Summer Getaways in Europe

Europe is an exquisite tapestry of history, culture, and stunning landscapes. Whilst cities like London and Paris tend to take centre stage, there are countless other destinations promising exhilarating experiences for the adventurous traveller. This summer, take the road less travelled and explore some of Europe’s lesser-known gems. Below, we propose 5 trip itineraries, each a two-week adventure that features 2-3 destinations.

Nordic Exploration: Denmark, Sweden, and Norway

1. Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Things to do: Stroll around Nyhavn, the historic waterfront, and visit Tivoli Gardens, one of the world’s oldest amusement parks. Explore the fascinating exhibits at the National Museum of Denmark. Enjoy a bike ride around the city, which is renowned for its cycling culture. Visit The Round Tower, a 17th-century tower providing panoramic views of Copenhagen.
  • Events: During summer, you may catch the renowned Copenhagen Jazz Festival, a city-wide music spectacle hosting international artists.
2. Gothenburg, Sweden  
  • Things to do: Explore Universeum, a combined zoo and science centre : how cool! Make sure to also feast on fresh seafood at Feskekörka, a fish market. If you enjoy botanical gardens then Gothenburg Botanical Garden, one of the largest botanical gardens in Europe, will be the place for you. Continuing with the nature team you can walk through an indoor rainforest in Universeum Rainforest Zone. And lastly, wander around Haga, a charming neighbourhood with cobbled streets and vintage stores.
  • Events: If your visit coincides with midsummer, partake in the Swedes’ joyous celebrations, involving traditional dances around a flower-adorned pole.
3. Oslo, Norway  
  • Things to do: Did you know that the Nobel Peace Centre is located in Oslo? It’s a place dedicated to telling the story of the Nobel Peace Prize, so make sure to add this stop to your trip. Take a ferry to Bygdøy Peninsula, home to several interesting museums. For dinner explore Oslo’s trendy Grünerløkka neighborhood known for its vibrant dining and bar scene.
  • Events: During summer, you can witness the outdoor concert series at the Oslo Opera House, a stunning architectural wonder.

Eastern European Charm: Slovenia and Croatia

1. Ljubljana and Lake Bled, Slovenia
  • Things to do: Wander through Ljubljana’s charming old town, visit Ljubljana Castle, and take a day trip to Lake Bled, a fairytale-like lake surrounded by mountains. For a romantic experience, take a boat ride along the Ljubljanica River, enjoying beautiful views of the city. Explore Metelkova, a vibrant autonomous cultural zone in Ljubljana. Visit Bled Castle, a medieval castle overlooking Lake Bled.
  •  Events: Ljubljana Summer Festival presents a series of music and theatre performances within the atmospheric open-air setting of Križanke Summer Theatre.
2. Zagreb and Dubrovnik, Croatia 
  • Things to do: Visit Zagreb’s Museum of Broken Relationships, roam the historical streets of Dubrovnik’s old town, and relax on the pristine beaches. Wander around Tkalciceva Street in Zagreb, known for its numerous cafes and restaurants. Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb for a brush with the Croatian art scene. If you’re looking for a day trip you should explore the Elafiti Islands, a small archipelago near Dubrovnik.
  • Events: The Dubrovnik Summer Festival is a cultural event showcasing local and international music, theatre, and dance performances.

Mediterranean Escapade: Spain and Portugal

1. Seville, Spain
  • Things to do: Tour the Alcazar, a royal palace renowned for its stunning Mudejar architecture, and visit the Flamenco Museum to learn about this passionate dance form. If you’re looking for a green oasis in the city you should visit Maria Luisa Park. Visit the palace complex of Real Alcázar, a stunning example of Mudéjar architecture. If you enjoy performances and especially Flameco, you’re at the right place – go to the Triana district, known as the heartland of this dance form.
  • Events: The Noche de San Juan, a midsummer celebration, is marked with bonfires and fireworks across the city.
2.Porto, Portugal
  • Things to do: Visit the Livraria Lello, one of the world’s most beautiful bookstores, and taste the renowned Port wine at its source in the Douro Valley. The Dom Luis I Bridge offers a breathtaking view of Porto. Visit the Serralves Museum, a contemporary art museum set in beautiful gardens. When you get hungry, explore the Bolhão Market, a bustling food market in the heart of the city.
  • Events: São João Festival in June is a lively event with street parties, concerts, and traditional dances.
3.Lisbon, Portugal
  • Things to do: Take a picturesque tram ride through Lisbon’s historic neighbourhoods and visit the ornate Jerónimos Monastery. Visit LXFactory, an area filled with funky shops, restaurants, and street art. Take a day trip to picturesque Sintra, visiting Pena Palace and the Moorish Castle. Ride the historic Tram 28, it’s a great way to see Lisbon’s best spots.
  •  Events: Lisbon hosts a series of Jazz concerts in its parks during summer, providing a perfect atmosphere for a relaxed evening.

Balkan Discovery: Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina

1. Kotor and Budva, Montenegro
  • Things to do: For sure one of the must do things is to hike to the top of the Kotor Fortress for a breathtaking view of the bay, enjoy sunbathing on Budva’s sandy beaches, and explore the historical walled town. If the weather permits you should take a boat tour to Our Lady of the Rocks, a charming chapel on an island in the Bay of Kotor. Another idea for nature lovers will be to take a day trip to Lovcen National Park, home to the Mausoleum of Njegoš, offering stunning panoramic views. And last but not least, definitely visit the Budva Citadel, a medieval fortress with museums and a library.
  •  Events: Sea Dance Festival, a popular music festival, is held at the Jaz beach in Budva during summer.
2. Mostar and Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina 
  • Things to do: You can visit Mostar’s iconic Stari Most (Old Bridge), wander Sarajevo’s Bascarsija (Old Bazaar), and learn about local history at the Sarajevo Tunnel Museum. Explore Blagaj Tekija, a Dervish monastery outside Mostar, located at the base of a cliff and next to the source of the river Buna. If you’re a foodie definitely try authentic Bosnian cuisine in the atmospheric eateries of Sarajevo’s historic quarter. Visit the Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque, a 16th-century mosque and one of the main architectural monuments in the town.
  • Events: Summer on the Vrbas, held in Banja Luka, features a series of summer events, including rafting and kayaking competitions, concerts, and art shows.

Benelux Adventure: Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg

1.Bruges, Belgium  
  • Things to do: Take a boat tour in Bruges’ canals, visit the medieval Belfry of Bruges, and indulge in world-famous Belgian chocolates. If you’re an art lover and want to escape some of the summer heat, visit Groeninge Museum, home to a collection of artworks from the 14th to the 20th century. Explore the scenic Damme Canal especially at sunset when the lighting is just perfect. It’s an amazing choice if you like bike rides.
  •  Events: The Cactus Festival in July brings a wide array of global musicians to Bruges’ Minnewaterpark.
2.Rotterdam, the Netherlands  
  • Things to do: Explore the innovative architecture of Rotterdam, such as the Cube Houses and Markthal, and relax in the stunning gardens of Arboretum Trompenburg. Visit the historic Delfshaven district, which survived the WWII bombing that devastated the city. Explore Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, home to masterworks from the Middle Ages to the 21st century. Take a tour of the SS Rotterdam, a retired ocean liner and cruise ship converted into a hotel and museum.
  • Events: North Sea Jazz Festival, held in Rotterdam every July, is one of the most famous jazz festivals in the world.
3.Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
  • Things to do: Visit the Grand Ducal Palace and the Casemates du Bock, and take a stroll in the picturesque Pétrusse Valley. Visit the National Museum of History and Art, located in the Fishmarket, the oldest district of the city. Take a trip to the Bock Casemates, a network of underground tunnels used for defense as far back as the Spanish period. Explore the MUDAM (Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean), which showcases modern and contemporary art.
  •  Events: Throughout summer, the City of Luxembourg organizes a multitude of open-air events and festivities, forming the ‘Summer in the City’ festival.

These itineraries offer a refreshing perspective on European travel, veering away from the usual tourist trails. By exploring these less-frequented destinations, you can discover Europe’s many hidden treasures, and create your own unforgettable summer getaway. Happy travelling!

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