Since many of you have never visited Europe, or have only been to a few places, let's start from the basics. Despite being the second smallest continent in the world, Europe has SO much to offer. In fact, millions of travelers flock to Europe during their travels. For many, it could be their first. For some, it may even be their tenth.
Did you know that Europe is just slightly larger than Canada, but has 20 times the population?
Due to the small size of the continent, there is a common misconception that you can visit a lot in a short amount of time, but this is not true. Did you know that Europe is just slightly larger than Canada, but has 20 times the population? While Europe is relatively small, it packs a punch when it comes to things to do. Europe has thousands of very unique sites and experiences to see and do.
So let's start with these top 10 locations that as a first-time traveler to Europe you must add to your list of places to visit!!
Built in 1793, it is arguably the most visited museum in the world and in Europe. Over 8 million people visit it every year, making it a central landmark of the city. Featuring more than 35 thousand objects dating from the 6th BC to the 19th century, the museum is an art lover's dream. The Louvre is the home of some of the most famous masterpieces, including the Mona Lisa and the Vénus de Milo.
As the center of the entire Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican definitely needs no introduction. Being located inside the city of Rome, the Vatican has a rich history and more artwork than any other city in the world. It also houses St. Peter’s Basilica, St. Peter’s square, and the Vatican museum all which are world’s big tourist attractions.
There are over 54 Christian and art galleries within the city, and the collections are stunning. Be sure to visit the Sistine Chapel, which holds the striking ceiling art done by legendary artist, Michelangelo.
La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
La Sagrada Familia is a must-see Roman Catholic Basilica located in Barcelona, Spain. The architect behind this breathtaking gem is none other than Antoni Gaudí. Gaudi has famous masterpieces spread throughout Barcelona, but nothing is quite like La Sagrada Familia. It is considered to be one of Gaudi's most significant accomplishments, and this is likely the reason he is buried there.
Construction began in 1882, and the basilica remains unfinished to this day. It was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984 because of its artistic representations and unique architecture. When it is finally completed, there will be 18 towers in total: one for each of the apostles, four for each of the evangelists, one for the Virgin Mary, and one for Jesus Christ.
Buckingham Palace, Buckingham
After being built in the year 1705, this palace was first known as the Buckingham House. However, it was later named a palace in 1837 following Queen Victoria's accession. The palace has a total of 775 rooms including 19 staterooms, 188 staff rooms, 52 guest rooms, 92 offices, and 78 bathrooms all decorated using precious works of art.
The guards at Buckingham Palace and St James Palace are on duty for 24 or 48 hours. During that time a Guardsman will have 2 hours on sentry duty and then 4 hours off. The Changing of The Guard is free for tourists to check out. You just have to know when and where to go.
The Colosseum, Rome
Situated in Rome’s capital center, the Colosseum is the largest known Amphitheatre. Its construction started in the 70AD during the Roman Empire when Vespasian was the empire. The Colosseum was anciently used for a variety of events including gladiator fights, and could hold 50,000 people. Earthquakes and stone robbers left it in ruins but what remains has become a major tourist attraction in Rome.
Eiffel Tower, Paris
The Eiffel Tower was originally built to represent the 1889 exhibitions that marked a century ever since the French Revolution. It later became a symbol of Paris. Having been designed by Gustave Eiffel, the tower is now the world's most visited entrance-paying monument. The tower enables visitors to experience breathtaking views of the city and houses a wide range of restaurants inside.
All roads seem to lead to the Trocadero for a view of the Eiffel Tower's light show. As soon as the first twinkle starts, you’ll hear the crowd gasp and cheer while pulling out their phones and cameras to capture the magical moment. From the Trocadero place, you get an unobstructed view of the Tower and can play with perspective. Some even have fun holding the Eiffel tower in their hands.
When you picture Venice, you undoubtedly picture a gondola floating along the canals. These carefully designed boats date back to the 11th century and were once used as the primary form of transportation between the islands. Gondoliers represent one of the oldest trades in Venice, and they must complete rigorous training before they can take tourists around the canals.
The Piazza San Marco in Venice is one of the most historically significant locations in the city. If you stand in the middle and look around, you will find yourself surrounded by significant landmarks of Venetian history. The San Marco Basilica is unmistakable, but take notice of the three flag poles in front. They are former ship's masts that once represented the kingdoms Venice conquered. The Florian, on the perimeter of the piazza, is also considered to be the oldest café in Europe. What other hidden facts will you uncover when you visit Venice?
Located on the rocky hills along the valley of IlIssos, the Akropolis in Athens is the most famous in the world. Since it is situated right in the city center, it offers visitors impressive sights of the city of Athens. There is also a wonderful museum located just under its southern slopes.
The Akropolis is one of the most important sites of the ancient world and was the most important location in Greek mythology. Atop the hill sat a temple complex that included the temples to worship all major gods. The Akropolis was chosen in ancient times for its prime location high above the city. From there, the temples were visible from anywhere in Athens. Today some temple ruins remain, including the most famous of them all, the Parthenon.
The beautiful city of Amsterdam is best known for it's canals. If you are going to combine the over 160 canals, they would stretch for over 100 kilometers long (60 miles). There are over 1700 bridges over the canals - that's 1,300 more than there are in Venice. A lot of these bridges can open up for the taller ships to come through. Roughly, 80 of these bridges are situated in the historic canal ring. The canals of Amsterdam divide the city of Amsterdam into 90 different islands. Some of the locals live on the canals of Amsterdam on a houseboat! There are roughly 3,000 houseboats in Amsterdam.
The David - Florence
Michelangelo's statue of David is one of the most famous sculptures in the world and is kept on display in Florence. Sculpted in the early 16th century, the Statue of David stands at a towering 17ft tall and is currently housed in the Galleria dell'Accademia. However, that's not the only place in Florence where you can see the statue! There are two other identical statues on display in the city—one in Piazza della Signoria and one atop Piazzale Michelangelo.
Belfast Castle, Scotland
A visit to the Belfast castle is a must if you are a history enthusiast. Located on the edges of Belfast city on Antrim road, this castle can be seen even far away from the town. This classic sandstone building offers amazing views of the very romantic Scottish city. Visitors can choose to have scenic views of the city from the castle or go for a hike to the summit of Cave Hill and get a chance to view the castle from above.
When you are ready to start planning, we will be here to help you get there.
Have you been to any of these locations? Do you have a favourite? Are any of these in your bucket list?