A Brief Guide to the Most Beautiful Ancient Sites in Europe

A Brief Guide to the Most Beautiful Ancient Sites in Europe

Discover some of Europe’s most eye-catching historic spots

There’s something uniquely awe-inspiring about standing in the midst of an ancient historic site, knowing that these structures have outlasted their creators by thousands of years, and will likely still be standing centuries or millennia from now. While there are amazing architectural relics and ruins scattered across the globe, Europe is a great place to start any ancient site pilgrimage, thanks to the sheer amount of these structures in relatively close proximity. The sheer quantity of these ruins can make choosing which to visit a little bit tricky, so we’ve singled out a few of the most visually impressive sites to act as a starting point for your ancient world road trip. Always remember that with a motorhome rental, you can easily build your journey around the places you want to see most, and even change plans on the fly if you discover something totally amazing along the way.

The Acropolis is one of the most visually iconic ancient sites on earth.

The Acropolis, Athens, Greece

Honestly, this one was a shoo-in. This is one of the most visually impressive ancient sites still standing - it towers over the city of Athens and considering the amount of attrition it has suffered over the millennia, the surviving structures of the Acropolis are in remarkably good condition. It will pay to visit early or late to avoid the crowds - consider turning up at 8am on the dot, or just after 5pm. The Parthenon is without a doubt the most iconic Acropolis building, and for good reason, but don’t forget to seek out the many other intriguing (if less famous) structures at this world-class site.

The mosaics at Conimbriga are particularly beautiful.

Image: Carlos Luis M C da Cruz (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Conimbriga, Coimbra, Portugal

Located less than an hour and a half south of Porto, the thing that really makes the Roman ruins of Conimbriga stand out from the crowd is its intricate and colourful mosaics. Head to the House of Fountains to see the very best of these mosaics, but perhaps consider touring around a bit first and leaving these stunning arrangements for last. The gardens and bathhouses (one of which has been partially reconstructed) are also well worth a look. Conimbriga wasn’t the biggest Roman settlement in what is now Portugal, but it is without a doubt the best preserved and is an essential itinerary item for any history buff visiting the Iberian Peninsula.

Head to Bath to see the ancient Roman bathing complex, fed by geothermally heated underground springs.

Roman Baths, Bath, United Kingdom

Unfortunately, taking a dip is off the table but it’s still well worth heading to Bath (less than 40 minutes southeast of Bristol) to see this strikingly well preserved Roman public bathing complex. The water which fills the baths bubbles up from underground and is heated by geothermal activity - these hot springs have been known and revered since pre-Roman times; ancient Celts dedicated a shrine here to the goddess Sulis. There are four different spaces to explore, including the onsite museum which holds many ancient artifacts discovered at the baths.

The once lavish palace of Villa Poppaea at Oplontis still retains an air of grandeur.

Oplontis, Naples, Italy

Many visitors to Naples head to Pompeii for their dose of ancient history, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. Pompeii has all kinds of amazing sights in store for travellers. But for a truly beautiful antique site, you’ll want to pay a visit to Oplontis. The main attraction here is the Villa Poppaea which is believed to have been owned by the Emperor Nero, serving as the main residence of his second wife. Striking frescos which have stood the test of time are one of the most impressive aspects of the villa but visitors can also admire the gardens and an ancient swimming pool.

The ancient site where the oracle of Delphi raved and prophesied is an incredibly scenic destination.

Delphi, Greece

While this is an incredible historic site, the beautiful component comes more from its surroundings than anything else. Nestled on the flank of Mount Parnassus, overlooking the lovely Phocis valley, Delphi is a place that would be worth visiting even without its ruins. This is where people great and small from all over the Mediterranean used to come to consult with the famed oracle of Apollo. This site was also considered by ancient Greeks to be the centre or “navel” of the world. Delphi is situated a little over 2 hours northeast of Athens and is well worth the drive if you’re in the area.

Booking a motorhome rental for your historic European explorations is the perfect way to see exactly what you want, when you want. Meander across the continent or concentrate on one country - the choice is entirely yours.

Written By: Kristof Haines

It’s funny how motorhome memories stick with you. I can still recall a motorhome vacation my family took when I was five years old and how awesome I thought I was, tucked away in a loft bed above the cab. From revealing unique destinations to providing tips and tricks, it’s my mission to help others build great motorhome memories too.