Visiting the best destinations in Europe in the summer has long been a grand procession. Outdoor enthusiasts will rave about Europe’s magnificent natural scenery and memorable wild places. Culture vultures are flocking on the best European city breaks to its grand cultural history, with its magnificent museums, opulent palaces, brooding castles, and glorious artistic legacy. Then it’s time to plunge into Europe’s vibrant nightlife, colorful festivals and heaving live entertainment. Once you've ticked off the must-see on your bucket list, it’s time to revive and indulge your culinary desires with Europe’s fine dining, street food, chic cafés and cheeky bars.
Here is a brief introduction to some of the best destinations for European holidays on offer this summer, listed in no particular order.
Malaga is deservedly popular as a chic and unabashedly cosmopolitan destination. This is the city that gifted Picasso to the world. Malaga has recently spectacularly transformed itself with a flood of brilliant art galleries, a radically re-imagined port district and Soho, an emerging art district. Malaga’s flourishing nightlife is complemented by a foodie culture spanning Michelin starred restaurants through to tastefully distressed fish shacks.
Where to go and what to do: Visit one of the beaches and laze around, Pier 1 Port of Malaga for shopping, Mitjana Square to experience Malaga’s hip nightline, El Palo’s old fishing district for freshly grilled sardines on the beach
What to see: Picasso’s original art at Picasso Museum, the artwork at Museo Carmen Thyssen, the Gibralfaro Castle, the Alcazaba and Roman Theatre
Best time to visit: May through September is the perfect time to hit the beach by day and enjoy cocktails during cool, balmy evenings.
It’s little wonder that Berlin is one of the best destinations in Europe. This city has serious historical street cred. From Bismarck to Bowie, Einstein to Hitler and JFK ‘s speech, Berlin is endlessly fascinating, despite its chilled-out lifestyle vibe. Here gritty street life collides with glitzy glamour and is long on vibrant culture, brilliant architecture, flourishing arts scene, divine food and frenetic nightlife.
Where to go and what to do: Berliner Funkturm for a scenic view of Berlin, visit the Deutsches Theater, Deutsche Opera or the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra for some classical music, Mitte Berlin’s historical centre for sightseeing
What to see: Pergamon and Altes, Museums Gemäldegalerie Art Gallery, Bode Museum, Schloss Charlottenburg, Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, Stasi Museum, Bundestag
Best time to visit: June to July when the weather is ideal for afternoon strolling around the city.
Check out this day tour in Berlin and discover the city.
Languidly reclining on the banks of the Rio Douro, Porto is a city compact enough to enjoy in 48 hours. Yet the city is rewarding to visitors willing to take their time to explore its labyrinthine medieval heart with its cathedrals and gold-leaf-bejeweled churches. Take in its brash in-your-face contemporary architecture and linger over many a fine meal and seductive tipple or two.
Where to go and what to do: Visit the wine caves for port tasting, São Nicolau for its historical buildings, Matosinhos for fabulous restaurants, Boavista for its cutting-edge architecture, Ribeira and Foz do Douro to discover Porto’s history
What to see: Igreja de São Francisco’s baroque finery, neoclassical Palácio da Bolsa, Palácio das Carrancas, Serralves museum, Jardins do Palácio de Cristal and the Museu da Misericórdia do Porto
Best time to visit: May through September when it is sunny but the sea breezes keep you cool.
This day tour in Porto will take you from beaches to World Heritage sites.
A picture-postcard set of five UNESCO World Heritage site villages; Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso fit to rival the Amalfi Coast, Cinque Terre is one of the best European vacation destinations. Accessible only by train or boat, Cinque Terre or Five Lands offers extraordinary coastal scenery and exhilarating hiking along serpentine paths cut through imposing cliffs.
Where to go and what to do: The five famous villages to soak up the local atmosphere and sample local, fresh seafood; the coastline to swim and the dramatic coastal paths for a hike,
What to see: Magnificent natural scenery and the sunset from the coast, the colorful streets and houses
Best time to visit: Mid-May through to mid-September for swimming and mid-March to mid-October for hiking.
It’s hard not to fall in love with this Adriatic jewel. Home to one of the world’s best-preserved medieval cities, Dubrovnik’s ancient walls, baroque buildings and labyrinthine streets are endlessly enchanting. Here delightful seaside charm merges seamlessly with civilized retreat. Whether you’re lazing on a beach, sightseeing or strolling through its botanical gardens or just people watching, Dubrovnik will weave its own special spell on you.
What to do: The Old Town for sightseeing, Buza 1 and 2 for cliff jumping, Adriatic coast for swimming, Lokrum Island for snorkeling and exploring
What to see: Roland's Column, Bell Tower, Sponza Palace, Pile Gate, Fort Lovrijenac, City walls, Franciscan Monastery, Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
Best time to visit: May to June or September to October when it’s not too hot but the water is warm and crowds are minimum.
Iceland’s vibrant capital also doubles as the world’s most northerly capital. Here you’ll discover a quirky culture; eons old, an emerging art scene and vibrant buildings set against a backdrop of raw, icy wilderness with wildlife. Reykjavik combines all the hedonistic pleasures you expect from civilization with a convenient base for exploring Iceland’s majestic natural landscapes straight out of Iceland’s sagas, complete with steaming natural hot springs!
Where to go and what to do: Laugardalslaug and Árbæjarlaug for swimming and hot tubs, Ægissíða and southern coast for coastal rowing, Öskjuhlíð for hiking, Faxaflói for whale watching
What to see: The Reykjavik Settlement Exhibition or Alþingi, Grótta Lighthouse, 871±2, Tjörnin, Einar Jónsson Art Museum, Reykjavík Botanical Gardens
Best time to visit: June through to August is the best time for hiking and other outdoor activities.
Interlaken is Switzerland's adrenaline central. Flanked by the Thun and Brienz glacier-fed lakes and home to the imperious peaks of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau; Interlaken is an outdoor and adventure sports fiend’s nirvana. Not up for sports? Interlaken is also home to some postcard worthy scenery of Switzerland and an old charming town where you can discover historical castles and peaceful Alpine gardens.
Where to go and what to do: Mürren, Kleine Scheidegg and First for summer skiing, Lütschine River for rafting, Saxeten for canyoning, Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau for mountain climbing, Harder Klum for hiking and panoramic views of Interlaken, Unterseen for sightseeing and cultural experience
What to see: Höheweg, Jungfrau-Aletsch-Bietschhorn World Heritage site, alphorn workshop, St Beatus Caves
Best time to visit: May to August when the weather is pleasant and suitable for adventure sports.
If you adore sublime romantic sunsets, Santorini is a “must-see” destination. Set in the enchanting Greek Islands, Santorini’s combination of sun, sea, refreshing sea breezes and picture-postcard-perfect, whitewashed buildings is made for lovers. The sunsets at Oia overlooking the crater are some of the world’s best and the views from the infinity pools over the caldera are sublime!
Where to go and what to do: Fira to Oia, Ancient Thira and the monastery for hiking, Black Beach and Red Beach for swimming, scuba diving and snorkeling, Nea Kameni for volcano hiking and hot springs, Vothonas village for historical sightseeting
What to see: Spectacular sunsets, cave houses, Santorini’s caldera bay
Best time to visit: May for hiking and early June to September for swimming.
The splendid city of Budapest straddling the languid Danube is a city of surprises. Budapest bedazzles from its vibrant old centre, magnificent Buda Castle, Saint Stephen's Basilica and the Parliament building to its delightful parks and historic Heroes' Square. Once you are satiated on Budapest’s sublime heritage, it is time to indulge in some serious dining before plunging into the city’s busy nightlife.
Where to go and what to do: Cruise down the Danube, Margaret Island for picnic by the musical fountain, Buda Castle for panoramic city views, Lake Balaton for vineyards, mineral treatments and sightseeing
What to see: Royal Palace, Parliament, Vajdahunyad Castle, National Gallery, Fisherman's Bastion, Chain Bridge, House of Terror, Heroes' Square
Best time to visit: March to May and September to November when the city isn’t over crowded but the weather is pleasant.
Gotland is undeniably special. With its treasure trove of historical sites, unexpectedly delightful scenery, enchanting countryside, enigmatic forests, quaint fishing villages and idyllic sandy beaches, this ancient Baltic island is a fresh take on Sweden. Neoclassical architecture jostles politely with tramways amid sumptuous restaurants and thriving cafés.
Where to go and what to do: Haga to photograph the picturesque wooden houses, the City Centre for a stroll, Botanical Gardens to enjoy a picnic, ride the Lisebergslinjen vintage tram, Lake Delsjön for kayaking
What to see: Gothenburg Art Museum, Gothenburg City Museum, 17th century Skansen Kronan fort, Maritiman world's biggest floating museum of ships and the Volvo Museum, Götheborg ship
Best time to visit: June and July is a great time to see the midnight sun.
Undoubtedly, Europe is a continent of enchanting experiences with a bewitching combination of culture, architecture, history and cuisine that sets it apart from other destinations. The best destinations in Europe make for delightful memories and enchanting experiences that will last you a lifetime. If you haven’t already planned your trip to Europe, now is the time!