11 Best Places to visit in Europe for First Timers

The European continent is home to an exciting amalgamation of cultures. Hence, an avid traveler should take the time to visit this lovely continent. No continent on earth is more densely packed with such a variety of cultures and experiences. A traveler should aim to see at least three of the continent's major cities, as this will offer a sense of the cultural diversity of the region.

It can be a great place to meet people and fellow travelers as well and you can also travel cheap especially in May and June or October and November. The eastern parts of Europe attract with its rich history, magnificent architecture and cultural experiences.

In 2021, more and more travelers will replace the most traditional weekend cities like London, Paris and Barcelona, the cities located to the east of Europe. Europe is a continent and hence it is impossible to explore it in just one trip.

With a history that has shaped the globe, cultures that change every few hundred miles, and natural beauty that stretches from the sandy beaches of the Mediterranean to the frosty fjords of Scandinavia, it's not surprising that you're looking to travel to Europe for the first time.

European Bucket ListEuropean Bucket List

Of course, since there are so many places to be, it can be cumbersome to pick which one to visit. That said, we have listed the best places to visit in Europe that you shouldn't miss:

1. Bonifacio, Corsica

A place that you might not be familiar with is the beautiful French island with Corsica's name. Corsica is one of the 18 regions of France, and it's drop-dead gorgeous. If you decide to drop by this island, one of the cities you should go to would be Bonifacio. The town of Bonifacio is at the southern tip of the island and is right by the Mediterranean Sea.

Since it's right by the sea, you can expect many water-based leisure activities when you're in the city. But if you don't want to spend the entire time you're there lounging and enjoying the turquoise waters, you can stop by the many sites and spots in the city too.

2. Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

The Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia is one of the most beautiful natural sights in the country. The Plitvice Lakes National Park is also the first national park ever in Croatia. The national park is even a UNESCO World Heritage Site to ensure that the natural land and waterscapes receive the utmost protection.

If you plan on making a trip to the Plitvice Lakes National Park and want to make the most out of it, you might want to devote at least two days there. The verdant forests and stunning waterfalls lead to 16 gorgeous blue lakes that you shouldn't miss.

3. Colmar, France

France is always at the top of the list when it comes to European destinations that people worldwide visit. However, instead of focusing solely on Paris, you might want to branch out a bit more. There are plenty of other gorgeous destinations in France other than the city of Paris. For example, Colmar is one of the fascinating places in France.

Colmar preserved many of its older buildings, and you can see it everywhere. It has the most exciting architecture ever. Besides the architecture, you can also enjoy some local Alsace wine and local cuisine. You should expect a blend of French and German cuisine together when describing Alsatian food.

4. Matera, Italy

When you think of Italy, the place you'd probably think of would be the city of Rome. Although that's for a good reason, you should also consider visiting other sites in Italy. With that said, you might want to head south right into the city of Matera, which holds the City of Caves' name in Italy.

The town of Matera lived in relative obscurity, even up until as early as the 1950s. It's a relatively remote location and a place filled with people suffering from poverty who lived in these caves along with their animals. The city of Matera is a curiosity to behold. It doesn't hold glamour or luxury but is still an exciting stop, especially given its history.

5. Budapest, Hungary

The capital city of Hungary, Budapest, is one of Europe's most beautiful cities. A considerable part of the city has garnered the status of being a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Fun fact: The city of Budapest is a combination of three cities.

Anyway, there are plenty of fantastic architecture in the city of Budapest that, even if you're not an architecture enthusiast, is something that will inspire you. For example, the Hungarian Parliament Building is sure to inspire awe in you.

Another gorgeous place in Budapest is the grandest spa in the city, the Gellert Bath and Spa center. You should definitely stop by and enjoy a dip in the spa and relax there.

6. Dubrovnik, Croatia

For fans of the show Game of Thrones, Dubrovnik should be familiar with you as it is the famous King's Landing site. The walls around the city are also a star in the same TV show, which is why you might be interested in stopping by the City Walls when you're there. Even if you don't watch the show, it's still a terrific site.

Dubrovnik has plenty of forts that you can behold, so if you're there, these are some of the sights that you're going to see most often.

7. Athens, Greece

Greece is one of the most popular places for tourists from all over the world. That's because of its vibrant culture, beautiful natural sites, and historically relevant past. Thus, it makes sense that if you're planning a trip around Europe that you stop by the capital city and the largest city of Greece: Athens.

The most popular attractions in Athens are the ones that are historically and culturally important. For example, the must-visit stops would be the Parthenon's remains, the Temple of Athena Nike, and many more ruins of a lost time. You'll feel a bit of magic and a sense of nostalgia in these ruins, even if you're not Greek yourself.

8. Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam is the Netherlands' capital city and has some fascinating spots and areas for tourists to enjoy. There are plenty of museums for art lovers to capture your attention, like the Van Gogh Museum. You should also try a guided boat tour along the city's canals, especially when the sun is setting. That way, you can see just how gorgeous the city is, especially as the lights twinkle back from the waters.

9. Hallstatt, Austria

If you want to go to a place that looks like it was straight out of a fairytale, then Hallstatt in Austria is the place to go. Hallstatt's quaint town is home to 16th-century type architecture. It is surrounded by alpine mountains and sits right by Lake Hallstatt's serene shores. All of this makes for a village that looks like fairies live in them. If you ever want to feel like magic is real, this town is the place to be.

10. Tallinn, Estonia

Estonia’s capital city is Tallinn, where you can see historic Old Town which is UNESCO world heritage. The oldest buildings are from 1200s. Tallinn is a truly lovely city that combines the modern with the ancient. The old part of town is like slipping into medieval times, although with plenty of modern vendors and cool stuff to spend your modern euros on.

There are numerous of churches in Tallinn (actually in a whole country), one more beautiful than the other. With that being said, Tallinn is the best preserved medieval city in Northern Europe. The Christmas market in Tallinn is magical! Definitely worth seeing. Rotermanni quarter is a modern district that has a lot of good places to eat. Kalamaja has lovely wooden buildings, quite a hipster place with cafes/bars, etc. Kadriorg Palace and park is a lovely and beautiful place.

For three euros you can climb to the top of St. Olav’s Church. But beware, this is one spooky climb. The stairs are tiny, and worn by centuries of use, and all you have is a rope to help pull yourself up. Assuming you survive the climb to the top of St. Olaf, incredible views await you. All kinds of old things to look at.

11. Malta


This island nation is simply magical. It’s like going back in time to the Middle Ages, with its stone walls and structures older than the Egyptian pyramids. Cathedrals, temples and medieval architecture - Malta is an island with many cultural treasures. During the Easter weekend organized parades in Birgu and Qormi takes place, when the Maltese recreate biblical scenes in costumes. Fascinating to see!

To travel to Malta is to delve into the history of Baroque Europe. The first of the cities you will find if you travel to Cottonera from Valletta is Senglea. Go through the main street, Settembru, until you reach the end where is the Forti San Mikel, a fortification built between 1551 and 1565 that offers an impressive beauty. In addition, from there you can see magnificent views of the city of Senglea, Valletta and Vittoriosa.

Triq It Tarzna borders the sea. Visit Forti Sant 'Anglu and the Inquisitor's Palace. The latter, built in 1530, is one of the oldest and most interesting buildings to see in Malta. Go to the Forti Rikazoli. This impressive fort has been the scene of numerous films like Gladiator or Troy.

The Golden Bay beach, located on the island of Malta, has incredibly soft sand and the island of Comino is famous for dream beach "the Blue Lagoon" with crystal clear water and white sand.

The Golden Bay is one of the most tourist and most famous beaches in Malta. The name of the beach comes from the golden color of its sand. It has sand, bars, easy access and hotels in the vicinity of the beach. Also, if you are one of those travelers who like to walk you can enjoy a nice walk along the beach and get closer to Ghajn Tuffieha Bay, another beautiful beach that is 5 minutes from Golden Bay.

Many tourists mistakenly assume that visiting Gozo is not worth it because what they will find will be similar to what they have already seen in their older sister, Malta. They are wrong. Although its villages are built from the same honey-colored earth, Gozo has a completely different environment. Its capital is Victoria which is located approximately in the center of the island and, like the citadel of Gozo, it is essential to visit.

If you are interested in water sports such as diving or snorkeling, the deep blue waters of Gozo will be impressive and ideal for you to enjoy these activities. You will also find good trails, both along its entire coast and in the interior of the island, to walk and live unforgettable adventures.

One of the main tourist attractions of the Gozo island, the Azure Window, has collapsed due to a strong maritime storm. The blue door was already very deteriorated. Game of Thrones fans today have a less-visited location. Remember that this important series used the vicinity of the Azure Window to make the first episode of the Winter is Coming series. The best known island of this town is the Fungus Rock.

Xlendi, the small fishing village is really one of the most beautiful to know if you are going to visit Gozo. It is located next to the bay of the same name, where you can take a bath in its calm and warm waters, while you enjoy the views of this little village. It is an ideal place if you like diving or snorkelling as it has a beautiful coral bottom.

If in each place you visit you chase good beaches where you lie in the sun and enjoy the water, in Gozo you should not miss visiting Blas Bay. You will have, however, to walk a lot since the nearest place to park the car is quite far from the beach. Ramla Bay is one of the best known beaches of Gozo and therefore it is a must if you travel to this island.

Ramla Bay is well known for its red sand and because of that, many call it the orange beach. Ramla Bay, being hidden is very charming. On the other hand, on the beach you will find a beach bar where you can eat and drink and enjoy an unforgettable day at the beach. From Ramla Bay go to the Calypso Cave, which you can get by taking a bus from the village of Xaghra or doing a walk of about half an hour from Ramla Bay.

If you are a fan of Greek mythology it will surely have a special charm for you; When you visit it you can imagine Ulysses who stopped there on his long trip to Ithaca. The coordinates of its location could coincide with those of the Ogiga island that appears in The Odyssey.

Insider Tip: Cospicua, also known as Bormla, is the largest of the three. Take a Maltese gondola that takes you to navigate the Mediterranean to see from another perspective the spectacle offered by the three cities.

Next time you want to travel around Europe, make sure you stop by the fantastic spots listed on this post. That way, you can have an exciting view of many hidden and not-so-hidden gems of the continent.

Kalyan Panja