There might not be a more wonderful place on earth than Europe in the summertime. The leafy boulevards, live music, and a theatre and café bar culture make the cities come alive and especially enjoyable in the late evening sun. There’s something so stirring about the way the light hits ancient cobblestones and historic buildings during that time, all while enjoying a fresh cappuccino and a slice of cake. Bliss!
Of course, summertime on the continent also brings with it some problems, as crowds of people descend on the big cities and popular tourist spots to see the famous sites. Lucky for us then that world travelers like us are here with some awesome alternatives for your weekend away. If you’re tired of fighting the masses just to get a nice seat on the main square, then these options might well be for you.
“Where?!” One might quite rightly ask! It’s astonishing that many people have still never heard of the capital city of Slovenia, considering its perfect position within the heart of southern Europe, a stone’s throw from the holiday hot-spots of Italy, Croatia, and Austria.
It’s a beautiful, picturesque town, with distinctive bridges, charming streets and a castle overlooking the tiny city centre. And with close proximity to the stunning Lake Bled in the foothills of the Alps, it makes for a perfect alternative for a getaway as relaxing or as energetic as you like.
Perhaps the geographical location of Tallinn has ensured it is still one of Europe’s best-kept secrets, hidden all the way up in the Baltic region as the capital of Estonia. It boasts an ancient and delightful old town, as well as some impressive modern museums and attractions such as the award-winning Seaplane Harbour.
Estonians are an incredibly friendly and hospitable bunch, and they regard beer as a holy beverage, so the eating and drinking experience here is as delicious as it is historic – and potentially rambunctious too!
There’s a reason this picture-postcard town is known as the Venice of Portugal – so have a guess why? Instead of going to that saturated tourist attraction, visit the canals of Aveiro instead. It might not be quite as extensive as its Italian counterpart, but it will have considerably fewer crowds – and will be a lot easier on your wallet as a result.
Located an hour south of Porto, there’s still plenty to see and do in this little-known but historic destination, and it will make for a pleasantly understated romantic getaway if that’s what you’re in the market for.
Our stomping ground of Poland isn’t particularly well known as a weekend holiday destination, especially when compared with more western counterparts. But that’s a real shame because there are a lot of things to do in Krakow that a weekend wouldn’t do it justice – and we’re not biased, we promise!
Krakow has a wonderfully extensive medieval city centre, with beautiful architecture and more than a few tall tales, myths, and legends to enjoy. Visiting the Wieliczka Salt Mine and Schindler’s factory are particular highlights in and around the city.
Germany is a popular retreat for weekend getaways, but most people will overlook the beautiful city of Dresden located near the Czech border. The architecture is simply stunning on both sides of the River Elbe – for different reasons.
On one side you have baroque buildings dominating an iconic skyline, including the beautifully restored Frauenkirche and Zwinger Palace. The other side couldn’t be more different, with hip, trendy neighbourhoods, graffitied streets, parks and jumping nightlife. You’ll have an eclectic short break here that’s for sure.
While Prague is one of the most visited cities in Europe, regularly overrun with tourist hordes, little do people know there’s a miniature version located close to the Polish border in the east of the Czech Republic. Olomouc is still one of the continents best-kept secrets and makes for a charming, mellow and down-to-earth alternative to the capital.
It’s filled with hidden gems itself, as well as the stunning cathedral, town hall and UNESCO protected holy trinity column. Olomouc needs to be seen to be believed, but what you won’t believe is why it’s still totally unknown outside the country.
Go to Scotland, visit Edinburgh, don’t have time to see Glasgow. This is something of a recurring trend when it comes to tourists flocking to one of the most beautiful countries on earth. And while the Scottish capital is one of Europe’s most stunning cities, Glasgow has got lots of heart and well deserves a look.
It might be a bit rough around the edges, but with the best shopping, nightlife and dining scene outside of London, it’s a sin that it’s overlooked for other “prettier” UK destinations. The west end is particularly pleasurable including the famous Kelvingrove region and historic university, and it won’t cost you nearly as much as its (unfortunately) more popular rival an hour’s train ride away. The people are friendlier here too.
Over to you – where have you stayed that’s a great alternative destination for a weekend getaway? Let us know!