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Best Places to Visit in Europe this Summer

Best Places to Visit in Europe this Summer-Top Destinations

Welcome to my guide on the best places to visit in Europe this summer! Whether you’re looking to bask in splendid weather or escape the usual throngs of tourists, this list has you covered. I’ve handpicked destinations that shine during the summer months. From sun-drenched beaches to lesser-known gems where you can enjoy the season away from the crowds. Get ready to explore the vibrant cultures, stunning landscapes, and unique experiences that make Europe a top choice for an unforgettable summer adventure. Let’s dive into the ultimate summer travel itinerary!

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Best Places to Visit in Europe this Summer

1. Madeira, Portugal

Best Places to Visit in Europe this Summer

Summer in Madeira is a festival of nature and color. This Portuguese island boasts a mild climate year-round. But it’s in the summer that its outdoor activities and lush landscapes truly come to life. With fewer crowds than the mainland and a packed calendar of cultural festivals, Madeira offers a blend of relaxation and local flair that is perfect for a summer getaway.

Mini Travel Guide to Madeira:

Best Things to See/Do:

  1. Porto Moniz Natural Pools: Explore these unique volcanic swimming pools formed by lava. Here the sea water is naturally refreshed each tide.
  2. Madeira Wine Festival: Experience the rich traditions of local winemaking with festivities that include live music, parades, and wine tastings in late August.
  3. Whale Watching Tours: Take to the sea and witness the majestic sight of whales and dolphins in their natural habitat. It’s a truly unforgettable experience during the summer months.

Where to Stay:

  1. Funchal: The capital city offers a vibrant atmosphere. With easy access to restaurants, shops, and cultural sites, it’s an ideal base for summer visitors.
  2. Porto Moniz: Known for its natural volcanic swimming pools. It’s a great choice for those looking to combine relaxation with unique water activities.

Tips for Visiting in the Summer:

  1. Book Early: Summer is a popular time for European travelers, so secure your accommodations and key activities well in advance.
  2. Stay Hydrated: The island’s mix of mountainous terrain and coastal weather can be deceptively warm; carry water on all your excursions.
  3. Attend a Festival: Madeira’s summer is packed with festivals celebrating everything from wine to music to flowers. Check local listings to join in the festivities.

Madeira in the summer is an idyllic destination. It offers everything from adventurous hikes to leisurely strolls through historical towns, all under the pleasant Portuguese sun.

To learn more about traveling Madeira, check out all of my Madeira travel guides here!

2. Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Best Places to Visit in Europe this Summer

Plitvice Lakes National Park is Croatia’s most popular natural attraction and truly comes alive during the summer months. The park is famous for its cascading lakes and stunning waterfalls that glisten under the sun, creating a paradise for nature lovers and photographers alike. Summer visits allow for full exploration of the park’s hiking trails and boardwalks, making it the perfect time to experience its natural beauty.

Mini Travel Guide to Plitvice Lakes National Park:

Best Things to See/Do:

  1. Hiking Trails: Wander the extensive network of trails that offer breathtaking views of the lakes, waterfalls, and lush forest.
  2. Electric Boat Rides: Glide across the serene waters of the largest lake, Kozjak, to appreciate the park’s tranquility and scenic vistas.
  3. Great Waterfall: Be sure to visit Croatia’s highest waterfall, standing at 78 meters. It’s a spectacular sight, especially when bathed in summer sunlight.

Where to Stay:

  1. In the Park: Staying within the park allows early access and the chance to experience the lakes at their most peaceful, especially in the early morning or late evening.
  2. Rastoke: Just a short drive from the park, Rastoke offers charming accommodations in a picturesque village known for its own small waterfalls and historical watermills.

Tips for Visiting in the Summer:

  1. Arrive Early or Stay Late: Beat the summer crowds by visiting early in the morning or later in the day when most visitors have departed.
  2. Wear Comfortable Footwear: With lots of walking and uneven surfaces, sturdy shoes are a must.
  3. Pack Snacks and Water: Refreshments are available but can be sparse once deep in the park, so come prepared especially in the summer heat.

To learn more about traveling Plitvice Lakes National Park, check out my complete guide here!

3. Crete, Greece

Crete, the largest of the Greek islands, is a treasure trove of archaeological sites, vibrant local culture, and expansive beaches. With its warm summer weather, the island’s natural and historic attractions are at their best. With a perfect blend of exploration and relaxation. Whether you’re wandering through ancient ruins or enjoying the crystal-clear waters, Crete provides an idyllic summer getaway with a pace and charm that captivate all who visit.

Mini Travel Guide to Crete:

Best Things to See/Do:

  1. Beach Hopping: Crete’s coastline is dotted with stunning beaches from the famous Balos Lagoon to the secluded shores of Elafonisi where turquoise waters meet pink sand.
  2. Explore Knossos Palace: Visit the ancient Minoan palace, a key historical site of Crete, which offers a glimpse into the island’s rich archaeological past.
  3. Samaria Gorge: Challenge yourself with a hike through one of Europe’s longest gorges, a breathtaking natural park that offers spectacular landscapes.

Where to Stay:

  1. Chania: Stay in this charming town with its beautiful Venetian harbor, lively markets, and vibrant nightlife, providing a perfect base to explore western Crete.
  2. Lasithi Plateau: For a quieter retreat, consider staying in this picturesque plateau, known for its traditional villages and windmills.
  3. Near Agios Nikolaos: Choose accommodations around this coastal town to enjoy a blend of beaches, culture, and fine dining, with easy access to both northern and southern Crete.

Tips for Visiting in the Summer:

  1. Stay Hydrated: The Cretan sun can be intense; always carry water, especially when exploring outdoor sites.
  2. Rent a Car: Crete’s size makes a car almost essential for exploring widely. It will give you the freedom to discover its many hidden gems at your own pace.
  3. Respect the Siesta: Many shops and businesses close in the afternoon. Plan your activities accordingly and enjoy some relaxation during the hottest part of the day.

Crete in the summer is a vibrant mix of history, culture, and stunning natural beauty, offering something for every traveler. From its legendary beaches to its ancient treasures, Crete promises a summer adventure that’s as relaxing as it is enriching.

4. Lake Como, Italy

Best Places to Visit in Europe this Summer

Lake Como, nestled in the Lombardy region of Italy, is the epitome of picturesque tranquility and upscale relaxation. Famous for its dramatic scenery set against the foothills of the Alps, the lake is a popular summer retreat where mild weather and sparkling waters create a perfect setting for luxury and leisure. Renting a boat to explore the hidden coves and waterfront villas, or simply lounging by the serene waters, makes a summer in Como unforgettable.

Mini Travel Guide to Lake Como:

Best Things to See/Do:

  1. Boat Rental: Hire a boat for the day to navigate the calm waters of Lake Como. This is the best way to enjoy the stunning villas and lush gardens that line the lake’s shores.
  2. Visit Villa del Balbianello: This beautiful villa offers expansive gardens and an impressive history, frequently used as a filming location for movies.

Where to Stay:

  1. Bellagio: Known as the “Pearl of the Lake,” Bellagio is famous for its waterfront views, cobbled lanes, and fine dining. Its central location makes it ideal for exploring both branches of the lake.
  2. Varenna: A quieter alternative to Bellagio, Varenna offers a laid-back charm with its colorful lakeside houses and peaceful promenade, perfect for those seeking a more relaxed pace.

Tips for Visiting in the Summer:

  1. Book Accommodations Early: Summer is peak tourist season in Lake Como, so it’s wise to secure your hotel or villa well in advance.
  2. Pack for the Weather: While the days are warm, evenings by the lake can get chilly. Bring a mix of light daywear and warmer layers for the night.
  3. Try Local Cuisine: Don’t miss out on the local dishes paired with a glass of Lombardy wine.

To learn more about traveling Lake Como, Italy, check out my complete guide here!

5. Chamonix, France

Best Places to Visit in Europe this Summer

Chamonix, nestled at the foot of Mont Blanc, is renowned worldwide for its premier winter sports scene. However, come summer, the area transforms into a paradise for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. The snow-capped peaks serve as a dramatic backdrop to a network of trails that wind through lush valleys and alpine meadows, offering some of the best hiking in Europe. Without the bustling winter crowds, summer in Chamonix provides a peaceful yet adventurous escape.

Mini Travel Guide to Chamonix:

Best Things to See/Do:

  1. Hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc: Embark on this famous long-distance hike that circles the Mont Blanc massif, traversing parts of France, Italy, and Switzerland.
  2. Aiguille du Midi Cable Car: Take a ride to one of the highest points accessible by cable car in Europe for breathtaking views of the French, Swiss, and Italian Alps.

Where to Stay:

  1. Chamonix Town: Stay in the heart of Chamonix for easy access to shops, restaurants, and the starting points of numerous hiking trails.
  2. Argentière: Located slightly north of Chamonix, this quieter village offers close proximity to some of the more challenging trails and stunning scenery.

Tips for Visiting in the Summer:

  1. Respect the Trails: Always stay on marked trails to protect the natural habitat and ensure your safety in mountainous terrain.
  2. Weather Awareness: Mountain weather can change rapidly; pack layers and be prepared for varying conditions throughout the day.
  3. Plan Your Visits: Some attractions like the Aiguille du Midi can get crowded even in summer. Arrive early or book in advance to avoid long waits.

Summer in Chamonix offers more than just scenic hikes; it’s a chance to explore the Alps in their full glory, with plenty of activities for those seeking both relaxation and adventure in the great outdoors.

To learn more about traveling Chamonix, France, check out my complete guide here!

6. Azores, Portugal

what to do on the azores

The Azores offer a summer retreat unlike any other. Though summer is the peak season, the islands remain less crowded compared to more mainstream European destinations. With a climate that is mild and just right for exploring the lush, dramatic landscapes, the Azores provide a perfect backdrop for adventure and relaxation, making it an ideal choice for those looking to escape the typical tourist trails.

Mini Travel Guide to the Azores:

Best Things to See/Do:

  1. Whale Watching: The Azores is one of the world’s top spots for whale and dolphin watching. Summer brings peak conditions for spotting these majestic creatures.
  2. Hiking on São Miguel: Explore trails that lead through verdant forests to crater lakes and hot springs, encapsulating the islands’ volcanic origins.
  3. Visit the Terra Nostra Garden: Wander through this botanical garden in Furnas, famous for its geothermal pools and diverse plant species.

Where to Stay:

  1. Ponta Delgada: The largest city in the Azores and a convenient base with a variety of accommodations and good restaurants.
  2. Furnas: Known for its thermal waters and enchanting gardens, staying here offers a unique opportunity to experience the geothermal wonders of the Azores.
  3. Pico Island: Ideal for those interested in mountain climbing and wine, stay near the vineyards or in the shadow of Mount Pico for a unique island experience.

Tips for Visiting in the Summer:

  1. Book Early: While less crowded than other European spots, it’s still peak season. Secure flights and accommodations in advance.
  2. Pack for Weather Variability: Even in summer, the weather can change quickly. Bring layers and waterproof clothing to enjoy the outdoors no matter the conditions.
  3. Rent a Car: To fully explore the diverse landscapes and secluded spots, renting a car is essential. Each island has its unique offerings, and having transportation will enhance your experience.

Summer in the Azores is about embracing the natural beauty and tranquility of these unique islands. With fantastic weather and fewer tourists, it’s the perfect time to discover the rich biodiversity and welcoming culture of this remote paradise.

To learn more about traveling the Azores, check out my full travel guides here.

7. Amalfi Coast, Italy(Not Just Positano)

Positano Italy

The Amalfi Coast, with its stunning seaside cliffs and vibrant blue waters, is a quintessential summer destination in Italy. While areas like Positano and Amalfi attract their share of tourists, the coast also harbors quieter villages where serenity still prevails. Exploring these lesser-known locales provides a more relaxed pace and an authentic taste of coastal Italian life, perfect for those seeking both the iconic beauty and peaceful nooks away from the main throngs.

Mini Travel Guide to the Amalfi Coast:

Best Things to See/Do:

  1. Explore Ravello: Known for its cliff-top gardens and quieter atmosphere, Ravello offers breathtaking views without the dense crowds.
  2. Discover the Path of the Gods: This scenic hike offers spectacular coastal vistas and a chance to wander through some of the coast’s less visited villages.
  3. Boat Tour from Minori to Maiori: Enjoy the coastline from the water, and stop at these smaller towns for a quieter, laid-back experience.

Where to Stay:

  1. Ravello: Situated above the coastline, this town offers tranquility with its luxurious villas and fewer tourists.
  2. Minori: A great alternative to its more famous neighbors, Minori features a lovely beachfront and authentic local eateries.
  3. Praiano: A quiet village ideal for those looking to escape the Amalfi Coast’s usual hustle, with access to some of the best sunset views along the coast.

Tips for Visiting in the Summer:

  1. Avoid Driving: The narrow, winding roads can be challenging and parking is scarce. Use local buses and ferries to move between towns.
  2. Stay Hydrated and Sun-Protected: The Mediterranean sun is strong. Pack sunscreen, hats, and plenty of water, especially when hiking or spending time outdoors.
  3. Explore Early or Late in the Day: Beat the crowds and the heat by visiting popular spots early in the morning or later in the evening.

Even during the busy summer season, the Amalfi Coast offers pockets of peace where one can enjoy the Italian sun and sea in a more relaxed setting. This balance of lively culture and quiet charm makes it an enduring favorite for summer travelers.

To learn more about traveling the Amalfi Coast of Italy, check out my complete travel guide!

Tips for Visiting Europe this Summer

Summer in Europe is a time of vibrant festivals, long sunny days, and bustling tourist spots. To make the most of your trip to the best places to visit in Europe this summer, here are some essential tips tailored for the summer holidays:

  1. Get Connected with Airalo e-SIMS: Stay connected at these best places to visit in Europe this summer without hefty roaming charges by using e-SIMs from Airalo.
  2. Bring Sunscreen from Home: Sunscreen can be surprisingly expensive in touristy areas in Europe. Bring a sufficient supply from home to save money.
  3. Try to Avoid the Most Popular Destinations: If possible, explore lesser-known areas to escape the crowds. Smaller cities and rural areas often provide a more relaxed and authentic experience.
  4. Book in Advance: Flights, accommodations, and attractions can fill up quickly and prices may surge. Book as early as possible to secure the best rates and availability.
  5. Be Prepared for Crowds: Popular spots like major cities and landmarks will be crowded. Patience and flexibility can help you manage busy environments and long lines.
  6. Get Up Early Before the Heat: Start your day early to enjoy cooler temperatures and fewer crowds. Many European cities can get extremely hot in the afternoon during summer.
  7. No AC in Many Places: Many of the best places to visit in Europe this summer don’t have air conditioning. If this is a must for you, make sure to confirm it before booking.
  8. Stay Hydrated: Dehydration can sneak up on you after long days of sightseeing under the sun. Always carry a reusable water bottle that you can refill throughout the day.

These tips will help you navigate the bustling summer season in Europe.

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As we conclude this guide on the best places to visit in Europe this summer, remember that whether you’re seeking sun-soaked beaches, serene hikes, or cultural festivities, Europe’s diverse landscapes offer something for every traveler. By planning ahead, embracing less-trodden paths, and gearing up for the climate, you can ensure a rewarding and memorable summer adventure.

So pack your bags, embrace the spirit of exploration, and get ready to discover the vibrant and varied offerings of Europe during its most lively season. Safe travels and enjoy every moment of your European summer!

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