Just hearing or reading the word “Europe” invokes thoughts of divine food and wine, stunning architecture, beautiful landscapes and an abundance of art and culture.
Unless you’re specifically heading to Europe to ski, the best time to travel this breathtaking continent is undoubtedly summer. However, this is also the peak season when cities and tourist attractions quickly become swamped with visitors from every corner of the globe. So how do you take advantage of the best weather Europe has to offer while avoiding mad crowds and inflated prices? Here are a few top tips.
Go For The ‘Shoulder Season’
There are 2 ‘shoulder seasons’ for European travel and they fall directly either side of the peak travel time. Summer in Europe is during June, July and August. July is the busiest time of this 3-month window as it typically offers the warmest weather. But by travelling in May and early June, or late August and September, you can bypass higher tariffs, the worst tourist masses and the endless queues. The weather is still wonderful – but you don’t have to share it with quite so many people!
Staying Sane In Major Capitals
European icons like the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben and the Colosseum are so popular because they are genuinely appealing. So a trip to Europe isn’t really complete without at least laying eyes on some of the major landmarks. However, even in the quieter seasons, you’ll still have to brave the crowds and queues.
To minimise stress, choose to stay a little further out when stopping in major capitals. Not only will you pay less for accommodation, but chances are your hotel will also be a much quieter, calmer place to retreat to at the end of each day.
Staying in an outer suburb will also give you more opportunities to experience what life is like for the locals. You can explore laidback neighbourhoods, discover more authentic culinary delights and catch public transport when you’re ready to venture into the city. When doing so, be aware that some European cities have a pickpocketing problem. To play it safe, invest in some anti-left luggage and bags (visit a site like Bags To Go for more information and recommended products).
To really get the local experience, you might even choose to stay in people’s private homes through a service like Airbnb. You’ll still have the convenience of making online bookings, but you’ll pay far less per night than a hotel and you’ll usually be tucked away in a quiet residential neighbourhood. Hosts are often great sources of intel and will be able to recommend quaint little restaurants and other things to do and see that most tourists will overlook.
Get Off The Beaten Track
If busy city centres aren’t really your thing and major tourist attractions don’t appeal greatly to you (or perhaps if you’ve seen them already), it’s time to get creative with your itinerary. Do your research and head to some more remote towns and villages – or even consider visiting a less touristy country. For example, countries like Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia have loads to offer visitors but they aren’t often a traveller’s first choice.
Have you visited Europe during summer? What was your favourite highlight or what advice would you give to other travellers planning a European trip? Share your story or suggestion in the comments!