Without a doubt, Europe is a continent steeped with immense culture and irrevocable history. Ever wanted to visit Europe? If you’re planning to go, feel free first to check out our list, which mentions some of the best iconic landmarks in Europe, as well as world-famous places that can be found throughout the whole continent. You better not miss out on any of these!
Table of Contents
- 1 Top 18 Most Iconic Landmarks in Europe
- 1.1 Château de Chambord, France
- 1.2 Pena National Palace, Portugal
- 1.3 The Walled City of Dubrovnik, Croatia
- 1.4 Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France
- 1.5 Colosseum in Rome, Italy
- 1.6 Stonehenge, Amesbury in the UK
- 1.7 Stari Most in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
- 1.8 Alhambra in Granada, Spain
- 1.9 Leaning Tower of Pisa
- 1.10 Big Ben in London
- 1.11 Eiffel Tower in Paris, France
- 1.12 Cinque Terre in Italy
- 1.13 Neuschwanstein Castle
- 1.14 Acropolis in Athens
- 1.15 Mont Saint-Michele, France
- 1.16 Sagrada Familia, Spain
- 1.17 Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey
- 1.18 Pompeii in Naples, Italy
Top 18 Most Iconic Landmarks in Europe
Château de Chambord, France
In 1519, King Francis I of France started the construction of an architectural building that was supposed to be his hunting lodge.
However, it was never fully completed. And now, fast forward to almost three centuries later, the Château de Chambord located in Loit-et-Cher, France, has become one of the most impressive buildings to be found in one of the historical places in Europe.
The château played a significant role in France during the 2nd World War and several revolutions, often acting as the hospital, refuge for the victims, or storage for valuable cultural and artistic pieces. Over 700,000 visitors visit it annually.
Pena National Palace, Portugal
A castle with a curious and mysterious beginning, The Pena Palace, also known as Palácio da Pena in its original Portuguese language, is situated on top of a hill in the Sintra Mountains in Sintra, Portugal. Legend has it that during the Middle Ages, an apparition of the Virgin Mary appeared on this hill, and the Pena Palace was constructed in commemoration of that incident.
The Romanticist castle, boasting a mixture of different styles, was declared as one of Portugal’s 7 Wonders, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This fact is no surprise, considering that it’s one of the most ancient buildings and famous structures in Europe. Its 900,000 annual visitors will undoubtedly agree.
The Walled City of Dubrovnik, Croatia
During the 12th-17th century, the old Croatian city of Dubrovnik was having quite a considerable problem: pirates. To solve it: the town had 25-meter-high walls built along the seashore and the surrounding areas, therefore protecting the whole city from any unwanted guests.
Nowadays, the walled city has turned into one of the most famous landmarks in Europe.
It costs about 19USD to enter the city, wherein you can do a walking tour around the area. You can even ascend on top of the walls of the town and view the perimeter of the whole place this way!
Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France
Show the average traveler the Arc de Triomphe, and there’s a big chance that they’ll recognize it. The Arc de Triomphe, or Arch of Triumph, located in the Champs-Élysées, is one of the most famous structures, as well as the most famous landmarks in Europe.
The triumphal arch was built between 1806 to 1836, after the Napoleonic Wars, in honor of all the soldiers who have fought and fallen during the war.
Standing at the height of 162 feet, this majestic European monument is visible even from a distance. Over 600,000 tourists visit this historical site every month, where they can enjoy the scenery and also see the view on top of the arch, through the use of elevators. Throughout the years, the Arc de Triomphe has become one of the most iconic symbols in France.
Colosseum in Rome, Italy
In AD 72, Emperor Vespasian commissioned the construction of the Flavian Amphitheater, for the primary purpose of having an entertainment arena where the wealthy and well-off Ancient Romans can watch to their hearts’ delight without the intrusion of Plebeians.
Initially, it was brought about by the Ancient Roman custom of holding a funeral game of sorts in honor of the dead. Eventually, other forms of entertainment soon followed, the most famous of which is the Gladiatorial Games which has now become a cultural and historical symbol for Rome worldwide.
Nowadays, the Colosseum has become one of the most visited European landmarks, with over 4,000,000 tourists visiting annually.
Stonehenge, Amesbury in the UK
The Stonehenge, located in Amesbury, United Kingdom, is a prehistoric monument that has puzzled scientists for decades, or even centuries, now.
It is perhaps one of the most acclaimed man-made wonders of the world. A lot of scientists, especially archaeologists, have deduced that the Stonehenge was used as a burial ground, however, until now, nobody knows accurately how the Stonehenge was built, considering the people back then in 3000BC-2000BC didn’t exactly have access to modern technology yet.
Still, that does not stop visitors from marveling at these famous structures, which are now a must-see in Europe. Around 1,300,000 people visit it every year, to sightsee and shop for souvenirs.
Stari Most in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Stari Most, located in the old city of Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a bridge that crosses the river of Neretva. Although it’s not as widely known as some of the other landmarks in this list, the Stari Most, which literally means “Old Bridge” in English, serves a significant cultural symbol for the Ottoman people.
There is a tradition that occurs every July, where young men would jump from Stari Most and into the River Neretva. Due to the utmost coldness of the water, only the most skilled and trained swimmers are allowed to join in the competition.
Nevertheless, this does not stop the tourists who still visit sight-see in Mostar, making the Stari Most one of the best iconic landmarks in Europe.
Alhambra in Granada, Spain
Al-Hamra means ‘red’ in Arabic, so the castle, with its reddish walls, was named as such. It stands on the hilltop on the west side of the city of Granada in Spain.
It was built on this area because it offers a full view of the city, therefore making it a strategic point during the days when this was still important due to enemies and threats.
Aside from this, though, it cannot be denied that the Nasrid architecture of the castle is simply world-class. If you want to visit the Alhambra these days, there are guided tours available that you can avail to make things easier for you while touring this architectural building in Europe.
Leaning Tower of Pisa
How could a tower not stand upright, yet still manage to hold perfectly still? It is a question that has puzzled countless people and has brought a million of them to flock this place every single year.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa, positioned in Pisa, Italy, is undeniably a wonder to behold. It’s approximately 56 feet high, yet it’s leaning at roughly 4 degrees. The cause of the tilt is rather simple: overlooked subsoil that does not hold well.
The original construction was halted for a while when this was noticed, to let the soil settle a bit more, but the ‘damage’ has been done.
Nevertheless, the million visitors who visit to take pictures and marvel at the curious wonder in front of them still put the Leaning Tower of Pisa one of the most famous European landmarks.
Read also: Top 10 Day Trips from Pisa
Big Ben in London
Big Ben, located in the Elizabeth Tower of one of the most famous buildings in London, the Palace of Westminster, is a large iron bell that has become one of Europe’s beloved icons.
The largest bell, the “Great Bell,” also known as Big Ben, chimes every hour, while the smaller bells chime every quarter-hour. Altogether, this clock tower has served as a symbol of London, especially during wartime.
The clock was first installed in 1858; however, it wasn’t until 1959 that it first rang out. Millions of tourists visit the tower every year, but only a few have ever actually seen Big Ben, which refers to the actual bell inside the Elizabeth Tower.
There are guided tours available if you send the management a letter, but you better book now because they are usually fully-booked up to 6 months in advance.
Read also: Top 10 Day Trips from London
Eiffel Tower in Paris, France
Is there any more iconic symbol in Europe than this? Standing at the height of 1,063 feet and located in the Champ de Mars, the Eiffel Tower is, without a doubt, one of the most famous landmarks in Europe.
More than 7,000,000 tourists visit this place every year. They’re not just here for the pretty view, though. Believe it or not, the Eiffel Tower actually has three levels that visitors could access.
There are restaurants and cafes at the first and second levels, while the highest observation deck in the whole European Union is located at the topmost level.
No matter where you look, it’s the showcase piece of postcards, greeting cards, photos, and all sorts of souvenirs and paraphernalia in France. No wonder the Eiffel Tower makes the list of the top must-see European landmarks of all time.
Cinque Terre in Italy
Cinque Terre refers to the five fishing communities in the Italian Riviera that has slowly gained appeal to the world in the past few decades.
This place boasts of romantic views, a serene atmosphere, and a natural charm that makes it one of the most frequented areas in Italy. Recently, it has been hailed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Around 3,000,000 tourists visit the Cinque Terre annually; however, this is bound to change because the government of Italy is thinking of limiting its visitors to preserve the culture of the communities better.
Although it is indeed worth a look, you better do your research well before coming, because accommodation here can be quite expensive!
Often labeled as “the castle of the fairy-tale king,” the Neuschwanstein Castle is an ancient castle situated on top of a hill in Bavaria, Germany.
Initially, it was the home of King Ludwig II who, legend has it, was extremely shy and had the castle built with high walls and harsh architecture to keep most people out. Ironically, shortly after his death in 1886, the palace was opened to the public.
Nowadays, over 1,300,000 people visit this castle annually to sight-see and look around the magnificent palace rooms. The beautiful and dreamy Neuschwanstein Castle has served as the inspiration to several fairy-tale castles, including Disney’s very own Sleeping Beauty castle!
Acropolis in Athens
The Parthenon is probably one of the most iconic and famous structures in all of Greek history. It’s a temple built in commemoration of the goddess Athena and is often deemed to have a ‘perfect’ architecture.
Roughly a million tourists visit the Acropolis in Athens every single year. The sad reality is that according to surveys, around 25% of them no longer want to go back, due to the exaggerated high prices in Greece.
Nevertheless, if you’re looking for an excellent place to view an essential part of Greek culture and one of the famous Europeans monuments, then the Acropolis in Athens should still be a part of your list.
Mont Saint-Michele, France
One of Europe’s ‘most unforgettable sights,’ the Mont Saint-Michele in Normandy, Europe, is a 97-hectare island that features a breath-taking monastery.
Around 3,000,000 tourists visit this UNESCO World Heritage Site annually. You can go on a day trip here from Paris, with the option to choose from a variety of tours available online. However, you can also opt to create your very own itinerary.
And it’s not just the monastery that you can visit. Even the Mont Saint-Michele bay itself is to die for, with a large quantity of flora and fauna for your viewing pleasure. Talk about a fantastic sunset photo, perfect for a romantic getaway!
Sagrada Familia, Spain
It was initially built to become a church in 1882, but more than a hundred years later it still isn’t complete. More than 3,000,000 tourists come to Spain every year only to go to this famed church.
Although it is often labeled a “cathedral,” it doesn’t house the seat of a bishop, which is needed to be qualified for the term. Nevertheless, it has become a vital part of Spanish tourism throughout the years.
Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey
The Hagia Sophia is a basilica in Istanbul built during the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I. It is located in modern-day Istanbul, Turkey, then known as Constantinople. In English, it is also called the “Church of the Holy Wisdom” or the “Church of the Divine Wisdom.”
Apart from its religious connections, the Hagia Sophia also boasts of its architecture, making it one of the most magnificent European monuments.
From being a basilica to a mosque, and now a museum, the Hagia Sophia attracts over 2,000,000 visitors every year. It has steadily stayed as one of Istanbul’s most famous architectural buildings.
Pompeii in Naples, Italy
Pompeii’s fame comes from a dark and tragic past, namely the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79 which wiped out the whole city and buried everything in ashes and hardened lava. Due to this, almost all the items and corpses from the eruption have been perfectly preserved.
Archaeologists have long studied the remains of this city, taking care not to harm it any further. But for over 250 years now, Pompeii, which is situated in the modern-day city of Naples in Italy, has become one of the most world-famous places in Europe. As a tourist destination, it receives around 2,500,000 visits annually. In 1997, UNESCO declared Pompeii as a World Heritage Site.
And there you have it, 18 places in Europe that are undoubtedly a must-see for everyone! We hope you liked our collection of landmarks in Europe!