The days might be getting noticeably shorter and the crowds might be dispersing – but that doesn’t mean summer in Europe is coming to close. There’s still plenty of sun to be found if you know where to look. Whether you’re after balmy beaches or a relaxed city break, this is our pick of the best places for late summer sun in Europe.
Crete’s summers are long and warm, and there’s nothing better than kicking back at a beachside taverna and enjoying the last of the sun’s rays over plates of meze. For a glimpse of the island’s past, Crete’s Venetian and Turkish buildings are best-preserved in Chania; stroll around the narrow streets of the Old Town before taking a seat at a waterfront restaurant to enjoy the view of its lighthouse, one of the oldest in the world.
Warm days and cool nights make the end of summer the perfect time to go hiking in the Swiss mountains. You won’t be disappointed by the country’s enchanting scenery, with its fairytale-green hills, placid lakes and craggy mountains. Outside of high season you can be more flexible with your itinerary, so buy a Swiss Pass and head out to explore the towns.
Late summer is one of the best times to visit Budapest, when the usually crowded streets become calmer, giving you the opportunity to make the most of the city’s cafés and bars. Before it gets too cold to brave, take a dip in the luxurious thermal Széchenyi Baths; you can even play chess on a floating board.
For the picture-perfect streets of its small seaside towns, stunning views out to sea and warmer climate than much of England, Cornwall is one of the best places to enjoy the last of England’s summer. For a unique theatre experience, try to catch a show at the open-air Minack Theatre, which juts out over the ocean. You’ll find beachside restaurants armed with blankets and heaters for when the sun goes down and the temperature drops.
There’s so much to see and do in Barcelona, and the searing heat of Spain’s mid-summer can make it difficult to appreciate. Less intense temperatures later in the year make sightseeing more pleasant; experience Gaudi’s dreamy yet slightly barmy Park Güell, walk around the Gothic quarter and hike to the top of Montjuïc. La Rambla is one of the most famous streets in Europe, and rightly so – stop at one of its restaurants and feed on the bustling energy of a city that parties late into the night.
Gran Canaria, the Canary Islands
If you’re hoping for a beach holiday, look no further than Gran Canaria. Away from the built-up holiday resorts, you’ll find long stretches of sandy beaches. From the desert south to inland subtropical forests, the landscape is spectacular – and if you just want to lie on a beach with a book, this is the perfect place.
Tuscany’s tall towers, striking towns and vast vineyards make it endlessly compelling. It’s one of the world’s most popular destinations year-round, but head for a late summer getaway and you’ll still be able to enjoy the pool in the balmy midday sun. From San Gimignano’s stunning skyline to Siena’s unique Piazza, there are fascinating historical towns aplenty.
The beautiful, largely unspoilt old city of Zadar is less busy than much of Croatia’s Dalmatian coast, and just as worth a visit for its marble streets and Roman and Venetian ruins. Head to the quay as the sun goes down and you’ll find that locals and visitors alike flock to watch one of the best sunset views in Europe, accompanied by the ethereal sounds of the Sea Organ and the mesmerising light display of the Greeting to the Sun, both created by Croatian architect Nikola Baši.
Without the hordes of tourists on their summer holidays, the roads aren’t quite so mad in Amsterdam, so embrace the cliché and hire a bike like the locals. Amble along the backstreets with no particular aim in mind and you’ll find the canals twinkling in the late summer sun. The events and festival calendar of the Dutch capital remains packed late into September, a highlight of which is the city’s Fringe Festival.
Fields of sunflowers and lavender; vineyards that stretch as far as the eye can see; rustic cottages peppering the landscape; Provence is captivating. It would be easy to just sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery, but if you’re feeling more active, take a day-trip to Arles for its Roman amphitheatre and forum, or mix with locals at markets no longer heaving with holidaymakers; and you can’t leave without sampling the region’s wonderful wines.
Milan locals flock to Lake Como in the summer months for the lake’s cooling respite from the heat of the sun. In late summer, it’s still warm and bright but not as hot, so miss the main tourist rush and enjoy the Italian lake at a more leisurely pace, from lying on a beach and absorbing the last of the summer’s rays, to exploring traditional lakeside villages.