Okay, hear us out. We could talk about the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben, but why not make your next European adventure unique and unforgettable? If you’re looking for the best places to visit in Europe (and we mean, the best of the best of the bessssst) then you’re in the right place. These must-see ancient hubs and hidden gems will make your visit to Europe much more memorable.
Seven of The Best Places To Visit in Europe
For each of these top European destination picks, we’ll give you a description of what you’ll experience, a recommended food to try, and a fun fact. (Who doesn’t love travel trivia?!)
And… if planning European vacations are not really your thing, you can always sign up for a Travel Yogi adventure and we will do the planning for you. Psst, we hit all of these places in our action and relaxation-packed itineraries.
1. Diocletian’s Palace: Split, Croatia
First on the list of the best places to visit in Europe is Diocletian’s Palace, one of the best-preserved Roman royal residences on the planet. It was quite literally the palace of Diocletian (who knew?) the first Roman emperor to relinquish his power and opt for retirement instead of rule. He retired in AD 305 (long before the handy dandy 401K)… but he didn’t need one (he was royalty, so super-rich). He had this masterpiece built meticulously over the course of 10 years from white stone from the island of Brač and marble from Greece and Italy. Oh, and he imported 12 sphinxes from Egypt, too. Because, well, why not?
Experience: An architectural masterpiece that will take your breath away. We recommend taking a walking tour of Split and the palace (included in The Travel Yogi Croatia adventure).
Eat: Rni Rizot. (Squid risotto)
If the imported sphinxes weren’t extra enough, Emperor Diocletian wanted to only enter his palace directly from his ship (without having to get off his ship at a dock and walk from the dock to his palace-like regular royalty). To accommodate this wish, the lower tier was flooded with water, allowing his ship to float inside the palace and drop off the Emperor directly from his ship to his home.
2. Teatro Greco: Taormina, Sicily
The Greek theater of Taormina is the world’s best-known and most admired “Teatro Greco” in the world. Fans of any kind of ancient performance will be intrigued by this Greek theater, originally constructed for play and musical performances, but swiftly transformed into a gladiator battle hub during the Roman empire. But if imagining what used to take place on the stage doesn’t do it for you, its stunning natural location will. Constructed on the Ionian coast of Sicily with a dazzling view of the Calabrian coast, this outdoor theater’s location is a must experience on its own.
Experience: Wander up and down the steps of the Greek theater, or sit down for a play on the ancient stage. After a guided tour, explore Taormina’s streets and restaurants at your leisure (with The Travel Yogi Sicilian Adventure).
Eat: Involtini di Pesce Spada (Sicilian Swordfish Rolls).
This one isn’t fun, per say, but it is interesting. In order to build this Greek theater, 100,000 cubic meters of rock needed to be manually extracted from the mountain for construction.
3. Château de Beynac: Beynac, France
We’ve covered AD 305 and 300 BC—now let’s experience the Middle Ages by exploring a 12th-century French village and castle. On the tippy top of an imposing cliff rests Château de Beynac, the fortress that watched over the Dordogne for nine centuries. As the most authentic castle of the Périgord, exploring Château de Beynac is simply put … unforgettable. The castle town of Beynac is shockingly beautiful (even for France!) and well-preserved.
Experience: Marvel at the castles on the sheer limestone cliffs. Get your French delicacies together and enjoy a relaxing picnic by the Dordogne.
Eat: Ratatouille. (You know what this is.)
Legend has it that the “motto” of Beynac’s people was “Sem de Beynac et n’avez pas peur!” If you speak French, you’ll notice the medieval spin on spelling and words. (“We are from Beynac and we do not fear”). This motto speaks to the security that this massive castle gave those it protected.
4. Temple of Apollo: Ortigia, Sicily
Back to Sicily. Trust us, it’s worth it. If you’re familiar with Greek mythology, you’ll know that Apollo was the God of nearly everything—music, art, prophecy, archery, healing, truth, light, poetry… So, it would make sense that the Temple of Apollo would be one of the most important ancient Greek monuments and on one of the best places to visit in Europe.
Experience: Stroll backward through time and explore the 6th century BCE Temple of Apollo. Take in the sights and smells of the food market and stop for lunch with the locals.
Eat: Buccellati cookies with fig jam.
Apollo considered this temple sacred, and gave the gift of prophecy to select mortals… so maybe if you visit you’ll be next.
5. Catacombs of Cava Celone: Ragusa, Sicily
If you’re getting tired of beautiful open-air, cliff-dwelling ancient monuments (if that’s even possible), you’ll relish the opportunity to explore the underground catacombs in Ragusa. Take a walk underground through the winding, deep tombs used by the first Christian communities to bury their loved ones.
Experience: Included in The Travel Yogi Sicily Adventure is a tour of Ragusa… where you’ll also experience the Hypogeum of Cisternazzi and the Catacombs of Cava Celone for an amazing walk at the core of the Hyblaean natural landscape.
The term “catacombs” comes from the Greek word “kata kumbas,” which means “near the hollows.” Don’t know about you, but we’ll be calling them kata kumbas from now on.
6. St. Orsula’s Church Ruins: Dubrovnik, Croatia
Dubrovnik is a city on the Adriatic Sea in southern Croatia. It is included on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites due to its medieval architecture. After you’re done taking a walking tour of the enchanted Dubrovnik, you’ll take a moderate hike up to the ruins of St. Orsula’s church.
Experience: Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the cliff side, and what remains of a small, ancient church with a dark history.
Eat: Zelena Menestra (green stew).
This church was built on the ancient trading route to the East. You can see the remains of this route from the top of the cliff, and can even walk through parts of it.
7. Cattedrale di Noto: Noto, Sicily
The hill town of Noto in Sicily is a must-visit on its own, but it wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Noto Cathedral. Built from Iblean limestone, this cathedral is a dazzling example of Sicilian Baroque architectural style.
Experience: Get lost among endearing ancient alleyways, while getting kissed by the sun.
Eat: Drink some volcanic vino. You’re gonna lava it.
Again, not really a fun fact… but a devastating earthquake destroyed most of this region of Sicily in 1693. In an effort to reconstruct the area, many churches were built, including this beauty. It was finally finished in 1776.
Where to Next?
Now that you know about the best places to visit in Europe, you’ll need to book that trip! As pioneers in the world of adventure and wellness travel, we at The Travel Yogi know a thing or two about planning a life-changing adventure. If you want to visit all of these European wonders, be sure to explore our Yoga adventures to sign up for our upcoming voyages. We offer the best yoga retreats and adventures through consciously crafted, culturally immersive itineraries with amazing yoga teachers guiding you through it all. If you can’t decide where to go next, explore our find your next adventure article to find out.