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Travel tips

Booking a summer trip? Here are 7 unique places to travel that are popular for Europeans

May 27, 2022 by Emily Houston

We gotta give it up for the Europeans. They have their thumbs on the pulse of the best places to travel to that feel both unique and truly local. Of course, popular summer destinations like Barcelona and Rome will never go out of style. But there’s something special about heading off the trodden traveler path and discovering hidden gems across the continent. Here are seven places you can travel this summer where Europeans love to holiday, too!

View of Korcula old town on Korcula island at Adriatic sea, Croatia

1. Korcula Island, Croatia

We know and love the city of Dubrovnik (we talk all about it in our Croatia Travel Guide!), but the islands on the Dalmatian Coast are some of the best places to travel to that are popular for Europeans. This is partly because the atmosphere is a bit more laid back, and partly because the beach access is more readily available. Cooling off in the Adriatic after a day of sightseeing? Sign us up!

Most people may head to isles like Hvar, but Korcula Island is one of the top places to go in the summer thanks to its slew of activities to do. We’re talking strolling through the charming Old Town, drinking wine at seaside vineyards, and sunning on some of the world’s prettiest beaches. So, pull up a beach chair (or a kayak!) and explore this island by land and sea when you travel to Europe this summer.

If you’re making summer travel plans to Korcula Island, save time for these activities:

  • Visit a family-run vineyard and try indigenous Grk wine made from a rare grape only found on Korcula Island
  • Stroll through Korcula’s Old Town, which is called Little Dubrovnik
  • Kayak around Korcula’s interior bay and take a dip in the water at one of the islets in Korcula archipelago
  • Walk along the town’s fortifications as you learn how the city’s government became the first in the world to ban slavery

Visit Korcula Island

Traditional cone-shaped houses on a sunny day in Puglia, Italy

2. Puglia, Italy

Travelers love Italy so much it can feel like all the summer travel destinations are familiar. But head down to the colloquial boot heel and you’ll find a region with an old-school, authentic feel. Puglia’s one of the places to travel that’s popular for Europeans, and many Italians come here to spend their summers basking in the sun. “Puglia and Southern Italy is a fantastic itinerary,” said traveler Daniel after going on our Puglia & Southern Italy tour. “Not on the route of the usual tourist hot spots and more of an authentic Italian experience than most itineraries. We highly recommend this tour.”

Beyond the wonderful weather, Puglia also beckons foodies with Falanghina wine and fluffy focaccia. The Italian dishes made here are worth the flight—like orecchiette with broccoli rabe. If you’re looking for top travel destinations this summer where you can enjoy long days in the sun followed by dinners that stretch far past dusk, look no further than Puglia.

Travel in the summer to Puglia to enjoy these moments:

  • Go to Alberbello and step inside a UNESCO-recognized trulli, the iconic homes with symbols painted onto the roof to bring luck
  • Try Negroamaro, Primitivo, and Salice Salentino wines alongside a winery expert in the small town of Salice Salentino
  • Visit Bari’s Basilica of St. Nicholas, which contains the remains of the bishop whose penchant for anonymous gift giving inspired the legend of Santa Claus
  • Learn how to make fresh pasta and focaccia bread during a Pugliese cooking class

See our Puglia tours

Konyaalti beach in Antalya, Turkey. Long Turkish beach on the Mediterranean sea in warm sunny summer weather.

3. Turquoise Coast, Turkey

A trip to Turkey may recall images of ancient ruins or the smell of doner kebabs in Istanbul. And you’re not wrong! You’ll find those places featured in any great Turkey Travel Guide. But, you should add a visit to the Turquoise Coast to your Turkey bucket list—especially if you’re looking for the best places to travel to that are more unique. While it’s a stunner during any season, it makes our list of summer vacation ideas thanks to its location on the Mediterranean. The Turquoise Coast is called the Turkish Riviera and is home to resort towns all claiming a stake of the stunning shoreline on the country’s southeastern coast.

“I had been to Istanbul before and found the old city a wonderful place to explore,” said traveler Mary Ellen after returning from our Grand Tour of Turkey. “But Turkey as a whole exceeded my expectations. The beaches, the mighty Taurus Mountains, and the plains were amazing. I loved Antalya and the outing on the Mediterranean.”

Here’s what to do if you’re traveling in the summer to the Turquoise Coast:

  • Join your Tour Director in Antalya, a stunning coastal city known for its pristine beaches and beautiful scenery
  • Ride a cable car to the top of Mount Tahtali, the highest summit in Beydaglari Coastal National Park
  • Swim and lounge on the sandy shores of the Turkish Riviera
  • Explore the ruins of Phaselis, an ancient Greco-Roman city overlooking the Mediterranean Sea

Visit the Turquoise Coast

View of the port in Naousa village on Paros island, Greece

4. Paros & Naxos, Greece

Ok ok, Santorini and Mykonos will always have a special place in our heart. They’ll surely steal the heart of anyone looking for places to go in the summer, too. Often times though, these popular summer travel destinations come with more crowds and higher prices. But what if there was a way to get that Grecian vacation you’ve always dreamed of in a place that maintains a locals-only feel? May we introduce two of the top travel destinations this summer—Paros and Naxos.

They’re two places to travel that are more unique, but still have the dreamy beach landscapes that make Greece one of the places to go in the summer. “From crystal clear waters to still standing historic ruins, Paros and Naxos enchanted us around every corner,” said traveler McKenna after going on our Greece’s Cyclades Islands: Naxos & Paros. “Highlights included a catamaran ride, a Greek cooking class, and a behind the scenes tour of the Women’s Traditional Crafts Cooperative—authentic experiences that made our trip!”

Traveling in the summer to Paros and Naxos? Here’s what to add to your to-do list:

  • Sit down at a vineyard on Paros to try Monemvasia and Mandilaria wines, the two most popular varietals on the island
  • Sail around Paros before hopping in the water to snorkel and swim at the Blue Lagoon on Antiparos, uninhabited Despotiko Island, and idyllic Faneromeni Beach
  • Visit the Apeiranthos Women’s Traditional Crafts Cooperative on Naxos to learn how the women who work there produce traditional woven textiles
  • Join a local Naxos family for a hands-on cooking class to make traditional Greek cuisine

See our Paros & Naxos tour

View of the colorful terraced houses and mountains of Positano, Italy overlooking the ocean

5. Amalfi Coast, Italy

The Amalfi Coast may just be the go-to summer destination in Italy, which may have you wondering why it’s on our list of places to travel that are more unique. This region is more than just Positano though. Dotted around that classic spot are more off-the-beaten-path villages where lemons grow wild and wine flows freely. Not sure how to spend time on the Amalfi Coast? The pastry shops in Minori, gardens in Ravello, and farms in Amalfi are all great places to go in the summer. You’ll get all the charm of the most popular spots on the Amalfi Coast without all the crowds.

“EF's Walking Tour of the Amalfi Coast was more than I could ever have expected in every way,” said traveler Helen after returning from our Amalfi Coast Walking Tour. “The colors, the lemon groves, the blue green waters of the Mediterranean, every local guide and especially our Tour Director Lucca... all of these men and women exuded love, pride, and joy as they shared with us!”

Do these activities if you travel in the summer to the Amalfi Coast:

  • Saunter through stunning Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrone, famous for their beautiful gardens
  • Tour the lemon groves on a family-run farm and enjoy a tasting of foods made with the fresh citrus fruit, like lemon cake and lemonade
  • Try locally grown wine at the Marisa Cuomo Winery and see how the grapes grow in extreme conditions along the coast’s famous towering cliffs
  • Hop aboard a speedboat and cruise in style along the coastline to see the iconic, candy-colored villages from a new perspective

See our Amalfi Coast tours

People on a stone path suspended above the water while nearby boats pass through the craggy oceans cliffs of the Algarve in Southern Portugal

6. Algarve, Portugal

Planning summer travel to Europe can come with a higher price tag, but it doesn’t have to. You just have to know where to go to seek out the best deals of the season. Portugal is an affordable destination with a coastline that calls to sun lovers. So, while most people are basking on Greek beaches, you can discover the beachy beauty of Portugal’s Algarve region.

You don’t need to be a beach bum to love the Algarve though. With craggy sea caves and historic seaside fortresses, your inner history buff and water activity lover can fight over who will have more fun when you travel this summer. There’s no shortage of things to do in the Algarve. “The middle of our trip through the Algarve was wonderful,” said traveler Andrew after going on our Portugal: Porto, the Algarve & Lisbon tour. “We sailed through the caves in Lagos and visited all the wonders of this region. Simply put, Go Ahead has once again produced a great tour.”

Looking for the best summer vacation ideas? Here’s what to do on the Algarve:

  • Visit the seafaring towns of Lagos and Sagres
  • Enter Sagres Fortress and admire stunning views of the sea
  • Make a photo stop at Cape St. Vincent to soak in the scenery from the southwestern-most point in mainland Europe
  • Sail along spectacular cliffs and beaches, including the natural rock formations and caves of the famous Ponta da Piedade

See our Algarve tours

Glass of wine on a table overlooking a pier with many boats in Cassis, France

7. Cassis, France

Is there a more quintessential summer travel destination than the French Riviera? It’s truly the crème de la crème of European holiday spots. The French Riviera is made up of small towns that dot the 550-mile-long coastline. So how do you know which places to visit? Follow in the footsteps of vacation-savvy Europeans and head to Cassis. This seaside village southeast of Marseilles offer all the beaches, boat excursions, and colorful architecture any good summer trip includes.

“Cassis was my absolute favorite harbor town,” said traveler Wendy after returning from our A Week in France: The Riviera, Provence & Paris tour. “We took a boat ride out to see the Mediterranean Fjords up close and personal.” Traveler Marilyn agreed and added, “Local guides also added much to the trip, and the visit to Cassis was a wonderful halfway delight on our travel from Nice to Avignon.”

Check off these activities when you travel to Cassis in the summer:

  • Cruise along the coastline and through calanques*,* narrow fjord-like inlets carved into the white limestone
  • Take in stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea during a hillside walk above Cap Canaille
  • Snap photos of Cassis Harbor and admire the yachts docked here
  • Stroll through the town and pop into a restaurant to try some noteworthy Provençal cuisine

See our Cassis tours

Join us on tour this summer to visit all these destinations, or anywhere else your traveling heart desires!

About the author | Emily Houston
Emily loves the simple travel moments—like watching hours pass by in minutes while sharing a meal and a laugh (or many) with her friends and family. Outside the office, you'll find Emily listening to anything and everything John Mayer, attempting to cook a New York Times recipe, or dreaming up her next trip.

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views of the aegean sea from the greek islands with white buildings in the foreground views of the aegean sea from the greek islands with white buildings in the foreground
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