Europe & Britain | Inspiration

The 8 most iconic destinations in Europe to spend your summer

Recently updated on April 23rd, 2024 at 04:58 pm

Summer is undoubtedly the best time to visit Europe. This special season brings warm temperatures and a vibrant energy to the continent, where longer days allow you more time to make those sun-filled memories. Picture yourself sipping wine and people-watching in a Parisian café, or soaking up sunshine on a Santorini beach. Or how about hopping between tapas bars and Gaudi monuments in Barcelona, or exploring the villages of Cinque Terre? Whether you want history and culture or beach days and long seafood lunches, Europe delivers it all in the summer months of June, July and August. 

From stunning coastal towns to picturesque countryside landscapes and bustling European cities, we’ve rounded up the top European summer destinations to help you choose your 2023 vacation. If you’re wondering where to travel in Europe in the summer, scroll on to discover our top eight picks – no matter where you go there are unforgettable memories to be made. 

Just remember, summer is peak season – so if you’re pondering that dream vacation, gather your travel buddy (or travel solo) and book asap or risk missing out!

Paris, France

We love Paris in the springtime, and in the fall. We love Paris in the winter when it drizzles, and – of course – we love it in the summer when it sizzles. The French capital is always a good idea, especially in summer when the city comes alive with sunshine, long days and enchanting evenings that stretch on forever. More daylight means more time to explore the streets and soak up the beauty of the city. Enjoy picnics in the parks or strolls along the Seine. Explore the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay, or take in a show at the Opéra Garnier. Wander outdoor produce markets, such as the Marché Bastille, or enjoy slow moments sitting in a cafe watching the world go by. When it comes to where to travel in Europe in the summer, Paris is eternal.

DREAM SUMMER TRIP: Paris Explorer

Santorini, Greece

Keen to explore the best beaches of Europe? Summer in Santorini is a dream come true. The volcanic Greek island’s magnificent views, idyllic weather, iconic whitewashed buildings and azure blue waters make this European summer destination one of our top picks. Warm days are perfect for lounging on the beach or exploring the island’s charming villages like Oia and Fira. Then, of course, comes Santorini’s famous sunsets – the sky exploding into a riot of sherbet pinks, purples and oranges. Every magic, romantic evening here is memorable.

DREAM SUMMER TRIP: Greek Island Hopper

Barcelona, Spain

A city by the beach, Barcelona is the place to be in summer. The Spanish coastal city’s vibrant streets come to life with music, art and food festivals every other weekend. Plus the city’s sandy beaches of Barceloneta and Sant Sebastià buzz with locals and tourists enjoying the warm Mediterranean climate. Explore Barcelona’s many museums, art galleries and Gaudi attractions, and spend nights hopping between tapas bars in the Gothic Quarter. Street markets, like the La Boqueria Market, are a fun way to try local produce and shop artisanal goods, or you could just relax at a rooftop bar and soak up summer scenes across the city.

DREAM SUMMER TRIP: Spanish Wonder

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Any summer tour of Europe will be special if you’re exploring gorgeous Croatia. Hugging the blissfully calm and turquoise Adriatic Sea, the country offers endless island-hopping, sunshine and seafood in the warmer months. The southern city of Dubrovnik provides the ultimate mix of urban excitement and beachside fun. Spend mornings exploring the walled city’s UNESCO-listed center, rich cultural heritage and unique sights. Spend blazing days lazing on some of the best beaches in Europe or take a day trip to nearby islands. Later return to the ancient streets where a vibrant nightlight scene means you can party until the sun comes up!

DREAM SUMMER TRIP: Pearls of the Adriatic

RELATED BLOG: Where to go in 2023: 14 must-visit destinations for this year’s vacation

Cinque Terre, Italy

The colorful villages, terraced vineyards, and clear blue waters of Cinque Terre come alive in summer with warm weather and cooling sea breezes. The romantic Italian destination offers unparalleled natural beauty with picturesque views at every turn. Active travelers will love to explore coastal trails connecting the five villages of Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Alternatively take in the beauty from a boat and tour by water to explore nearby coves and beaches. Pack your swimsuit and enjoy swimming and sunbathing in the sea and seafood lunches by the water. Cinque Terre is one of the most perfect European summer destinations. 

DREAM SUMMER TRIP: Northern Italy including Cinque Terre

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam is an energetic, lively place year-round, but especially in the summer. Expect colorful streets with flower markets, cafes that spill out with terraces of tables, and festivals popping up every other weekend. Explore the works of Van Gogh and Rembrandt at the city’s many museums and art galleries, then get back out into the nice weather and enjoy local parks or picturesque streets. Rent bikes and cruise along the city’s picturesque canals and enjoy people-watching as the locals bask under the warm sun. Overall, it’s a joyous and fun time to be in the Dutch capital.

DREAM SUMMER TRIP: Amsterdam Explorer

The Côte d’Azur, France

The glitz and glamour of the Côte d’Azur, or the French Riviera, is calling. The sophisticated stretch of sun-kissed coastline is famous for its beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters, luxurious resorts and Mediterranean climate. Those are all key ingredients for a brilliant summer getaway in Europe! Explore top European summer destinations such as Nice, Cannes, and St. Tropez along the coast and squeeze in a side trip to glamorous Monaco while you’re over this way. Spend your days lazing on beaches with a cocktail in hand. Then indulge in rich French cuisine at local bistros and bars.

DREAM SUMMER TRIP: Wonderful France

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon is one of those delightful European cities that pops in the summer months. The colorful streets lined with azulejo tiles sparkle in the sunshine, non-stop festivals pop-up across the city’s neighborhoods and parks, and locals escape to nearby sandy beaches where the cool Atlantic Ocean awaits. The Portuguese capital manages to blend old-world charm and a vibrant modern energy, making it a special destination to explore. Tick off historic landmarks, like Jerónimos Monastery and the Belém Tower, and ride a rickety yellow tram. Eat your weight in pasteis de natas, then escape the city limits. You could learn to surf at some of the best beaches in Europe, or simply enjoy a seafood lunch with your toes in the sand.

DREAM SUMMER TRIP: Best of Portugal

Are you dreaming of a summer vacation in Europe in this year? Tell us in the comments where you’re planning to go…

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