From the mountains in France and Switzerland, to the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia and the Albanian Riviera, from epic road trips through Iceland and climbing experiences in Norway, to exploring the European capital cities of Rome, Dubrovnik and London, and so much more, I have been lucky enough to have my fair share of Europe bucket list adventures. There are so many adventures to have and things to do in Europe, and I feel so lucky that it’s so close to home for me. While we aren’t travelling at the minute because of the pandemic, this is the perfect opportunity to write your Europe bucket list for travelling to Europe in 2021.
- Here’s how to stay positive during the coronavirus pandemic
- If you need to travel for work or you’re wondering if it’s safe to travel during the pandemic, or if you’re thinking further ahead to when the borders reopen, here are some top tips for travelling during the pandemic
- Stuck at home and bored? After you’ve planned your trip to Europe, check out this list of things to do at home when you’re bored!
There are so many epic things to do in Europe, so much so that it can be hard to know where to start planning your trip. Where do you go first? What do you prioritise? Do you want a city break, or some mountain fresh air? Are you hoping to relax, or fit as much as you can into a jam-packed itinerary? If you’re wondering what to do in Europe, where to go in Europe, what to see in Europe, where to visit in Europe, or what are the top things to do in Europe, you’ve come to the right place.
This Europe bucket list will help you decide which of these epic things to do in Europe you’re going to do first. All of these places to visit in Europe are well worth a visit, it just depends on the order you’re going to do them in!
36 amazing things to do in Europe: a Europe bucket list!
1. Road trip around the Albanian Riviera.
Albania is one of the most surprising places I’ve been to in Europe, and what a good way to start off this Europe bucket list! From the small mountain towns such as Gjirokastër (my personal favourite), to the bigger beach resorts near Vlorë and Dhërmi, there’s so much beauty to be explored on this coastal road trip. One of the highlights of my trip was staying in the beach huts right on Drymades Beach, so you’re within walking distance of the crystal clear water!
I spent a week here, but you could definitely stay longer if you have time. If you’ve never been to Albania before, check out my complete guide to travelling in Albania here, and my top tips for travelling in Albania here.
2. Experience a culinary hike in the Austrian mountains.
During my road trip in Vorarlberg, we hiked through a selection of challenging paths in Sonntag Stein and stopped at different ‘Alpes’ (huts) in the mountains on the way for a different course of traditional Austrian food. The food certainly gave you incentive to continue and broke up what was actually an epic 5-hour workout.
If you’ve never heard of Vorarlberg, here are the reasons Vorarlberg should be on your Austria bucket list.
3. Indulge in a Belgian chocolate workshop in Bruges.
The satisfaction you’ll get from tasting the best chocolate in the world will increase ten-fold if you have a go at making it yourself. From learning how to temper chocolate to making pralines and mendiants, this workshop in chocolate workshop in Bruges covers everything.
While you’re in Bruges, make sure you climb the Belfort Tower for panoramic views across the city, and enjoy a canal cruise to see Bruges from a different perspective! Check out my day trip to Bruges here.
4. Hire a boat and swim in the crystal clear waters of Croatia.
Did someone say, ‘Boat day!’? We hired a boat to go around the coast of Hvar, and we had the best day. The whole Dalmatian Coast is stunning and wherever you hire a boat, you’ll be able to snorkel, cliff jump, and enjoy the beautiful water!
For the ultimate 8-day itinerary in Croatia, exploring Hvar, Split and Dubrovnik, check out this post.
5. Explore the coastline of Eastern Cyprus in a buggy.
Whether you want to enjoy the party vibes of Ayia Napa, hike to Cape Greco, explore the town of Protaras, eat your weight in gyros and souvlakia, or relax on Konnos Beach, the Eastern Cypriot coastline is great for a fun-filled break.
6. Enjoy Danish hygge in Copenhagen.
Whether you’re wandering the colourful area of Nyhavn, cafe hopping in Jægersborggade, or enjoying a picnic or bike ride in the famous Tivoli Gardens, there are so many places to enjoy the cosiness, comfort, conviviality and contentment of the Danish concept of hygge.
If you’ve never been to Copenhagen before, check out my complete guide to Copenhagen here.
7. Hit the English beaches of Cornwall.
I’ve spent quite a lot of time in Cornwall in summer, and sometimes I have to pinch myself that I’m still in England! The weather here gets as good as in Mediterranean Europe, and you still get the fresh seafood and great surf, even though you’re still at home. St Ives, Fistral and Padstow are all home to some beautiful beaches, and if you get the chance to explore more of the coastline you can find some stunning coves that are slightly off the beaten track.
- Check out this post for the best things to do in Cornwall.
- See all the best things to do in England here.
- Looking for something a little different? Check out all the unique things to do in England here.
8. Enjoy a city break in Tallinn, Estonia’s capital.
From the amazing museums to the historic old town, the artistic districts to the beautiful parks, Tallinn is one of the most underrated destinations in Europe. Don’t miss the views of the city from Toompea Hill.
Check out my complete weekend guide to exploring Tallinn here.
9. Go husky sledding or skiing in Finnish Lapland.
Finnish Lapland is one of the most magical places I’ve ever been to. A trip to Lapland involves more than seeing Santa (although he is here, if you want to check you’re on his nice list!). You can visit the huskies and reindeer, take part in winter sports such as snowshoeing and skiing, enjoy the Finnish spa experience, and even see the Northern lights!
10. Try your hand at stand-up paddleboarding on Lake Annecy.
Annecy is one of my favourite places in France, and Lake Annecy in particular is just beautiful. I’ve been twice: once on a spring weekend break, and the second as part of a Swiss and French Alps road trip.
After strolling through the cobbled streets with a croissant in hand, get yourself down to the lake and hire a SUP or a kayak, and spend the day on the water. Book your SUP or kayak here.
11. Spend a weekend in Nîmes, the ‘French Rome’.
With a colosseum that is arguably better preserved than the colosseum in Rome, and more Roman architecture to admire such as La Tour Magne on Mont Cavalier, with views from the top across the whole city, it’s not hard to see how Nîmes got its nickname. You’ll enjoy wandering around the old town and along the riverbank, too.
12. Drive the Romantic Road through Bavaria.
I love an active adventure as much as I do a road trip, and the Romantic Road through Germany has been on my bucket list for a long, long time. Postcard towns (such as Rothenburg ob der Tauber), fairytale castles ( such as Neuschwanstein), stunning lakes and breathtaking forest landscapes line this road trip route through Southern Germany. I can’t wait to take my van there!
13. Enjoy the magic of a Christmas market road trip.
This itinerary will even appeal to those of you who don’t enjoy or celebrate Christmas. Europe is world-famous for the cute little huts filled with handmade stocking fillers, Christmas cookies and mulled wine, so wrap up warm and get ready to fill your bags with gifts to take home.
Check out my Christmas market road trip itinerary through France and Germany here.
14. Go island hopping in Greece and take a boat ride in an underground lake.
Greece is home to over 6,000 islands, 227 of which are inhabited, which means you can travel around them! Whether you choose to travel by public transport (many of the islands have frequent connections by ferry) or by renting a boat and sailing, like I did in the Ionian, you’re sure to have a great time.
For the ultimate Greek island bucket list experience, head to Kefalonia and visit Melissani Lake, an underground lake/cave. It’s best seen at midday when the sun is directly above the hole in the surface.
15. Dance the night away at Sziget festival in Budapest, Hungary.
Sziget is one of Europe’s hottest festivals – both in terms of the weather and the lineup! Located on Óbuda-Island in Budapest, when the festival is over you’re in the perfect place to explore the city as well as soak up the sun on the Danube.
16. Marvel at the northern lights in Iceland.
Also known as the Aurora Borealis, seeing the northern lights should definitely be on your Europe bucket list, and Iceland is one of the best places to see them. Some of the best places to see the northern lights in Iceland include the top of the hill in Thingvellir, the black beach in Vík, Hvitserkur, Jokulsarlon, Djúpavík and the Westfjords.
17. Road trip along the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland.
Another road trip on my bucket list, Ireland’s coast line looks truly beautiful. It’s not a short route at 1,550 miles, but it sure is worth it. By taking this route you also tick off smaller bucket list itineraries within it, such as the Ring of Kerry. Two weeks should be enough time to complete the route and enjoy exploring Galway, the Cliffs of Moher, and more!
18. Go on a pub crawl in Dublin.
Ireland is famous for its Guinness and its pub culture, and I can’t think of anywhere better in the world to do a pub crawl! With over 750 pubs to choose from, it can be tricky to find a route, but if you stay clear of gimmicky pubs such as Temple Bar, you’re bound to have an authentic Dublin evening experience (and a slightly sore head in the morning).
19. Discover southern Italy on a road trip.
Offering lakes, ski resorts, mountains, forests, waterfalls and beautiful beaches, southern Italy is so undiscovered but so worth a trip. From swimming in Tropea to skiing in Gambarie and wandering around the tiny villages of Bova, there’s so much to see and do in Calabria. Sicily, Puglia and Campania are also regions in the south that offer millions of adventure opportunities! Try all the local food too; the cheese, wine, gelato, pizzas and pasta dishes really are delicious!
Check out the best things to do in Sicily in this blog post.
20. Enjoy a gondola ride in Venice.
Yes, it’s touristy and gimmicky, but a gondola ride is on most people’s Venice bucket lists and it is really fun. It’s not cheap (about €80 for a 25-30 minute ride of up to 6 people), but it is worth seeing the sights of Venice such as San Marco and the Rialto bridge from the water, and you’ll get unique information from your local gondolier as you travel, too.
An alternative boat ride in Venice is a water taxi to/from the airport!
21. Go diving around Gozo island in Malta.
Gozo is one of the best places to go diving in Europe, with its warm temperatures and stunning underwater scenery (not only the marine life, but also shipwrecks and submerged caves!).
You can even get your PADI licence in Malta. Check out my guide to getting your PADI licence here.
22. Go hiking around a glacial lake in Montenegro.
Crno Jezero in Durtimor is a glacial lake surrounded by hiking trails and opportunities for kayaking and paddling. Amazing!
Another adventure on my Montenegro bucket list is a coastal road trip (if you know me well, you’ll be noticing a pattern here). The photos of the mountains meeting the sea are just gorgeous, and I can’t wait to see it with my own eyes!
23. Cycle along on the canals in Amsterdam.
It’s a European classic, but it’s a good one. Amsterdam is a wonderfully unique city, and it’s honestly different every time you visit. As well as enjoying time in coffee shops, make sure you cycle along the canals and spend an afternoon and evening at Amsterdam’s city beach, Pllek, to watch the sunset with a cocktail. They also offer a 75% vegetarian restaurant menu and yoga sessions. See their website here.
24. Visit the puffins on Rathlin Island.
One of the best day trips in Northern Ireland, visiting the puffins is pretty high up my bucket list. Take the ferry from Ballycastle and spend the day walking along the cliff trails and saying hello to your new, feathered friends.
Check out the best places to visit in Northern Ireland in this blog post.
25. Take on Loen via ferrata, with the view of the Norwegian fjords.
This bucket list climbing experience is not for the faint-hearted. I have a relatively high level of fitness, and I found it quite challenging. But, with views like this, it’s so worth it! The whole experience (hiking and via ferrata up, sky life down) took about 7 hours and includes summiting the 1010m peak of Hoven, Loen, and the Gjølmunne suspension bridge, which is the longest via ferrata bridge in Europe!
26. Learn to surf in Portugal.
I recently got my first surf board, and using it in Portugal when I drove over in my van was incredible! Some of Europe’s best surf breaks can be found on the Portuguese coast. Try Nazaré, Coxos, Buarcos, Matosinhos and Supertubos.
27. Have a cultural weekend in Kraków.
Kraków has an amazing of variety to offer you on a weekend away: A hugely important history, quaint streets, busy nightlife and outdoor adventure. Enjoy a coffee in the Rynek Główny, Europe’s largest square, explore Wawel Castle and see the fire-breathing dragon, and learn about Europe’s WWII history.
28. Watch a ballet in St. Petersburg.
When I saw Swan Lake at the Alexandrinksky Theatre, I ticked off a bucket list experience I didn’t even know I had on my list. There’s nothing quite like watching other people’s passion burst out in art and the performance was second to none. Watching the ballet in Moscow is supposed to be amazing, but the tickets are really expensive and hard to get. I’ve heard the performances in St. Petersburg are equally as good, but often half the price.
29. Go hiking in the Scottish Highlands.
The views are stunning, the wildlife is beautiful, and Scotland is easy to access from all over Europe. The highlands cover over 10,000 sq miles, and are over 750 million years old. Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain, is in the highlands, and you might even see the Loch Ness monster!
30. Free fall over Bratislava.
A tandem jump will give you stunning views over the city, and the adrenaline kick you’re craving on your adventure. Book your tandem jump in Bratislava here.
31. Have a picnic at Lake Bled.
Lake Bled is one of the most beautiful lakes in Europe, and it’s pretty high up on my bucket list, along with lots of other places in Slovenia! Walk the 6km loop around the lake and then enjoy a picnic for lunch. If you’d prefer to cycle, there are lots of places around Lake Bled to rent bikes.
32. Do more than party in Ibiza.
Don’t get me wrong, everyone loves a party. But there is so much more to Ibiza than the club scene. There are incredible beaches with soft sands, fresh seafood, independent boutiques and markets, walking and hiking trails, and even opportunities for dolphin watching!
33. Road trip along Spain’s south coast.
Fly into Malaga, and then road trip around the coast and inland in the south to your heart’s content! Hotspots you cannot miss include the folklore village of Ronda, the world-famous Alhambra in Granada, and Sierra Nevada, the most southern ski slope in Europe.
34. Witness cherry blossom season in Sweden.
From April to early May, you can marvel at the pretty lines of trees blooming with delicate, cotton candy blooms. The best place to see the cherry blossom, körsbärsträd, trees in Stockholm is in a large park called Kungsträdgården, but if you’re elsewhere in Sweden you can also see them at the Botaniska Trädgården in Gothenburg or in Malmö.
35. Embark on a Swiss Alps road trip.
This is the next thing I want to do in Europe: take me back, now! Mountains, the outdoors, hiking, and fresh air all make for the best adventure through the Swiss Alps. I’ll be back there in my van as soon as I can!
Check out my road trip through Montreux, Evolene, Saint Luc and Veyonnaz in this post.
36. Horse ride along the Gower peninsula.
The beaches, the walks, the adventure available and the people that reside in the Gower, Wales, all make for a very wholesome experience. The Gower Peninsula was crowned as the UK’s first outstanding area of natural beauty, and it’s not difficult to see why.
You can experience stunning views as you horse ride along the coastline, but we weren’t quite so lucky. Despite the weather, we had the most beautiful ride with Clyne Activity Centre through the countryside immersed in nature, rain and all.