• Have you seen Europe’s most unmissable architecture?

    Have you seen Europe’s most unmissable architecture?

    Europe is a treasure trove of architectural wonders, and we can think of few better ways to spend a holiday, than ticking a few of them off your list. From Gaudi’s striking and unique designs to relics of ancient times, there really are countless inspirational places to discover on the continent. Here are a few of our absolute favourites:

    Sagrada Familia (Barcelona)

    Calle Mallorca, 401
    08013 Barcelona

    Opening hours:
    November to February: 9am to 6pm
    March: 9am to 7pm
    April to September: 9am to 8pm
    October: 9am to 7pm

    In a nutshell:
    Barcelona’s most famous building and Antoni Gaudi’s best-loved work, the Sagrada Familia is simply unmissable.

    Impossibly striking, the Sagrada Familia is a church like no other. Designed by renowned architect Antoni Gaudi, this stunning building is unlike any other church – or indeed any other building – you’ve come across before. More remarkable still, despite the fact that construction began in 1882, it’s still decades off being finished.

    What’s more, it manages to be just as remarkable inside as out. Its grand columns look almost alive – something that makes sense when you know they were inspired by trees and plants – while the stained glass windows are utterly beautiful. And if you’re interested in how the building was designed, step downstairs to view a fascinating exhibition on exactly that.

    This attraction is notorious for its long queues, so be sure to bring plenty of water, sunscreen and a hat to shield you from the sun while you’re standing in line. Buying tickets in advance can help you avoid the frequent one to two-hour queues.


    Casa Batllo (Barcelona)

    Passeig de Gràcia, 43
    08007 Barcelona

    Opening hours:
    9am to 9pm, seven days a week (last entry 8pm)

    In a nutshell:
    One of Europe’s most unusual buildings.

    Another spectacular Gaudi creation, Casa Batllo is a glorious mix of colour, curves and skeletal balconies. It’s a joy to behold from the street in daytime, which is the best time to appreciate its blue roof and other hues, but come back for a look once the sun goes down if you can – this is when its atmospherically lit balconies are at their most impressive.

    A residential building, Casa Batllo is also known locally as the casa dels ossos or house of bones – a name it earned thanks to its balconies, which resembles the bony jaws of a beast. It’s well worth taking a tour of the building to explore its exciting interior too – expect deep blue tiles, coloured glass and not a straight line in sight.

    Palacio Real (Madrid)


    Calle de Bailén,
    28071 Madrid

    Opening hours:
    October to March: 10am to 6pm
    April to September: 10am to 8pm

    In a nutshell:
    One of Europe’s most spectacular palaces.

    This beautiful palace is one of Madrid’s crown jewels, so you really can’t miss it if you’re going to be in the city. The royal family no longer lives here, but it’s easily still the most opulent palace in Madrid. Incredibly, it was originally planned to have roughly four times the number of rooms it currently has, which stands at an impressive 2,800.

    It’s worth taking the guided tour, if you can, which takes you around 50 of the palace’s rooms. As you explore, keep your eyes peeled for the many treasures that lie within – think fine art, priceless musical instruments and an incredible selection of beautifully designed clocks.

    Ponte 25 de Abril (Lisbon)


    Lisbon docks

    Opening hours:
    24 hours a day, seven days a week

    In a nutshell:
    One of Europe’s most impressive bridges.

    Very much reminiscent of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, Ponte 25 de Abril in Lisbon is a must-see. In fact, the resemblance is no coincidence, with this bridge being constructed by the same company as its twin in the US. What’s more, this bridge is almost as colossal, standing at just under 2.3km long.

    If you can, view it at night – it looks even more spectacular when lit up against the water. For the best view – day or night – head to the Doca de Santo Amaro.

    Colosseum (Rome)

    Piazza del Colosseo

    Opening hours:
    8.30am to one hour before sunset

    In a nutshell:
    A must-visit for lovers of ancient history.

    Rome’s most famous wonder, the Colosseum deserves a place on everyone’s bucket list. This huge ancient arena could once seat 50,000 eager spectators, and provided a stage for gladiatorial matches of all kinds.

    It dates back to 80 AD and was originally commissioned by the emperor Vespasian. In its heyday, it was covered by a vast canvas propped up by more than 200 masts. Today, it is open to the sky, but remains impressive – all the more so considering its age. A visit here will let you explore the arena itself, as well as the area underground, known as the hypogeum, where stage sets were prepared and animals kept.

    Dubrovnik city walls (Dubrovnik)


    Pile Gate, Dubrovnik Old City

    Opening hours:
    January 1st to February 28th: 10am to 3pm
    March 1st to March 31st: 9am to 3pm
    April 1st to May 31st: 9am to 6.30pm
    June 1st to July 31st: 8am to 7.30pm
    August 1st to September 15th: 8am to 7pm
    September 16th to October 31st: 9am to 6pm
    November 1st to December 31st: 9am to 3pm

    In a nutshell:
    The perfect introduction to Dubrovnik.

    Exploring Dubrovnik’s stunning city walls is the ideal way to begin a break in the city. Encircling the entire old city, these historic fortifications once shielded Dubrovnik from invaders, as well as the crash of the sea. You can walk around the top of the wall in its entirety for fantastic views across the sea and over the city itself.

    The main entrance is at Pile Gate, where you can buy your ticket and walk up the steep steps to get the path that runs along the top of the walls. Look out for ruins caused by the 1979 earthquake, fortresses, the Maritime Museum, and of course the stunning sea views.

    Useful tips are to keep your ticket close to hand, as it will likely be checked at some point on the way around, and to wear sturdy footwear as the cobbles can be a little uneven in places.

    Mosteiro dos Jeronimos (Lisbon)

    Praça do Império 1400-206

    Opening hours:
    October to May: 10am to 5.30pm
    May to September: 10am to 6.30pm
    Closed Mondays

    In a nutshell:
    Lisbon’s most spectacular heritage building.

    A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos is one of Lisbon’s real historic treasures. It’s decorated in the Manueline style – a classic Portuguese style of the 16th century that’s characterised by marine motifs.

    The church is the final resting place of celebrated seafaring explorer Vasco da Gama, and is suitably spectacular. Among its highlights are the cloisters, which are filled with delicate arches and intricate detail including breathtaking decorative work inspired by nature, such as vines and leaves.

    Itching to discover Europe’s architecture for yourself? Take a look at your flight options.

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