When it comes to city life, Europe really does it best. The continent is home to so many of the world's most adored cities, and each one is different, offering a new culture, cuisine, language and experience. Summer is the best time to explore some of these gems. From the beaches of Barcelona, to the gelato of Rome, to the riverside restaurants of Amsterdam, there are so many inspiring places to visit and so many reasons to visit during the summer months, when you can get a real feel for the city at its best.
Although Dublin is a fairly small city, it ranks highly on the travelogues of many visitors. The city is famous for its live music scene, free museums and many, many pubs (there are over 1,000 of them!). As a UNESCO City of Literature, it's also a paradise for readers. (In fact, you can combine both of Dublin’s loves with a literary pub crawl!) In the summer months, one of the best things you can do is explore the nearby fishing villages of Malahide, Dalkey, and Howth and taste your way through the local haunts and quaint restaurants. Here you can sample seafood, boxty pancakes, barmbrack and coddle, and wash it all down with a quality Guinness. For a dip in the sea, check out the swimming beaches at Dun Laoghaire and Sandymount. If you’re feeling particularly outdoorsy, hike the beach to see the Martello Tower or swim with the bravest at Forty Foot bathing point.
London is undoubtedly at it’s best during the summer. Beer gardens and rooftop bars fill with cheery people and parks like Hampstead Heath, Hyde Park and Kew Gardens offer respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. The best way to enjoy summer in this city? Grab a picnic and a bottle of bubbly and soak up the good weather in one of the 3,000 green spaces the city has to offer. Alternatively, make the most of the many summer food and drink festivals – there’s Taste of London in July and Blenheim Palace Food Festival in August. For sweet tooths, there’s also the London Dessert Festival (which is as delicious as it sounds!) There are also outdoor cinemas, open air theatres and music festivals for every taste in this great city – Mighty Hoopla, Yam Festival and All Points East are just some of the great ones running this year!
During the summer months, Icelandics get the pleasure of midnight sun, which means the party never ends! With up to 21 hours of sunlight per day, why should it? Summer is also the perfect time to bathe in Reykjavik’s natural hot springs – there are a total of 17, so take your pick. The Blue Lagoon is one of the best and is an absolute must on a trip to Reykjavik. You can also try your hand at stand-up paddle boarding in Alftavatn, snorkeling in Kleifarvatn or sea kayaking on the Reykjanes Peninsula.If you’re a nature lover, June, July and August are also the best time of year for whale watching, puffin watching and hiking some of the more remote areas (which often can’t be accessed because of road conditions).
It’s never a bad time to visit Rome, but summers in the Italian capital are particularly special. From al fresco dining to gelato tasting, there’s no doubt it’s the best spot for foodies. And of course, with the city’s incredible landmarks and architecture, it’s a must for history buffs and cultural explorers. It’s also jam packed with summer events - from outdoor film nights to music festivals. But it’s also great for anyone wanting some time to lounge in the sun – the city is only a stone’s throw away from Lake Martignano, Lake Bracciano and Ostia Beach.
During the summer months, Amsterdam feels like one big party, with music in the streets, outdoor dining and locals sipping cocktails by the canals in Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht. This is also the time of the year where the art scene comes alive. Throughout the summer, the Holland Festival celebrates theatre, dance, and music across the city, giving artsy travellers another reason to visit. If you fancy yourself a bit of a music buff, time your visit with the Amsterdam Roots Festival which takes place in Oosterpark in June and July.
Spain’s second city is known for many things: incredible architecture, avant-garde art, a fantastic football team, but also some gorgeous beaches. The sunny beach strips at Bogatell and Barceloneta are ideal for sunbathing and swimming and offer a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. If you’re looking for a holiday that combines city life with beach life, Barcelona is one of the best spots in Europe. Try to time your visit with La Nit De Sant Joan on the 23 June – the fireworks look amazing over the city. Throughout June and July, there are also plenty of opportunities to enjoy live music. The rooftop jazz sessions at La Pedrera are a must!
From boat trips down the Seine to picnics in the Jardin du Luxembourg, summer is the best time to get a feel for Paris. Best of all, Bastille Day takes place in July and is the city’s most important summer event, with live music, great food and fireworks over the Eiffel Tower. Fête de la Musique in June is another must – musicians take over the streets and bring every corner of the city to life. Film buffs will also love the annual open air film festival in Parc de la Villette throughout July and August. Paris is absolutely packed with events and festivals over the summer, but even without these, there’s so much to enjoy in the French capital. The charm and romance of Paris is palpable and summer is definitely the best time to experience this magic.
Clear blue summer skies, charming cobblestoned streets and, of course, pasteis de nata on every corner – these three things define a Lisbon summer city break. The best way to get a feel for the city is to wander. Be sure to take in the sunset views from the Rua Augusta and the Miradouro de Santa Luzia. Throughout June, embrace the summer celebrations of Festas de Lisboa and enjoy listening to fado, drinking vinho verde and tasting the much-loved grilled sardines. Another great part of a Lisbon holiday? You’re not far from some of the best beaches in Europe – Cascais and Estoril are only 20 minutes away, giving you a great reason to extend your trip.
Summer in Krakow is all about the festivals – from the Jazz Summer Festival to the Jewish Culture Festival, there’s always something on. For all the foodies and dumpling fans out there, there’s also the Pierogi Festival in August. But it’s not just about the pierogis, when in Krakow, other must-try delicacies include krówki fudge, bigos stew, and żurek soup! Aside from stuffing your face, the great weather also means it's the perfect time for wandering and taking in the architecture. Walk from the Market Square to Wawel Castle and admire buildings that date back to medieval times.Rynek Główny, the town's famous market square, is also a treat in the sunshine. Spend time browsing the local goods and picking out gifts to take home!
It’s very easy to picture the magic of Venice in the summer – gondola rides on a shimmering canal with a gelato in hand, surrounded by the beauties of the Rialto Bridge, St. Mark's Basilica and the Doge's Palace. For an escape from the city, laze on Venice Lido and enjoy a swim in the Adriatic sea. As the sun sets, visit the rooftop Skyline Bar for cocktails and watch Venice light up at night!