5 Best Historical Places in Europe to Visit if You’re a History Buff

Add these historical places in Europe on your bucket list for a real taste of history. Of course, each of these countries is amazing in their own right. But if you’re a history buff, they hold even more appeal. Find out about the best historical places to visit in Europe and why you’ll love them, below.

CONTENTS – In this article, you will discover historical places in Europe to visit including:

Getting Around | A Historical Holiday in Europe

One of the best things about travelling is that you often gain knowledge as a reward. If exploring the world and visiting new places inspires you, then you are in the right place.

Europe is famous for having a rich history, and each of the many cities has a story. Travelling the continent has never been easier, too. Trains, buses, ferries, and driving in your own car are all great options to get around on your historical holiday in Europe.

If you begin in the UK, the Dover to Dunkirk ferry is only two hours, and you will get to travel the sea that so many soldiers did decades ago.

So, would you like to discover some of the best places to visit for a historical holiday in Europe? Keep reading this piece to find out the must-see countries.

Barcelona

Claimed to have a history of rebirth and transformed, Barcelona is a must for any budding historians, especially those with an interest in architecture. 

One of the most famous monuments in the city is Gaudí’s La Sagrada Familia. Still under construction from way back in 1882, it was expected to be completed in 2026.

However, it may not be finished until later than that due to stops in construction during the coronavirus pandemic. No doubt the final art nouveau masterpiece will be worth the wait, and even now, it’s an incredible take!

Other historical marvels showcasing the mixture of gothic and modernist architecture in Barcelona include:

Top Historical Sites in Barcelona

  • Arc de Triomf – A Triumphal arch built in 1888 by architect Josep Vilaseca in the Moorish Revival style; it served as the main gateway to a fair held in the Parc de la Ciutadella.
  • Cathedral of Barcelona – A magnificent gothic cathedral constructed in 1298 on the site of a Romanesque temple; dedicated to Eulalia of Barcelona, the co-patron saint of Barcelona who was martyred a virgin; also known as Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia
  • Columbus Monument – an elaborate, soaring corinthian column on which a bronze status of Christopher Columbus points to the New World; its pedestal bears portraits of 8 people significant to Columbus, as well as other historical symbolic references.
  • La Casa Batlló – Architected by Guadi, this one with a colorful facade and shapes that invoke fantasy and various interpretations
  • La Pedrera – a UNESCO World Heritage Site also known as Casa Mila; Gaudi’s last civic architectural project
  • Palau Güell – Mansion designed by Gaudi for the industrial tycoon Eusebi Güell; one of the architect’s early works; 
  • Park Güell – One of the largest green spaces in Barcelona decorated with split ceramics and gardens; you’ll find it beside Sierra de Collserola

Many travelers from different parts of the world go to see the beautiful scenery in Barcelona and to learn the Spanish history that goes back 2000 years.

The city also has a wide range of activities to offer visitors. Whether you are into swimming, partying, eating, bungee jumping, or fishing, it will spoil you for choice. 

In addition, the capital offers the best atmosphere for many recreational activities you might want to enjoy with your loved ones.

Related Post: Click here for more must see attractions from Barcelona to Madrid.

Bansko and Sofia, Bulgaria

Nowadays, it is hard to hit the slopes without enough money in your pocket. In Europe, you will find that some of the best skiing spots are located in the most expensive parts of Europe. 

Thankfully, if you are in Eastern Europe, you can save money while having the best time with the people you love.

One great destination you should try is Bansko in Bulgaria. You’ll find this location on the Pirin mountain range. The best part is that the region offers the best ski resorts, perfect for both novices and experienced individuals.

But you will, of course, find history in Bulgaria, too. 

Sofia, the country’s capital, has been through two world wars, conquered many times, and finally saw independence again in 1989 after the fall of the Berlin Wall. 

Unsurprisingly, the city has a vast range of landmarks that offer over 2000 years of history and architecture, including:

  • Cathedral Saint Alexandar Nevski – one of the largest Orthodox churches in the world; this gorgeous cathedral features a magnificent gold dome; it was built in memory of those who died in the Russo-Turkish war.
  • Church of St. George – the city’s oldest building, going back to the fourth century when it was a Roman public bath; this red brick rotunda stands among Roman ruins.
  • National Historical Museum – one of the largest museums in eastern Europe, which showcases 650,000 historical artifacts
  • Ivan Vazov National Theatre – the oldest theatre in Bulgaria, which opened in 1904 and is also the national theatre
  • Medieval Boyana Church – a medieval church on the outskirts of Bulgaria where you can view 13th-century frescoes

Because the city’s occupation included Greek, Roman, Ottoman, and Soviet occupation in the last 2,000 years, you’ll have no trouble finding a range of interesting and historical sites to visit here. 

The Albanian Coast

Are you interested in Mediterranean sand and sun? You can make your dream come true without breaking the bank. 

In Europe, Albania is one of the most inexpensive countries, but it also offers places of keen interest to any history fan, including:

  • ancient ruins
  • old villages
  • objects from religious groups 

But even if you don’t want to spend all of your time in historian paradise, there’s more on offer. If you move further east, you will find amazing beaches that are sun-drenched. 

Sarande in Albania is very close to Corfu (Greece) and is the best entry point when you are coming from Greece. From that point, start looking for nearby islands and pristine beaches in Ksmail, Albania. 

And if you would like to try some inexpensive and delicious seafood, you will find plenty here. Plus, the hotels are so affordable, making the Albanian Coast an all-around great vacation option.

Related Post: Discover these 5 beautiful places in Greece to visit in 2022

Berlin, Germany

Does the story of World War II fascinate you? Then you should travel to Berlin and learn more about the historical event. If you include Berlin in your bucket list, you can easily fill your entire week with memorials and historic museums.

Berlin was a major world city right before the war commenced. It made a name through education, music, science, military affairs, and politics. It was the capital of Nazi Germany before being captured by the Soviets in 1945, and also a focal point of the cold war.

But don’t overlook the diverse art scene in Berlin, the largest city and capital of Germany. Here, you’ll find hundreds of art galleries, events, museums, as well as the Berlin Opera and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. 

In additional, visit Museum Island, a collection of five world-famous museum buildings that is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

So, head over to Berlin on your next holiday trip and learn more about the region.

Rome, Italy

It’s no secret that Italy is home to some amazing historical sites. Looking at just Rome, for instance, you’ll find:

  • Colosseum – a center for games, like lion fights and combatting gladiators, this popular historical attraction dating back to its opening in AD 80; this large amphitheatre once held as many as 50,000 people!
  • Foro di Traiano – the last (and most incredible!) of Imperial Rome’s Forums; a video in the Museo dei Fori Imperiali demonstrates what the forum would have been like in ancient times.
  • Pantheon – a pagan temple to the gods, originally constructed in 27 BC and Rome’s best preserved ancient site; later converted to a church.
  • Roman Forum – stretching between the Capitoline and Palatine Hills, you’ll find the ruins of what was once the center of Roman life, including temples, shops, columns, and palaces from 500 BC – AD 400. 
  • Trevi Fountain – designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi, this large baroque fountain is at the junction of three ancient roads and marks the viaduct that once served ancient Rome.

Of course, there are many more historical sights in Italy just outside of Rome and beyod, like Vatican City, Villa d’Este, Pompeii, Saint Mark’s Cathedral, and others. They are tourist attractions most will enjoy, but especially interesting places for history buffs.

Related Article: Explore this Medieval fortress in Monteriggioni, Italy.

Final Thoughts on Historical Places in Europe

When you stop and think about it, it’s pretty amazing that so many points of historical interest lie within these 5 countries. Try any one of them, and you will not be disappointed. Europe has so much to offer history buffs and some of the most historic places in the world.

In some ways, the beauty of a visit to a historical place lies not only in the present experience, but also in its view to the past. You might say it’s almost like taking a trip to two destinations in one.

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Jackie Gately

Jackie Gately is a seasoned travel writer, photographer, and marketing consultant who is passionate about travel. She loves casual-luxury experiences, coastal getaways, cultural attractions, and local, wholesome food and wine pairings. A perfect day ends with her toes in the sand or by chasing the sunset with her camera--ideally both.