Travel In Europe: Late Summer Destinations That Aren't On Your Radar
A less obvious assortment of the continent's most spectacular cities
The most famous and glamorous European summer travel destinations are written about constantly. From Mediterranean getaways to beautiful cities farther north, the entire continent is full of places that are terrific to visit in general, but even nicer during the warmer months of the year. But instead of recapping the same old highlights of European travel we’re going to focus on a few less obvious destinations that can make for excellent options in the waning weeks of summer.
Croatia is the dominant destination in the Baltics these days, largely thanks to some of its seaside towns and cities on the Adriatic. In particular, Dubrovnik seems to have skyrocketed up travel lists in recent years. But if you actually look at Dubrovnik on a map, you’ll notice that it’s almost in Montenegro, at the far southeastern tip of Croatia. Of course, that means that Montenegro is home to many of the same beautiful landscapes that make Croatia so popular for tourists.
Kotor isn’t actually directly on the Adriatic Sea. Rather, it’s tucked slightly inland on the Bay of Kotor (which does open to the Adriatic a short distance to the west of town). It’s a stunning place that feels secluded without being too remote. It’s surrounded by small mountains and Venetian fortifications, and also has lingering historical influence from periods like World War II and Napoleon’s conquest. The town was listed as one of the best places in Europe to escape the crowds, and while it lacks some of the major activities and attractions of larger cities, it’s built for relaxation and sightseeing. Plus, it can be a lot more affordable than neighbouring Dubrovnik!
When you think of coastal destinations in France, you probably picture the many Mediterranean beaches and towns that are so often on travel bucket lists. But the Atlantic side of France has some outstanding destinations to offer as well, and this picturesque town on the Basque coast is one of them. It’s home to old resorts, an intimate bay, long sandy beaches, and one of the better surf schools in Western Europe (if you’re into a more adventurous late summer trip).
In addition to the surf school there are several museums and seaside attractions worth visiting. The town is also home to one of the most interesting casinos in Europe. There are actually a lot of arguments against such attractions, particularly given how the online industry is thriving. It’s said that online poker has combined all the perks of real life gaming and internet convenience. But Casino Barriere makes you realise that online gaming doesn't really have all the perks. This is a place where you can enjoy three stories of gaming and entertainment on the waterfront, and it’s a spectacular way to spend a summer evening.
In broader terms, England’s Lake District National Park is one of the best places in Europe to visit late in the summer. This time of year, there’s a little less rain (though there are still scattered summer showers), and the temperature can reach a pleasant 70 or 75 degrees. What better conditions could there be to explore arguably the most visually stunning natural region in Western Europe?
If you’re looking for a specific town to stay in while you explore the Lake District, Keswick is perhaps the most charming option. It’s a small town near Derwentwater, one of the famous lakes in the area, and you can find delightful accommodations at affordable prices. The Keswick Country House Hotel is an attractive option, built like a small castle offering luxury rooms and in-house dining. It’s a perfect base to stay at if you’re planning on getting out and exploring the surrounding area, whether that means hiking the trails, kayaking on the lakes, or even trying your hand at something like sailing or archery. And just in case you happen to be into quirky and unorthodox attractions, Keswick is also home to a whole museum on the history of pencils.
There are a lot of smaller towns dotted around Europe that look like scenes from fairytales, and Bled is one of them. Despite its somewhat unappealing name, it was included on a list of the 27 most beautiful small towns in Europe, and it might just be the most impressive one of the bunch. First settled in the year 1004, it’s spread across a small valley between the hills, and marked by a small island in the middle of its lake, and by the ancient Bled Castle on a hill overlooking the town.
The town’s best activities are most accessible during the pleasant weather of summer. These include hiking to Bled Castle (where you’ll find spectacular views of the town below), strolling around the island, rowing on the lake, and enjoying other nature hikes around town. However, it’s not all about outdoor activities. The area is also known for its spas, which means you’ll have some excellent relaxation options if you're just looking to unwind.