Summer is a wonderful time for a city break in Europe. Amsterdam is one of my favorites because all summer long there are events and music to enjoy and a pleasant sea breeze keeps canal trips cool, even at night. The Dutch are friendly people who like nothing better than to have fun, party all night, dance and drink, but summer is also the perfect time to take in all the beautiful views this cosmopolitan city has to offer. to offer. The warm summer weather also causes blooms everywhere, even though the tulip season is over.
But Amsterdam is just one of my favorite European cities to visit in summer. My other favorites are Dublin, Budapest, Prague, Malaga, my hometown Berlin and Lisbon. All for a different reason which I will detail so you can make your own choice which will become your personal favorite next summer.
After the lengthy COVID-related restrictions and closures and rather cold winters that have plagued many parts of Europe this year, summer is the season we all look forward to, and summer city breaks are the best way to have the best of all worlds.
But, don’t get carried away with the packaging; some of these cities may be located in hot countries such as Italy, Spain or Portugal, while others, such as Ireland and the Netherlands, may have cool or even rainy days in summer, so be prepared.
As I mentioned before, Amsterdam loves to party. June sees a much-loved festival, the Bacchus Wine Festival in Amsterdam Bos in Amstelveen. The site is in Dutch and dates may change, but it’s a great event for wine and music lovers. Wines from around the world are on offer, to be expertly paired by sommeliers, and communal tables invite attendees to make friends quickly as everyone has a good time.
Tulip season may be over, but Amsterdam in full summer bloom can be enjoyed in the Hortus Botanicus with its exotic plants and greenhouses, or take a train to the spectacular Singer Laren Sculpture Garden.
My favorite summer thrill in Amsterdam is actually located in trendy Amsterdam Noord, and that’s the A’DAM Tower. Twenty-two floors overlooking the cruise port, you’ll find cafes, bars and, most excitingly, Europe’s tallest swing, which launches you into the air. Do not worry, you are well attached to your seat.
In the event of the occasional rain, there are over 50 museums to retreat to and indulge in art and culture of all kinds.
There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy sunny days in and on the water by taking a boat trip along the canals (day or night) or planning a day at one of Amsterdam’s sandy beaches. The largest and most popular is Zaandvort, but there are also urban beaches.
It is well known that it rains a lot in Ireland, so take advantage of the driest months: June to August. The streets are filled with festivals; you can explore the city’s many sights on foot, walk along the River Liffey, visit Trinity College and mingle with locals at the popular Bloom Garden Festival or Street Feast. All the while, sample Dublin’s hearty cuisine and as many pints of Guinness as you like in the cozy pubs.
Budapest in the summer is a delight for several reasons. The mighty Danube River flowing through the city invites countless boat trips to admire the impressive skyline from the water. Beach life in Budapest is well represented; there are baths and pools on the river, but my favorites are Margaret Island and Lake Lupa.
The Japanese Garden and Musical Fountain will delight you, but the main summer attraction is the Budapest Summer Festival on Margaret Island, also known as Freedom Island. Another summer festival is the Sziget Festival, one of Europe’s biggest pop music festivals.
For a summer day at the beach, the facilities at Lake Lupa are ideal. A natural white sand beach on a pretty lake near Budapest offers you all the amenities you can expect.
Budapest has a growing reputation as a festive city, and even more so in summer than in winter. The nightlife is lively with mainly young people dancing the night away. This means clubs and pubs can get very busy. If you don’t mind that, you’ll have a great time with Budapest’s nightlife.
Another advantage of visiting in the summer is that you won’t be frozen during your walks along the Danube or your hikes in the surrounding mountains and that public transport is easier. Morning rush hour traffic is less and, as the students are on vacation, the buses and trams are much emptier.
Malaga is located in Andalusia in southern Spain – a major port city on the Mediterranean Sea. It can get quite hot in the summer, but there’s often a cool breeze from the sea, and plenty of palm-strewn parks, wide avenues, and historic buildings lend shade. Given the high temperatures, Malaga residents take their walks and walks in the evening and wisely stay indoors during the heat of the day. My favorite night walk is strolling up to the Gibralfaro, the fortress that dominates the city.
I also enjoy driving along the beaches and resorts that reflect the glitz and glamor of the Costa del Sol.
If you are interested in art and want to escape the heat for a while and avoid the long lines at world famous museums, summer is the perfect time to visit Malaga as people prefer the beach to culture. A very cute and interesting museum is the Glass Museum.
Malaga is easily accessible as it has a huge international airport and several highways along the coast and leading inland.
As I mentioned before, Berlin, the capital of Germany, is my hometown and I love going there in the summer. The weather is generally sunny and warm, although there may be some showers.
Berlin is a huge city, and what I love the most is the abundance of woods, parks and water, which can keep you happy outdoors all day.
With some 3,000 lakes and rivers in and around Berlin, you’ll be spoiled for choice for cooling off in the summer. The classic is the Wannsee with a beach, sailing, swimming and all imaginable water sports. A very special summer experience is to take a boat trip in the Spreewald, just outside of Berlin.
Pro Tip: When you are in Berlin in the summer, you cannot fail to drink the typical Berlin summer drink, Weisse mit Schuss. This is an ice-cold wheat beer served in a glass as big as a bowl with a shot of raspberry syrup added. Very refreshing.
Another must-do is to take a boat trip on the River Havel around the historic Museum Island.
Summers in Prague are generally mild and warm, although there can be occasional heat waves and there isn’t much air conditioning, so plan accordingly. Prague is a city heavily visited by tourists, so when visiting the most important sights, like Old Town Square and the Astrological Clock, get there early, even at 8am. You will avoid the longest queues. When visiting Prague Castle, do the opposite: leave in the evening and enjoy a nighttime walking tour of the castle.
A walk over the Charles Bridge is a must and you can do it anytime, but preferably not in the midday heat.
Prague has several cool parks to enjoy in the summer and they all have outdoor cafes so you won’t get thirsty. The greenest and liveliest is Stromovka Park with attractions for children. The river that flows through Prague and under Charles Bridge is called the Vlatova and there are several lovely boat trips available.
As for beaches and resorts, there is only one, and it is called Zlute Lazne Beach Resort. There’s not much to say other than there are chairs, sand, and beach activities.
Pro Tip: A fun activity is the Prague Game. This is an interactive city-wide scavenger hunt where clues are provided. It takes several hours and is a fun team building exercise, perfect for anyone traveling in a group.
It’s hot in Lisbon in the summer, and that doesn’t just refer to the weather. Being by the sea there is of course always a cool breeze, but walking around the city center will definitely make you sweat. So what I love about Lisbon in the summer, besides enjoying the rooftop bars and terraces, is the nightlife of Bairro Alto and the beaches of Estoril.
Above all, I like to attend various world famous festivals. They range from jazz to religious festivals and fados. Here are the ones that take place all summer long: NOS Alive and Jazz Em Agosto. These events are worth suffering from a bit of daytime heat. But you can always head to the beaches of Estoril or Cascais or, further afield, to the Algarve.