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Best Summer Destinations in Europe

February 29, 2024

Summer is a favorite part of the year for many people. Summer in Europe means vacation, freedom, relaxation and good weather. For some it is relaxation at the beach, for others it is active recreation in the mountains. Summer is Europe’s peak tourist season, when most people travel across Europe.

Summer in Europe is a very exciting period and ideal for adventurous travel. All places are open and accessible, whatever you want to see and try in Europe.

Although summer is officially understood to mean the months of June, July and August, in recent years May and September have also often brought summer weather. So summer is quite a nice and long time of the year, which can last up to 4-5 months in a good year.

If you are looking for a European destination for the summer, then you are in the right place. In the following article, we will show you the places in Europe that we think are the best places to visit if you are looking for a summer destination in Europe.

In this article, we recommend destinations for both types of trip, whether you prefer the beach or the mountains. In some cases you can even combine the two in one trip!

But first, here are some general things to know if you are planning a summer trip in Europe.

Benefits of summer travel in Europe

Predictable and excellent weather in most places

Summer weather in Europe is the best time to have fun. In summer you can swim in natural waters, do water sports, camp, hike, walk, sunbathe… whatever you like.

This is thanks to the good weather. In Europe, daily temperatures in summer are almost everywhere between 20°C and 35°C, which is a good climate for spending time outdoors.

In addition, the weather is quite predictable. Only summer storms need to be prepared for, but these are usually predicted by the weather forecasts. However, good temperatures are almost always guaranteed.

All places are open

During the high season, in summer, everything is usually open. This is not always true for the rest of the year. On European beaches, for example, many restaurants and hotels close in the autumn and only reopen in the spring. So if you are not travelling to a beach in the summer, you may find it more difficult to book a hotel or eat out.

In the Alps, too, there are high seasons, the winter and the summer. Winter is for skiers, summer for hikers. In between, there are fewer places open in spring and autumn.

Exceptions to this are the big cities, where the places are open all year round.

Long days

Let’s take an example. In Italy, in the Dolomites, there are about 8.5 hours of daylight in winter. In summer it can be close to 16 hours. We don’t need to explain why it’s worth going in summer (unless you want to go skiing). In Marseille, France, daylight hours are about 9 hours in winter and 15.5 hours in summer. This is an advantage especially for late risers, but in reality everyone can benefit.

Less clothes to take with you

Yes, this is also a factor for the person organising the trip. In summer, you don’t need different coats and several layers of clothing. Just a simple, casual summer outfit, a pair of sneakers or sandals, and it’s done. And don’t leave your straw hat at home.

Downsides of summer travel in Europe

Crowds, traffic jams, parking problems

Yes, in the summer, unfortunately, you have to encounter these at a very large percentage of destinations. There can be huge traffic jams on the way, and you almost always have to be prepared to avoid a major one.

It is difficult to park in many places and you often have to wait for a parking space to become available. In the best case, you don’t have to fight for it, but there are examples of that.

And at the entrances there is a queue almost everywhere. Sometimes there is even a long wait at restaurants. In the intense heat it is not pleasant to wait in long queues. This is why we always remind you to prepare in advance and book what you can in advance. Some queues can be avoided this way.

Too hot for a city break

In summer, cities can be even hotter than the countryside. That’s why we don’t recommend big city breaks in summer. Walking around the city centre and visiting the sights is much more enjoyable in spring and autumn. Of course, if you can only travel in summer, you have no other choice. But in summer, it is better to choose rural destinations or the coast.

High prices

As prices are higher everywhere in high season, summer travel is the most expensive in most places in Europe. For example, a trip in July can cost twice as much as a trip to the same place in April.

If you are curious about where to go in April, click on the link to read our article about the best April destinations in Europe.

If you want better prices but still want to travel in summer weather, we recommend late May, June or September. At that time the weather is usually warm, but prices are not the highest.

Difficult bookings

Similarly, as summer is the high season in Europe, it is the busiest tourist season of the year. This means that you will not only meet crowds when visiting popular destinations, but you will also need to book your accommodation and possibly your flight well in advance. Accommodation in the most popular destinations can sell out months before summer.

In our experience, it’s best to book essentials such as accommodation, flights and rental cars 3-6 months before you travel. There is still plenty of choice and prices are more affordable. If you are thinking about last minute travel, it will be more difficult. Prices will be higher and there will be less choice in the summer. In the case of last minute travel, we have had a few occasions when we were unable to travel because there was no accommodation available in the summer.

Things to keep in mind

When using the highway

Almost all southern European countries have a gated payment system on highways. This not only causes traffic jams, but is usually very expensive. Before each trip, get information about the toll system, which varies from country to country. ViaMichelin’s route planner will help you calculate roughly what tolls you can expect on your European journey.

Always be properly prepared for summer travel

You may have to spend hours in a hot car in the sun in a traffic jam. Or you may have to walk around hot city streets a lot more than you planned. So always carry enough water and some food. Sunglasses and sunscreen are also often necessary, so always be prepared with them.

Book what you can in advance

Because of the crowds mentioned above, you may often need to pre-book accommodation, tickets or even a restaurant table. So book what you can in advance, especially accommodation and tickets.

List of the best European summer holiday destinations

Here are the best European holiday destinations to choose for summer.

1. Provence, France

Provence is the perfect summer destination. Provence is one of our favorite destinations because it can accommodate so many different types of travel. You can go to the coast, to the mountains, see gorges, waterfalls, bays, flower fields… and all in just a few days.

In the south, you can enjoy the breathtaking beaches of the French Riviera and even go hiking in the Calanques. And the stunning cities offer plenty to see and do for lovers of culture and architecture.

In the central areas of Provence, lavender blooms in summer, covering huge fields. Lavender blooms between mid-June and the end of July, which is a special season for those interested in the lavender fields of Provence. Not far from the lavender fields, there is also the Verdon Gorge, which offers a wide range of recreational activities.

Finally, in the northeast, the mountains of the Alps offer a wealth of hiking opportunities.

And besides the wide range of activities, you can enjoy French cuisine, glorious summer sunsets and magical views everywhere. Not to mention the French infrastructure, which is excellent.

So Provence is a very diverse part of France and well worth a visit. If you are interested in a trip to Provence, we have also prepared a travel guide with some basic information and the main attractions of Provence. You can find the article here.

2. Bavarian Alps, Germany

The Bavarian Alps are located in the southeastern part of Germany, right next to the Austrian border.

Geographically, it is the northern edge of the Eastern Alps, which is divided into several smaller units. The extremely varied mountain region from Salzburg to Allgäu is of particular importance for tourism, popular almost all year round, mainly because of its easy accessibility from the major Bavarian cities, and has a first-class tourist infrastructure.

The Bavarian Alps are one of the most beautiful areas in Germany, both in our opinion and that of many tourists. The Bavarian Alps offer excellent hiking opportunities, a wealth of attractions and natural and architectural beauty. In the Bavarian Alps, the mountain world is full of gorges and waterfalls, pretty mountain villages and historic castles, all with fantastic views.

The best time to visit the Bavarian Alps is the summer, when rainfall is lowest and the natural attractions are at their best.

It is worth spending a few days or even a week in the Bavarian Alps, relaxing and enjoying the wonders of nature. The magical alpine nature and German culture fascinate every tourist who travels to there. The area is also a great starting point for further adventures to other parts of Germany or to the neighboring countries.

3. Croatian coast

Croatia is a popular holiday destination for European tourists. With beautiful islands, stunning beaches and turquoise seas as far as the eye can see, the Croatian Adriatic is guaranteed to enchant visitors. With more than 5,000 km of coastline, Croatia has plenty to choose from when visiting the wonderful coastline.

The most important cities on the Croatian coast are Pula, Rijeka, Zadar, Split and Dubrovnik, but Rovinj and Trogir are also famous for their scenic views.

The most popular Croatian islands are Krk, Cres, Pag and Hvar, but for those looking for a relaxing holiday, it’s best to choose a less crowded destination.

The Croatian coastline is mostly rocky and pebbly, so it is a good idea to bring your sea shoes with you. The weather is pleasant and the water is crystal clear in most places. That’s why it is so popular.

The other reason is the value for money, which used to be much more affordable compared to, for example, nearby Italian beaches. But we have found that the Croatians are no longer unbeatable in terms of prices. Nevertheless, we still think the beauty of the Croatian coast is worth the money.

So don’t hesitate to travel to the Croatian coast in the summer, because it is guaranteed to be a wonderful place.

4. Swiss Alps, Switzerland

Switzerland is a popular destination in Western Europe. Almost everyone with an interest in travel has seen some great photos of Switzerland’s fabulous landscapes and towns.

We think Switzerland is a must for world travellers. There are few places we have visited that exude as much peace, order and cleanliness as Switzerland. For those who like to hike in nature, Switzerland is a dream destination.

The summer months are particularly important for hiking enthusiasts. Switzerland’s most popular tourist destinations are almost all in the mountains. For good reason, the Swiss Alps attract both the eye and the soul. The enchanting little villages in the mountains, the beautiful bright blue lakes, the breathtaking waterfalls, the large lakes surrounded by pretty little towns, the rocky peaks all create a spectacular sight.

In Switzerland, you are almost guaranteed to have a good time with the stunning local landscapes, the local food and the hospitality of the local people. Switzerland is a fantastic summer destination and a favorite of so many tourists for good reason.

If you want to know more, you can read our article about the 5 best places to visit in Switzerland here.

5. Slovenian coast

The Slovenian coastline is actually not that long, only 47 km. Nevertheless, it is a very popular destination for many European tourists.

It has four prominent towns of Koper, Izola, Piran and Portoroz. All of them are very popular destinations in the summer, where you need to plan your trip well because of the high number of tourists.

Koper is a popular port city, where the most shops and restaurants can be found. The seafront promenade in the west of the city is the perfect place for a Slovenian beach walk and for watching the sunset.

Izola is a small town with an interesting old town and a long coastal promenade. Our favorite is the Jagodje Viewpoint situated west of the town, from where you can get a fantastic view of Izola.

Piran is perhaps the most touristy city along the Slovenian coast. It is famous for its old town, which can only be visited on foot. You have to park your car in the outskirts of Piran and can only enter the old town on foot. The best views are either from the coast or from the Walls of Piran, which can be accessed with a ticket. The Walls of Piran can also be reached by car.

Portoroz is a town in Slovenia famous for its excellent beaches. There are also many hotels and good restaurants. A real coastal tourist paradise.

It is worth mentioning that most (as far as we know, all) Slovenian beaches are free of charge. The only thing you have to pay for is parking, which is flexible and not expensive with the EasyPark app. The beaches are well equipped. Only in the summer of 2022 was there a problem with the showers not working on the beaches due to the severe drought, which caused some inconvenience to swimmers. We hope this will not happen again in the future.

The Slovenian coast is definitely worth a summer visit. A walk in Piran or a swim in one of the Slovenian beaches can be a real experience for visitors.

6. Dolomites, Italy

If you like to spend time in nature, photographing landscapes, hiking in the mountains, going to extreme places, then the Dolomites are the perfect destination for you.

The Dolomites are the most spectacular mountain group in Europe. A unique destination in northern Italy, the perfect place to relax in nature. A paradise for skiers in winter and for hikers in summer, with endless skiing and hiking opportunities. As we are writing about summer destinations, we highlight the hiking opportunities in this article.

Summer is the perfect time for nature lovers. It is the time of year when the Dolomites are full of colorful flowers in the alpine pastures, the mountain hiking trails are easy to follow and all the must-see places are easily accessible.

The period from June to around October is the summer hiking season in the Dolomites. Because the Dolomites are a relatively wet and cool place, we prefer the middle of summer within the summer season. In July and August you can enjoy mountain views and fresh alpine air with pleasant daytime temperatures of 18-25°C and more sunshine.

There are a huge number of hiking destinations available in the Dolomites in summer. Most summer hiking trails lead to a special mountain peak, such as the Tre Cime, the Cinque Torri or the Seceda, or to a mountain lake of exceptional beauty, such as Lago di Sorapis. Moreover, some mountain passes are also well-known, such as Passo Giau, Passo Gardena or Passo dello Stelvio.

The Dolomites are therefore the perfect summer destination for those who love to spend time outdoors in the pure mountain air and beautiful surroundings.

We have written several articles about the Dolomites, but what we would like to highlight is our travel guide. You can find it by clicking here.

7. Iceland

Iceland has become a very popular destination in recent years. It is a place where you can find a wealth of natural attractions. That’s why we recommend it for nature and hiking lovers.

Many people call it the land of fire and ice because of its extreme but wonderful characteristics. Iceland really does have a thousand faces: magical waterfalls, bubbling geysers, active volcanoes, aurora borealis, ice caves, breathtaking fjords and canyons, fascinating wildlife. Iceland is a land of extraordinary colors and shapes.

In addition to the amazing scenery, you can enjoy Icelandic cuisine, such as lamb soup or any of the fresh and delicious fish. Or you can try one of Iceland’s wonderful thermal spas to relax for a while.

Summers in Iceland are short and mild. The average temperature during the day is 10-15°C, but this is very variable and precipitation is frequent in summer too. Important information is that the highlands are only accessible to tourists in summer from about June to September. This is one reason to go in summer.

Another reason is that good hiking in Iceland is possible almost exclusively in summer. The weather at other times of the year makes it difficult to travel in Iceland. In summer there are fewer storms, less rain (which is still a lot), less wind and sometimes even sunshine. The only thing you have to give up in Iceland in the summer is the aurora borealis, which you can’t see in the summer. Instead, there is almost all day light.

If you would like to read more about Iceland, you can find our article about our Iceland itinerary here, as well as many other Icelandic articles on the site.

8. Tyrol, Austria

The Austrian Tyrol is a good choice for a similar reason to other areas in the Alps. Tyrol is a skiing paradise in winter and a hikers’ paradise in summer. In Tyrol you will find popular summer destinations such as Schlegeisspreicher in the Zillertal, Seebensee and Drachensee in Ehrwald or the city of Innsbruck. Tyrol has countless beautiful mountain lakes to explore, with snow-capped peaks and breathtaking panoramas in the background.

Summer is a good time to visit Tyrol because all the roads are open in summer, which is not true for the rest of the year. So some places are only open in summer.

The weather in Tyrol is mild in summer, with occasional rain, but otherwise temperatures are ideal for hiking in the mountains and nature walks.

So if you like exploring the Alps, being outside in the fresh air, photographing the beautiful landscapes or simply enjoying Austrian food, don’t miss Tyrol. We think it is one of the most charming parts of Austria.

Things to know for those coming from outside Europe

Summer weather in Europe

In Europe, summers are hot and dry in most places. Exceptions are the northern and mountainous areas. It’s very easy to get sunburned, whether on the coast, in cities or in the mountains. You should be prepared for dry heat.

However, summer weather can be quite changeable. Summer storms can come in a flash, sometimes bringing hail. This is particularly common in Central Europe.

Always check the weather forecast and be prepared for most possibilities. The weather is generally good in summer, but you can also be prepared for sunburn, rain and wind.

In southern Europe, you need to protect yourself against sunburn and extreme heat. Storms are rare there.

In the mountains, rain is the most common thing to be prepared for. But remember that in the summer, when the sun is strong in the mountains, you can get sunburned in temperatures of as low as 15°C.

What to pack for a summer trip in Europe?

What to pack for your summer trip to Europe depends on your destination. Therefore, we have separated the two main types of destination, the beach holiday and the mountain trip.

When going to the beach

If you are planning a beach holiday in summer, you will need the following essentials:

  • swimwear
  • towel
  • bath slippers
  • sea shoes (if the beach is pebbly)
  • sunglasses
  • waterproof sunscreen
  • change (some beaches require cash)
  • lockable bag (unfortunately there are thieves in many places)

When you travel to the mountains

  • outdoor clothing
  • backpack
  • raincoat
  • hiking boots
  • hiking poles (in some cases)
  • sunglasses
  • in sunny weather: sunscreen
  • food
  • drinks
  • basic medicines, if needed
  • flashlight (if you are hiking in the dark)

Of course, always take your personal documents and mobile phone with you. It also helps if you have some cash in local currency. If you don’t want to change various European currencies, you can pay in euros in most places (but not everywhere!).

How to dress for your European holiday?

This part is only for those traveling from outside Europe. It is worth noting that everywhere in Europe people dress relative simply. Nothing flashy, nothing too colorful or patterned to make you stand out from the crowd. The best way to look local in Europe is to wear simple trousers or shorts and a T-shirt. For women, a simple summer dress is also OK. Sneakers are in fashion, and more recently white sneakers in summer. So in Europe, it’s best to choose a simple, casual style of clothing.

As you can see from this article, summer in Europe is full of fantastic opportunities and offers. If you like any of the destinations listed, read our other articles about them.

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