There are a number of excellent locations that deserve a special mention, as they are classed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. To find out more about these places read this brief guide.
Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn in Vienna, Austria
Meaning 'beautiful spring', Schönbrunn Palace began life as a mansion called Katterburg in 1548. Eleonora Gonzaga came to inherit the land the mansion was built on and in the 1640s she added a palace and orangery, giving it the name of Schönbrunn Palace.
The palace and gardens are a magnificent example of classic Baroque style and a synthesis of the arts. Sculptures, an orangery, a maze, a zoo, a set of follies, fountains and the impressive Gloriette structure are all fascinating points of interest, and having all of these features in one place make a visit to Schönbrunn Palace one of the most popular things to do in Vienna.
Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany
One of the most famous UNESCO World Heritage Sites to be seen on European river cruises, Cologne Cathedral, is the most visited landmark in Germany and among the most interesting places to visit in the whole of Europe. As well as being a stunning example of Gothic architecture, the 600 years it took to build Cologne Cathedral show how Christian beliefs have persisted in Germany.
The modern stained glass window designed by German artist Gerhard Richter is well worth seeing, as is the 'Shrine of the Three Kings' that was created in 1190, which is believed to contain the remains of the Three Wise Men according to traditional beliefs. For those who have a head for heights, a climb up the 509 steps to the viewing platform offers fantastic views of the River Rhine.
Roman Monuments and Cathedral of St. Peter in Trier, Germany
Trier was founded in or before 16 BC, possibly making it the oldest city in Germany. Due to these origins, there are a number of Roman monuments that have earned the city its UNESCO World Heritage Site status. The 'Porta Nigra' is a Roman city gate, and an amphitheatre and Roman bridge add to the collection of preserved Roman monuments. Trier is also home to the ruins of three Roman baths, one of which is the largest to be found north of the Alps.
The Cathedral of St Peter is worthy of its reputation as one of the most historically interesting places to visit in Europe; it is the oldest cathedral in Germany. Also known as Trier Dom, it was built during the 4th century and was rebuilt in the 9th century following Norman invasion. Since then it has gradually been built upon over the centuries, with many different eras of building methods and architecture evident throughout the cathedral. The Cathedral of St Peter is also home to the Holy Tunic, which is the robe believed to have been worn by Jesus Christ when he died.
17th-century canal ring in Amsterdam, The Netherlands
The city of Amsterdam is home to over 100km of canals and 1,500 bridges, but the 17th century areas of Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, Herengracht and Jordaan specifically have now been added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The canal ring consists of four main, concentric half-circles of canals that were mostly used for the development of residential areas, along with interconnecting canals that aided the transportation of goods.
The canals are a great example of inventiveness in the Dutch Golden Age, which saw the country's art, science, trade and military sectors become some of the best in the world during the 17th century. As the capital city thrived, the canals became an ingenious solution to serving its increasing population and transport needs.
Würzburg Residence in Würzburg, Germany
This stunning Baroque palace is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Europe, thanks to the efforts of Balthasar Neumann, architect of the Bishop of Würzburg's court, and Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, who painted frescoes in the palace with the help of his son Domenico.
Commissioned by the Prince-Bishop of Würzburg, Johann Philipp Franz von Schönborn, the palace was designed to replace a smaller palace that he felt did not adequately reflect his power and political standing. As such, the palace is lavish and impressive, with the chapel, grand salon and grand staircase standing out as some of the most impressive interior features. Despite a hugely destructive air raid in 1945 that burnt out a great deal of the Würzburg Residence, around €20 million has been spent on restoring it to its former glory.
Image Credit: Lies Thru a Lens (flickr.com)