Life is better when the sun is shining, isn’t it? To help you prepare for an epic summer that I am still hopeful we will have, I’ve compiled a list of the best summer destinations in Europe to spend those wonderful months. Trendy beach spots or bustling coastal cities, we’ve found the perfect places to sunbathe or enjoy the liveliness of the cities.
Spending this much time has sent me into a tizzy of wanderlust daydreams. I cannot wait to start exploring again, so if like you have already started your count down to freedom and are planning a break, I hope my list of the coolest summer holiday destinations in Europe will help narrow things down.
Deciding on where to travel this summer should be as easy as counting to 20! With that in mind, here are some options, which include some of my favourite places in Europe:
20 Best European Cities To Visit In Summer
As I have said, planning your next vacation spot in Europe is a no brainer when the choices are laid out in plain and simple. I spent an amazing winter sun vacation in Sicily just after New Years and will be covering more on Sicily soon as for summer escapes in Europe, where was I?… Where I have covered the post in more detail I have linked to additional tips to help you plan your European getaway. Tips including Europe essentials you need to pack, cool summer travel outfit inspiration when exploring Europe in addition to guides on where to stay.
I will link to these in more detail. If you have any questions feel free to comment below or reach out to me on ItsAllBee Facebook.
The landscapes that inspired Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Cézanne, the smell of lavenders and elegance make this beautiful region of France the perfect place to be in Summer. July here is the time of the big, prestigious arts festivals. In August, the emphasis falls on beaches, sun, relaxation, sports and family entertainment. Summer is festival season in this part of France and there is plenty to keep you entertained.
Celebrate Jazz at the annual Jazz Festival, or visit the Festival d’Avignon – a world-renowned arts festival set in the courtyard of the Palais des Papes – an opera festival in nearby Orange, les Choregies d’Orange, and a cutting-edge international photography exhibition, known as les Rencontres, in Arles.
As playwright George Bernard Shaw once said, “If you want to see paradise on earth, come to Dubrovnik”. It is not surprising that the city has become a major tourist attraction with many things to feed the wandering souls. The stone architecture opposed with the magnificent nature of its seascape, a rich history, delicious food and beautiful beaches will make you forget all the worries.
If you want to avoid the crowds, then May, June or late August would be the best times to go. From July 10 to August 25, the annual Dubrovnik Summer Festival will stage concerts, theatre and opera at various open-air venues in the old town. Actors, folk dancers, musicians, ballet dancers and many other artists come to Dubrovnik to celebrate the summer.
Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Famous for its Ottoman heritage and its most famous symbol, the Old Bridge or Stari Most, constructed in 1566. We recommend you to have at least one overnight in Mostar, like that you can admire its beauty in the late evenings. Mostar is heart of Herzegovina region. The city excels in the spheres of art, gastronomy, music, theater, museums, and literature.
Visit in summer to attend the Mostar Summer, an umbrella event that brings together the Šantić Poetic Evenings, the Mostar Summer Festival and the Bosnia and Herzegovina Festival of Choirs or Ensembles.
Cornwall, United Kingdom
Owing to its location, jutting straight out into the Atlantic Ocean, Cornwall is a magnet for swell, with many great spot for surfers. It is also an ideal place for a relaxing getaway in beautiful nature, regardless of your surfing skills. Cornwall has an abundance of beautiful towns and villages, from pretty fishing villages to vibrant, thriving market towns.
The county has a long and varied past dating back thousands of years to the Stone Age and across the county it’s possible to see evidence of its history sitting alongside modern life. Visit the Minack Theatre to watch a performance on an Atlantic coast stage, read a book at Trebah Gardens in Falmouth and uncover the history behind the caste walls of St. Michael’s Mount. Whether you’re in Cornwall for a week or for a day, nothing should stop you from visiting at least one of the beaches in the area. Some of the best ones include the Perranporth, Fistral and Porthmeor.
London, United Kingdom
The city in summer comes alive with countless outdoors events, creating a unique atmosphere. The streets fill with music, food and many happy faces. There is almost always some kind of festival or carnival going on, from the big music festivals like Wireless, South West Four and Notting Hill Carnival, to food festivals like Taste of London and London Brunch Fest to more niche festivals such as Grimeborn or Lovebox.
Also, what better way to spend a sun-soaked afternoon than sipping a drink with friends in one of the capital’s best beer gardens? London has some of the most colourful beer gardens in the world, People’s Park Tavern, Florence, White Hart, or White Swan being a few from our favourites. For tips on where to stay in London, check out my detailed guide.
Brighton, United Kingdom
Known as the “London coast” for its proximity to the British capital, this city, traditionally popular with families, attracts anyone in love with the English coast. In addition to a shingle beach, it has a pier where you will find a traditional amusement arcade, an electric railway facing the sea, facilities for practicing beach sports such as volleyball and soccer, and several museums (one dedicated to toys and models, and another one to natural history).
The Royal Pavilion, an oriental-inspired seaside palace built for King George IV, is also not to be missed. The town also has an exceptional variety of shops especially attractive for lovers of peculiar little things, “retro” fashion and handcrafted objects.
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Summers in Amsterdam are the best, because it stays warm and sunny until late evening, permitting you to roam around the city without having to worry about the sun going down too quickly. Have a picnic in one of the many parks, Vondelpark, Beatrixpark and Flevopark being perhaps the most popular ones to choose from. In May, the Vondelpark Open Air Theatre starts hosting various entertaining festivals. The first festival is the Freedom Festival for children.
From June onwards, events take place daily on weekends evening and Sunday afternoon. Hop on a boat to explore the canals and take pictures of the fairytale-like surroundings, or bring your friends and head to a festival! More than 300 festivals take place each year in Amsterdam, and most of them happen in the summer months. So, no matter when you visit, there’s bound to be something going on. For additional tips on romantic things to do in Amsterdam, check out my post for inspiration, in addition to the best areas to stay in Amsterdam.
Les soldes (as the sales periods are known in French) take place between the beginning of July and the end of August, when you can enjoy discounts of 30% to 70% on everything from shoes to shower curtains and designer clothing lines. To experience and honour the French culture, celebrate Bastille’s Day on the 14th of July, which marks the day of the Storming of the Bastille in 1789 and the start of the French Revolution.
This festive occasion brings people together and offers 2 days of exceptional free entertainment: a military parade, public dances at local fire stations, an outdoor operatic concert, and most of all, breathtaking fireworks. To make the most of your trip in Europe, I have combined itineraries of Paris and London on the blog.
Visit Kotor during the summer months between May and September when temperatures allow for more outdoor sports like hiking, sailing, fishing, and swimming. Furthermore, various events during the summer will fill your stay here with joy, dance, laughter and sweet memories.
Traditional events, such as Camellia day, Days of St. Tripun, Kotor Carnival, Kotor’ Summer Fiestas, Child’s Festival, Bokeska night, International Clapper Festival are events that will be remembered and talked about for a long, long while.
This is among the top European destinations in summer. In addition to hosting the world’s most glamorous film festival and one of the year’s advertising dates, Cannes has so much more to offer. A walk on the Croisette is always a good idea, as well as strolling through the old town at dusk and touring the narrow streets and alleys of the Suquet neighborhood, with some architectural remains dating back to the Middle Ages.
Along the steep main path, you will find on both sides a lot of restaurants with the best of Provencal cuisine: mussels, coquette eggs, ratatouille, boillabaise, tapenade. On top of the hill you’ll find the Church Notre Dame de l’Espérance, which gives the best views over the city and the marina with some of the most spectacular yachts and boats you will ever see.
One of THE best places in Europe in the summer. Sardinia is known for its transparent water beaches and is one of the most visited destinations in the Mediterranean in summer. The north of the island is more touristy, filled with beach bars and sun loungers.
The rich and famous have made Costa Esmeralda their vacation spot, but don’t worry, with over 1,000 kilometres of coastline, there’s no shortage of spectacular places to pitch up, whether surrounded by archaeological ruins, looming granite cliffs or the local macchia. Whether you visit Cala Goloritzé, Principe Beach or Porto Giunco, you will feel like in the Caribbean. For tips on how to plan a trip to Italy, get tips on mistakes to avoid.
Although Corfu is cooler than other Greek islands on average, the summer still brings perfect temperatures for a break on the beach. With high temperatures of 31°C and a daily average of 25°C, it’s still very warm during the day, so you can enjoy July’s 13 hours of sunshine, without having to hide inside from the heat.
Don’t miss a chance to visit the northwestern point of Corfu island, the dramatic Cape Drastis in summer, which is the best time to gain access to this location. What makes it a sight is thе weird shape of the cliffs with tiny seа caves and peculiar formations with a few sandy strips between them.
Another great summer destination for all the active sunshine lovers. The beaches here are wonderful in their own unique way, however most are covered in cobblestone instead of soft sand, so for those looking to spend most of the day on the beach, may not be ideal. If you are looking for a faster pace vacation, then Nice is your spot.
Make sure you visit Jardin Albert 1er, one of the oldest public gardens in Nice, an oasis just off the Promenade des Anglais. It features palm trees, plants from across the globe, carefully trimmed lawns, a traditional carousel, and even an open-air concert venue, the Théâtre de Verdure (open during the summer). The latter has welcomed a wide variety of acts over the years, including Edith Piaf, Sting, and Iron Maiden. This park is popular with locals and is a great way to pass a sunny, leisurely afternoon.
Its fabulous beaches and picturesque coves with cliffs that turn golden at sunset make this Portuguese destination one of the most sought after in the Algarve region. Although Oura is the best beach in the area, there are also other excellent options easily accessible such as São Rafael, Galé and Olhos d’Agua, nestled in a charming fishing village. Many of them offer water sports for the active visitors.
Best-value attractions include the Zoomarine oceanographic park, Aqualand water park, and an exciting treetop zipline tour. You can also surprise yourself by taking a boat tour which will take you to the best spots to see dolphins, whales and the rest of the local marine fauna, and discover hidden caves. If you are into city exploring don’t miss out on Lisbon in Portugal too.
Friedrichshafen and Lake Constance
Lake Constance (German: Bodensee) refers to three bodies of water on the Rhine at the northern foot of the Alps: the Obersee or Upper Lake Constance, the Untersee or Lower Lake Constance, and a connecting stretch of the Rhine, called the Seerhein. Lake Constance was formed by the Rhine Glacier during the ice age and is a zungenbecken lake.
Surrounded by Germany, Austria and Switzerland, it is locally known as the Bodensee. Here, in the ancient port city of Friedrichshafen, its pebble-filled shore will amaze you with spectacular views over the Alps. The German town also has a charming avenue and a park, and is full of modern cafes with terraces perfect for recovering energy while enjoying a coffee, a refreshing homemade ice cream or a cocktail.
In summer, Malta, isle of the knights, transmits a certain zest for life, a certain buzz in the air. The island surprises its visitors with its intense accumulation of historical buildings already from distance. If you like art, there is a lot to discover. Start with Valletta, the capital, a maze of ocher stone and Renaissance buildings where the fantastic St. John’s Co-Cathedral stands out.
Get the best panoramic view at the Fort of St. Elmo and admire the beauty of the other three cities: Vittoriosa, Senglea and Kalkara. At night, be sure to drink some wine and taste typical tapas in the Vittoriosa wine cellars, and in the day, head towards Golden Sands, a beautiful sandy beach. Be sure not to miss a day on Camino Island.
Fuerteventura is an interesting destination for summer holiday, which stands out for its crystalline water beaches and its landscapes filled with dunes and volcanoes. Something you can certainly cannot miss in Fuerteventura, are the Dunes of Corralejo and the nearby beaches. It is a quiet area where you can enjoy a fantastic landscape, sunbathe, read a book, and just live in the moment.
Summer is usually the most desirable time to visit Barcelona for its beaches and its relaxing yet very lively atmosphere. It is during this time that the most important festivals in the country take place, including the well-known ones, such as Primavera Sound and Sónar. However, festivals and beaches aren’t the only options.
There are also outdoor film festivals, big local festivals including St John’s feast day and the Gràcia neighbourhood’s big party. There’s also Gay Pride, the CaixaForum Summer Nights series of concerts, the city’s huge performance arts Grec festival, and more. If you want a truly active summer, this is the destination for you! I have just the post to make sure you stay in the best areas of Barcelona.
Take a dip in the calm waters of Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, soak up the sunshine on a lake cruise, or savor in the mouthwatering barbecue by the river banks and sample one of the cool Swiss beers. If you are an adventure lover, expect the endless options of thrilling activities here. It has so many Alpine summits in close proximity to hikers of all ages. It is a great paradise for them.
Lofoten Islands, Norway
Summer above the Arctic Circle is stunning, from mountains to the sea there is so much to see, do and love. Lofoten is a mecca for hiking, climbing, fishing, kayaking, skiing, Arctic surfing), and cycling, so summer is by far the best time to go. Some of the places that are definitely among the top ones to visit are Kvalvika and Haukland beaches and the small fishing village Reine. Check out my tips on the best hiking tours in Norway as well as cool things to do in cities like Bergen. In the summer, nothing beats sampling local drinks, so dont miss the opportunity to check out Norway’s local brews.
Planning Your Trip To Europe
When it comes to exploring Europe there are so many cool places to explore. Summer might be one of the busiest times to visit many European cities but it is also when the cities just come alive. Great vibe, cool boozy picnics in the parks, the perfect atmosphere for evening strolls, also the perfect weather if love hiking. Choosing a destination is that hard part, when it comes to putting together your trip once you choose a location the main things to think about are:
- Flights – For the best flight details make sure you check out comparison sites because you will find that there are both budget and normal airlines flying into the same destinations and airports but all offering different costs. Sometimes flying with say British Airways versus RyanAir will be cheaper because by the time RyanAir adds in the luggage fees which have recently changed by the way, no free cabin bag which addition charge, the priority boarding, legroom, and other madness, you will find that a ticket with BA is cheaper. My point is that checking flights via Expedia or Ebookers.
- Accommodation – I always use Booking.com for all my bookings as there is a great selection of hotels from hostel, apartments and hotels in all budgets.
- Tours – Tours offer a great way to get your bearings in the city especially if its a walking tour. Getting a tour at the beginning of your trip allows you to get all the cool tips and hidden gems of the city and then for the remainder of your trip you can explore with all the info you gathered from your tour guide. For the best tours on food, culture, and more check out Viator.
- Car Rentals – Renting a when exploring Europe is not always necessary and depends on certain destinations. For example, exploring Norway it might be useful to rent a car, to fully explore the cute Norwegian towns and villages on the fjords. Another explore would be exploring somewhere like Iceland. To really make the most of your visit a car is essential. Many of the cities above you want need to have one as you can explore on foot and use the local public transport.
- Packing For Europe – Once you are all booked up, the rest is now all about packing for your trip to Europe, make sure you pack comfortable walking shoes or sandals as you will be exploring on foot most of the time.
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