Share on Pinterest
Share with your friends

Among the most fascinating sights throughout Europe are the continent’s many beautiful churches. These buildings, fueled by deep devotion, are where art met architecture and astonishing craftsmanship. They just don’t make buildings like these any more. Here are our top picks for the most picturesque churches in Europe.
Orbitz-Italy-3 perfect days in Milan-Duomo-1-2-Getting Stamped

The elegant Duomo in the center of Milan | Photo by

Duomo: Milan
It’s no wonder the fashion capital of the world would also have one of the most beautiful churches, too. Bright, white Milan Cathedral, a.k.a. il Duomo, is a gem among European churches. It took about 600 years to build and remains the largest church in Italy.

Europe's best churches

Inside the absolutely massive St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City | Photo by

St. Peter’s Basilica: Vatican City
In addition to being the world’s largest church, St. Peter’s in Vatican City is gorgeous inside and out. You might recognize this Renaissance-style gem from the Pope’s Christmas and Easter masses, said here and broadcast throughout the world. The church is also the burial site of the first Pope, Apostle St. Peter (among other popes), and it’s considered the center Roman Catholic world .

Europe's best churches

The famous Notre Dame in central Paris is a tourist hot spot | Photo by

Notre-Dame Cathedral: Paris
One of the most famous churches in all of the world calls Paris home. Dating back to medieval times (construction began in 1163), this medieval beauty lost much of its religious iconography during the French Revolution, though efforts restore the art and artifacts began as early as 1845, with another phase beginning in 1991. From tales of hunchback bell operators to the beautiful Gothic architecture, it’s hard not to love Notre-Dame.


Come see Gaudí’s extravagant Sagrada Familia in Barcelona | Photo by

Sagrada Familia: Barcelona, Spain
This 135-year work in progress is the only incomplete church on the list, but its already incredibly impressive. The Barcelona church was the vision of artist Antoni Gaudí, but he died in 1926 with the project far from complete. The Sagrada Familia expected to be finished in about 10 years, roughly 100 years after Gaudí’s death.

Orbitz-7 Less Visited European Cities-Lake Bled-Getting Stamped-1

An eerie church in the middle of Lake Bled Slovenia | Photo by

Church on the Lake: Lake Bled, Slovenia
The official name of this church is the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Maria, however, most just call it the Church on the Lake. The weathered white steeple of this church is what Lake Bled owes most of it’s popularity to. Without this church, it might just be another lake in Slovenia.

Europe's best churches

The view from the top of St. Stephen’s in Budapest | Flickr photo by Miroslav Petrasko

St. Stephen’s Basilica: Budapest, Hungary
Not only beautiful from street level, St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest is similarly stunning. For those needing to work off all the delicious Hungarian food, take the 364 stairs to the top for unparalleled city views.

Orbitz-7 Less Visited European Cities-Riga-Getting Stamped-1

The impressive architecture of St. Peter’s in Riga | Photo by

St. Peter’s Church: Riga, Latvia
The belle of this northeastern European city is the high steeple of St. Peter’s Church near the center of the town. The 403-foot-tall weathered copper peak towers over the city; it’s also possible to climb to the top for a great photo op.

Europe's best churches

The Gothic Koln Dom on the Rhine River | Photo by

Kölner Dom: Cologne, Germany
One of Europe’s great Gothic cathedrals, the Dom in Cologne towers over the city and keeps watch along the Rhine River. Feeling ambitious? Take the 533 step climb all the way to the top of the church for some killer views.

Europe's best churches

A former church, Hagia Sofia is now a museum | Flickr photo by Dennis Jarvis

Hagia Sophia: Istanbul, Turkey
Although no longer a church, the Hagia Sophia was originally a place of worship for the Greek Orthodox population of Istanbul. The church was later converted into a mosque, and now a museum.

Orbitz-3 Perfect Days in Florence-Getting Stamped-10

The colorful Duomo in the early morning | Photo by

Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore: Florence, Italy
Another beautiful renaissance church can be found in the beloved Italian city of Florence. The builders of this church were not afraid to use a bit of color when constructing this grand church.

Europe's best churches

Barcelona’s other beauty Catedral de Santa Eulàlia | Photo by

Catedral de Santa Eulàlia: Barcelona, Spain
Often overshadowed by the Sagrada Familia, the Catedral de Santa Eulàlia in Barcelona is another of Europe’s most beautiful churches.

Europe's best churches

St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna | Photo by

St. Stephen’s Cathedral: Vienna, Austria
A church dedicated to the favorite saint of Central Europe, St. Stephen’s tower in Vienna cast a long shadow over the streets below. A closer look reveals a mesmerizing colored tile roof and many intricate details.

Europe's best churches-Flickr

The ultra modern church of Hallgrímskirkja | Flickr photo by Andrés Nieto Porras

Hallgrimskirkja: Reykjavik, Iceland
A church like none other can be found in Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavik. This towering ultra-modern take on a church is eye-grabbing, to say the least. Construction started in 1945 and ended in 1986.

Europe's best churches

The beautiful St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague lit up at night | Photo by

St. Vitus Cathedral: Prague
Rising high above the Prague Castle compound of buildings are the Gothic spires of St. Vitus Cathedral. These dramatic features are visible from across the river and across the city.

Europe's best churches

The seemingly out of place, yet awesome, wooden Stavkirke in Norway | Flickr photo by orse

Borgund Stavkirke: Borgund, Norway
Reminiscent of an Asian temple, this Norwegian stave church in Borgund is far from the ornate stone wonders you see in Europe’s capitals. Instead, it’s made from vertical wooden boards (staves) and has more than six stepped roofs culminating into a cross at the top. It’s considered one of Norway’s best remaining examples of traditional stave-style churches.

Europe's best churches

Bulgaria’s beautiful St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral | Flickr photo by Dennis Jarvis

St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral: Sofia, Bulgaria
The beautiful gold and aged copper domes of Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia make it an architectural gem. Captivating to look at, it is also one of the largest Eastern Orthodox churches in the world.

Europe's best churches

England’s iconic Westminster Abbey | Flickr photo by slack12

Westminster Abbey: London
Every visitor’s favorite church in London is the beautiful Westminster Abbey. In addition to hosting royal weddings, it’s also served as the backdrop to every British monarch’s coronation since 1066. In true Gothic style, the church towers over central London with spires reaching toward the sky.

Europe's best churches

The Meteora monasteries sit atop rocky boulders. | Flickr photo by Juan Manuel Caicedo Carvajal

The Monasteries of Meteora, Greece
Perched high on massive boulders in Meteora are numerous Eastern Orthodox monasteries. Churches high on these rocks were built here as early as the 9th century and some built on 1800-foot-tall cliffs.

Europe's best churches

The one of a kind Mont Saint-Michel | Flickr photo by Loïc Lagarde

Le Mont Saint-Michel: Normandy, France
Among the most picturesque sights made by man has got to be the Le Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, and at the top is… you guessed it, a church. This island wasn’t always out at sea. When it was built the Le Mont Saint-Michel was on dry land, but as water levels rose it became the fairytale-like island that it is today.

Orbitz, app, iPhone, travel, deals

Tagged: Europe, Germany, Italy, London, Paris, Spain

Note: Orbitz compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Hannah & Adam | Getting Stamped Bloggers
Hannah & Adam are travel writers & photographers who have called the road home since 2013. Their passion for adventurous travel has brought them to 60 countries and counting. They blog about their adventures on their travel blog

One thought on “Europe’s 20 most impressive cathedrals”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.