Summer is already well underway and many of my friends are still searching for a summer escape. Europe is ideal for a quick weekend voyage or a dreamy week of culture, history and beautiful beaches. Although Europe is the second smallest continent, it is peppered with stunning scenery, fantastic food and striking variation as you delve from the picturesque South of France into the ethereal Alps of Switzerland.
So, if you want to see Europe this summer, where should you go?
Prague – Czech Republic
Prague is a fairytale city. It is just so, so pretty. It’s the ideal place to whittle away a weekend in a decadent chocolate shop, people watching by the river and enjoying a tasty lunch beneath a terrace. There’s plenty to do and see in this city including Prague Castle, Old Prague Square, Vltava River, Charles Bridge and Castle Hill. Prague is famous for its beer and there are so many to choose from including Pilsner Urquell, Budvar, Staropramen and Krusovice.
Amsterdam – The Netherlands
Amsterdam is a city of beguiling contrasts. It’s a city of sin and sleaze, Europe’s answer to Las Vegas, but it’s also charming and straight from a storybook. There’s also endless history here including Anne Franks house. In summer, Amsterdam pulses with life and frenetic energy; cyclists, walkers and boaters dominate the city that has even more canals than Venice! What makes Amsterdam great is that it is so walkable and it has an easy, gentle and open way of life that is easy to embrace.
Munich – Germany
Munich is Bavaria’s capital and the jewel in its crown. This is an ideal place for history buffs as the city boasts an enormous number of museums and ancient architecture. Of course, both of these things are elements of Europe regardless of where you go. Most people know Munich as the home of Oktoberfest and endless revellers descend on the city to partake in the merry Munich beer hall culture. If alcohol is not your thing, summer in Munich still has much to offer. You can also take a day trip from the city to Neuschwanstein, the castle that inspired Walt Disney.
Andalucia – Spain
Andalucia is a region of Spain that includes Seville, Gibraltar, Granada and Malaga. It’s a hilly part of Spain with wonderful beaches and all of the trappings that admirers of the country have come to expect; sumptuous scenery, food and wine. Formerly ruled by the Moors, the architecture reflects this period in history. Spain is always a perfect getaway thanks to its perfect weather, climate and cuisine. There’s also plenty of ways to cool down in this quadrant of Spain.
Barcelona – Spain
Barcelona is Spain’s answer to Brighton, it’s a thriving city by the sea and it’s locals reflect the spirit of being close to the water. There’s a laidback, easy vibe here which is contagious. Barcelona is brilliant for beach lovers who also want a city escape and there is so much to see and do here. Tuck into a plate of patatas frittes, check out Gaudi House, the Sagrada Familia and Park Guell. If you can, seek out Boccas de Las Fades, a beautiful little bar and eatery that looks like something from Willow, Legend and other films from your childhood.
Berlin – Germany
I already wrote a blog about my long weekend in Berlin but to reiterate, this city is so worth visiting! There’s a progressive, modern vibe to Berlin, which has become an artistic and creative hub, but the city still houses the remnants of its violent past and this contrast is intoxicating. All European cities blend the old with the new and that’s partly what people come to see, historical cities packed with culture nodding towards the future. What’s so great about Berlin is its music scene, its bars and pubs and the endless fusion of past with present.
Budapest – Hungary
Budapest has become synonymous with stag dos but there’s far more to the city than lecherous drunks. For starters, you can visit Buda Castle or Szechenyi thermal bath. Memento Park is a glorious sight for those who enjoy historical plaques, busts and statues. This is the place to try traditional Hungarian fare such as goulash, strudel and poppy seed roll. Budapest is celebrated for its baths, ideal for weary travellers who need some R and R.
Porto – Portugal
One of my work colleagues professed that Porto is his favourite European city so I’ve automatically added it to My Adventure List. Porto is delightful and pleasant, home to quaint cobbled streets, rainbow coloured houses and photo-ready beaches. You can also use Porto as a port from which you can veer into other parts of Portugal. That is, if you tire of its temptations.
The High Tatras – Slovakia
If you are aiming to avoid the trappings of a city break and want to venture further into nature, the High Tatras in Slovakia is a little off the beaten path and is comprised of lush greenery, mesmerising lakes and dramatic mountains. You can enjoy the sleepy sensations of Slovakia or you can embark on expeditions and tours of the mountains. If you are a wildlife lover, there’s plenty of animals to seek out including European Brown Bears and golden eagles.
Nice – France
Nice, nestled firmly in the French Riviera, is renowned as the place to be for the European elite. It’s an ideal hub in which to base yourself whilst you explore neighbouring Canne (famous for the Cannes Film Festival), Monaco (and the jewel in it’s crown, lavish Monte Carlo) and further afield. There’s no better place to enjoy a glass of wine and watch the sunset and during summer, Nice is packed with explorers making it the place to be for a sweet escape.
Verona – Italy
A stones throw from Venice, Verona is the hometown of fictional star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet. Old fashioned and easy to navigate, Verona feels like stepping into Shakespeare. Here, you can find Juliet’s balcony and Romeo’s home. It’s a breathtaking city break for lovers who prefer a sleepier city that houses love and romance in its bones.
So, here are a few of my summer holiday suggestions. Which is top of your list this year?
All my love,