Travel isn't cheap.

But it usually makes for an experience that exposes you to something new and leaves an impression for years after.

I was lucky enough to live in Zurich, Switzerland, for five years when I was younger. Because of its central location in Europe, Zurich made it easy to explore the rest of the continent.

The traveling that my family did while living abroad was definitely an investment, but it was a worthwhile investment. Those travels make up most of my favorite memories from those five years.

I've rounded up 15 places in Europe I think are must-sees. This is by no means a comprehensive list, just a starting point based on my personal experience.

Morcote is located in the Italian part of Switzerland on the shores of Lake Lugano, which makes for beautiful views. It has the best of both worlds: Italian charm and Swiss cleanliness.

Besides Amsterdam's obvious tourist draws — marijuana and the Red Light District — its canals are incredibly picturesque and are a great way to see the city. Take one of the many boat tours, sit back, relax, and enjoy.

The Church of Peace in Swidnica, Poland, is one of the three wooden Evangelical churches built in 1656 in Silesia, a region in Southwestern Poland. The outside looks more like a home than a church, so the magnificent interior is both shocking and stunning.

Source: Lonely Planet



The medieval town of Carcassone in France — complete with a castle and Gothic Cathedral — is still fortified, meaning it's completely surrounded by two lines of walls. Think "Game of Thrones," but in real life.

Source: Unesco



Located in the old town square in Prague, this 600-year-old astronomical clock gives a performance every hour on the hour featuring a procession of apostles, a skeleton ringing a bell, and a golden rooster among other characters.

Source: Czechtourism.com 



If you're looking for traditional Switzerland — rolling hills, painted chalets, cow bells, and goats — Appenzell is your answer. Natives of the town still sometimes wear traditional dress and follow customs that are centuries old.

Source: MySwitzerland.com



Located in the Czech Republic on the banks of the Vltava River, Ceský Krumlov dates back to the 13th century, and its architecture has remained intact since then. The town's castle offers spectacular views of the town.

Source: Unesco 



You've probably heard of the famous Cafe Sacher in Vienna; Demel is a little less of a tourist trap but will give you just as good a glimpse into the cafe society Vienna is known for. Take your pick of decadent cakes and tortes and enjoy your treat in the back seating area where you can watch the bakers hard at work.

The uniquely colorful Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg, Russia, marks the spot where Alexander II was attacked in an assassination attempt in 1881 (hence the church's name). As if its exterior isn't breathtaking enough, the interior is covered in bright mosaics.

Source: Saint-Petersburg.com



Although it's not the hidden gem it used to be, Cinque Terre, Italy, is still well worth the boat trip (no cars allowed). It's made up of five small fishing villages, all of which boast narrow winding roads, pastel-colored buildings, and amazing views of the Italian Riviera's Coast.

Source: Lonely Planet  



The Alhambra in Granada, Spain, is a fortified palace with gorgeous gardens and opulent Muslim-influenced architecture. I spent hours just walking around and staring at the unbelievable beauty. Plan ahead and make reservations if you want to visit — I learned the hard way.

Source: Alhambradegranada.asp



Istanbul's Hagia Sophia is a mosque turned museum that started off as a church built for the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, so to say it has a lot of history would be an understatement. Its dome and sheer size are mind-blowing, not to mention the marble that makes up its interior.

Source: HagiaSophia.com 



The Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Cap d'Antibes, France, is luxury at its finest offering delicious food, beautiful rooms, and an infinity pool on a terrace with unparalleled views of (and access to) the ocean. I never actually stayed here — but a friend and I did stop for lunch and then pretend to be hotel guests so we could lounge at the pool.

King Ludwig II of Bavaria had the awe-inspiring castle of Neuschwanstein built in the 19th century, nestled among the trees of Germany's scenic Black Forest. I don't care how old you are, a visit here will make you feel like you've left real life and entered a fairy tale.

Source: Neuschwanstein.de



I've been to a fair amount of beaches, but in my opinion nothing tops Praia Dona Ana in the southern town of Lagos, Portugal. It's straight out of a postcard: Clear, bright, blue-ish green water, soft white sand, and compelling rock formations.

You've seen where I've been, now take a look at this couple's travels — and how they can afford it.

How One Couple Earns Money While They Travel Around The World » 



See Also:

Listen to Russian strategic bombers speaking in code over UK airspace27-year-old Seattle man says women fly across the country to be with him because he's a real-life Christian Grey13 prices you shouldn't accept without putting up a fight