Best places to visit in Europe during summer

written by Joanne Owen
updated 6/27/2022
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Wondering where to head this summer for your perfect break? Our run-down of the best places to visit in Europe in summer has you covered, whether you’re seeking a chic sojourn in the sun, or adventures in the bright outdoors. There’s plenty here if you’re travelling with kids, too, or fancy sampling the continent’s finest food and wine. Read on for inspiration that’ll have you reaching for your passport, taken from the Rugh Guides travel guides.

10. Greece: best for beach-lovers and history buffs 

With historic sites spanning four millennia, an incredible coastline, and islands ranging from hedonist holiday hotspots to rural idylls, it’s little wonder that Greece remains one of the best places for summer in Europe. 

Sand, sea and sun-lovers will want to read up on the best Greek islands and the best beaches in Greece. If you fancy seeing cultural sights alongside soaking up the sun, scoot to Santorini, where you can relax on a range of beautiful Greek beaches after visiting Akrotiri, the Greek Pompeii.

Experiencing a Santorini sunset also happens to be one of our top things not to miss in Greece

Blue beauty on Santorini – one of the best places in Europe to visit in summer © Shutterstock

Then there’s Athens. Where ancient myth meets modern metropolis, with the iconic Acropolis — one of our best places on earth for 2022 — looming large over the city, and family-friendly tavernas serving tasty Greek food you need to try

For more inspiration, read our travel tips for Greece, and check out The Rough Guide to Greece

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Greece trips and tours with Rough Guides:

    9. Italy: best for romance 

    Narrowly missing out on the top spot in our reader survey of the most beautiful country in the worldItaly is hard to beat when it comes a European summer break offering adulterated romance. 

    From Tuscany’s rolling hills and vineyards, to the dazzling Amalfi coast, to romance-rich cities like RomeFlorence and Venice, Italy isn’t short of beautiful places that'll help you realise your dreams of La Dolce Vita.

    It’s a country that invites pleasure, with stunning islands like Sicily and Sardinia on which to get down and secluded, and a bounty of beautiful Italian beaches and eating and drinking experiences.

    The romance of Tuscany's rolling hills – hard to beat in summer © Shutterstock

    Check out our guidebooks and ebooks for Italy, read up on things not to miss in Italy, and arm yourself with fun facts about Italy

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    Italy trips and tours with Rough Guides

    8. UK: best for fun family road-trips

    For a fun-filled family trip, the UK is one of the best countries for summer in Europe, with taking to the open road being an especially rewarding way to see the nation’s diverse attractions. 

    Not sure where to start? Find out things everyone should know before visiting Britain, and read up on the best road-trips in the UK.

    Kicking off in the capital, kids and teenagers won’t be short of fun things to do during this trip. In fact, London is included in our feature on magical places to visit with children. According to Rough Guides’ readers, London is also one of the world’s coolest cities, and one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  

    The Tower of London — an iconic UK landmark © Shutterstock

    No UK road-trip would be complete without spending time in Wales. West Wales' Pembrokeshire gets a glowing recommendation in our feature on top British holiday ideas for children, while the country as a whole is home to a host of beautiful beaches, mighty castles, and rewarding hikes.

    Pembrokeshire's coastline makes the UK one of best places to visit in Europe in summer © Shutterstock

    While Wales is small in size, it’s undeniably big on adventure holidays, historic attractions and sustainable travel – download the free Rough Guide to Responsible Wales to find out more. 

    To the north, Scotland serves up an exhilarating blend of historic cities, glens, lochs, and unspoiled islands, as revealed in our gallery of the most beautiful places in Scotland — as voted by you. What's more, Edinburgh features in our round-up of the best places to go with kids.

    Where to stay in the UK:

    If you're planning to visit the capital during a UK road-trip, compare a range of London hotels

    What to do in the UK:

    UK trips and tours with Rough Guides

    7. Spain: best for food and fiestas

    For foodies, Spain is one of the best countries for summer in Europe. And, if there’s one area of Spain that best showcases the country’s food and fiestas, that area is Andalucía.

    The region’s three most significant cities — GranadaSeville and Córdoba — display Spain’s Moorish architecture at its most magnificent, providing awe-inspiring backdrops to al fresco dining and Andalucían fiestas

    Andalucía is known for its flamboyant flamenco tradition and fine food © Shutterstock

    From Seville’s sensational tapas, to Jambugo’s jamón, to the seafood of Cádiz, foodies will find plenty to satisfy their appetite. For a taster, read our guide.

    Sun and sand-seekers: don't miss the best beaches in Spain.

    You might want to consider visiting Madrid or Barcelona, or both on our cultural cities of Spain trip. Both cities offer opportunities to enjoy Spain’s best eating and drinking offerings, and the itinerary is fully-customisable.

    Top tip: take any chance you get to chow down churros in Madrid, one of the best street foods in the world

    Tempting Spanish tapas © Shutterstock

    For more info and inspiration, explore guidebooks to Spain, and take a look at things not to miss in Spain

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    6. Switzerland: best for scenery and cycling

    Our survey of the most beautiful countries in the world saw Switzerland praised for its “spectacular scenery” and “beautiful spotless cities". It’s also one of the best countries for summer in Europe. 

    Switzerland sparkles at pretty much every turn, with dozens of ways to enjoy exhilarating outdoor experiences. While adventurers will want to hike the Eiger in the spectacular Jungfrau region, you could also be inspired by scenery from a quaint mountain train.

    That said, there’s no better way to experience Switzerland’s mountain passes than on your bike. Running between Italian-speaking Airolo and German-speaking Uri, the epic St. Gotthard Pass is hard to beat — think hair-raising hairpin bends, mountain villages, and, uniquely for the Swiss Alps, bone-shaking cobblestones. 

    Switzerland's awe-inspiring scenery is sure to stop you in your tracks © Shutterstock

    Switzerland’s urban hotspots are as sparkling as its lakes and ice-capped mountains. Head to well-heeled Geneva for museums, scenic shopping and Old Town charm. Meanwhile, cosmopolitan Zurich offers café culture and nightlife in sublime surroundings.

    To discover the country's diverse offerings, read up on things not to miss, and consider booking a hassle-free, tailor-made trip covering Switzerland’s unforgettable highlights.

    For more Swiss inspiration, check-out our pictorial guide book. Given that Switzerland has four official languages — German, French, Italian, and Romansch — you might also want to search our range of phrasebooks

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    5. Portugal: best for world-class water-sports and wine

    Portugal’s expansive coastline makes it a hotspot for water-sports, with the Algarve boasting the country’s most sheltered — and popular — sandy beaches. In fact, this area is home to many of the best beaches in Portugal.  Don't like crowds? Discover where you can get off the tourist trail in Portugal.

    While the eastern Algarve is blessed with warm coves to swim in, the western coast has magnificent expanses of beach that face the mighty Atlantic Ocean, making for thrilling surfing and wind-surfing experiences – this is Portugal at its most exhilarating.  

    Wild water-sports await in Nazare, Portugal © Shutterstock

    Chances are, you’ll need something to soak up all that world-class wine, so you’d do well to read up on the best restaurants in Portugal — a country that's packed with excellent eating and drinking experiences.

    Undecided about where to fly? Explore that all-important question, Porto or Lisbon: which should you visit first? and read up on things not to miss in Portugal.  

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    What to do in Portugal:

    Portugal trips and tours with Rough Guides

    4. Sweden: best for midsummer festival fun

    While Sweden is a glorious destination for travellers seeking space, serenity and sports around the year, experiencing the midsummer solstice celebration provides a mix of magic and mayhem you’ll never forget. One of the best countries for summer in Europe, Sweden is also one of the best places in the world to visit in June

    Celebrated across the weekend closest to 24th June, Sweden’s midsummer celebrations spark a mass exodus from towns and cities as everyone heads to the countryside and coasts. Dalarna, the island of Öland, and the Bohuslän coast are among the most popular spots. 

    Maypoles are erected in gardens and parks as gigantic fertility symbols, while trestle tables buckle under the weight of huge feasts. The party extends long into the light night, with dancing and drinking accompanied by accordions and fiddles.

    From where to go, to what to expect, discover more about Sweden’s unforgettable midsummer celebrations. And for inspiration for visiting Sweden at any time of year, read our guide to the best things to do in Sweden.

    Stockholm's archipelago attracts thousands of fun-loving midsummer celebrants © ROUSSELLE Xavier/Shutterstock

    Midsummer festivities aside, visiting Sweden in summer also means enjoying walks through forests and fragrant meadows, and fun lake-based activities. And Sweden's not short of fascinating cities, either. Stylish Stockholm offers great opportunities for rewarding day-trips, while easy-going Gothenburg boasts a glorious Old Town and excellent museums and galleries. 

    Keen to start planning your summer in Sweden? Read up on things not to miss in Sweden, and get your hands on a copy of The Rough Guide to Sweden. While you’re at it, you might want to brush up on your Swedish

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    • Wildlife-lovers based in Stockholm won’t want to miss taking a nature trip with a campfire dinner to see moose, deer, wild boars, hares, badgers, foxes and plenty of birds

    3. Slovenia: best for caves, castles and coastline

    Happily, Slovenia's elegant capital, Ljubljana, is a charming, convenient base from which to visit a host of the country’s attractions, with its own hilltop 15th-century castle to explore before you venture further afield.

    Lake Bled is an absolute must-visit. A mere 50 minutes from the capital, this mirror-like expanse of water boasts a fairy tale island and cliff-top castle, with a backdrop of snow-capped mountains.

    Perhaps most magical of all is the fact that Lake Bled somehow retains its atmosphere no matter how many visitors rock up for summer water-sports, winter ice-skating, and year-round enchantment.

    Bleeding beautiful — Lake Bled, Slovenia © Shutterstock

    Visiting Postojna Caves and Postjama Castle in southwest Slovenia, around 53 kilometres from Ljubljana, is another unmissable day-trip. On arrival at the cave system you’ll board a train that’ll transport you to a sublime subterranean world (Fraggle Rock, eat your heart out), culminating in a show-stopping, cathedral-like chamber. 

    A few kilometres northwest of Postojna caves, sixteenth-century Predjama Castle is a precariously-sited feat of architectural wonder — it’s built into and around an elevated cave entrance in the centre of a dramatic karst landscape.

    Beyond its undeniably beautiful interior, Slovenia’s coastline might be short, but it’s incredibly sweet and varied. Discover the diversity of Slovenia’s coastline, from picturesque Piran, to the spa town of Portorož, often described as Slovenia’s answer to the French Riviera.

    Piran makes it plain to see why Slovenia is one of the best countries in Europe for summer © Shutterstock

    If you’re interested in nature and ecology, you’ll want to know why there’s a buzz about Slovenia’s bee tourism

    Want more inspiration? Find out about things not to miss in Slovenia, and dig into The Rough Guide to Slovenia. And, if you’re looking to visit beyond the summer months, find out what to expect from exploring Slovenia in spring.  

    Where to stay in Slovenia: 

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    • To experience Slovenia in all its majesty — from the caves and castles of its stunning interior, to that sublime coastline — you could consider booking a customisable treasures of Slovenia trip.  

    The incredible Postojna Caves, Slovenia © Shutterstock

    2. Iceland: the best place to visit in Europe in summer 2022

    Best for outdoor adventures

    There’s a reason Iceland made it into our run-down of the world’s best adventure holidays for 2022. In fact, there are a tonne of experiences to tempt adventurers to visit — from ice and lava-caving, to glacier hiking and intercontinental snorkelling, and all against spectacular backdrops of glaciers, fjords and mighty volcanoes. See for yourself in our gallery

    Serious hikers will want to tackle Iceland’s most extreme trail. Alternatively, if you like to mix adventure with wildlife-watching and cultural experiences, check out our customisable trips to Iceland’s enchanting east, or the wild west, where cascading waterfalls and bubbling hot springs await. 

    Blue Lagoon – for adventurers, Iceland is perhaps the best place to visit in Europe in summer 2022 © Shutterstock

    Talking of springs, before you go, read up on Iceland’s best hot pools, and the dos and don'ts of Icelandic spas. While taking the plunge is among the best travel experiences in Iceland, if you prefer going beyond the obvious, read our rundown of unique things to do in Iceland. For more information, check out our guide for the best things to see in the summer in Iceland.

    Where to stay in Iceland:

    Alternatively, to take the hassle out of booking your accommodation (and everything else, for that matter), take a look at our Iceland itineraries

    What to do in Iceland:

    1. Croatia: best for sailing and island-hopping

    With its gorgeous Adriatic coast offering over 200km of brilliantly blue sea and more than 1000 islands to stop off on, Croatia is one of Europe’s top sailing destinations. This is just one of factors that make it the top European country for a summer break.

    Talking of which, head to handsome Hvar island for chic bars, fun nightlife and fine food. You'll certainly be able to enjoy some of Croatia's top foodie experiences here. There are plenty of reasons this celeb-attracting sunspot was included in our top ten Croatian island getaways as well as our roundup of the best honeymoon destinations.

    Pretty Proizd beach near Croatia's Korcula island © eldar nurkovic/Shutterstock

    Given that the islands are home to many of the best beaches in Croatia, you might want to learn how to make the most of island-hopping in Croatia.

    Sailing and island exploration aside, Croatia is also an excellent destination for adventure-seekers and culture vultures, as revealed in our run-down of things not to miss in Croatia. New to Croatia? Read our tips for first-timers and explore our range of guidebooks.

    Been there, done that? For those who like to get off the beaten track, Croatia has plenty of unusual things to do, among them visiting the zany Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb, Croatia's capital of cool.

    Where to stay in Croatia

    What to do in Croatia:

    Croatia trips and tours with Rough Guides

    We've also compiled a list of the best places around the world to visit in June, so feel free to use it to plan your trips. And if you prefer spring season for your holidays, explore our guide to the best places to visit in spring.

    Ready to pack that suitcase? Search the Rough Guides Shop to find the perfect guidebook or ebook to enhance your summer in Europe. Counting the pennies? The Rough Guide to Europe on a Budget will help you plan a trip that won't break the bank.

    Alternatively, to be freed from the stress of planning and booking your break, find out why taking a tailor-made trip makes perfect sense.

    We may earn commission when you click on links in this article, but this doesn’t influence our editorial standards. We only recommend services we genuinely believe will enhance your travel experiences.

    Header image: the Algarve, Portugal © Shutterstock

    author photo
    written by Joanne Owen
    updated 6/27/2022
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    Joanne is a Pembrokeshire-born writer with a passion for the nature, cultures and histories of the Caribbean region, especially Dominica. Also passionate about inspiring a love of adventure in young people, she’s the author of several books for children and young adults, hosts international writing workshops, and has written articles on the Caribbean and inspirational community initiatives for Rough Guides. Follow her @JoanneOwen on Twitter and @joanneowenwrites on Instagram.

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