The Best Places To Visit In Europe This Summer
Summer! It’s not over yet and if you fancy basking in the rays of the sun, somewhere other than grand old Blighty then keep reading for the low down on some of the best places in Europe. The great thing is that as they are short haul destinations, you won’t have to don your compression socks and survive a 12-hour flight to get there!
Located in southern Europe, Greece is known for its beautiful islands that are scattered throughout the Aegean ocean, as well its is soaring temperatures. In fact, it can quickly get up to 35 degrees plus in some of the more southern islands, and so it is a hugely popular place for sun worshippers and holiday maker alike. In total there are over 200 inhabited islands, and of these, the following three are always an excellent choice.
Kos is one of the most southerly Greek islands. In fact, it’s closer to Turkey that it is to Mainland Greece, and you can make use of this by taking a boat trip to the coastal city of Bodrum if you like.
Of course, there is plenty of things to do on Kos as well, and one of those things is to sunbathe. Luckily, you will find that there are plenty of gorgeous beaches to frequent including the one at Kefalos, and the sandy beach at Marmari which is excellent for both sunbathing as well as windsurfing.
In fact, if you like it sunny, but not too warm Kos is a perfect choice because its island location means that there is nearly always refreshing sea breeze that makes it seem a lot less warm that it genuinely is. Be warned though that this can be dangerous too, so be sure to lather on that sunscreen and don’t shake and bake outdoors for too long; otherwise you may end up a tad redder than you intended.
Then there is the beautiful island of Crete, or Kriti as it’s known locally. Crete is one of the largest Greek islands, and it is pretty far south as well. This means you can expect sunny days, but be aware that its location means it can be somewhat humid as well as hot, and so may seem less warm that some of the other islands. Flights to Crete run at a very reasonable four hours though, so it’s a great place to visit without spending half of your break on an airplane.
Once you arrive, there is plenty to do there as well. Of course being a Greek island, there are many beaches to enjoy including the famous Elafonisi Lagoon which is not only picturesque but has deliciously warm water to bathe in as well.
However, sun and sea are not all this island has to offer. In fact, there is Mount Ida or Psiloritis to climb if you fancy a challenge, and at 2,456m, in Crete’s warm weather, it certainly will be a challenge if you do attempt one of the trails.
While on Crete you must also make time to visit the city of Heraklion. Located on the northern shore, Heraklion dates back to antiquity and so you will find many ancient treasures to explore here. One of which is the Palace of Knossos which dates back to 1900 BC. The settlement itself may date back as far as 7000 BC making it one of Europe’s oldest cities, and so is well worth a lookTreat yourself to a combined entrance take to the palace and the Heraklion Archaeological Museum to truly appreciate all the history involved. You can even book guided tours that will ensure you don’t miss out on any of the best bits.
Lastly, if you are considering a break to Greece you really out to think about Mykonos. Located much further north than Kos and Crete, Mykonos is still a massive draw for sun seekers and holiday makers, in part because of its gorgeous azure blue seas in which to swim and snorkel.
In particular, Paradise Beach located to the south of the island is known to be a great snorkelling spot with plenty of fish and other marine life to encounter. The water around Mykonos tends to be reasonably warm as well, being as it’s located in the Aegean sea, and this means only the bare necessities are needed for a successful snorkelling session.
Equipment to consider includes a face mask and snorkel, or you may wish to try something like the equaliser full face model by Ninja Shark Europe, as these will allow you to dive deeper and be more comfortable while exploring all the bay has to offer. Flippers can help a great deal too. However, you won’t need to worry about a wetsuit unless you plan to snorkel off a boat or in the deep ocean. Where things tend to get colder, a lot quicker!
While Greece and its islands are generally in a south to south-westerly location, the stunning country of Portugal is on the opposite side of the continent to the south-east! This doesn’t make it any less of a prime spot for those folks looking for some sun and sea though, and with many flights clocking in at less than two and half hours it is a truly short haul destination!
Of course, you are probably wondering whereabouts in this fair country you should visit for some summer sun, and my first answer to that question would be Gale located on the very southern tip in the Algarve region. Yes, I may be just a tad bias, as we have recently come back from a cracking trip here. Something you can read more about via this link, but it really is gorgeous and sunny part of the world.
Of course, a lot of Gale is about beach life, and you won’t be disappointed with plenty of sandy beaches, blue ocean, and rocky outcrops to see. It’s also popular to partake in a bit paragliding off the coat of Gale, and there are plenty of restaurant and eateries in which you can fill your belly as well. In particular, try Vila Joya which offers a gourmet restaurant with not one, but two Michelin stars making the perfect for a very special occasion!
Although, don’t think that is the only culinary treat on offer because in Gale you will find quite a few bars restaurant and clubs. You can even make thing super simple for yourself by downloading the Uber app and getting a taxi to and from town back to your accommodation. Something that is often a welcome surprise for overseas visitors.
Another location in the Algarve that is great for UK visitors is the beautiful town of Lagos. Praia do Camilo is the beach of note here, and you will find steep wooden steps that lead down to the sand where the Atlantic Ocean meets the land. Although, if you are looking to get away from the crowds then the planet Pinhao Beach is an excellent choice, as it tends to be a lot quieter than the other sandy spots in Lagos.
The church of Igreja de Santo António is also most definitely worth a visit. It has a tradition bell tower and a highly ornate, carved altar making it deserving of its title of National Monument. You can find out a little bit more about its rich history here, but it is believed to be the birthplace of St Anthony of Lisbon.
Not only is Lagos home to a historic church but a castle as well! The Castle of Lagos is medieval, and comes complete with crenellations! Its walls used to engulf Lagos, primarily as a means of protection, and some of these defences still stand today, if you care to visit them
For families that have little ones that get tired of the beach, there is the Centro Ciência Viva de Lagos, which is a science museum with pent of bright and interactive displays. There you can learn about urban geology and paleontology in Lagos, as well as attend summer workshops on sea life and the fauna native to the local area. You can even get a family ticket that allows you entry into the exhibits on 3d printing, robots, monsters, and a quiz trail! Ideal for whiling away an afternoon!
You’ll be pleased to hear that there are plenty of places to find a good meal in Lago as well including BARBOSA Bar & Kitchen which is an eatery with a contemporary, modern influence, and place where you can enjoy dishes such as octopus as well as an excellent selection of craft beers. They do a lot of live music too, so it’s a great place to hunker down for the night and enjoy the atmosphere.
Although, if you are looking for something that is a little less adventurous but still delicious why not try Restaurante dos Artistas? There you can sample dishes like Portuguese fresh cheese mousse perfumed with truffle oil, or pork belly served on sweet corn purée with cherry marmalade and chocolate-juniper jus.
I’ve heard that their dessert list is pretty good as well. You can even treat yourself to a carafe or two from the extensive wine menu, which is a fantastic way to finish off your night in Lagos. A place is so beguiling that it’s hard to believe that it is, like the other locations discussed here, only a short haul away.