturesque spot, there’s also Bled Castle, but one of the best things to do in the area is to simply stroll around the lake and take a break for a swim in the calm waters.
Number 7. Sintra. Home to grand castles, palaces and historic villas, Sintra is a fabulous place to visit; it lies just 30 kilometres 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.
Number 6. Hallstatt. 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-coloured 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. Number 5. Santorini.
The volcanic island of Santorini is probably one of the most recognized islands on Earth. Characterized by its whitewashed and blue-domed Cycladic towns hugging the caldera cliffs above the edge of the Aegean, this Greek island is world-famous for its enviable sunsets. Stroll through the alleyways of Oia town, wine and dine at gourmet tavernas, relax on the volcanic beaches, or sail off into the sunset on a glamorous catamaran cruise. As it’s one of Greece’s most expensive islands, you’ll undoubtedly rub shoulders with the rich and famous. For its views and Mediterranean climate alone, Santorini is something special.
Number 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.
The Lofoten Islands are also a great place to watch the marvellous Aurora Borealis light up the skies. Number 3. Fussen. 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 centre 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 impressive historical sights, Fussen also has lots of excellent hiking trails that offer superb views of the nearby mountains, lakes and forests. Number 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-coloured 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. Number 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.
Read More: 25 Greatest Natural Wonders of the World