9 Places to visit in Europe this Summer

If Europe has been on your list for a while, then the European summer is the perfect time to blow your savings on a big trip over to make the most of the weather and the adventures.

Whether you are have always wanted to see the historical and cultural sights of the most beautiful cities in the world, or you are harbouring teenage fantasies that a local superstar will fall in love with you, Lizzie McGuire style.

Whichever is your reason for wanting to see the sights of Europe, I have put together the must see summer sights that are a little off the standard travel list to get you started for this summer.

Now that there is less than 2 month until summer, it’s time to pack your bags and book your flights! Oh and check out this list of amazing places to visit in Europe this summer.

 

Sail your way around the Croatian Islands

Forget the Greek Islands, the Croatian Islands is where it’s at!

If you are heading to Europe with a couple or group of friends, then heading to the Dalmatia Coast of Croatia to spend 7 days on a boat with your best pals might be for you! If spending your days sunbathing, swimming off the back of a boat, eating traditional food, partying and sleeping at sea sounds like pure heaven then make sure you add sailing the Croatian Islands to your itinerary.

Most tours depart from Split, but some also depart from Dubrovnik. Check out MedSailors and Sail Croatia which are two of the most popular tour companies.

Best timing: Go anytime!

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Bask in Barcelona’s history and culture

Barcelona is a must see if you are in Europe this summer, with it’s rich history, art culture (Gaudi, am I right?), exquisite food and while were at it, just give me all the sangria!

Whether you are an art culture fan or not, there is no doubt you will enjoy Gaudi’s architectural masterpieces from Parc Güell, Casa Batlló to the La Sagrada Familia, they are all exquisite and a lot of fun! If you are looking for something a little different then a trip to the Tibidabo Funfair above the city is worth checking out, for the views over Barcelona city alone. Since you are visiting Barcelona in summer, make a day trip to a coastal town near by and enjoy the sunshine, sangria and surf!

With all the amazing sights to see come crowds and lines, so you will need to put aside a good chunk of time to see everything and by booking online you will save money and time.

Now go get some tapas and sangria, after all you are in Spain!

Best timing: The best time to go is June or July 

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Explore the Cinque Terre and stop for Gelato in each town

The Cinque Terre or ‘the five lands’ region of Italy is so incredible, it’s almost out of a fairytale book and they even have the UNESCO World Heritage listing to prove it!

When visiting, the towns are only accessible by train, boat or your own two feet! Most people take the train or walk between each town, so for a different experience approach by boat!

Exploring each unique town for adorable laneways, souvenir shopping in the quaint village shops, taking a dip in the beaches, stopping for incredible Italian food or a refreshing glass of wine and of course the killer views are what the Cinque Terre is all about. As well as grabbing a gelato at each stop because you deserve it!

Getting there: Accommodation options are available in either the Cinque Terre or in La Spezia, a 20 min train ride away. The easiest way to get to the Cinque Terre is to fly into Pisa and catch a train to La Spezia, just make sure you validate your ticket. And while in Pisa make sure you stop by the Tower of Pisa for your token tourist shot!

Best timing: You can go anytime, but try and avoid school summer holiday periods as this will be the most crowded.

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Water and Wine Festival in Requena, Spain

Requena’s Water and Wine Festival is the ultimate Spanish Fiesta experience, hands down! The Water & Wine Festival takes place each August in the town of Requena, where the whole community comes together to celebrate the grape harvest…and who doesn’t need an excuse to celebrate wine!

The festivities start with a show in the local bullring which then moves onto a procession of the whole town following the ‘charangas’ or small orchestras through the town. While locals and tourists follow the charangas through the streets the local tradition is for the locals to pour water onto the crowd from their houses. When the procession comes to a completion it is then time to try the freshly harvested time and celebrate with music and more festivities, like the Spanish do, well into the early morning!

Getting there: Requena is about an hour by train from Valencia, make sure you book accommodation before you go. Alternatively, more and more tour companies are offering trips to the water and wine festival so this is an option as well in a deal with La Tomatina which is generally the following day.

Dates: Tuesday 30th August 2016

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Laugh yourself silly at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the largest arts festivals in the world, with a mix of well established, as well as up and coming performances, there is going to be something that you enjoy! During the day, you performers will take to the Royal Mile to flyer their shows for audiences, make sure you check out some of the free shows and try something new.

In between seeing shows, Edinburgh has so much to offer, you can check out the historical  walking tours that take you under the Royal Mile, explore Edinburgh Castle, climb Arthur’s Seat for incredible views of the entire city, or walk through the local cemeteries looking for names from the Harry Potter series – trust me it’s not as weird as it sounds.

Dates: 5th – 29th August 2016-04-03

Eat Portuguese Tarts in Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon is a great place to visit with friendly and welcoming locals, amazing sites, great night life and incredible food including the ‘Pasteis de Nata’ – the Portuguese Tart! While in Lisbon you will need to make a trip to Pasteis de Belem to try the best Portuguese tarts in the city, lines will be long but so worth the wait!

And if Portuguese Tarts aren’t your thing, make sure you check out the Castelo de Sao Jorge for great views above the city, a day trip to Sintra and the nightlife in the Bairro Alto district.

 

Dates: Go Anytime!

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Photo: Victoria Rhouliadeff

Get lost on the streets of Paris

Okay, so don’t actually get lost…

While Paris has some of the most amazing sights and attractions in the world, but a day roaming with nowhere in particular to be can allow you to see a lot more than rushing head down to the next place on your list.

I like to start the day off with breakfast at a café people watching, then strolling through the streets looking at shops and boutiques and picking up some treats for myself to take home. Go where you feel drawn to and what catches your eye and you will catch glimpses of the incredible landmarks that you may not have seen rushing about. My favourite region to explore is the Montmartre region where you’ll catch glimpses of the Sacre Couer as make your way through the region, and when you get to the Sacre Couer you’ll be rewarded with incredible views across the entire city!

Dates: Go anytime!

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Explore Brighton’s Seaside

Do you want to go to the seaside? Then make sure to take a daytrip to the Brighton Seaside where there is a great laneway culture of enjoying tea, home wares or souvenir shopping and buying lots of sweets.

And when you’ve had enough of shopping and tea then take a walk along the picturesque seaside or a trip to Brighton Pier for some fun fair activities including rides and arcade games. Just make sure you pack your sense of fun!

Dates: Go anytime!

 

Road Trip around the ring road of Iceland

While Iceland may not seem like the ultimate summer destination, it is definitely an alternate option from the more touristy and crowded European destinations. While sunbathing will be limited, there will be plenty opportunities for a swim in a geothermal beach or hot spring (the Blue Lagoon anyone?)!

Hiring a campervan for a couple of weeks to drive around the ring road and explore the incredible landscape of Iceland from the geysers, waterfalls and volcanos! Plus, there will be many opportunities to swim in hot springs, hike mountains and climb glaciers (must be done with a tour company).

Being summer, the evenings will be very short so make sure you take your strongest eye mask with you.

Oh, and try the hot dogs in Reykjavik, ask a local where the best hot dogs in the world are they will point you in the right direction.

Dates: Go anytime!

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And until next time, adios amigos!

 

Let me know in the comments where you are planning your summer trip to Europe.

How to make the most of your stopover in Iceland

What do you think of when you hear about Iceland? You probably know it as home to volcanoes, the mythical Blue Lagoon and that place Walter Mitty visits briefly in the film, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. But what you might not know is that this island is home to an incredibly sustainable culture, epic landscapes and the friendliest people you will meet.

Oh and they also have some of the best hot dogs in the world! (We’ll get to that in a minute).

So if you don’t know where to start but are planning a trip there or a stopover on your way between Europe and the USA, here my tips to get through your stopover and will leave you wanting more.

 

The Blue Lagoon

A visit to the Blue Lagoon is definitely worth the trip, but try and remove the expectation that this is a completely natural hot spring haven, but rather a geothermal spa turned day spa. It a great place to relax in natures beauty while enjoying a delicious detox juice or cocktail with your girlfriends (like I did) or your significant other. You can either go for the basic package which will allow you to spend all day relaxing in the lagoon with the mud masks, or you can make additions on top from massages, facials to full body masks and everything in between. Plus it’s a great place for people watching.

The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa located right between KEF airport and Reykjavik city, making this an easy activity to complete on your way to or from the airport but you could also spend a whole day there relaxing.

Activity timing: half a day

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Golden Circle Tour

The Golden Circle was definitely my favourite part of my trip to Iceland, the incredible sights we stopped along the way were like no other and got me much more interested in geology that I ordinarily would be.

The Golden Circle tour stops at the Güllfoss Falls, a set of waterfalls that are so large you can’t really tell where they start and end, and while they may look like the earth could start caving in any minute! Then the tour takes you to the Strokkur Geyser, one of very few natural geysers with frequent eruptions every four minutes, making it really easy to get that picture prefect Snap Chat pic to make your friends jealous back home. And the finale of the day is Thingvellir National Park, where you will be able to see the continental drift between the North American and Eurasian Plates or as I understand it, where the tectonic plates of Europe and Northern America meet! It’s so incredible to stand on this fault line and take in the scenery of these two different continents!

Activity timing: a full day

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Northern Lights Chasing Aurora Borealis

If you happen to be in Iceland from September to April then you may be lucky enough to see the Aurora Borealis, more commonly known as the Northern Lights. You will need to leave the city to see the lights, you can either go via a tour or if you have hired a car. Most tours take tourists to the national park where there is a lot of space and limited lighting.

Note that coming at that time of year, seeing the Northern Lights isn’t always guaranteed, so if you are unsure of the weather or where to go, make sure you ask a local or tourist office. Oh and don’t forget your tripod or your photos will look something like this.

Activity timing: full evening activity

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Hallgrimskirkja

A trip to the Hallgrimskirkja is a must do and not only is this church a great piece of architecture, it kind of looks like a Viking, but it also offers incredible views of Reykjavik! Make sure you take a trip to the Hallgrimskirkja tower, there are incredible views across the entire city which is a great place to get those panoramas! On your visit you may even catch the organist rehearsing, adding to the atmosphere, aren’t you lucky!

Activity timing: half a day

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Baejarins Beztu Pylsur

Baejarins Betzu Pylsur has become a local institution for the city of Reykjavik, this Hot Dog stand is popular with both locals and celebrities alike, they even had a visit from former United States president Bill Clinton! From the outside this appears like any street food vendor but the product speaks for itself. So no matter how long your stopover is, you will definitely have to make time to enjoy a trip to try the infamous hot dogs, and make sure you get it with the lot!

Activity timing: lunch or snack

Nautholsvik Geothermal Beach

If you are sick of all the black sandy Reykjavik beaches, then you can stop by and relax on Reykjavik city’s only white sand beach. As well as being Reykjavik’s only white sand beach, Nautholsvik geothermal beach is a great way to experience the thermal activity of Iceland without the trip out to the Blue Lagoon or the cost! Located just a short trip away from the Reykjavik city center, this beach is frequented by locals, so you know it’s good!

Activity timing: half a day

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Have you spent time in Iceland on a stopover? Tell me about your experience in the comments below.