Europe is a continent packed with incredible cities to visit. From the romance of Paris to the history of Rome and from the Gothic towers of Prague to the beer of Copenhagen, there’s so much to enjoy. Here are our reviews of tourist attractions in Europe and remember, all our attraction reviews are based on personal visits:
- Basilica Cistern, Istanbul
Basilica Cistern is a former underground water storage area in Istanbul. Today it’s a tourist attraction where you can enjoy live music concerts and see just how ingenious the Byzantines really were. There are over 300 columns inside the cistern and a number of walkways have been constructed so that you can walk around with ease.
- Choco-Story Museum, Bruges
Choco-Story is an attraction in Bruges which tells the story of Belgian chocolate making over the years. The museum is located inside one of the city’s tallest historic buildings, dating back to 1480. You make your way on a journey through the rooms of the museum as the story is told through displays and sign boards.
- Barley Hall, York
Barley Hall is a medieval town house nestled down a small alleyway in the centre of York, UK. It used to be the residence of the Mayor of York back in the time of Richard III, but its history became lost over the years that followed. The story of its re-discovery is the most amazing part of the exhibits you will see here.
- The Catacombs, Paris
The Paris Catacombs are a tourist attraction made from the tunnels which stretch under the streets of Paris. The vast majority of the city’s catacombs are off-limits to visitors however, one small 2km section is available to visit. It’s very popular though, so be prepared to wait in line.
- Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen
Rosenborg Castle (Rosenborg Slot in Danish) is one of central Copenhagen’s most historic and beautiful tourist attractions. Its turrets have an almost fairy tale feel to them and when you go inside, you’ll find over-the-top ornate rooms, a huge hall, bizarre collections and a very impressive toilet.
- Hippy Market, Ibiza
The Hippy Market is one of Ibiza’s most popular retail attractions and people come from all over the island to browse the stalls and soak up the atmosphere. It began in 1973 when hippies were first allowed to sell their handicrafts at this location in the grounds of the Hotel Club Punta Arabi.
- Harry Potter Studio Tour, London
The Warner Brothers studio near Watford was the location for much of the filming of the Harry Potter series of movies. Sets were built, used and stored here but when filming on the final movie was concluded, a decision was made to turn part of the complex into a visitor attraction.
- Jardin des Tuileries, Paris
Jardin des Tuileries is one of the best loved public parks in Paris and was originally the impressive gardens of the Tuileries Palace, which is now the Louvre Museum. The park is part of the linear layout of central Paris running from the Arc de Triomphe, down the Champs Elysees and through the main path in the gardens.
- Spanish Riding School, Vienna
The Spanish Riding School in Vienna is world renowned for the skill of its riders and the intelligence of its horses. A visit here is a must for anyone with equestrian interests, but it generally comes at an impressive price. There is a cheaper option though! The school uses Lipizzaner stallions and the horses look like they are dancing at times.
- The Galleries of Justice, Nottingham
The Galleries of Justice in Nottingham is a museum of crime and punishment which is based in the former courthouse and county gaol. The building is packed with history and your tour will include the perfectly preserved court room, which was still being used a couple of decades ago. Your tour then continues as you follow the steps of condemned men, from the dock, down to the former prison cells below.
- Schonbrunn Palace, Vienna
Schönbrunn Palace, just outside Vienna, was the pinnacle of luxury for the Habsburgs who ruled Austria for centuries. From the outside, it’s a striking yellow colour and seems to stretch across a large area from one end to the other. Inside, it’s a real treat.
- The Royal Palace, Stockholm
The Royal Palace in Stockholm is the official residence of the King of Sweden and it’s absolutely huge! It sits on the edge of Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s Old Town and dominates the view of the whole island looking at it from the centre of the city.
- Botanic Garden, Oxford
Oxford Botanic Garden is Britain’s oldest Botanical garden and it’s located alongside the River Cherwell opposite Magdalen College. From the moment you enter, it’s a horticultural feast for the eyes with glass houses, a conservatory, rock garden, vegetable areas and attractive formal gardens. Look out for the stunning herbaceous border set against an old wall with a cottage-garden style gate, the pond, the composting area and the tropical plants in the very warm greenhouses.
- Guinness Storehouse, Dublin
The Guinness Storehouse in Dublin is a visitor attraction which is based at the old Guinness brewery in Dublin. Across six floors, it tells the story of Ireland’s most famous drink and how it came to be a favourite all over the world.
- Prague Castle, Czech Republic
Prague Castle is a huge administrative complex, standing high on a hill overlooking the river in Prague city centre. It’s probably not a castle like you might expect as it has no defensive walls, only office buildings, palaces and churches including the stunning St Vitus Cathedral.
- Alcudia Old Town, Majorca
Alcudia Old Town is the beautiful historic centre of the Majorcan tourist resort of Alcudia. Although there are plenty of shops and restaurants here, it’s a world away from the busy modern shops of the nearby port.
- St George’s Park, Staffordshire
St George’s Park is the English Football Association’s training ground, located in the Staffordshire countryside near to Burton upon Trent. It was officially opened by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2012 and was completed after years of delays at a cost of over £100 million.
- Oxford Covered Market, Oxford
Oxford Covered Market is a historic market hall dating back to the 1770s. The history of the building is evident as you walk around, especially when you look up at the roof! You’ll see the network of wooden beams supporting it, which stretch across all the walkways.
- Moulin Rouge, Paris
The Moulin Rouge hosts the best known dancing show in Paris dating back to 1899! You can choose to have dinner with the show, or just pay for the show on its own. Whichever option you choose, the show is a feast for the eyes, with a mix of variety acts, circus and acrobatic skills and the topless dancing girls with their often feathery costumes. It is quite a ‘traditional’ show, but it’s non-stop entertainment. It’s been done like this for decades and you wouldn’t want it any other way.
- Little Moreton Hall, Cheshire
Little Moreton Hall is a striking Tudor mansion in Cheshire UK, which is operated as a tourist attraction by the the National Trust. It started out as a modest property but was extended over the years to the large building you see today. The origins of the hall stretch back to the early 1500s when this was essentially the home of the local land owner.
- Central Market, Florence
Central Market (Mercato Centrale) is an indoor food market in Florence and in recent years it has become one of the city’s most visited tourist attractions. From the outside, this building looks somewhat out of place in Florence, but as soon as you enter, the sights an smells feel as normal as visiting the Duomo.
- Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh
Princes Street Gardens is a huge public park in Edinburgh, Scotland. The gardens link the castle with the shopping area around Princes Street and there’s plenty to see and do in them. There are the usual flowerbeds, pretty borders, trees and grassed areas you’d find in most parks but there’s also a large amphitheatre here which is known as the “Ross Bandstand”.
- Southwell Workhouse, Nottinghamshire
The Workhouse in Southwell is one of Britain’s best preserved workhouses from the Victorian era, operated as a historical attraction by the National Trust. It was built by the local churches to look after the infirm in their parishes, but also to take in those who couldn’t maintain their own home through lack of employment.
- The Vasa Museum, Stockholm
The Vasa Museum in Stockholm houses a fascinating maritime relic with an amazing story! Inside you’ll find an incredibly preserved galleon from 1628 which sank on its maiden voyage and lay at the bottom of the harbour for over 300 years. The reason it survived so well preserved, is because of the properties of the water in the harbour.
- York Castle Museum, York
York Castle Museum is one of the best city museums we’ve ever been in for a number of reasons. The place is huge, with two large buildings forming the main museum and a water mill in the gardens.
- The Spire, Dublin
The spire in Dublin is a 400ft stainless steel needle pointing skywards from O’Connell Street, near to the General Post Office. Although there was controversy over its cost, delays in construction and merits when it was installed, we think it’s one of the best bits of public art we’ve seen around the world.
- Oxford Castle Unlocked
Oxford Castle Unlocked is a visitor attraction based inside the old Oxford Castle which was a prison up until the mid 1990s. There are three main areas that you get to see on the guided tours.
- Chatsworth House, Derbyshire
Chatsworth House in Derbyshire is one of Britain’s premier country houses. It has been home to 16 generations of the Cavendish family since the 1560s when the initial house was first completed. Today, the house, gardens and 1000 acre park surrounding them are a huge tourist attraction for the north of England with over a million visitors a year.
- Sudbury Hall, Derbyshire
Sudbury Hall is a beautiful, brick-built stately home in Derbyshire, England which is operated as an attraction for visitors by the National Trust. It was built in the 17th century for the Vernon family, who still live nearby, but was given to the trust 1967. We fell in love with this house, because it’s so pretty and unlike many of these country homes, it’s actually small enough to imagine yourself living there!
- Shugborough Hall, Staffordshire
Shugborough Hall in Staffordshire is an English stately home with a difference. It’s a lovely place to look around, but for many it’s also a place to go to learn about its last significant resident, Lord Lichfield. Patrick Anson was the 5th Earl of Lichfield, relative of the Queen, world famous photographer and mover and shaker in the 60’s and 70’s and this was his ancestral home.
- Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria is one of Germany’s most visited tourist attractions with 1.3 million visitors a year and is reported to be the country’s most photographed building too! When you visit, you can see why. Everything about it is eye-catching, from the turrets and towers to its location nestled in the surrounding mountainside.
- La Pedrera, Barcelona
La Pedrera (also known as Casa Mila) is an apartment and office building in Barcelona that was designed by legendary Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. Many of his buildings in Barcelona have become tourist attractions, the most famous being the unfinished cathedral church La Sagrada Familia. This building though, shows how his architectural style can be also applied with great effect to something as simple as an office block with apartments.
- Botanical Gardens, Copenhagen
The Botanical Gardens in Copenhagen are a great attraction to visit if you have a couple of hours and want to do something relaxing. They really are beautiful and even if you have only a passing interest in gardens, you’re sure to get something out of your time here.
- Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon
The Royal Shakespeare Company theatre complex in Stratford upon Avon is one of the biggest attractions in the town. It had a major renovation and re-development recently and opened again in 2010 and it’s well worth seeing. The re-modelling has totally transformed the original building with a new frontage, new bits bolted on the side and a giant tower which now dominates the public park below.
- Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence
Piazzale Michelangelo is a plaza and viewing area which overlooks Florence and has the most stunning views of the city. It’s the place where most of the picture postcard views of Florence are taken and you really shouldn’t miss it on a trip here! The terraced viewing area at the top is huge, so there should be plenty of opportunity to take photos even on a busy day.
- Piazza Navona, Rome
Piazza Navona in Rome is the heart of the city’s social life. It doesn’t seem to matter what time of day or night you visit, there’ll always be people milling around and enjoying themselves. It has a lovely atmosphere and we loved just hanging around in the piazza.
- National Railway Museum, York
The National Railway Museum in York, England houses some of the world’s most loved steam locomotives and it’s free. The biggest draw is the Flying Scotsman which has been undergoing a multi-million pounds facelift, but you’ll also find the iconic Mallard and the Duchess of Hamilton here all polished up and on display.
- Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen
Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen is a mix of theme park, concert venue, attractive gardens and restaurants. It tries to cater for all ages, so you’ll find a little bit of everything here and certainly there’s a real mix of people you see at the park.
- The Treasurers House, York
The Treasurers House in York is at the rear of York Minster and was originally part of the Minster’s administration buildings.
- Temple Bar, Dublin
Temple Bar is the most famous area of Dublin and you’ll find cobbled streets here with traditional pubs serving ever flowing Guinness. The name comes from Sir William Temple who bought the land between Dame Street and the River Liffey back in the 1600s.
- San Lorenzo Market, Florence
San Lorenzo market in Florence is a vibrant city centre market which lines the streets near the Basilica di San Lorenzo. Florence is known for its leather goods and you’ll find plenty of leather merchandise available here along with scarves, clothes, souvenirs, ornaments, in fact pretty much anything you can think of.
- Mozarthaus, Vienna
Mozarthaus in Vienna as a grand city centre apartment which was Mozart’s home for around 3 years. He actually lived in a number of different apartments in Vienna, but this is the only one which still remains.
He did live here longer than any of the others though and called this building home from 1784 to 1787.
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- Nyhavn, Copenhagen
Nyhavn is the prettiest street in Copenhagen! There are walkways either side of a canal and the buildings along it are painted brightly in different colours. The walkway is big enough on one side for the restaurants here to serve food and drink outside as well as inside and when the weather is fine, the tables are jam packed.
- Magic Fountain, Barcelona
The Magic Fountain in Barcelona is a popular attraction when it “performs” and despite the crowds, we’d thoroughly recommend seeing it. It offer a music, light and water show all wrapped into one but only at certain times on certain nights. There is a big flight of steps which everyone sits on to get a better view, but you’ll need to be there early to get a decent spot.
- The Grand Place, Brussels
The Grand Place is a large cobbled square is the heart of the old centre of Brussels and it’s beautiful! The architecture here is impressive and the whole square is filled with historic charm. You’ll find a nice atmosphere in the square on a busy day too and it’s surrounded by restaurants and bars. For us, this square was the highlight of Brussels and we spent many hours here eating, drinking and sightseeing.
- Houses of Parliament, London
The Parliament building in London is one of the most well known and attractive structures in the city. Inside this huge building there are two debating chambers, the House of Lords and the House of Commons. UK politicians meet and debate here and towering over the whole “Palace of Westminster” as it is known, is the huge clock tower containing Big Ben, the deep sounding bell which chimes on the hour.
- Visit Carlsberg, Copenhagen
Visit Carlsberg is the visitor attraction for the old Carlsberg Brewery in Copenhagen. For decades it was the home to a vast beer production line, but now the historic site is being turned into a new residential district.
The visitor attraction though remains and is located in the oldest part of the brewery site. Inside, it explains the story of brewing on the site over the years and we very much enjoyed our visit.
- St Paul’s Cathedral, London
St Paul’s Cathedral is one of Britain’s best known large churches and thousands of people visit every year. Princess Diana got married here and it has its place in British history too. It’s an imposing building from the outside and you can see its incredible central dome over much of central London.
- Mary Arden’s Farm, near Stratford upon Avon
Mary Arden’s farm was the childhood home of Shakespeare’s mother. The attraction is on a large plot just outside Stratford upon Avon and there are lots of things to see on your visit.
- Calke Abbey, Derbyshire
Calke Abbey is a stately home in Derbyshire owned by the National Trust. The trust’s website starts its description like this: “with peeling paintwork and overgrown courtyards, Calke Abbey tells the story of the dramatic decline of a country house estate.” This kind of sets the scene for your visit.
- Betty’s Tea Rooms, York
Betty’s Tea Rooms is a famous Yorkshire name in tea shops and the York branch has become the flagship for the chain. It has two floors and both are places to enjoy the best that Betty’s has to offer. The establishment serves main meals as well as pastries, cakes, breakfasts and light lunches, but most desired of all is the traditional Afternoon Tea of sandwiches, cakes and scones.
- Boboli Gardens, Florence
The Boboli Gardens is an attraction in Florence located at the rear of the Pitti Palace, which was the ‘new’ palace for the ruling family of the city. We think the gardens are the best bit of the palace to be honest! If you love attractive water features, hidden statues, superb floral walkways, and large terracotta pots, then this is the place for you.
- Tower of London, London
The Tower of London is one of the city’s best known landmarks. It stands on the River Thames and has so much history, it would be impossible for the “Beefeater” guides to tell you it all!
- Copenhagen City Hall, Denmark
Copenhagen City Hall can be seen around most of central Copenhagen because of its large, dominating tower. There are three main things to see in a visit to this attraction.
- Vondelpark, Amsterdam
Vondelpark is Amsterdam’s largest park and is a busy attraction all through the year. On a nice day particularly, it’s a great place to escape and unwind, but even on cold, frosty days you’ll find people enjoying the scenery.
- The Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice
The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is an art gallery and museum which is located inside her former home alongside Venice’s Grand Canal.
- York’s Chocolate Story, York
York’s Chocolate Story is one of the newest attractions in the city and celebrates its rich heritage for chocolate and confectionary manufacturing. Terry’s, Rowntree’s and Craven all started life creating classics like Fruit Pastills, the Kit-Kat and the Chocolate Orange.
- Buckingham Palace, London
Buckingham Palace is the London home of the Her Majesty, The Queen and it’s open to tourists for a short while each summer. The palace is well worth visiting, but even if it’s not the right time of year, we’d still recommend going to see the palace just from the outside. You’ll be amazed at how big it is, and you can spend time watching the guards and seeing who’s coming and going. Look out for the flag pole on the roof. If it’s flying the Royal Standard, then the Queen is in residence. If not, then she’s somewhere else.
- St Mark’s Square, Venice
St Mark’s Square is one of the best known public spaces in the world. It’s the place where Venetians come to watch the world go by, although almost everyone you see is a tourist! At some points in the day, the square gets so busy that you can hardly move around it, but there’s always a lovely atmosphere with street entertainers, and musical performers at the various cafés. If you do choose to sit down for a drink, bear in mind that coffee here is extortionate! Almost everywhere in Venice is beautiful, so there are plenty of cheaper places away from the square to sit and admire the city.
- Kastellet, Copenhagen
Kastellet Fort is our favourite place in Copenhagen for getting away from it all. It’s a bit like an oasis of calm and it dates back to the 1600s. You enter over one of two bridges over the moat which surrounds the pentagram shaped outer walls. Once inside, the most striking thing about it is just how attractive the multicoloured buildings are as they sit along the various traditional cobbled walkways. You’ll enjoy just walking around and looking at the different structures, but bear in mind that this is still a military operated facility. As such, you’ll see guards at the entrances and on occasions it can be closed for military purposes.
- Green’s Windmill, Nottingham
Green’s Windmill in Nottingham is two tourist attractions rolled into one. Firstly, it was the childhood home of significant mathematician George Green, and those who are interested in his impact on society and maths, come to see it because of that. Secondly, it’s a working windmill that makes its own flour and has a science centre too, so people with no interest in maths whatsoever will come too!
- Tower Bridge, London
Tower Bridge, built in the 1880s, is one of London’s most famous landmarks and it spans the River Thames near to the Tower of London. It’s a great piece of architecture and the workings inside are fascinating too. We’d recommend the Tower Bridge Exhibition which shows you how it works and how they built it.
- La Rambla, Barcelona
La Rambla is quite definitely Barcelona’s most famous street and has become a tourist attraction in its own right. It’s a wide open pedestrianised walkway which runs through the centre of the city from the harbour to Placa Catalunya. The whole street is around 1.5km so it’s not too taxing to walk along it all. On the way, not only are there dozens of shops one either side of the street, but La Rambla is also packed with a combination of street artists, street entertainers, eateries, and stallholders.
- Tate Modern, London
Tate Modern is a converted former power station on the south bank of the River Thames. The cavernous spaces inside have been turned into one of the most impressive modern art galleries you’ll see anywhere in the world.
- Clifford’s Tower, York
Clifford’s Tower has been an attraction in York for hundreds of years. It’s basically all that remains of the oldest part of York Castle. There was originally a wooden structure here which was built by William the Conqueror, but this was later replaced with the stone keep you see today.
- Dublin Castle, Dublin
Dublin Castle is one of the legacies of British rule in Ireland and it consists of a conglomeration of buildings from various different points in time. The highlight of a visit to this tourist attraction is the luxurious State Apartments which were home to the British appointed Viceroys. The gold-decorated Throne Room in particular is beautiful and St Patrick’s Hall too, which is the castle’s largest function room.
- Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem, Nottingham
Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem is Nottingham’s most famous pub. It’s also reputedly England’s oldest inn having the date of 1189 painted on the outside although this is disputed in other parts of the country. Whatever the accuracy of this claim, it’s a fascinating place to visit and you shouldn’t overlook it.
- The Shambles, York
The Shambles in York claims to be Europe’s oldest shopping street and it’s best known for its period properties that almost touch across the street as the levels go up. The houses here have been lived in for hundreds of years, although they’ve also been places of work for just about as long. Originally they were the homes of butchers who sold their meat from the front room.
- Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh
The Scottish Parliament is one of Edinburgh’s most striking structures, but it is also very different to most of the city’s others which are historic, traditional looking buildings. As such, the architecture of the Parliament has been a talking point since the designs were first seen and you’ll either love it or hate it.
- Peterskirche Tower, Munich
Peterskirche in Munich, also known as Alter Peter, is slap bang in the city centre and it opens its tower to tourists. The view from the tower is terrific, and is probably the best option for seeing Munich’s skyline, but it is quite a climb and there is no lift.
- Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam contains more than 200 Van Gogh’s spread over two buildings. If you like his paintings, you’ll very much enjoy a trip here but think carefully about when to go. It’s best to pick a quiet time because when it’s busy, it’s sometimes hard to see the paintings above the heads of the people in front of you. You may also find yourself in a queue to get in at busy periods although this is partly because there is quite a bit of security to go through before you can even buy your ticket.
- Burg Square, Bruges
The Burg Square is near to the Market Place in Bruges and is a smaller, but in our view prettier square. This area is the administrative centre of Bruges and is surrounded by more beautiful buildings and the tourist information centre is here too. Significant buildings in this square include the Old Town Hall, the Old Civil Registry, the Basilius church and the Chapel of the Holy Blood which claims to have a vial of Christ’s blood.
- The Amsterdam VOC Replica Ship, Amsterdam
The Amsterdam VOC is a replica of a three-masted sailing ship which lasted only a year after its launch in 1748 for the Dutch East India company (VOC). It was destroyed in a violent storm off the coast of the UK on its way to the Far East.
- Free Walking Tours, Bath
Free Walking Tours take place in Bath daily. They are roughly 2 hours long and they’re organised by the Mayor of Bath’s office. You don’t need to book, just check out the tour times at the sign board outside the Roman Baths in Abbey Churchyard which is where the tours begin.
- Charlecote Park, Warwickshire
Charlecote Park is an attractive stately home located between Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwick. It’s run by the National Trust, but in its past it was a family home that was once visited by Elizabeth the 1st. The owners built a special gatehouse in her honour which is one of the most attractive features of the house. It’s almost like a almost like a miniature version of the house itself and you can climb to the top of the gatehouse for a great view of the park.
- Hyde Park, London
Hyde Park is absolutely huge and dominates a large area of central London. You’ll find it at the Marble Arch end of Oxford Street and it continues all the way to Kensington Gardens covering an area of 350 acres. The Royal park is visited by millions of Londoners and tourists every year and is a great place to relax.
- Pulteney Bridge, Bath
Pulteney Bridge in Bath is one of the world’s most beautiful bridges and is likened frequently to the much larger Ponte Vecchio in Florence. The bridge was built to connect central Bath to the other side of the River Avon in a style that fitted its surroundings. It was built in 1773 by designer Robert Adam who had a hand in many of Bath’s structures. The bridge architecture is therefore very similar to the historic stone-built Georgian landmarks of Bath.
- HMS Belfast, London
HMS Belfast is a British warship which saw action in World War 2, but now sits out her retirement on the River Thames in London. She’s a floating museum, dedicated to the seamen who sailed in the Royal Navy during the war and immediately afterwards. The ship also served the Korean War before being retired in 1963.
- Tutbury Castle, Staffordshire
Tutbury Castle sits on top of a hill in rural Staffordshire, not far from the town of Burton upon Trent. The castle was first recorded in 1071 and it’s perhaps most well known for being one of the prisons that held Mary Queen of Scots. She was held here on 4 separate occasions in fact and it was here that she became involved in the plot that ultimately led to her execution.
- Skyview, Stockholm
Skyview is a relatively new attraction in Stockholm and it makes use of one of the city’s most unusual landmarks. The Ericsson Globe is technically the world’s largest spherical building and Skyview is a sort of ride which is bolted onto the outside of the dome. It reminded us of the London Eye, but Skyview is not a wheel with multiple pods, simply two pods which travel to the top and back. The journey is over quite quickly, but the view is stunning and it’s certainly an unusual way to sample the cityscape of Stockholm.
- The Atomium, Brussels
The Atomium is one of the most unusual structures in Belgium. It was built in 1958 is over 300 feet tall and has nine large spheres which are connected by tubular passageways making the shape of a giant iron crystal cell. It’s open to the public and we’d really recommend a visit. Inside of the spheres you’ll find exhibition space, a restaurant and public areas with the top one having a lovely view of Brussels.
- Conwy Castle, North Wales
Conwy Castle is large defensive structure, built in the 1280s, which dominates the North Wales town of Conwy. It’s notable for how much of it still remains and the railway line which runs alongside and even underneath it at one stretch with battlements to match. It has several turrets which make it quite striking to look at because they are so tall. Most of the turrets can be climbed with the network of spiral staircases and when you get to the top, they all have a terrific view of the harbour and the other buildings in the town.
- Old Town Hall, Prague
The Old Town Hall (Staromĕstská Radnice) was built in 1338 and is both a tourist attraction and also the tourist information centre for Prague. For tourist information, it’s packed with useful advice inside on things to see and the staff were helpful too. The other two features here are the historic Old Town Hall Tower which has a terrific view of the Old Town and also the Astronomical Clock which is on the outside wall of the tower.
- Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh
Edinburgh Castle is the city’s most famous landmark and it’s huge! We think this is the must-see attraction in Edinburgh and looking around will probably take you quite a while. Highlights include the Castle Vaults, the Great Hall, beautiful St Margaret’s chapel, and one of the world’s oldest guns, Mons Meg. On top of that, there’s the National War Museum of Scotland, two Scottish regimental Museums and the crown jewels, the “Honours of Scotland”.
- Shakespeare’s Grave, Stratford-upon-Avon
Shakespeare’s Grave is situated inside his former parish church in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire. You’ll find his tomb marked by a gravestone in the chancel of Holy Trinity Church alongside other members of his family. There is also an extra memorial to Shakespeare with a bust which is a feature on the wall. His grave is outlined with a blue rope (see above) and his wife Anne is next to him.
- Ponte Vecchio, Florence
Ponte Vecchio, which means Old Bridge, is the world’s most famous shop-lined bridge. It’s a Mecca of activity day and night in Florence and although it won’t take you long to walk across it, make sure you pause in the middle to enjoy the view up and down the river. The bridge spans the river Arno at its narrowest point and it’s believed that there has been a bridge of some sort in this location since Roman times.
- Bakewell, Derbyshire
Bakewell is a historic Derbyshire town made famous by its tasty pudding. It nestles in the Peak District, just a short drive from Chatsworth House with Matlock to the south and Buxton to the north. The arguments over who came up with Bakewell Pudding first still continue to this day and you’ll find several shops selling it around the town. The recipes do vary a little from shop to shop, but on the whole there’s not a vast amount of difference and they all have that lovely almond-based taste.
- Monsal Trail, Derbyshire
Monsal Trail is a former railway line which has been turned into a leisure route for cyclists, horse riders and walkers. As a railway line, it was a stretch of the Midland Railway which closed in 1968 and ran from the historic Derbyshire town of Bakewell to Wyedale near Buxton. This Peak District route is made extra special by the bridges and tunnels that form part of it. They were restored at a cost of several million pounds to turn the route into a viable leisure path.
- Warwick Castle, Warwickshire
Warwick Castle is one of the best preserved castles in England and there’s plenty to see and do when you visit because it’s had plenty of money spent on it as part of the Tussauds group of attractions. There’s more on the entertainment experiences in a moment, but never forget that the building itself is the real star here. It has luxurious historic rooms laid out as they would have been in the castle’s heyday in the time of the Earls of Warwick.
- Marienplatz, Munich
Marienplatz is an attractive paved square in the centre of Munich which forms the hub of the city’s café culture. It’s is well liked by locals and tourists for its architecture and its atmosphere. The City Hall (Rathaus) is located one side of the square and houses the famous Munich Glockenspiel. There’s always a bit of a crowd that gathers for its performances every day at 11am with extra ones in the summer at 12pm and 5pm. The clock acts out two stories with bells and characters and is worth watching if you’re in the square at the time.
- Church of Santa Maria della Spina, Pisa
Santa Maria della Spina is a tiny church perched on the bank of the river in central Pisa. Its exterior is striking for two reasons, firstly because of its location where it sticks out compared to the buildings around it and secondly, because of its stunning gothic architecture. It has carved images all over it and to get the most out of your visit, you’ll need to spend a little time pouring your eyes over all of the intricate detail. You’ll find yourself wondering just how long it all took! Even the ‘simple’ features have complicated carved borders.
- Cardiff Bay, Cardiff
Cardiff Bay was once the busy dock area of the city, but it’s been totally transformed in recent years and has now become a tourist attraction in its own right. This is partly thanks to a barrage which was built in the 1990s creating a huge “lake” and preventing the tide from taking all the water. The lake area within the barrage is now used for sailing and other water sports.
- Trent Bridge, Nottingham
Trent Bridge is one of the world’s most famous test cricket grounds and it has seen much development over the years. The history of the ground still remains though in the shape of the traditional pavilion. Apart from international cricket, Trent Bridge is also the home of Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club.
- Royal Albert Hall, London
The Royal Albert Hall is a working theatre and concert hall but is also an attraction in its own right. It was named after Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert, who originally had the idea to create a multi purpose venue which could hold everything from orchestras to a circus. Sadly though, he never saw his vision realised.
- Skansen Outdoor Museum, Stockholm
Skansen is an attraction based on the island of Djurgården, where you’ll find the world’s oldest open-air museum combined with Stockholm Zoo. The museum is fascinating and it brings together buildings from all over Sweden. As you walk around you will move from one community to another and many of the buildings are attractions in themselves.
- Doctor Who Experience
The Doctor Who Experience is a new attraction based at Cardiff Bay which focuses on the BBC TV Series Doctor Who which is filmed in the city of Cardiff. The attraction is based on the characters and events that are depicted in the TV show and includes specially recorded sequences from the current Doctor Who. It replaces a Doctor Who Exhibition which was much smaller.
- Royal National Theatre, London
The Royal National Theatre is actually 3 theatres rolled into one and the complex is based in a bleak looking concrete building on the South Bank of the Thames. The three theatres are called the Olivier, the Lyttelton and the Cottesloe and they vary in size and design.
- Roman Baths, Bath
The Roman Baths in Bath have attracted visitors for thousands of years and they’re much bigger on the inside than you’d think. What looks like an un-assuming historic building from the outside, opens up into a labyrinth of pools and rooms spreading far beneath the surrounding streets.
- St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh
St Giles Cathedral is one of the most distinctive buildings on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. It’s unusual “crown” shaped spire is one of the first things you notice from a distance, but there’s plenty more to see when you get up close. It’s the High Kirk of Edinburgh and the Mother Church of Presbyterianism and inside there are many areas which mark its significance. In particular, look out for the Chapel of the Order of the Thistle (Scotland’s chivalric company of knights headed by the Queen).
- Musée d’Orsay, Paris
The Musée d’Orsay building was originally one of the main railway stations of Paris. Its exterior architecture is therefore similar to stations link Gare du Nord where the Eurostar arrives. If you thought the outside was impressive though, the architecture inside is really remarkable too and then there’s all the exhibits to enjoy on top.
- Reisenrad Wheel, Vienna
The Reisenrad Wheel is Vienna’s most prominent landmark and it can be seen for miles around. Many cities in the world these days have a modern version of this kind of wheel, but what makes the Reisenrad extra special is its history. It’s been spinning visitors for well over a hundred years.
- City Hall, Stockholm
Visiting a city hall might not be the most obvious attraction to see when you’re on holiday, but it’s from the tower on this imposing building on the waters edge that you get a terrific view of Stockholm.
- Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London
Shakespeare’s Globe is a recreation of the theatre that became synonymous with Shakespeare’s plays. It was built only after a huge fund raising drive with many top British actors involved. They wanted Shakespeare’s plays to be performed in the kind of round theatre for which they were written and this one resembled the former Globe that existed in his time. You can now experience plays there regularly but the building itself is an attraction that’s best visited on the theatre tours.
- Royal Yacht Britannia, Leith
The Royal Yacht Britannia was Queen Elizabeth II’s beloved yacht which she had to part with in a cost cutting measure in 1997. It’s now a floating tourist attraction so you can see how the Queen and her family used to live whilst sailing around the world on behalf on the UK. It’s based at a huge shopping centre in Leith, just outside Edinburgh and it’s an absolute must on any trip to the area.
- Newstead Abbey, Nottinghamshire
Newstead Abbey is the ancestral home of the poet Lord Byron and it’s an attraction you cannot miss if you’re coming to Nottinghamshire. The house and gardens are beautiful and to this day the house retains its medieval character. There’s also lots of evidence of the life of Byron too who spent his wealth enjoying life as a play-boy of his day.
- Zizkov TV Tower, Prague
The Zizkov TV Tower is such a contrast to the historic parts of Prague that it has to be seen to be believed. It reminds you more of a soviet missile than a TV tower and the artwork sculptures of babies crawling up it make it even more bizarre. It was completed in 1992, so it’s one of the last legacies of the communist era and it has an indoor observation area and a restaurant/café with the most amazing views of Prague. The public areas look like boxes that have been stuck on the outside of the tower.
- Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire
Kenilworth Castle is the former home of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, who had a steamy love affair with Queen Elizabeth 1st. The Queen visited the castle a number of times, but most notably in 1575 when Dudley created a garden for her. This garden was recently re-created as it was in Elizabeth’s day but much of the actual castle is not as it was in that time and instead stands in ruins.
- Lover’s Lake, Bruges
This lake is also known as Minnewater and you’ll find it on the southern edge of Bruges within the park of the same name. The lake itself and the buildings and park surrounding it are so picturesque, that you can see where the name has come from – it’s a great place to be with someone you love!
- Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff
Essentially, the Wales Millennium Centre is cross between a theatre and a community centre, but it’s the architecture that’s the most striking thing about it. Its huge frontage is dominated by a poem written in English and Welsh and the lighting at night makes it look even more impressive.
- Assembly Rooms, Bath
The Assembly Rooms were the centre of society life in Georgian times in Bath and they’re still just as resplendent today. You’ll be wowed by the rooms when you enter as they’re large, colourful and jam-packed with historic features. The chandeliers in particular are incredible! It’s thought that Jane Austen frequented the rooms during her time in Bath to dance and enjoy evenings mixing with socialites.
- Olympic Park, Barcelona
Barcelona’s Parc Montjuic was the location for the 1992 Olympic Games and all the facilities are still there to see. The biggest structure is the Olympic Stadium, but you can also see the Swimming Complex, the Olympic Spire structure and an array of landscaped walkways. We really enjoyed just walking around the area, replaying memories of the Olympics that year in our minds.
- Castel Sant’Angelo, Italy
Castel’Sant Angelo is an imposing structure which sits alongside the River Tiber and contains apartments for the Pope to be kept in safety. The central part of it was originally constructed as the mausoleum for the Emperor Hadrian, but was converted later by a Pope into the defensive fortress you see today.
- Cardiff Castle, Cardiff
Cardiff Castle has around 2000 years of history. The oldest part of the castle is the old keep in the centre and this is surrounded by the more modern extensions that made it a family home for the Bute family. On your guided tour, you’ll get to see some of the lavishness of the insides of the castle although we did find the guide a little tedious. The building though is marvellous, so don’t let that put you off.
- Calton Hill, Edinburgh
Calton Hill was developed as an urban park where distinguished gentleman could walk with their ladies. The city’s elders wanted to create a cultural area and with its superb views over Edinburgh, Calton Hill was the perfect place. Today, there are fewer Victorian gentlemen, but it’s a great place to come for some time out from the busy Princes Street shopping area below. You won’t believe how good the panoramic views are until you make the effort to climb to the top.
- Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Stratford upon Avon
Think of the most attractive “chocolate-box” thatched cottage that you can, and it still wouldn’t be a patch on this one! This was the family home of Shakespeare’s wife Anne Hathaway and he would have visited the cottage when he was ‘courting’ her. Shakespeare never actually lived here though as once they were married, they moved into Stratford to Shakespeare’s family home, now known as Shakespeare’s Birthplace.
- Bath Abbey, Bath
The current Abbey was founded in 1499 and it oozes history despite still being used as a modern place of worship today. The sheer size of the place is the first thing that strikes you when you head through the visitors entrance. The other really noticeable thing is how bright the place is because of the large windows on either side.
- Charles Bridge, Prague
Charles Bridge is one of Europe’s most beautiful bridges and is now more of a tourist attraction than simply a river crossing. It’s a pedestrian bridge with cobbles and imposing statues along the way and it dates back to 1357.
- Royal Residenz, Munich
The Residenz was the Munich home of the Bavarian royals for hundreds of years and from the outside it looks a rather sober building, but the true magic is inside. Over the years, each King left his mark on the Residenz, added wings and courtyards to the building. There are some really stunning rooms and hallways to see.
- National Ice Centre, Nottingham
Nottingham is the home of the world famous ice dancers Torvill and Dean and they began skating on this site. The National Ice Centre is an impressive shiny replacement for the tired old rink that used to be here and inside you’ll find two olympic sized rinks. One is dedicated to public skating and the other one known as the arena which is used for shows, concerts and Nottingham Panthers Ice Hockey games.
- Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris
Jardin du Luxembourg is the most used park in Paris and it’s a lovely place to wander through on a sunny day to sample Parisian life. The flower beds are stunning at the right time of year and there are plenty of other features to keep you interested too. One of the most striking works of art is a huge bronze head which was added in 2007 and is known as “Le Prophète”.
- Canal Saint Martin, Paris
If you have a spare few hours, a journey along the Canal Saint Martin is a great way to see a more realxed side of Paris. You can walk the canal tow paths and visit the cafes on route, but we found the boat trip through the locks a better experience. Canal St Martin is 4.5km long and there’s plenty to see along the route. We found the biggest highlights are the attractive locks and bridges along the way which appeared in the film Amelie.
- Borough Market, London
Borough market is the perfect example of a flourishing market in Britain. It sits alongside the railway arches in the shadow of Southwark Cathedral, just off Borough High Street and it’s a celebration of great quality food. You name it, you’ll find it here – cheeses, fruit, vegetables, home-made pies, flowers, olives, meat, curries and pastries! It’s actually London’s oldest food market and it varies in size and numbers of stalls but even in the winter months it’s always busy.
- Palazzo Vecchio, Florence
Palazzo Vecchio, which means Old Palace, is the town hall of Florence and it stands in Piazza della Signoria. It’s a cross between a castle and palace with turrets and battlements on the outside and impressive painted palatial rooms on the inside. It was originally constructed as the home of the ruling Medici dynasty. Although there is a museum here, it’s the building itself you will fall in love with.
- Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
The Millennium Stadium is the modern home of Welsh Rugby, but it’s also an arena that can be used for other sports like soccer or as a music venue. It has also played host to large shows. They’re able to use it for so many different things because the pitch is set into moveable concrete blocks which can be picked up and moved out. The stadium is one of the new water-side additions to the city centre and we can thoroughly recommend the regular tours.
- Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin
This former prison is a legacy of British rule in Ireland with a gruesome past, but it’s also a prison interior you are likely to recognise because it’s been used in many movies and TV Shows. The most notable movies to be filmed here include The Italian Job and In The Name of The Father.
- Holyrood House, Edinburgh
Holyrood House, also known as Holyrood Palace, is the Queen’s official residence in Edinburgh. She comes to stay only once a year but she does call in on other special occasions. We thought this palace was fascinating, partly because it’s much more “down to earth” than some of the bigger Royal residences.
- Rembrandt House, Amsterdam
At Jodenbreestraat 4 near the Waterlooplein, you’ll find the house that Rembrandt lived and painted in for 20 years. Inside, you see all the main rooms including his studio and it’s well worth a visit.
- Leaning Tower, Pisa
Without doubt, this is Pisa’s most famous building and it’s well worth a visit. The tower was built to house the bells for the lovely cathedral and construction began in 1173. Almost immediately it began to lean – in fact the builders were only on the third floor when they started to notice something was wrong. The leaning became so bad in the last 20 years that the tower had quite a few years of closure whilst it was made safe.
- Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire
Hardwick Hall is a National Trust Property nestled on a hillside near Chesterfield in North Derbyshire. You can spot it from the M1 heading out of Derbyshire into Sheffield. Bess of Hardwick first created Hardwick in the late 1500s and her stamp on the place is very much there to see with the décor displaying her initials everywhere. We’d describe it as a typical Elizabethan property, full of dark furniture, serious looking pictures and huge tapestries.
- Wollaton Hall, Nottingham
Wollaton Hall is set in one of England’s finest urban parks complete with deer and it’s just a few miles from the city centre of Nottingham. The hall was used as Wayne Manor in the 2012 Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises” with Christian Bale, but it’s actually the city of Nottingham’s Natural History Museum.
- The O2, London
This dome-shaped structure resembles a very large tent and was the centre piece of the UK’s millennium celebrations. For many years it was known as the Millennium Dome, but now it houses a massive concert arena, restaurants, shops and a cinema. This building has a special place in the hearts of British people, somewhere between hate and love.
- London Eye, London
This huge wheel was supposed to be temporary, but instead has become a permanently popular attraction. It’s not cheap, but it is a great way to see London from a different angle
- Opéra de Paris Garnier, Paris
Beautiful on the outside, despite the busy traffic that surrounds it and you can take tours to see how amazing it is on the inside! Sometimes access to the actual auditorium is excluded from the tours so ask before buying your ticket. The district around the Opera has some of the most exclusive shops.
- Royal Mile, Edinburgh
This is one of the world’s oldest and most famous streets and it links Edinburgh Castle at the top of the hill, with the palace of Holyrood House at the bottom. Walking “The Mile” as it’s known is an activity that visitors and locals have undertaken for hundreds of years. To save your legs, it’s best walked down hill and along the way, you’ll see the castle, the Scotch Whisky Experience, St Giles Cathedral, the Scottish Parliament building and endless tartan-covered souvenir shops.
- Old Jameson Distillery, Dublin
If you’re a fan of Irish Whiskey, you’ll enjoy this exhibition located in a restored building that was part of the Jameson distillery. Whiskey was produced here from 1780 to 1971 and the exhibition takes you through the history of the site and the legacy of the brand along with other Irish brands. You hear about the difference between Scotch Whisky and Irish Whiskey too (apart from the missing letter that is). After your tour you can do a comparison taste in the bar.
- Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
It’s Gaudi’s grand church and despite being started in 1882, it still isn’t finished although much work has been done in recent years. No trip to Barcelona would be complete without seeing this building’s crazy curves and mosaic topped towers. There is often a queue to get in, but it’s worth it. Inside, you’ll find another queue and charge for the lift up the towers and this is usually a long wait.
- The Colosseum, Rome
It’s another icon of Rome and one of the most impressive ancient structures you’re ever likely to see. Sadly, part of the outer walls fell down in an earthquake, but there’s still plenty left to get a feel for what the Colosseum would have been like in the days of the Gladiators.
- The Pantheon, Rome
Dating back to the first century AD, this former Roman temple is probably the oldest still used building you’ll ever have been in. It’s certainly the best preserved Roman building in Rome, partly because it was converted into a church by a Pope in around 609AD. Outside, the building shows its age with a huge stone canopy and ancient brickwork, but inside you get the full view of the magnificent dome.
- Flower Market, Amsterdam
This is our “top tip” for Amsterdam so we’d thoroughly recommend a visit. It’s a sea of colour in all seasons. You can buy your tulips as souvenirs or just browse around and smell the flower fragrances. There is no pressure to buy anything, so you can just spend time looking at what’s available. If you do want to buy though, the stall holders are all very knowledgeable and are happy to help – most speak excellent English.
- Olympic Park, Munich
Munich held the Olympic Games in 1972 and the resulting Olympic Park is beautiful. The green hills with their walkways surround a pretty lake area with the huge Olympic Tower visible wherever you are. You can take a trip up the lift in the tower for a distant view of Munich’s skyline.
- Thermae Bath Spa, Bath
This is the modern way to enjoy the hot springs of Bath. It’s a world away from the Roman Baths and even from the outside, the spa building design is impressive, melding a historic building in Bath City Centre with ultra modern glass panels. Inside they offer a range of spa treatments and pool sessions. What you get here is a luxury experience with prices to match but we’d recommend the 4 hour spa session in the main building at twilight for the best experience.
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