Sun, sea, beaches, and all the good weather: if I could pick one season to visit Europe for outdoor activities, then it would be the summer. So whether you love seeing the beaches, experiencing local culture, or simply want to see some out-of-this-world architecture, here are the very best summer destinations in Europe!
Oh, Paree! The beautiful French capital is, of course, picture perfect all year ’round! And if you can deal with the crowds then the best time for French weather is Paris comes in July and August. The summer season in l’Hexagon also signals the beginning of oodles of open-air festivals, as well as a whole host of outdoor film screenings, and even several artificial beaches along the River Seine.
Read more: How to spend three perfect days in Paris
If you’re looking for a Greek island with thousands of years worth of history and where world famous artwork derives from (literally, the Venus de Milo, which can now be seen in the Louvre, was actually discovered here!) then you should visit the beautiful Greek island of Milos.
Located in the very heart of the Aegean Sea, it’s here where you’ll find a myriad of traditional fishing ports, as well as several historical sites including catacombs dating back well over 1500 years. Once on the volcanic island, there are also crystal clear waters to swim in, and a whole lot of stunning beaches.
Northern Italy is a beautiful region of Europe which few people speak of in comparison to places like the French Riviera or the Amalfi coastline when it comes to the summer months. However, if you’re looking for a truly offbeat destination when it comes to summer in Europe, then Northern Italy maintains a beautiful climate throughout the warmer months.
The region, particularly the areas of Piedmont and Lombardy also provide plenty of beautiful cultural cities in which to enjoy ancient monasteries and lots of independent gelato shops. While nearby Milan is popular all year ’round, Bergamo is much more affordable and has one of the best historic old towns Northern Italy has to offer!
Read more: Two weeks in Italy Itinerary
Picture-perfect Southern France is best-seen in the summer months when the crystal clear waters of the French Riviera make for the ultimate dreamy destination (not to mention swimming location!). Elsewhere in the region, everything is open for business (during the off and shoulder seasons many resorts and bistros shutter their doors to the public).
So whether you’re in the mood for seeing some stunning beaches or fancy visiting some historic city centres, Provence offers all this and more! After all, where else in the world can you find areas of outstanding natural beauty side by side with Carolingian castles and world-class cuisine?!
Read more: How to spend seven perfect days in Provence
For those seeking a lush green island surrounded by crystal clear aquamarine waters, Samos truly is the hidden gem of the Aegean. Situated in the very south of Greece, just a mile from the coast of Turkey, the island is best-known as the birthplace of famed mathematician Pythagoras (remember c2 = a2 + b2 from school?).
Highlights of the island include Tsamadou Beach (the water is cool yet warm enough to swim in, while the rocks are so sparkly they shine in the sun), as well as the picturesque town of Kokkari (here you’ll find plenty of traditional Greek taverns serving traditional fare).
Elsewhere on the island, the Monastery of Panagia Spiliani is a secret little cave church which dates back centuries and is quite literally hewn into the rockface, while the world-famous Samian Muscat can be sampled in amongst history at the Samos wine museum (admission is a steal at just €2!).
Read more: Island Hopping the Aegean Sea in Greece
Italy in the summer is filled with tourists and so this is the prime time for you to discover a more unusual side to the country. A side where tourists remain prevalent but do not visit in such numbers as they do in places such as Venice or Rome. Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to visit the stunning university city of Pavia for the first time.
Opt to take a trip to this former capital of the Lombardy region and you’ll discover much more than simply a Duomo designed by the hand of Da Vinci. After all, once there, you’ll see one of the oldest universities in Italy, plenty of medieval churches filled with centuries-old frescoes and to the outskirts of Pavia, the Certosa di Pavia is one of the best examples of Renaissance architecture to be found anywhere in the boot-shaped country.
Read more: A free & self-guided Pavia walking tour
If I were to pick one British destination as one of the very best summer destinations in Europe, it would be Cornwall. Home to lots of small fishing ports which look just as they have done so for hundreds of years, the coastal walks there are out of this world, while local cuisine is 100% sea-inspired and much of the time, the food you eat was caught fresh that day!
Pretty all year round, Lucerne (known as ‘Luzern’ in German) is always worth a visit on any venture throughout Switzerland. While in the winter the snowcapped mountains surrounding the Swiss city provide the perfect location for photo shoots, the summer months make for perfect walking weather.
So when looking for the best summer destinations in Europe, consider a visit to Lucerne. Home to one of the most famous medieval wooden bridges in the world, some fabulous and traditional Swiss architecture, and a glittering lake, you can’t go wrong by dedicating a long weekend to exploring everything Lucerne has to offer.
Read more: One week in Switzerland guide
If you’re in the mood for some summer festivals, then you need to look no further than the Scottish capital of Edinburgh (and I’m not just biased because it’s one of my favourite cities in the UK!) Home to plenty of Scottish castles and plenty of pretty streets, you need to visit Edinburgh this August just so that you can attend the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
This month-long arts festival is the largest of its kind in the world. For the whole month, the city, which also happens to be the first city ever graced with the UNESCO world heritage title of ‘literary city’ transforms into a performance space for comedy sketches, musical performances, and outdoor art spaces.
Read more: Harry Potter tour of Edinburgh
For a more offbeat Summer destination in Europe, then you should consider the Transylvanian city of Brasov. Located to the North of the Romanian capital, in the heart of ‘Dracula’s Country’ (though it’s worth noting that Transylvania is so much more than Vlad the Impaler- who wasn’t even born in Transylvania anyway!), Brasov is a beautiful city with a whole mix of architecture.
Nearby, you’ll find the beautiful castles of Peleș Castle (a Neo-Renaissance structure which was used as the setting for A Christmas Prince), as well as Bran Castle (a fortress-like building which was once used to house Romanian royalty and is alleged to be the birthplace of Bram Stoker’s Dracula legend)
Ireland isn’t known as the Emerald Isle for nothing! In fact, should you opt to visit this European country, you can expect to find lots of rain throughout the year. However, the summer months are when you’ll find the least rainfall, and therefore the best weather for exploring everything the Irish capital has to offer.
Filled with unique pubs, quirky eateries, and plenty of museums (many of which are free), this literary city has inspired many a novel, notably Ulysses by James Joyce. Other highlights of Dublin include wandering along the River Liffey, as well as seeing the historic Book of Kells in Trinity College.
Read more: 10 secret spots in Dublin you’ll love!
For those who are looking for a hidden gem of Europe, landlocked Luxembourg is a country filled with castles, lots of history, and is, of course, the last Grand Duchy left in the world. The tiny country’s oldest city is that of Echternach, a commune not far from the German border and first sprung up around an ancient abbey still in operation in the Luxembourgish town.
Read more: A quick guide to the best of Echternach