If you have ever wished of traveling to a place where you can enjoy the beaches of the Mediterranean and at the same time have a view of the snow-capped peaks, the Southern part of Europe is Going to be a treat for you.
Florence, Milan, Madrid, Portugal are among some of the beautiful places to visit in Southern Europe, offering you varied cultures, landscapes, and relaxing holiday experiences.
While exploring this part of the European continent, you will have a lot of time for viewing magnificent sceneries, enjoying moderate weather, and tasting different kinds of foods and desserts, and exploring cities and towns full of medieval architecture.
In this post, we have handpicked some of the places to go in Southern Europe, which cannot go unvisited if you are planning to travel here.
Table of Contents
- 1 Top 20 Places to Visit in Southern Europe
- 1.1 Florence, Italy
- 1.2 Milan, Italy
- 1.3 Madrid, Spain
- 1.4 Santorini, Greece
- 1.5 Lisbon, Portugal
- 1.6 Dubrovnik, Croatia
- 1.7 Capri, Italy
- 1.8 Siena, Tuscany
- 1.9 Mykonos, Greece
- 1.10 Tenerife, Spain
- 1.11 French Riviera, France
- 1.12 Cinque Terre, Italian Riviera
- 1.13 Split, Croatia
- 1.14 Montenegro, Balkan
- 1.15 Bucharest, Romania
- 1.16 Bratislava, Slovakia
- 1.17 Skopje, Macedonia
- 1.18 Orheiul Vechi, Moldova
- 1.19 Belgrade, Serbia
- 1.20 Warsaw, Poland
Top 20 Places to Visit in Southern Europe
A traveler who loves to appreciate art, indulge in boutique shopping, and has a good taste for food and wine, should visit Florence once in a lifetime. In the entire city, you will find some kind of art to treat your eyes.
You can explore the fresco-decorated churches, medieval candle-lit chapels, and extraordinary museums and galleries.
If you are in Florence, then surely do not forget to shop, as it is the fashion capital of Italy. Famous names like Guccio Gucci and Salvatore Ferragamo started their famous boutiques in Florence itself.
While pampering yourself in Florence, do not forget to visit places like the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Uffizi Gallery, Ponte Vecchio, and Pallazo Vecchio.
→ Where to stay: Best hotels in Florence, Italy
→ Best Tours for this attraction: Learn history by joining this walking tour of the historical center
The most advanced city in Italy is known as Milan. Here you can witness a lot of unique things as the major business here is creativity. Because Milan was home for various rulers like Caesars, Napoléon, and Mussolini, you will enjoy exploring the history here.
In Milan, you will not fall short of places that will let you witness art forms from different times. To make the best of your time in Milan, do not forget to visit Milan Cathedral, Santa Maria Delle Grazie, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, and Quadrilatero d’Oro.
Milan should be one of the must-visit places to go in Southern Europe for anyone loving fashion, luxury, art, and, of course, architectural beauty.
→ Where to stay: Best hotels in Milan, Italy
→ Best Tours for this attraction: Admire some of the most picturesque and romantic views of the city, in a leisure cruise on the canals in Milan
No matter if you are traveling solo, as a couple, or with childhood friends, the vibe of Madrid is going to make you feel young. Madrid has this kind of vibe because of the streets filled with monuments, architecture that is deeply-rooted, and a vibe of flamenco music.
Walking on the elegant pathways of Madrid, visiting expansive parks like Buen Retiro, and appreciating European art in museums like Prado will drain all your energy but will leave no time for boredom.
Some notable places that should surely be visited in Madrid are Plaza Mayor, Royal Palace of Madrid, and Museo Nacional del Prado.
→ Where to stay: Best hotels in Madrid, Spain
Santorini in Greece is a part of the Cyclades islands, which is situated in the Aegean Sea. The Island was destroyed back in the 16th century BC because of a volcanic eruption. It is because of this that the Santorini has a unique and rugged kind of landscape.
The two major towns of Santorini are Fira and Oia, and they are popular for the cubiform whitewashed houses present here. These houses in these two towns are made on the cliffs and give a picture-perfect view for the visitors.
While you are here, the must-visit places to go in Southern Europe, especially in Greece are Oia, Thera, Kamari, and Imerovigli.
→ Where to stay: Best hotels in Santorini, Greece
→ Best Tours for this attraction: Taste the island’s viniculture by joining the Sip of Santorini Wine Tour
The capital of Portugal is Lisbon and if you are visiting the South of Europe, coming here is a must for the traveler. This coastal city can be the best place to relax while looking at the pastel-colored buildings throughout the city.
You can get the best of this view from the São Jorge Castle. From the same castle, you also can enjoy the view of the Tagus Estuary and Ponte 25 de Abril, which is a suspension bridge.
In the national Azulejo Museum, the visitors can have the opportunity to see decorative ceramic tiles from 5 different centuries. If you are a beach lover, then just out of Lisbon, you will find the perfect Atlantic beaches to get an ideal tan.
Among the top places to visit in Southern Europe especially in Lisbon are the Tower of Belém, Jerónimos Monastery, Castelo de S. Jorge, and Praça do Comércio.
→ Where to stay: Best hotels in Lisbon, Portugal
Dubrovnik, which is located in the southern part of Croatia, is another one of the beautiful places to visit in Southern Europe. The city has a view of the Adriatic Sea, giving you a very scenic vibe and relaxing mood during the sunset. Dubrovnik is more popular for the old town vibe.
This feeling gets on to the travelers more and more because of the encircled massive stone walls. These walls were made somewhere in the 16th century because of which this city has a more old-school vibe.
The old architecture is well preserved here, and that can be seen while exploring places like St. Blaise Church to renaissance Sponza Palace and Gothic Rector’s Palace. Stradun, which is also known as Placa, is exclusive for pedestrians and is paved with limestone.
This pathway is a must-visit for travelers as it has the best shops and restaurants to relax and enjoy.
→ Where to stay: Best hotels in Dubrovnik, Croatia
In the Bay of Naples in Italy lies a beautiful tiny island of Capri. Travelers come here to spend time in the exquisite and upscale hotels and shop for designer clothes, handmade leather sandals, and limoncello.
This small Island has amazing views to offer to the people visiting, and one amongst these is Blue Grotto.
Blue Grotto is a large cave where the sea appears to be having an electric blue glow making it among one of the definite places to visit in Southern Europe.
This phenomenon is created because of the sunlight passing through an underwater cave. In summers there are a number of yachts on this Island which also creates a magnificent view for the tourists.
→ Where to stay: Best hotels in Capri, Italy
Siena is located in the center of the Tuscany region of Italy, and the brick buildings from the medieval time create a charm about it for the visitors. There are a lot of monuments to admire, one of which is Piazza del Campo.
Here one can admire the old gothic architecture and also the majestic views from the Torre del Mangia, which is a slender tower from the 14th-century. Most of the visitors to Siena come to see this particular spot, but Duomo Di Siena is another important place to see if you are staying for more than a day.
→ Where to stay: Best hotels in Siena, Italy
This Island (Mykonos) is in the Aegean Sea and is part of the Cyclades group. People travel here because of the famous summer party vibe this place has. There are great bars with great music (played by world-class DJs) at beaches like Super Paradise and Paradise.
Apart from the party culture, here are some iconic landmarks like 16th-century windmills, which will make your trip to Mykonos worth a memory. The local name for the town of Mykonos is Chora, and the houses here form a maze-like structure.
These houses have blue doors, and bougainvillea decorates all the houses because of which the local town gets a charming vibe.
In Matoyianni Street, you can have a very satisfying time by indulging in shopping at high-end shops, chilling at cafés, and exploring the art galleries.
→ Where to stay: Best hotels in Mykonos, Greece
Amongst the Canary islands of Spain, Tenerife is the largest. Spain’s largest peak Mt. Teide, which is also a dormant volcano, is in Tenerife. People travel to Tenerife to see the Carnaval de Santa Cruz.
This is a festival that happens before Lent, and it has a great vibe because of colorful costumes, parades, music, and dancing.
You can enjoy your vacation on this Island by visiting various beaches, and some of them also are known to have black sands. In Tenerife, you can spend your time with activities like water sports, golf, etc. The Island has almost everything to offer to a traveler from sightseeing to festivals.
→ Where to stay: Best hotels in Tenerife, Spain
French Riviera, France
The Southeastern part of France, which is surrounded by the Mediterranean, is the French Riviera and is also known as Côte d’Azur. People visiting French Riviera love to visit the glamorous and popular beach resorts like Cannes and Saint-Tropez. Monaco, which is an independent microstate, is another attraction of this destination.
From the historical villages in Èze to lavender fields in Grasse, there are so many places ready to host you and help you explore the summery seasons. For those looking for a quiet, quaint, beautiful, and stunning landscape with not so countryside feeling, French Riviera is certainly one of the best places to go in Southern Europe.
People visiting French Riviera can enjoy nightlife, sailing, waterskiing, luxury boutiques, and also have an opportunity to witness the film festival that happens in Cannes. If you want to explore the history of this place, there will be a number of museums in Antibes.
This part also has an old medieval town vibe, and the cuisine here has an Italian influence. People who are interested in Grand Prix and Gambling should not miss visiting Monaco in the French Riviera.
Cinque Terre, Italian Riviera
Cinque Terre is a group of seaside villages, and these villages are older than a century. The coastline is rugged, and in the five different towns of Cinque Terre, you will be pleased to see the colorful houses.
The terraces of these houses are steep and have vineyards clinging to them, while the harbor is always full of fishing boats.
The combination of all these elements gives Cinque Terre a very different appeal altogether. People fond of hiking can take the 12 km long hike of Sentiero Azzurro. This hike will connect you to various villages, and while you are hiking on it, you can get beautiful views of the sea.
In the north is Monterosso al Mare, where you can see a sandy beach and 17th-century Capuchin monastery. In Vernazza, you can get perfect pictures with the ruins of Castello Doria and enjoy the views of the beautiful marina. If you can spend more time, do visit the Manarola to try the Sciacchetrà dessert wine.
→ Best Tours for this attraction: Join the only tour that takes you to the Cinque Terre on a one-day hiking trip
On the Dalmation Coast of Croatia is situated the Split. This town is popular for beautiful beaches. Travelers coming here also show interest in the Diocletian Palace, which has a fortress kind of a structure and is somewhere in the center of the town. It was built in the 4th century by a Roman emperor.
It was densely populated in the past and was occupied by almost 1000 families, but today, only 200 buildings are found as the remains. The modern end of Split is Riva. Here a popular spot is Narodni Trg (People’s Square), where you can see a clock tower.
One of the important beaches to see here is Bačvice. If you want to know about the history of artworks of Croatian artists, then you can visit the Split Archaeological Museum.
→ Where to stay: Best hotels in Split, Croatia
This Balkan country has a medieval vibe because of its villages and rugged mountains. Travelers coming here can also relax on the beaches which are on the Adriatic coastline present here.
To explore in Montenegro are the small coastal churches which are lined on the Bay of Kotor. People fond of wildlife can explore Durmitor National Park. In this park are wolves, bears, glacial lakes, peaks of limestone, and Tera River Canyon, which is approximately 1300 m deep.
Lake Skadar is also a bird reserve and is on the border of Albania and perhaps one of the most beautiful places in Southern Europe to watch exotic and rare species of birds.
To party and have fun, you can head to Budva, which is known for luxury yachts. Sveti Stefan, which is nearby to Budva, is also a high-end resort. In the 15th century, it was a town and later was converted into a resort.
If you are looking for a unique view, heading towards Inland would be the right choice. Here is the Ostrog Monastery, which was built somewhere in the gap of the cliff. In the honorary capital of Montenegro that is Cetinje, you can appreciate the architecture of the orthodox churches.
Romania’s capital is Bucharest, and it is in the southern part of the country. It is the commercial center Romania, and the center of attraction here is the communist-era Palatul Parlamentului government building.
This is a massive building with 1100 rooms present in it. In close vicinity is the Lipscani district, which is known for a vibe of nightlife and party. This place also has connections with the history, and here you can see an Eastern Orthodox Stavropoleos Church.
Prince Vlad III also lived here in Curtea Veche Palace, which was built in the 15th century. Visitors can witness the crafts and customs of the peasants of România în Muzeul Național al Ţăranului Român.
If you are interested in knowing about the rural life of Romania, then open-air Muzeul Naţional al Satului must be visited. Bucharest has often been listed as one of the top places to go in Southern Europe for its quirky vibes, great city life, and liveliness.
→ Where to stay: Best hotels in Bucharest, Romania
The capital of Slovakia, Bratislava, is located on the coast of river Danube and shares boundaries with Hungary and Austria. This place is a treat to be as the vineyards surround it.
In the Carpathian mountains, one can find crisscrossed trails that are perfect for hiking and cycling. It is a pedestrian-only town, and the cafes and bars here have a lively feeling.
On the top hill of the town is the Bratislava Castle. It has been reconstructed and offers a great view of the river Danube and the town too. A perfect place to dine by the river in an uptown restaurant with a view.
The visitors with inclination to appreciate art and history of Slovakia can visit the famous museum known as the Slovak National Museum. Are you planning a Southern Europe travel trip? Make sure you have Bratislava added to your places to visit in Southern Europe for its enthralling natural beauty and vibrant city vibes.
→ Where to stay: Best hotels in Bratislava, Slovakia
Skopje, which has witnessed Ottoman, Roman, and the Byzantine rule, is the Capital of Macedonia. It is situated in the center of the Balkan Peninsula. Here is a stone bridge from the 15th century, and it connects the north bank of the Vardar River with the Macedonia Square, Ottoman Old Bazaar (Čaršija), and the statue of Alexander the Great.
The Skopje Fortress is a historical monument that has also acted as a protection for the city for ages. Here is a mosque from the 15th century and is known as Mustafa Pasha Mosque. It can be seen from all parts of the city and is located just above the Skopje’s Old Bazaar.
Mother Teresa was a native of Skopje, and her memorial house is also built here on the river’s southern part. It keeps the lifetime work of the Nobel lady. In the west of the city is Mount Vodno and can be reached by a cable car.
If you are interested in taking a hike instead of a cable car, a trail is there, which also has some caves. You can also see unique medieval monasteries of Matka canyon here. Skopje has so much to offer for everyone from historians, backpackers, and tourists that it should be one of your go-to places to visit in Southern Europe.
Orheiul Vechi, Moldova
Orheiul Vechi is a historic archaeological complex located in the Trebujeni part of Moldova, which is around 60kms from the capital of Chişinău. The region is located on the Raut River and is among the important historical sites of Moldova.
Besides the historical importance, the region is famous for its remoteness, natural beauty built on the rocky limestone cliff, on the riverside. The complex is also called Cave Monastery, which includes almost 2000-year-old ruins of Dacian tribes.
Getting to Orheiul Vechi is quite easy where one can either walk for 15 mins from Butuceni or take Moldovian Public Transport directly to Orheiul Vechi Complex. Before the old monastery, one can find St. Mary Orthodox Church, which was built in 1905.
If you are visiting beautiful Moldova any time soon, don’t forget to take a half-day trip to Orheiul Vechi for a quiet and relaxing experience. Thousands of Orthodox pilgrims from all over the world come here to pay respects.
The Capital of Serbia is known as Belgrade, and travelers visit this place to see the old history and architecture. The most popular amongst all the landmarks present in Belgrade is Beogradska Tvrđava, and it is at the point where rivers Danube and Sava meet.
The fort had strategic significance to all the rulers who ruled this city. Currently, visitors visit this fort as a museum. At Stari Grad, you can enjoy both Opera and Ballet at national theatre Narodno Pozorište.
On the pedestrian pathway of Stari Grad, you will find cafes. Some other famous places to see here are the Temple of Saint Sava, Kalemegdan Park, and Knez Mihailova Street.
→ Where to stay: Best hotels in Belgrade, Serbia
Warsaw is a city of tales of tumultuous past, which was once known as the Paris of the East. Marred by Word War II, it has taken decades for the city to revive itself from ashes to one of the fast-growing and best cities in entire Europe.
There are so many good reasons that make Warsaw one of the best places to visit in Southern Europe. The old town of the capital city of Poland is also on the list of UNESCO’s world heritage sites.
The Warsaw Old town was down to ashes, and only the ruins remained in 1944 during the heavy bombing campaign in World War II. However, decades later, this town is not only pretty but so colorful that one can never imagine what the town experienced almost seven decades ago.
Across the Wista River lies Praga, an artsy commercial area with local pubs, vibrant atmosphere. Famous for its greenery, the city is full of leafy gardens and floral parks.
One such finest part to visit is Łazienki Park, which comprises of a stunning lake, Chopin’s statue, large pond, a perfect place to laze. Music lovers can find themselves in for some experience to know and learn about the legacy of the famous composer and pianist Frédéric Chopin.
Another popular personality from Warsaw is two times Nobel Prize winner and famous scientist, Marie Skłodowska Curie.
Book yourself a visit to Marie Curie museum to know about her early life in Warsaw and her park, and her statue. Some other must-visit places in the Polish capital are innovative and creative science museum of Copernicus Science Centre, Presidential Palace, and trendy Nowogradzka Street.
→ Where to stay: Best hotels in Warshaw, Poland