Travel has the power to enrich our lives with new experiences — but these jaw-dropping European destinations will also enrich your Instagram feed. Let’s be honest: half the fun of going on the trip of a lifetime is reliving it with enviable photos on your social (with or without the casual #takemeback on Throwback Thursday).
From iconic landscapes to hidden gems you need to see to believe, these inspiring locales are major travel goals in their own right, with the added bonus of perfect photo opportunities. Start planning your next escape — and slam-dunk travel ‘grams — with our collection of the 20 most Instagram-worthy spots in Europe. Pics or it didn’t happen, n’est-ce pas?
Blue Lagoon, Iceland
But the Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland’s most awe-inspiring offerings. Not only can tourists take a dip in one of the country’s largest natural hot springs, complete with mineral-rich mud underfoot, but the pastel, ice blue waters stretching across fields of inky black lava rocks make for a truly awe-inspiring sight — not to mention selfies.
Austrian National Library, Vienna, Austria
It all adds up to an ornate hall packed with historical documents and records to explore, and as many photo opportunities as there are polished leather books stacked.
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But tulips are just one of countless flower varieties on display at Keukenhof. Each year, over 7 million bulbs are planted — no wonder it’s also known as “The Garden of Europe.” There are nearly 80 acres of land to wander through, and each section boasts a dizzying array of colours and blooms.
Whether you’re looking for the nature walk of a lifetime or taking “stop and smell the roses” a little more literally these days, one thing’s for sure: you can’t leave this magical place without the traditional “standing in a field of flowers” solo shot — floppy hat optional.
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São Miguel Island, Azores, Portugal
Hearing the call of the archipelago? Start with São Miguel Island, the largest island in The Azores. It boasts the perfect mix of the islands’ lush forests, lakes and natural hot springs, plus, volcanoes, craters, and caves to explore for days, and rich history and architecture to take in at the island’s hub, Ponta Delgada.
Must-see photo opps include: natural wonders like Sete Cidades Lake, one of Portugal’s 7 natural wonders, whale watching off the coast (keep an eye out for blue whales!), and the Miradouro de Santa Iria lookout, pictured here.
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Széchenyi Baths, Budapest, Hungary
It’s only fitting, then, that the vibe at the Széchenyi Baths (the largest medicinal bath in all of Europe) is night-and-day depending on whether you visit during, well, daytime or nighttime.
Visit during the day, and you’ll find a chill oasis in which to unwind, with crystal-blue waters set against a backdrop of the city’s renowned Baroque-style architecture. Swing by at night, however, and you’re in for a signature Budapest experience: a spa party (sparty, for short), overflowing with even more electronica, neon light, and alcoholic indulgences than the waters themselves.
Pick your backdrop — tranquil pool or wet ‘n’ wild — but don’t leave Budapest without snapping Széchenyi Baths, whether it’s for posterity or piecing your night together. Pro-tip: It's especially beautiful in the fall.
Trolltunga, Hardangervidda, Norway
”Trolltunga” translates to “troll tongue” in Norwegian, so called for its resemblance to a mythical giant’s tongue when you reach the jutting cliff in person. The rock hovers 700 metres above Ringedalsvatnet lake, boasting incomparable views of the area’s valleys and glaciers.
But it’s not without its risks: Visit Norway classifies the hike to Trolltunga as “expert” level, so ensure you follow the proper safety procedures, and enlist the help of a guide if you’re not an experienced hiker. No ‘gram is worth endangering yourself or your well-being!
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Victoria Street, Edinburgh
Of course, non-Potterheads will also appreciate the eye-catching view of the Old Town’s neoclassical architecture from the top of the cobblestoned hill, and there are plenty of unique shops to peruse. But if ever there was a time to take up wizardry, it’s during a visit to Victoria Street.
Melissani Cave, Greece
Located on the island of Kefalonia, this sunken lake is also known as the “Cave of Nymphs,” so called for its association with the nymph Melissani. The cavernous space definitely gives off an otherworldly vibe: a halo of sunshine filters in through the partially caved-in roof, illuminating just how clear and bright the teal-blue water is, and reflecting off the jagged stone walls. Perfect for a few zen breaths and awe-inspiring ‘grams.
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Park Guell, Barcelona, Spain
The entire park is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site conceived by legendary Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi, but the main terrace is the true showstopper. Surrounded at all sides by a winding, mosaic bench intended to look like a sea serpent, the terrace overlooks a panoramic view of Barcelona, punctuated by two distinctive gingerbread-like buildings that line the entrance of the park.
It’s impossible to take a bad picture with all of Barcelona behind you — snap the quintessential skyline photo and scope out the rest of the park’s playful architecture from your perch.
Mount Pilatus, Switzerland
If the height and backdrop aren’t enough to get your heart pumping (do you need to check the elevation again?), the mountain also boasts the steepest cogwheel railway in the world — think, a 48 per cent gradient — just in case your selfies from the top weren’t wide-eyed enough.
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Cinque Terre, Italy
Enter Cinque Terre. These fishing villages perched atop cliffs on the Italian Riviera combine jaw-dropping views of the Mediterranean with a honey-coloured coastline and villas painted in rainbow hues. The cliffs of Manarola (pictured) offer one of the most dramatic seaside views in the area — and the perfect backdrop for living out la dolce vita.
Snow Castle, Lapland, Finland
The northernmost region of the country, Lapland could be mistaken for a holiday card: not only is Lapland most famous for its reindeer, but it’s one of the best places in the world to marvel at the Northern Lights — the lights appear more than 200 nights of the year there.
The area’s accommodations are even more eccentric than the scenery. From glass igloos to snow castles (pictured, the glass villa at the Kemi Snow Castle Resort), you’ll have plenty of wintry perspectives to explore — or to recreate Frozen in.
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Vagar, Faroe Islands, Denmark
The archipelago’s quirky architecture (grass roofs are a common sight) is sure to catch your eye, but the misty mountains and lush valleys make for the most captivating scenes. Gásadalur village (pictured) offers one of the most picturesque views, with colourful houses dotted along the top of the cliff, mossy fields and mountains, and the plummeting Mulafossur waterfall. Eat your heart out, postcard photos.
However, once you lay eyes on the city, it’s clear why. The peaceful canals offer a leisurely way to explore the Flemish architecture, earning Bruges the nickname “Venice of the North.” In between indulging in the famous beer, historic castles, and world-class art, take a boat ride along the canal for a classic river photo opp.
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Astronomical Clock, Prague, Czech Republic
Dating back to 1410, it’s one of the oldest astronomical clocks in the world, and showcases the positions of the sun and moon, zodiac constellations, and other astronomical data. The information that a centuries-old clock can bear is fascinating enough, but the intricate design and stunning detail of the clock ensure photos you’ll stop and stare at. Snap close-ups of the ornate gold accents of the dials and deep, metallic blue and rust colours — or pose with your zodiac sign on the dial. We won’t judge.
Stiniva Beach, Croatia
You can’t stumble across this beach: with a two-hour ferry ride from Split followed by a steep hike, it’s not easy to reach. But then, that’s exactly the point. Given that the beach isn’t visible from the seaside until you sail through its “gate” of cliffs on either side of the cove, it’s easy to pretend you’re the only beachgoer in the world to bask in its waters (aside from all the other revelers who’ve made the trek, of course).
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Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
You can’t take photos inside the castle, so take a stroll through the Throne Hall and savour the postcard views of the Alps from the balcony, then return to the castle’s exterior for a photoshoot fit for a queen.
Giant’s Causeway, Ireland
Along with the signature hexagonal columns, there are also numerous uniquely-shaped rocks along the shore to seek out (see: the perfect curve of the aptly-named Giant’s Boot), and lava-formed cliffs to climb.
Regardless of whether you believe it was intended for use by mythological creatures, there’s no denying that it looks like a perfect rock-lined path leading to the edge of the ocean. Consider it your invitation.
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While the hot springs of the Roman Baths are purely for observation now (the water is no longer safe for bathing), there are a number of other places to unwind in the city. The Thermae Bath Spa boasts Britain’s only natural thermal hot springs you can bathe in, Bath Abbey offers a tranquil place to explore and reflect, and Pulteney Bridge (pictured) is lined with shops perfect for leisurely strolls — or for perfectly-stunning photos.
Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France
Originally built as a train station at the turn of the 20th century, its massive interior served the Musée d’Orsay well when it opened as a public museum in the late ‘80s.
While the Musée d’Orsay houses the largest collection of impressionist paintings in the world (including works by greats like Monet, Van Gogh, and Renoir), the museum’s iconic clocks can rival many of the masterpieces it houses. The clocks on the upper floors of the museum double as windows to look out over the Paris skyline for a completely-unique take on the City of Light.
Snap the requisite photo in front of the Eiffel Tower, sure — but shooting a portrait in silhouette against a larger-than-life clock feels très mystérieuse, non? How very French of you.
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