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U.S. News Best Vacations Badge

Best Places to Visit in Europe

U.S. News Best Vacations Badge

From England and France to Italy and Germany, European countries are full of vibrant cities known for their museums, restaurants, nightlife and architecture, so deciding which one to visit can be difficult. That's why U.S. News considered these factors – as well as user votes – to round up the 20 best vacation destinations in Europe. Use this list to help you plan your next trip, and cast your vote below to have a say in next year's list. And if you're seeking lodging, head to the Best Hotels in Europe ranking »

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Gold Badge #1 Paris

Gold Badge #1 in Best Places to Visit in Europe

Paris is filled with highly regarded museums, monuments and churches. Though you could easily spend your entire vacation admiring iconic sights like the Eiffel Tower and the Notre-Dame Cathedral, save some time for relaxing at sidewalk cafes during the day and enjoying drawn-out meals with amazing wine at night. Read More »

Paris at night View 45 photos
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Gold Badge #2 Rome

Gold Badge #2 in Best Places to Visit in Europe

Roma is a can't-miss spot on your trip to Europe. The aroma of fresh Italian cooking wafts through alleys, and historical sites sit at every turn. No visit to Italy's capital would be complete without checking out the Colosseum, St. Peter's Basilica and the awe-inspiring Trevi Fountain. Read More »

Rome View 63 photos
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Gold Badge #3 London

Gold Badge #3 in Best Places to Visit in Europe

Exploring the world-class British Museum, seeing a musical in the West End, touring the Tower of London and gorging on fish and chips at a local pub are all part of the London bucket list experience. However, London's high hotel prices can make budget travelers cringe. Book far in advance or consider a vacation rental to save some coin. Read More »

London in the Sun View 62 photos
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Gold Badge #4 Florence

Gold Badge #4 in Best Places to Visit in Europe

Travel to Firenze for an authentic taste of Italy. Florence boasts top-notch museums, quaint hotels, stunning architecture and mouthwatering cuisine. Must-dos include admiring Michelangelo's David, taking in the view from the Ponte Vecchio and climbing to the top of the Duomo. Read More »

Il Duomo View 30 photos
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Gold Badge #5 Venice

Gold Badge #5 in Best Places to Visit in Europe

Venice may conjure up images of romantic gondola rides down the Grand Canal, but this European city isn't only for swooning lovebirds. With an abundance of theaters, churches, historical sights and eateries, this city on Italy's northeastern coast will enchant all types of travelers. Read More »

The Grand Canal View 40 photos
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Gold Badge #6 Barcelona

Gold Badge #6 in Best Places to Visit in Europe

Barcelona's diverse architecture really makes the city stand out. Gaudí's Parc Güell and La Sagrada Familia are impressive, as are La Seu and Montjuïc Castle. When you tire of architecture, relax on the beach, eat the local food (tapas) or sip sangria along Las Ramblas. Read More »

View of Barcelona View 43 photos
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#7 Amsterdam

#7 in Best Places to Visit in Europe

There's more to Amsterdam than its notorious coffee shop culture and Red Light District. Spend the day biking along the city's canals and stylish streets before exploring noteworthy museums, such as the Van Gogh Museum. Friendly locals and affordable hotels keep bringing travelers back, especially during the warmer months. Read More »

Herengracht Canal View 44 photos
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#8 Santorini

#8 in Best Places to Visit in Europe

Visit this Greek island for its abundance of diverse beaches. You'll find red sands at – you guessed it – Red Beach and black sands at Kamari Beach. But don't forget to save a day to travel to archaeological attractions like Ancient Thira and Ancient Akrotiri. Read More »

Santorini Churches View 23 photos
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#9 Swiss Alps

#9 in Best Places to Visit in Europe

Located south of Zurich, Bern and Basel, the Swiss Alps are a haven for winter sports enthusiasts. While skiing, hiking and snowboarding tend to dominate this region, you'll also discover quaint towns, serene lakes and gorgeous scenery. Plus, luxury mountain resorts are available throughout the region, making it a playground for all sorts of travelers.

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#10 Prague

#10 in Best Places to Visit in Europe

A vacation in Prague will leave you feeling as if you've stepped into a fairy tale. The Gothic architecture impresses visitors of all ages, and the city's love of music is contagious. You'll also appreciate Prague's affordability compared to other captivating destinations in Europe. Read More »

skyline View 14 photos
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#11 Athens

#11 in Best Places to Visit in Europe

Athens was made for history buffs and architecture aficionados, but it also serves as a great European getaway for the everyday travel guru. The capital's laid-back lifestyle and incredible food attract the masses just as much as the world-class Acropolis and Parthenon do. Read More »

Parthenon in Spring View 18 photos
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#12 Vienna

#12 in Best Places to Visit in Europe

This storied Austrian city is best known for its music and monarchs. Explore the Habsburg's Schönbrunn Palace, and stroll the narrow streets of the Inner City. If you're an art lover, head to the MuseumsQuartier to tour the Museum of Modern Art. Read More »

Vienna Skyline View 20 photos
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#13 Madrid

#13 in Best Places to Visit in Europe

Spain's capital has all the makings of a quintessential European vacation: stunning architecture, vibrant nightlife, world-class museums, luxury hotels and, of course, plenty of delicious Spanish food. But save some time for a flamenco show and a soccer match, too. Read More »

Center of Madrid View 17 photos
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#14 Lisbon

#14 in Best Places to Visit in Europe

Laid-back Lisbon welcomes travelers with its colorful architecture, centuries-old buildings and castles, picturesque beaches and flavorful seafood. Nestled on top of seven hills, this charming European locale is known for its friendly residents and hilly terrain. If you don't want to huff it up Lisbon's streets, take advantage of the city's efficient public transportation system. Read More »

Lisbon View 45 photos
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#15 Istanbul

#15 in Best Places to Visit in Europe

Skyscrapers stand next to historical monuments in Istanbul, an ancient city filled with modern advances. Shopaholics fill the city's bazaars during the day, while partygoers head to local nightclubs in droves at night. Just remember to pack layers; travelers are required to cover up when visiting Istanbul's mosques and religious monuments. Read More »

Blue Mosque View 20 photos
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#16 Innsbruck

#16 in Best Places to Visit in Europe

A skier's paradise come first snowfall, Innsbruck is home to staggering mountains and Olympia SkiWorld Innsbruck, which boasts more than 160 miles of runs. Outside of winter sports, visitors can explore the historic Old Town, and families will love the Alpenzoo, the highest zoo in Europe. To save some coin on accommodations, visit in the fall. Read More »

Innsbruck and the Alps View 17 photos
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#17 Lake Como

#17 in Best Places to Visit in Europe

Located in the Lombardy region of northern Italy, Lake Como has long been a haven for artists, celebrities and travelers looking to truly relax. You'll unwind in no time while wandering down cobblestone streets, exploring palatial villas and lounging alongside the serene lake shores. Keep in mind, though, that a stay here won't come cheap.

Lake Como
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#18 Dublin

#18 in Best Places to Visit in Europe

Dublin is the largest city in Ireland and has long been a popular vacation spot for beer drinkers and history buffs. Home to the Guinness headquarters and the Jameson Distillery, the city also boasts a plethora of pubs. Meanwhile, non-drinkers will want to head to the boutiques along Grafton Street and check out kid-friendly areas like the sprawling St. Stephen's Green and the Dublin Zoo. Read More »

Dublin from the River Liffey View 42 photos
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#19 Canary Islands

#19 in Best Places to Visit in Europe

Spain's Canary Islands are where you should go if you're seeking a tropical vacation. With snorkeling, scuba diving, luxe resorts, gourmet cuisine and beaches with aquamarine waters, these seven islands offer a plethora of laid-back activities that are ideal for relaxing days. For more of an adventure, head to the Parque Nacional del Teide to hike the world's third-tallest volcano. Read More »

Canary Islands Landscape View 15 photos
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#20 Amalfi Coast

#20 in Best Places to Visit in Europe

Travel to this coastal region in Italy for once-in-a-lifetime views of the Mediterranean Sea from beautiful cliffside towns. Spend your days hiking, wandering the narrow streets of Positano or retreating to more secluded places, such as the Furore Fiordo beach. Read More »

Amalfi Coast View 20 photos
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San Sebastian

San Sebastian

San Sebastian

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Edinburgh

View from Calton Hill

Edinburgh

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Crete

Sitia Promenade

Crete

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The Azores

The Azores

The Azores

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