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What is your must-see place in Europe to visit?

I will be teaching abroad for one year in Madrid and plan to travel like crazy. My travel blog, To Abroad in Beyond​, contains many of the cities I have been to and I hope to visit new places to add to it. I am a cheap hostel/backpacking type so anything over luxurious does not appeal to me. 

If I could only do one trip, where is the one place I HAVE to go while abroad?

30 Answers

top answer by
Daniel from Gangnam-gu

Destinations in Western Europe are usually very well-covered, but how about Bulgaria? It's fairly off the beaten path, and offers, no joke, some of the best food in the whole of Europe and some of the oldest ruins on the continent.

Bulgaria's one of those travel destinations that really surprise those who visit it... It's a beautiful country, and although the people here don't smile very often, they're very genuine and kind-hearted. And did I mention the food?

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Bulgaria (country)
4 thanks

answered by
Brenda from Long Beach

Hi Olivia, I see you've been alot of places. Get ready, Oktoberfest is a blast. Make friends with some locals and get into as many tents as possible!!! Please explore all the wonderful riches of Spain. Go back to Barcelona for at least 4 days. Visit Sitges and charming Cadaqués. Spend time in Andalucía. Explore Seville during the fair. Go to Granada, Cordoba (Spain) and visit the white villages. Visit Alicante and Valencia. Stay close to Madrid and visit the wonderful cities of Toledo, Ávila, Cuenca, Salamanca and Segovia. Take the train to San Sebastian and Bilbao. Traveling in your home country is both time and cost efficient. I envy you. Have a great great year abroad.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Spain (country)
  2. Barcelona (city)
  3. Sitges (city)
  4. Cadaqués (region)
  5. Andalucía (state)
  6. Seville (city)
  7. Granada (city)
  8. Cordoba (Spain) (city)
  9. Alicante (city)
  10. Valencia (city)
  11. Madrid (city)
  12. Toledo (city)
  13. Ávila (city)
  14. Cuenca (metro area)
  15. Salamanca (metro area)
  16. Segovia (city)
  17. San Sebastian (city)
  18. Bilbao (city)
3 thanks

answered by
Andrew from Fort Lauderdale

Florence, Italy is an absolute must. I've been there twice (once as a side trip while on a yacht charter vacation) and I think it may be the most wondrous city that I have even been captivated by. Steeped in history and arguably the birthplace of the Renaissance. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Florence (city)
2 thanks

answered by
Eric from Lafayette (California)

Croatia It's an amazing country that is rich with history as well as stunningly beautiful. It is cheaper than other countries in that area, allowing you to see more, do more. Check out the small island of Vis I spent two weeks there roaming the vineyards and lounging on the beaches. Best two weeks of my life!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Croatia (country)
  2. Vis (attraction)
2 thanks

answered by

I've decided I may have been Italian in another lifetime. :-) Italy speaks to me and Venice is absolutely magical to me!

2 thanks

answered first by
Brian from Philadelphia

Every city speaks to people differently so good call hopping around though I will say as time allows, try to do at least 4 days in a given major city. This will give you enough time to really explore and see if you like it, plus much less stressful than packing up your life and moving every few days.

My favorite city is still Berlin with Barcelona close behind. Both have amazing art and are the biggest party cities I've ever been to, you can and should stay out every evening (even weekdays, winter, whatever) till 4 am. I enjoy Berlin for the unpretentious vibe but world class food and drink, an amazing metro system, and so much history scattered throughout a very modern tech city. Barcelona for the views, weather, and beaches plus check out some urban hikes that overlook the entire city. Both are really inexpensive for the value you get.

Il Palio in Siena was one of my greatest experiences in Europe. Such a wild event and you should stand in the center the whole day, plus party in the winning contrade (ward) that evening. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Berlin (city)
  2. Barcelona (city)
  3. Il Palio (attraction)
2 thanks

answered by
Nan from Perth, Western Australia

Not sure if it still counts as "Europe" - Iceland. Ive been there both in the summer and in winter. Both amazingly beautiful and also different. see my full trip itinerary and photos:

Summer version

Winter version

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Iceland (country)
1 thanks

answered by
Nikolina from Vevcane, Vevčani, Macedonia

Hello Olivia! :)

I live in Macedonia, so if you are planning to visit the Balkans you can come to see my country also. I live in a small village called Vevchani, near to the border with Albania. My family runs a tourism business, we have traditional restaurant with two apartments above it. Kutmičevica Pension promotes the historical and cultural heritage of the picturesque village of Vevčani, situated at the foot of Jablanica Mountain, 14 km away from Ohrid Lake, at the altitude of 930 meters. This wonderfully restored 19th century rooming-house has retained its original structure and been kitted out with authentic fixtures and furnishings. Positioned in the picturesque village of Vevcani, the restaurant Kutmicevica uses the advantage of the completely unpolluted soil around the village to grow and produce organic vegetables and fruits. During your stay in Kutmicevica Vevcani, as a guest you will see up close the support being extended to the continued preservation of the regions traditional structures, cuisine and rituals and beautiful panorama of the Struga Valley and the magnificent Ohrid Lake. Kutmičevica Pension has double and three-bed comfortable apartments with private facilities, airconditioning, cable TV and Wifi, and I can tell you that it is actually a cheap accommodation. At the Kutmicevica Pension, guests can feast on hearty Macedonian cuisine, along with the local community, and you can also visit the nearby cities, tourism attractions and also the beautiful mountains and pure nature. So I'll be glad to have you as our guest. :)

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Macedonia (country)
  2. Balkans (region)
  3. Vevchani (city)
  4. Albania (country)
  5. Struga (city)
1 thanks

answered by
Risa from San Francisco

Istanbul, by far is my first choice. Galapagos is up there too!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Istanbul (city)
  2. Galapagos (island)
1 thanks

answered by
Andrés from Montevideo

Belgium is a perfect place to go when you have only the weekends... You can visit BrusselsBruges and Ghent in just 2 or 3 days.

Since it´s a small country, you need only an hour or so to go from one city to the next.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Brussels (city)
  2. Bruges (city)
  3. Ghent (city)
1 thanks

answered by
Yuksel from Kuşadası

You should visit Turkey , Greece, Italy!!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Turkey (country)
  2. Greece (country)
  3. Italy (country)
1 thanks

answered by
Maria from Dublin

Hi Olivia,

Great blog, my all time favourite country in Europe is Italy and I  see that you have been to Venice a few times, toured Tuscany and lived in Rome for a couple of months. Italy is in your blood so how about a tour of Puglia ? I love that part of Italy and many of the towns are connected by train, although the rail service in Puglia can be a bit patchy. There are two train companies that operate here: and and you could plan a lot in advance. The coast is particularly beautiful and Puglia has some of the best food in Italy! You can fly from Madrid to Brindisi with Alitalia (through Rome) Ryanair (via Bergamo The weather is good from April to late October.

Dublin Cork and Edinburgh are great cities to visit, as is Copenhagen and all are connected by low-cost airlines from Madrid

Within Spain I love Seville  Grenada  Cordoba (Spain) Gerona and Toledo  There are lots of lovely villages in the Sierra Nevada east of Malaga that are worth checking out, like FrigilianaLisbon is another favourite and is connected to Madrid by train. Have a blast!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Italy (country)
  2. Venice (city)
  3. Tuscany (state)
  4. Rome (city)
  5. Puglia (state)
  6. Madrid (city)
  7. Brindisi (metro area)
  8. Bergamo (city)
  9. Dublin (city)
  10. Cork (city)
  11. Edinburgh (city)
  12. Copenhagen (city)
  13. Spain (country)
  14. Seville (city)
  15. Grenada (country)
  16. Cordoba (Spain) (city)
  17. Gerona (city)
  18. Toledo (city)
  19. Malaga (city)
  20. Frigiliana (city)
  21. Lisbon (city)
1 thanks

answered by
Justin from Phoenix

Finland. It's so underrated. The cities are full of cool architecture, great shopping, excellent transit and a variety of dining. And you're never more than a train/bus ride from getting out to a national park for hiking. The prices are reasonable, everything works reliably, the people are nice and there are tons of music festivals in the summer. My favorite spots were Turku, Helsinki, Suomenlinna and Nuuksion National Park.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Turku (city)
  2. Helsinki (city)
  3. Suomenlinna (neighborhood)
  4. Nuuksion National Park (attraction)

answered by
Ryan from Malta

It must be Malta. Malta has everything from sunshine to history.

People are super friendly and most of all English is the second language!.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Malta (country)

answered by
Emilie from Lyon

I really loved Germany. I saw in your blog you already went to Munich, I was going to advise you this city. I also loved Berlin, and Hamburg is known to be very beautiful.
You should also try the United Kingdom, Scotland and Ireland (I personnally dream to go there for a trip).

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Berlin (city)
  2. Hamburg (attraction)
  3. Scotland (country)
  4. Ireland (country)

answered by
Lila from Jupiter

Zermatt in Switzerland. It is where you can see the Matterhorn. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world- you should go in summer!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Zermatt (attraction)
  2. Matterhorn (attraction)

answered by
Dave from Houston

There are many 'must see' places in Europe. Since you are in Madrid, I would say a weekend in nearby Toledo Spain would be very high on my list. If you can swing it, get a room at the Toledo Parador. It is across the river from the old city and has one of the most amazing views in all of Europe. Request a room with a balcony and great viewpoint. Here is a panoramic photo of that view.  The medieval town is fun to tour too.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Madrid (city)
  2. Toledo (city)

answered by
John from Southampton

The medieval city of Dubrovnik is a jewel. Beautiful city with walls that can be walked offering spectacular views of the Adriatic Sea. Time your visit to avoid the Cruise ships!!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Dubrovnik (city)

answered by
Effy from Tel Aviv

If you like museums remember they are free in London, but you pay for them in Paris. The opposite with churches/cathedrals in both places.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. London (city)

answered by
Jacqui from London

Hi Olivia! 

GREAT blog! You look like you have lots of interesting stories to tell. 

The BalkansCroatiaBosnia and HerzegovinaMontenegro and Albania. These were the four countries we recently visited and they were amazing. I can't wait to get back there and see the rest of the beautiful region.

And the people are so generous and amazing. This farming family in Albania made lunch for 8 of us when we went swimming in a local swimming hole which turned out to be their front garden. You can check out our stories and see inspiration for the Balkans in my blog:

Enjoy your time in Madrid - I love that place! 


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Balkans (region)
  2. Croatia (country)
  3. Bosnia and Herzegovina (country)
  4. Montenegro (country)
  5. Albania (country)

answered by
stephanie from Nixa

Sorry, cant just list one place.......In my opinion- RomeVenice (during off season, we went in April and it was great then). Rome is a place I think you can go several times and enjoy. 

I love Scotland it is a magical place....spend time in the Highlands, visit the castles, get caught up in the tales. Easy to find hostels and guided back packing trips. 

Our other favorite places were Norway, taking the scenic train rides and spending time in Greece you cant go wrong. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Rome (city)
  2. Venice (city)
  3. Scotland (country)

answered by
Maria from Merida (Spain)

Being in Madrid, I will go for an Andalucian Tour. OK, I have to admit it doesn't reflect European landscapes, or lifestyle but... it's unique. Great wheather (maybe too hot in August), lovely arabic influence, Great small white-house villages, cheerful mood, awesome food...and wines. What else can I say?

answered by
Janelle from Charleston

Anywhere that used to be Yugoslavia.  Take 2-3 weeks and hostel your way through Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia and/or Macedonia.  Except for Dubrovnik, those regions are still quite off the beaten path and are quite inexpensive to travel through by European standards.  For the most part, the locals aren't used to throngs of tourists so they're friendly and warm to visitors.  You can see ancient Hapsburg palaces in Slovenia, small villages on the Adriatic coast in Slovenia, Croatia and Montenegro, tiny mountain villages and caves in Macedonia and go clubbing in Belgrade.  Bosnia is my favourite country in the former Yugoslavia - the locals are friendly, the food is good, Mostar is a beautiful small city and the war ruins and genocide memorials in Sarajevo are a must see.  Bosnia is majority Muslim, but it's a non-fundamentalist variety of Islam that is tolerant of infidels and respectful of women.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Slovenia (country)
  2. Croatia (country)
  3. Bosnia and Herzegovina (country)
  4. Montenegro (country)
  5. Serbia (country)
  6. Macedonia (country)
  7. Dubrovnik (city)
  8. Belgrade (city)
  9. Sarajevo (city)

answered by

Just completed a 3-day weekend in Slovenia and it was amazing! Such lovely people and scenery. Stay in either Ljubljana or Bled (for the most beauty). It's like a fairy tale with castles and caves and beautiful views.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Slovenia (country)
  2. Ljubljana (city)
  3. Bled (city)

answered by
Peter from Bloomington (Indiana)

The big questions are: Is this solo or couples/romantic travel? And will your time be severely constrained -- are you looking for weekend getaways or can you take extended tours? If it's short and solo, my first priority would be Barcelona -- it's really magical. That and Granada -- the Alhambra belongs on anyone's bucket list. And you should plan multiple trips to Paris -- does that even need explaining?

I haven't mentioned Venice yet -- it's wonderful but it's really a couple's experience. My first choice for a romantic getaway. 

Rome is essential, but I don't recommend going alone -- it can be a bit unforgiving. Also essential, for me, would be a trip that included both Florence and Siena. And I'd suggest some time along the shore of Lake Geneva -- Lausanne would be an excellent base for that exploration. 

Finally, the Alps -- in the summer, head up to Lauterbrunnen and then take a day trip up to Jungfraujoch.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Barcelona (city)
  2. Granada (city)
  3. Paris (city)
  4. Venice (city)
  5. Rome (city)
  6. Florence (city)
  7. Siena (metro area)
  8. Lake Geneva (attraction)
  9. Lausanne (city)
  10. Lauterbrunnen (attraction)
  11. Jungfraujoch (attraction)

answered by
Krista from San Francisco

So awesome, Olivia! I can't choose between Rome and Barcelona - I love them both and hope you get to see them.

Barcelona is great for architecture, art and the beach, while the history and food in Rome is, in my opinion, unparalleled. 

Have a great time abroad. :)

answered by
Rebecca from Manchester

A trip around Italy! There are many beautiful cities all over Europe but Italy has a great trip to see a lot of cities such as Province of Florence Venice Comer See Metropolitan City of Genoa Portofino and of course Rome I also have a travel blog with an Italian post so maybe its worth your interest

I also really recommend Salzburg

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Province of Florence (metro area)
  2. Venice (city)
  3. Comer See (city)
  4. Metropolitan City of Genoa (metro area)
  5. Portofino (city)
  6. Rome (city)

answered by

How about Romania? Cheap destination. Don't stick around Bucharest, and don't only see Transylvania. Get up north over the beautiful Carpathian Mountains and into Maramureș County and Bucovina areas where life is still quite traditional. Banat region also worth spending time. If you go, don't miss the Danube Delta-most extraordinary UNESCO listed biosphere area.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Romania (country)
  2. Bucharest (city)
  3. Maramureș County (state)
  4. Bucovina (neighborhood)

answered by
Anton from Kiev

I would focus on Spain as you'll have it all close to you:

1) País Vasco definitely worth visiting particular places - San SebastianBilbao. You'll be able to both practice any wind sport like kitsurfing/windsurfing, surf waves, see amazing architecture and taste excellent food

2) Ronda - very beautiful place which should ideally be reached either on moto or bicycle through mountain road from the coast (which itself is a an attraction). In addition I think Hemingway once said that if you have one day in Spain you should spend it in Ronda.

3) Cadiz - just check the photos of the place.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. País Vasco (attraction)
  2. San Sebastian (city)
  3. Bilbao (city)
  4. Ronda (city)
  5. Cadiz (city)

answered by
Rocio from Costa Rica

Hello Olivia,

Istanbul and Cappadocia (fairy chimneys and ballooning above Cappadocia).


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Istanbul (city)
  2. Cappadocia (attraction)

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