21 Sun-Soaked Summer Destinations in Europe (+ Travel Tips!)

Wondering exactly where to go in Europe this summer?

These epic summer destinations in Europe–including many of our personal favorite places in the world–will give you plenty of inspiration!

Summer in Europe may be crowded, but it’s also an incredibly beautiful time to explore the continent.

While some cities may be scorching, the coastal and mountainous regions of Europe are arguably never more idyllic than in June, July, and August.

From classic beach getaways to delightful summer road trip spots to lush islands that shine their brightest in the summertime, here are some of the best places to visit in Europe in summer!

No matter which European summer destination you choose, you’re bound to enjoy the trip of a lifetime.

kate storm sitting on a garden wall in taormina sicily overlooking the ionian sea, one of the best places to visit in italy summer
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The Best Places to Visit in Europe in Summer

Andalucia, Spain

Known for its beautiful beaches, the coastline of Spain’s Andalucia region is among the best summer destinations in Europe!

Andalucia is the southernmost region of Spain, and it offers stunning natural beauty surrounded by whitewashed villages, along with a hefty dose of that famous Spanish sunshine.

The most famous coastline in Andalucia for European summer getaways is the famous Costa del Sol, located between Malaga and Gibraltar.

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Here, you can find some of the loveliest sandy beaches in Europe–and sandy beaches are far from a guarantee on the continent (though pebble beaches have their appeal as well).

As a bonus, an Andalucia vacation can be enjoyed for a fraction of what you might pay along the coast of nearby France or Italy.

Though Andalucia’s inland cities are less ideal places to visit in Europe in summer–beautiful cities like Seville and Granada (home to the famous Alhambra) are scorching hot during the summer months–they can still make excellent additions to a trip to southern Spain if you’re willing to brave the heat!

Nerja Beach in Andalucia Spain from above, one of the best summer destinations in Europe

Dalmatian Coast, Croatia

Croatia’s sparkling coastline has propelled it from a popular summer destination for Europeans to widespread international fame in recent decades (okay–the coastline and Game of Thrones), and it is easily one of the best places to visit in Europe in summer.

This is one of our personal favorite destinations in Europe, and we will never be done revisiting this magnificent coastline.

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Whether you want to stroll the city walls of Dubrovnik, admire Diocletian’s Palace in Split, or go swimming off the coast of Hvar or Korčula, there’s no doubt that Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast makes for a magical summer trip.

If you’re a sailor at heart, Croatia’s whopping 79 islands are also a legendary place to explore by boat!

Want to explore Croatia beyond the Dalmatian Coast?

Famous Plitvice Lakes National Park makes a fantastic inland detour during your summer escape!

View of Hvar Town from Spanish Fort with Pakleni Islands in the distance, one of the best things to do in Hvar Croatia

Algarve, Portugal

Located in the southwestern corner of Portugal, the Algarve is a once-secret European summer destination that has rapidly increased in popularity.

The Algarve’s increased popularity is thanks in large part to its rugged beauty, low prices (which, it must be noted, are rising as fast as its popularity), and its phenomenal rock formations along the coast.

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Though you can find charming towns like Lagos, as well as pretty cities like Faro, Portugal, and plenty of sandy beaches here, the real attractions are the sea caves, arches, and rocky cliffs that give the Algarve a unique beauty among the other best places to visit in Europe in summer.

Be sure not to miss the stunning Seven Hanging Valleys Trail (part of which overlooks the famous Praia do Marinha) or the iconic Benagil Cave when visiting!

However, be sure to keep in mind that the Algarve’s beaches, while generally sandy and gorgeous, tend to have colder water than many other summer destinations.

If you’re from a northern climate, you’ll almost certainly be glad to go for a dip, but for those accustomed to warm waters, you may find it a bit chilly!

View of small beach on Algarve Coast in Portugal with a sailboat in the distance and rocky cliffs jutting out to sea

Sicily, Italy

Italy’s southernmost region is an absolute delight to visit in summer.

Featuring phenomenal Italian beach towns, excellent food and wine, a stunning volcano, and remarkably low prices (especially as compared to much of the rest of Italy) Sicily makes for a fantastic European summer road trip opportunity.

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While you’re there, don’t miss the beaches of Cefalu and Avola, the gorgeous towns of the Val di Noto, the bustling streets of Palermo, or the Greek theatre and beautiful views from Taormina.

Travelers with more time to experience the beauty of Sicily in summer will also want to see Siracusa, the Aeolian Islands, and Agrigento’s Valley of the Temples!

Cefalu Cathedral with a vespa parked in front of it, one of the best things to see on a Sicily road trip itinerary

Provence, France

Featuring sprawling lavender fields, delightfully charming small villages, and some of the absolute best farmer’s markets around, Provence has long been a classic European summer destination for a very good reason.

For the best chance to see lavender fields at their peak, plan your trip between mid-June and mid-July.

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Even if you miss the lavender fields, Provence still has plenty to offer!

And, Provence’s natural beauty is remarkable beyond the lavender fields, too!

Destinations like the Verdon Gorge and Calanques National Park are also among the best places to visit in southern France.

Kate in a blue skirt in Goult, France. There's a stone building with blue shutters to her left, and she's facing away from the camera. Goult is one of the best places to visit in the south of France.

Amalfi Coast, Italy

Italy’s premier coastline has been one of the most highly sought-after summer destinations in Europe for thousands of years, luring everyone from Roman Emperors to the stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age to modern travelers.

With its dramatic cliffs, azure waters, famous cuisine, eye-catching art, and beautiful villages, it’s easy to see why travelers have long found these shores hard to resist.

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Ironically, traditional beaches are not the calling card of this famous “beach” destination!

There are a few beaches around, sure, and plenty of places to swim, but on the Amalfi Coast, dramatic landscapes supersede places to lounge on the sand.

Though not technically part of the Amalfi Coast itself, it’s worth mentioning the legendary Capri here, as well as the ever-famous Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius, both of which are popular day trips near the Amalfi Coast.

Other side trips nearby include Naples (worlds apart and yet well worth visiting!), Herculaneum, Ischia, and Procida–just to name a few.

Cliffs of Capri with bright blue water and boats visible to the left. Definitely consider a visit here when planning a trip to Italy!

French Riviera

Much like the Amalfi Coast, the French Riviera is absolutely iconic among summer destinations in Europe.

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From St. Tropez to Cannes to Nice to Menton and beyond, the French Riviera is known for its exclusive beaches, immense beauty, historic cities, and many, many yachts.

Visitors to the French Riviera can even squeeze in a trip to one of the smallest countries in the world as part of their trip–Monaco makes an easy day trip from Nice!

A summer trip to the South of France often combines time spent both in the lavender-strewn inland areas of Provence as well as the French Riviera, and both are well worth a visit during summer in Europe!

harbor of st tropez in the south of france road trip itinerary

Turquoise Coast, Turkey

Also known as the Turkish Riviera, Turkey’s phenomenal Turquoise Coast is located in the southwest of the country and offers gorgeous beaches along both the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas.

Easily one of the most beautiful places in Turkey, this is a coastline you won’t forget anytime soon.

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With picturesque small towns, majestic ruins (including Ephesus), and almost shockingly low prices as compared to other nearby beach destinations, the Turquoise Coast is an underrated summer destination perfect for travelers looking to get off the beaten path in Europe (or, in this case, near Europe).

Technically, the only part of Turkey that is part of the continent of Europe is a small piece that includes the far west of the country and half of Istanbul.

However, since Turkey in general (especially Istanbul and Cappadocia) are often included on a trip to Europe, we think it’s worth including the Turquoise Coast on this list of the best summer destinations in Europe… just in case it tempts you to add it to your plans!

Beach of Oludeniz on Turkey's Turquoise Coast from above, one of the best places to visit in Europe in summer


Ireland is one of our personal favorite places to visit in Europe in summer!

While it may not be a classic summer destination in a sundresses-and-beach-days sense (I’ve definitely spent more time wearing raincoats than bathing suits in Ireland during the summer), the Emerald Isle absolutely shines during the summer months.

Often, it shines quite literally: the late spring and summer offer the highest chances of sunny days you’ll ever see in Ireland!

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Pair that with phenomenal natural sights, great food, and adorable villages such as Doolin and Cobh, and it’s easy to fall in love with Ireland.

While popular sights like the Ring of Kerry and Cliffs of Moher will certainly be crowded, Ireland overall can be a great place to escape Europe’s crowded beach towns during the summer months.

Even in June, July, and August, it’s very easy to find beautiful places that you can have all to yourself on the Emerald Isle (and if you need to help, check out some of Ireland’s hidden gems).

Kate Storm and Jeremy Storm standing in front of the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland shortly before sunset


Slovenia’s tiny coastline often means that it’s overlooked in favor of neighboring Croatia for a European summer trip.

But, packed with everything from a charming seaside to dramatic mountaintops to a quirky capital city all packed into one tiny country, it absolutely shouldn’t be!

Our first summer trip to Slovenia was enough to make it one of our favorite countries to explore, and we highly recommend a Slovenia road trip to travelers looking for beautiful nature.

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From the rightfully famous Lake Bled to the jaw-dropping hikes in Triglav National Park to the beauty of the Soca River Valley, Slovenia is beautiful from all angles.

And, its towns and cities have plenty to offer, too: be sure to relax by the sea in Piran and check out the funky capital of Ljubljana.

In many cases, the easiest way to get to Slovenia from outside of Europe is to fly into Venice–so if you prefer, you can easily combine a trip to Slovenia with one to Italy!

Piran Slovenia as seen from above. Piran is one of the best places to visit in Slovenia

Greek Isles

Boasting a seemingly endless number of islands, a couple hundred of them populated, the many, many islands of Greece are a classic summer vacation opportunity in Europe.

Narrowing down exactly where to go is incredibly difficult, but popular options include Santorini for its classic white-and-blue villages and cliffs and Mykonos for its windmills and its famous party scene.

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Also consider Corfu for its beautiful water, a touch of Venetian history, its proximity to Albania, and–very important when planning a multi-stop trip–its easy flight connections across Europe.

Greece’s largest island, Crete, which boasts everything from historical fortresses to some of the best beaches in the country, is also a fantastic choice.

For a bucket-list-worthy summer in Europe that you’ll never forget, consider renting a sailboat and hitting up several islands by sea (you can charter a boat with or without a captain).

Kate Storm in a white shirt and blue jeans overlooking the blue domes of Oia in Santorini--this island is incredible and worth visiting as part of your 2 weeks in Europe!

Balearic Islands, Spain

Located off the east coast of Spain, you’ve no doubt heard of the Balearic Islands Archipelago, even if you’ve never heard the name before.

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This is where you can find the infamous party island of Ibiza, the beautiful and popular Mallorca, and the slightly-less-known Menorca, among several others.

If you’re searching for some of the most stunning beach towns in Spain, the Balearic Islands are an excellent place to look.

Even if you’re not the partying type, though, Spain’s Balearic Islands still have a lot to offer for a summer vacation in Europe, including plenty of quiet corners, epic viewpoints, beautiful beaches, and quiet villages.

Soller Mallorca from above, with sailboats parked in the brightly covered bay. Mallorca is one of the best road trips in Europe!

Cinque Terre, Italy

Nestled along Italy’s Ligurian coast, the famous villages of Cinque Terre are among the most picturesque places to visit in Europe in summer–as long as you’re willing to battle the crowds!

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Immensely popular but beautiful enough to be worth the hassle, Cinque Terre is known for its colorful villages, quaint harbors, delicious pesto and seafood, and amazing hiking opportunities.

Head to Monterosso al Mare for the best beach, and Vernazza and Manarola for the best views–in our biased opinion, anyway!

While it’s popular to take a day trip to Cinque Terre, we highly recommend spending at least a night or two there if possible–experiencing Cinque Terre in the summer without the crowds of day trippers is a special experience!

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The United Kingdom

From the rugged beauty of the Scottish Highlands to the quiet beauty of the Cotswolds, and from the hustle and bustle of London and the charm of Cambridge to the beaches of Brighton, there is no better time to enjoy (comparatively) warm temperatures and sunny weather in the United Kingdom than during the summer months.

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True, the UK doesn’t have the best reputation for its weather–but visiting during the summer will absolutely give you the best shot at experiencing beautiful days!

Whether you want to explore one of the best road trips in the UK or enjoy a train journey across the countryside (or both!), you’re bound to have a memorable trip.

White Cliffs of Dover in southern England, one of the best summer destinations in Europe

Bay of Kotor, Montenegro

Stare out across the beautiful Bay of Kotor in Montenegro, and you may just think you’re looking out over a fjord.

Located within a couple of hours of popular Dubrovnik in Croatia, the towns along the Bay of Kotor feel remarkably similar to its famous neighbor–but with far fewer crowds and much smaller price tags.

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Beautiful Kotor (don’t miss climbing to San Giovanni’s Fortress while there!), Perast, Tivat, and more, all offer a chance to experience a beautiful corner of the Balkans.

And, while Kotor is increasing in popularity among cruise ships, the Bay of Kotor itself is still a relatively quiet place.

If you set off on a Montenegro road trip this summer, you can even extend beyond the bay–Tara River Canyon and Durmitor National Park are also must-see destinations in Montenegro.

Bay of Kotor Montenegro as seen from a hike above Kotor, one of the best places to visit in Europe in summer

Jungfrau Region, Switzerland

I am convinced that Switzerland’s Jungfrau region–located around (literally, above) Interlaken–is paradise on Earth in the summer.

If you’re dreaming of the Alps, check into a hotel in Wengen, Murren, or Grindelwald (for the best views) or Interlaken (for a bit more selection) or Lauterbrunnen (to be in the literal center of the action) and have the trip of your dreams.

Switzerland’s legendarily efficient trains and gondolas mean that wherever you stay, the region is at your fingertips.

Hiking from Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidigg, riding the highest train in Europe to Jungfraujoch (aka the “Top of Europe”), eating daily fondue, walking from Murren to Gimmelwald, and riding a historic cogwheel train to Schynige Platte are just a few of the unforgettable experiences you’ll find here.

Whether you want to stretch your physical limits or simply admire the Alpine views while munching on local cheese–or both, of course!–Switzerland’s pristine Jungfrau region is undoubtedly one of the absolute best places to visit in Europe in June, July, and August.

kate storm and jeremy storm overlooking a balcony in wengen switerland jungfrau region

Albanian Riviera

Among all of these places to visit in Europe in summer, the Albanian Riviera is among the most offbeat for travelers hailing from outside the continent.

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However, with shockingly low prices as compared to most of these summer destinations in Europe, absolutely stunning beaches, and plenty of beach towns to choose from, the Albanian Riviera has a lot to offer.

While flights into Albania can get a bit pricey (and many arrive in the capital of Tirana, far from the best beaches), Corfu, Greece is easily accessible by air and is located as little as a 30-minute ferry ride from the town of Sardana along the Albanian Riviera!

Albanian Riviera as seen from above with a boat in the distance and mountains in the background, one of the best places to vacation in Europe summer


Iceland in summer is a land of magic.

This is the land of the midnight sun, natural hot springs, endless fields of blooming lupines, glaciers, unbelievably green landscapes, and of course, otherworldly waterfalls.

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From horseback riding through majestic landscapes to snorkeling between tectonic plates to soaking in some of the world’s most beautiful hot springs to staring out over the golden light of the midnight sun long past an average person’s bedtime, taking an Iceland road trip in the summer is an unforgettable experience.

While you won’t be able to see the famous northern lights when visiting during summer, the midnight sun, easier driving conditions, and warmer weather (you’ll probably still need to bundle up a bit, though!) make visiting this stunning country in summer a very special experience.

We fell in love with Iceland in summer, and even if you only have a couple of days in Iceland, it’s absolutely worth exploring.

Sunset over waterfalls in Iceland, one of the best places to visit in Europe in summer

Puglia, Italy

Located on the “heel of the boot”, so to speak, the Puglia region of Italy is known for its lovely beaches, whitewashed villages, and delicious food (especially seafood and orecchiette pasta).

While what is arguably its most famous village, Alberobello, home of the trulli, is not on the coast at all, Puglia is generally seen as a beach destination in Europe.

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While Puglia has been popular with European travelers for ages, its profile has been growing across the world–and it certainly deserves the attention!

Heading to Puglia this summer?

Consider adding a stop in the haunting city of Matera, which is technically located next door in Basilicata but is a common addition to trips to Puglia! 

Poglinano al Mare Beach in Puglia Italy

Faroe Islands

Far-flung and remote, if you’re looking for an uncrowded, offbeat, and spectacular summer vacation in Europe (and you’re not particularly attached to the idea of being warm), consider the Faroe Islands.

This self-governing archipelago of 18 islands is an administrative region of Denmark and is located (very) roughly halfway between Iceland and Norway.

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Home to absolutely spectacular ocean views, soaring cliffs, thundering waterfalls, and some of the best bird-watching on the planet (hello puffins!), the Faroe Islands are perhaps the most unique travel destination on this list.

While they require a bit of money (prices are said to be on par with Norway, arguably the most expensive country to visit in Scandinavia) and dedication to experience, they’re absolutely magnificent.

Waterfall into the ocean as seen on the Faroe Islands, one of the best summer places to visit in Europe

Tips for Exploring Summer Destinations in Europe

Prepare for crowds.

Summer is the busiest and most touristic season in Europe–and that’s especially true in coastal destinations like many listed here.

Visiting Europe in summer can be absolutely wonderful, but it comes with heavy crowds and high prices compared to the rest of the year.

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If you’re headed to the beach, we recommend avoiding the month of August if you can.

August is when many Europeans take their annual beach vacations, and the beach towns are especially busy and expensive then.

If you do plan to take a European beach vacation in August, we highly recommend booking everything from your hotel to your rental car as far in advance as you can.

View of fortress near Dubrovnik as seen from town walls, with Adriatic Sea in the foreground--when deciding whether to visit Split or Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik wins on views of the city itself!

Consider the shoulder season.

If you’re looking for summer-like vibes in Europe but want to avoid the peak months of June, July, and August, we recommend September over May.

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While both can work, September typically has more of a summer feeling in many of these places to visit in Europe than May does, with the added benefit of the water typically being warmer as it has had all season to heat up.

September is one of our favorite months to travel in Europe, and you absolutely can’t go wrong with a late summer trip then!

Mill in Rastoke Croatia with a waterfall underneath it, an unforgettable sight on this Croatia in 10 days Croatia itinerary

Book ahead, especially if you’re traveling to small towns.

Given the heavy crowds we mentioned above, it’s expected that hotels fill up more quickly than in other months, too.

For some of these summer destinations in Europe–especially small towns with limited lodging like Cinque Terre, certain Greek islands like Santorini and Mykonos, and the Amalfi Coast–that means it’s best to book as soon as you can commit to your dates.

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With a limited amount of lodging available and primarily small, family-run properties with a handful of rooms catering to tourists as opposed to large hotels, smaller destinations quickly fill up.

Larger European beach cities like Nice and Barcelona will typically have more availability–but if you have your heart set on staying in a certain area or are on a budget, it will still be to your benefit to book your trip in advance!

Kate Storm and Jeremy Storm on a balcony overlooking Positano

… and not just for hotels.

In addition to hotels, consider booking major attractions ahead of time too–you’ll definitely want skip-the-line tickets for major attractions like the Colosseum and Eiffel Tower when visiting Europe in summer!

Also, consider that more specialized tours or places that limit the number of visitors like the Borghese Gallery and the Alhambra will sell out well in advance.

It pays to plan ahead when visiting Europe during its busiest months!

We book our skip-the-line tickets and many tours with Get Your Guide and also love the specialty tours offered by Take Walks.

Glass of red wine being held up against sky, Honeymoon in Santorini

Be cautious of your belongings.

While you should always be wary of pickpockets while traveling (and perhaps even in your hometown), the particularly heavy crowds that populate many of the best places to visit in Europe during summer make hotspots like the Eiffel Tower, Colosseum, and the Acropolis even more attractive to savvy pickpockets.

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This applies to basically any major tourist destination where thousands of visitors regularly pass through, and the more crowded it is, the more careful you should be!

Be extra careful with your valuables when in a dense crowd as you explore these summer destinations in Europe, and consider carrying an anti-theft backpack as well–we use this one and absolutely love it.

Kate Storm in a gray dress standing in Rue de l'Universite in Paris with the Eiffel Tower behind her

Don’t forget sun protection!

And not just for the beaches, either–it’s easy to lose track of time and get sunburned walking around beautiful cities, too.

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Come prepared with your own hat and sunscreen if you can, especially if you’re visiting a beach or coastal area.

As in most places around the world, you’ll pay a pretty penny for sunscreen at the beach in Europe!

Small boats parked near a rocky shore on the Pakleni Islands, one of the best things to do in Hvar

Consider concentrating your tourism outside of peak hours.

When visiting Europe during the height of summer, consider starting your mornings as early as possible, taking a break in the afternoon (ala a Spanish siesta or Italian riposo), and then picking up your tourism again in the late afternoon/early evening.

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This way, you can avoid the worst of the heat and crowds while maximizing the more comfortable time of day.

Of course, you don’t necessarily need to rest during the afternoon if you don’t want to–that can be a great time to hit an air-conditioned museum or relax on the beach!

Plitvice Lakes National Park Croatia postcard view from above with lakes in the center surrounded by trees, a must-see on your 10 day trip to Croatia!

Air conditioning is not a given.

When visiting Europe during the summer, double-check that your hotel or apartment before booking.

Air conditioning isn’t always standard when traveling in Europe, but it’s often very necessary in our opinion!

Kate Storm standing on a bridge in Seville Spain with her back to the camera--Seville makes an excellent stop on a Europe road trip!

Keep church-appropriate clothing in mind.

While the strictness of the dress code varies across the continent, generally you’ll want to pack at least one outfit that covers your cleavage, shoulders, and knees for visiting churches.

Men can usually get away with shorts that hit at the knee, but not always.

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When touring any of these places to visit in Europe in summer, keep that dress code in mind as you structure your days.

It’s absolutely no fun being turned away from a tour you expected to take because you dressed for the weather and not the church!

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4 photos of Europe: provence, ibiza, santorini, cliffs of moher, with black and red text on a white background that reads "17 epic summer destinations in europe"
About Kate Storm
Image of the author, Kate Storm

In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

7 thoughts on “21 Sun-Soaked Summer Destinations in Europe (+ Travel Tips!)”

  1. Gawd I’m desperate to go to Sicily. I think that’ll be my first place abroad when the lockdown lifts. Trying to decide where to go in Europe and although there are loads of other cool sounding places – I think Sicily is the one for me.

    • Absolutely! It was one of our “supposed tos” from 2020, we had planned to spend part of June there. Hopefully in the next couple of years we’ll make it.

  2. Its the humidity, not the sun, that will soak you in an EU summer. We quickly learned to limit summer EU trips to the Alps– still humid but cooler.

    • Hi Kim,

      It all depends on your definition, I suppose! It also varies a lot by your destination–Athens will probably be uncomfortably hot (you’ll want to tour the Acropolis in the morning), but places like Santorini and Mykonos have average summer high temperatures in the mid-80s F or around 27 C.

      If you want to visits lots of cities/inland areas and don’t have a high heat tolerance, spring or fall might be best. But if you’re hoping to see the islands and visit them at their most vibrant, summer is the most popular time to visit for a reason. 🙂


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