Listen up, globe-trotters and Europhiles. If you’re thinking of spending your hard-earned vacation days sauntering through Europe’s cobblestoned streets this summer, I’ve got one piece of advice for you: Don’t. Seriously, just don’t.
Lack of Creativity: The Sea of Monotony
Europe in summer is like the food court at a mall: crowded, noisy, and filled with people who think they’re getting an “authentic” experience but are really just following the herd. You’d be hard-pressed to find a spot on the Spanish Steps that isn’t occupied by another selfie-stick wielding tourist. The romantic canals of Venice? More like a flotilla of gondolas jam-packed with fanny pack enthusiasts. The tragic irony here is palpable. By chasing the same “must-see” spots, you rob yourself of the authentic experiences that make travel meaningful in the first place.
Seasonal Pricing: The Wallet Drain
You like burning money? Then, by all means, book that summer flight to Europe. High demand means high prices—from hotels and Airbnbs to activities and dining. You’ll be paying peak prices for a subpar experience. It’s like paying Michelin-star prices for McDonald’s. Who in their right mind would do that?
Construction: The Symphony of Jackhammers
You step off the plane, ready to soak in the historical beauty of, say, Vienna or Barcelona. But what greets you? The sweet serenade of jackhammers and the delightful aroma of asphalt. Many European cities use the good weather to catch up on infrastructure projects, which means you’re going to get to know the inside of a lot of construction barriers—real intimate-like.
Absence of Locals: The Ghost Town Phenomenon
If mingling with locals and immersing yourself in the culture is your idea of a great trip, summer is not your friend. Many locals wisely get the hell out of Dodge, leaving you in a ghost town filled with other tourists, equally puzzled about where everyone went.
Heat Waves: The Searing Discomfort
Europe has been experiencing some brutal heatwaves, making walking around ancient cities with limited shade a task of Herculean discomfort. Sure, the Instagram photos in front of the Colosseum might look nice, but they won’t show how you’re wilting faster than a lettuce leaf on a hot grill.
Criteria for a Good Trip
A genuinely transformative trip is based on:
- Authenticity: The real experiences, the ones that resonate in your soul, are often unscripted.
- Connection with locals: Sharing a meal or even just a smile can provide more insight into a place than any guidebook.
- Not feeling rushed: Real travel isn’t a checklist; it’s a lived experience.
- Expanding one’s mind: Get out of your comfort zone and challenge your perceptions.
Solutions: The Road Less Traveled
Alright, enough of the gloom and doom. Let’s talk solutions.
Spend more time in one place. Get to know the local café owner or the names of stray dogs in the square. Dig deep, don’t skim the surface. Slow travel allows for a genuine connection with a destination and its people.
The shoulder seasons—spring and fall—offer a better climate, fewer crowds, and more reasonable prices. You might need to carry an umbrella, but that’s a small price to pay for a more enjoyable, budget-friendly trip.
Step away from the crowds. Whether it’s a small village in Provence or a less-visited island in Greece, these are places where you can find authenticity and perhaps even a little piece of yourself that you didn’t know was missing.
So take it from me: Skip the summer swarm and find a more rewarding, more authentic, and less stressful way to explore Europe. You won’t regret it.
Cities to Avoid in Summer Due to Mass Tourism
It’s the usual suspects: Venice, Barcelona, Paris, Rome, Milan, Cinque Terre and Portofino, Amsterdam, Santorini, Dubrovnik, Prague, Athens, London, Istanbul, Vienna, Budapest, Lisbon, Madrid.
Where to travel instead? Here’s the list:
- Sibiu, Romania. A charming medieval city with a fascinating history and a vibrant arts scene. Plus, the Carpathian Mountains are just a stone’s throw away.
- Rila Monastery, Bulgaria. A spiritual oasis in the heart of the Rila Mountains, this site offers both history and serenity.
- Ljubljana, Slovenia. This green capital city has a laid-back vibe, picturesque bridges, and fantastic cuisine.
- Tallinn, Estonia. While it’s getting more popular, this Baltic capital still offers medieval charm with far fewer crowds than other European cities.
- Galway, Ireland. This harbor city offers traditional Irish culture, stunning landscapes, and is a gateway to the cliffs of Moher and Aran Islands.
- Jūrmala, Latvia. A short drive from Riga, this Baltic sea resort offers beautiful beaches and a peaceful retreat.
- Trakai, Lithuania. Just outside Vilnius, this town is home to a stunning island castle and offers a rich tapestry of Lithuanian history.