Europe is a stunning continent, improbably bursting at the seams with cultural history, natural wonderment and much more besides. There’s a good reason it’s one of the most popular places to visit in the world – and a good reason that history buffs choose it over other destinations too.

Indeed, European history is, to some extent, the history of the wider world. From Neolithic presences in the North to the spread of the Roman Empire, there’s a great deal to learn and discover across the continent. Which places, then, are the best places to visit for the history-minded?


Rome is a natural choice for this list, having been the seat of empire for one of the most important civilizations in human history. Rome is one of the oldest and most well-preserved cities on the planet, as evidenced by the myriad monuments that continue to see use today. The biggest example is the Colosseum, a megastructure which once saw gladiator battles and other sporting events meted out in its center – and around which the entire city seems to revolve. It is only a boon that you can eat incredible rustic Italian dishes as you explore the ancient aspects of Rome’s back-streets….


The Roman Empire was by no means the only empire to have an indelible effect on modern civilization; indeed, it was ultimately usurped by the Byzantine Empire, which rose from the relative ashes of the former empire’s eastern flank. This new seat of civilization centered itself in Constantinople – today, Istanbul.

Istanbul is a city that thrums with life, from its markets and spires to its bustling docks and far beyond. Europe holidays don’t get much better than this, a multicultural melting-pot that showcases the best architecture, cuisine and culture of its time and place.


Paris is practically a non-negotiable entry on this list, if only for being the quintessential European destination. If you haven’t beheld the Eiffel Tower at some point in your travels, have you really been to Europe?

Paris, though, is rich in history – and unique history at that, as shown by the bone-filled catacombs which snake beneath the city’s streets. For the fans of the dead, there is also Pere Lachaise cemetery, which is home to famous figures from history past and present; here you will find the likes of Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison.


Barcelona is a living monument to history, wearing its past on its sleeve as it heads towards a rich and vibrant future. The best example of this is La Sagrada Familia, the ever-under-construction cathedral with stunning brickwork and even more stunning views. Much of Barcelona’s best is housed in its Old Town, but there’s also more modern history to be found in the likes of Gaudi’s Park Guell.