Dreaming of incredible trips to add to your Europe bucket list? This list is filled with true European adventures of a lifetime, not just places to see.
From snorkeling between tectonic plates in Iceland to hiking the fjords of Norway or hot air ballooning over ancient landscapes, there’s an adventure here with your name on it!
In addition to including our own favorite European adventures, we reached out to top travel bloggers who gave us their absolute favorite, once-in-a-lifetime trips with tips and tricks along with the best places to stay.
We can’t wait for you to get your travel on with these incredible things to do in Europe.
Western Europe Bucket List Adventure Trips
1, Lavender Fields in the South of France
Recommended by Elisa from France Bucket List
In summer, the lavender fields of Provence are one of the top destinations to visit in Europe, and unique landmarks in France. The views of the blue-violet fields are amazing, plus they smell so good!
There are many areas with lavender fields in Provence, and the blooming period depends on the altitude and the weather conditions, but it is safe to say that you can see lavender in Provence between mid-June to mid-August.
In addition to the lavender fields, you may want to visit a museum dedicated to lavender (there are different museums of this type in the area) to know the history of lavender growing and its use and buy some unique lavender-based gifts.
For a unique trip to Provence, combine the lavender fields with a visit to some villages nearby. Ideally, you have a car, and you explore these places on a road trip.
There are also guided tours from Avignon or Aix-en-Provence that visit the lavender fields.
Avignon is a great place to base yourself to explore the lavender fields in the Luberon. The city itself is beautiful to visit, with the Palace of the Popes and a medieval center listed as a UNESCO Heritage Site.
WHERE TO STAY: Coquillade Provence Resort & Spa (9)
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2. Hike Caminito Del Rey – One of Europe’s Most Dangerous Hikes That’s Safe Now
Malaga, located in the Andalusia region of southern Spain, is a vibrant and charming city that offers visitors a wealth of attractions and activities. One of the best things to do when visiting is a day trip to the Caminito del Rey.
This spectacular hiking trail located an hour from Malaga was originally built in the early 20th century to provide workers with access to two hydroelectric power plants.
It fell into disrepair over the years and this Europe bucket list hike was closed to the public for decades after multiple Caminito del Rey deaths.
Because of the high demand, there was a major restoration project that made it very safe and accessible to visitors, and in 2015, the trail was finally reopened.
Caminito del Rey is famous for its trail along vertical rock faces suspended high above the ground. It offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape, which includes steep cliffs, deep gorges, and rushing rivers.
The trail is open year-round and takes about three to four hours to complete. Visitors must wear helmets and guides are available to provide assistance and information.
Stay in Málaga so you can explore the historic city center. In addition to beautiful architecture, the best things to do in Málaga include a visit to the Picasso Museum and 11th Century Alcazaba Fortress.
Other must-see attractions include the Malaga Cathedral, the Roman Theatre, and the Costa del Sol beaches along the sparkling blue Mediterranean coast.
RELATED POST: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE CAMINITO DEL REY HIKE
3. Visit Sassi di Matera – the Oldest Inhabited City in the World
The ancient city of Matera, located in the Basilicata region of southern Italy, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world.
Matera is famous for its unique architecture, which features houses, caves and buildings carved into the rock of a deep ravine. Once home to thousands of people who lived in poverty and squalor, the government relocated them to new housing in the 1950s.
Today, visitors to Matera can take a Guided Tour of Sassi di Matera’s two districts, Sasso Caveoso and Sasso Barisano, each with its own unique character and charm.
Wander through the narrow streets and alleyways, admiring the simple yet elegant architecture and soaking up the atmosphere of this ancient city.
For an even more interesting experience, stay in one of the many Matera caves that have been renovated into luxury hotels offering modern amenities set against a backdrop of ancient stone walls and vaulted ceilings.
Overall, a visit to Matera is a journey back in time to experience the rich history and culture of one of Italy’s most fascinating cities.
Whether exploring the Sassi, staying in a Matera Cave hotel, or simply enjoying the local cuisine and wine, Matera is a destination that should not be missed.
4. Island Hopping the Cyclades in Greece
Recommended by Martha from May Cause Wanderlust
All of Greece is lovely, but the Greek islands are truly something special. Scattered across the eastern Mediterranean like rocky jewels, they are captivating and magical.
Island hopping in the Cyclades allows you to sample a variety of these stunning islands, combined with sailing time on the gorgeous ocean.
Many of the islands are volcanic in origin. From Santorini’s private pools, you can watch the sunset over a stunning caldera. In Kythnos you’ll find lovely beaches with a golden sand bar and stunning cliffs you can jump off of in Milos.
The glamour and party vibes on Mykonos are quite lively, while some of the quieter islands like Folegandros in the Cyclades or Antipaxos in the Ionian Sea are perfectly peaceful.
From one island to the next, you’ll find gorgeous traditional villages with colorful bougainvillea and picturesque white-washed Greek churches. Another treat is amazing Greek food.
Choosing to stay on a boat in the Greek islands allows you to have a unique voyage without constantly changing hotels.
Stay in Athens before or after, to see historic sites like the Acropolis and Temple of Olympian Zeus or enjoy restaurants, shopping, and rooftop bars in bustling Monastiraki Square.
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5. Madeira Levada Walks & Hiking in Madeira
The Levada Walks in Madeira are a series of picturesque hiking trails that follow Madeira island’s network of irrigation channels.
Originally built in the 16th century to bring water from the mountains to the agricultural fields below, today, the levada walks offer visitors a unique way to explore the island’s beautiful, sub-tropical landscapes.
One of the top bucket list adventures in Europe is Madeira’s trail from Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo, 2 of the 3 top peaks on the island.
The trail follows a steep path that offers stunning views of the mountains often surrounded by clouds making you feel like you’re on top of the world. Hikers pass through forests, walk through long dark tunnels, cross over streams, and encounter a variety of native flora and fauna.
Whether you decide to hike or not, sunrise at Pico do Areeiro is truly unforgettable and must-do for anyone visiting Madeira.
The best place to stay is in the capital city of Funchal, a colorful colonial town with lots of activities and attractions. Take the Funchal Cable Car to explore the beautiful Madeira Botanical Garden. Sample the delicious local cuisine and famous Madeira wine,
One other highlight for many visitors is the Madeira Skywalk, Porto Moniz Volcanic Pools, and Fanal Tour that takes you around the island to the most beautiful spots.
An island vacation to Madeira is one of the most underrated places to visit in Europe.
RELATED POST: THE 5 BEST HIKES AND LEVADA WALKS IN MADEIRA
6. The Festival of Lights (Fête des Lumières)
The Festival of Lights, or Fête des Lumières, is an annual event that takes place in Lyon, France.
The four-day celebration typically begins on December 8th and ends on December 11th. During this time, the city is transformed into a dazzling display of light and color.
The origins of the festival date back to 1852, when the people of Lyon lit candles in their windows to celebrate the installation of a statue of the Virgin Mary on the Fourvière hill.
Suspended during World War II, the tradition was revived in 1989 as a way to bring the people of Lyon together and celebrate their city.
Buildings, monuments, and public spaces throughout the city are illuminated with colorful lights and projections created by artists from around the world.
The interactive light show set to music in the Place des Terreaux is the beginning of a walk through Vieux Lyon at night with a million of your new best friends on a scavenger hunt for incredible light projections.
Another highlight is the lighting of the Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourvière with a stunning display of lights that transforms the building into colorful versions of itself.
While visiting Lyon for one of the best events in Europe, don’t forget to indulge in the gastronomic pleasure of traditional Lyonnaise cuisine.
By day, a Lyon sightseeing cruise is a great way to see the city from the water. Finally, the Museum of Fine Arts is a must-visit for art lovers, with its impressive collection of paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts from around the world.
WHERE TO STAY: Hôtel de l’Abbaye Lyon – Boutique Hôtel (9)
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7. Wander Through Historic Trulli Villages in Alberobello Italy
The trulli in Alberobello, located in the Puglia region of southern Italy, are unique and fascinating structures that date back to the 14th century.
These small, conical-shaped houses that were originally built by farmers as temporary shelters in the fields became permanent homes, and today they are a symbol of the region’s rich history and culture.
Visitors to Alberobello can explore the town’s over 2,000 trulli, which are clustered together in neighborhoods.
The trulli are made of local limestone and have distinctive white walls with cone-shaped roofs. Learn about the history of the trulli at the Museo del Territorio, which features exhibits on the architecture and culture of the region.
These unique properties offer visitors a chance to experience the charm and authenticity of the region while enjoying modern amenities and comforts.
Other must-see attractions in Alberobello include the Basilica dei Santi Medici and the Church of Saint Anthony, both of which feature beautiful frescoes and artwork.
Visitors can also sample the delicious local cuisine, which includes fresh seafood, homemade pasta, and locally produced wine.
Overall, a visit to Alberobello and the trulli of Puglia is a unique and unforgettable experience that offers a glimpse into the rich history and culture of southern Italy.
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8. The Ultimate Pilgrimage on the Camino De Santiago, Spain
Recommended by Alya from Stingy Nomads
Walking the Camino de Santiago is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience for many people.
The Camino is one of the most popular pilgrimage routes in the world with hundreds of thousands of people completing it every year on foot or cycling.
The pilgrimage to Santiago started in the 9th century soon after the discovery of what’s believed to be the tomb of Apostle St. James. Walking this route is frequently referred to as “The Way of St. James.”
People undertake this pilgrimage for a variety of reasons – religious beliefs, a time for self-reflection before making an important life decision, a fitness challenge, or solo travel among other things.
Walking the Camino is also an amazing way of visiting well-known places and discovering off-the-beaten-track locations. And you’ll make new friends from all over.
Whichever reason brings people to the Camino, for many it becomes a life-changing event. Sometimes after completing the Camino people come back to walk it again with friends or family.
One of the greatest things about the Camino de Santiago is that anybody can walk it regardless of their beliefs, age, fitness level, or weather. There are even people backpacking in the rain.
Several Camino routes start in different parts of Spain and Europe and finish at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
The most popular is the Camino Francés starting in France, going over the Pyrenees, then through Pamplona and tons of beautiful small villages.
WHERE TO STAY: A Quinta Da Auga Hotel Spa Relais & Chateaux (9.2)
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9. Riding the Rails Through Switzerland
Recommended by Alyse from The Invisible Tourist
When thinking about Europe bucket list experiences, few are as breathtaking as scenic trains in Switzerland.
Sit back and relax as you venture past waterfalls cascading into lush green valleys during summer. During winter, enjoy the beauty of frozen lakes and thick snow blanketing jagged mountain peaks.
There are three rail adventures in Switzerland worth adding to your bucket list. The Matterhorn Gornergrat Bahn from Zermatt is absolutely incredible, with uninterrupted views of the iconic pyramid-shaped Matterhorn for much of the trip. It’s difficult to pick up your jaw off the floor!
Being the steepest cog railway in the world, the rail journey from Lucerne to Mt Pilatus is a fun jaunt during the summer months. Fresh mountainside air caresses your face as you travel through rocky and alpine landscapes to Mt Pilatus’ summit, reaching 48-degree inclines in the open-air carriages.
Finally, head to Jungfraujoch, the “Top of Europe” on the Jungfraubahn from Interlaken or the storybook village of Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland.
At over 11,000 feet of elevation, it’s the highest point in Europe that can be reached by train. It’s amazing to think the first rail journey was completed in 1912!
This ride stops off at the Eigerwand and Eismeer lookouts, placing you a window’s thickness away from an unthinkable amount of snow and ice outside.
Each of these excursions can be completed from Lucerne. No Switzerland itinerary would be complete without at least one of these incredible scenic rail experiences!
WHERE TO STAY: Park Hotel Vitznau (9.5)
10. Living La Dolce Vita in Cinque Terra, Italy
Recommended by Jesal Desai from Tourist to Travellers
Italy is known for its romantic villages and beautiful coastlines and Cinque Terre (5T) is no exception. These 5 beautiful villages are filled with colorful houses perched on high cliffs, lush green vineyards, sparkling sea views, and mouth-watering gelato.
Explore the 5 villages on foot by trekking the popular 2-mile path from Monterosso to Vernazza. The views from Vernazza are mesmerizing. There are actually over 75 miles of hiking trails you can take advantage of in Cinque Terra.
Other things to do include a romantic boat ride during sunset or a seaside meal at Nessun Dorma in Manarola. You can go cliff diving, relax on a beach in Monterosso or Riomaggiore, or explore the neighboring villages of La Spezia and Portofino.
The real charm of Cinque Terra is spending time in these 5 villages at a relaxed pace, taking in all they have to offer. You won’t regret spending extra days here and enjoying la dolce vita.
The best time to visit Cinque Terre are the summer months in July and August. Undoubtedly it will be hot and crowded, however, you can make the most of swimming and boating during this time.
WHERE TO STAY: Eremo della Maddalena (9.2)
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11. Visiting Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany
Recommended by Daniel and Ilona from Top Travel Sights
Neuschwanstein Castle, one of the top landmarks in Germany should be on everyone’s Europe bucket list.
Walt Disney used the building as inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty castle, but the original castle is even more magical than the one in the movies.
One of the must-dos when visiting is to see the inside of the castle and learn about King Ludwig II, who commissioned the building. Make sure to book your ticket at least a few weeks in advance, as they tend to sell out early.
For the best pictures, head to St Mary’s Bridge. From here, you have a fantastic view of the castle. You can get even better shots if you cross the bridge and follow the hiking path up the mountain.
When visiting Neuschwanstein Castle, you should also explore Hohenschwangau, the town at the bottom of the mountain. Here, you can find Hohenschwangau Castle, where King Ludwig II spent his childhood summers and got inspired for his future home.
Another place worth visiting nearby is Füssen. This cute German town is perfect if you want to see traditional buildings or try local food from the area.
To make your bucket list jaunt perfect, don’t forget to go for a hike in the Alps behind Neuschwanstein Castle. Hiking around Lake Alpsee rewards you with fantastic mountain views. Or you could explore a more challenging trail that takes you up into the mountains.
WHERE TO STAY: AMERON Neuschwanstein Alpsee Resort & Spa (8.9)
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12. Climbing to the Meteora Monasteries in Greece
Recommended by Haley of Haley Blackall Travels
Perched and suspended around 2,000 feet on tall steep rocks are the monasteries of Meteora, one of the most beautiful and famous landmarks in Greece.
Located as a beautiful backdrop to the small town of Kalabaka in central Greece, these Greek Orthodox buildings showcase some of the best views in the world, while being a part of the views themselves.
Of Byzantine design, the six active monasteries today house beautiful artifacts and wall paintings and hold residence to a small number of monks and nuns. Meteora was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1988.
If adventure is the name of the game, start at the bottom of the ascension to the Holy Trinity Monastery of Meteora. The trail will take you 45-60 minutes to climb with a stop or two to look at the views.
Once you’ve reached the monastery, climb the stairs for some of the best sweeping landscapes on earth.
Next, make your way along the road to the Monastery of Varlaam. View the treasures inside then head towards The Great Meteoran Holy Monastery for the most epic panorama of Varlaam. It’s a true hidden gem and bound to be one of your favorite spots on the trek.
After visiting inside The Great Meteoran Holy Monastery make your way back down through the countryside to Kalabaka. The entire hike should take you 6-7 hours and requires a moderate fitness level.
WHERE TO STAY: Meteora Hotel at Kastraki (8.6)
13. Exploring the Benagil Sea Cave, Portugal
Recommended by Claire from Tales of a Backpacker
Benagil Sea Cave is one of the most beautiful sea caves in the world, and should be on any European bucket list! The cave is close to the fishing village of Benagil on the Algarve, where you will find some of the best Portuguese Beach towns.
It’s almost a perfect dome, with a hole at the top that lets sunlight stream in. You can see through the top of the cave if you do the hike on the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail. To go inside the cave, it can only be accessed by water.
The cave is large enough to explore by boat, and many tour companies offer Benagil Cave tours taking in the spectacular Algarve coastline along the way.
To stand on the small beach inside the cave, you’ll need to take a kayak or SUP tour. They include more time inside the cave – tide and weather permitting.
At low tide, you might be tempted to try swimming to the cave. With all the boat tours it gets very busy in the water so it can be dangerous. It’s better to stick to organized tours.
Tours leave from various spots all along the coast, including Lagos, Portimão, and Albufeira as well as Benagil itself.
While Benagil Cave is the icing on the cake, the beautiful Algarve beaches, hidden coves, and caverns all along the coast are well worth seeing.
WHERE TO STAY: Vila Vita Parc Resort & Spa (9.5)
14. Do a Pilgrimage to Lourdes France
Lourdes, France is a world-famous pilgrimage site that attracts millions of visitors each year. The town is known for its association with Saint Bernadette Soubirous, who had visions of the Virgin Mary in a grotto in 1858.
Today, visitors can explore the town and take part in a variety of religious and cultural activities. One of the highlights of a pilgrimage to Lourdes is attending the candlelight mass at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.
The mass, which takes place in the evening, is a moving and spiritual experience that is enhanced by the flickering light of thousands of candles held by the congregation.
One of the biggest draws to Lourdes is the Grotte de Massabielle where Saint Bernadette had her visions. Visitors can walk through the grotto and touch the rock walls, which are believed to have healing properties.
There are also several chapels and prayer areas in the grotto complex where visitors can reflect and pray.
Another opportunity for religious reflection is the Way of the Cross, a 1.5 km uphill walking path with 115 gold figures in 14 scenes along the path representing the 14 stations of the cross.
You can sign up to take a tour with a priest who will explain the stations and lead prayers at each one.
Nature lovers will want to take advantage of Lourdes’ location at the base of the Pyrenees. There are many amazing hikes, white water rafting at the Gave de Pau or you can spend time at Lourdes Lake stand up paddleboarding, fishing or relaxing.
Overall, a pilgrimage to Lourdes is a unique and spiritual experience that offers visitors a chance to connect with their faith and explore the history, culture and natural beauty of this fascinating area.
WHERE TO STAY: Belfry & Spa by Ligne St Barth (8)
15. Shopping the Christmas Markets of Vienna, Austria
Recommended by Nadine from Le Long Weekend
A visit to the Vienna Christmas Markets is a dream come true for anyone who loves the magic of the Advent season. Epitomizing everything there is to love about European Christmas markets, the Viennese events have it all.
You’ll find stunning settings, cute wooden huts, steaming mugs of mulled wine, sweet treats, and handmade trinkets.
Seemingly every square, palace, and garden is transformed into a festive fairytale come December, and the whole city emanates good cheer.
Unmissable places to visit include the Schönbrunn Christmas Market with its traditional live music performances and more upmarket feel.
The Viennese Xmas Dream, the largest market in the city, has lots of activities like ice skating, rides, and children’s workshops. The Karlsplatz Christmas Market is the best place to get one-of-a-kind handmade souvenirs.
Fuel your adventures by filling up on krapfen (donuts), punch, and the traditional soup in bread.
When visiting, be sure to dress warmly, as the temperature drops dramatically when the sun sinks. Comfortable shoes are also a necessity so you can hop comfortably between markets.
Late November/early December is the ideal time to visit before the markets get too busy.
WHERE TO STAY: Park Hyatt Vienna (9.3)
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16. Getting Your Gaudi On in Barcelona, Spain
Recommended by Noel from Travel Photo Discovery
Master architect Gaudi, left such a significant mark on Barcelona that his name has become synonymous with the city.
One of his signature landmarks to visit is La Sagrada Familia. Started in 1936, this impressive church is a masterpiece that is still in the process of being completed, even after his death.
Gaudi’s work on Sagrada Familia is part of a Unesco World Heritage Site that includes all his impressive buildings that are a must-see in Europe.
To visit the incredibly popular basilica, you definitely need to make a reservation. Take a docent-led tour or use their audio tour to enjoy the entire process.
Doing a self-guided tour allows you to enjoy and capture the stunning interior at your own pace. An early booking will help you avoid the massive crowds.
His other Unesco architectural buildings are also available to visit as living museums. They include Park Guell, Casa Mila, Casa Batilo, Guell Palace, Casa Vicens, and the Gaudi House Museum.
All have fantastic docent tours that talk more about the creative process and how each of these buildings was created for individual owners.
Even Park Guell was created as a model development village that was just turned into a public park. Now everyone can enjoy and explore the fabulous mosaic artwork, outdoor spaces, and unusual catchment system below the bench area.
WHERE TO STAY: The Barcelona EDITION (9.0) or one of the Best Boutique Hotels in Barcelona with Rooftop Pools
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Northern European Bucket List Adventures
17. Road Tripping the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland
Recommended by Luke from Wild About BC
The Wild Atlantic Way, along the west coast of Ireland, is one of the most epic road trips in the world. This 1,550-mile route runs from the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal to Kinsale in Cork. It is the world’s longest coastal drive.
The rugged beauty of Ireland’s coastline is unmatched and you’ll get to enjoy endless beaches, sea cliffs, ancient buildings, local pubs, and friendly people during a trip here.
While there are over 180 official discovery points along the route, there are some stops you simply can’t miss.
The Cliffs of Moher may be the most well-known stop. These vertical sea cliffs tower 700 feet over the Atlantic Ocean. They are best enjoyed from the coastal walking path of these dramatic cliffs.
Another highlight is the quaint town of Galway. The nightlife is amazing with numerous local pubs showcasing live music every night. You’ll enjoy walking the cobbled streets of this famed little city, also filled with restaurants and shops.
One of the hidden gems along this route is Murder Hole Beach (don’t let the name scare you).
To access this beach, you have to walk across a couple of cow-filled fields before you get to the spectacular bay with golden sand surrounded by cliffs and rolling green hills.
The west coast of Ireland is a stunningly beautiful place, that still isn’t too touristy because of its remote location and should definitely be added to your Europe travel bucket list.
WHERE TO STAY: Glenlo Abbey Hotel (9.2)
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18. Snorkeling Between Tectonic Plates at the Sifra Fissure in Iceland
Recommended by Victoria of Iceland Trippers
Snorkeling the Silfra Fissure in Iceland should top your European Bucket List! It is something that everyone should do in their lifetime!
The water is crystal clear and you are snorkeling or scuba diving between the tectonic plates of North America and Europe. Imagine actually being in the crack between continents.
Depending on your ability level, you can choose to float on the top of the water and snorkel. If you are certified, you can actually dive 60 feet down to explore the crack!
Many tours in Iceland can take you to the Silfra Fissure, and you must take one, you cannot just go swimming alone.
The best part about a tour is that they provide the gear you will need. You will be wearing a dry suit with warm thermals layered underneath, ensuring minimal exposure to the freezing cold water.
It’s between 34-39F or 2-4C. Summer is the best time for this expedition as the weather is most hospitable. Once you are done diving, head back to Reykjavik and warm up with a cup of something warm and delicious!
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19. Wales Narrowboat Canal Tour Over the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
The canal system in the UK is a fascinating destination for narrowboat enthusiasts. The system includes over 2,000 miles of canals and waterways that wind their way through some of the most beautiful landscapes in the UK.
Visitors can explore the canals on a narrowboat tour, stopping at charming towns and villages along the way.
By far, one of the most exciting Narrowboat tours for a European bucket list adventure is to navigate over the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in Wales. It’s a thrill to be in a boat going over the highest and longest aqueduct in the UK.
At 126 feet high, this UNESCO World Heritage Site spans the River Dee near the charming town of Llangollen. Visitors should also explore the town’s historic buildings, including the ruins of Castell Dinas Bran, a medieval castle that offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
Combine your narrowboat vacation with other nearby adventures. Go hiking in Snowdonia National Park to see beautiful waterfalls, visit medieval Conwy Castle or Caernarfon Castle, or head underground at Llechwedd Slate Caverns.
Overall, a Wales Narrowboat tour is a unique and unforgettable way to explore the beauty and history of Wales and the UK. Whether crossing the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, visiting Llangollen, or exploring Northern Wales, visitors are sure to be enchanted by the stunning scenery and rich culture of this fascinating region.
WHERE TO STAY: Palé Hall (9.4)
20. Winter in Arctic Finland is a the Top of Our Europe Bucket List
Recommended by Suzanne from Meandering Wild
Visiting the Arctic Circle is a magical once-in-a-lifetime journey. One of the more accessible Arctic regions is around Ruka in the northeast of Finland.
Ruka is within the Arctic Circle and during the winter months, short days with continuous sunrise and sunset and dark nights make for one of the most unique experiences in Europe – a must-add to your bucket list.
One of the biggest draws to Arctic Finland is the chance to see the northern lights. Stay overnight in one of the best glass igloo hotels in Finland to see the magical light display right from the comfort of your bed.
Close to Ruka is Riisitunturi National Park which is a combination of dense woodland and high fells. The trees are coated in heavy snow during the winter months and take on a unique appearance called tykky.
Immerse yourself in the full beauty of the high fells by taking a trip with the local dog sledding team. These beautiful dogs are loved by their owners and enjoy running on the high fells.
Short trips take you around the lower slopes but an extended trip will allow you to encounter more remote landscapes. Ruka is also a popular skiing destination for both downhill and miles of cross-country trails.
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21. Hiking the Preikestolen in Norway
Recommended by Raksha from Solo Passport
Preikestolen, also known as The Pulpit Rock, is a famous tourist attraction and an iconic landmark in Norway. It is a steep cliff with a height of almost 2,000 feet. This is one of the most adventurous European bucket list areas.
Located in Stavanger, the cliff atop Prekestolen provides stunning views of the fjord Lysefjorden and the valleys of the Ryfylke region.
It is believed that the cliff was formed during the ice age about 10,000 years ago. The cliff is one of the most photographed cliffs in Norway.
The best way to get to the Preikestolen is to hike from Preikestolhytta. To reach Preikestolhytta, take a ferry from Stavanger to Tau and then a bus from Tau to Preikestolhytta. You can stay at Stavanger city and visit Preikestolen as part of a one-day trip.
The hike is around 2 miles and it takes about 2 to 3 hours. It is a hard hike with certain sections that are steep. The entire trail is made up of beautiful views of the fjords and small lakes.
The best time to visit Preikestolen is between April and September. The weather is pleasant and the conditions are perfect for the hike. During winter, the trail is dangerous as it can be slippery and wet due to the snow and ice.
WHERE TO STAY: Thon Hotel Stavanger (9.1)
22. The Historic City of York, England
Recommended by Cristina of My Little World of Travelling
The city has many things to offer – from visiting historical buildings and interesting museums to having an afternoon tea at the popular Betty’s tea room.
A bucket list free activity in York is walking the historic city walls. These Roman walls are one of the most well-preserved walls in England. They are connected by four gatehouses that were defensive positions in times of war.
As you walk the York City Walls, you will have incredible views of the city including York Minster Cathedral. Make sure to visit the interior to admire its detailed Gothic architecture and big stained glass windows.
Walking through The Shambles, a medieval street with half-timbered buildings and quirky shops, well-known by Harry Potter fans is another point of interest.
If you love discovering hidden gems, then you must visit Museum Gardens, a beautiful garden that also has a museum and the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey.
The best time to visit York is early in the morning or evening, especially for those who love taking photos. The city isn’t very big, but it does get crowded.
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23. Sunset Glacier Hike in Iceland
Recommended by Jessie of Pocket Wanderings
There’s no better place to see stunning natural beauty and mystical snow-covered landscapes than Iceland. In the Nordic land of Ice and Fire, you can see breathtaking scenery from fields of lava rock and hot springs to towering glaciers and snow-peaked mountains.
If you visit Iceland in November, you’ll be blown away by the beautiful golden lighting all day long and the plethora of unforgettable sunsets.
There’s no shortage of things to see and do in Iceland, but at the top of your list should be a sunset glacier hike. Experience the surreal feeling of being able to walk on ice and be greeted with some truly stunning views for your hard work.
The Vatnajökull National Park is the largest in Iceland and a must-see for anyone wanting to explore Iceland’s striking natural features.
Take an unforgettable glacier hiking tour of the impressive Skaftafellsjökull glacier tongue, which leads off from Iceland’s largest ice cap.
There are also other amazing activities on offer in the park, including an awe-inspiring boat tour of the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, or the concealed volcanoes which are some of the most active in the country.
RELATED POST: THE 15 BEST ICELAND WATERFALLS
24. Sailing in the Stockholm Archipelago, Sweden
Recommended by Peta and Jonas of Exit45 Travels
The Stockholm Archipelago or Stockholms skärgård, as it is known by the locals, consists of 30,000 islands each with its own history, character, and wildlife. One of the best ways to explore this area is by boat.
Swedes love sailing during the warmer summer months, and it is easy to see why! You will see a splattering of traditional red Swedish summerhouses and communal saunas on the granite islands as you meander your way through the archipelago.
Covering an area of more than 650 square miles, there’s something to discover for everyone. You can explore uninhabited islands to experience undisturbed nature, sheltered waters, and clean beaches.
Or you can choose to visit the 150 settled islands and charming coastal fishing villages with fabulous seafood restaurants, bars, and adventure activities.
Some of the most popular islands within the archipelago to visit are Finnhamn, Grinda, Utö, and Sandhamn, all of which have restaurants, bars, and beautiful nature.
One of the best ways to visit the city center of Stockholm is from the water. Gamla Stan or “Old Town” is an ideal destination for those who want to stroll the narrow, cobbled streets with its mansions and old architecture.
Here you will also find many museums, art galleries, over a thousand restaurants, and the best Stockholm boutique hotels.
There are many things to see and do in Stockholm, but sailing in the Stockholm archipelago is an absolute must, even if only for a day.
Top Tip – The best time for sailing in Sweden is July to September when the weather is warmer and there is almost constant daylight – only 3 hours of semi-darkness a day.
25. Riding the World’s Fastest Zipline in North Wales, UK
Recommended by Kylie from Between England & Iowa
It’s just under one mile long and riders can reach speeds up to 120mph.
After a ‘warm up’ zip line, riders are taken to the top of Penrhyn Quarry in a truck, to the start of Velocity 2. The views from the top are great!
The water in the quarry lake is SO blue and on a clear day, you can see all the way to Anglesey Island. The ride down takes around 60 seconds, laying face down, head first, flying through the air like a bird!
Velocity 2 is part of Zip World, which has 4 locations across Wales. Each location offers a whole range of adventurous activities.
Another unique venture is Bounce Below at Llechwedd Slate Caverns. Hidden in a cave, is a network of giant trampolines and tube slides as well as a separate Via Ferrata climbing course.
A good place to stay is in the village of Betws-y-Coed, which is fairly central to the 3 locations in North Wales.
There are several different accommodation options and places to eat. Betws-y-Coed is also home to Zip World Fforest with the awesome Fforest coaster!
WHERE TO STAY: Craig-y-Dderwen Riverside Hotel (9.2)
Eastern Europe Adventure Bucket List Trips
26. Hot Air Ballooning in Cappadocia, Turkey
Hot air ballooning is always a bucket list experience but flying over otherworldly landscapes in Eastern Europe takes it to another level. Cappadocia hot air ballooning is a highlight of a magnificent trip to Turkey.
This incredible escapade starts with a wake-up call at your luxurious Cappadocia cave hotel in the middle of the night. As you get dressed and head down to the car, it’s still shocking to see 3:30 AM on the clock.
The drive to the balloons is mostly quiet and the provided breakfast is uneaten. Then the adventure begins. Massive balloons are lying on the ground as if they are trying to wake up too.
There’s a hustle and bustle of men busily inflating them and a simmering excitement emanating from the participants.
Everyone is ushered into balloons that surprisingly hold 20 very enthusiastic people. Before you know it, the balloon is lifting into the air and flying with 200 other balloons as a faint edge of light starts to become visible on the horizon.
The surreal rock valleys below light up with the magnificence of the rising sun. It’s definitely a pinch-me moment if ever there was one. Once back on the ground, a champagne toast is so fitting even though it’s not yet 7 AM.
WHERE TO STAY: Carus Cappadocia (9.3) or one of the best Cave Hotels in Cappadocia with Hot Air Balloon Views
RELATED POST: A BUCKET LIST 7 DAY TURKEY ITINERARY
27. Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia
Recommended by Christine Rogador from Guide To Day Trips
Plitvice Lakes is often cited as one of the most beautiful national parks and lakes in the world. Located just 2 hours from Zagreb, it can be visited on a day trip from the capital or a few days as part of a Croatia road trip.
Plitvice, Croatia’s largest national park, is a 115-square-mile nature reserve. It’s known for its beautiful 16-terrace turquoise lakes and amazing falls that are interconnected.
Surrounding these lakes is a massive expanse of forested hills creating one of the most magical sceneries in Europe. Start your visit at Station 3 where the famous shots of Plitvice lakes are taken from above. It’s definitely the best viewpoint.
Then work your way to Stations 2 and 1 where you can explore smaller falls and lakes up close by meandering along the wooden pathways. Spend at least 4 hours here to fully enjoy the place.
Swimming is prohibited in this UNESCO Heritage site to protect the lakes and the ecosystem. There is an electric boat that allows you to cross the lake. Mostly though, Plitvice is meant to be explored on foot. Enjoy the best nature has to offer.
28. Venture Underground to the Wieliczka Salt Mine in Krakow
The Wieliczka Salt Mine, located in Krakow, Poland, is one of the oldest salt mines in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In operation for over 700 years, the mine was producing salt that was used throughout Europe and beyond. Today, visitors can explore the mine and learn about its rich history and culture.
The Wieliczka Salt Mine’s vast underground complex stretches for over 287 kilometers, with more than 2,000 chambers and galleries.
Visitors can take a guided tour of the mine, which includes a walk through the salt chambers, underground lakes, and chapels that have been carved out of the rock salt.
The most unexpected and impressive area of the mine is the Chapel of St. Kinga. It’s a stunning underground cathedral, where some people actually get married!
As beautiful as it is, the mind-blowing part is that almost everything is made of salt including the chandelier crystals, sculptures, intricate wall carvings, and floor tiles.
For those who want one of the coolest adventures in Europe, you can take a Miner’s Route tour, deep into the heart of the mine.
Don traditional mining clothing and equipment, go through dark caves with a headlamp to illuminate the way, and experience the actual work of the miners.
Another option that offers a glimpse into the history and culture of Poland is a combined tour of Wieliczka Salt Mine and Auschwitz-Birkenau. Experiencing this part of history is profoundly sad but important.
WHERE TO STAY: PURO Kraków Kazimierz (9.4)
29. A Transylvanian Road Trip to Dracula’s Castle
Recommended by Yaren & Antoine from Bug in Our Bag
Transfăgărășan Road in Romania is named one of the most beautiful roads in Europe. It’s perfect for a Transylvanian road trip to medieval cities and gothic castles and probably new for your European bucket list.
Starting in Cluj-Napoca, you’ll find quaint colorful buildings with shops and bars, the National Art Museum, and the stunning Saint Michael’s Church as a centerpiece of the historic center square.
You might even catch a music festival if you’re lucky. This creative city is definitely worth a few days before you set off on your journey.
The first stop is Sibiu, a historic medieval town with eyed window buildings that look like they are watching you! You can easily see Sibiu in a day.
Don’t miss the Evangelical Cathedral and Holy Trinity Cathedral. Piata Mare is a great spot for people-watching and enjoying a delicious Romanian meal.
Next up, the city of Brasov is like an open-air museum. The gothic Black Church, busy town square, Piata Sfatului, and Strada Sforii, the narrowest street in Europe, provide an interesting view of this city.
The star attraction, Dracula’s Castle is an hour away in Bran. A Transylvania day tour. is an easy way to see Brasov, Dracula’s castle, and other, even more beautiful castles in the area.
WHERE TO STAY: SCHUSTER Boarding House (9.7)
RELATED POST: 16 BEST PLACES TO TRAVEL IN OCTOBER
30. Taking a Pletna to Lake Bled Island, Slovenia
Recommended by Megan from Red Around the World
Lake Bled by the town of Bled is one of the prettiest spots in Europe.
Part of what makes it so charming is the picturesque, Bled Island in the middle of the turquoise lake. It’s the only naturally occurring island in Slovenia and totally worth visiting.
Getting to the island is half the fun. You can take a ride on a Pletna, one of the beautiful boats that will transport you across the lake. Or rent a rowboat, and get a little exercise on the 15-minute paddle to the island.
On the island, climb the stairs up to the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Mary which is beautiful from afar and wonderful up close. Make a wish and ring the Wishing Bell at the top to make it come true.
Then enjoy the amazing views of the town and Blejski Grad. There is also a small cafe and gift shop on the island.
To fully enjoy the area, make sure to visit Lake Bled Castle. Built on a high rocky cliff overlooking the lake, the views are fantastic. They also have an enjoyable wine tasting.
Also nearby and a great addition to your trip is Vintgar Gorge, a stunning walk along the Radovna River.
WHERE TO STAY: Adora Luxury Hotel (9.3)
31. Ancient Treasures and Beaches of Cyprus
Recommended by Alice from Adventures of Alice
Cyprus is a beautiful island located in the eastern Mediterranean Sea and is an extremely popular place to visit in Europe. It also happens to be one of the oldest human settlements in the world with many ancient treasures.
There are many wonderful things to do in Cyprus, but one of the most spectacular attractions is the Tomb of the Kings, a UNESCO Heritage Site set on the coast with beautiful views.
This ancient cemetery contains elaborate tombs of aristocrats dating back to the 4th century BC. Another treasure is the Kato Paphos Archaeological Park, known for its well-preserved ancient mosaics.
Additionally, Paphos castle, a fortress overlooking the bay with an intriguing history, is well worth a visit. It’s located at the Paphos harbor where you can stop at one of the many cafes or bars.
After enjoying historical gems, beachgoers will love Coral Beach with crystal clear water, that’s the perfect place to relax.
For a day trip, a cruise to the Blue Lagoon is a popular choice, while divers flock to the Zenobia Shipwreck, one of the top 10 dive sites in the world. The unique island of Cyprus has it all.
WHERE TO STAY: Elysium (9.5)
RELATED POST: 3 DAYS IN MALTA ITINERARY
32. Luxuriating in a Prague Beer Spa, Czech Republic
Recommended by Jessica from Uprooted Traveler
Have you ever dreamed of soaking in a tub of warm, hoppy beer? Well, even if that’s not the case, you can have just that experience, all while drinking unlimited beer.
Prague is the unofficial beer capital of the world, where beer is literally cheaper than water!
A beer spa offers a secluded, cave-like environment. You (and a few friends, if you so choose) will be able to soak in a bubbling 1,000-liter spa with brewer’s yeast, hops, and malt.
The combination eases muscle tension, increases metabolism, and softens skin while providing a myriad of other health benefits.
You’ll also get access to two taps of delicious Czech beer, like a pilsner or a lager, which you can pour for yourself as you luxuriate in the tub.
After you’re done soaking, fill your belly with homemade beer bread and relax on a bed of hay near a warm, crackling fire.
Pack a swimsuit if you’re headed to the spa with friends you’re not comfortable being naked around. Your group will be provided a private room, but each tub is generally shared between two or so beer lovers.
The Original Beer Spa and the Prague Beer Spa Bernard are both conveniently located right by the Old Town Square. They are great choices for a beer spa to try out during your adventures around Prague.
WHERE TO STAY: Boho Prague Hotel (9.4)
RELATED POST: OUR WORLD TRAVEL CHALLENGE TO 50 COUNTRIES
33. Georgian Military Highway From Tbilisi to Russia
Recommended by Ellis from Backpack Adventures
The Georgian Military Highway is the one road that connects Tbilisi in Georgia with Russia. It also happens to be a spectacular European road trip.
In one day, you travel just over 200 kilometers from Georgia’s capital Tbilisi to the town of Kazbegi at the foot of Mount Kazbek. On the way, there are ancient churches, monasteries, lakes, and beautiful mountain views all around you.
The Caucasus mountain range is home to some of the highest mountains in Europe. Mount Kazbek is just over 5,000 meters high and is an impressive sight once you reach Kazbegi.
One of the first worthwhile stops is the ancient Ananuri fortress overlooking the deep blue turquoise waters of Zhinvali Lake.
Another popular stop is the Russia-Georgia Friendship monument. Besides beautiful Soviet mosaics this is one of the most spectacular viewpoints.
For most people, Kazbegi is the last stop on this road trip. Not far from Kazbegi is the Russian border where the road continues all the way to Vladikavkaz.
Kazbegi itself is another bucket list destination for those who love mountains and the outdoors. There are plenty of hiking trails to choose from and of course, you cannot miss the Gergeti Trinity church. One of the most picturesque sights in Georgia.
WHERE TO STAY: Stamba Hotel (9.2)
34. Hiking Bobotov Kuk in Durmitor National Park, Montenegro
Recommended by Veronika from Travel Geekery
Montenegro mountain ranges belong to the most stunning natural sights in the Balkans. Durmitor National Park in the North is one of the most popular ones.
This National Park has been a UNESCO-listed site since 1980. During the Ice Age, the area was heavily covered in glaciers, which resulted in the creation of amazing canyons, lakes, and caves.
Durmitor’s highest peak is Bobotov Kuk (2,523 m). To hike there and see the views from the top is one of the best experiences for any nature lover.
You can start in the Sedlo 1907 and then climb the 850 meters up. The hike is strenuous but anyone reasonably fit can handle it. The view from the top makes it all worth it! The last part involves climbing a few rocks with the help of a steel rope.
On the way down, you can take a different route and visit an ice cave – Ledena Pečina, where you always have some snow and ice stalactites, even in the summer months.
Nearby you can come across a local farmer’s hut selling cold drinks and homemade cheese.
Other popular destinations within Durmitor NP include Crvena Greda Peak (2,164 m) and Tara River Canyon with its monumental bridge Đurđevića Tara. You can even go whitewater rafting on the Tara River or zipline across the canyon.
WHERE TO STAY: Casa di Pino Eco Lodge (9.7)
35. White Nights in St Petersburg, Russia
Recommended by De Wet & Jin from Museum of Wander
Saint Petersburg, the cultural capital of Russia, is among the most beautiful cities in Europe. With world-class museums, gilded palaces and cathedrals, tons of historical sights, and vibrant cultural events.
To see the city at its most dashing, visit during the White Nights. Saint Petersburg never really gets dark during the White Nights (usually between June 11th and July 2nd), and it’s a surreal and beautiful time to be in the city.
During the (regular) day, you should visit the incredible Hermitage Museum. It’s one of the best museums in the world, and you can spend days there if you wish.
The Kazan and St. Isaacs cathedrals and The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood are all breathtaking too.
At night, while it’s still light, stroll along the Neva River to enjoy the city in the endless blue hour and see the drawbridges open. A cruise along the canals is beautiful at any time, but even more so during the White Nights.
The city’s best view can be seen from the Petrograd side, along the embankment at the Peter and Paul fortress. There is a small beach here.
Seeing Peterburgers taking a leisurely swim in the Neva after midnight is all part of this European bucket list experience.
WHERE TO STAY: Boutique Hotel The Gamma (9.3)
Final Thoughts About The Best Adventures to Add to Your Europe Bucket List
So now that you know what to do in Europe for some truly exciting adventures, here are a few resources for planning your trip.
If you are planning to take advantage of some of the best hikes in Europe, our hiking essentials packing list will help.
If you have ideas for adventurous things to do in Europe that we missed, please share them in the comments below because we are always adding more to our own Europe Bucket List.