Winter blues got you down? Here are the 10 best cities in Europe to visit this summer to shake off the cold
Do the winter blues have you dreaming of your next summer escape? Are you missing the late sunsets and vibrancy of the warmer seasons? Whether you love dipping your toes in the sand on a sun-drenched beach or strolling to a local cafe with those extra hours of daylight, there are summertime trips to Europe waiting for you. Here are a few things you may have missed during the winter, and 10 cities in Europe to visit to feel rejuvenated this summer.
1. If you miss the beaches, head to Mykonos
Summer is undeniably beach season, and that makes Mykonos one of the best places to go in Europe on a warm-weather trip. The island is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece to visit during your free time, after all.
Experience the sweet pace of island time on a trip to Greece and explore the beaches on our Greek Islands: Mykonos, Santorini & Crete tour. Turquoise waters lap against the white-sand shores while postcard-worthy views greet you at every turn. If you’ve spent the winter waiting for those long days on the beach, summer on Mykonos offers you all the time you need—there are nearly 14 hours of daylight each day during the summer months!
2. If you miss the colors of nature, go to Amsterdam
Seeing the warm-weather hues of flowers and trees is one of the most enjoyable things about summer. Lucky for you, blooms pop up across the Netherlands during the summer months—and Amsterdam is one of the best cities to visit in Europe if bright summertime colors are up your alley.
You can chase windmills and smell the fresh perfume of summer on a trip through famous gardens during our Amsterdam, Luxembourg & Brussels tour. Picture endless rows of bright bulbs below a windmill brought to life by the gentle breezes of an early summer day. The easy sway of the stems creates waves across the landscape as the color envelops everything in sight. If that sounds like a dream caused by too much time inside this winter, we want to assure you it’s real.
3. If you miss outdoor dining, take a trip to Paris
As the summer temps start to warm up, outdoor cafes are the places to be—especially in iconic European cities like Paris. There are so many things to do in Paris that will take you back in time, and lounging at historic outdoor eateries is one of them.
Many Parisian households don’t have backyards or outdoor space (not counting Juliet balconies), so residents need places to spend time outside. Enter the Parisian terrace. The key is cozying up in a pair of seats that face the road, since half the fun of outdoor dining in the City of Light is the people watching. Experience the joy of dining al fresco this summer—and see why Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe—on our London & Paris tour. Tightly packed tables and fancy sunshades adorn the exterior of countless restaurants across the city, creating places perfect for gathering and dining.
4. If you miss warm weather, plan a visit to Barcelona
All the best cities in Europe require layers during the winter months, which may leave you dreaming of warmer days when you can simply throw on short sleeves and walk out the door. Missing the kiss of the sun on your skin? There are many cities in Europe that allow you to pack an easy, warm-weather wardrobe—and one of our favorites is Barcelona.
With summer temperatures rising to the upper 80s, a trip to Barcelona shines in the summertime. It’s a world-class city perched on the edge of the Mediterranean, which makes a quick dip in the sea during your free time an unforgettable summer experience. The Catalan capital may be a true summer gem, but there are even more Spanish cities that you’ll love during the warmer months. If you can’t pick whether Barcelona or Madrid is right for you, just pack light and airy apparel for your summer experience on our Grand Tour of Spain. Then, soak in the incredible weather across the entire Iberian Peninsula.
5. If you miss lake days, take a tour of Plitvice, Croatia
If the winter blues seem to hit every time you pass a frozen lake, we know one of the best places to visit in Europe this summer: Croatia. Nestled along the Adriatic coast, Croatia is home to one of the most incredible lake complexes on the planet—Plitvice—making our Croatia & Slovenia: The Old-World Adriatic tour the perfect summer getaway.
Waterfalls cascade over limestone cliffs and fall gently into a string of terraced lakes in Plitvice Lakes National Park. Formed by a unique geological process, the lakes shift from shimmering green to dark gray to jeweled blue based on the mineral deposits floating in the water, making each visit to Plitvice unique. This is a protected national park, so swimming is off-limits. But, there are so many other reasons to visit Plitvice, and seeing the stunning hues more than makes up for it.
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6. If you miss lush green spaces, head to Cashel, Ireland
Winter is rough on green spaces. The lack of color and fresh growth often leaves us feeling like something is missing—a true sign of the winter blues. One perfect remedy? Taking a summer trip to Ireland!
If you miss green spaces in the winter, there is no better way to spend your summer adventuring than on the aptly named Grand Tour of Ireland. No trip to Ireland is complete without a stop at the Rock of Cashel, a nearly 1,000-year-old historic site in the Irish countryside. What makes the location so unique is the stunning contrast of the limestone outcropping and stone walls of the castle against the thick green fields below. It’s a surefire cure for any residual winter malaise.
7. If you miss extra-long days, go to Reykjavik
Does winter make you long for extra hours of sun, when brightness greets you in the morning and you still have enough light for a post-dinner walk? Good news: Reykjavik, Iceland, has a heavy supply of summer sunshine, and is one of the best cities in Europe to visit.
If you’re dreaming of extra hours of sun, beat the winter blues by joining us this summer on our Iceland: The Golden Circle & Ring Road tour. You’ll have a couple of days to explore Reykjavik, the unforgettable capital (and check our our Reykjavik neighborhood guide for ideas about what to see, where to eat, and where to shop). While the midnight sun—a true 24 hours of sunlight—only happens during a short period each year around the summer solstice, traveling on our Iceland tours during the summer months means you’ll regularly see more than 18 hours of daylight.
8. If you miss fresh fruits and vegetables, take a trip to Lisbon
There are many things that change in the shift from winter to summer, including the foods we eat. Longing for the fresh snap of local produce that signals the arrival of warmer weather? Lisbon is one of the best cities in Europe to visit on a summer trip, and you can experience the city’s fresh flavors on our Portugal: Porto, the Algarve & Lisbon tour.
The southern coast of Portugal, home to Lisbon and the Algarve, produces some of the freshest produce in Europe. Fig trees thrive in Portugal’s hot weather, providing a seasonal delicacy that residents wait for all year. Citrus, melon, and ripe cherries adorn the local stalls at farmers markets throughout the region, where an afternoon walk can easily lead into a luxurious summertime snack. A quick stop at a local bar for a petisco (a Portuguese snack) and a glass of of Vinho Verde (green, or young, wine) completes this summer cure for the winter blues in one of Europe’s best cities. (Looking for more summertime foodie recs? Our Go Ahead Travel Guide to Lisbon is the place to find them!)
9. If you miss walking outdoors, plan a visit to Florence
If the inability to take a warm-weather stroll is causing the winter blues, there’s a city in Europe that provides the antidote. Located in the center of Tuscany, Florence is the perfect cure for those seasonal woes. It’s one of the most walkable cities in the world, and while there are countless things to do in Florence, simply exploring on foot tops our list.
Get all your steps in during our A Week in Italy: Venice, Florence & Rome tour this summer. Strolling along the river and crossing the Ponte Vecchio on your way to the Duomo or the Uffizi on our Florence tours is the perfect way to soak in summer in the city. The Tuscan capital is chock full of beautiful buildings, galleries, and piazzas, and the winter blues will be left far behind as you explore one of the best cities to visit in Europe.
10. If you miss coffee shops, take a tour of Vienna
Summer is the perfect time for people watching and in-depth conversations with new friends as you start your day at bustling coffee shops—and there’s no better place to sip a cup of joe than Vienna. It’s one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, and its historic coffeehouses are some of the must-visit hidden gems in Vienna.
Set off on any of our Vienna tours (like our our Germany, Switzerland & Austria tour) and start your day with a pick-me-up at a cafe. Famously noted as meeting points for poets, painters, and revolutionaries, Viennese cafes became integral to the culture of Austria and central to the daily ritual of many residents. Today, you can experience the historic coffeehouse scene at many famous locations, preserved to give you an authentic experience. Whether you’re catching up about current events or asking a local where to get the best slice of Sachertorte, visiting a coffee shop is the best way to start your day on a summer trip to Vienna.