As any seasoned traveller knows, navigating through crowds of tourists in popular European destinations during the summer months is a real struggle and can take some of the ‘fun’ away. However, with some strategic planning and research, it is possible to avoid the crowds and discover some hidden gems off the beaten path.
The busiest European cities to avoid in summer if you want to escape the crowds?
According to recent statistics, the five busiest cities in Europe during the summer are Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Amsterdam, and London. These cities are popular for their iconic landmarks, cultural attractions, and vibrant nightlife. For instance, Paris attracts millions of tourists annually, and the Eiffel Tower alone receives over 7 million visitors each year. Similarly, Barcelona’s famous architecture, museums, and beaches draw in over 32 million visitors per year. Rome’s historical sites, such as the Colosseum and the Vatican, attract over 10 million visitors annually. Amsterdam’s canals, museums, and festivals bring in over 18 million tourists per year, while London’s royal palaces, museums, and shopping centres attract over 19 million visitors annually. While these cities are undoubtedly worth visiting, they can get overcrowded during peak season, which makes it harder for travellers to enjoy their experience fully.
Apart from the busy cities, the coastal regions of Europe also receive a large influx of tourists during the summer months. The Mediterranean coast, in particular, is a popular destination, with countries like Spain, France, and Italy boasting some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The Costa del Sol in Spain, the French Riviera, and the Amalfi Coast in Italy, attract millions of visitors each year. Similarly, the Greek islands, such as Santorini and Mykonos, and the Croatian coast, with its picturesque towns and crystal-clear waters, have become increasingly popular among tourists. While these destinations offer stunning scenery and a great atmosphere, they can get overcrowded, and prices can skyrocket during the high season. Therefore, it’s worth considering alternative destinations that offer a more authentic and less crowded experience, such as the the Algarve, Albania, or less popular islands in Croatia/Greece.
A few tips to beat the crowds in Europe summer?
Here are some top recommendations to beat the crowds and step off the tourist path in Europe this summer 2023:
- Visit less popular cities: Instead of going to the most popular cities, consider visiting less crowded destinations that still offer rich cultural experiences. According to recent statistics, the busiest cities in Europe during the summer are Paris, Barcelona, and Rome. Instead of these popular destinations, why not visit Ghent in Belgium, Girona in Spain, or Matera in Italy? Check out a few recommended ‘off the radar’ destinations.
- Go off-season: Consider visiting popular destinations during the off-season. For example, Paris in the fall is just as beautiful as it is in the summer, but with fewer crowds. You’ll be able to enjoy the city’s landmarks and attractions without the hassle of long lines and crowds.
- Explore rural areas: Get out of the city and explore the rural areas of Europe. There are many picturesque towns and villages that offer a more peaceful and authentic travel experience. Consider visiting the Black Forest in Germany, the Cotswolds in England, or the Dolomites in Italy.
- Book in advance: If you must visit popular destinations, book your accommodations and attractions well in advance. This will help you skip long lines and avoid the hassle of trying to find available accommodations at the last minute. See a great list of unique and top accommodation here!
- Take the road less travelled: Instead of following the well-trodden path, consider exploring some off-the-radar destinations. Some of my favourites include the Azores Islands in Portugal, the Faroe Islands in Denmark, and the Albanian Alps.
Here are a few further articles to help spark inspiration and travel planning:
- See some top picks for European summer including a few hidden gems
- See a list of the Europe alternatives you should consider.
- See why the Balkans is an amazing region for summer travel!
- A list of hidden gem and underrated cities!