Ah Summer in Europe! There’s no place I’d rather be, but it’s always so hard to choose where to go. We’ve asked some top travelers and they have shouted out some fantastic spots! Check out their recommendations, and then start planning that European summer vacation.
Europe! Here at Reflections Enroute we can’t get enough of it, with it’s quaintness, it’s beauty, it’s history! Welcome back to our travel in Europe during “All Seasons” series. We have compiled lists for what to do in Europe for fall, winter, and spring seasons, and now everyones favorite, summer! We’ve asked some top travelers where they suggest you go in summer in Europe. They’ve listed some cities, beaches, lakes, and mountains. It all sounds good to me. Why, oh why, can’t summer last all year?
Best Places to Go in Summer in Europe
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Sardinia by Claudia of My Adventures Across the World
There is little doubt that Sardinia is the best place to visit in Europe in the summer. The second largest island in the Mediterranean has a lot to offer to all kinds of travelers – from couples in search of a romantic getaway, to those who travel with children; from those who look for luxury and comfort, to those who prefer to rough it a bit; from those that only want to lay in the sun, to those who are more active and want to surf, windsurf, dive, bike, hike and what not. Add to this the beautiful cities and villages, the delicious food and some of the best wines in the world, and it is easy to see why Sardinia is a bucket list destination.
What makes Sardinia a fantastic summer destination is its amazing beaches. There are long, white sand beaches scattered all around the island and that are incredibly easy to access, but the best ones are those a bit more difficult to reach, and that may require a boat trip or even a hike.
Sardinia gets incredibly busy in August, when the majority of Italians go on holidays. Unless you don’t mind crowded beaches, the best time to visit is June, the very beginning of July, and the second half September.
Albanian Riviera by Allison of Eternal Arrival
Albania, and especially the Albanian Riviera is a wonderful summer destination. Imagine the beautiful beaches and delicious seafood of the Greek islands – then half or even third the price. It’s a bit off the beaten path, but as a result you’ll never have to fight off a crowd for a spot on the beach. My favorite spot is Himara, as there are tons of beautiful beaches within 10 kilometers distance from the town, plus a nice beach right in the middle of town.
The waters are crystal blue, salty enough to make swimming super easy, and pleasantly warm in the summer. The visibility is insane — even 30 meters out, you can often see straight to the bottom of the sea floor. The Albanian Riviera is growing slowly but surely, so make sure you visit before it gets too crowded.
St. Petersburg by Alya of Stingy Nomads
St.Petersburg is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe with its multiple cathedrals, palaces and bridges it is a perfect decoration for a romantic walk or boat trip at night. The best season to visit the city is during so called White Nights with its peak on June 21 when the day lasts 19 hours and it never gets completely dark. A short northern summer is a real frenzy; people try to enjoy every little bit of it.
In June St.Petersburg never sleeps, every night you can see thousands of people walking on the streets, coffee shops and restaurants opened 24 hours, street bands playing music everywhere. The main show happens between 1:30-2 A.M. in the heart of the city on the Neva river. Famous draw bridges get opened for navigation every night for a couple of hours. And it’s a real performance with music, lights and dozens of boats on the river. The only one problem most tourists face–it’s difficult to sleep with daylight practically 24 hours.
Though I’ve been living in St.Petersburg all my life every year I wait for the White Nights to experience over and over this amazing feeling of festivity and sleepless nights when even children are allowed to stay awake till early morning.
Interlaken by Arzo of Arzo Travels
It is no secret anymore that Switzerland is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and it is great to visit at any time of the year, but I prefer to visit in summer. Though all parts are extremely gorgeous, my favorite area is the region of Interlaken. Strolling along the amazing lakes like Lake Thun, Lake Brienz in summer, while the sun is shining on the lakes and making them look even more beautiful, is just my favorite thing to do in Interlaken – especially in summer.
I admit that the weather is not always awesome (so there are some rainy and coldish days in summer, so take your rain jacket and rubber boots even in summer) it is just a fantastic activity to hike up mountains (or as I do, take the funicular or cable car to get up the mountains) and enjoy great views of the colorful lakes while enjoying the sun on my face.
And the best thing is: if you really want to see snow in Switzerland you can visit the Jungfraujoch where you always have snow – so can have snowball fights even in summer. As you see, summer in the region of Interlaken is just perfect! What are you waiting for? You´ll find me for sure in Interlaken next summer.
Malta by Kerri of Beer and Croissants
Similar to the Greek Islands, Malta is one of those fabulous island destinations, best enjoyed in the warmth of the summer sun. Emerging as a popular destination for quick weekend breaks as well as longer trips, it is a country rich in history, having been ruled by everyone from the Turks, to the Romans, the Knights and the British. For history buffs, the capital of Valetta will keep you entertained for days.
On the coastline, beaches and resorts attract those coming for a chance to relax and unwind. Located just 20 minutes off the main island lies Gozo. Despite being part of Malta, they speak a different dialect and offer a more peaceful way of life.
Popeye’s village is also here and the stunning fishing village of Marsaxlokk, complete with colourful boats are great places to visit. The food is fabulous, with their cuisine showing the signs of their proximity to both Africa and Italy. Warm and welcoming, the Maltese greet visitors to their country with open arms.
Isle of Harris by John of From Real People
When people think of blue seas and stunning sandy beaches, Scotland isn’t normally the first place that springs to mind. The Isle of Harris, one of the Hebridean islands off the North West coast of Scotland, has beaches that truly take your breath away. The beaches really are unspoilt strips of immaculate golden sands that barely a soul has walked on. The water really is the same type of blue that you find in the Caribbean.
Sadly, you are unlikely to be doing any sunbathing on the beaches of Harris, mainly owing to the likelihood of horizontal driving rain at any time. What you will find in the Isle of Harris is some of the most amazing countryside that you have ever seen in your life. There is something very special about the island that just asks to be explored.
You can learn about the history of the famous Harris Tweed, visit the largest town of Tarbert and visit the Harris community distillery or just relax in one of the islands amazing cafes like the Temple Cafe in Northton. Visit in the summer for the most predictable weather and enjoy a holiday like nothing you have ever experienced before.
Norway by Bret and Mary of Green Global Travel
Summertime is the perfect time for exploring the fjords of Norway, and there’s no better way to do so than by taking a road trip that allows you to stop as often as you want. And believe me, you’ll want to stop a lot. This is a land stuffed with jaw-dropping scenery– majestic mountains, dazzling waterfalls, and lakes that glistened like gems– with another “WOW!!” seemingly around every hairpin turn.
We started our week-long drive in the UNESCO World Heritage city of Bergen, exploring the fish market and colorful historic buildings along the famous waterfront. From there we made our way north to small towns such as Gulen, Jostedal, and onto Alesund, making stops to scuba dive, kayak, climb a glacier, hike across ice fields, and picnic next to numerous fjords along the way.
From the ancient artistry of Urnes Stave Church to the almost overwhelming natural beauty of the Sognefjellet National Tourist Route, this easily ranked among the world’s best road trips. And though Norway’s weather can be notoriously brutal at other times of the year, in summer the sky was mostly a brilliant blue, with around 20 hours of light giving us plenty of energy to explore the land of the Vikings.
Cinque Terre by Jessica of Travel To Be Alive
A trip to Italy is not complete without visiting Cinque Terre, five picturesque and colorful villages that create a surreal atmosphere on the west coast of Italy. The area is magic all-year-round, but it’s during the summer that it gets even more beautiful. The days are longer and warmer, the crystal clear water has the perfect temperature for a dip and lots of festivals and events bring the villages to life.
Whether you’re looking for a romantic destination, a place to trek, or a top quality food experience, this is the right place for you. Just picture yourself walking through the narrow alleys among the houses and watching the sun as it sets on the sparkling sea, with the sound of far away fishermen at work and the smell of fresh food coming from multiple directions. It’s not a dream, this is summer in Cinque Terre!
Lisbon, Portugal by Taiss of Together To Wherever
Our first time in Lisbon was early July, for a full week. A week during which we enjoyed many long walks through the charming Alfama district, sipping refreshing Vinho Verde (chilled green wine!), strolling along the Tagus River while enjoying a gelato and admiring the 25 de Abril Bridge (yes the mini Golden Gate look-a-like). The long, summer nights can be enjoyed to the fullest here in Lisbon, where late dinners are a norm and listening to the sounds of Fado (traditional folk music) into the wee hours of the night put you into a whimsical trance.
While temperatures are warm, they are made comfortable by a cool, light breeze coming off the surface of the water. Enjoy a lemonade at one of the “Miradouros” overlooking this capital city as the sun sets and creates the most magical golden hour. The evenings are filled with vibrant energy through the hilly alleyways of Bairro Alto, where tables are poured out into the sidewalks for customers to sit and dine on delicious Portuguese dinners outdoors and take in the moment.
It’s easy to find a neighborhood that fits your “style” and savor the summer days and evenings with the great food and atmosphere of one of Europe’s oldest areas.
Lugano, Switzerland by Cindy of One Perfect Day in Travel Podcast
Summer is the time for swimming in Lake Lugano at the base of the Swiss Alps in the resort town of Lugano, Switzerland. Pop up bars spring up along the lakeside promenade in the evening as locals and tourists enjoy the balmy evenings late into the night. Enjoy open-air concerts that are performed on summer weekends right in front of the new LAC Lugano Arte e Cultura building.
Step right from the dock onto a boat for one of many short cruises to one of the grottos along the lake, or row out into the lake on a boat that you can rent in the city center. Be sure to take the funicular up to either or both of Lugano’s mountain peaks for a view over the city and the lake. And, perhaps best of all, end your day at a lakeside café with some delicious Italian food and Swiss or Italian wine in this Italian-speaking Swiss city!
Seville, Spain by Maegan of the Wanderlust Dietitian
Seville, Spain is lovingly called the “frying pan of Spain” and we experienced the heat firsthand in August. There is no humidity here, like in Barcelona, but instead it’s a dry heat like in Vegas. The locals do not leave their homes until after 8pm once temperatures cool down. Night time is when the fun happens! We indulged in soccer (futbol) games, jazz music, Flamenco shows, and nightly strolls down the Alameda de Hércules.
During the day, we sought refuge underneath the Metropol Parasol which is the largest wooden structure in Europe! We also spent hours at the Plaza de Espana but opted for air-conditioning on the C3 bus, which cost us 2.80 euros each. This amazing plaza was built in 1928 and is the size of five football fields. There are 48 alcoves with benches, one for each province of Spain, each with a relevant map, all designed on colorful azulejos (painted tiles). The four bridges represent the four ancient kingdoms of Spain. Everything was intricately painted from the lamp posts to the ceiling tiles!
Seville is an incredible place to spend a summer break, just don’t forget the gelato!.
Geneva, Switzerland by Rashmi and Chaluya of Go Beyond Bounds
Geneva is a global city in Switzerland and is well known for the headquarters of UN, Red Cross and several other international organizations. We love summers in Geneva when every window and balcony is overflowing with bright flowers, especially the old town of Geneva. The old town of Geneva is home to some of the historical monuments and quaint cafes with outdoor seating in the narrow cobblestone alleys, great to soak up the old world charm. About a quarter of Geneva city is green space, parks, and gardens which makes for a great place for kids and a venue for concerts and festivals in summer.
Geneva has more than 30 museums dedicated to history, antiques and watch making which we believe would be fun for museum lovers. It also makes for a great base to explore some of the picturesque locales of Switzerland thanks to the great railway connectivity. The bright and lush landscapes of Switzerland are popular tourist destination all over the world which are at its best in summer and can be visited easily on day trips from Geneva.
The Dolomites, Italy by Skye of The Fit Traveller
I still remember the moment we wound our way into the beautiful town of San Cassiano in Badia nestled in the iconic and picture perfect Dolomite Mountains. The moment took our breath away. Having left the shores of Lake Como some ten hours earlier, the two destinations couldn’t be more different. We stepped into the chill of the air, almost forgetting it was high summer.
We spent our days in the Dolomite mountains getting as close to the clouds as we could; by hiking the legendary trails on the mountain top and jumping on mountain bikes to weave our way between the villages. Hiking in the Dolomite mountains is a bucket list experience. Whether you are super fit and tackle the harder climbs, or you jump on the Piz Sorega gondula lift up to the top and gently walk the trail from Las Vegas to Ütia de Bioch for lunch overlooking the mountain ranges, you will be blown away by the beauty of summer in Italy’s Dolomites mountains.
Now that you’ve read all about these inspiring European places to visit in summer, where would you like to go?
Author Bio: Corinne Vail is a travel photographer, food lover, and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 14 years. For many years she lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands teaching the children of the US. military. She’s visited over 90 countries, and she’s not stopping anytime soon.
If you like Europe in Summer….pin it and start planning!