If you’ve never spent a summer in Europe, you are missing out. Whether you spend your time wandering the streets of Paris or hiking in the Alps, Europe has a certain summertime charm that is simply infectious. Only problem is Europe’s summer beauty is far from a hidden secret. The whole continent seems to fill up with tourists, millions of them, and suddenly your afternoon stroll in Venice seems more like making your way through a mosh pit.
Don’t worry though, there are plenty of summer travel ideas for Europe that will help you enjoy the charm without the crowds. Mostly, it is about getting a bit off the well worn tourist trail and skipping the packed trains and planes between the big cities. Here are our three favourite summertime travel ideas for Europe that will leave you feeling like you have discovered some of Europe’s still hidden treasures.
River Cruise Your Way Into the Heart of Europe
A “Grand Tour” of Europe is the dream of many and millions of people complete their own version of it each summer. Unfortunately, this type of tour isn’t all glamour and beauty and can actually be rather stressful. Hours each day can be spent checking out of a hotel, getting to the train station or airport, dealing with security, long lines, before getting to the next city and having to grab a cab, find your hotel, and finally check in. By then you might just be too tired to even want to go out and actually see the city.
Why not instead look into a European river cruise? Tranquil river cruises in Europe are an ideal way to see the sights and a popular option in the summer. Check in once, spend your days exploring cities big and small, and at night sleep while the boat takes you to the next port. It’s all the benefits of a sea cruising but with small, more intimate ships and a chance to really explore all over Europe. On one cruise you could easily see everything from the French countryside to the castles of Germany to the vibrant city of Amsterdam.
Rent a Vespa and Explore Italy’s Back Roads
The big cities will always be filled with travelers but because most visitors to Europe travel by train or plane, the countryside towns and smaller cities of Europe remain little hidden treasures most summers. Renting a car is a great way to see these out of the way places but for a bit more fun and adventure, opt for renting a vespa.
The iconic Italian scooter is a great way to explore the countryside and will let you get a real feel for local life. Zoom along the small backroads of Italy, stopping for photos, to explore village farmer’s markets, or even just to practice your Italian with the local farmers. With a vespa, there is absolutely nothing to remove you from local life and before you know it, you’ll feel like Italy is home sweet home. Plus, small scooters are often allowed where cars aren’t – like in small historic city centers and along winding coastal paths.
Slow Down with a Bicycle Tour of the French Countryside
Some people’s idea of a perfect vacation is sitting on a beach, drink in hand, and not moving a muscle all week. For many people though, it’s not a vacation without a little action, a little fun, and some adventure. If that sounds more like you, I’d suggest a European bicycle tour.
Riding through some of Europe’s most beautiful countrysides and exploring picturesque villages sure sounds like fun. And don’t worry, most tours only have you riding for a few hours per day. Most of your time is spent slowly pedaling along, stopping for picnic lunches along the river and enjoying the hospitality of great hotels in cute little towns at night. The Bordeaux region of France is particularly popular with these types of tours and offers a chance to ride along gorgeous vineyards, explore medieval villages, and stop at beauty old French Châteaus.