Europe's vast countrysides, historical architecture and beaches, is a traveler's dream come true. From high mountain tops to a stroll through historical Roman architecture, Europe has a lot to offer. France, Spain, and Italy attract more visitors each year than any other European country, according to the World Tourism Organization. The countries placed first, second, and fifth, respectively, in the group's 2008 rankings.
Visitors, if they chose, can walk from one country to another, scale grand mountains, play on the beaches, or spend the day exploring an ancient city.
France is visited by more tourists than any other country in the world with Paris as its hotspot destination, according to the World Tourism Organization. In 2008, 79.3 million people visited France, with at least 15.6 million taking advantage of Paris' beauty.
Of those 15.6 million visitors, 13.7 million toured the Notre Dame Cathedral, according to the Paris Convention and Visitors Office. The building's massive exterior lends itself to a leisurely day stroll, where walkers can take in the intricate architectural details and bask in the city's beauty. Inside, visitors can spend time viewing the church's many sculptures, paintings, and stained glass.
The more adventurous traveler can spend time hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc, a 105-mile journey through France, Italy, and Switzerland, that takes hikers along high-altitude paths through the Alps. The hike is considered one of the "Great Hikes of the World," and usually takes about two weeks to complete, according to Boundless Journeys, a Vermont-based travel agency. Travelers can stop and take in the atmosphere along the tour through overnight stays at quaint villages or by camping in tents while they soak up the spectacular views.
With its 4,964 km of coastline, Spain is the second most visited country in the world, according to the World Tourism Organization. In 2008, more than 58 million people visited Spain with 15 million flocking to Barcelona. The city, situated on Spain's north east coast, is home to an array of art and culture, including museums and waterfront sculptures.
Outdoor and sporting enthusiasts can take advantage of the city's infrastructure.
Since Barcelona was home to the 1992 Olympic Games, the facilities are used to host big events and cater to the needs of just about every sport, according to Spain's Tourism Ministry. Travelers also can visit the city's marinas and golf courses or spend time scuba diving, sailing or snorkeling in the Mediterranean Sea.
Italy, with its great food, mystical architecture and fascinating history, ranks fifth in attracting visitors to its shores. A 2008 ranking by the World Tourism Organization says 37 million people flocked to Italy that year, with 4 million visiting The Colosseum in Rome.
A ticket purchase to The Colosseum also includes a pass to the nearby Palatine.
Built in 80 A.D., the massive structure once was home to fights between Roman gladiators, games and shows for the masses. Now masses from all over the world come to visit what is considered one of the greatest architectural and engineering spectacles.