The Most Beautiful Places in Europe
Europe is filled with more beautiful towns, cities and regions than it’s possible to count, but these are our Plum Guide favourites.
With its dizzying variety of landscapes, including the snow-capped peaks of the Alps and the Pyrenees, the beautiful coastline of the Mediterranean sea, plus verdant fields and windswept plains, Europe has an astonishingly diverse selection of natural sights. It also boasts a fascinating mix of cultures, meaning you’ll find historic towns and unique architecture everywhere you look across the continent. Luckily, here at Plum Guide we’ve narrowed down some of the most beautiful places in Europe to help you plan your next trip.
Fields of poppies, ancient towers that seem to touch the sky, and rolling vineyards characterise the central Italian region of Tuscany. Explore the host of charming hill towns – such as San Gimignano, Volterra and Cortona – where cafe tables spill out onto sunlit squares, restaurants serve fresh, local produce, and cobbled alleys wind through traditional homes. Outside of the towns and villages, the verdant countryside is also aching to be explored, whether you choose to tour the area’s famous wineries, or wind through Tuscan cypress trees, passing tumbledown homes along the way.
Balearic Islands, Spain
Surrounded by the crystal-clear waters of the Balearic Sea, and lying just off the eastern coast of Spain, the Balearic Islands have some of the most breathtaking beaches in Europe. Away from the parties and clubs on the island of Ibiza, visitors will find a landscape characterised by striking red earth, undulating hills and sun-scorched trees. For pretty Spanish towns, you can’t go wrong with a trip to the largest island, Mallorca, where the palm tree-lined city of Palma stretches right to the sea. For the most relaxed option, try Menorca, where pine-draped cliffs provide the backdrop for sheltered white-sand coves.
South of France
Sandwiched between Spain, Italy and the Mediterranean Sea, the South of France is one of the most beautiful places in Europe. Whether you choose to saunter with the rich and famous along Cannes’ Boulevard de la Croisette, learn about wine at La Cité du Vin in Bordeaux, or flit between the town and the beach in the coastal city of Nice, you’ll find classical French architecture at every turn. But it’s not just the relaxed ambience of the cities that will draw you to this region. On just one walk through the countryside, you’ll find yourself breathing in the heady scent of lavender fields, wandering through rows of golden sunflowers, and past the tiled roofs of French homes that have hardly changed in centuries.
The Cotswolds, UK
For stereotypically postcard-pretty England, a visit to the Cotswolds is a must. Here, limestone houses with thatched roofs cluster together, higgledy piggledy, in quaint medieval villages where you might only find a small shop and a post office. There’s such a wealth of places worth visiting that you can easily spend your time here dotting between tiny villages and the larger towns of Bourton-on-the-Water, Burford, Cirencester, Castle Combe and more. Join public footpaths in any one of these to hike through England’s famous green fields, passing cows, sheep and country estates as you make your way through this designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
We found it impossible to settle on just one place in Croatia… so we’ve chosen to include the entire country on this list of beautiful places in Europe. Croatia’s unrivalled perch on the Adriatic Sea, and its sprinkling of islands, gives it a fantastically long coastline. There are also the captivating national parks of Plitvice and Krka, where cascades of water rush down into placid lakes, plus imposing canyons, popular trails and towering mountains. The country’s characteristic terracotta-roofed homes are particularly picturesque in the walled city of Dubrovnik, which juts out into the sea, and whose Old Town seems to have hardly changed over the years.
Situated on the Iberian Peninsula, the city of Porto is spectacularly perched on the Douro River. Towering homes vie for space on the waterfront, their colourfully painted fronts demanding to be seen. Above these, the bell tower of the Torre dos Clérigos climbs even higher, allowing the Baroque Church to be seen from across the city. Take a boat out onto the river to experience the best view of Porto, and try to time your trip with sunset, after which the lights of the city dance in the placid water.
The Greek Islands
Greece has thousands of islands, spread across the Aegean and Ionian seas, but only a couple of hundred that are inhabited. Of these, the most impressive have to be Santorini, Crete, Mykonos and Corfu. Choose a home perched on the Santorini coast, where the deep blue of the Aegean Sea is zigzagged by boats and yachts. For a cultural stay, pick a home on the island of Crete and spend time exploring its incredible archaeological sights. Visit Mykonos’s famous windmills before winding through its dazzling white streets, or soak up the romance on the island of Corfu.