Crowded beaches, long lines at galleries, and high hotel prices. Europe in summer can be stressful and expensive! But rest assured, despite Europe’s popularity as a summer holiday destination, there are still plenty of hidden gems to be discovered. From the Baltics to Scandinavia, we’ve put together our top tips for best European destinations to avoid the crowds this Summer.
Europe Summer Destinations to Avoid the Crowds
While countries like Greece and Croatia have become hugely popular with tourists hunting for a slice of beach, Albania has remained largely ignored as a tourist destination.
The Albanian Riviera (also known as Bregu) is a stretch of coastline that sits on the Mediterranean. This stretch of land is home to beautiful beaches, quaint villages, 2000 year old ruins, rolling hills and friendly locals, not to mention typical mediterranean fare and fresh seafood galore.
Not only is Albania home to some of Europe’s last untouched beaches, it’s also a fraction of the price of other popular summer locations like Spain, meaning you can enjoy a little more luxury for your dollar.
Finland - a country with more saunas than cars, and home to an estimated 1,500 brown bears. What better way to get away from the crowds and up close and personal with Finland’s national animal (the brown bear) than on a trekking holiday through the serene Finnish forest?
Finland has over 40 national parks, giving you a varying range of hikes to choose from. National parks in Finland are extremely well managed, with clearly marked hiking trails, nature trails, lean-to shelters, and camp sites. As well as the brown bear, a 3-4 day trek also means you may spot seals, wolves, elks, wild forest reindeer, and more.
With 5.5 million inhabitants, and boasting some of the cleanest air in the world, Finland makes for a great summer destination to avoid the crowds.
*2 night bear treks start at 300 AUD
Bosnia and Herzegovina
20 years after the Yugoslav Wars and the Siege of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina is finally back on the map. This beautiful country remains largely untouched by tourism, but for how long?
Besides the well-trodden towns of Mostar and the slightly busier Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina offers incredible natural beauty. What’s more, influences from Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman and Islamic cultures shape its architecture, cuisine and everyday life.
The unspoiled beauty of this country makes it great for hikes, trekking, climbing and swimming in its lakes and rivers, like the stunning Kravice waterfalls. Entrance to these breathtaking falls is only 3 AUD. The best thing? There’s barely anyone around.
When compared to Spain, which gets an average of 75 million tourists a year, neighbouring Portugal attracts far fewer, at 10 million a year. While this may seem like a lot of people, it doesn’t take much to escape the crowds in Portugal.
Portugal boasts year-round mild temperatures, attractive prices, and plenty to see and do. It’s hard not to fall in love with its sleepy beach towns, empty beaches, quiet restaurants and abundance of authentic local experiences - minus the crowds.
Southern Portugal sees temperatures rise to 30 degrees, whilst the north remains comfortably cooler. Learn to surf, check out a festival, or visit vineyards all summer long.
*A wine tasting day tour up or down the Douro will set you back 100 AUD
Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania
For an art-infused summer holiday without the crowds of France or Italy, it’s worth checking out the emerging art scene in countries like Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
The capital cities of Riga (Latvia) Vilnius (Lithuania) and Tallinn (Estonia) are all Unesco World Heritage Sites. The charming architecture of these cities sits in stark contrast to the brutalist monuments left by the Soviets. It’s a little known fact however, that these cities also offer vibrant art scenes.
Highlights include the Lithuanian Art Museum and its 230,000-piece fine art collection, and
The Contemporary Art Centre and National Art Gallery with its 2,400 square meter exhibition space in Vilnius. Don’t forget to visit the Kumu in Tallinn, which is one Northern Europe’s largest art museums.
If you’re inspired to take one of these locations, make sure you check out our Travel Checklist for Europe for information on ways to get around, what you need to do before you get there, and more!
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