As the days get shorter and the temperature starts to drop, it’s only natural your thoughts may turn to where you can get your vitamin D fix for the next six months: Europe. But where do you start? Hardly a small continent, and while there may be much you want to see, do you try to do it all? Or should you pick a few countries with the aim of properly experiencing the culture?
We’ve got five suggested itineraries for your European summer to help you make the most of your time away and still come back feeling like you’ve had a holiday.
London, France and Italy
Combining two of the more popular choices for travellers to Europe, France and Italy provide the perfect mix of stunning coastlines, charming towns, vibrant capitals and, of course, wine regions.
Start your trip by flying into London, a city that knows how to make the most of any temperature over 18 degrees, before making the jump over the pond to Paris. From here, you can easily make the most of the Eurostar’s excellent connections to the South of France. While Nice, St Tropez and Cannes may be the popular choices, Eze, Aix-en-Provence and Marseille are all great alternatives on the smaller side. From here, you can head to northern Italy by plane, train or car. Milan provides an easy springboard to Lake Como, Venice, Florence, or Cinque Terra via Pisa. The train from Florence also provides a scenic journey through Tuscany to finish up in Rome before heading home.
Portugal and Spain (Iberia)
A great option, which ensures great food, sun, culture and coast, a trip to Portugal and Spain need not break the bank. Flying into Barcelona, make the most of this vibrant city with its enviable mix of architecture, food and beach before heading via Madrid to Salamanca, a picturesque university town with a huge amount of history. From here head west to Porto before making your way down to Lisbon and finishing up in Portugal’s favoured summer destination – the Algarve, taking your pick of Lagos or Faro for some much deserved sand and sun.
Less of a tourist trap than the two suggested itineraries above, the Balkans makes a wonderful option for your European summer sabbatical. Fly into the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo before catching a bus down to Mostar. A short drive from here you’ll find Blagaj, considered one of the most mystical places with its picturesque monastery and serene bubbling river. Cross the border into Croatia to an equally stunning but slightly more lively Dubrovnik. Once you’ve finished exploring the Croatian coastline jump down to Montenegro to explore the array of small towns, starting with Budva and Kotor.
Not for the beach bums among us, but summer is a great time to visit Central Europe for the simple fact of avoiding the harsh winter conditions. Kicking things off in Prague, make your way to Cesky Krumlov by car, arguably the most charming town in Central Europe. From here, you can visit Vienna via Salzburg or Hallstatt before heading to the unexpectedly beautiful Hungarian capital, Budapest.
For those seeking sun, sea and more sun this is the itinerary for you. Fly into Athens before making your way to lively Mykonos and romantic Santorini. Once you’re all ‘touristed’ out, make your way to the more laid back and cultural islands of Skiathos, Zakynthos and Corfu.
Are you heading to Europe this summer? Which of the five itineraries appeals to you most? Or do you have one of your own to add to the list?