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Where To Travel in Europe This Summer 2024 [Beaches, Ruins, Culture and More]

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Lori Zaino
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Lori Zaino

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Lori is an intrepid traveler who loves creating itineraries that exude “luxe on a budget.” She’s written for CNN, NBC, The Infatuation, and more, and loves to muse about points-fueled trips to Sri Lan...
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Thinking of planning a summer trip to Europe in 2024? You’re not alone.

The World Tourism Organization predicts Europe will surpass pre-pandemic levels of tourism and international arrivals in 2024. The Olympics are beckoning visitors to Paris in July and August. And 2024 may be the last year U.S. citizens can travel to some of the most beautiful places in Europe visa-free, as 2025 is the year that the EU’s European Travel Information and Authorization System, or ETIAS, goes into effect.

You may already have plans to visit some of the best vacation spots in Europe in summer 2024, but if you know you want to go and aren’t sure where to visit, here are some of the top destinations in Europe for summer 2024. We recommend booking any international flights as soon as possible to get the best prices.

1. Rome and Ponza, Italy

Ponza Italy
Dramatic cliffs in Ponza, Italy. Image Credit: Kentaro Komada via Unsplash

Step aside, Capri and the Amalfi Coast. Ponza is the island sensation you’ve been waiting for, and better yet, it’s just an easy boat ride away from the tourist hub of Rome.

We know Rome is hot and sticky in summer, but the best way to beat the heat is in your delightfully air-conditioned room at The Rome EDITION (which opened in summer 2023) or in the opulent spa at the Six Senses Rome.

First-timers to the Eternal City can enjoy the tourist circuit and should visit sites like the Roman Forum and the Colosseum as early as possible to avoid the heat. Repeat visitors should traverse the Trastevere neighborhood for the best beat-the-heat cone of creamy gelato or visit the Monti area in search of funky antiques and one-of-a-kind vintage finds. Check out our guides to the best hotels in Rome and the best tours and activities in Rome for more insight.

Once you’ve spent a night or 2 in style and managed to rid yourself of jet lag, take a train to nearby towns Formia and Anzio, where you can catch the ferry to Ponza.

Ponza is part of the Pontine Islands, home to towering seaside cliffs overlooking crystalline waters. While the island is slightly lacking in sandy beaches, there are plenty of rocky coves to explore. Just be ready to traverse hills, as this island has many.

Hot Tip:

If you have a Capital One card, such as the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, enroll in a complimentary 6-month Cultivist membership for free access to more museums in Rome and across Europe.

2. Tenerife, Spain

Santa Cruz de Tenerife
A blissful beach in Tenerife. Image Credit: hjrivas via Pixabay

Many Europeans head to Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands, to escape chilly winters. Still, summer is one of the best times to visit, as temperatures are milder than in mainland Spain (think the 80s instead of closer to 100 degrees) but it still has the brilliant sunshine you’re searching for.

It’s easier than ever to visit, as United Airlines now offers a nonstop seasonal flight between Tenerife South Airport (TFS), one of the island’s 2 airports, and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR).

Tenerife is part of the 7-island Canary Island archipelago, a set of volcanic islands home to unique natural landscapes like black sand beaches, active volcanoes, and one-of-a-kind forests. Tenerife’s highlights include Teide, one of the tallest peaks in Spain (make sure to explore the volcano by taking the cable car for epic views of the barren landscape), and Anaga Natural Park, a lush microclimate that feels more Costa Rica than Spain.

The island’s beaches are nothing short of iconic, with dramatic cliffside black sands, windy surf hubs, and golden, sandy coves. The island’s north side is where the locals live and hang out, while the south, which often sees sunnier weather, is where visitors love to relax on the beach. Los Gigantes is one of the most impressive points on the island, with massive cliffs overlooking a black sand beach and the blustery sea. Meanwhile, those into oenotourism (essentially, traveling for wine) should head north to tour and taste at a number of vineyards — the island is home to 5 different wine regions.

If you’d prefer to get even further off the tourist track, take the ferry to the nearby island La Gomera, where you can hike through the famed Garonjay National Park, home to a forest of centuries-old laurel trees.

3. Bodo, Norway

Bodo Norway
Bodo, Norway, is a delightful spot for a summer break. Image Credit: 12019 via Pixabay

One of the EU’s 3 European Capitals of Culture in 2024 (the others are Bad Ischl, Austria, and Tartu, known as the intellectual capital of Estonia), Bodo is above the Arctic Circle, the ideal place to experience the midnight sun phenomenon (yes, where it’s still sunny at midnight). It’s also one of the best vacation spots in Europe for July or August 2024 for anyone who wants a Euro vacay but can’t handle the intense heat that plagues Mediterranean countries.

The city has more than 1,000 events occurring throughout 2024, including those revolving around art, concerts, cinema, dance, and family gatherings. There’s even a light festival and a pop-up museum dedicated to the indigenous Sámi population.

The area outside of the city center is known for charming highlights and natural wonders, such as Nyholms Fort and Lighthouse and Sjunkhatten National Park, home to towering fjords and clear lakes. You should also check out Saltstraumen, a small strait with extreme currents known as the largest whirlpool in the world. Thrill-seekers can raft right into the action on an inflatable raft boat tour.

Hot Tip:

Norway has some of the best hotel redemptions if you have a bunch of Choice Privileges Points, with stays starting at around 16,000 points per night. Bulk up your stash of Choice points by transferring points and miles earned from credit cards. You’ve got a few options: American Express Membership Reward points earned from a card like The Platinum Card® from American Express transfer to Choice at a 1:1 ratio; Citi ThankYou Rewards also transfer to Choice at an enhanced 1:2 ratio or 1:1.5 ratio, depending on the credit card you hold; and Capital One Miles transfer to Choice at a 1:1 ratio.

4. Kotor, Montenegro

Kotor Montenegro
The magical city of Kotor, Montenegro. Image Credit: Olga brajnovic via Unsplash

Travelers on a budget should consider a trip to Kotor, Montenegro, an affordable town set along the country’s glittering Adriatic Coast. Although the country uses the euro as its currency, Montenegro isn’t part of the Schengen zone.

One of the best cities to visit in Europe, Kotor’s medieval historic center is a delight to explore — think cobblestone streets, red-roofed stone buildings, and gorgeous views of the sparkling Bay of Kotor. Don’t miss hiking up to Kotor’s fortress, which offers panoramic views of the town and emerald sea.

Go beyond just Kotor and explore some of Montenegro’s other highlights on a road trip, like Budva and Sveti Stefan, both of which are charming seaside villages. For a bit of nature, head inland to the UNESCO-highlighted Durmitor National Park, which was formed by glaciers and is home to one of Europe’s deepest gorges, in addition to several lakes and hiking trails.

As it’s an easy drive from Dubrovnik, Croatia, you can combine Kotor (which will feel like a breath of fresh air after the tourist-heavy Croatian city) with a visit to some of your favorite “Game of Thrones” filming locations throughout Croatia.

5. Istrian Peninsula, Croatia

Rovinj Croatia
Rovinj is a charming town on the Istrian Peninsula in Croatia. Image Credit: Gerald Thurner via Pixabay

Travel to Croatia in 2024 is easier than ever. No need to fumble with annoying currency exchanges or complicated passport control, as Croatia has officially transitioned to the euro and is now a Schengen member country. (Though you should enjoy it while it lasts: You will need an ETIAS visa for Croatia once that system goes into effect in 2025.)

We previously mentioned Dubrovnik’s proximity to Montenegro. But those who prefer thin crowds and off-the-beaten-path sites should skip Dubrovnik in the summer months and instead head to the Istrian Peninsula, an incredibly beautiful region of the country that’s often overshadowed by well-known Croatian destinations like Dubrovnik, Split, and Hvar.

The Istrian Peninsula is relatively easy to navigate by car, making it an optimal destination for a road trip. The peninsula feels shockingly similar to Italy (think rolling, Tuscan-style hills, farms, sprawling vineyards, and colorful seaside villages), which is no surprise, considering it’s an easy ferry ride from Venice across the Adriatic Sea.

One of the best things to do on the Istrian Peninsula is hop from village to village, exploring charming, tiny towns and experiencing all they have to offer. Start by heading inland to Motovun, perched on a hilltop, then go coastal to Porec, which is a gorgeous seaside hamlet complete with famous Byzantine mosaics that history buffs shouldn’t miss. Then continue south to Rovinj, a fishing village that actually has its own archipelago of islands you can explore by boat.

Istria is also a budding destination for oenophiles, home to a number of vineyards featuring its native Malvazija Istarska grapes.

6. Azores, Portugal

The Azores in Portugal
The Azores are lush and beautiful. Image Credit: Maria e Fernando Cabral via Pixabay

It’s no secret that Portugal is trending. In fact, tourism levels for the country reached a record high in 2023 and are only predicted to rise in 2024 and beyond, according to Portugal’s secretary of state. And if you’ve been to hot spots like Lisbon or Porto recently, you’ll hear plenty of American voices as you traverse the hilly streets — U.S. residents have been moving to the country in droves. If you’d like to visit Portugal but without the tourist crowds and in a more thoughtful, sustainable way, consider heading to the country’s wild and remote archipelago: the Azores.

The islands of the Azores, scattered in the Atlantic Ocean between Europe and the U.S., are best visited in the summer months since June through September is their dry season.

There’s something for everyone in the Azores. Active travelers can appreciate hiking, diving (you can even dive with blue whales!), and surfing (several islands see massive swells). There’s also plenty of art, wine, cuisine, and architecture to admire in the islands, in addition to the diverse landscapes that offer everything from crashing waterfalls to volcanic craters.

Don’t miss top attractions like the Caldeira das Sete Cidades, a sunken crater and a set of lakes, or the many geothermal natural swimming pools, like the ones in Furnas on São Miguel Island.

Eating local seafood and sampling wine are some of the most interesting activities to do when visiting the islands. The Azores are dedicated to eco-friendly fishing methods, and a few of the 9 different islands produce wine. Pico is one of the most popular, featuring flourishing vines planted in mineral-heavy soil surrounded by volcanic stones that protect the grapes from the elements.

7. Warsaw, Poland

Warsaw Old Town
A charming square in Warsaw, Poland. Image Credit: Lāsma Artmane via Unsplash

Warsaw, Poland, is a prime spot for travelers who have already seen some of Western Europe’s highlights and are looking for something just a little bit edgier for their summer vacation or want to escape the crowds the Olympics will bring to France and beyond.

Warsaw is cold and snowy in the winter months, making summer an optimal time to see the Polish capital. The city’s old town is the best place to start, where you can wander the quaint squares and marvel at the medieval buildings that were reconstructed after World War II. Next, walk the Royal Route, which takes you past most of the city’s most important attractions and buildings, including the Royal Castle, St. Anne’s Church, and the Presidential Palace.

Take a green break and visit Royal Łazienki Park, which is the city’s most popular leafy space. As its name suggests, the park feels decidedly regal, complete with baroque buildings, statues, and plenty of floral blooms.

Another must-do is a stroll along the banks of the Vistula River, a popular hangout for locals and visitors. The left bank is for those who want to dine, drink, and chill, while the right bank is a tree-covered natural space that’s actually a habitat for many endemic bird species. Whether you want to rent a bike and ride along the riverfront, lounge at the river’s beaches, or take a river cruise for panoramic views of Warsaw, plan to enjoy the river — it’s what breathes life into Poland’s dynamic capital.

8. Athens, Greece

Athens Greece
The Acropolis in Athens, Greece. Image Credit: Constantinos Kollias via Unsplash

Many visitors to Greece head directly to the Greek Islands and skip Athens, the capital. But Athens is brimming with history, culture, cuisine, wine, and so much more, and shouldn’t be overlooked on your next jaunt to Greece, especially if you want to combine sunshine, the sea, and culture.

Just south of the city center, is the magical Athenian Riviera, a stretch of rocky and sandy coastline perfect for a city-and-beach break or a little sun and sand before heading off to the Greek Islands or the nearby Peloponnese region.

The Athenian Riviera is home to many hotels, suiting all budgets. If you’re feeling indulgent, the One&Only Aesthesis has recently joined the opulent Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel Athens, which is home to 3 private beaches and acres of gorgeous, wooded seafront.

But the Greek capital isn’t just for luxury travelers. Travelers on a budget should consider getting the Athens Card, which offers access to the Acropolis; Hop On, Hop Off buses; travel on Athens’ public transport system; and much more. The city offers affordable transportation and food, and there are plenty of things to do for free, like walking tours and exploring the many markets scattered throughout the city.

Hot Tip:

Besides the Acropolis, make sure to visit the Temple of Poseidon and hike up to Lycabettus Hill, one of Athens’ highest points, to snap iconic photos of the city below. The National Gardens are also a peaceful retreat from the hectic pace of the city center.

9. Malta

Malta
Malta’s history is vast. Image Credit: user32212 via Pixabay

Malta is tiny. But it’s packed full of sunshine, sea, and history, and it’s been voted one of Europe’s best destinations for 2024. Although summer can get hot, there are plenty of beaches to visit where you can dip in the sea to cool down.

Malta’s most interesting call is its capital, Valletta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and fortified port city. This city is home to more than 300 monuments (some of which date back to the 16th century), and just walking through Malta feels like stepping back in time or even onto a historical movie set.

The rest of the island is scattered with tourist-centric resorts, hidden coves, natural parks, and even megalithic temples (allegedly older than Stonehenge and Egypt’s Pyramids at Giza). Families can visit Popeye Village, the former film set of director Robert Altman’s eccentric 1980 box office flop that locals reclaimed and turned into a whole village of tourist attractions and activities.

Malta even has its own set of islands. Gozo is home to ruins and the golden sands of Ramla Bay, while Comino is best for day trips, as you can explore the entirety of it on foot. Both islands are accessible by ferry and much calmer than Malta, if you prefer a more serene vacation experience.

For those ready to party, there’s plenty of that in Malta, too. The Paceville area of St. Julian’s is the place to be for nightlife, whether you prefer bars, sunset lounges, or mega clubs. Malta is also one of the best places to visit in Europe in July and August 2024, with numerous cultural celebrations and musical festivals. And LGBTQ+ travelers will feel comfortable in Malta, too. While Malta may not have the most extensive queer scene in Europe, the ILGA-Europe Rainbow Index deemed it the most gay-friendly country in the world.

10. Istanbul, Türkiye

Istanbul
Istanbul spans 2 continents. Image Credit: user32212 from Pixabay

Visiting Istanbul comes with unique bragging rights, as you can come home and tell all your friends you went to both Europe and Asia this summer. The Turkish megacity bridges both continents, separated by the Bosphorus Strait.

Istanbul is full of impressive attractions such as the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sofia, and the massive Topkapı Palace. And you could spend days exploring and shopping at the Grand Bazaar. Cruising the Bosphorus Strait offers unique views of both sides of the city — and both continents. And don’t forget to check out the Istanbul Modern, a contemporary art museum set to open this year.

If you plan to head to Asia this summer, you may want to consider flying with Turkish Airlines to enjoy Touristanbul, the free city tour offered during long layovers in Istanbul. It’s an easy way to get acquainted with Türkiye’s largest city en route to your final destination and can make an otherwise boring and long layover a lot more fun. Eight different tours are offered, and passengers on Turkish Airlines flights with layovers between 6 and 24 hours are eligible to take advantage.

Final Thoughts

Europe is the place to be this summer, but with so many fun cities, top tourist destinations, blissful beaches, blockbuster cultural attractions, and popular summer events, it can be hard to decide where to go. Consider a visit to Warsaw, Malta, the Azores, or beyond to experience a different kind of Europe this summer, or tack one of the spots on this list onto a trip to Paris for the Olympics.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Where should I go in Europe in 2024 in summer?

Europe is a great destination to visit in June, July, and August. Consider visiting destinations like our favorite places in Europe to visit in summer 2024: Tenerife, Montenegro, Bodo, the Azores, Rome, Ponza, Italy, Budapest, Istanbul, Warsaw, and many others.

Is 2024 a good year to travel to Europe?

Europe is trending this summer and throughout the entire year. Although plane tickets may be expensive, a strong dollar would mean that, once you get to Europe, you’d probably spend less.

Where should I go in Europe this summer?

When deciding where to go to Europe this summer, consider destinations that are up-and-coming but not overly hot or crowded. New hotel or museum openings may also help you decide exactly which European destinations to visit this summer. Some of the coolest places in Europe are the most underrated, so keep that in mind when organizing your trip.

Where is it less crowded in Europe this summer?

To avoid crowds, skip popular, tourist-heavy destinations like London, Paris, and Barcelona. Instead, consider must-see places in Europe, such as remote islands like the Azores or lesser-visited cities like Warsaw. You might also want to consider “emerging” countries like Montenegro for a summer trip to Europe.

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About Lori Zaino

Lori is an intrepid traveler who loves creating itineraries that exude “luxe on a budget.” She’s written for CNN, NBC, The Infatuation, and more, and loves to muse about points-fueled trips to Sri Lanka, Sicily, and Myanmar.

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