7 Places You HAVE To See In Europe

I love to travel. I have currently been to 17 countries and am hopefully going to travel more in the future. I have experienced and been to places that I’ve only read about in books and places that I’ve only dreamed of going to. While I love London more than you can imagine, I left it (and Paris) off this list because I wanted to cover places that not many people think about when traveling. Everyone wants to visit Paris to see the Eiffel Tower or travel to London and see Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, which I highly suggest you should because these are all fantastic places to see in real life. I have been to all of the places that I will talk about in this article so if you want to talk more about them, let me know!

 

The Elephant House, Edinburgh, Scotland:

While there were many places that I went to in Scotland that I loved, like the Gap of Dunlow and the Loch Ness lake (no, I didn’t see Nessie), my favorite place was The Elephant House, otherwise known as the birthplace of Harry Potter. If you don’t know, I am a major Harry Potter fan (probably one of the biggest). I was overjoyed to able to see where my favorite series began. It was here in this restaurant located right off the Royal Mile in Edinburgh that JK Rowling wrote the first book of Harry Potter. The bathroom and table she sat at are covered in Harry Potter quotes from the books and is super cool to visit. 10/10 Harry Potter fans would visit again.

 

Heidelberg, Germany:

While I was here in Heidelberg, I participated in a home stay experience with a German family. I met my new friend, Mara, and was able to experience living with her and attending school with her. Let me just tell you, if you complain about how far it is to Jacobs, Mara takes the tram 30 minutes away to another city to get to her school. I have major respect to her for that. The city is really amazing too. The church that sits in the middle of town has a little marketplace that sets up around it every day, and the town holds an Octoberfest that is pretty popular too. The town even has a Subway that NYC subway station wallpaper in it too that literally boggled my mind. I also love the history that this city holds. On a hill overlooking the city is Heidelberg Castle. It was built a little bit before 1214 and was destroyed partly at different times by wars. Our tour guide was the best part of the tour honestly. During the time the castle was built, France and Germany were not very friendly with each other, so he was constantly yelling in the direction of France saying things like, “Yes, we did have a lovely library here at one point in time until FRANCE STOLE IT FROM US! YOU BLOODY FRENCHMEN!” It was beautiful to watch and see in person. In the front courtyard, there is a footprint imprint left in the stone and the story behind it is that a knight was caught in the rooms of a married maiden and jumped out the window to land where that footprint is.

 

 

The Cliffs of Moher, Cork, Ireland:

This is honestly one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in my life! The Cliffs of Moher are one of the first places I visited on my trips and I was blown away by the beauty of Ireland. Ireland, and the Cliffs to be precise, have the greenest grass and the bluest water I’ve physically ever seen. Like, I didn’t even think grass or water could be that color. Not only that, but this was also the location where the cave in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was filmed (the fake Slytherin locket was in this cave). 10/10 Harry Potter fans would definitely go and visit here.

 

 

The Normandy Invasion Site & The American Cemetery, Normandy, France:

If you love history as much as I do, you will be stoked to visit this landmark! When most people think of France, they think of Paris, The Louvre, and Versailles. While all of those are fantastic places to go and visit (if you want to see the Mona Lisa, be prepared to push people out of the way), my favorite place I visited in France was The Normandy Invasion site. I was also able to visit was the American Cemetery that resides in France. The coolest part about being there is that technically, we were in America again. France gave America that land where the cemetery resides so that Americans could bury their dead on American soil. Being there and actually seeing the invasion site and seeing the cemetery is a very surreal experience. It makes all of the history that you learned about in high school become more real to you. Instead of it being ancient history, it makes you think about in the sense that it was an actual event that really did occur. I know when something happens to me that I don’t like, I push it away to the back of my mind and forget about it. Being here in these places really bring it to the forefront of your mind to make you think.

 

 

The Anne Frank House, Amsterdam, Netherlands:

Another historical site that I was beyond excited to see in real life! I had a passion for Anne’s story when I was in middle school and I truly couldn’t imagine having to hide from the world like she did. I had always wanted to see where she lived and it really didn’t hit me until I walked through the bookcase (mind you, the ORIGINAL one). The rooms were so small, the stairs leading up to the rooms were so tiny and crowded, and Anne’s room held her original pictures that she glued to the wall herself. We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside unfortunately, due to how many people have been there over the years and they didn’t want anything to fade. Being here where Anne lived made me open my eyes to see and experience more of the world than I had before I entered. The picture below is a drawn model of the Anne Frank House since I wasn't able to take photos inside.

 

 

Montafon, Austria:

Montafon is a quaint little city nestled in a valley between two mountains in the most western part of Austria. While I was there, I made goat cheese from scratch, enjoyed eating Austrian cuisine, and oh, I rode a rollercoaster down a mountain. Now if you know anything about me, it’s that I hate heights and that I hate exercise. I literally hiked halfway up a mountain just to take a rollercoaster down and it was completely and utterly worth it! This was without a doubt the highlight of my trip and I hope to go back one day and ride it again! Oh, and if anyone would like to watch the rollercoaster I was on, just search on YouTube 'Golm Austria Alpine Coaster'. (BTW: those tiny buildings in the photo is the city; I just happened to be on the mountain looking down).

 

 

Pitlochry, Scotland:

Pitlochry, Scotland was a very quaint little city that caught my attention immediately and is a place I wish I could live in one day. I didn’t really think much of it when we first arrived because it was just a temporary stop to another destination. We stayed in a hostel on a hill that overlooked the entire city and the photo below shows the view from the dining room at the hostel. The clock in the center of town would chime every hour and the 3-year old girl who lived there with her parents would always be watching Spongebob in some other language that I didn’t know. While we were there, we learned how to make and wear kilts, learned some of the history of Scotland, and crashed a bagpipe festival. We happened to be walking past this event in the town auditorium and walked right in and sat down. The people of the town saw us there (knew we weren’t from there) and started asking us questions. It lead to us being invited up onstage to talk about where we were from and our culture with these random Scots (most of the town honestly) that we had just met. I was instantly in love with this town. And of course once I had returned home, I realized that Pitlochry was only 30 minutes away from where they filmed the Hogwarts landscape scenes. Go figure.

 

 

These are only the highlights of my trip and some of my favorite experiences. I could have articles filled with how many wonderful places I’ve visited but these are the places I think that you definitely have to see in your life. There is just something about visiting a place you’ve only ever read about in books or seen in a classroom. If you EVER have the chance to travel, take it. You never know if you will be able to go to that place again. Who knows, you may even be invited up onstage in a town in Scotland.

 

About The Author

Sommer Stockton is a sophomore at Brenau University and is majoring in Mass Communications. She believes she is the biggest Harry Potter fan of all time and loves to travel to new places. She loves chicken nuggets, frozen cokes and squirrels. Sommer is a proud Slytherin at heart.