Europe is a continent comprising of 44 countries. Each country in Europe has a unique culture and history. Europe is the perfect place for a vacation, even in the winter months with limited sun, or whether you live here or are visiting from another continent.
Millions of tourists travel to Europe every year for the stunning landmarks it has to offer. Taking your time exploring a European country and its famous landmarks will result in an unforgettable experience.
If you live in a European country, you probably know a few tourist sites already. But for people living outside of the continent, and with so many famous landmarks in Europe to visit, knowing which places to prioritize can be challenging.
Below, you can find a complete list of the most famous landmarks in Europe you must visit, at least once in your lifetime.
Using the map below, you can explore all the landmarks.
Paris, usually referred to as the city of love, is one of the most visited cities in Europe. There are so many famous European landmarks in Paris that you can easily fill a 4-day Paris itinerary. One of the prominent Paris landmarks is, of course, the Notre-Dame Cathedral.
This cathedral is one of the largest catholic churches in the world. Its construction was completed in 1345, which took over 180 years. The exterior of the cathedral is quite impressive as it has unique French Gothic architecture.
One fantastic thing about Notre-Dame is that it is free to enter. Audio guides are available to rent for a reasonable fee at the entrance, or you can join a tour.
Notre-Dame is full of interesting sculptures and ancient relics. You can climb its 387 steps to see bells and gargoyles at the top of the cathedral if you'd like as well.
Buckingham Palace is located in London, United Kingdom. The Palace has served as the residence for many sovereigns, dating back from 1837 to the present day. The first sovereign to occupy Buckingham Palace was Queen Victoria.
There are several reasons why you should visit Buckingham Palace when you are in London for a weekend. One sight to look out for at Buckingham Palace is the "Changing of the Guard" ceremony that occurs once a day.
You also have the opportunity to explore the royal garden, which covers 39 acres.
Greece is a country with many Greek landmarks that attract thousands of visitors. Athens is a city in Greece filled with a rich history, amazing landscapes, and many historic European buildings.
The Acropolis, located in Athens, is one of the most famous landmarks in Greece and in the world. The monuments found at the Acropolis symbolize the ancient Greek civilization. It was built in the fifth century by Greek rulers to show how powerful they were in their time.
One of the main reasons why you should visit the Acropolis when you find yourself in Greece is the Parthenon. The Parthenon has a fascinating history; it was dedicated to the goddess Athena, the patron of the Greek empire.
The Parthenon saw construction begin in 447 BC. It is the place to be if you're in Athens for a couple of days, and you want to escape back in time.
Vatican City is a country that was created for the Catholic religion. Officially known as The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter, Catholics built Saint Peter's Basilica as a symbol to God and place of worship.
Construction for the church started in 1506 under Pope Julius II, but Pope Nicolas completed it in 1615.
St. Peter's Basilica is the largest Christian church in the world. Even though Catholics mostly visit this church, you can also see it even if you're unreligious.
If you happen to be in the Vatican City when in Italy, and you love art and architecture, then St. Peter's Basilica is an excellent landmark in Europe for you to explore!
Similar to the UK royal family residing in Buckingham Palace in the UK, the Spanish royal family lives in The Royal Palace of Madrid. Today, the Palace is used mainly for state ceremonies and is one of the biggest palaces in Europe.
The Royal Palace of Madrid contains 3,418 rooms and covers an area of 135,000 square meters. It is one of the most visited attraction sites in Europe and is a must-see if in Madrid for a few days.
The Palace was built in the 16th century, but unfortunately, it was burned in 1734. King Philip V, the king at the time, ordered the rebuilding of the Palace at the same site. The Royal Palace of Madrid has paintings and frescoes from artists like Caravaggio, Juan de Flandes, and Giovanni Battista Tiepolo if you love art.
Naturally, tourists are enticed to museums. Located in Paris, France is the largest art museum in the world named The Louvre.
Many tourists are lured to The Louvre because of its contemporary glass nature and pyramid design. The Louvre Museum remains to be the home of the world-famous painting, the Mona Lisa.
Aside from the Mona Lisa painting, the museum holds and exhibits over 30,000 paintings and sculptures ranging from the 7th to 19th century.
Why should you visit the Louvre, you ask? To begin with, the pyramid of the Louvre is just the entrance, so imagine what the whole museum has to offer! I recommend visiting the museum in the afternoon because crowds usually flood the place during the day.
Today, stadiums and theatres are used to host sporting events and drama shows respectively, but this was not the case in the past.
Amphitheatres were the buildings that used to host both sporting games and plays. The Colosseum is an example of how amphitheatres used to look like.
The Colosseum is the biggest amphitheatre in the world, accommodating in between 50,000 to 80,000 spectators. It was actively used during the Roman Empire and is located in the centre of Rome in Italy.
The Colosseum remains to be one of the most iconic landmarks that cannot be missed when visiting Europe, especially if in Rome for a few days.
The Palace of Westminster is the official name of the Houses of Parliament in London, United Kingdom. It is called the Houses of Parliament because there are two 'houses' within it.
The two houses are the House of Lords and the House of Commons, and their meeting place is the Palace of Westminster. It was built in 1847 with 1,200 rooms and 11 courtrooms in total.
The original building was constructed in 1834 but was destroyed by fire, with the Chapel of St. Mary Undercroft surviving. One important thing to note is that the palace is open to visitors on Saturdays only, or during July and August.
If you are in the UK and you love politics or debates, the Palace of Westminster must be included on your London bucket list.
London, and the UK in general, has a lot more to offer tourists. If you are visiting this famous European city, consider also making a day trip to Oxford or Cambridge from London, or head to York for a couple of days if you're in England for longer.
Geneva is the second most populated city in Switzerland, after Zurich but before Bern, and has many amazing tourist sites for you to visit. Chateau de Chillon is a castle on Lake Geneva, near Montreux, and is one of the most famous landmarks in Europe.
The Duke of Savoy called Chillon Castle home. The castle was used to control the movement of ships on Lake Geneva for nearly four centuries. You can explore the castle's many bedrooms, chambers, and courtyards when here.
The Charles Bridge was constructed under the supervision of King Charles IV. Construction started in 1357 and was completed in 1402, taking almost 50 years.
The Bridge is a historic bridge that goes over the Vltava River in the city of Prague, Czech Republic. It connects two Prague districts and is 516 meters long and 10 meters wide. When you are in the capital of the Czech Republic, you cannot miss it.
Charles Bridge is the ideal place to go for a walk with your family. It is also a popular landmark for couples as it's a romantic thing to do in Prague.
If you want to enjoy the calm nature of the Bridge, visiting during a weekday is the best option. This is because many tourists prefer coming on the weekend, crowding the Bridge.
Big Ben, formerly known as the Great Bell, can be found at the north end part of the Palace of Westminster. It is the third-largest, free-standing clock tower in the world, and it also rings at the top of every hour.
Construction of Big Ben started on September 28, 1843, and was completed in 1856. As Big Ben is an iconic monument in London, England, it makes it easily one of the most famous places in Europe.
When you travel to London for 4 days, visiting Big Ben allows you to learn about the history of the city. The tower became a symbol of hope during the second world war. Although visiting this landmark during the day can be impressive, coming at night or during the holidays can leave an even better impression.
The State Hermitage Museum represents an art and culture museum located in St. Petersburg, Russia. After The Louvre Museum, The State Hermitage Museum is the largest art museum in the world.
The Eiffel Tower is undoubtedly one of the most prominent landmarks in the world, easily making it one of the top landmarks in Europe. It is located in Paris, France, and is 4 km away from the centre of the city.
The design of the tower is by Gustave Eiffel, a civil engineer and architect by profession. This landmark attracts more than 5 million people every year.
Construction of the Eiffel Tower was completed in March 1889, making it the tallest building at that time. After 41 years of being the tallest human-made building in the world, the title was handed over to the Chrysler Building located in New York.
The Eiffel Tower is a popular romantic spot for couples. Visiting the Eiffel Tower at night sparks a certain romantic mood between couples that makes the moment and trip to Paris memorable.
Another landmark in France is the Palace of Versailles. The Palace of Versailles, located in the region of Île-de-France, served as the residence for the royal family from 1682 under Louis XIV.
The Palace is about 20 kilometres away from the centre of Paris. It was initially a hunting lodge before it was transformed into a palace, starting from 1631 and completed in 1634.
With over 600 rooms, the Palace of Versailles has a lot to offer visitors. You are provided with the option to either use an audio guide or do a self-tour.
There is usually no admission fee between November to March, which is appealing for budget-conscious travellers, or those who are visiting at that time.
Have you ever wondered where the Pope lives? The Pope, being the head of the Catholic Church, is a big responsibility that comes with some perks.
The Apostolic Palace is where the Pope officially resides. It is located in the Vatican City, in the Latium region of Italy. Another name given to the Apostolic Palace is the Papal Palace. You can also find the Vatican Museums and the Vatican Library here.
The Vatican Museums has over 50 galleries from famous artists like Da Vinci and Raphael. This incredible landmark has stunning Gardens as well, which extends over an area of 55 hectares.
Pisa is a famous city in Italy, mainly because of its Leaning Tower. The Leaning Tower is located in Piazza dei Miracoli, and it is a campanile (bell tower).
The bell tower is mainly popular because of its lean of about 4 degrees towards the ground. The building's lean was caused because of engineering mistakes. Over the years, the tower has undergone many corrections to make it more stable and safe for tourists.
There is no need to be scared because strict protocols have been taken by the managers of the landmark to ensure the visitor's safety. The tower also has about 300 steps that lead to the top of the structure. Once you reach the top, you get the opportunity to relax and enjoy the breath-taking view of Pisa.
In Bavaria, Germany is the Neuschwanstein Castle, a 19th-century palace that served as inspiration for Disney's Sleeping Beauty castle.
Neuschwanstein Castle is a landmark that cannot be overlooked when you talk about the imperial past of Germany. The Castle was commissioned by Ludwig II, and it is just a short drive away from Munich.
If you happen to be in Munich, taking a short day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle will make your day even better. On your way to the landmark, you will get the opportunity to view the country-side of Germany, too.
The Alhambra Palace is one of the most famous landmarks in Spain, and it is a must-see even if in Granada for just 2 days. It was erected by the Arabs on a hilltop in Granada, with construction beginning in 1238. The Palace was constructed as a military base for the Nasrid Dynasty.
Today, Alhambra Palace is used as a museum, allowing tourists to visit this magnificent European landmark every year.
The Palace maintains impressive cultural and architectural legacies to show its visitors, such as the gardens in the Generalife Palace, which is adjacent to Alhambra. I recommend taking the time to enjoy them by walking through at a leisurely pace.
Buda Castle, formerly referred to as the Royal Castle, is an ancient citadel for the Hungarian kings of Budapest. It was completed in 1265, but what you see today was built between 1749 and 1769. Aside from the exterior, the castle is a gigantic and famous monument in Europe with exceptional complexes and points of interest inside.
If you are in Hungary, and you want to learn about the history of the Hungarians, the galleries and museums housed inside the castle are very informative.
The Sistine Chapel is well-known as the home of Michelangelo’s frescoes.
The Chapel is found in the Apostolic Palace located in Vatican City. It was named after Pope Sixtus after he restored it between 1473 and 1481. The Sistine Chapel is the place to find the best frescoes in the world.
When visiting the Chapel, I recommend pausing and finding a seat somewhere around the edge of the building. Once seated, you can enjoy gazing up at the frescoes as you absorb the serenity of the place.
When you are in Berlin, Germany for 4 days, the Brandenburg Gate is a place you must include on your list of places to visit in Europe. The monument was built based on orders from Frederick William II, the Prussian King, during the 18th century. It has witnessed many historical events and symbolizes the Cold War in Berlin.
This European monument is always open, but if you want to experience an incredible moment with your family, the best time to visit is during New Year's Eve. You can also take a stroll around the gate, and enjoy the calm environment of the city.
Another UNESCO World Heritage Site is the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba, and it is a must-see even if you're in Cordoba for just one day. The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption is the official name of this building.
The Church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It is located in Andalusia, Spain, and serves as both a church and a mosque. The catholic side functions effectively with services held daily, unlike the mosque, whereby prayers are not allowed.
When you visit this landmark, you will notice the different architectural styles because of the two religions. This shows how there is unity between both faiths. Art from the Muslims does not include any animal or human figures, with most of the Christian art in the middle of the building.
With construction beginning in 1296, the Florence Cathedral found in Florence, Italy is one of the most famous landmarks in Europe. Engineer Filippo Brunelleschi was in charge of the construction till completion in 1436. The cathedral was built in a Gothic architectural style, and is a must for your 3-day Florence itinerary!
The exterior portions of the cathedral are decorated with colours ranging from white, pink, and green. However, the interior is plain, but this becomes a benefit during the summer as it makes the place cooler. There is also no entrance fee, which is great for budget-conscious travellers who want to explore fantastic art and frescoes for free!
Built to be an orthodox church in St. Petersburg, the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is now a secular museum in Russia. It was constructed between 1883 and 1907, and it is one of the major tourist attractions in Russia. Alexander III commissioned the church as a way of remembering the murder of his father.
One main reason the church attracts many visitors is because of its neoclassical architectural style. Touring the whole church should not take you more than 2 hours as it is not as big as other tourist sites. After visiting this European landmark, you can make your way to the State Hermitage Museum since they are close to each other.
There are many landmarks to see in Lisbon, so if you are planning to travel to this city for a vacation, make sure you spend at least 48 hours in Lisbon.
One of the most impressive landmarks in Lisbon is Belém Tower, formally known as the Tower of Saint Vincent. Belém Tower served as a site of embarkation and disembarkation for Portuguese explorers, and also as a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon.
One good thing about visiting the Belém Tower is that you are not limited to one location. As a visitor or tourist, travelling to a country for one attraction is not logical. The location of the tower is close to other sights, making it easier for you to explore the rest of the city.
Another must-visit landmark in Europe is the famous Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France. The construction of the landmark started in August 1806 and ended in July 1836, making it 30 years in total.
The Arc de Triomphe honours the brave soldiers who died for France in the French Revolution. The names of these people are inscribed on the walls of the monument to commemorate their sacrifice.
You can climb to the highest point of the Arch to enjoy the view, and also visit the museum inside. At the top, you are capable of seeing the whole city. The only problem is that you have to climb a staircase of 234 steps to enjoy the view, but this should not be the reason why you let this moment pass you by!
The most beautiful cathedral in Russia is undoubtedly St. Basil's Cathedral, which, of course, would also make it a top landmark in Europe!
Construction of the cathedral was between 1550 and 1560. It is one of the most iconic monuments in Russia. The official name of the church is the Cathedral of the Intercession, and it was commissioned by "Ivan the Terrible". St. Basil's Cathedral can be found in Moscow, and it is the cultural symbol of Russia.
Why should you add this landmark to your Europe itinerary? Firstly, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This means that it is a cultural and historical landmark in Europe that is protected by the United Nations. The interior part of the landmark is equally as beautiful as the exterior.
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is one of the notable museums in Spain. It is located in the city of Bilbao. The museum was designed by Frank Gehry in 1993, a Canadian-American architect who created this place to serve as a museum for modern and contemporary art.
After construction was complete, King Juan Carlos I of Spain took the honour to inaugurate the museum in October 1997. The museum opened exhibiting over 200 contemporary artworks.
Comparing the Guggenheim Museum to other landmarks in Europe, it makes this attraction seem more current. This proves that architects are still trying their best to produce the best buildings in present times. This is the place to be when you want to enjoy contemporary art in a fantastic destination.
Another landmark popular in Europe, especially in France, is Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey. As the name suggests, it is an abbey located within the island of Mont Saint-Michel, in the department of Manche. The construction of the abbey was completed in 1523 with a Gothic architectural style.
When you are in France, and if you have the opportunity to explore the abbey, take it because it will not disappoint. The view from the abbey at every point is also incredible!
The Pantheon is a Catholic Church in Rome, Italy. It was a Roman temple commissioned by Marcus Agrippa before it was transformed into a church.
The transformation, or rebuilding of the landmark, was under the supervision of the Roman emperor, Hadrian, around 120 AD. This rich history and its impressive architecture makes the Pantheon a top landmark in Europe.
The Patheon is a must-visit landmark when you travel to Italy because it is one of the oldest and most prominent monuments in the country. When you visit, you will realize that the only source of light at the Pantheon is through the oculus. This is a round opening at the top, allowing for sun rays and rainwater to pass through.
The central square in Brussels, the capital of Belgium, is aptly named the Grand Place. It took form in the 11th century as trade began to take place in the area.
The square became even busier in the 13th century as stone and wood buildings were constructed around the perimeter, giving foundation to the large impressive buildings present today.
As with most prominent main squares in cities, the Grand Place has been an important landmark in Brussel, and Europe's history. In 1523, it was witness to the burning of Hendrik Vos and Jan van Essen, protestant martyrs during the inquisition that took place in Brussels.
In 1568, Egmont and Hoorn were beheaded here due to religious descent. In more recent history, in 1695, the square was heavily damaged by French troops of marshal De Villeroy.
Today, the Grand Place is a famous Europe landmark and a great place to start exploring Brussels from if here for a couple of days.
A prolific landmark located in Piazza San Marco in Venice is Doge's Palace. The Palace was constructed in 1340 and is in the Venetian Gothic architectural style. It is a must-see if in Venice for four days.
Historically, Doge's Palace was the home of the Doge of Venice. The word doge is synonymous with "chief", which was a title reserved for the head magistrate of the city of either Venice or Genoa.
Today, Doge's Palace is a museum that allows tourists to explore the many rooms of the Palace. Each room is filled with historical, beautiful, and rare pieces of art - both sculptures and paintings. Doge's Palace is a stunning landmark, which is why it is one of the best landmarks in Europe.
If you are visiting Doge's Palace in the region of Veneto, I recommend purchasing an audioguide or joining a tour group. There is a lot you can learn from a guide, whether audio or in-person, that you won't be able to gain by directing yourself through the various rooms.
The Habsburg lineage of rulers left an impressive mark on Europe. The Schönbrunn Palace was the summer residence of the Habsburgs. Today, the Palace is a major tourist site that attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world. Even with just two days in Vienna, a visit to this Palace is a must!
The publicly accessible portion of the Palace is made up of about 40 different rooms that can all be seen on the Grand Tour. The Grand Tour takes approximately one hour to complete and is best enjoyed with an audioguide that narrates your journey throughout each room.
After you have explored the interior of the Palace, you can also enjoy a walk through the gardens that surround the Palace. Being the summer residence of the Habsburg rulers, there is a lot to see. During the warmer months, the plants in the gardens are usually flowering.
I recommend arriving early and completing the Grand Tour first, then explore the gardens later as the crowds start to build. Sharing the garden with a large group is more enjoyable than navigating the herds of people inside the Palace.
The rich history and sheer grandness of the Schönbrunn Palace make it a top landmark in Europe to visit as a tourist.
One of the most impressive landmarks in Berlin and Europe is the Reichstag Building. The Reichstag Building houses the parliament of Germany, the German Bundestag (the government body). Parliament conducts all their affairs from this building. However, when parliament is not taking place, the building is open for tourists to see.
One of the most popular places to visit in the Reichstag Building is the dome. The dome is a glass and metal structure at the top of the Reichstag Building that tourists can explore to learn more about the history of the building.
There is an audio guide available when visiting the dome, which I highly recommend using. It is a short tour, but the guide provides interesting insights. Make sure you book your trip to this landmark online and well in advance.
Sagrada Familia is a Gaudi-designed catholic basilica that has been under construction for hundreds of years - it started in 1882 and is still continuing today! The Basilica of the Sagrada Familia is a UNESCO world heritage site and an important historical landmark in Europe.
When visiting the basilica in Barcelona, Catalonia, you need to book ahead of time to secure an entrance ticket. A ticket will allow you to explore the exterior and interior of the basilica.
I recommend picking up an audio guide - walking around yourself will result in you missing out on some interesting facts. The basilica is well signposted; however, various ornaments, sculptures, and paintings have fascinating backstories not explained on the tourist signs throughout the basilica.
The Trevi Fountain is an extremely popular and famous landmark in Europe. It's included on almost every walking tour of Rome, and it is featured in many guide books about Rome. The fountain is probably the most famous water fountain in the world, and as of 2020, has been featured in at least four different Hollywood films.
In 1629, the initial fountain was declared to not be dramatic enough by Pope Urban VIII, so he commissioned an Italian artist and architect to draw a new one. Unfortunately, the project never commenced and was abandoned when the pope died.
In 1730, another pope, Pope Clement XII, organized a competition to redesign the fountain. This time a design was chosen that had elements of inspiration from the drawings done in 1629. By 1762, the fountain was complete and has existed in that form ever since.
Europe is a big continent with many unique landmarks for tourists to visit. The list provided above is merely a guide for you for when you are ready to plan your travel to Europe.
I would advise you include at least one of the above European landmarks, depending on where you want to travel to. You will surely not be disappointed!
You can go the extra mile by trying to explore all the landmarks listed above when you get the chance!
This article was edited by Loredana Elena and was first published on Sep 6, 2020 16:18 UTC.
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