Europe may be a small continent, but it's home to 44 beautiful countries and hundreds of picturesque cities, so it's hard to decide where to go. From nature getaways to city breaks filled with culture and history, gorgeous islands, fascinating national parks, and places with extraordinary and diverse gastronomy, it can be daunting to plan a European getaway.
To help make things easier for you, here's our guide on where to go, to the best of Europe….
1. Santorini, Greece
The postcard-perfect island of Santorini is one of those places you should see at least once in your life. It's a bucket list spot, famous for its dramatic volcanic landscapes and romantic sunsets. Here, you can dig your feet in its black sand beaches, go for a hike, or indulge in sumptuous dinners at one of its cliffside restaurants.
The romantic sunsets alone are enough reason to visit Santorini. As the sun dips low, blazing pink and red light across the vast Aegean Sea, you'll witness a natural symphony of light! Head to the charming village of Oia, one of the best spots to catch Santorini's iconic sunsets. Alternatively, book a table at one of the clifftop restaurants in Fira, from where you can enjoy unobstructed sunset views. But the most epic way to marvel at Santorini's sunset is onboard a sunset cruise!
If you want to spend time relaxing at the beach, you'll find stretches of powdery black sand beaches on the island. Perissa and Perivolos are worth checking out. They are an easy drive from the main town. Within a 20-min drive from Fira, you'll find the Red Beach, which has distinct red sand, mainly due to the minerals from Santorini's volcanic soil.
2. The Algarve, Portugal
Located in the south of Portugal, the Algarve region is famous for its beautiful beaches, and picturesque villages. There are also several stunning Algarve holiday rentals and mouth-watering seafood to enjoy. It's a remarkably easy-going region, with a welcoming vibe that lures every kind of traveller. Indeed, the Algarve is a magnificent place that's culturally rich and impressively beautiful.
Famous for its beaches, you'll likely spend most of your time in the Algarve at the beach. There are hundreds to choose from, but the best ones are the iconic golden sand beaches in the resort towns of Albufeira and Faro. The Praia da Marinha beach in Lagos is stunning, with its iconic rugged rocks jutting out into the sea. If you only have time to visit one beach on your trip to the Algarve, this is where you need to go.
The nightlife is another reason why the Algarve is definitely worth your time. While Lisbon and Porto are the main nightlife hubs of Portugal, the Algarve has some of Portugal's most epic nightlife scenes – from DJ-pumping nightclubs to beer-soaked beach bars! Albufeira stands out when it comes to this. It's the hedonism hub of the region, specifically in The Strip, which has a long line of burgs, clubs, restaurants, and pubs.
3. Ibiza, Spain
Ibiza may be famous for its incredible nightlife scene, but there's more to love in this Balearic Island. Behind the nightlife is an island full of culture and history, gorgeous beaches, bohemian markets, and fascinating historical sites. It is most active during summer, with thousands of tourists coming to make the most of the beaches and the nightlife scene.
Ibiza has some of the world's most beautiful beaches, luring tourists worldwide. The waters are crystal clear with different shades of blue. But if you don't consider yourself a beach bum, there are many other things to do in Ibiza. You can go cliff jumping at Cala Tarida, a white sand beach with unique rock formations where you can climb before jumping into the water. Another fun activity to enjoy is to go kayaking through the waters and into the secret caves.
After spending some time in the water, you should take the time to explore Ibiza's Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with pretty cobblestone streets, 14th Century Cathedrals, Gothic architecture, and some statues. You'll also find several hidden gems along the narrow alleyways and cute cafes where you can stop by for some refreshments.
4. Modena, Italy
While most people who come to Italy would head straight to Venice, Rome, or Florence, the country has many hidden gems you should see while on your European trip. One of these is Modena, a picturesque city in the Emilia-Romagna region, famous for its opera heritage and Ferrari and Lamborghini sports cars.
Modena may be a small city, but it will surprise you in many ways. Wander around, and you'll come across interesting sites like the Duomo di Modena, a Romanesque cathedral with a bell tower, Palazzo Ducale di Modena, which has imposing Baroque architecture, and the stunning Piazza Grande. Don't forget to drop by the Enzo Ferrari Museum, which showcases the life of Enzo Ferrari, the man behind the famous sports car.
The Albinelli Market is also a great place to visit, with bustling market stalls selling local produce, meat, pasta, and everything else! If you're visiting for the food, the famous chef Massimo Bottura also offers hosted dining experiences in Modena. This is the perfect way to experience authentic Italian cuisine.
5. Dordogne, France
If you've been to France, you may have already been to Paris and other famous French cities. But if you're looking for something new to visit, head to Dordogne, a lovely region rich in culture and history. Dordogne is full of medieval castles, picturesque villages, stunning landscapes, and impressive churches.
The region's biggest draw is the picturesque Dordogne Valley, a truly magical area famous for its stunning landscapes consisting of lush forests, rolling green hills, and imposing rugged cliffs. The best way to admire its beauty is on a hot air balloon, floating gently into the sky!
Dordogne is also famous for its excellent food and wine, and the best place to sample the region's local produce is from one of its bustling markets. One of the region's most popular markets is the truffle market in Lalinde, which sells an abundance of fresh truffles, local wines, and cheeses.