The days might be getting noticeably shorter and the crowds might be dispersing – but that doesn't mean summer in Europe is completely over. There's still a few weeks left to squeeze in a late summer holiday 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 to go for late summer sun in Europe. To plan your own trip to Europe, get in touch and we'll connect you with a local expert who'll take care of all the details.
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 impressive past, Crete’s Venetian and Turkish buildings are best-preserved in the town of 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. History buffs should make time for a trip to Knossos, a huge Bronze-Age settlement that was once the heart of the Minoan empire. It's considered Europe's oldest city.
Boats anchored in the harbour at Rethymno, Crete, Greece © Chasdesign/Shutterstock
Warm days and cool nights make the end of summer the perfect time to go hiking in the Swiss Alps. You won’t be disappointed by the country’s enchanting scenery, with its fairytale-green hills, storybook cottages, placid lakes and snow-capped 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 and villages via the excellent rail network.
A train crosses the Landwasser Viaduct in Grisons, Switzerland © Peter Stein/Shutterstock
Late summer is one of the best times to visit Budapest, when the usually tourist-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 swim outdoors, take a dip in the luxurious thermal Széchenyi Baths; you can even play chess on a floating board.
Liberty Bridge crosses the River Danube in Budapest © Marc Osborne/Shutterstock
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 often pleasantly warm days of September. For a unique theatre experience, try to catch a show at the open-air Minack Theatre, where shows continue until late October. The Roman-style amphitheatre was built in the 1930s, and the backdrop of impressive granite cliffs and open ocean is always impressive.
St. Ives' picturesque harbour © Boris Stroujko/Shutterstock
There’s so much to see and do in Barcelona, but the searing heat of Spain’s midsummer 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.
Sagrada Familia at dusk, Barcelona © basiczto/Shutterstock
Tuscany’s soft landscape, 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 midday sun. For a morning expedition in cooler temperatures, there's plenty of choice; from San Gimignano’s stunning skyline to Siena’s unique Piazza, there are fascinating historical towns aplenty.
Siena's walled old town © Irina Sen/Shutterstock
The beautiful, largely unspoilt old city of Zadar is less tourist than much of Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast, and just as appealing with its marble streets and Roman and Venetian ruins. With plenty of sunshine and temperatures in the mid-20s, it's a lovely spot for a late summer holiday. 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.
Fosa Bay in Zadar, Croatia © Anna Lurye/Shutterstock
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Without the hordes of tourists on their summer holidays, the streets aren’t quite so busy 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 festival calendar of the Dutch capital stays packed late into September, a highlight of which is the city’s Fringe Festival.
Amsterdam is a picture postcard at every turn © kavalenkava/Shutterstock
Hilltop villages, 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 (and you should!), 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 – Aix-en-Provence and L'Isle sur la Sourge are two of the best. Of course, you can’t leave without sampling the region’s wonderful wines – it's still warm enough in late summer to justify a lunchtime bottle of rosé or two.
Gordes, one of Provence's famous villages perchées © Romrodphoto/Shutterstock
Lake Como, Italy
Milanese locals flock to Lake Como in the summer months for a much-needed 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. Fill your days lying on a lakefront beach and absorbing the last of the summer's rays, or hop on a boat and explore the traditional lakeside villages.
Varenna, one of Lake Como's most charming towns © Boris Stroujko/Shutterstock
Top image: View of the Old Town Siena - Piazza del Campo, Palazzo Pubblico di Siena © Irina Sen/Shutterstock