Greece: Best for beach-lovers and history buffs
With historic sites spanning four millennia, an incredible coastline, and islands ranging from hedonist holiday hotspots to rural idylls, it’s little wonder that Greece remains one of the best places for summer in Europe.
Sand, sea and sun-lovers will want to read up on the best Greek islands and the best beaches in Greece. If you fancy seeing cultural sights alongside soaking up the sun, scoot to Santorini, where you can relax on a range of beautiful Greek beaches after visiting Akrotiri, the Greek Pompeii.
Experiencing a Santorini sunset also happens to be one of our top things not to miss in Greece.
Blue beauty on Santorini – one of the best places in Europe to visit in summer © Shutterstock
Where to stay in Greece:
What to do in Greece:
9. Italy: best for romance
Narrowly missing out on the top spot in our reader survey of the most beautiful country in the world, Italy is hard to beat when it comes a European summer break offering adulterated romance.
From Tuscany’s rolling hills and vineyards, to the dazzling Amalfi coast, to romance-rich cities like Rome, Florence and Venice, Italy isn’t short of beautiful places that’ll help you realise your dreams of La Dolce Vita.
It’s a country that invites pleasure, with stunning islands like Sicily and Sardinia on which to get down and secluded, and a bounty of beautiful Italian beaches and eating and drinking experiences.
The romance of Tuscany’s rolling hills – hard to beat in summer © Shutterstock
Check out our guidebooks and ebooks for Italy, read up on things not to miss in Italy, and arm yourself with fun facts about Italy.
Where to stay in Italy:
- Best for romantics: Hotel Casanova
- Best for history buffs: Residenza Roma Imperiale
- Best for wine-lovers: Borgo Conde Wine Resort
What to do in Italy:
- When in Venice, take a private gondola ride for the ultimate in romantic experience. When in Rome, tour the beautiful Borghese gallery and gardens
Italy trips and tours with Rough Guides
- Looking for inspiration for your own romantic trip to bella Italia? You could consider a custom-made trip to the Italian lakes
- Or how about a romantic break in Venice?
- Try a tour that takes in three dreamy cities of the Italian Renaissance — Rome, Florence and Venice
8. UK: best for fun family road-trips
For a fun-filled family trip, the UK is one of the best countries for summer in Europe, with taking to the open road being an especially rewarding way to see the nation’s diverse attractions.
Not sure where to start? Find out things everyone should know before visiting Britain, and read up on the best road-trips in the UK.
Kicking off in the capital, kids and teenagers won’t be short of fun things to do during this trip. In fact, London is included in our feature on magical places to visit with children. According to Rough Guides’ readers, London is also one of the world’s coolest cities, and one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
No UK road-trip would be complete without spending time in Wales. West Wales’ Pembrokeshire gets a glowing recommendation in our feature on top British holiday ideas for children, while the country as a whole is home to a host of beautiful beaches, mighty castles, and rewarding hikes.
Pembrokeshire’s coastline makes the UK one of best places to visit in Europe in summer © Shutterstock
While Wales is small in size, it’s undeniably big on adventure holidays, historic attractions and sustainable travel – download the free Rough Guide to Responsible Wales to find out more.
To the north, Scotland serves up an exhilarating blend of historic cities, glens, lochs, and unspoiled islands, as revealed in our gallery of the most beautiful places in Scotland — as voted by you. What’s more, Edinburgh features in our round-up of the best places to go with kids.
Where to stay in the UK:
- Best for nature-loving foodies: The Grove
- Best for urban hipsters: The Zetter Hotel
- Best for Gothic grandeur: The Witchery
If you’re planning to visit the capital during a UK road-trip, compare a range of London hotels
What to do in the UK:
- Explore the prettiest villages in the Cotswolds and discover fun things to do in the area
- The good news is, many of the most beautiful places in the Lake District will also keep kids entertained — from pottering around Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top farmhouse, to riding the Ravenglass Railway
UK trips and tours with Rough Guides
- Take your car (or hire one) and embark on on a Great British road-trip
- Uncover England’s historic highlights
- Set off on a grand tour of Wales
- Explore Scotland’s wild scenery
7. Spain: best for food and fiestas
For foodies, Spain is one of the best countries for summer in Europe. And, if there’s one area of Spain that best showcases the country’s food and fiestas, that area is Andalucía.
The region’s three most significant cities — Granada, Seville and Córdoba — display Spain’s Moorish architecture at its most magnificent, providing awe-inspiring backdrops to al fresco dining and Andalucían fiestas.
Andalucía is known for its flamboyant flamenco tradition and fine food © Shutterstock
From Seville’s sensational tapas, to Jambugo’s jamón, to the seafood of Cádiz, foodies will find plenty to satisfy their appetite. For a taster, read our guide.
Sun and sand-seekers: don’t miss the best beaches in Spain.
You might want to consider visiting Madrid or Barcelona, or both on our cultural cities of Spain trip. Both cities offer opportunities to enjoy Spain’s best eating and drinking offerings, and the itinerary is fully-customisable.
Top tip: take any chance you get to chow down churros in Madrid, one of the best street foods in the world.
Tempting Spanish tapas © Shutterstock
For more info and inspiration, explore guidebooks to Spain, and take a look at things not to miss in Spain.
Where to stay in Spain:
- Best for traditional charm: Hotel Las Casas de la Judería
- Best for style-seekers: Vincci Albayzin
- Best for couples: Casagrand Luxury Suites
What to do in Spain:
- For a true taste of Seville, book a tapas crawl, or cooking class
- Going to Granada? Follow up a food tour with an authentic flamenco show
Spain trips and tours with Rough Guides:
- For a truly immersive experience, you might want to consider booking a trip to explore the best of Andalućia
- Or give your tastebuds a treat on a culinary break in Seville
Related articles from the blog
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- 12 things you didn’t know you could do in Europe
- The 10 best beach holidays in Europe
- 9 of the best road trips in Europe
- The 10 best scenic train rides in Europe
- 7 stunning European islands you’ve probably never heard of
- Back to nature: 8 of the wildest places in Europe
- City breaks with a twist: Europe’s 10 best homestay experiences
- The 10 most beautiful places in Europe – chosen by you
- The best beaches in Europe
6. Switzerland: best for scenery and cycling
Our survey of the most beautiful countries in the world saw Switzerland praised for its “spectacular scenery” and “beautiful spotless cities”. It’s also one of the best countries for summer in Europe.
Switzerland sparkles at pretty much every turn, with dozens of ways to enjoy exhilarating outdoor experiences. While adventurers will want to hike the Eiger in the spectacular Jungfrau region, you could also be inspired by scenery from a quaint mountain train.
That said, there’s no better way to experience Switzerland’s mountain passes than on your bike. Running between Italian-speaking Airolo and German-speaking Uri, the epic St. Gotthard Pass is hard to beat — think hair-raising hairpin bends, mountain villages, and, uniquely for the Swiss Alps, bone-shaking cobblestones.
Switzerland’s awe-inspiring scenery is sure to stop you in your tracks © Shutterstock
Switzerland’s urban hotspots are as sparkling as its lakes and ice-capped mountains. Head to well-heeled Geneva for museums, scenic shopping and Old Town charm. Meanwhile, cosmopolitan Zurich offers café culture and nightlife in sublime surroundings.
To discover the country’s diverse offerings, read up on things not to miss, and consider booking a hassle-free, tailor-made trip covering Switzerland’s unforgettable highlights.
For more Swiss inspiration, check-out our pictorial guide book. Given that Switzerland has four official languages — German, French, Italian, and Romansch — you might also want to search our range of phrasebooks.
Where to stay in Switzerland:
- Best for pampering: Sunstar Hotel and Spa Grindelwald
- Best for couples: Hotel de Geneve
- Best for alpine adventurers: Endweg Apartment
What to do in Switzerland:
- For the ultimate experience of Swiss scenery, jump on a train to Jungfraujoch, Europe’s highest railway station
5. Portugal: best for world-class water-sports and wine
Portugal’s expansive coastline makes it a hotspot for water-sports, with the Algarve boasting the country’s most sheltered — and popular — sandy beaches. In fact, this area is home to many of the best beaches in Portugal. Don’t like crowds? Discover where you can get off the tourist trail in Portugal.
While the eastern Algarve is blessed with warm coves to swim in, the western coast has magnificent expanses of beach that face the mighty Atlantic Ocean, making for thrilling surfing and wind-surfing experiences – this is Portugal at its most exhilarating.
Wild water-sports await in Nazare, Portugal © Shutterstock
Chances are, you’ll need something to soak up all that world-class wine, so you’d do well to read up on the best restaurants in Portugal — a country that’s packed with excellent eating and drinking experiences.
Undecided about where to fly? Explore that all-important question, Porto or Lisbon: which should you visit first? and read up on things not to miss in Portugal.
Where to stay in Portugal:
- Best for luxury lovers: TURIM Terreiro do Paço Hotel
- Best for families: Torel Avantgarde
- Best for surfers: Vila Gale Ericeira
What to do in Portugal:
- Based in Lisbon? Discover Sintra’s beauty, history and romantic Pena Palace, and the stunning coastlines of Cabo da Roca and Cascais
- From Porto, we recommend taking a relaxing river cruise to a duo of Douro Valley vineyards
Portugal trips and tours with Rough Guides
- Like to avoid crowds? Take an off-the-beaten-track tour of North Portugal from Porto — think fine wine (of course) and opportunities to wind down in lesser-visited beauty spots
- No trip to Portugal would be complete without enjoying the country’s wine and port. To do exactly that while exploring stunning countryside scenery, you could book a wine-focused tour to the Douro Valley
4. Sweden: best for midsummer festival fun
While Sweden is a glorious destination for travellers seeking space, serenity and sports around the year, experiencing the midsummer solstice celebration provides a mix of magic and mayhem you’ll never forget. One of the best countries for summer in Europe, Sweden is also one of the best places in the world to visit in June.
Celebrated across the weekend closest to 24th June, Sweden’s midsummer celebrations spark a mass exodus from towns and cities as everyone heads to the countryside and coasts. Dalarna, the island of Öland, and the Bohuslän coast are among the most popular spots.
Maypoles are erected in gardens and parks as gigantic fertility symbols, while trestle tables buckle under the weight of huge feasts. The party extends long into the light night, with dancing and drinking accompanied by accordions and fiddles.
From where to go, to what to expect, discover more about Sweden’s unforgettable midsummer celebrations. And for inspiration for visiting Sweden at any time of year, read our guide to the best things to do in Sweden.
Stockholm’s archipelago attracts thousands of fun-loving midsummer celebrants © ROUSSELLE Xavier/Shutterstock
Midsummer festivities aside, visiting Sweden in summer also means enjoying walks through forests and fragrant meadows, and fun lake-based activities. And Sweden’s not short of fascinating cities, either. Stylish Stockholm offers great opportunities for rewarding day-trips, while easy-going Gothenburg boasts a glorious Old Town and excellent museums and galleries.
Keen to start planning your summer in Sweden? Read up on things not to miss in Sweden, and get your hands on a copy of The Rough Guide to Sweden. While you’re at it, you might want to brush up on your Swedish.
Where to stay in Sweden:
- Best for 19th-century style: First Hotel Grand Falun
- Best for cyclists and canoeists: Slipens Hotell
- Best for eco-minded families: First Camp Västerås-Mälaren
What to do in Sweden:
- Wildlife-lovers based in Stockholm won’t want to miss taking a nature trip with a campfire dinner to see moose, deer, wild boars, hares, badgers, foxes and plenty of birds
3. Slovenia: best for caves, castles and coastline
Happily, Slovenia’s elegant capital, Ljubljana, is a charming, convenient base from which to visit a host of the country’s attractions, with its own hilltop 15th-century castle to explore before you venture further afield.
Lake Bled is an absolute must-visit. A mere 50 minutes from the capital, this mirror-like expanse of water boasts a fairy tale island and cliff-top castle, with a backdrop of snow-capped mountains.
Perhaps most magical of all is the fact that Lake Bled somehow retains its atmosphere no matter how many visitors rock up for summer water-sports, winter ice-skating, and year-round enchantment.
Bleeding beautiful — Lake Bled, Slovenia © Shutterstock
Visiting Postojna Caves and Postjama Castle in southwest Slovenia, around 53 kilometres from Ljubljana, is another unmissable day-trip. On arrival at the cave system you’ll board a train that’ll transport you to a sublime subterranean world (Fraggle Rock, eat your heart out), culminating in a show-stopping, cathedral-like chamber.
A few kilometres northwest of Postojna caves, sixteenth-century Predjama Castle is a precariously-sited feat of architectural wonder — it’s built into and around an elevated cave entrance in the centre of a dramatic karst landscape.
Beyond its undeniably beautiful interior, Slovenia’s coastline might be short, but it’s incredibly sweet and varied. Discover the diversity of Slovenia’s coastline, from picturesque Piran, to the spa town of Portorož, often described as Slovenia’s answer to the French Riviera.
Piran makes it plain to see why Slovenia is one of the best countries in Europe for summer © Shutterstock
If you’re interested in nature and ecology, you’ll want to know why there’s a buzz about Slovenia’s bee tourism.
Want more inspiration? Find out about things not to miss in Slovenia, and dig into The Rough Guide to Slovenia. And, if you’re looking to visit beyond the summer months, find out what to expect from exploring Slovenia in spring.
Where to stay in Slovenia:
- Best for lakeside luxury: Vila Bled
- Best for families: Guesthouse Soul
- Best for travellers on a budget: Guest House PachaMama
What to do in Slovenia:
- For ease, book a guided tour to Postojna Caves and Postjama Castle – and you can do the same for Lake Bled
Slovenia trips and tours with Rough Guides:
- To experience Slovenia in all its majesty — from the caves and castles of its stunning interior, to that sublime coastline — you could consider booking a customisable treasures of Slovenia trip.
The incredible Postojna Caves, Slovenia © Shutterstock
2. Iceland: the best place to visit in Europe in summer 2022
Best for outdoor adventures
There’s a reason Iceland made it into our run-down of the world’s best adventure holidays for 2022. In fact, there are a tonne of experiences to tempt adventurers to visit — from ice and lava-caving, to glacier hiking and intercontinental snorkelling, and all against spectacular backdrops of glaciers, fjords and mighty volcanoes. See for yourself in our gallery.
Serious hikers will want to tackle Iceland’s most extreme trail. Alternatively, if you like to mix adventure with wildlife-watching and cultural experiences, check out our customisable trips to Iceland’s enchanting east, or the wild west, where cascading waterfalls and bubbling hot springs await.
Blue Lagoon – for adventurers, Iceland is perhaps the best place to visit in Europe in summer 2022 © Shutterstock
Talking of springs, before you go, read up on Iceland’s best hot pools, and the dos and don’ts of Icelandic spas. While taking the plunge is among the best travel experiences in Iceland, if you prefer going beyond the obvious, read our rundown of unique things to do in Iceland. For more information, check out our guide for the best things to see in the summer in Iceland.
Where to stay in Iceland:
- Best for lagoon lovers: Silica Hotel
- Best for thrill-seekers: Hótel Skógafoss
- Best for spa experiences: The Retreat
Alternatively, to take the hassle out of booking your accommodation (and everything else, for that matter), take a look at our Iceland itineraries
What to do in Iceland:
- Take a snorkellng adventure between the tectonic plates of North America and Europe at the Silfra Fissure
1. Croatia: best for sailing and island-hopping
With its gorgeous Adriatic coast offering over 200km of brilliantly blue sea and more than 1000 islands to stop off on, Croatia is one of Europe’s top sailing destinations. This is just one of factors that make it the top European country for a summer break.
Talking of which, head to handsome Hvar island for chic bars, fun nightlife and fine food. You’ll certainly be able to enjoy some of Croatia’s top foodie experiences here. There are plenty of reasons this celeb-attracting sunspot was included in our top ten Croatian island getaways as well as our roundup of the best honeymoon destinations.
Pretty Proizd beach near Croatia’s Korcula island © eldar nurkovic/Shutterstock
Given that the islands are home to many of the best beaches in Croatia, you might want to learn how to make the most of island-hopping in Croatia.
Sailing and island exploration aside, Croatia is also an excellent destination for adventure-seekers and culture vultures, as revealed in our run-down of things not to miss in Croatia. New to Croatia? Read our tips for first-timers and explore our range of guidebooks.
Been there, done that? For those who like to get off the beaten track, Croatia has plenty of unusual things to do, among them visiting the zany Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb, Croatia’s capital of cool.
Where to stay in Croatia
- Best for island elegance: Hotel Adriana.
- Best for Art Deco aficionados: Regent Esplanade
- Best for couples: Villa Dubrovnik
What to do in Croatia:
- Staying in a Croatian city doesn’t mean missing out on island-hopping adventures. You could, for example, cruise from Split to Hvar and Pakleni Islands
Croatia trips and tours with Rough Guides
- Try a tailor-made Dalmatia sailing trip — ideal for newbie navigators who want to enjoy exploring all those Adriatic islands (New to sailing? Read our first-timers guide to sailing in Croatia)
We’ve also compiled a list of the best places around the world to visit in June, so feel free to use it to plan your trips. And if you prefer spring season for your holidays, explore our guide to the best places to visit in spring.
Ready to pack that suitcase? Search the Rough Guides Shop to find the perfect guidebook or ebook to enhance your summer in Europe. Counting the pennies? The Rough Guide to Europe on a Budget will help you plan a trip that won’t break the bank.
Alternatively, to be freed from the stress of planning and booking your break, find out why taking a tailor-made trip makes perfect sense.