There are so many amazing summer destinations in Europe. So how do you narrow it down when planning an international trip?
To help you pin point the perfect summer itinerary to Europe, I have targeted my suggestions towards the easier travel locations while still being interesting and “off-the-beaten-path”. This will ensure a laid-back summer trip without much tricky coordination or fuss on location.
In this post, I am sharing my top 13 recommendations of amazing, dreamy summer destinations in Europe!
1. Provence, France
If you are traveling in Late June and early July, consider a trip to the Provence Region of France. Not only will you have a chance to frolic through the lavender fields in the Luberon Valley and the Plateau de Valensole (pictured above), this is also the perfect time of year to take a dip in the crystal blue waters of the nearby Verdon Gorge.
When in Provence you can’t miss exploring the towns of Gordes, Bonnieux, Roussillon, Menerbes, Lourmarin, and Saint-Saturin-Les Apt. Not far away are the water front towns of Saint-Tropez, Nice, Marseille, Antibes and Menton which make up the French Riviera and are definitely worth a visit.
Related Post: How to Find to the Best Lavender Fields in Provence
2. Amalfi Coast, Italy
The Amalfi Coast is a 50km stretch of coastline along the southern edge of Italy’s Sorrentine Peninsula between the towns of Salerno and Sorrento. Amalfi is actually a town along the Almalfi Coast, but probably more recognizable is the town of Positano for its dramatic cliff views.
Not far away from the Amalfi Coast are the islands of Capri, Ischia and Procida. There is really nothing more that screams summer in Europe to me than eating Italian food water-side with an Aperol Sprtiz in hand. If I were you I would try to visit the Amalfi Coast on off-season or shoulder-season to avoid the tourist peak in June or July.
3. Dubrovnik, Croatia
Dubrovnik is located on the Southern-most portion of Croatia, you actually have to cross over Bosnia & Herzegovina to get there by car! When walking through the old town of Dubrovnik, you feel like you are instantly transported back in time with the stone buildings and ancient churches. For most, you will probably feel like you have arrived on the filming set of Game of Thrones.
Some of our other favorite cities in Croatia are Split, Hvar, and Rovinj all the way in the north of the country (a short drive from Venice). We actually combined a trip to Dubrovnik with a stop in Rome, Italy! It is just a short and cheap flight across the Adriatic Sea and you can be in a while new country!
Dubrovnik can get really hot and crowded during the day in June and July. Try visiting on shoulder season or exploring early in the morning like we did.
4. Lofoten Islands, Norway
The Lofoten Islands in Norway are one of my top picks for a trip to Europe in the summer. If you visit in mid-June you can experience the midnight sun phenomenon, where the sun never actually sets. This unlimited daylight leaves you with unlimited opportunities to explore and even do midnight hikes to see the sun hover over the horizon.
Don’t skip visiting the picturesque villages of Reine, Hamnøy, Sakrisøy and Å. To get to the Islands you will need to fly into the Leknes airport (the only one on the island) and rent a car to drive around from village to village.
Due to its relative isolation and difficulty to reach even summers in the Lofoten Islands are relatively tourist-free!
Related Post: Lofoten Islands Itinerary | Lofoten in Summer Photography Guide
5. Porto, Portugal
If you are looking for a romantic summer trip to Europe then look no further than Porto, Portugal. Located on the northwest side of Portugal along the coat, Porto is known for its bridges, blue and white tiles and port wine production.
Rent a car for the day to visit the Duoro Valley to visit the wineries producing mainly port wine and other varieties prominent in the region. In addition, check out the nearby Costa Nova Beach for a beautiful beach with colorful stripped houses.
Related Post: The Ultimate 3 Days in Porto Itinerary | 7 Best Viewpoints in Porto, Portugal | 8 Best Days Trips from Porto
6. Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona will always top my list for best places to visit. It is a city unlike most others with a palpable culture, unique architecture and amazing food and drinks. There is something in Barcelona for everyone! From cooking classes, museums, history, art galleries, architecture, sweeping views, castles – really your itinerary could be endless.
I have been to Barcelona many times over the years and can tell you that not much has changed in that time, which is a really good thing. Just watch your purse and wallet when walking down the touristy street La Rambla and on the metros!
There are also great day-trips you can incorporate into your itinerary such as Montserrat for the mountains, Sitges for the beaches and Girona to explore the history!
Related Post: A Weekend in Barcelona: The 72 hour Itinerary
7. Lake Bled, Slovenia
Lake Bled is considered the most beautiful place in Slovenia. While I have my qualms with calling this the most beautiful place in Slovenia after driving through the back country roads of the country, Lake Bled is definitely a spot I would recommend on a summer trip to Europe.
You can rent canoes and paddle around the lake, hike nearby trails for birds eye views over the lake and visit the nearby Lake Bohinj and Triglav National Park. Situated right between Italy and Croatia, Slovenia is a perfect under-rated country to add to a European summer itinerary.
Related Post: 13 Epic Things to Do in Slovenia
8. Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
Lauterbrunnen is one of my favorite places to visit in Switzerland (can you see why?). Not only is Lauterbrunnen in a valley with waterfalls sprinkled throughout the village, it feels like it has retained its authenticity of a small Swiss village. I even caught a local farmer moving his cows through the center of town one morning – what a sight!
There are also two towns, Grindelwald and Wengen, which are just a short tram ride into the mountains on either side of the Lauterbrunnen valley which give you a whole different experience high in the sky! We did this trip on a road trip from Germany, so you can see our cute dog in the picture above! You can read more about what’s involved with moving abroad and traveling abroad with a dog here.
Related Post: Moving Abroad and Traveling Abroad with a Pet
9. Milos, Greece
Milos is my favorite of the Greek Cyclades islands. The island is not “undiscovered”, however it felt way less crowded than the Santorini and Mykonos of the group. Also my favorite part about Milos was how close everything was. Each beach we wanted to see was only 15 minutes to 30 minutes max from where we were staying in Mandrakia.
I would recommend to rent a scooter as the roads are not that large, parking can be tight, and there is minimal car traffic to compete with.
10. Kotor, Montenegro
Reminiscent of both the fjords of Norway and Lake Como in Italy, Kotor in Montenegro is backed by steep limestone cliffs with ancient Italian-style architecture. Getting lost in the Old Town of Kotor is not only encouraged, but inevitable.
Centuries ago, Old Town Kotor was built like a maze in order to confuse invaders. Extremely close by is Croatia and specifically the town of Dubrovnik which would perfectly compliment a trip to Montenegro.
11. Copenhagen, Denmark
Have you ever been to a city and felt like you just stepped into a magazine? That was Copenhagen for me. Not only are the locals beautiful and impeccably dressed, the city takes on the Danish modern style of sleek and clean lines.
Copenhagen can be characterized by its beautiful canals, laid back culture, happy locals and strong economy. The best way I can describe the feeling of Copenhagen is Hygge. In Danish, hygge is a word that represents a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that leads to a feeling of contentment or well-being.
For some unique suggestions, check out Cntravelers 15 Best Things to Do in Copenhagen
12. Valletta, Malta
Most people will first have to google where Malta is located on the map (I definitely did the first time). To save you some searching, Malta is a country in the Mediterranean Sea between Sicily, the island at the heel of Italy, and Tunisia in Africa.
While Malta is a small chain of islands, it’s location in between Europe and Africa has always proved it to be an important part of history. Throughout the years, many countries have struggled for domination of the Mediterranean Sea leading Malta to be ruled by many other countries over the years.
Due to this extensive history, and its relative distance from any other country, Malta is a melting pot of African, British and Italian cultures. At the same time Malta is a country that retains its own identity in many ways, but namely its unique architecture. I put Malta on my top list as it is a country many haven’t explore, but you will have a very easy time navigating around the island. The official languages are Maltese and English, due to its years of British rule!
13. Dolomites, Italy
I have never been somewhere so diverse as the Italian Dolomites. Imagine this, you are in Italy, but the mountains remind you of Switzerland and everyone is speaking German. Now that sounds confusing, but it is the most magical combination! To be able to eat Italian food after hiking in the Dolomites mountains during the day is such a wonderful combination.
The Dolomites are about two hours East of Milan or North of Venice which makes it a great stop to explore a different part of Italy.