Time to start planning your 2020 adventures! Since living in Europe the past three years I've had my fair share of travel experiences. I've found many of my all-time favorite places are actually off the beaten path. Of course, the big destinations like London and Paris are wonderful. But there are so many places in Europe that should be on your list!
Whether you're traveling solo, taking a romantic trip, or a group excursion, these are the best destinations to travel to in Europe for 2020.
I scoured the European continent to find the best destinations you need to visit in 2020. Whether you crave an outdoor adventure, beautiful scenery, a relaxing escape, or a buzzing city full of history, this guide has you covered.
There are a few places on this list that will be time sensitive, like seeing the tulips is a Spring activity, so keep that in mind!
15. Sicily, Italy
Italy is always a fantastic idea. The incredible architecture, the scenic rolling hills, beaches, mountains, and of course, the food and wine! Most people head to Rome, Florence, or Venice, and while those places are absolutely incredible, it's worth it to avoid the crowds and go further south.
Before visiting Sicily, I pictured a somewhat rough island- strewn with crumbling cities and desolate places. What I found was a sprawling region that reminded me of the rolling hills of Tuscany, the epic landscapes and beaches of the Canary Islands, and delightful ancient stone palaces full of gorgeous architecture and ancient Greek and Roman ruins. Although some places do need a bit of cleaning up (particularly Palermo and Catania), most of the towns we visited were absolutely remarkable.
14. Canary Islands, Spain
The best way to describe the Canary Islands is a tropical Iceland. Just like the land of fire and ice, the Canary Islands offer an incredibly diverse landscape of volcanoes, black sand beaches, seas of banana trees, and unmatched vegetation. No wonder it's called “the continent on an island.”
We went to three different islands: Tenerife, La Palma, and Gran Canaria. Each one was worth visiting and different from the last. We also went to the Carnival celebration, which is the second biggest outside of Brazil.
13. Southern England
From the magnificent White Cliffs of Dover, the historic university towns of Cambridge and Oxford, the ancient stones that date back 5,000 years, and the countryside manors that inspired writings that will last for all of time, there is something to uncover nearly everywhere you turn. My nearly two-week England itinerary will cover everywhere you need to see as well as where to stay and how to get around. I've always been fascinated by historical sights, and there are many important and beautiful places in the south of England.
I knew that I would love the English countryside, the grazing sheep, and mythical stones, but I was enthralled by the water as clear as the Bahamas, coupled with the brilliant history that stretches even the wildest imagination.
I suggest taking a road trip and seeing as many of the quaint villages and historic towns as possible. My guide gives you the perfect itinerary for seeing the best of Southern England.
12. Dolomites, Italy
This epic mountain range offers stunning views no matter where you turn. We actually had trouble getting to our destination, we kept stopping the car to take photos. You can hike, sled, ski, or just admire the beauty of the mountains.
It's important to note that in the spring months (April, May) some of the overpasses and hotels close up for about a month. So keep that in mind.
11. Hallstatt, Austria
Ignore the throngs of tourists clinging to the sides of the railing to get a picture of the iconic church stretching out into the water and pointing up to the mountains. It's worth it, even if it is a bit crowded. You won't need too much time here, so take a side trip to the Ice Cave (called Eisriesenwelt) in Werfen, Austria. And, if you still have time, hop over to Salzburg.
Scotland really sets itself apart from the rest of Europe. Ancient landscapes, mythical creatures, and some of the kindest people on earth, make Scotland one of my favorite places to visit.
One of my favorite parts about visiting was the colorful wildlife. Puffins, furry cows, sheep everywhere, and the cutest Spaniels (besides my own) I've ever seen!
You'll most likely land in the bustling cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, which are worth a visit, but make sure to hit the road to experience the rugged landscape of the Isle of Skye and the Scottish Highlands. The country is small enough that you can see it all in about a week!
This vibrant city packs a punch as a tourist destination. There are plenty of museums, interesting architecture, funky restaurants, and a great place to go up north.
I'd recommend 3-5 days to experience all Helsinki has to offer. Make sure to check out Temppeliaukio Church- literally cut into the rock. I also really enjoyed the Seurasaari Open Air Folk Museu and the National Museum of Finland. And don't forget to go to a traditional sauna- such a cool experience!
8. Provence, France
France has so much to offer, but Provence might just be the most romantic region. The food is fantastic, the whole region smells like lavender, there are well preserved Roman ruins, and the landscape might make you become an artist.
To get the best of all Provence has to offer, may I suggest taking a cruise? We sailed for seven days along the Rhône river and I fell in love with the castles
7. Riga, Latvia
The best way for me to describe Riga, Latvia would be that I was pleasantly surprised. A busy old town filled with charming buildings, along with cool art nouveau architecture. And don't just go because The Bachelorette went there. There's so much to see and explore, plus it's easy on the budget.
I loved the busy central market offering local cuisine, the quiet atmosphere, and the hip restaurants. I loved that you can see everything on foot and in just a couple of days.
March through April in The Netherlands the tulips bloom. And yes, they are just flowers. But seeing an endless sea of tulips in every color imaginable is one of the most beautiful sites you'll ever see!
Keukenhof is the name of the flower garden with artfully displayed tulips. Nearby, you can also gaze at the fields of tulips. It's busy and the timeline is short, but it's worth it to see it with your own eyes. My complete guide to Keukenhof and the tulips in the Netherlands is here.
You haven't heard of Heidelberg? It's okay. I hadn't either until I started looking where to live in Germany. And then I fell in love. And then when I lived there I fell in love even more. Germany is often known for its big cities and sights: Munich, Berlin, Neuschwanstein Castle. But the real beauty is in the smaller and medium sized towns along the river. Enter: Heidelberg.
Located on the bank of the Neckar river is the city of Heidelberg, with a large sandstone castle looking over the town, it instantly makes you feel like you're back in the 1600s. The town was never bombed in WWII and retains it's old world charm. Many of the buildings still look the same and you can walk the Hauptstrasse, the longest pedestrian street in Europe.
There's no bad time to visit (really) but there is something magical about the German Christmas markets and Heidelberg has one of my favorites!
4. Istria, Croatia
The only place on my list to make it 2 years in a row! I shared Croatia as a whole for best destinations in Europe for 2019 and I'm sharing it again. But now, I'm focusing on the region of Istria. So often, people focus on places like Dubrovnik, Split, and the islands of Hvar. While they are well worth the visit, don't skip on the beautiful olive groves speckled with Roman ruins. And of course, you can't miss the beautiful Plitvice Lakes!
You'll find lovely, rolling hills, rocky beaches, acres of olive trees, and delicious seafood. The best part? It's not crowded, at all! Croatia can often mean an influx of tourists, particularly during the summer months. But Istria offers a relaxing respite.
To me, Mallorca is the perfect getaway for any budget. You get the perfect mix of lazy, warm, sandy beaches, epic cliffside fjords, and hilltop towns rich in history. Mix in a great night-life scene and this is the perfect place for couples or a girls weekend.
Living in Germany, I knew that this was a popular German and English hangout but I had no ideas the beaches would be that pretty. Rent a car and stay for at least a few days exploring Palma, beaches, the hilltop towns reminiscent of Tuscany, and have drinks at a fun bar. Here your full guide to Mallorca.
Without being too over the top… the French Alps are perfect. I instantly fell in love with the highest point in Europe, Mont Blanc. The views of the alps are stunning, there are plenty of winter activities to do and the town of Chamonix is adorable. It reminds me exactly what a village might look like when skiing became a winter holiday trip.
Chamonix is one of the original ski resorts. Year-round you can enjoy the panoramic views up to Aiguille du Midi where you can peek over at Switzerland and Italian alps. While in Chamonix you can eat divine French food, take a picturesque train ride to Mer de Glace, the largest glacier in the world, and explore the town. Here's my complete guide to Chamonix.
1. The Azores, Portugal
Wildly inexpensive, adventurous, and very well-kept, the Azores totally surprised me. We pulled off the side of the road to take some pictures and found pristine gardens and a perch to take pictures. I adored the thermal spas, the jungle atmosphere, black beaches, hiking, and decadent food.
I recommend five days to a week to see it all. Here's what you should do: Taste tea at the amazing Gorreana tea factory. Reminiscent of the tea mazes in Bali, this tea factory will serve you tea and you'll get an idea of how it's made. Go in the Lighthouse for a free tour and great views. Take an invigorating hike to see the waterfalls. Check out Caldeira Velha for hot springs thermal pools in a jungle.
What's on your list for 2020?