7 Must-See Historic Places in Europe

Europe is one of those places that is on everybody’s travel bucket list. Whether it be the castles in Germany, the royal palaces in France, the ruins of Ancient Greece and Rome, the shops in London or the beaches of Spain, there is no shortage of entertainment in Europe. But with so many choices, there’s bound to be neat things that are missed. To help you with your decision of what to see I asked a few people what their favorite historic destinations around Europe are. This is what they had to say:

Schloss Neuschwanstein, Neuschwanstein, Germany, castle

Courtesy of Christopher Tracy

My amazing brother, Chris, of From the Mind of C.E. Tracy had this so say about Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany:

For as long as I can remember, I have been infatuated with Schloss Neuschwanstein. I had tons of puzzles and posters of the castle and even a 3D puzzle. As a child, you dream of going and seeing such places as if it requires nothing more than the desire. You never imagine that one day you could actually be standing before it in person. That’s how it felt in December 2007 when there I was, standing on an ice and snow-covered bridge staring at this building I had fantasized seeing since childhood. It felt unreal.

There is much about the place that gives it such allure. Considered by many to be the original ‘Cinderella’ castle, it is by far one of the most popular castles in the world. It is situated in the hills of southern Germany and has been a popular tourist attraction for over 100 years. Construction for the castle began in September of 1869 and was intended to be a private residence for King Ludwig II. Sadly, he never got to live there. He died under mysterious conditions years before it was completed in 1892. It was opened to the public a short time after his death and was a large source of income for the House of Wittelsbach until WWI.

It is truly a remarkable sight to behold. In the winter, the snow gives it a chilling beauty. It is hard to imagine that such a magnificent building was intended for one person. It is by far a place I intend on visiting again.

Athena Pronaia Sanctuary, Delphi, Greece

Courtesy of Chrysoula Manika

Chrysoula of Travel Passionate have this to say about Delphi, Greece:

The Archaeological site of Delphi is situated at the foot of Mount Parnassos around 1½ hours away from Athens. It is one of the most important archaeological sites of Greece and its part of Unesco’s World Heritage Sites. It was considered to be the centre of the world.

According to mythology when Zeus sent two eagles from the end of the universe to find the naval of the world the eagles met in Delphi. Although there are findings in the site from the Neolithic period (4000BC) the town was at its peak from the 6th to the 4th century BC when the Delphic oracle was regarded as the most trustworthy among the ancient Greek world. The oracle was delivered by the Pythia, the priestess, and interpreted by the priests of Apollo. Rulers and individuals across the country consulted the oracle and offered gifts in return. It is said that the oracle predicted the Argonaut’s expedition and the Trojan War. Also in the site of Delphi were organized every four years the Pythian Games, the second most important games in Greece after the Olympics. The town of Delphi lost its glory with the spread of Christianity and eventually closed down by Theodosius the Great.

Some of the most important monuments on the site include: the temple of Apollo, the Theatre, the Stadium, the Castalian Spring, the Treasury of the Athenians, the Altar of the Chians and the Stoa of the Athenians.

I have visited the archaeological site of Delphi a couple of times in the past. The location of the site within the mountains is breathtaking. I also find its history and the existence of the Delphic oracle fascinating.

Nuraghes, Sardinia, Europe

Courtesy of Claudia Tavani

Claudia of My Adventures Across the World had this to say about the Nuraghes in Sardinia:

I love nuraghes, perhaps even more so because they are only found in Sardinia, where I come from. They are ancient megalithic buildings that where developed during the Nuragic age, between 1900 and 739 BCE. There is no certainty over what the function of nuraghes – some researchers believe they were religious temples, others that they were dwellings, or rulers’ residencies, forts, or a mixture of the above. Some nuraghes are located in strategic places, which may imply that they were used as control posts and had a military or defensive significance.

My favourite Nuraghe in Sardinia is that of Barumini, which is at about one hour drive from the capital, Cagliari, in the planes of Campidano. Su Nuraxi (this is how we commonly call it here) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997. It is surrounded by a lushious countryside, whose colours range from the bright green of the grass during spring time, to the burning yellow of the dry summer months. Cold months don’t make it easy to visit, as the wind sweeps the plane and make Barumini very cold. However, on a warm spring day, when temperatures are mild and pleasant, a guided tour of the nuraghe can take up to 3 hours, depending on how many questions the group will ask the guide. I have been there several times, and each time I find out some new, interesting facts!

Neolithic passage grave, St. Andrew's Park, Jersey,

Courtesy of Ana Astri-O’Reilly

Ana of Ana Travels had this to say about the monoliths in the Bailiwicks of Jersey off the cost of France:

Stone-age hunter gatherers came over from the Continent and settled in Jersey, a small island on the Gulf of St. Malo, 45 to 63 square miles depending on the tides. But it was the Neolithic people who left their mark on the landscape. Not only did they leave behind pottery, stone axes and flint tools found by modern archaeologists, but also the dolmens and passage graves they built around the island.

My husband and I lived in Jersey for about a year. I enjoyed wandering around and coming across ancient monuments where I least expected. For example, the cist-in-circle and gallery grave outside a church in St. Andrew’s Park. Or the time we went to a concert on the beach in St. Ouen. To get to the site, we walked past a 6,000 year old passage grave in Les Monts Grantez. I was excited about the dolmen in clear contrast with the locals, who were used to them.

La Hougue Bie is the largest and most interesting and unusual monument. It consists of a mound covering a passage grave. In the Middle Ages, Christian missionaries built a chapel on top of the mound. Centuries later, during the Nazi Occupation of the 1940s, the Germans built a bunker and trenches. It is now a museum and memorial to all the forced workers brought from occupied Europe.

These dolmens are part of the cultural and geographical landscape. They are lovingly preserved despite the ravages of time and past unawareness of their importance.

Omaha Beach, Normandy, France,

Courtesy of David Incoll, via Flickr

Shannon of Sole Seeking had this to say about Omaha Beach in Normandy:

When I was 17, my dad took me on a trip to Normandy to visit the beaches that became a pivotal landmark of ‘Operation Overlord’ – the mission of the allied countries to liberate Western Europe from Nazi Germany. On 6th June 1944, 156,000 British, American and Canadian troops crossed the English Channel into a recently-invaded France. At least 4000 of them would lose their lives on that day.

We cycled past golden fields stacked with hay bales and through small cozy villages with pretty Churches and tempting bakeries on our visits to the five key beaches involved in the Landings – Gold, Juno, Omaha, Sword and Utah.

I closed my eyes and tried to comprehend the scenes that would have taken place on these beaches all those years ago –frightened men battling wild winds and wading through wicked waves to a shore where they were greeted by gunfire and an obstacle course of mines and barbed wire.

Today the beaches are filled with happy families. The children splashing in the waves probably have no idea that almost 71 years ago, these beaches were the scene of warfare. The horror, chaos and bloodshed is now replaced by joy, peace and picnics.

After this trip I knew for sure that I wanted to study History at university. I knew for sure that I wanted to travel and visit more areas of historical significance. I learned that travel shouldn’t always be about seeing the beautiful and cheerful – it should be informative and inspirational.

Pantheon, Italy, Europe

Courtesy of Stephanie Mayo

Stephanie of The World As I See It had this to say about the Pantheon in Rome:

One of my favorite places I’ve visited and definitely my favorite historic site is Rome’s Pantheon. Approaching from the winding alleyways of Rome you enter the massive Piazza Della Rotunda and there stands the grand Pantheon. Built almost 2000 years ago, the Pantheon still captures the hearts and souls of many. The name Pantheon comes from Greek meaning ‘a temple to all gods’, which was fitting as it was originally a pagan temple. With its perfect proportions and original marble floor it remains the best preserved Ancient Roman monument and also has the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world, a wonder for its day. There has always been something magical about this site for me, I’m not sure whether it’s the contrasting round structure in such a conforming box-like world, or the enchanting oculus that shines stunning sunlight into its dark reaches or maybe it’s true what Michelangelo felt – that it was the work of angels, not men.

Pompeii, Italy, Europe

Courtesy of Paula McInerny

Paula of Contented Traveller had this to say about Pompeii:

Pompeii was very special to me as I taught this to my high school students forever. They and I loved the topic, so it was amazing to visit and wander around.

Pompeii was struck by an earthquake in 62AD, and then the final death knell was when Mt Vesuvius erupted in 79AD. The citizens were in the process of rebuilding Pompeii after the earthquake, but then the final blow was struck.

In just 24 hours, the entire city was buried under the ashes of the eruption. The city of Pompeii was only discovered in 1748 when workers were employed to dig a tunnel and uncovered Roman wall paintings. This led to the discovery of this amazing city. There has been considerable and extensive study into the final hours of the city of Pompeii. There has been considerable debate as to how the people died. Was it from suffocation, or was from the toxic gases? Perhaps it was the immense heat generated by the eruption or the fact that many people were crushed to death by the immense weight of the volcanic ash. All we know is that people died where they stood.

Pompeii was a playground for the rich and very wealthy Romans who indulged themselves in anything that made them happy. It was a holiday destination where what went on in Pompeii, stayed in Pompeii.

Written historical evidence in the form of graffito, and archaeological evidence points to the fact that the people of Pompeii thoroughly enjoyed themselves. They were totally hedonistic with the latest in luxuries.

The people of Pompeii enjoyed their bathing, making an entire day of the ritual. We know that they enjoyed the extremely brutal gladiatorial bouts held in the amphitheater. We also know that they liked drinking, eating and fornicating. 35 lupanares or brothels have been uncovered in Pompeii. Pompeii was a city where people partook in many pleasurable pursuits.

My conclusion: you could feel the hedonism in the air as we walked around it. Pompeii is an amazing place.

Please show your support for this site by using my affiliate link to purchase goods from Amazon. There is no extra fee for you, I just get a small commission based of of your purchases. Thank you!

12 thoughts on “7 Must-See Historic Places in Europe

  1. Anastasiia Babenko

    When my parents and I have been to Europe, we were fascinated by castles we saw. The Polish castle (The Niemodlin Castle) was the last one and made our visit to Poland so memorable, because of its incredible history and legends.
    At first glance, the ancient building was simply very pleasant to look at, but the longer one gazed, the more attractive and comely it became.

    • Erin Post author

      Thank you for your comment! I agree that it’s nice to learn more about the history and culture of places we visit. It just adds a whole new dimension to the experience.

  2. Pingback: A Change of Scene and a Change of Screen | soleseeking

  3. Tim

    Europe is so packed with great historical markers but these few definitely qualify. For me the Roman Forum, Galipoli, St Peters Bascilica,, some of the concentration camps in Germany, and the Swiss Alps would make a longer list. Not all happy places but historically significant for sure.

  4. kkowen

    Such amazing places! I have been to Europe so many times and haven’t been to any of these yet. They are on the list. Great compilation of wonderful places!

  5. Renate Flynn

    Of all the destinations listed, I’ve visited the Pantheon which is a truly impressive monument. I’m adding ALL the others to my “Must-See List” – thanks for the inspiration!


Leave a Reply