Five of the most visited countries in Europe
Europe is a fascinating continent, and it attracts millions of tourists annually. Cities in Europe are famed for their medieval architecture with ancient cathedrals, walls, churches, towns, and museums being top destinations for tourists.
Contemporary attractions offer great opportunities for sightseeing. They include canal, towers, coastal cities, recreational facilities, and religious monuments. Beaches, mountain ranges, islands, waterways have made these nations ideal for vacations with activities such as cruising, skiing, and hiking attracting tourists. Festivals in Europe clock all year round and are used to celebrate cuisine, music, fashion, and films.
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Most visited countries in Europe
France, in Western Europe, encompasses medieval cities, alpine villages and Mediterranean beaches. Paris, its capital, is famed for its fashion houses, classical art museums including the Louvre and monuments like the Eiffel Tower. The country is also renowned for its wines and sophisticated cuisine. Lascaux’s ancient cave drawings, Lyon’s Roman theater and the vast Palace of Versailles attest to its rich history.
Northern highlights include the Loire Valley’s majestic chateaux; Normandy’s WWII sites and iconic Mont-St-Michel; WWI Western Front battlefields; and Brittany’s rugged coast. To the east are German-influenced architecture and food, and the French Alps’ ski resorts. In the south, Provence is home to lavender fields, and the Riviera glitters with glamorous towns and beaches. Bordeaux and Burgundy produce renowned wines, while Champagne gives the bubbly stuff its name. Along with cheeses such as Camembert, Brie and Roquefort, local fare includes Brittany's crêpes and Burgundy's coq au vin.
Spain, a country on Europe’s Iberian Peninsula, includes 17 autonomous regions with diverse geography and cultures. Capital city Madrid is home to the Royal Palace and Prado museum, housing works by European masters. Segovia has a medieval castle (the Alcázar) and an intact Roman aqueduct. Catalonia’s capital, Barcelona, is defined by Antoni Gaudí’s whimsical modernist landmarks like the Sagrada Família church.
In Northern Spain, Basque Country is known for a rich culinary culture and Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. Santiago de Compostela is a holy pilgrimage city. Navarra’s capital, Pamplona, is famed for its annual running of the bulls. Eastern Spain’s Valencia is celebrated for its paella (a rice dish). In the south, Andalusia is known as Picasso's birthplace (Málaga), for bullfighting and flamenco (Seville), and for Moorish landmarks including Córdoba’s Mezquita mosque-cathedral and Granada’s Alhambra palace. Spanish beach destinations include the Mediterranean Balearic Islands, including Ibiza, and the Canaries, off Africa.
Italy, a European country with a long Mediterranean coastline, has left a powerful mark on Western culture and cuisine. Its capital, Rome, is home to the Vatican as well as landmark art and ancient ruins. Other major cities include Florence, with Renaissance masterpieces such as Michelangelo’s "David" and Brunelleschi's Duomo; Venice, the city of canals; and Milan, Italy’s fashion capital.
Highlights of northern Italy include exploring the lakeside towns of Lombardy, hiking the hillside-hugging villages of Cinque Terre and downhill skiing in the Italian Alps. Central Italy is known for the rolling vineyards of Tuscany and Umbria, as well as Pisa’s iconic leaning tower. Travel farther south to find Naples, known for its pizza; the rugged Amalfi Coast, where picturesque towns hang precariously over cliffs; and Pompeii's 2,000-year-old remains. Off the southern tip of the peninsula, Sicily offers ancient ruins, beaches and an active volcano.
Turkey is a nation straddling eastern Europe and western Asia with cultural connections to ancient Greek, Persian, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires. Cosmopolitan Istanbul, on the Bosphorus Strait, is home to the iconic Hagia Sophia, with its soaring dome and Christian mosaics, the massive 17th-century Blue Mosque and the circa-1460 Topkapı Palace, former home of sultans. Ankara is Turkey’s modern capital.
Major resorts include Antalya, a gateway to the southern Mediterranean area known as both the Turkish Riviera and the Turquoise Coast, and the Bodrum and Çesme peninsulas, both on the Aegean. Archaeological sites of note include the remnants of Troy and Pergamon, the Roman ruins at Hierapolis and, more extensively, the ancient city of Ephesus. The semi-arid central region of Cappadocia, especially Göreme, is known for “fairy chimneys” (tall, cone-shaped rock formations), Bronze Age cave dwellings that became early Christian churches and the Derinkuyu and Kaymakli underground cities. Pamukkale is known for its travertine hot springs.
The United Kingdom, made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, is an island nation in northwestern Europe. England – birthplace of Shakespeare and The Beatles – is home to the capital, London, a globally influential centre of finance and culture. England is also site of Neolithic Stonehenge, Bath’s Roman spa and centuries-old universities at Oxford and Cambridge.
Scotland is a land of renowned whisky distillers and golf courses, typified by the 15th-century Old Course at St Andrews. It’s also known for its Highland mountains, offshore islands like Skye and Lewis, and the legendary monster of Loch Ness. Wales has mountainous Snowdonia National Park, miles of beaches and castles at Cardiff, Caernarfon, Caerphilly and Conwy. Northern Ireland is known for Celtic folk music, the lush Glens of Antrim and a craggy coastline featuring the Giant’s Causeway, a striking natural formation of hexagonal rock columns.