From vibrant cosmopolitan cities to sleepy Medieval towns. Monstrous mountains to gorgeous vineyards and sun-drenched beaches. Taste-bud tingling foods, astonishing art, architecture and more. European experiences hold a little magic for every traveller and rightly dot bucket-lists worldwide. Need a little help choosing? Here are 22 iconic European summer bucket list activities you can do this year.
Canal cruise in Amsterdam
Amsterdam’s canals transport you to a fairytale world. Stretching over 100 kilometres, these winding water routes are the hallmark of the city. A boat cruise deserves its place on any European summer bucket list. Don’t forget to admire Amsterdam’s pretty houses, tree-lined streets and bridges on route. Plus the local cyclists that are one of the city’s charming trademarks.
GET INSPIRED BY: Amsterdam Explorer Tour (Summer 2022)
Pizza in Naples
Succulent, moist, mouth-watering. We can only be talking about Neapolitan pizza. Made from only basil, mozzarella, and tomato – simplicity is perfection here. With additional toppings off limits. Yet to taste? Expect more sauce than cheese and a wet texture that isn’t for slicing. Naples’ speciality is best eaten folded or with a knife and fork. Expect a soft, charred crust and thin base – and an addiction you’ll keep forever. Pizza-lovers take note: you’ve reached the pinnacle in Naples.
RELATED CONTENT: An Italian Food Map
Lake Como adventures
All hearts skip a beat at Lake Como. The deepest and most elegant lake in Italy, explorers flock to the Lombardy region (northern Italy) to witness these glistening, sun-kissed waters. Illuminated beautifully by steep Alps foothills in background. Hiking, fishing and swim-enthusiasts are right at home here. Just don’t forget a towel.
Port in Porto
It is criminal to leave Porto without a sip of Port – fortified Portuguese wine. We recommend you savour this sweet wine with chocolate desserts or cheese. Or as a delightful after-dinner drink. Alternatively, enjoy a glass as you leisurely cruise down the Douro River on Trafalgar’s Best of Portugal tour.
Walk in Salzburg’s Lake District
‘The hills are alive with the sound of music’ on a Salzburg Lake District walking tour. Here monstrous mountains plunge into 76 blue glacier lakes. Sleepy villages dot the valleys and show the way to lakeside and mountain trails with terrains for all walkers. Roam picturesque towns like Sankt Gilgen and soak in the scenery of the iconic film ‘The Sound of Music’. Return home (reluctantly) with photos to file under ‘paradise’ in your scrapbook.
RELATED CONTENT: A nature lover’s guide to Austria
Spot the Berlin Wall murals
Stroll along the remaining stretch of the Berlin wall, built in 1961 to divide the communist East Berlin from the prosperous Wester. Spot the ‘Fraternal Kiss’ mural (painted in 1990) of Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker kissing. Plus 150 other astonishing art pieces including Thierry Noir’s cartoon heads. Feel the city unite here!
Venice gondola ride
Ah ‘The Floating City’, ‘The City of Canals’, ‘The Queen of the Adriatic!’ Whatever you call Venice, we can agree a gondola ride down its canals is special. Years ago only the nobility could ride these gondolas. Today they are available to all. A signature of the city to put high on your European summer bucket list (and your Instagram feed).
Stroll through Burgundy’s Vineyards
In central-eastern France, Burgundy’s wine region ‘Bourgogne’ takes centre stage in the world of wine. Wine connoisseur’s and novices alike step into heaven – with sweeping landscapes of bright green vines extending as far as the eye can see. The climate is perfect for quality viticulture here. Just wait until you taste the local Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Relax in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon
Fancy bubbling away in calming geothermal waters? Welcome to Iceland’s blue lagoon. The perfect place to harmonise with nature. The warm mineral-rich water and soft silica mud work wonders for your skin – with travellers encouraged to smear the latter on their face!
GET INSPIRED BY: Iceland including Blue Lagoon tour
Step into La Sagrada Familia
Antoni Gaudí’s unfinished masterpiece is Barcelona’s icon. Equally fascinating for architecture buffs and novices visitors, the interior design freezes you on the spot. We recommend admiring its 18 towers (all representing someone of religious significance) and seeing Gaudí’s tomb! In fact, why not explore it with a Local Specialist on a Best of Spain tour with Trafalgar?
Gulp Guinness in Dublin
Guinness was created in Arthur Guinness’ brewery in Dublin (in 1759). For this reason, there is no better spot to taste this creamy, dark stout than a local pub. A cosy, welcoming place to connect to heart and soul of Ireland, enjoy Irish music and dancing and chat to friendly locals. Cheers to that!
Hike the Scottish Highlands
Find a stillness like no other on foot in the Scottish highlands. Whether you’re a keen hiker or simply after a little headspace, walking here is a brilliant activity for body and mind. Drink in clean air. Admire gorgeous panoramic views of nature at her glamorous best. Hop on a cruise of the enchanting Lock Ness and spot the Urquhart Castle on route.
GET INSPIRED BY: Highland Trail inspired by Outlander
Sit under the Eiffel tower
A European summer bucket list would be lacking without an Eiffel tower mention. Oh, ‘The City of Lights!’ Paris’s landmark is one for the romantics. Travellers, locals and lovers all flock to the freshly cut grass here to embrace the atmosphere, bask in the summer sun and picnic with tasty French wine. Remember your camera.
RELATED CONTENT: 12 secret hidden gems you should explore next time you visit Paris
A London walking tour
Each corner of London is bursting with culture. Get to know London’s iconic attractions and hidden gems on feet for a feel of the capital. Visit the Shard, Buckingham Palace Gardens and the London Eye. We recommend a bite of afternoon tea or a hearty Sunday roast. Or perhaps a theatre show at the Globe. This is your time to live the London life!
Stand in the Colosseum
An iconic symbol of Imperial Rome and a must for any European summer bucket list. The Colosseum held an average of 65,000 spectators for its gladiator battles to the death, animal hunts, executions and theatre dramas (based on Roman mythology). Excitingly, visitors can now visit the colosseum’s underground area where animals were kept and gladiators prepared for their contest. Or just stand and admire.
GET INSPIRED BY: Best of Italy tour
Explore Plitvice Lakes National Park
Croatia’s largest and national park hypnotises travellers. Walk into 30,000 hectares of enfolding lakes, colossal waterfalls and sweeping green landscapes. It proudly sits on UNESCO World Heritage List – and deserves a space on your European summer bucket list. Nature lovers, don’t look away.
GET INSPIRED BY: European Supreme Tour (Summer 2022)
Climb up Wawel Castle
Grab your chance to see the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in the world – Wawel Castle – which housed Poland’s rulers from 1038 to 1596. Sitting near the Vistula River and 15 minutes on foot from Krakow’s Market Square, it provides easy access and blissful setting for visitors (who can roam the stunning grounds for free). We also recommend seeing the 16th century Flemish tapestries and Crown Treasury inside.
Admire the Hagia Sofia Istanbul
Architecture lovers take note: the Hagia Sofia drops any jaw to the floor. This iconic site has been a church, museum and mosque during its lifetime; and a centre point for both the Byzantine Empire and Ottoman Empire. Head to its 107 ‘wishing columns’ inside. Here, legend tells that if you place your finger through the hole of St Gregory it comes out wet, your wishes will come true! Only one way to find out…
GET INSPIRED BY: Highlights of Turkey
Uncover the Acropolis at Athens
Uncover incredible history at the Acropolis. Arguably Europe’s most magnificent architectural site, visitors can learn about ancient Greek civilisations, practices and sieges from ruins dating back to 5th century BC. Discover the Parthenon (dedicated to the goddess Athen), the Royal Palace, Temple of Zeus and the Agora on our Best of Greece tour.
Roam Prague’s Old Town Square
Dating back to the 10th century, Prague’s Old Town Square is a marvel. You must admire the Old Town Hall and Astronomical Clock (still ticking away since 1410). Plus the Baroque architecture of the St. Nicholas Church. Alternatively, sitting on a charming, cobbled outdoor café, coffee in hand, is a perfect way to spend an afternoon.
A concert in Vienna
The city of music. Many musicians and composers made Vienna their musical home and found inspiration here. Such as Wolfgang Mozart Mozart, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Joseph Haydn and Franz Schubert. Music is in the air here – which means a Viennese concert is a summer bucket-list special for all in search of sweet sounds.
Soak in Széchenyi’s Thermal Baths
Say hello to ultimate relaxation in the largest medicinal bath in Europe: Széchenyi in Budapest. Time in these warm waters signals summer at its finest. The spas were constructed at the end of the 19th century from drilling up natural water, and today there are 21 baths to choose from, ranging in temperatures – all filled with minerals (sulphite, sodium, calcium, magnesium and more) good for your skin. Unwind here. On comfortable sun loungers. Or take in the Neo-Baroque and Neo-Renaissance architecture in the inside bath complex.
GET INSPIRED BY: Prague, Vienna and Budapest tour
Ready to tick off your European summer bucket list this year? Tell us where you’d like to travel first in the comments below!