Complete with fairy-tale castles, picturesque seaside retreats, otherworldly natural parks, and charming cities, Europe is full of striking places to explore. You probably already know that, but sometimes it's nice to see some visual reminders of just how breathtaking it truly is. And while the attractions that have taken center stage over the years are certainly still worth seeing, we were curious to uncover some of the hidden gems as well as highlight a few of the classics in our next travel guide to Europe.
The one thing all of these European destinations all have in common: They're easily some of the most beautiful places in the world. Ready to book a Euro trip or at least dream of one and add some awesome places to your bucket list? Read on to get travel tips and see the 16 most beautiful places in Europe that anyone with a sense of wonder will want to add to their travel bucket list.
The Destination: France's Verdon Gorge
The Allure: In a majestic shade of turquoise, those still, calm waters are seriously enticing. The river canyon flows into Lac de Sainte-Croix.
The Travel Tip: There are a few villages around the national park where you can stay, or make a day trip out of it while you stay in Provence (we recommend staying at Hostellerie de l'Abbaye de la Celle, which is about a one-hour drive from Lac de Sainte-Croix).
The Destination: Alicante, Spain
The Allure: The dreamy landscape features bubblegum-pink water running through the mounds of white salt. You'll almost feel like you've landed on another planet.
The Travel Tip: The pink and green saltwater lagoons are in the natural park of Salinas de Torrevieja in the Valencia region near the city of Alicante. Though this small beach city is definitely experiencing a rise in tourism, it's still quieter than most urban beaches.
The Destination: Arlington Row in Bibury, England
The Allure: Built in 1380 as a monastic wool store, this row of cottages in the Cotswolds is untouched by time.
The Travel Tip: After you take a stroll down Arlington Row, take a tour of Fountains Abbey. If you want to stay in the English countryside a bit longer, book a room at Foxhill Manor (a 45-minute drive), Thyme (a 15-minute drive), or Cowley Manor (a 30-minute drive).
The Destination: Malta
The Allure: With shades of deep, moody green punctured by upbeat blue hues, bright sunlight, and jagged white rocks, this locale screams summer bliss.
The Travel Tip: Here you'll get the best of both worlds: a relaxed island pace coupled with a robust history. Malta sits in the Mediterranean Sea between Sicily and Northern Africa. There are three islands – the biggest being Malta (stay at Casa Ellul), followed by Gozo and Comino (go here to swim in the blue lagoon).
The Destination: Budapest, Hungary
The Allure: The cheerful green paint on the Liberty Bridge evokes whimsy and wit.
The Travel Tip: This Eastern European gem is full of romantic cafés, scenic views, and endless cultural opportunities. Take a stroll along the Danube (which splits the two cities, Buda and Pest), soak in geothermal baths, and visit Fisherman's Bastion – a beautiful, neo-Gothic building and lookout point.
The Location: Luxembourg
The Mood: The Snow White–esque charm of this tiny European country comes complete with vast forests, quaint architecture, and a haunting beauty that will transport you to another dimension.
The Travel Tip: Surrounded by France, Germany, and Belgium, Luxembourg is mostly rural so you'll want to come here for the outdoor activities, beautiful landscape, and unique sites. Visit the Schiessentümpel waterfalls and explore the Casemates du Bock – a series of underground tunnels, galleries, and dungeons in the capital city.
The Location: Croatia's Plitvice Lakes National Park
The Mood: Lush natural landscapes and cascading waterfalls abound.
The Travel Tip: If you love the outdoors, head inland to the woodsy Plitvice Lakes National Park. There's plenty to do, including hiking around the running rivers, swimming in the gorgeous green lagoons, and dirt-biking.
The Destination: Bruges, Belgium
The Allure: Thanks to the surplus of canals, weepy trees, cobbled streets, and fairy-tale architecture, Bruges has been nicknamed "The Venice of the North."
The Travel Tip: As you can probably sense from the image above, it's perfect for anyone seeking tranquility, unique backdrops, architecture, and incredible culinary experiences without the chaos of a major urban destination.
The Location: Lisbon, Portugal
The Mood: With artfully laid tiles, vibrant pastel hues, and lookout points around ever corner, this city is a never-ending feast for the eyes.
The Travel Tip: While not exactly off the beaten path, Lisbon is still one of the most gorgeous European cities. At once community-oriented and quaint as well as cosmopolitan, hip, and lively, it's a truly unique place. Stay in the old district of Alfama at the Palácio Belmonte; built in 1449, it's impeccably decorated.
The Location: Iceland's Blue Lagoon
The Mood: Ethereal and calming, the thermal waters of Iceland's Blue Lagoon are calling our names.
The Travel Tip: The Blue Lagoon is only about 30 miles from Reykjavík, but it does require bookings, so make sure to plan ahead. You can even get a massage as you bask in the geothermal waters. From the charming towns to the natural geysers to the black-sand beaches, there are too many reasons to visit Iceland.
The Destination: Sweden's Sarek National Park
The Allure: Stunning aerial views unlike anywhere else in the world.
The Travel Tip: Adventure seekers, you've found your newest travel destination. If you're visiting Sweden, make your way up north to Sarek National Park, where glaciers, winding rivers, and mountain peaks abound. But beware—it's Europe's oldest and most inaccessible national park, so it's best for those who can hike or ski well.
The Destination: Bulgaria's countryside
The Allure: Right at the other side of this bridge is an ancient fortress of rocks that's so unique you'll feel like you've just landed on another planet.
The Travel Tip: Check out Belogradchik Fortress near the Balkan Mountains, and then enjoy the town of Vidin, which features a bustling square and cobblestone streets.
The Destination: Barcelona, Spain
The Allure: Architecture fanatics, night owls, and beach bums, rejoice.
The Travel Tip: The Catalan city of Barcelona has a lively nightlife scene, breathtaking Gothic structures, and iconic Gaudí landmarks all set against the backdrop of the ocean.
The Destination: Cinque Terre, Italy
The Allure: Cliffside beaches and endless bowls of the best pasta on earth.
The Travel Tip: Consider your quest for seaside bliss complete. There's close to zero car access in these five beach towns, which is especially nice for anyone who needs a break from their commute. Book an Airbnb in Riomaggiore for a quiet, local feel. Of course, if you have time for a complete tour of Italy, you can't miss the Amalfi Coast, Venice's canals, and the Tuscan countryside.
The Destination: Amsterdam, Netherlands
The Allure: The culture-rich city is a culinary mecca.
The Travel Tip: Eat at De Kas for a meal in an upscale greenhouse where all the veggies are grown onsite, and stay at The Dylan. Make sure to secure tickets for the major museums in advance, as they tend to fill up quickly. And if for some reason you can't get in, just ride a bike or stroll along the canals.
The Destination: Geneva, Switzerland
The Allure: World-renowned slopes, breathtaking views, and peaceful waters make this central European destination a must-see.
The Travel Tip: Make sure you see the sweeping views of the mountains and then make a trek to Château de Chillon, which is tucked away on Lake Geneva in the Swiss mountains.
This was originally published on March 4, 2018, and has since been updated.