Amsterdam has a lot to offer travellers – from its artistic heritage, elaborate canal system, narrow houses with gabled facades, seasonal tulip fields, numerous museums, and of course, its bars that offer everything from alcohol to weed. It’s little wonder that this city features on the bucket lists of travellers around the world.

We recently conducted a survey asking travellers across the globe (including Europe, North America, and Australasia) to identify the top countries, cities, attractions, and events on their bucket lists. Respondents were allowed to offer multiple answers for each category since many people don’t have only one destination on their bucket list.

You can view the global results of the survey here. Below, we take a look at the results specific to Europe.

Greece – The year-round destination on everyone’s bucket lists

Greece features on 31.6% of the bucket lists of those surveyed, followed by Italy (31.4%), Austria (28.9%), United Kingdom (26.3%), Spain (23.7%), Germany (21.1%), France (18.4%), Poland (15.8%), Portugal (10.5%), and Ukraine (10.2%).

It’s little wonder that Greece features highly on traveller’s bucket lists, with its sun-soaked beaches, gorgeous weather, unique history, and delicious cuisine. It also ranked 6th globally, beating Italy, Brazil, Vietnam, and China.

Greece had a record year last year when the number of people who travelled to the country exceeded 30-million, according to the Bank of Greece. The revenues that were related to tourism and the visitors’ consumption last year reached the figure of €16.11-billion. Two-thirds of the tourists were European citizens from another EU member state.

Most places in Greece get sunshine 300 days per year, making it a great year-round destination. It’s also a safe destination with a very low criminality rate, especially on the islands. In fact, the locals are known for their hospitality, and travellers can expect friendly service at hotels and resorts. They’re also very fluent in English, making travelling to Greece a pleasure.

Amsterdam – Where the world wants to see the flowers bloom

Amsterdam, The Netherlands (35%) appeared most frequently on the bucket lists of those surveyed, followed by Edinburgh, Scotland (28.7%), Zurich, Switzerland (27.5%), Athens, Greece (25.8%), Stockholm, Sweden (24.6%), Venice, Italy (24.1%), Oslo, Norway (22.7%), Vienna, Austria (22.3%), Dublin, Ireland (20.9%), and London, England (20.2%).

Amsterdam featured as the most popular European city on the bucket lists of travellers we surveyed, while ranking 10th globally. Last year, some 19-million people descended onto the city, bringing €82 billion into the Dutch economy and accounting for about 1 in 13 jobs, according to a recently released Perspective 2030 report.

Keukenhof remains popular as a visitor attraction, where most visitors come from abroad – especially from the United States and China. Also known as the Garden of Europe, Keukenhof is a 50-minute drive from Amsterdam. From mid-March to mid-May, over 7-million flower bulbs come to life in the garden, making it one of the best places to discover many different kinds of tulips.

The Northern Lights – The elusive site the world wants to see

The Northern Lights in Norway has been added to 17.9% of the bucket lists of those surveyed, followed by The Colosseum, Rome (15.4%), The Acropolis of Athens, Greece (12.8%), Red Square, Moscow (11.1%), The Eiffel Tower, Paris (10.3%), Loch Ness, Scotland (7.7%), Basilica Sagrada Familia, Barcelona (5.9%), Stonehenge, the United Kingdom (5.1%), Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy (3.2%), and Matterhorn, Switzerland (2.6%).

The elusive Northern Lights is the most common European attraction on the bucket lists of those surveyed, possibly because it’s the attraction that is less guaranteed than others in Europe. The Colosseum in Rome and the Acropolis of Athens in Greece are quite literally set in stone, while the Northern Lights require careful timing, ideal weather conditions, and a measure of luck to see.

Your best chances for viewing the auroras occur between February and March, and between September and November. Northern Norway is the most popular place to view the Northern Lights where the auroras are clearer, with viewing spots away from the city ensuring there is less light pollution.

The best time to see them is at magnetic midnight, which usually occurs about an hour before conventional midnight, as this is when the viewer, the North Pole, and the sun are all in alignment – although good viewing times extend between 9 PM and 2 AM. Cloudless skies offer the best visibility, while a full moon ensures sharper images.

Advent Markets, Austria – The top festive bucket list destination

Advent Markets in Austria (20.3%) is the event that has been added most frequently to the bucket lists of those surveyed. This is followed by St Patrick's Day, Ireland (19.4%), Oktoberfest, Germany (16.7%), Carnival of Venice, Italy (14.9%), Hogmanay, Scotland (13.6%), Keukenhof, Amsterdam (12.7%), Monaco Grand Prix, Monaco (12.1%), Oerol, the Netherlands (11.3%), Stars of the White Nights Festival, Russia (10.8%), and Stockholm Pride, Sweden (10.2%).

The Advent Markets in Austria featured most frequently on the bucket lists of those surveyed, outranking St Patrick’s Day in Ireland and the Octoberfest in Germany. Over 21-million tourists visit the Austrian Christmas Markets each year to experience an age-old tradition dating back to 1218, when Albrecht I granted Vienna's citizens the privilege of holding a December Market or “Krippenmarkt” in the Middle Ages.

The snowy streets of Vienna create the perfect backdrops for the Advent Markets, where punch and chestnut stands draw customers with seasonal treats and stallholders get shoppers in a festive spirit with handcrafted goods.


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