Summer is always the perfect season to get out and travel, as the weather reaches its warmest and the days are at their longest. Since it can also be the busiest season, finding the right summer getaway can be essential to beat the heat and the large crowds of fellow summer revellers. For a mix of sun, sand, and something off the beaten path, be sure to check out our picks of great summer cities from across Europe and set your sights on the perfect summer holiday.
Tenby, Wales – UK
First becoming popular as a summer seaside destination in Victorian times, Tenby is a medieval harbour town located on Wales’ beautiful Pembrokeshire coast. Its Welsh name ‘Dinbych-y-pysgod’, means “little town of the fishes” or “little fortress of the fish”. It is officially located on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, which is one of the nationally recognised coastal trekking paths stretching from nearby Amroth to Poppit Sands.
In the summer, the numerous beaches are some of the best places to enjoy the sun and sand. There are 4 beaches found in Tenby alone: the North Beach, Castle Beach, South Beach (which all have Blue Flag status) and Harbour Beach (which is accessible when the tide goes out). The old town is also full of historical sites, shops and ice cream parlours, as well as pubs and restaurants. There are also regular ferries to nearby monastic Caldey Island, where beautiful views can be taken in while enjoying a lovely summer picnic. Visitors can choose to stay over however they like as the town offers up a choice of top hotels, b&bs, holiday caravans and camping options. Getting to Tenby is also easy as there are train and coach connections making daily trips to the seaside harbour town.
- Summer Traditions: Each Sunday in August the town offers up Tenby Summer Spectaculars (Bonanzas). From about 3 pm onward there will be a variety of food, music and entertainment, and events along the Tenby harbour which culminate in fireworks at 10 pm. The events are hosted by the Tenby Rotary Club and the Tenby Round Table, and will take place on August 2nd, 9th, 16th and 23rd. There is also the popular Tenby Paella Festival on August 30th which will offer up delicious seafood delights, entertainment and stalls.
- Typical Summer Activities: Coastal walks along the beach to nearby towns such as Saundersfoot and Amroth, trips and picnics on Caldey Island, spending the day at any one of the beautiful Pembrokeshire beaches, exploring rock pools when the tide goes out, and fireworks in Tenby harbour as part of the Tenby Summer Spectaculars
- Typical Summer Weather: Summer is usually sunny and bright with the least amount of rainy days during the year, however as it is Wales, it can always offer up sudden and quick weather changes. Still, in this part of the UK you shouldn’t be surprised to spot some palm trees around in many gardens.
- Average Temperature in Summer: 13 – 20+°C
Ostend is known as the “The Queen of the Belgian sea-side resorts”, so if you’re looking for a nice place to escape in the summer, this is an excellent place to go. Visitors can enjoy the beaches and walk along the promenade next to the beach, and can choose from one of the many bars, restaurants and ice cream places. There is also a nice casino found at this stunning seaside town, for those who like play with chance! Lots of festivals take place during the summer including a dance festival on the beach that takes place on the 11th and 12th of July. The North Sea Beer Festival also takes place in Ostend, where festival goers will find 150 beers from 20 breweries and beer firms, as well as food stands, music and kids play areas. This year the festival will be on for the 28th, 29th and 30th of August. At the end of the summer from 11-19 September is the Ostend Film Festival, which offers up the newest previews of national and international productions.
- Summer Traditions: Enjoying the local food is always a priority in the summer and doesn’t get much more authentic than hand-peeled shrimp with a Rodenbach beer in Ostend. For the freshest shrimp, head to Visserskaai and Vistrap, where only fishermen’s wives are allowed to peddle their wares. The grey Ostend shrimp are often called the caviar of the North Sea because of their crispness and intense flavour. The shrimp gain these properties from the typical processing on board the fishing boats, known as boiling à la flamande.
- Typical summer activities: Swimming in the sea and building a sand castle on the beach are great ways to enjoy the summer days here. Visitors can also opt for a boat trip, cycling around the town, and treating oneself to a lovely ice cream. Summer doesn’t get much better than this!
- Typical Summer weather: The weather is usually very sunny and comfortable, but for the odd rainy day, there is a choice of nice shops and museums to explore.
- Average Temperature in Summer: 13-21°C
Vlissingen (also known sometimes as Flushing) is perfectly situated directly in between the Scheldt river and the sea. As such it functions as a very important harbour for the Netherlands. Along the large boulevard situated right next to the busy harbour which has many terraces and an immense stainless free bench (122m long) that lets passerby watch and almost touch the large ships sailing to and from the harbour. Great things to do here include a visit to the Fort Rammekens, as it is the oldest sea fort in Western Europe, and its just 8 km away from Vlissingen. City tours through this lovely maritime city with a guide is a great way to learn more while exploring, and partaking in a beach volleyball game or tournament is also a great way to make some local friends. The city will also feature some summer concerts in July, and are a great way to enjoy summer days and nights.
- Summer Traditions: Ring Driving, which is a folk sport where contestants ride a horse and put their lance through a ring, are organised each year. This event is organized in the Bellamy Park in Vlissingen during the daytime. Another tradition is the fun fair which will be from 17th-26th July this year. Many hiking and bike routes through the delta works or beautiful surroundings are also available online.
- Typical Summer Activities: Hiking, biking, ferry tours, enjoying the water with a water taxi or taking part in a volleyball tournament are all great ways to enjoy the summer here. Sun bathing at the beach, and swimming in the sea or river are also sure fire ways to make a splash in Vlissingen.
- Typical Summer Weather: Because of the location on the sea, the summer can be hot! But there is also usually a nice sea breeze to keep things cool.
- Average Temperature In Summer: 26°C
The many beaches found in Alicante make this a recognisable and ideal spot to escape to during the summer. Hot, sunny days and great nightlife give this city a great summer feel around the clock. The food is also amazing, with fresh fish offered right on the beach. For travellers looking for a few sites to check out, there are many historic buildings to enjoy and visiting the Castle of Santa Barbara also boasts an amazing view of Alicante. Aside from going to the beach, the city offers many of activities and adventure sports to do. If the party atmosphere is what you are after, then getting a bus from Alicante to Benidorm can give you some time in one of the most famous party cities in Europe.
- Summer Traditions: The night of San Juan takes place on the 23rd of June. This celebration takes place all over Spain, but it has its roots in Alicante at the beach of San Juan. People gather on the beach to dine and drink. There is also a traditional bonfire which revelers can leap over while making wishes.
- Typical Summer Activities: Summer festivals, concerts, and a medieval market can be found in late June. Many of the summer festivals take place on the esplanade along the harbour, and of course the International Festival of Contemporary Music is an exceptional festival not to be miss!
- Typical summer weather: The weather is the perfectly warm without being oppressive with an arid Mediterranean climate and tropical nights. August is the warmest month in Alicante.
- Average Temperature in the Summer: 26°C
Castelbuono, Sicily – Italy
Castelbuono is the ideal summer location for those who prefer mountains to the seaside. The village is located in Sicily in the Madonie Natural Park. This little village with an ancient story is also the perfect place to escape from the city. The castle was built over the ruins of the ancient Byzantine town of Ypsigro in 1316 by order the count Francesco I of Ventimiglia. The name the village, Castelbuono, means ‘good castle’ in Italian. Not surprisingly, the castle is a must see! The castle, Matrice Vecchia, was built in the 15th century over a pagan temple. A great museum here explores more of the history and is definitely worth visiting.
Those who like lots of activities will find that excursions and trekking whether on foot, by bike or even horse riding are all possible, and one of the most popular treks is the excursion to the Gorges of Tiberius.
- Summer Traditions: On the 26th of July there is the GiRo Podistico Castelbuono, a 10km run around the city that has taken place since 1912, making it one of the oldest ones in Europe! From 6th – 9th August there is the summer festival Ypsigrock, which first started in 1997. There is also the Castelbuono Jazz Festival taking place in the middle of August. This classy and fun festival has been taking place here since 1995.
- Typical Summer Activities: Trekking, mountain biking, horse riding, enjoying the Madonie Park are all possible without the hot climate of the rest of Sicily
- Typical Summer Weather: Castelbuono has a temperate climate and during summer the temperature is around 25° with seldom rain.
- Average Temperature in the Summer: 16°-28°C
Cassis is an ancient fishing port village not far from Marseille, on France’s Mediterranean coast. Rebuilt on the old ruins in the 18th century, the centre is full of winding streets that look like a colourful maze just waiting to be explored. On every corner you’ll find food and regional market with typical products of Provence. The village is full of hidden squares with old fountains, where you can enjoy the silence of a mainly pedestrian city. Cassis in mainly known for its typical fishing port where fishermen still work using old traditions. Early risers can greet the fishermen returning from the harbour in the morning where they will sell their fresh fish and even some urchins when it’s the season. When it comes to food, just one of the many restaurants along the port will offer delicious dining, and visitors should be sure to ask for “l’assiette du pêcheur”. Relaxing on the beach after lunch is easy as it is just a few meters away from the port, or travellers can opt for a tour in the Calanques. Take any tour boat from the port (they leave every hour) and enjoy the sightseeing tour in the Cassis Stone quarries, where wild beaches are hidden in the turquoise water of the Mediterranean sea that are just waiting to be discovered!
- Summer Traditions: Fête de la Mer and Fête de la Saint-Jean: people come dressed up with the traditional Provencal outfit, then dance and enjoy the bonfire to celebrate the summer (21-25th of June). Joûtes de Cassis on the 27th of June is a really old Mediterranean tradition where different teams are fighting on a boat, with the aim not to fall in the port!
- Traditional Summer Activities: If you are up for a bit of a challenge, you can also discover the Calanques hiking from the top of the village down the sea. Trekking, cycling, and swimming are all typical activities and the panorama view of the sea from the Crete Road makes for a beautiful drive or ride. Of course picnics and dining al fresco are also a must here in the summer.
- Typical Summer Weather: Sunny, hot and no rain – but a bit of wind (le mistral) may breeze through on the seaside.
- Average Temperature in the Summer: Land temperature is 28°C, and water temperature is 24°C
Located in a unique panorama between the Brienzersee, Thunersee lakes, the “Eiger, Mönch and the Jungfrau” mountains, Interlaken offers an amazing landscape plus a youthful city with an interesting culture and wonderful nightlife. This destination is perfect for those who like to stay active, and swim in the lakes, then going to the Alps or the landscape surrounding the city for a hike or a bike tour is an ideal way to spend your summer days here. From windsurfing or waterskiing on the lakes to dining on one of the many restaurants or bars, there is plenty to see and do here.
- Summer Traditions: The Greenfield Festival is taking place here from the 12th to 14th of June. The Wilhelm Tell Theater Open Air is a more traditional festival centred around the most famous Swiss hero from mid-July until the end of August. From June to August there is also the “Interlaken in concert”, which offers up free concert events for everyone. The “International Trucker & Country Festival” (26-28 June) will also take place here and attracts people from all over the world.
- Typical Summer Activities: Interlaken is the “adrenaline capital” of Europe so you can and should enjoy extreme sports such as bungee jumping or paragliding. Taking a swim, a hike or cycling on the border of the Alps are also popular
- Typical Summer Weather: From June to September it is mostly sunny and lovely
- Average Temperature in the Summer: 25°C
Kiel is a pearl of a city found on the Baltic Sea coast in Germany. It is North Germany’s biggest city and has a vivid cultural life during the summer, including big events like the “Kieler Woche”, when ships from all over the world come together in the harbour to celebrate. The beautiful beaches here also make it great for a summer dip. Kiel also has a renowned university, so it is a great destination for young people and students.
- Summer Traditions: The Kieler Woche, where there are music events, international markets in addition to the numerous ships around the harbour. Having been celebrated for over 130 years, the Kieler Woche is the city’s summer highlight and is an event that attracts people from all over the world. This year it takes place from the 20 – 28 of June. Another great event is the “Kieler Umschlag”, a fleamarket that’s been held in the old town since 1975. From the 11th of July until the 30th of August there is also the “Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival”, for classical music aficionados.
- Typical Summer Activities: Swimming in the sea, cycling throughout the city, BBQs by the waterside and enjoying the city’s nightlife are just a few of the great things to enjoy in the summer at Kiel.
- Typical Summer Weather: Mostly sunny and perfect for summer, but as Kiel is located on the sea, rain can be possible.
- Average Temperature in the Summer: around 20°C
It is a perfect place to explore the Baltic Sea’s unique fauna and flora of the region, and this small city gives plenty of possibilities. You can also visit the nearby summer cities of Świnoującie and Międzyzdroje with their own long, sandy beaches. The island is the home of the Wolin National Park, where you can enjoy the view of the sea cliffs of Gosań and Kawcza Góra, and a wisent (European bison) sanctuary. It’s not all about the beaches and coast though, as on the Island of Wolin there are some nice lakes, such as Turkusowe Lake.
- Summer Traditions: In summer, Wolin gives you the unique opportunity to travel back in time. In late July and early August in the Wolin heritage park a Slavic and Viking Reenactment takes place. Each year, apart from warriors and craftsmen from Poland, various historical reconstruction groups and Slavic and Viking culture enthusiasts from all over Europe (Canada and Australia as well) arrive to Wolin to establish a village and for few days live like they would have lived 1000 years before. You cannot miss the most exciting part of this festival: the re-staging of a Viking sea battle and the on-land battles of the tribes!
- Typical Summer Activities: Renting a bike to explore the whole island, relaxing at the beach or the lakes and of course visiting the Slavic and Viking village.
- Typical Summer Weather: Usually sunny and warm, with little rain.
- Average Temperature in the Summer: 22-28°C
Feature photo of Tenby courtesy of Flickr: lhourahane
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