Europe is one of the most popular summer vacation destinations for good reason: incredible weather, fun cultural activities, close proximity to beautiful waters, and some of the most amazing food in the world can all be found there. With so many cities on the continent, it can be hard to choose just one. Here are five top cities in Europe that are perfect for visiting during the summertime.
While Paris is a popular French destination year round, Beaune offers much of the magic and charm of the famed city without all of the intense crowds. Summer is a peak tourism season in France, especially in Paris, and Beaune is a great alternative that doesn’t feel like second best. Nestled in the center of the Burgundy region, which is famous for its wines, Beaune is surrounded by gorgeous architecture, great restaurants, and artisan boutiques.
History buffs and art lovers will enjoy touring the area’s ancient landmarks, battlements, and moats. The Beffroi clock tower, church of Notre Dame, and les Halles market are all historical must-sees. This city also hosts a remarkable number of exquisite hotels and excellent restaurants — who needs Paris when you can have an amazing stay in France without the crowds and higher price tag?
2. St. Moritz, Switzerland
Most know St. Moritz as one of the world’s top winter vacation spots for the wealthy, but it’s an amazing place to tour during the summer as well. As the ice fades, beautiful landscapes are revealed in the warmer months and the hillsides become lush and sunny. If you’re someone who wants a European vacation that’s not packed with tourists, St. Moritz, Switzerland is ideal — few people come here during the summer not because there’s little to offer, but because the city has a reputation as a winter season playground.
In addition to the natural scenery in St. Moritz, Switzerland, you”ll find lovely shops, restaurants with delicious food, and hotel accommodations that are well-appointed and designed for comfort and rejuvenation. Don’t forget to spend time at the beautiful St. Moritz Lake during your summer visit.
3. Lisbon, Portugal
Many people tout Spain as a must-visit European destination, but right next door is Lisbon, Portugal. Because of how close it is to the coast, this capital city is perfect for summertime visitors who want to get plenty of sun and time in the water. There are many renowned museums in Libson as well, such as the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, which has incredible gardens, visual art collections, orchestra ensembles, and cultural exhibits.
Foodies will appreciate the many cafes that dot Libson’s streets, as well as the restaurants that serve dishes featuring bold flavors and exotic spices. Historic and cultural sites in this Portuguese city that are fun to see during summer include Sao Jorge Castle, Carmo Convent, and the Libson Oceanarium.
4. Isle of Skye, Scotland
Outdoor enthusiasts and those looking for a peaceful, relaxing summer vacation should definitely consider visiting Isle of Skye, Scotland. It’s hard to find natural landscapes as stunning as the ones in this European city, and the welcoming vibe of Isle of Skye makes it all the more enjoyable.
You can take a hike around the rugged terrain, go fishing, or tour the area’s quaint villages and shops. There’s even medieval castles that are wonderful to see year round, but most comfortable to tour during summer. Isle of Skye, Scotland’s restaurants are definitely enhanced by being so close to the harbor — the views are truly breathtaking and memorable during the summer seasons.
Rugen Island, Germany is true gem. The Baltic seaside resort town has just about everything you could want for the perfect summer getaway: great beaches, excellent hotels, and plenty of activities that will allow you to take full advantage of the wonderful warm weather. It’s also Germany’s largest island and is connected to the mainland via the Rugen Causeway and Rugen Bridge.
Rugen Island is home to Jasmund National Park, which is known around the world for its towering cliffs and fantastic scenery. Cape Arkona is also here and contains old world ruins, historic sites, and the area’s famed lighthouse. If you’ve ever wanted to see a classic German fishing village, Rugen Island, Germany is a stop that you just have to make on your vacation. This city definitely has the perfect mix of old world charm and modern conveniences.
Nathaniel Berman is Managing Editor of Moneyinc