Europe is arguably one of the most interesting continents to visit. With thousands of years of history no matter which country you visit, you are sure to experience a wealth of history, art, and architecture. The 44 countries of Europe offer a variety of cultural and historical experiences. Each country also has its distinct landmarks that are worth visiting as a tourist.
In this list, I reveal 34 of the most popular European landmarks. This list is not exhaustive, as Europe has hundreds of points of interest. Rather I offer a few landmarks in some of the more popular tourist locations. These landmarks are those that should be on any traveler’s European bucket list.
The 34 Most Famous European Landmarks
1. The Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
This is perhaps the most famous landmark in Europe. The Eiffel Tower is an iron structure that was constructed for the Universal Exhibition of Paris in 1889. At the time, the massive structure, designed by Gustave Eiffel, was a marvel of engineering. The tower is a very busy tourist attraction in France, with the months of July and August being the busiest.
Many visitors enjoy taking stairs or elevators to the second floor or all the way to the top. At the base of the tower there are lots of cafes and a sprawling park that are great spots to enjoy a view of this remarkable structure.
2. Big Ben, London, United Kingdom
Big Ben is the third-largest, free-standing, clock tower in the world. This amazing structure sits at the north end of the Palace of Westminster, London. It was formerly called the Great Bell. The clock is certainly one of the most iconic places in England, and it draws millions of visitors each year.
It is one of the newer landmark structures in England with construction starting in 1843 and completion in 1856. While seeing it during the day is a great experience, Big Ben is even more impressive at night.
3. Notre-Dame Cathedral, Paris, France
With a huge number of landmarks in Paris, it is easy to spend a couple of days sightseeing. The Notre Dame Cathedral is the most prominent landmark in Paris, and over the last few years has become a more somber site to visit. The cathedral is one of the largest Gothic churches in the world.
It took more than 180 years to construct, and the building was finally completed in 1345. The details of construction from the flying buttresses to the gargoyles make this an amazing structure inside and out. The structure was heavily damaged during a fire in April of 2019. The cathedral is closed to visitors for now, but there are still options for viewing the structure from the outside.
4. Louvre Museum, Paris, France
Staying in Paris I offer my next landmark, the Louvre Museum. This famous art museum houses some of the most famous pieces of art in the world. Many visitors associate the Louvre with its unique entrance structure, a glass pyramid. However, the museum itself occupies a larger building sitting near the pyramid.
While walking the halls of the Louvre, there is the opportunity to explore many of the 30,000 pieces of art, including paintings and sculptures. However, most visitors to the Louvre come to see its most famous resident, “Mona Lisa”.
5. Buckingham Palace, London, United Kingdom
Buckingham Palace is the official residence of King Charles. This massive building has 775 rooms and 39 acres of gardens. Buckingham Palace was originally purchased by King George III in 1761 as a private home for him and Queen Charlotte. The palace became the official royal residence when Queen Victoria moved there in 1837.
Today, the palace is open to visitors from July to October. While visiting the palace, make sure to take a moment to watch the changing of the Guard ceremony. This occurs daily and is a 45-minute process.
6. Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France
I head back to Paris, where the landmarks abound. The Arc de Triomphe was constructed to honor the French soldiers that died during the French Revolution. Construction of the massive stone structure began in August 1806 and was completed in July of 1836. Many visitors to the Arc de Triomphe are surprised to see people’s names carved on the walls of the monument.
These are the names of the men who died during the Revolution. Most people view the Arch from the ground, however, ambitious visitors can climb the 234 steps inside the structure to the top. From the top of the Arch, you can take in amazing views of the City.
7. Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey, Mont Saint-Michel, France
Located on Saint-Michel’s island the Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey is another famous French landmark. You will travel a bit from Paris to view this unique landmark. The Abbey is open to visitors. The Gothic-style abbey was completed in 1532. On the island, the abbey is surrounded by a small town which is also a fun place to explore.
8. Palace of Versailles, Versailles, France
Located just about 60 miles from Paris is the Palace of Versailles. This massive structure was the residence of the royal family of King Louis XIV. The palace was originally constructed as a hunting lodge, but beginning in 1631, the lodge underwent an expansion to accommodate the needs of the royal family.
When the expansion was completed in 1634, the 600-room structure was deemed acceptable as a royal residence. Today it is a French landmark that sees thousands of visitors. The palace can be toured using an audio tour or a self-guided tour.
9. Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria, Germany
Neuschwanstein is a large castle built in the Bavarian Alps. The castle was constructed by King Ludwig II, during the 19th century. This beautiful castle is the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. The castle is fairly easy to get to from Munich, and can be an easy drive through the Bavarian countryside.
Tickets to tour the castle are available, and there is a small town at the base of the hill with souvenir shops and a nice restaurant. To get to the castle you will have a good walk up a hill, so make sure you wear good shoes.
10. Palace of Westminster, London, United Kingdom
The Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament, is the building where the two branches of the British parliament convene and conduct their work. The two houses are the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The Palace you see today was constructed in 1847 after the original structure was destroyed by fire. The only remaining part of the original Houses of Parliament is the Chapel of St. Mary Undercroft.
This portion of the Palace was completed by King Edward I in 1297. If you wish to tour inside of the Palace of Westminster, it is helpful to know that it is only open to the public on Saturdays, or during July and August when parliament is in recess.
11. Colosseum, Rome, Italy
As the largest amphitheater in the world, the Colosseum in Rome was a place for sporting games and plays. The floor of the Colosseum was large enough for chariot races and gladiator trials during the Roman Empire. When it was active, the Colosseum was able to seat up to 80,000 people.
Today, the structure is partially in ruins, but it is still a popular place for visitors. One thing that tourists will be surprised about, is the location of the Colosseum. It seems too large to be located in central Rome. However, the Colosseum is centrally located in the city and is within walking distance of many other famous Italian landmarks.
12. Stonehenge, Wiltshire, United Kingdom
This UNESCO World Heritage Site may be one of the most mysterious places on Earth. Stonehenge, located in Wiltshire, United Kingdom is a circular structure of huge stones that was constructed some time between 3000 and 2000 BC. It is believed that the site was a burial spot.
However, there are still plenty of questions about why and how the site was constructed by ancient peoples. The site is open to visitors, and there is also a museum that you can explore while at Stonehenge.
13. Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, Kyiv, Ukraine
This active monastery and the most holy place in Ukraine is one of the most stunning examples of Baroque architecture in all of Europe. Also known as the Monastery of the Caves, the landmark was built by Orthodox monks in 1051.
The most striking detail of this beautiful monastery is the gold rooftops on many of the monastery buildings. The monastery is constructed near a series of caves that are used as a burial place for the monks that live in Kyiv Pechersk Lavra. The monastery is open to the public, but it is also a functioning monastery, with approximately 100 monks calling this place home.
14. Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pisa, Italy
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is likely the most famous engineering mistake in the world. Located in the town of Pisa, in the Piazza dei Miracoli, the tower was constructed to be a bell tower or campanile.
Visitors can ascend the 300 steps to the top of the tower and enjoy views of the city and surrounding countryside. Though the tower has a substantial 4 degrees of lean, the structure has undergone many engineering fixes to make the tower safe, even with the lean.
15. St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland
St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the national cathedral of the Church of Ireland. It is located in the capital city of Dublin and is one of the largest churches in the country. The cathedral was constructed around 1191 and is one of the most beautiful churches in Europe. The most unique feature of this church is that it is the only one in Ireland that still has a daily, sung, worship service.
St. Patrick’s is also the resting place of numerous famous individuals. The public can visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral, but there is a small entrance fee. This fee supports the maintenance and upkeep of the cathedral.
16. Pantheon, Rome, Italy
Before the Pantheon was a Catholic Church, it was a Roman temple to the gods. The structure was commissioned by Marcus Agrippa and is one of the oldest monuments in all of Europe. This massive structure was rebuilt by Hadrian, the Roman emperor sometime around 120 AD.
One of the unique features of the Pantheon is the oculus on the roof. Many people visiting the Pantheon are surprised to learn that this hole in the ceiling is the only source of light for the interior of the structure.
17. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City
For Christians, this place is one of the most important places to visit. St. Peter’s Basilica or more formally known as The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter is the largest Christian church in the world. It is the center of the Catholic religion, though people from all religions find this an exciting place to visit. Construction of the Basilica began in 1506 under the direction of Pope Julius II, but it wasn’t finished until 1615. The interior of the Basilica is immensely beautiful and is worth spending some time visiting.
18. Apostolic Palace, Vatican City
The Apostolic Palace is the official home of the Pope. It is also sometimes called the Papal Palace. While this structure in Vatican City is where the Pope lives, it is also home to the Vatican Museums and the Vatican Library.
The Vatican Museum alone has 50 unique galleries filled with works of art from famous Catholic artists like Da Vinci and Raphael. The site also has an extensive network of gardens.
19. The Sistine Chapel, Vatican City
The Sistine Chapel is home to the largest work created by the artist Michelangelo. The chapel is located in the Papal Palace and is named after Pope Sixtus who restored the chapel starting in 1473. The ceiling of the chapel is painted with the famous frescoes of Michelangelo.
Each panel represents a story from the bible. The ceiling took many years to paint and each panel is filled with intricate details. Recently restoration work on the frescos has begun. If visiting the Sistine Chapel, take some time to sit and admire the beauty of the paintings and the peace of the space.
20. Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy
Trevi Fountain is one of the most popular spots on walking tours of Rome. This beautiful and ornate fountain has been featured prominently in at least 4 Hollywood movies, making it even more popular with visitors to Rome. The original fountain was constructed and deemed not impressive enough by Pope Urban VIII, who commissioned a new fountain in 1629.
He died before the fountain could be constructed. In 1730, Pope Clement XIII, decided a new fountain was necessary, and the Trevi Fountain as it is known today was designed and constructed. The current version of the fountain was completed in 1762 and features elements of the design of Pope Urban VIII.
21. Florence Cathedral, Florence, Italy
As the center of the Christian faith for thousands of years, it’s not a wonder that many of the famous landmarks in Italy are churches. The Florence Cathedral is one of the most famous and recognizable churches in the world.
Construction of this cathedral began in 1296 and was completed in 1463. It uses locally quarried stone in colors of green, pink, and red. The interior of this Gothic-style cathedral is simple with minimal decorations. The building does have some remarkably preserved frescos, which can be viewed for free.
Suggested Reading: The Best Things to Do in Florence, Italy
22. Helsinki Cathedral, Helsinki, Finland
Finland is not often on the travel itinerary for many people, but this beautiful country offers a peaceful European experience and some beautiful landmarks. One of the most famous in Finland is the Helsinki Cathedral. This cathedral opened in 1852 and is one of the most prominent buildings in Helsinki.
The cathedral and neighboring Senate Square were designed in the Neoclassical style. The Cathedral is striking white with green domes that both contrast with the surrounding buildings, but also match well with the colorful walls of the city.
23. Buda Castle, Budapest, Hungary
Budapest is one of the most picturesque cities in all of Europe. Buda Castle sits prominently over the city. This giant monument was originally constructed in 1265 and served as the Royal Castle for the Hungarian kings. The structure that is on the hill today was constructed between 1749 and 1769. Inside the Buda Castle, there are numerous museums and art galleries.
If you are looking to learn a bit about the history of Hungary these museums are very helpful. Visitors may also enjoy a guided tour of Buda Castle. Tour guides at this site are quite knowledgeable about the history of the castle and Hungary.
24. Hungarian Parliament Building, Budapest, Hungary
If you weren’t impressed by Buda Castle, perhaps you will be inspired by the Hungarian Parliament building. This structure is one of the largest buildings of parliament in the world. It was constructed in the Gothic style and is as ornate and beautiful as many of the churches around Europe. The Parliament Building is open to visitors daily. Tours of the building run from 8 am to 6 pm, and visitors that wish to see the interior of the building must be part of a scheduled tour.
25. Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain
The Basilica of the Sagrada Familia is by far the most imposing feature in the Barcelona skyline. This amazing church is the design of the famous Spanish architect and sculptor Gaudi. The construction of the Catholic basilica began in 1882 and is still continuing today. The building is an active construction site, so visitors must purchase a timed entrance ticket to view the interior and exterior of the Cathedral.
The Basilica of the Sagrada Familia is one of the most interesting, ornate, and unique structures in all of Europe, and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. To fully experience all of the hidden and unique aspects of the cathedral, visitors will want to take advantage of the available audio tour to learn more about the construction and design of the Basilica.
Suggested Reading: The Ultimate Barcelona Travel Guide
26. Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna, Austria
The Habsburg rulers of Europe were some of the most prolific rulers of their time. Their lineage ruled lands in Austria, Hungary, and parts of Germany. One of the most famous and remarkable landmarks left by the Habsburgs is the Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna.
This immense building was once the summer home for the Habsburgs. The home is only partially open to the public, but in the 40-room tour, you will experience the extravagance of European royalty. The surrounding gardens are part of the experience that should not be missed when visiting the Schonbrunn Palace.
27. Acropolis, Athens, Greece
The Acropolis is one of many landmarks in Greece that are the remnants of the ancient people that inhabited the area around Athens. The Acropolis and the monuments found there were symbols of the power and wealth of the ancient Greek civilization. The temples and buildings were constructed in the 5th century to show the world how powerful the Greek rulers had become. The most popular place at the Acropolis is the Parthenon.
This structure was built in honor of the goddess of Athena, who is the patron saint and namesake of the city of Athens. The Parthenon is one of the oldest structures in the world, with construction believed to have begun sometime around 447 BC.
28. Belém Tower, Lisbon, Portugal
Portugal is not often considered when talking about famous places in Europe. This small country, however, has plenty of history and plenty of beautiful and interesting places to visit. The Belem Tower is one of the most famous landmarks in Portugal. This spot was used for hundreds of years by Portuguese explorers as a starting point for their travels. The tower was once known as the Tower of Stain Vincent.
29. Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, Germany
Though constructed during the 18th century by King Frederick William II, the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin became the symbol of the Cold War that spread across the globe following the end of World War II.
The design of the gate was inspired by the Acropolis and is made of 12 Doric columns that create 5 passages. The structure is topped with a Quadriga driven by Victoria, the goddess of Victory. The gate today is an icon of peace and unity, though for many years it was part of the wall that separated Berlin and Germany into east and west.
30. Matterhorn, Zermatt, Switzerland
While most of the landmarks on this list are man-made, the Matterhorn is perhaps the most famous landmark in Europe that is natural. This strangely shaped mountain in the Swiss Alps is a popular destination for hikers, climbers, and skiers. The mountain rises 4,478 meters above sea level, making it one of the tallest peaks in the Alps.
When in Zermatt, the Matterhorn is the defining feature in the landscape and there are many places to catch an amazing view of this grand peak.
31. Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium
There are few places in Europe that are more ornate and spectacular than the Grand Palace in Brussels Belgium. This building surrounds the central square in Brussels and was once the center of the Belgium government. Though beautiful, this square and the Palace were the sites of some of the most brutal events in history.
During the Inquisition, many protestants were burned at the stake in this square, including Jan Van Essen and Hendrik Vos. Though heavily damaged in 1695, this beautiful stone and wood structure has been the starting point for exploration around Brussels since the 11th century.
32. Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba, Cordoba, Spain
One of the most unique religious buildings in the world is the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is both a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary and a Mosque. The official name of the structure is the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, and it is located in the Andalusian area of Spain.
The uniqueness of this landmark is seen in the differing architectural styles of the Christian church and the Muslim mosque. When visiting the Mosque-Cathedral you will also notice that daily worship services are held in the Cathedral, while prayers are not held in the Mosque.
33. Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic
The Charles Bridge is one of the most popular sites in Prague for visitors. This beautiful bridge took over 50 years to construct under the supervision of King Charls IV. The bridge spans the Vltava River and connects the two halves of the city. The bridge is considered to be one of the most romantic places in Europe, and many people travel here for a peaceful holiday with their loved one.
34. Prague Castle, Prague, Czech Republic
The Prague Castle is one of the largest castles in all of Europe. Taking up more than 70,000 square meters of land, and with more than 700 rooms, this castle is the focal point in the capital city of Prague. Construction on the castle began in the 9th century, but it was still undergoing updates and renovations through 1930.
The building has examples of a number of different architectural styles, including Baroque, Romanesque, and Gothic. Today, the castle is the most popular tourist attraction in Prague and is also the functioning office for the President of the Czech Republic.