Hello and welcome! Are you still looking for a place to spend your summer holiday? Then came to the right place! In this post, travel bloggers (and me) will share their best summer destinations in Europe with you. If you don’t know which vacation to book afterwards, it might be due to being overwhelmed but not by feeling uninspired!
Lago Di Garda – Italy
Almost any place in Italy is, without a doubt, one of the top destinations for a summer holiday. (It could possibly appear on this post more than once) but one place actually swept me off my feet: Lago Di Garda is, without doubt, one of the top summer destinations of Europe. It might not be a classical beach vacation, but it offers amazing sunny weather, a lake to go for a swim, picturesque Italian towns, and most importantly: Gelato.
Where to Stay in Lago di Garda, Italy
My favorite place to stay at Lago di Garda is the small town of Malcesine, Italy. The charming town is located on the northern side of the lake. It is filled with cafés, bars, and restaurants and it was our favorite thing to have an aperitif after a long day spent at the lake side while watching tourists admiring Malcesine. After one or two Aperol we would have some pizza or pasta, followed by an Averna before we would walk home, not before having some gelato as a dessert.
What to do at Lago di Garda
Want to learn more about Lago di Garda? Check out 5 Experiences not to miss at Lago di Garda but let me already give you a little spoiler: the wonderful lake with the breathtaking mountain scenery will invite you to do a little bit more than just enjoying the dolce vita. I went swimming in the lake every day and it is actually fascinating to observe how fast the lake’s water gets colder and colder with each meter you bring between you and the shore. That’s because Lago di Garda is so incredibly deep that only the areas closest to the land get warmed up by the sun. Actually to this day, it is not sure what is actually going on the lake’s ground, because it is just too deep.
Anyway, let’s talk about more things to do in Malcesine. You can also learn how to windsurf, go paragliding or for the less adventure-seeking guys: rent a stand-up paddle for a few hours and try to see if you can find and hold your balance. Furthermore, I can’t recommend it enough to go for a candlelight dinner in Riva del Garda. The small town reminded me of Venice, Italy and its best restaurants are directly next to the lake. I had the most amazing risotto there while looking directly upon the lake.
Barcelona – Spain by Emma from Emma Adventures!
Barcelona is the beating heart of Spain, and the perfect destination to visit in summer. With incredible art, architecture, beaches and good food (don’t forget the sangria!), Barcelona is the perfect summer paradise! Spend your mornings admiring the impressive architecture of Gaudi, and wandering the Gothic Quarter, before heading down to Barcelonetta Beach to laze in the sun and eat ice-cream. Catch a soccer game at Camp Nou Stadium, and fill up on delicious Tapas at the Mercardo de La Boqueria, an authentic Spanish market.
If you are looking to get off the beaten bath during your summer getaway, why not stay on a Finca close to Barcelona, for an authentic farm stay experience that you won’t forget. In summer the streets are filled with street performers and good vibes, lined with markets and pop up bars. The best thing about Barcelona is that there is something for everyone, and you will never get bored. It’s the perfect destination for a summer getaway, so get packing.
Recommended: Free Things to do in Barcelona!
Sicily by Marjut from The Smooth Escape
Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, is the perfect romantic summer getaway and offers an abundance of activities for every kind of traveller.
One of the best things about the island is its amazing beaches. With more than a 1000 kilometers of coastline, there’s no shortage of secluded pebbly coves and stretches of sandy beaches. My personal favourite is Spiaggia di San Vito Lo Capo which boasts a long strip of soft white sand and some of the clearest waters I’ve ever seen!
Aside from the beaches, Sicily is home to some incredibly picturesque towns. Admire the baroque churches of Ragusa Ibla, stroll along the charming waterfront promenades in Ortigia, or relax at the medieval seaside resort Cefalu. I also highly recommend visiting a small fishing village called Marzamemi. With its vibrantly decorated houses, beautiful beachside restaurants and quaint piazzas, this place just can’t get more idyllic!
Another reason to visit Sicily is its food. The island offers an exciting culinary scene with lots of local specialties such as arancini, cannoli and granita which you simply can’t miss! Also, the pasta dishes in Sicily are just phenomenal. For a unique dinner experience, try spaghetti with squid ink.
If you’re up for some hiking, climb Mount Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe. Its steaming landscape, massive craters, and the views over the surrounding areas are nothing short of incredible!
I can’t think about any better summer days than those I had in Provence, France. Our two days in Valensole were clearly some of the most amazing in my entire life. Dancing my day away in the lavender and sunflower fields before exploring charming French villages and having a siesta next to a breathtaking lake. I couldn’t stop smiling that day. Also make sure to visit it when the lavender is in full bloom, which is usually from the beginning of July – mid July only!
Where to stay in Provence
If you want to get the full Valensole experience try to book in advance and get accommodation in Valensole. If you want to save some money on accommondation, check out Manosque for cheaper hotels. It might be a bit more off, but I like to stay cheaper every now and then.
What to do in Provence
Of course the main thing you want to see in Provence is the lavender. Seeing this lilac dream of a weed covering the hills of Valensole was seriously like a wild fantasy. It smells so incredibly great that you will never forget that again.
Valensole was the first place we ever took a drone to. We used a rented drone from GearFlix and loved it so much I bought a drone on my own afterwards. The lavender fields are amazing for taking some drone shots, but only use it right after sunrise. There are many bees and bugs around the fields who will attack the drone (it was a true bug massacre). Right after sunrise, the bugs tend to be a bit sleepier than around noon.
The next best thing we did on this day was visiting Moustiers-Sainte-Marie the most picturesque French town you can imagine. There is a waterfall falling through the town and all the houses are painted in pastel colors. If I would design a cute little French town, it would look exactly like this.
We also took a break from taking pictures and just relaxed a bit when we arrived at the Lac de Sainte-Croix where we relaxed for a while, before driving back through the lavender fields.
Above all, make sure to have a nice place to watch the sunset. Seeing the sunset over the lavender fields is truly breathtaking.
Ibiza by James & Anh from Team AJ Travels
Ibiza in the Balearic Islands of Spain is a world famous party spot during the summer. It has been an annual tradition for decades for the worlds most high profile DJs to flock to the island to take up residencies in some of the biggest and best super clubs on the planet. There is a suite of world-class talent on offer every night! Monday to Thursday being the biggest nights while the rest of Europe grinds through it’s work week.
Aside from the nightlife there is diverse mix of interesting places to visit and activities to enjoy:
- You can walk the streets of the old Spanish town of Dalt Vila. A two thousand year old city that has a unique mix of traditional buildings mixed with modern, high-end commercial stores.
- Towering above it all is Ibiza Castle. It is a challenging walk to get up there after a big night! But it offers unrivalled views of Ibiza Town and the harbour.
- When you want a break from the busier towns you can hire a car and spend a day driving around the island. There are some stunning beaches on offer in pockets that cater more to family travellers than the party crowd.
- Cala Tarida and Cala Llonga are both worth a day trip, and if you headed further south you could catch a glimpse of the beautiful rock formation of Es Vedra.
- With boat cruises, water sports, horse back riding and hiking also available you can see that there is far more to a vacation in this renowned party spot.
Porto – Portugal
To me, Portugal is one of the most amazing places for travelers who wish to spend their summer vacation in a place where they have many things to explore and discover. My time in Porto was filled with marvelous architecture, delicious food, breathtaking beaches, and I long to go back and discover more of that wonderful country for myself. I promise to you: Once you had your first Pastéi de Nata, a traditional Portuguese pastry, Portugal will forever have a special place in your heart.
Where to Stay in Porto
I decided to make Porto the base of my trip to Portugal. From there I was able to go on smaller and bigger day trips and enjoy city life for a few days. I stayed at the Travel & Live Hostel and had the most amazing time! Check them out, they are simply perfect for a stay in Porto, as they are super central. It is just a few steps away from the Capela das Almas de Santa Catarina, one of Porto’s most famous sights. The hostel itself is spacious, super clean and I met some awesome people there! If you are not used to staying in a hostel, make sure to have a look at my hostel packing list, just to make sure, you don’t forget to bring something important!
What to do in Porto
The beaches of Porto will sweep you off your feet, I promise. I spent three days visiting different beaches and none of them failed to amaze me; one even had a church on it! Have you ever seen a church on a beach? You can also go on a day trip to Aveiro to visit the most colorful town you can imagine! Don’t forget to go for a swim too; it is not every day that you get to swim in the Atlantic ocean. If you are not keen to go far by train, go for Porto’s ocean walk and their old tram. You might even spot one or two lighthouses!
Despite the beaches, Porto offers some of the most incredible highlights and sights to see! What it might be the most famous for are all the pretty blue tiles. You can find them everywhere in Porto. There are some awesome churches around town and some beautiful ones in the main station that are very much worth a visit! Despite this, it is the most awesome thing to get lost in all the little alleys of Porto before crossing its most iconic bridge the Ponte Dom Luís I, and walking the Gaia Promenade. Oh, and don’t forget: never miss a sunset in Porto.
When it comes to food, the Portuguese know what they are doing. I mentioned the Pastéi de Nata before but there is much more that you shouldn’t miss! Above all, you need to try some Port wine, which is produced in the area around Porto. Furthermore, you should also try some traditional fish, the so-called bacalhau!
Cotswold by Darek & Gosia
Looking for a unique summer destination in Europe? While all your friends go to Spain or France you can try something different this year. Head out to the United Kingdom as there is nothing better than exploring Cotswolds villages during great British summer!
Cotswolds AONB, the area of outstanding natural beauty, is visited by millions of tourists every year. It is also one of the favourites spots in England amongst Brits – it’s not hard to see why! Spending a week in the Cotswolds is an enjoyable experience as this historical part of England is filled with culture and amazing sights – from the stunning Bourton-on-the-Water to lovely Chipping Campden – this part of England is a truly fascinating and a must visit place during summer holiday in Europe.It is also worth visiting Castle Combe, named one of the best villages in Cotswolds!
So, are you ready for your summer adventure in Europe?
Santorini – Greece
Imagine this: you are wearing a long flowy dress and a nice stray hat on your head. You are sipping on a Greek wine while eating something with Feta. The sun just set and it is still warm. You look at the scenery of white houses sitting directly across the ocean. Life is good. Yes, you are for sure in Santorini. Seriously, is there a better place for summer vacation than this picturesque paradise called Santorini? Of course, there are many places in Greece that are very much worth a visit, that I yet have to discover. But of course, Santorini could be the most famous one.
Where to Stay in Santorini
I spent more than a week in Santorini and I decided to spend half the time in Kamari and half in Oía. Kamari is especially famous for its black beach and I enjoyed spending hours in the shade and reading. Oía is the town with the blue domes which is the most famous place in Santorini. Although I enjoyed my time in both places to the absolute fullest, I also suggest you stay in Fira, as it is more central. From there you can go on day trips more easily and explore the whole island.
What to do in Santorini
Of course, you have to explore Oía. That’s a no-brainer. When you do so, please make sure to respect other people’s property by not walking on someone’s roof or church. As I already mentioned, you should visit the black beaches of Santorini in Kamari and Perissa. In the island’s south, you can also find an ancient city that was once buried due to volcanic activity. It is very interesting to visit it as you can exactly see how people used to live there. Apart from this village you can also see a prettier thing: a red sanded beach, which might be one of the most picturesque things I was able to witness!
Puglia, Italy by Merryl from Merryl’s Travels and Trick
The region of Puglia in the southern part of Italy is among the prettiest in the country. You will find some of the most beautiful beaches, natural pools and unique city centers, many that have been certified by UNESCO as World Heritage sites in this lesser known region of Italy.
Since I moved to Italy in 2017, Puglia is one region I have been visiting every summer. The region is well connected by public transportation which makes traveling internally pretty easy. The region also boasts of some delicious local fare. Cheese like Burrata and Stracciatella di Buffala are also originally from the region and can be found at little stores around the towns.
Places you must visit include the Grotta Della Poesi- a natural pool formed in a huge rock formation right next to the Adriatic Sea, the Bauxite Caves which are found near the city of Otranto, Alberobello which is known for it’s unique city center, Cala Porto beach in the dreamy town of Polignano a Mare and the sandy beaches of Gallipoli among many others.
Mallorca – Spain
Oh, Mallorca. I talked about it countless times and it never fails to amaze me. This wonderful little island in the Mediterranean sea will take your breath away. From the Serra de Tramuntana in the North to Palma in the West, to the beautiful beaches in the East, to the matas in the south: there is so much to do on this island and the Mallorca Bucket List is long. A vacation in Mallorca will be filled with amazing seafood, tan lines, salty breezes, and sandy toes.
Where to Stay in Mallorca
Where to stay in Mallorca completely depends on your preferred style of vacation! If you like to have a bit more people around, I would stay in Palma. I love to stay in traditional Mallorquin farmhouses the so-called Fincas. If you want to learn more about them check out these 5 reasons why you need to book your Finca vacation right now. Of course, if you are into drinking, check out Cala Ratjada. No matter where you stay, consider getting a rental car, so you can explore more of the island than just the area you stay in.
What to do in Mallorca
There are quite a few things to do and amazing many ways of how to explore Mallorca. Make sure to explore the Serra de Tramuntana. It is a beautiful area filled with olive and orange trees and the most amazing fresh air that tastes like pine trees. Furthermore, you shouldn’t miss the most amazing beach the Cala Mesquida in the South West. It is the perfect place for lunch. Besides this, I also love to visit the wonderful markets for all kinds of shopping! There you can find your produce for your dinner or also some nice summer dresses!
Special Tip: My mother has her own wine shop, dedicated to selling wines from Mallorca. Check out her shop, if you are keen to find that one wine, you had with your pimientos de Padron!
Hvar Island in Croatia by Martina & Jürgen from Places of Juma!
A fantastic place to spend a summer vacation in Europe is definitely the breath-taking beautiful island of Hvar in Croatia. Why? Since many years Hvar holding the mantle of the sunniest place in Croatia – perfect for all who love to soak up sun and get some nice tan! And on top, the beaches of Hvar are just amazingly beautiful. Located in the Adriatic-Sea most of them are pebble beaches, with crystal-clear water and surrounded by fragrant pine forests.
But that’s not all! This island is rich in cultural and historical heritage, has countless impressive sights and places to discover. There are lots of opportunities for exciting activities and unforgettable excursions. One of the highlights here is definitely Hvar Old Town, which insiders often refer as the most beautiful town in Croatia. Best to visit the famous Spanish fortress, from where you will enjoy one of the most beautiful views of the island.
Lugano by Imani from Imani Escapes
Lugano is a beautiful lakeside city in the Italian speaking Ticino region of Switzerland, sandwiched in between Lake Como and Lake Maggiore. It might be lesser known than its neighbours, but it is definitely worth exploring for its beauty alone, and makes a great summer holiday destination.
Lugano is easily reached by train from Milan, or by bus or ferry from Lake Como. You can also fly there directly. It is a sunny Swiss city with an Italian feel, full of pretty churches, coloured houses and narrow cobbled streets lined with bars and restaurants. It’s main draw is the lake, Lake Lugano, which is a centre of calm in the city. You can rent a boat or pedalo, take a cruise on the lake or have a swim at one of the beaches.
The lake is surrounded by lush green mountains, the closest of which are Monte San Salvatore and Monte Bre. You can easily visit both of these via funicular railway for unbeatable views of Lugano and the alps in the distance. Monte Bre is known as the sunniest mountain in Switzerland and has some great hiking routes via pretty Bre village. San Salvatore offers equally stunning views, mountain top dining and a hike to the pretty nearby village of Moorcote.
With the perfect mix of city, nature and lakeside views, Lugano is a perfect place to spend your next summer vacation!
Max Lewis3 years ago
Beautiful Mediterranean islands! What other to say after this amazing post and images?
I just hope this crisis will be over soon, so we could travel again.
Tiana Bantis3 years ago
I love all these destination ideas, I visit a few of them on my Europe trip in 2018 and the cities in Spain and Portugal I was supposed to visit this spring. So hoping to visit soon!
Olivia3 years ago
I can only imagine how hot some of these locations would be during the dog days of summer! so sign me up for any location near a beach! 🙂 These are some amazing places. I really like Santorini, we stayed outside of the town and was able to travel to see most of the island, including my favourite, an open-air cinema!
Rebecca3 years ago
Such a great list to keep in mind! The photos are so inviting.
Molly3 years ago
This list has several of my favorite spots for spring and summer in Europe! I would love to go back to Hvar, each time I have gone I was so happy with my choice due to the endless outdoor activities and waterfront fun. I have severely neglected the cultural aspect of this island and would enjoy going back to get a deeper appreciation of the heritage.
Cyclointuitio3 years ago
Hello Paula! Your article is nice and made me feel nostalgic mentioning 2 places where I used to live: Barcelona and Sicilia! I love Portugal too such a special and wonderful place… these days it seems like a dream to think about these destinations! I have never been to the Greek Islands… but Greece in summer is just amazing as most of tourists are going to the islands!!