It may be one of the smaller continents, but what Europe lacks in size, it makes up for in style and variety: luxurious beaches, fields of bluebells, limestone cliffs, and some of the best mountain views on the planet. We know it's hard to choose from chasing waterfalls in Bosnia and Herzegovina, staying awake for the midnight sun in Finland, and hiking your way through the dramatic Dolomites, so take a look at 20 of the most breathtaking landscapes across Europe—and then slowly plan how to make your way to all of these natural wonders.
Swimming in turquoise waters, sipping rosé at sunset, breathing in scents of lavender: The South of France is the embodiment of French glamour and sophistication. The area includes idyllic locations such as Biarritz, a resort town whose wild beaches are hugely popular with surfers, royals, and celebrities (you might also recognize it from Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises).
Melissani Cave, Greece
With its two chambers—one dark and covered with stalagmites, the other sunlit through a huge opening to the surface—the Cave of Melissani on Kefalonia is an unforgettable sight. While the caves and subterranean Melissani Lake were discovered several hundred years ago, the area only opened to the public in the early 1960s, with plenty of travelers rowing through the stunning blue waters since then.
The Dolomites, Italy
A less glamorous (but no less gorgeous) relative of the Alps, the Dolomites stretch across the northeastern part of Italy. Aside from its pristine trails for local skiers come wintertime, the mountain range makes for one of the world's most breathtaking alpine drives. For some of the best views, head to the stylish but sleepy resort town of Bolzano, where rolling green hills juxtapose beautifully against the sawtoothed peaks in the distance.
Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
Few places exemplify the raw, untamed beauty of Ireland’s west coast as the Cliffs of Moher, a natural wonder that tops 702 feet at the highest point. And while you might know them better as the Cliffs of Insanity from The Princess Bride (inconceivable!), in reality, the cliffs are located just south of Galway.
Chianti Country, Italy
Chianti is home to some of Italy's most famous reds, but it's also one of the best spots in the country for an afternoon drive along winding, cyprus-lined roads, past rolling green hills and golden fields dotted with sunflowers. It's the side of Tuscany we love most—and we really love Tuscany.
Caucasus Mountains, Georgia
After decades spent out of sight and out of mind for many travelers, due in part to shoddy infrastructure and intermittent conflict with neighboring Russia, this former Soviet republic is investing in its tourism industry and attracting travelers tired of crowded mountain trails in the Alps or reservation-only vineyards in France. The best way to witness the diversity of Georgia’s terrain is on its hiking trails, which wind through the Greater Caucasus mountain range dividing Europe from Asia.
With its stark white landscapes, frequent Northern Lights sightings, and a reindeer population that outnumbers humans, Finnish Lapland is like an enchanted, frozen fairytale in real life. We suggest cozying up at the Arctic TreeHouse Hotel, where you'll be welcomed with a hot mug of glogg and can spend hours gazing through the northern facing, floor-to-ceiling window in your guest room. Visit in the summer to catch a glimpse of the midnight sun.
Eastern Carpathians, Romania
Romania may be best known for its medieval castles and Gothic churches, but the country also has some of the most enigmatic landscapes of southeastern Europe—particularly in and around the Carpathian Mountains. The range's dense forests are beautiful no matter where you are, but they somehow feel even lovelier when you come across sites like Lacul Roșu (Red Lake), pictured here.
Las Médulas, Spain
You can attribute the unusual landscape of Las Médulas—near León in northwest Spain—to the ancient Romans, who essentially devastated the mountains here while extracting gold during the 1st century A.D. The miners built a complicated system of aqueducts and channels to force running water through the area, leaving the scattered, reddish peaks you see today.
Lofoten Islands, Norway
It takes some time and energy to reach the Lofoten Islands, just off of Norway's northwestern coast, but you won't regret making the effort. Once there, you'll find clear blue waters that rival the Mediterranean and craggy mountains that are reminiscent of Iceland, plus unparalleled fjords and frozen beaches.
Moravian Fields, Czech Republic
It's more believable to think the Moravian Fields are the product of an oil painter's genius brushstrokes, but these pastel-colored hills are very much a reality. The Czech Republic's easternmost region is often referred to as Moravian Tuscany, due to its uncanny resemblance to the eponymous rolling hills in Italy.
Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland
Legend has it the Giant's Causeway, with its thousands of hexagonal basalt columns rising from the sea, was the remains of an actual causeway built by giants. Science says it was actually formed by a volcanic eruption some 50 to 60 million years ago. But whether you choose to believe the fable or the facts, we all can agree that this otherworldly site showcases nature at her most incredible.
In the Berchtesgaden Alps near the Austrian border (about 18 miles south of Salzburg), Königssee is an alpine lake with crystal-clear water, quiet boat rides, and charming St. Bartholomä church with its very own, very German beer garden.
Micheldever Wood, England
Located about five miles from Winchester in Hampshire, Micheldever Wood is an above-average forest with beech trees, woodland birds, and wandering deer. But come springtime, the land transforms from above-average to sensational, thanks to the bluebells that blanket the forest floor.
Swiss Alps, Switzerland
Switzerland is easily one of the most beautiful countries in the world—particularly if you visit during the winter, when the Swiss Alps become a luxury skiing playground and the thick snow turns the mountain range into a true wonderland. There's something about spotting the iconic Matterhorn peak that stops us dead in our ski tracks every time.
Kravica Waterfalls, Bosnia and Herzegovina
You've undoubtedly heard of Croatia's Krka National Park, whose waterfalls are so popular that the country is limiting how many people can visit. Thankfully, neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina has plenty of gorgeous waterfalls, too, and often you’ll have them all to yourself. Visit the wide expanse of falls and emerald pools of Kravica waterfalls in the south, hidden by the surrounding green forests.
St. Kilda, Scotland
This cliff-dotted archipelago along the western coast of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides has unforgettable ocean views and a unique ecosystem. Visitors can encounter hoards marine life on one of the many ocean tours offered by local boating companies, while those without sea legs can also explore the area’s ancient ruins.
Soča River, Slovenia
Flowing for 86 miles through the Julian Alps in western Slovenia and Italy, Soča is one seriously beautiful river—startlingly clear and impossibly emerald. Adventurers flock to its waters for whitewater rafting, kayaking, and canyoning.
This dazzling "Church Mountain" near the town of Grundarfjörður is Iceland's most photographed mountain, and for good reason—it's one of the best places to see the Northern Lights in the country. Bonus: The landmark served as a very important filming location in Season 7 of Game of Thrones.
Zlatni Rat, Croatia
Of all the beaches in Croatia, Zlatni Rat on Brač Island stands out for its unusual shape (which changes depending on the current) and material (it's actually made up of smooth, tiny pebbles). The so-called "Golden Cape" is a popular spot for windsurfing, jet-skiing, and stand-up paddle boarding—but if you want to simply sit still and marvel at the Adriatic Sea's impossibly turquoise waters, we totally get it.