My 5 Favourite European Destinations for Summer
I forget how lucky I am that I have Europe on my doorstep. In just a few short hours I can be in a huge variety of different countries with different languages and different cultures. I didn't actually think about how amazing this really was until an Australian friend described the hours and hours of plane travel it took just to get out of Australia. In the time it took her to get out of her own country, I could literally plane hop my way over a few. Cheap flights and rail travel within Europe make this so doable, and I'm going to take more advantage of the fact that Europe is literally right there and go see some more places.
So I sat down and thought about all of the places I'd been, and all the places I'd still like to see. Thanks to my little stint travelling with Busabout after uni, I've seen more of Europe (especially Italy, my favourite) than I initially thought. But there are so many more places I'd like to see, and they aren't all massive tourist spots either (at least I hope not!) I decided to write a blog post about a few of the places I'd recommend visiting in this lovely place. And I added a few of my wish list places at the bottom too. Read on to find out my top picks!
When I first arrived in La Spezia, the gateway to the Cinque Terre the rain was lashing down, I was tired from hours and hours on a bus and all I wanted was a hot shower and a long sleep. It's safe to say I didn't give my surroundings so much as a glance, just Googled where my hotel was and set off to hunt it down. The next morning, however, I woke up to a beautiful blue sky and the promise of a day spent in some of the most beautiful surroundings I have ever seen - and that's saying something because Italy has some pretty beautiful scenery in general.
The Cinque Terre refers to 'five lands', five little towns along a beautiful stretch of coastline which attract millions of tourists every year. The reasons are obvious, from scenic walks to pastel coloured houses climbing out of the sea. It's a magical place, and somewhere I'd recommend for first timers to Europe. You can walk between towns (can be done in anything from six hours to a few days depending on how leisurely you'd prefer to be), take the ferry between villages to get a gorgeous view from the sea, or simply enjoy an ice cream on a terrace looking out onto the Med. It's really one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited, and somewhere I'd like to go back to. I like it so much my first ever mini post is about the place!
South of France
I couldn't narrow down the stunning Cote D'Azur to just one place, as the French Riviera has so many little destinations nestled into the one spot. I based myself in Nice, but was able to see so so many places in my few times there (the first time I even got to meet a famous face at Cannes Film Festival). Nice is a perfect place to stay, super central and lots to do. Stroll the markets in the old town, roller blade or cycle the length of the promenade and enjoy the food, drinks and nightlife that the city has to offer. And the shopping - can't forget the shopping. Check out my Nice post here for the places I loved when visiting.
As I said, I used Nice as a base whilst exploring as much of the South of France as I could - and I saw a lot! With so many tour companies it's super easy to get around with a guide, and public transport is great too - I took the train from Nice to Cannes and it was super easy. It's also just as easy to take the train the other way and head into Monaco for a little dinner and drinks outing if you're feeling fancy. Check out my South of France post for all the places I loved, and the tour company I used too.
Ah my Italian love. Rome has a special place in my heart, and is a city I feel I've never seen enough of. There's something about the old world charm and history of the place that just sucks you in and makes you feel as though you've gone back in time. Rome is a perfect city to visit for those who like to be on the go all the time. No relaxing here, there's something to be doing every minute of every day. Whether it's all the touristy first timer things like the Colosseum and the Spanish Steps or the adventurous wanderings that take you to new streets, new neighbourhoods and new pockets of the city it feels like no one has discovered before - there's just no time for a little afternoon off.
Rome is also the gateway to the rest of Italy. I travelled north to Florence by train, going through some of the most beautiful Italian countryside on the way. The train ride itself turned out to be just another lovely part of my trip, instead of a slightly inconvenient and stressful journey between two cities. Going the other way from Rome leads to places like Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast, areas high up on my bucket list for sure.
It's safe to say Rome is just a good place to base yourself in general if you travel to Italy. It's also somewhere I would love to live for six months, learning a little more of the language (and actually managing a relaxing afternoon). Regardless of the fact that there is so much to do in the city itself, the options are endless of other places to go! Prepare to spend a lot of time here...I know I'm desperate to,
When I planned my travels after uni, I took a Busabout trip through a certain stretch of Europe. It stopped in all the usual destinations, like Amsterdam, Rome and Paris; it also stopped in a few little corners of Europe I would never have even considered going to. As beautiful as Lauterbrunnen looked, I just wasn't that keen to spend a few days there when I could be in all the cosmopolitan, busy cities. Imagine my surprise when the little village in the Swiss Alps became one of the highlights of my whole trip.
Lauterbrunnen is a draw for all adventure junkies. From here you can base jump, white water raft, zip line, hike and do so many other activities that I sadly just didn't have time for. I did manage to squeeze in the white water rafting and zip lining and I cannot describe just how fun it actually was - even for an adventure wimp like me! Add to the fact that the village is one of the most picturesque places I have ever visited, a few days just didn't feel like long enough to squeeze everything in. If I ever go back I will be taking the Jungfrau train to the snowy alpine peaks - and maybe squeeze in a little canyoning session too!
Top tip: check out Outdoor Interlaken - the company I went white water rafting with. They have so many adventures on offer and are some really lovely fun people!
Santorini might seem like such a 'blogger' place to head to right now - and you'd be right. But it really is worth a visit even just to see the famous white domed churches, and squeeze in with all the other tourists at the best sunset spot on the island in Oia. The sunset is just as stunning all over the island by the way. Take it from someone who has been, sunset in Oia might be lovely but the sheer amount of people totally spoils it. Better to find your own little spot elsewhere.
Greece in general is one of my favourite summer places, but Santorini just has something magical all of its own. Set in a caldera, which brings in a lovely breeze to offset the Greek heat, the views over the water are beautiful, and walks into the main town, Fira, are cobblestoned and quaint - something you don't hear about many capitals! The island has something for everyone, from delicious food on cliffside terraces to party bars, shopping and helicopter rides for those looking to have a little adventure. I was happy enough lying by the pool all day and having a lazy dinner and a few drinks at night. The sunsets are some of the best in the world, and there is so much history to be found for those who want to go looking. Check out my Santorini post for my top tips.
Maybe I should have written about my 10 favourite places in Europe - I could go on and on all day about the places I love, but Europe in general is just a gem of a place. There really is something for everyone, and nothing is more than a few hours away. Given that, here is a little rundown of the places I want to see in summer.
- Iceland - I've been in winter (check out the post!), but a summer road trip around Iceland has been on my bucket list for ages now. I imagine it to be all waterfalls and empty roads. Definitely one to take on soon!
- Croatia - how have I never been to Croatia???
- Malta - For so long Malta was misrepresented to me - I thought it was going to be full of grannies and churches. But as the European city of culture this year, Valetta went straight into my top 5 places to visit asap
- Amalfi Coast - again, how have I never been here?? It seems quite expensive, but I think I could live on pizza for a few days. The views would be worth it, as would the Italian charm
- San Sebastian - this little Northern corner of Spain has always intrigued me. Maybe another area for a road trip?
I hope my top 5 helped you with your European travel planning for the summer. Like I said, 5 was a hard limit to stick to - Europe has gems dotted all over it, and I need to see more!
Like it? Pin it!