Rather Than These Overcrowded Hotspots, Set Your Sights on the 7 Best Summer Destinations in Europe

Dreaming of a European summer getaway but dreading the crowds that await? Summer is the most popular time for travel in Europe, which means the masses come out in full force and businesses hike their prices to take advantage of the influx of travelers. But there’s one way to avoid all that heat: ditch the well-trod streets and enjoy some off-the-beaten-path destinations. The best places to travel in Europe this summer can actually be found away from the crowds, where visitors can immerse themselves in breathtaking landscapes, diverse cultures, and fun adventures. So, if you’re ready for your perfect European summer, here’s where to discover the true best summer destinations in Europe.

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Is It Worth Going to Europe in the Summer?

Summer in Europe hits the trifecta of hot, pricey, and overcrowded. But it also promises sunny skies, long days, and access to attractions that aren’t available in the sleepy off-season. And it’s worth noting that not all European destinations are overrun with summer crowds. While the masses flock to tried-and-true favorites in France and Italy, lesser-known destinations slip under the radar. In the end, planning makes perfect. Make reservations ahead of time, book activities in advance, and plan how to get around. As long as you know what you’re getting into, you can have the time of your life on a summer getaway in Europe, no matter the destination.

The Best Places in Europe to Travel to This Summer

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that all the best summer destinations in Europe are the ones you hear about time and again. The best places to travel in Europe this summer are still waiting to be discovered. So rather than these overcrowded hotspots, check out their alternatives for fewer crowds, lower prices, and a unique adventure you’ll be dying to tell your friends about.

Rather Than Paris, Try Budapest

Paris is undoubtedly for the romantics, but it’s far from the only romantic city in Europe. And if you happen to be looking for a summer destination that gives Parisian charms but without the crowds, you’re in luck. On the other side of the continent lies a country riddled with romanticism, from its cobblestone streets to its eclectic architecture. On the surface, Budapest presents a view similar to that of the City of Lights: sweeping riverside panoramas, enchanting architecture, and Michelin-starred eats. 

But dig deeper into the city, and you’ll discover a very different and unique vibe, one crafted by ruin bars that sit at the heart of Budapest’s nightlife, relaxing thermal baths that offer relief under the summer sun, and magnificent buildings that speak to Budapest’s storied history. Admire views of the Danube from Buda Castle or take an evening boat tour to see a lit-up Parliament building. The local markets and town baths are ripe for exploration and relaxation, while outside the city, spots like the picturesque city of Szentendre and the lavender fields of Tihany offer something different. 

Budapest promises an escape from the crowds of Paris and a more authentic experience of one of Europe’s most romantic cities and best summer destinations. 

Where to stay: For elegance in the heart of Budapest, check out the Corinthia Hotel. But if you desire a cozier stay, the Alice Hotel promises charms reminiscent of a French Villa.

Rather Than Prague, Try Ljubljana

There is something darkly enchanting about Prague, with its towering spires, gothic churches, and colorful baroque buildings. Admittedly, few cities could come close to capturing its charms. Still, it’s hard to deny the allure of Ljubljana as an alternative. Nestled below the towering Alps, the city calls to mind a quieter version of Prague. 

Red-roofed buildings sweep the city, and churches and castles in the baroque style dot the streets. The charming capital boasts its fair share of historical and architectural marvels amid stunning green oases that might seem out of place in a less-beguiling city. Summer cycling is a great way to take in all the unique charms, as Ljubljana ranks as one of the friendliest cycling cities in the world.  

Stroll along the picturesque Ljubljanica river that splits the city in half, wander the enchanting streets of Old Town, and explore the vibrant atmosphere of the city’s flea markets. Ljubljana is also the perfect base for day trips out and into the beauty of Slovenia. Take a scenic tour to the ever-popular Lake Bled, venture into Slovenia wine country in Brda, or head south to marvel at the wonders of Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle.

Where to stay: Dive into Ljubljana’s Art Noveau history at the Grand Hotel Union Eurostars or opt for a more retro stay at the One66 and enjoy nights hanging out at the eclectic Loft—bar, restaurant, and more—onsite.

Rather Than Lake Como, Try Lake Maggiore

Lake Como and Lake Maggiore may both be lakes outside Milan, but the similarities largely end there. And for those looking for a more relaxed summer destination in Europe, that’s for the best. 

Lake Como is known for its upscale resort vibes, dramatic scenery, and Renaissance architecture. Lake Maggiore is no less scenic than its sister lake but offers an entirely different vibe. Baroque, Art Nouveau, and Neoclassical mansions border the lake alongside opulent villas and grand castles. The Mediterranean climate means plants bloom year-round, from majestic palm trees to vibrant camellias. 

And as far as your summer destinations in Lake Maggiore go, the options are endless. Enter a Baroque fantasy on the Borromean Island of Isola Bella. In Stresa, grab a bite of gelato, admire historic houses, or head to Villa Pallavicino for shaded walking paths, exotic animals, and stunning blooms. And for incredible, panoramic views of the lake and fascinating ceramics museums, make time for a stop at the picturesque lake town of Laveno-Mombello.

Where to stay: In the heart of Stresa, pampered decadence awaits at Hotel Villa e Palazzo Aminta, with everything from handmade frescoes and whirlpool baths in the rooms to stunning views of the Borromeo Islands from the crystal and wrought-iron gazebo. For a cozy, fairytale-like retreat in Oggebbio, La Camelia d’Oro, will whisk nature lovers away to an enchanting botanical garden. And for a taste of belle epoque beauty with modern comforts, Grand Hotel des Iles Borromées & SPA does not disappoint.

Rather Than Istanbul, Try Sarajevo

Istanbul. The famous city straddling two continents with centuries-old history exudes mystery and intrigue, from the towering spires of its stunning mosques to the enchanting atmosphere of its open-air markets. While it’s near impossible to replicate that kind of magic and mystery, Sarajevo, the cultural capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is an enticing alternative. 

Another city with a storied past, Sarajevo is a tapestry of cultures that span multiple empires, including the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian. This fusion of cultures is why it’s often called the Jerusalem of Europe. Mosques, churches, and synagogues live mere steps away from one another. The food also reflects this blending of cultures, from Ćevapi and burek, with their Ottoman origins, to sweet Uštipci from the Balkans. 

The Old Town is the best place to appreciate Ottoman architecture and has its own bustling bazaar, Baščaršija. Dive into history with a trip to the ​​War Childhood Museum to learn about the Bosnian War, enjoy summer cultural events like the Sarajevo Film Festival, and appreciate the beauty of Sarajevo with a hike to Yellow Fortress for truly breathtaking views. 

Where to stay: Centuries of history await at the Isa Begov Hamam i Hotel. The handmade furniture decorated with 800-year-old Ottoman motifs will transport you back in time, while the hotel’s massage service and Turkish bath will melt away years of stress and leave you refreshed for adventure.

Rather Than Rome, Try Yerevan

People visit Rome for the art, the culture, and most of all, the history. Rome’s past bursts to life throughout the city, from the ruins of the Roman Colosseum to the columns of the Pantheon. With so many centuries of history, it might surprise some to learn that Rome is not the oldest city in Europe. That honor rests with the capital of Armenia, Yerevan. And though it doesn’t hold as many preserved ancient ruins as Rome, largely due to war and natural disasters, the city still holds a treasure trove of wonders for any history buff worth their salt.

Architecture is the bridge between Yerevan’s past and present, from the Urartian fortress of Erebuni built in 782 BC to the Cafesjian Center for the Arts established in 2009. But there is so much to discover about Yerevan that is old and new. Visit the Matenadaran to view ancient Armenian Manuscripts. Indulge in Yerevan’s cafe culture with a trip to the most beautiful coffee shop in the city, Lumen Coffee 1936. And take in the beauty of religious sites like the Katoghike, the oldest church in Yerevan, and the Blue Mosque, the last active mosque in the city. 

Most of all, it’s worth it to wander the streets of Yerevan and discover the things that make it special. Because while Yerevan doesn’t feel like a trip back in time to millennia ago, it does carry with it tendrils of the past that will hit you when you least expect it.  

Where to stay: For modern amenities and old-world charm, Grand Hotel Yerevan awaits, while those looking for a cozy stay in a traditional Yerevan house will find their heart’s desire at Villa Delenda.

Rather Than the Amalfi Coast, Try Ischia

Dramatic cliffs, centuries-old villas, and blue as far as the eye can see make the Amalfi Coast one of the best summer destinations in Europe. But for a quieter summer getaway that holds just as much character and stunning coastal views, Ischia is the perfect escape. 

Italy’s southern coast is a thing of beauty, but Ischia is a little slice of paradise. The volcanic island is located in the Gulf of Naples and just out of the way enough that it retains more of its authentic charms and pristine natural landscapes. Here, you can explore with room to breathe. 

Get a good look at all Ischia has to offer, from sea caves to epic views, out on the water with a boat tour in a traditional wooden gozzo. Or, take it all in from above with a hike up Mount Epomeo, the tallest mountain on the island. Head to Castello Aragonese for an unforgettable castle experience and enjoy a bite while suspended between the sky and the sea. Add in trips to the beach and relaxing dips in Ischia’s thermal hot springs, and you still only scratch the surface of what awaits you on this beautiful island. 

Where to stay: It’s hard to go wrong with places to stay. Regina Isabella is the place to go for a resort that promises to please everyone. In contrast, Villa Bina Sea Hotel is a modest accommodation with views reminiscent of the Amalfi Coast. And for a truly indulgent experience, Mezzatorre Hotel & Thermal Spa piles on luxury, with gorgeous suites, thermal hot springs, and exquisite fine dining.

Rather Than Greece, Try Montenegro

Greece is a stunning amalgamation of ancient history in its interior and epic beauty among its islands. But rather than trying to island hop your way through the summer crowds, a better option is out there, and its name is Montenegro.

This up-and-coming destination has it all: culture, history, and natural beauty. Influenced by its Slavic, Ottoman, and Mediterranean neighbors, Montenegro is rich in diversity, from its culture and traditional dances like the “kolo” to its distinct architectural marvels. Mediterranean villages dot the coast alongside Venetian monuments and Byzantine buildings like the Orthodox Temple of Christ’s Resurrection crowd the interior. Its cuisine reflects a rich tapestry of tastes, from Italian-flavored foods and wines to hearty Hungarian meals like goulash and Turkish-influenced sweets like baklava. Some must-see stops for your itinerary include Kotor’s Old Town and the fjord-like Bay of Kotor. The Budva Riviera beckons as a respite from the summer heat, or opt to head underground with an exploration of the Lipa Cave. 

With a combination of mountains, beaches, and jaw-dropping coastal routes, Montenegro is a sleeping giant in the way of summer getaways but should be on everyone’s list of top destinations in Europe. 

Where to stay: Kotor and Kotor Bay serve as a great base to explore Montenegro. Villa Duomo sits nestled within Old Town, and the brick-face walls and handcrafted furniture give an authentic, cozy vibe. For a 5-star experience worth every penny, the upscale One&Only Portonovi sits right on the bay with pampered amenities, including a private beach and hotel speedboats to explore the bay.

Fly to the Best Summer Destinations in Europe with Next Vacay

Whether you’re looking for a cultural deep-dive, an island getaway, or a city escape, summer is ripe for adventure, whether you stay close to home or venture abroad. And while the prices in Europe rise with the summer heat, you can take a load off with a deal from Next Vacay. Our team of deal hunters will do the heavy lifting to find the best prices, flexible dates, and convenient layovers to help you get the most out of your summer getaway. If you’re ready to explore the best places to travel in Europe this summer, sign up, sit back, and get ready to pack your bags. Europe awaits … with Next Vacay.

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