Europe's 19 Sunniest Summer Vacation Spots

2023-02-20 01:31:31 - Drany Macley Drany Macley, the senior editor of Vytravels.com, brings extensive journalism background and over eight years of experience in travel writing and editing to the site, offering practical insights and first-hand knowledge through articles on innovative hotels, backed by a BA in Journalism from Ithaca College.

Where should I go in Europe for the summer?

Check out some of Europe's most spectacular summer destinations for ideas.

Even though it can be difficult to get around during the summer months in Europe due to the high volume of tourists, this season is also one of the most beautiful.

Even though it can get pretty hot in the cities, June, July, and August are some of the most picturesque months to visit Europe's coastal and mountain regions.

Here are some of the best places to visit in Europe during the summer, ranging from traditional beach vacation spots to charming summer road trip destinations to lush islands that truly come into their own during the warm season.

A summer vacation in Europe is guaranteed to be the trip of a lifetime no matter where you go.

kate storm sitting on a garden wall in taormina sicily overlooking the ionian sea, one of the best places to visit in italy summer
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Top Summer Destinations Across Europe

Specifically, the region of Andalusia in southern Spain

Andalucia, a region in southern Spain, has some of Europe's most stunning coastline and is a popular tourist destination for beach-goers.

Andalusia, the southernmost region of Spain, is known for its picturesque landscapes and whitewashed villages, as well as its abundance of warm weather and abundant sunshine.

The Costa del Sol, which stretches from Malaga to Gibraltar, is Andalucia's most well-known stretch of coastline.

Some of Europe's best sandy beaches can be found here, which is saying something because sandy beaches are by no means a given across the continent (pebble beaches, while attractive, are more common).

Plus, the cost of a vacation in Andalucia is much lower than it would be along the coasts of neighboring countries like France or Italy.

Though Andalucia's inland cities are less ideal places to visit in Europe in summer, they can still be excellent additions to a trip to southern Spain if you're willing to brave the heat. Beautiful cities like Seville and Granada (home to the famous Alhambra) are scorching hot during the summer months.

Nerja Beach in Andalucia Spain from above, one of the best summer destinations in Europe

Located in Dalmatia, Croatia

Croatia's sparkling coastline has catapulted it from a popular summer destination for Europeans to widespread international fame in recent decades (okay, the coastline and Game of Thrones).

We will never tire of visiting this beautiful stretch of Europe's coast because it is one of our favorite places in the world.

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There's no denying that a summer vacation spent exploring the historic sites of Dubrovnik's city walls, seeing the sights at Split's Diocletian's Palace, or swimming off the coasts of Hvar and Korula is an unforgettable experience.

To satisfy your inner sailor, Croatia's 79 islands are a must-see.

View of Hvar Town from Spanish Fort with Pakleni Islands in the distance, one of the best things to do in Hvar Croatia

A region of Portugal known as the Algarve

The Algarve, in Portugal's southwestern corner, is a once-secret European summer destination that has experienced rapid growth in recent years.

The Algarve's rising popularity can be attributed in large part to the region's rugged beauty, low prices (which, it should be noted, are rising as fast as popularity), and phenomenal rock formations along the coast.

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Though you can find charming towns like Lagos, as well as pretty cities like Faro, Portugal, and plenty of sandy beaches here, the real attractions are the sea caves, arches, and rocky cliffs that give the Algarve a unique beauty among the other best places to visit in Europe in summer

Although the beaches in the Algarve are beautiful, you should know that the water is typically much cooler than in other popular summer destinations.

Anyone from the north will be relieved to jump in the water, but those used to warmer climates may feel the water is too cool for swimming.

View of small beach on Algarve Coast in Portugal with a sailboat in the distance and rocky cliffs jutting out to sea

Place: Sicily, Italy

Visit the southernmost part of Italy in the summertime, and you won't be disappointed.

The island of Sicily is a great place to spend a European summer road trip because it has fantastic Italian beach towns, excellent food and wine, a stunning volcano, and remarkably low prices (especially in comparison to much of the rest of Italy).

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The beaches of Cefalu and Avola, the picturesque villages of the Val di Noto, the lively streets of Palermo, and the Greek theater and breathtaking views of Taormina are not to be missed.

To fully appreciate Sicily's summer splendor, visitors should spend some time in Siracusa, the Aeolian Islands, and Agrigento's Valley of the Temples.

Cefalu Cathedral with a vespa parked in front of it, one of the best things to see on a Sicily road trip itinerary

A region of southeastern France known as Provence

Provence has been a classic European summer destination for decades, and with good reason. The region is home to vast lavender fields, charming small villages, and some of the world's best farmer's markets.

Travel between the middle of June and the middle of July to see the lavender fields at their peak.

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There is still plenty to see and do in Provence, even if you can't make it during lavender season.

Moreover, the natural beauty of Provence is not limited to the region's famed lavender fields; the Verdon Gorge and Calanques National Park are also must-sees in the region.

Kate in a blue skirt in Goult, France. There's a stone building with blue shutters to her left, and she's facing away from the camera. Goult is one of the best places to visit in the south of France.

Traveling Along Italy's Amalfi Coast

Italy's best coastline has been one of Europe's most desirable vacation spots for centuries, drawing everyone from Roman emperors to Hollywood's Golden Age stars to modern tourists.

It is easy to see why visitors have always been drawn to these shores, with their dramatic cliffs, azure waters, famous cuisine, eye-catching art, and beautiful villages.

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Contrary to popular belief, this "beach" destination is more known for its dramatic landscapes than its traditional beaches, though there are a few of each available.

Despite the fact that Capri is not technically a part of the Amalfi Coast, it deserves to be mentioned alongside the other famous islands in the area.

To fully appreciate the Amalfi Coast, you must also see its most famous neighbor.

Cliffs of Capri with bright blue water and boats visible to the left. Definitely consider a visit here when planning a trip to Italy!

Riviera de France, France

It is safe to say that the French Riviera and the Amalfi Coast are two of Europe's most recognizable summer vacation spots.

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From St The French Riviera, from St. Tropez to Cannes to Nice to Menton and beyond, is famous for its opulent beaches, breathtaking scenery, charming old towns, and fleets of luxurious yachts.

Day trips to Monaco, one of the world's smallest countries, are feasible for tourists visiting the French Riviera.

harbor of st tropez in the south of france road trip itinerary

Turkey's Turquoise Coast

The stunning Turquoise Coast of Turkey, also called the Turkish Riviera, stretches along the country's southwestern coast between the Aegean and Mediterranean seas.

The Turquoise Coast is an underrated summer destination perfect for those looking to get off the beaten path in Europe (or, in this case, near Europe) with its picturesque small towns, majestic ruins (including Ephesus), and almost shockingly low prices as compared to other nearby beach destinations.

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Half of Istanbul and the western part of Turkey are the only parts of the country that are actually on the European continent.

However, we feel it's important to include the Turquoise Coast on this list of the best summer destinations in Europe... just in case it tempts you to add it to your plans.

Beach of Oludeniz on Turkey's Turquoise Coast from above, one of the best places to visit in Europe in summer

Ireland

When it comes to summertime European vacations, Ireland is always near the top of our list.

The Emerald Isle is stunning in the summer, despite the fact that it is not a traditional beach vacation spot (I've spent more summer days in Ireland in raincoats than in bathing suits).

The chances of seeing a sunny day in Ireland are at their highest in late spring and summer.

And when you add in the incredible scenery, delicious food, and charming towns like Doolin and Cobh, it's easy to see why so many people fall in love with Ireland.

While the Ring of Kerry and the Cliffs of Moher will undoubtedly be busy, Ireland as a whole can be a great place to escape Europe's crowded beach towns in the summer.

It's not hard to find stunning locations on Ireland that you'll have all to yourself, even in the peak summer months of June, July, and August (and if you need a hand, check out some of Ireland's hidden gems).

Kate Storm and Jeremy Storm standing in front of the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland shortly before sunset

Slovenia

Due to its relatively short coastline, Slovenia is often passed over in favor of its neighbor Croatia for a European summer vacation. However, this tiny country has everything from a charming seaside to dramatic mountaintops, and it should not be missed.

Even after just one summer visit, Slovenia has become one of our favorite countries to explore, and we think anyone interested in seeing stunning natural scenery should plan a road trip through Slovenia.

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Slovenia is stunning in every way, from the justifiably famous Lake Bled to the breathtaking hikes in Triglav National Park to the stunning beauty of the Soca River Valley.

There's also a lot to see and do in the country's cities, such as the coastal resort town of Piran and hip Ljubljana.

Slovenia is most easily accessed through Venice; consequently, a trip to Slovenia and Italy can be easily combined.

Piran Slovenia as seen from above. Piran is one of the best places to visit in Slovenia

Islands of Greece

The many islands of Greece are an iconic European summer destination, boasting a seemingly endless number of islands, only a few hundred of which are inhabited.

It's hard to decide where to go, but popular destinations include Mykonos, with its windmills and its vibrant nightlife, and Santorini, with its iconic whitewashed villages and blue cliffs.

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Corfu should be on your list of potential destinations because of its stunning beaches, interesting Venetian history, close proximity to Albania, and convenient flight connections to other European destinations.

Crete, the largest island in Greece, is another excellent option thanks to its many attractions, which range from ancient fortresses to some of the country's finest beaches.

Consider chartering a sailboat (with or without a captain) and exploring a number of European islands for a once-in-a-lifetime summer experience.

Kate Storm in a white shirt and blue jeans overlooking the blue domes of Oia in Santorini--this island is incredible and worth visiting as part of your 2 weeks in Europe!

Spain's Balearic Islands

The Balearic Islands Archipelago is located off the east coast of Spain, so you've probably heard of it even if you haven't heard the name.

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Ibiza, the world-famous island of wild nightlife and hedonistic excess, is located in the Mediterranean. Mallorca, the beautiful and popular Spanish island, and the Menorca, which is a bit less well-known, is among many others.

The Balearic Islands are a great place to start your search for some of Spain's most beautiful beach towns.

The Balearic Islands of Spain are a popular European summer vacation destination, and they feature everything from beautiful beaches and quaint villages to quiet coves and breathtaking vistas for those who prefer a more sedate getaway.

Soller Mallorca from above, with sailboats parked in the brightly covered bay. Mallorca is one of the best road trips in Europe!

Italy's Cinque Terre

If you're willing to brave the crowds, the five villages of Cinque Terre, located on Italy's Ligurian coast, are among the most beautiful places to visit in Europe during the summer.

The five villages of Cinque Terre are a popular tourist destination due to their picturesque harbors, the high quality of the local pesto and seafood, and the amazing hiking opportunities available in the area.

If you ask us, Monterosso al Mare has the best beach, and Vernazza and Manarola have the best views.

View of Vernazza Harbor from Above: One Day in Cinque Terre Itinerary

British Isles

From the wilds of the Scottish Highlands to the tranquility of the Cotswolds, from the excitement of London and the quaintness of Cambridge to the sandy shores of Brighton, Britain has a wide range of stunning landscapes and cities to explore. The summer is the best time to visit the United Kingdom because of the (relative) warmth and sunshine.

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Although the United Kingdom is not known for its pleasant climate, the summer months offer the best chance of seeing sunshine.

Whether you're interested in taking a scenic train ride through the countryside or driving on one of the best routes in the United Kingdom, you're in luck. ), you're guaranteed to have a trip to remember

White Cliffs of Dover in southern England, one of the best summer destinations in Europe

Location: Montenegro's Bay of Kotor

You could be forgiven for thinking you were gazing out over a fjord when you gaze across the stunning Montenegrin Bay of Kotor.

The towns along the Bay of Kotor in Croatia are only two hours away from the tourist mecca of Dubrovnik, and they offer a remarkably similar experience to that of its more famous neighbor, but at much lower prices and with much fewer visitors.

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Amazing Kotor (while there, don't forget to scale San Giovanni's Fortress) Perast, Tivat, and other nearby towns provide a glimpse into a picturesque part of the Balkans.

Even though Kotor is becoming more of a cruise ship destination, the bay itself is still peaceful.

This summer, if you're planning a road trip to Montenegro, don't limit yourself to just the bay; the Tara River Canyon and Durmitor National Park are also excellent options.

Bay of Kotor Montenegro as seen from a hike above Kotor, one of the best places to visit in Europe in summer

The Albanian Coastline

The Albanian Riviera is one of the more unusual summer destinations for visitors from outside of Europe.

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However, the Albanian Riviera has a lot to offer, including stunning beaches, a wide variety of beach towns, and shockingly low prices in comparison to most of these European summer destinations.

Corfu, Greece is easily accessible by air and is only a 30-minute ferry ride from the town of Sardana along the Albanian Riviera, whereas flights into Albania can get pricey (and many arrive in the capital of Tirana, far from the best beaches).

Albanian Riviera as seen from above with a boat in the distance and mountains in the background, one of the best places to vacation in Europe summer

Iceland

Summer in Iceland is like a different world altogether.

Natural hot springs, lupine fields that go on forever, glaciers, unbelievable verdant landscapes, and otherworldly waterfalls can all be found in this region.

From horseback riding through majestic landscapes to snorkeling between tectonic plates to soaking in some of the world’s most beautiful hot springs to staring out over the golden light of the midnight sun long past an average person’s bedtime, taking an Iceland road trip in the summer is an unforgettable experience

Midnight sun, less snow, and warmer weather (though you'll still want to bundle up) make summer a great time to visit, even if you miss out on seeing the famous northern lights. ) make a summer trip to this beautiful country something truly unique.

We fell in love with Iceland in the summer, and it's well worth a visit even if you only have a short amount of time to spare.

Sunset over waterfalls in Iceland, one of the best places to visit in Europe in summer

Italy's Puglia Region

Puglia, a region in southern Italy, is known for its beautiful beaches, whitewashed villages, and delicious food (especially seafood and orecchiette pasta).

Alberobello, the village most associated with Puglia due to its iconic trulli architecture, is not located along the coast.

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Although Puglia has long been a favorite among European tourists, it is increasingly gaining notoriety elsewhere, and rightfully so.

The upcoming summer will find me in Puglia.

The spooky city of Matera, technically in the neighboring region of Basilicata but often included in itineraries to Puglia, is well worth a detour.  

Poglinano al Mare Beach in Puglia Italy

Countries of the Faroes

The Faroe Islands are extremely far away from anywhere else in Europe, but if you're looking for a unique and breathtaking summer getaway (and you don't mind the cold) you should definitely consider going there.

There are 18 islands that make up this autonomous administrative region of Denmark, and they are situated (very) roughly in the middle of the distance between Iceland and Norway.

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Some of the best bird-watching in the world can be found here (hello, puffins), and there are breathtaking ocean views, towering cliffs, and crashing waterfalls. If you're looking for somewhere truly one-of-a-kind to visit (and I'm sure you are! ), look no further than the Faro

They are truly magnificent, but can only be experienced by those with a substantial amount of money (prices are said to be on par with Norway, arguably the most expensive country to visit in Scandinavia) and a great deal of determination.

Waterfall into the ocean as seen on the Faroe Islands, one of the best summer places to visit in Europe

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So, get ready for the masses!

As many of these coastal European destinations attest, summer is Europe's busiest and most touristic season.

A summer trip to Europe can be fantastic, but it also means fighting through more tourists and paying higher prices than you would at any other time.

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Don't go to the beach in August if you can help it.

The month of August is peak season for beach vacations in Europe, making hotel and restaurant prices skyrocket.

We strongly advise planning ahead for your entire European beach vacation in August, from your hotel to your rental car.

View of fortress near Dubrovnik as seen from town walls, with Adriatic Sea in the foreground--when deciding whether to visit Split or Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik wins on views of the city itself!

Think of the in-between times of the year

We recommend September over May if you want to experience European summer without dealing with the crowds of June, July, and August.

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Although either month is fine, many of Europe's top tourist destinations are at their most summery in September, and the water is usually warmer then, having had the entire season to warm up.

We love Europe in September, and you can't go wrong with a late-summer vacation then.

Mill in Rastoke Croatia with a waterfall underneath it, an unforgettable sight on this Croatia in 10 days Croatia itinerary

Make reservations in advance, especially when visiting smaller cities.

It's reasonable to assume that, due to the aforementioned influx of visitors, hotel rooms will be snapped up more quickly than in other months.

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Booking early is recommended for some of Europe's most popular summer destinations, including the Amalfi Coast, Santorini, Mykonos, and other Greek islands with a limited number of hotels, such as Cinque Terre.

Smaller destinations fill up quickly because there is a scarcity of lodging and because most of the hotels there are small, family-run properties with only a few rooms.

Kate Storm and Jeremy Storm on a balcony overlooking Positano

And not just for hotels

If you're going to Europe in the summer, you should not only book your hotel ahead of time, but also your tickets to the most popular attractions, such as the Colosseum and the Eiffel Tower, so you can avoid the long lines.

Don't forget that popular attractions like the Alhambra and the Borghese Gallery sell out months in advance due to high demand and limited capacity.

Preparation for a trip to Europe during its busiest times is essential.

Get Your Guide is where we go for our skip-the-line tickets and numerous tours, and Take Walks is where we go for our favorite specialized tours.

Glass of red wine being held up against sky, Honeymoon in Santorini

Take care of your stuff.

Pickpockets are a problem wherever you go, but in Europe's most popular tourist destinations like the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum, and the Acropolis, the summertime influx of tourists makes these landmarks easy targets for cunning thieves.

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The more people there are, the more careful you should be, and this applies to pretty much any tourist hotspot that sees tens of thousands of visitors each year.

Be mindful of your belongings in crowded areas as you explore Europe this summer, and think about bringing an anti-theft backpack like the one we use and love.

Kate Storm in a gray dress standing in Rue de l'Universite in Paris with the Eiffel Tower behind her

Put on some sunscreen!

Even if you don't go to the beach, you can still get a sunburn and lose track of time in one of the world's most beautiful cities.

If you can, bring your own hat and sunscreen to the beach or other coastal area.

Sunscreen on European beaches will cost you a pretty penny, as it will almost anywhere else in the world.

Small boats parked near a rocky shore on the Pakleni Islands, one of the best things to do in Hvar

You might want to plan most of your sightseeing for off-peak times.

If you're traveling through Europe in the middle of summer, try to get an early start on the day, take a break in the afternoon (like the Spanish siesta or the Italian riposo), and resume your sightseeing in the late afternoon or early evening.

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This way, you can maximize the more pleasant time of day while avoiding the worst of the heat and crowds.

Of course, if you don't want to, you don't have to sleep in the afternoon; that's a great time to visit a museum with air conditioning or go to the beach.

Plitvice Lakes National Park Croatia postcard view from above with lakes in the center surrounded by trees, a must-see on your 10 day trip to Croatia!

Not every building has air conditioning.

Summertime in Europe is a great time to visit, but before you book your hotel or apartment, make sure it has the amenities you need.

Having air conditioning isn't always the norm in Europe, but we've found that it's often a necessity.

Kate Storm standing on a bridge in Seville Spain with her back to the camera--Seville makes an excellent stop on a Europe road trip!

Dress appropriately for the church service.

While the extent to which visitors to churches must cover their bodies varies across the continent, it is a good idea to bring at least one outfit that does so.

Shorts that end at or below the knee are generally acceptable for men, but not always.

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When planning your itinerary for a summer trip to any of the European destinations on this list, remember to pack appropriately for the weather.

What a bummer it would be if you were denied entry to a church tour because you were improperly attired for the weather!

4 photos of Europe: provence, ibiza, santorini, cliffs of moher, with black and red text on a white background that reads "17 epic summer destinations in europe"
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