If you decide to do a grand tour of Europe, here is a list of the most visited tourist attractions in Europe. France, and Paris in particular, stands out with many of the top 10 attractions. The top attractions vary by type, with historical sites being the most popular (after all, it takes a while to reach this level of popularity). For tourists, most of the landmarks have an entrance fee and we would recommend skip the line tickets due to the vast amount of visitors. The British Museum is however free for all visitors.
Most of the largest attractions in Europe are located in large cities, with ample tourist accommodation available closeby. However, two exceptions stand out: Cologne Cathedral in Germany and the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in France.
1. Grand Bazaar Istanbul
As one of the first shopping malls in the world (and also by far the most visited), the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul is a destination for most tourists to Istanbul. The bazaar has over 4,000 shops on 61 covered streets and is open daily from 09:00 to 19:00. It receives over 91 million visits each year.
2. Disneyland Paris
Formerly known as Euro Disney Resort, Disneyland Paris has become a tourism magnet especially for younger families. Initially opened in 1992, the resort currently attracts over 13 million visitors per year. It covers a vast area of 19 square kilometers and includes two theme resorts, multiple hotels, a golf court and many other recreational activities.
3. Notre Dame de Paris
Located on Ile de la Cité in the heart of Paris, visitors to Paris cannot miss the cathedral. Made famous by Victor Hugo in his novel "Hunchback of Notre Dame", it attracted an incredible 13 million visitors in 2016.
4. Sacre Coeur Montmartre
The second church on the list, Sacre Coeur is located in northern Paris and attracts 11,5 million visitors yearly. The white church stand on top of a hill, and visitors will enjoy the exceptional views of Paris from the steps leading to the church from the still notorious red light district of Paris.
5. Louvre Museum
The Louvre, in the center of Paris, has a guaranteed place on most Grand Tours of Europe. With 7,4 million visitors, it is the fourth most visited attraction in Paris. Formerly the residence of French royalty, it now includes many of the worlds most known art works, including the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci and the ancient greek statue Venus de Milo. The Louvre is the most visited art museum in the world.
6. Cologne Cathedral
Work on Cologne Cathedral started in 1248 - and the cathedral was finished a few years later, in 1880. It is today the most visited attraction in Germany, with over 7,3 million visitors in 2016. It is the tallest twin-spired church in the world, at 157 m.
The palace of Versailles is located in a wealthy suburb 20km east of Paris. Completed in 1715, it was the seat of political power in the Kingdom of France until the French revolution. Today, Versailles boasts one of Europe's most impressive gardens in addition to the impressive residence of the French kings.
8. Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is today regarded as a global cultural icon of France. Constructed for the world exhibition of 1889, it remained the worlds tallest man made structure for 41 years (until the Chrysler Building was finished). Today, visitors can walk to the first two levels of the Tower, while the third level (the Observation deck) is normally accessible only by elevator. Due to the limits on the attraction based on the elevator sizes, skip the line tickets are usually recommended.
9. British Museum
Maybe slightly surprisingly, the top London tourist attraction only makes it to place 9 on our list. With 6,4 million visitors per year, the British Museum is only slightly ahead of Tate Modern. The British Museum is known for it's large collections (over 8 million works) and is today free for all visitors.
10. Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes
The contenders to the list are Tate Modern, with close to 6 million visitors per year, and the Vatican Museums, which cater to 4,2 million visitors per year.