Europe in the Summer: Where & When to Go
Set on European summer getaway, but not sure where or when to go? Keep reading for our tips on top spots and perfect timing.2015-12-28
Gelato stands dotting the shoreline, flower-filled cobblestone streets, whitewashed balconies and sangria on the beach…there’s nothing quite like Europe in the summertime. If you’re set on a European getaway this summer but not sure where or when to go, keep reading for our tips on top spots and perfect timing.
July and August can bring above-100-degree weather in Italy, especially in the southern region, so your best bet is to do what the locals do, and head to the beaches of the Amalfi Coast or escape north to The Lakes or the mountains and valleys of Tuscany.
Because summer is such a popular time for beach resorts, outside of the coastline, Italy’s peak season is what would typically be considered “shoulder season:” May and June, rather than July and August. If you’re interested in escaping the crowds in major cities like Rome and Milan, July and August are great months to do it – because many locals are on vacation, you’ll find major city centers to be surprisingly quiet. While some businesses, shops, and restaurants may be closed, you probably won’t feel major effects as a villa vacationer – and your concierge can always arrange for private services like chefs, classes, or tours.
That being said, if you don’t mind crowds, the festivals held in peak season – like Palio Horse Race in Siena, held once in July and again in August – are once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Similar to Italy, France’s major cities – including Paris – are surprisingly quiet in July and August, while the coastal regions are at their peak. If you’re looking for fabulous restaurants, chic nightlife and excellent people watching, follow suit and head to the French Riviera, one of the world’s foremost summer playgrounds for jetsetters.
To experience authentic French culture without the crowds, stay north in Normandy or the Loire Valley. If you’re interested in seeing the famed lavender fields of Provence, keep in mind that the flowers bloom between late June and August and are harvested between mid-July and late August – so if you want to ensure you’ll catch the lavender at its peak, plan to travel before mid-July. If you’re near Avignon in July, you can’t miss The Avignon Festival, an incredible citywide theatre festival held annually.
Greece is one of Europe’s most popular summer destinations, and for good reason – with a plethora of islands to choose from, all with an array of incredible beaches, you really can’t go wrong. If you’re looking for a cosmopolitan island with a glitz-and-glam atmosphere, head to upscale Mykonos. Santorini, while still popular, has a more tranquil, romantic atmosphere popular with couples and honeymooners.
To avoid the summer heat wave and tourists, try to travel in early summer; the beginning of June is ideal, as all the shops, restaurants, and attractions will be open, but the crowds won’t be at their peak yet. Again, the months of July and August are the most crowded, with the peak occurring in August.
Spain’s 3,000+ miles of coastline attract summer vacationers from all over Europe, particularly in July and August. To experience excellent weather with fewer crowds, travel to Spain’s southern coastline in early summer, from May to June. For warm water perfect for snorkeling, windsurfing, kite boarding, and scuba diving, head to Marbella in the south, located on the world-renowned Costa del Sol (“Coast of the Sun”).