Note: Explore With Ed is a member of Lonely Planet Pathfinders and any opinions shared are my own.
Ranking the top 500 places on the planet is a colossal challenge that few could undertake with the experience and authority it demands. The Lonely Planet empire has both, so much so they’ve done in twice, releasing a 2nd edition of the Ultimate Travel List book in October 2020 with new entries and ranking.
Having snagged a copy of the book in a social media giveaway I’ve ranked my own list for Europe below…
Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travel List book (2nd edition) is a coffee table staple containing 300+ pages of pure wanderlust, sandwiched between a thick red and white hardback cover. Travel enthusiasts can tally up their travel list from the chosen 500, and (like me), compare Lonely Planet’s rankings with their own.
Maps can be found in the opening pages of the book, pin pointing every place featured in the list that runs in chronological order from 1 to 500.
So without further ado, here is Explore With Ed’s Top 10 Ultimate Travel List for Europe (to date) featuring only those that made Lonely Planet’s list and their corresponding ranking number.
1. Nærøyfjord, Norway (Lonely Planet rank: #344)
Few places can rival the epic landscape of the Norwegian Fjords, and the Nærøyfjord epitomises the arresting natural beauty this area is famed for. Beneath the towering snow capped peaks and tumbling waterfalls you’ll find Gudvangen, close to an authentic Viking village where you can test your archery skills and learn about the life of a Viking from the residents.
2. Neuschwanstein – Bavaria, Germany (#77)
It’s easy to see why King Ludwig II was so inspired to build a castle in the majestic landscape of Bavaria. Influencing the likes of Walt Disney, the fairytale Neuschwanstein Castle soars above the pine trees amongst the rugged Alpine Mountains with a spectacular lake and countryside view that evolves with the changing seasons.
3. Acropolis – Athens, Greece (#27)
Referred to as the birthplace of Western civilisation, visiting the city of Athens and Acropolis is a humbling experience as you’re immersed in thousands of years of history. The natural platform above the Greek capital gives the Acropolis extra significance as a place of worship – closer to the heavens and a commanding view over the entire city in all directions for miles.
4. Bay of Kotor, Montenegro (#85)
Deep blue waters hug the rugged hills along the Bay of Kotor which gently unfold into the wide expanse of the Adriatic Sea. Navigating through the Bay of Kotor you’ll find pockets of red rooftop villages served by scenic coastal roads and car ferries, as well as the unmissable medieval town of Kotor.
5. Hermitage – St. Petersburg, Russia (#48)
If you need convincing why St. Petersburg is called Russia’s Capital of Culture, the Winter Palace and Hermitage Museum is the place to go. Not only is the architecture a feast for the eyes, it’s home to one of the world’s largest art collections that you could spend days exploring.
6. Pompeii, Italy (#30)
Buried by a volcanic eruption in 79AD, Pompeii lay frozen in time and still to this day continues to reveal fascinating stories of what life was like when Roman Emperor Titus was in charge. Walking around the ruins of Pompeii and seeing the painted frescos and worn roads brings you tangibly close to this intriguing period of European history.
7. Wales Coast Path, United Kingdom (#82)
Wales is the first country in the world to have a path encompassing its entire coastline, an investment well spent as the seashore is one of Wales’s finest attributes, admired by locals and visitors alike. There’s so many sections of this path to savour, including Pembrokeshire’s breathtaking beaches and the coastal castles that encompass the northern fringes of Snowdonia.
8. Tallinn Old Town, Estonia (#228)
Pretty painted buildings make up much of Tallinn’s Old Town that you’ll happily loose yourself in for a few hours. Above the quaint cobbled streets lined with restaurants, shops and cosy cafes are numerous viewpoints where visitors flock to for magical views of the city with its numerous spires.
9. Gamla Stan, Stockholm, Sweden (#353)
Similarly to Tallinn, there’s an abundance of charm and character to be found in the colourful buildings of Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s Old Town. Residing behind the Royal Palace, this area is the place to be to enjoy the Swedish tradition of Fika.
10. Colosseum – Rome, Italy (#50)
As one of Europe’s most iconic landmarks, no trip to the eternal city of Rome would be complete without paying a visit to the Colosseum. From up close you’ll be impressed by the ambition of the Ancient Romans to construct such a formidable structure for the entertainment of city dwellers at the cost of many thousands of lives.
Do you have a top 10 travel or ‘bucket’ list? You can purchase a copy of Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travel List book (2nd edition) via their online shop or in many popular book retailers while stocks last.