20 of the Most Instagram-Worthy Spots in Europe
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, IcelandIt’s not uncommon to hear the words “it was like another planet” from someone fresh off their first trip to Iceland — it's still one of the hottest new holiday spots around the world; it’s easy to see why in a country covered in moss-topped fields of volcanic rock, glaciers dotting the coast of secluded villages, black sand beaches, teeming wildlife (which includes puffins, whales, and shaggy wild ponies), and, of course, bold, Scandi-inspired modern architecture. No big deal.
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, AustriaThe State Hall of the Austrian National Library looks like it was born out of a decadent literary dream by Belle from Beauty and the Beast. You don’t need to be bookish to appreciate the soaring shelves lined with chestnut-coloured volumes, gleaming wooden library ladders, luxurious painted murals, white marble sculpture, and gold leaf detailing throughout the space.
It all adds up to an ornate hall packed with historical documents and records to explore, and as many photo opportunities as there are polished leather books stacked.
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Keukenhof, NetherlandsThey weren’t kidding when they said the Netherlands was famous for its tulips. There are tulips as far as the eye can see at the world’s largest garden, Keukenhof, situated in Lisse in the Netherlands.
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, PortugalRaise your hand if you’ve only come across The Azores (found in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean) only on a map. If you haven’t already heard about the lush group of islands (an autonomous region of Portugal) from your globetrotting friends, you will. Lonely Planet dubbed The Azores “the Hawaii of the mid-Atlantic,” and one of the top 10 regions to visit in 2017.
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, HungaryBudapest boasts an eclectic variety of offerings for visitors: fascinating history and jaw-dropping architecture mingle with wild nightlife (“ruin bars” in abandoned buildings, anyone?) and glorious carb-centric dishes that’ll cure any hangovers you might incur along the way.
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, NorwayIf “raising your hands above your head in a wide landscape” nature photo were a contest, Trolltunga would put all others to shame. You’ve probably come across a shot or two of people at the tip of this showstopping rock formation in Norway, but it’s a bucket-list endeavour for hiking enthusiasts.
”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!
Still working up the cash/endurance to take on Trolltunga? Take advantage of the top bucket-list travel destinations for when you’re young and broke.
Victoria Street, EdinburghRumour has it that this was the very street that inspired Diagon Alley from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Stand at the top of this winding road dotted with candy-coloured shops and the resemblance is uncanny. Some of the shops even match up with the fictional Diagon Alley’s establishments: Potterheads can swing by a small vintage bookstore with gold lettering on its storefront, an eccentric joke shop for all your practical joker needs, and a three-story shop that, during Rowling’s time in Edinburgh, specialized in brooms — now a Potter souvenir shop filled with one-of-a-kind displays and even its own Chamber of Secrets for visitors to haunt.
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, GreeceGreece has no shortage of sun-soaked vistas, from Santorini’s iconic cliffside houses to the secluded, crystal-clear waters of Shipwreck Beach. But a visit to Melissani Cave will make you appreciate the country’s golden light in a whole new way.
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, SpainThis riot of colourful mosaics, gardens, and unusual architecture instantly captivates you, drawing you into a world that feels like something out of Dr. Seuss.
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, SwitzerlandMount Pilatus is both a staggering presence, looming over the picturesque lake town of Lucerne, and a serene, cloud-dusted peak, from which you can bask in breathtaking views. With far-reaching lakes, snow-topped mountain peaks, and dreamy mist, this is Swiss Alps scenery at its finest.
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.
In a railway state of mind? Explore the best train trips in Canada for your next getaway.
Cinque Terre, ItalyItaly is basically one giant photo opp. Whether it’s the world-class food, ancient architecture, street style, or stunning natural scenery that captures your interest, it can be hard to know where to start.
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, FinlandOceanside retreats, crumbling castles, and lush gardens are classic European haunts, but don’t overlook the colder climates. For every pristine snow-covered field you happen upon, there’s a cozy, warmly-lit cottage waiting to welcome you in 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, DenmarkIf you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path destination, look no further than the Faroe Islands. They have all the unspoiled, volcanic landscapes, impressive cliffs, and teeming waterfalls that Iceland does, without the “peak tourism hotspot” crowds.
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.
Bruges, BelgiumIt may not be the first place you’d think of for top European tourist destinations, but Bruges is one of the most-visited places in Europe.
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 RepublicPrague has as much renowned Gothic and Baroque architecture as the next European capital, but it also boasts a building that’s far more unique: the astronomical clock.
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, CroatiaThe secret has been out about Stiniva Beach for some time — it was named the best beach in Europe in 2016 — but its secluded vibe remains as its claim to fame.
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, GermanyBuckingham’s got nothing on this beauty — Neuschwanstein was the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle. With its fairytale design and hilltop perch among the clouds, Neuschwanstein has earned its rep as one of the most-visited castles in the world.
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, IrelandThis UNESCO World Heritage Site looks as though a giant had a hand in building it (as the name suggests), but its creation was even more dramatic: its 40,000 interlocking rock columns were the result of a volcanic eruption around 60 million years ago.
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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Bath, EnglandIf the name wasn’t an immediate tip-off, Bath was made for relaxing. Its moniker comes from the ancient Roman baths it houses, which were originally built by the Romans to capitalize on the area’s natural hot springs, and which were believed to have healing powers.
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, FranceCome for the art, stay for the silhouette.
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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