Top places to go in Europe in 2024

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  • Albania
  • Bergen, Norway
  • Rouen, France
  • Sighișoara, Romania
    • Albania
    • Bergen, Norway
    • Rouen, France
    • Sighișoara, Romania


    Luxuriant landscapes, friendly locals, and near-empty beaches that will make your retinas pop.

    Despite its prime geographic location, Albania is often overlooked by travelers who remain unfamiliar with the country due to its history of isolation from the outside world. Today, Albania is welcoming a record number of visitors to experience the country’s stunning landscapes, picturesque small towns, and vibrant, youthful culture. Albania’s Ionian Sea coast boasts all the standard Mediterranean Riviera appeals, minus the crowds and high prices. Along the coast from Sarandë to Vlorë, electric blue water laps onto sun-soaked beaches between dramatic rocky coastlines, interspersed with lively beach towns like Himarë and Dhërmi.

    The northern region of the country is largely undisturbed mountainous terrain, where clear turquoise rivers serpentine through an endless horizon of misty peaks and serve as the dramatic backdrop to a storied local culture. Inland from the coast, well-preserved villages showcase Albania’s history through distinctive architectural styles—in Berat, cliff-side Ottoman-era wooden houses cast vacant stares across the Osum River. Albania’s wine list is worthy of worldwide recognition, and wineries like Çobo tell the story of the country’s winemaking history over tastings of Albanian varietals like vlosh or puls. In Tirana, the cafe culture is as strong as the coffee, and people spend hours socializing in the many inviting and impeccably designed cafes that line the streets in Blloku or Tregu Çam.

    Albania offers a range of accommodations across all budgets, from modest guesthouses hugging hillsides to waterfront boutique hotels such as El Primero Hotel in Sarandë that feature immaculate rooms and prime sunset views over the sea.

    In Valbonë, the cozy wood cabins at Jerezca Guesthouse reside in a sleepy mountain valley, where guests can relax outdoors, admiring 360-degree mountain views and enjoying traditional meals made with fresh local ingredients. In the capital of Tirana, there is an abundance of affordable, well-equipped, and modern Airbnb apartment rentals in the most desired central neighborhoods.

    The best time to visit Albania is between April and June and between September and October.

    Insider Tip

    The best way to experience the breathtaking views and pristine beauty of the Albanian Alps is to do a through-hike from Valbonë to Theth or vice-versa. While it is possible to set out on your own, it is worth the time and money to hire a tour company to arrange the itinerary, transport, accommodations, hiking guides, and storing the luggage that you do not plan to carry on your back.

    Plan Your Trip Visit Fodor's Guide to Albania



    A Norwegian city where the mountains meet the fjords.

    Bergen is considered one of the most beautiful cities in a country that is widely regarded as one of the most stunning on the planet. Located on the southwestern coast of Norway, Bergen is the second-largest city to Oslo, Norway’s capital, and a city where the mountains meet the fjords. It can feel like Bergen is often eclipsed by Norway’s other tourist hotspots, like Oslo and Trondheim, but to miss this city would be a mistake. Tucked between the country’s two biggest fjords—the Hardangerfjord and the Sognefjord—Bergen is nicknamed the “heart of the fjords” and perfectly blends the comfort of a modern city with access to the unspoiled nature that Norway promises. 

    Head to the historic Bryggen Wharf named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Europe’s oldest port cities. In the 12th century, Bryggen was established as a center for trade; today, the still-standing wooden homes harken back to the days when Bryggen was one of only four overseas offices part of the Hanseatic League. Lined with colorful wooden homes facing the fjord, Bryggen is the perfect jumping-off point for two must-try attractions: booking a cruise to explore the fjords and exploring the historic fish market. The latter has been catching and serving fresh fish from the fjords since 1276, and today, it still acts as an indoor/outdoor market with casual food stalls as well as proper restaurants like Fjellskål Seafood Restaurant.

    The four-star Hotel Norge by Scandic is ideally located in the city center, about a 10-minute walk to the Bryggen Wharf. Similarly, the Opus XVI is located close to the wharf and offers a boutique hotel stay with a French brasserie on-site.

    The best time to visit Bergen is between May and September.

    Insider Tip

    Don’t miss booking a reservation at Cornelius Sjømatrestaurant, a seafood restaurant considered one of the best in Norway, found on its own private island off of Bergen.

    Plan Your Trip Visit Fodor's Guide to Norway



    One of France’s best-kept secrets, Rouen mixes all the vitality of a modern city with a rich historic and cultural scene on the picturesque banks of the Seine River.

    If the Seine-side Norman city of Rouen is not on your go-to list, it should be. This lively port town mixes a long and fascinating history with rich culture and charm galore. The “city of a hundred spires,” as Victor Hugo fondly called it, also captivated Claude Monet, who, between 1892 and 1893, rented a studio across from the splendid 12th-century Gothic  Cathédral Notre-Dame to better capture its western facade 28 times in every conceivable light. But Rouen is perhaps the most famous for being the place where Joan of Arc was tried and burned at the stake at the Place de Vieux-Marché, now the epicenter of the city’s picturesque Old Town, its winding streets lined with medieval half-timbered buildings.

    The one-time home of both William the Conqueror and Richard the Lionheart (his famous coeur is buried at the cathedral), you’ll find vestiges of its fascinating history everywhere, especially in its world-class museums. Don’t miss the superb Musée des Beaux-Arts, brimming with masterpieces from Delacroix to the Impressionists. An easy three-hour drive (about 80 minutes by train) from Paris, Rouen is the perfect base for visits to the D-Day Beaches, Mont St. Michel, the Bayeux Tapestry, and the charming seaside town of Honfleur.

    Ancient and contemporary collide in the most welcoming way at the historic Hotel de Bourgtherould, Autograph Collection, Rouen’s finest lodging. Guests enjoy every contemporary convenience—including a gastronomic restaurant and a glamorous spa—in rooms that lovingly retain the unique historic character of this 12-Gothic century mansion. At the Radisson Blu, a more budget option, you’ll be right in the thick of it, with views over Joan of Arc’s tower and the cathedral’s three famous Gothic spires, and an easy walk to the Old Town and Rouen’s top historic sites.

    A delight in every season, Rouen is a year-round destination with plenty to see and do whenever you go. In April through October, the city is bustling with activity, when its riverside cafés are in full swing and its well-kept gardens are lovely to behold. The city is host to myriad festivals and events throughout the year, but mostly from May to November.

    Insider Tip

    Buying a day pass for hotel pool access is standard if you are looking for a party atmosphere and a great way to save money and gain entry to over-the-top festivities.

    Plan Your Trip Visit Fodor's Guide to France



    Step back in time to the colorful medieval town of Sighișoara, learn about Saxon history, and visit the birthplace of Dracula.

    You’ll be forgiven for thinking you’ve walked onto a film set as you walk around Sighisoara, one of Europe’s most intact medieval towns. The colorful houses, medieval architecture, and several towers add a distinct fairytale vibe to the quaint fortified Old Town. While the main attraction may be Vlad the Impaler’s childhood home, it would be a mistake to think this is all that’s on offer. To that end, the Spoonman’s Shop located at the base of the house is worth visiting to find traditional handicrafts still being made today. Learn about the town’s Saxon history by visiting The Guild House Museum and exploring its impressive collection of tools, machinery, and equipment. Visit one of the many towers that were used as fortresses in the 13th and 14th centuries but now act as museums or tourist sites.

    For history buffs, Sighișoara Tales, a multimedia exhibition that takes viewers back in time to experience the town’s most interesting tales throughout the centuries, is a must-see. If nature and hiking are more your speed, why not hike part of the newly formed Via Transylvanica? Stretching nearly 1500 km and covering ten counties, Romania’s answer to the Camino de Santiago is a great way to get to know the country and its various communities. 

    Teo’s Cellar & Guesthouse is a unique stay for anyone wanting to experience traditional hospitality and drink award-winning Romanian spirits, including plum brandy, which are distilled onsite. For those wanting a retreat outside of the town, Casa Lily, a Japanese-inspired guesthouse, is the perfect option for tranquility. Located on the forest’s edge, it boasts its own Japanese garden and gazebo, great for enjoying the bounty of Transylvania’s countryside.

    If you’re lucky enough to go at the end of July, you may just catch the three-day Sighișoara Medieval Festival, which takes place each summer. Summer is always a great bet in Transylvania, with sunshine in abundance. Avoid going in winter as it is off-season, so many shops and restaurants will be closed.

    Insider Tip

    Your trip is not complete without a visit to Gigi, Transylvania’s unrivaled chain, for delicious sweet or savory soft pretzels and other traditional pastries, bread, sandwiches, and pizza. The perfect walking-around snack, order the sour cherry-filled pretzel for a truly authentic Romanian flavor. If you get there at the right time, you may even get one fresh from the oven. 

    Plan Your Trip Visit Fodor's Guide to Romania