Summer is the perfect time to unwind and temporarily leave behind the woes of everyday life. And for many Americans, a summer getaway to Europe is a dream come true.
However, before booking your flight to Paris, Rome, or Barcelona, you should know that these cities are notorious for massive tourist crowds. While it’s true that they are must-see destinations, waiting in line for hours (especially under the glaring sun) or getting through crowded streets might not be worth it.
Fortunately, there are other places to consider that are less crowded and cheaper. So, if you don’t want your summer vacation spoiled by hordes of tourists, visit these 7 least-crowded European cities instead!
7 Must-Visit Least Crowded European Cities in Summer
1. Lyon, France
Despite being one of the largest cities in France, Lyon is surprisingly free of crowds, especially when compared to Paris.
The city is famous for its historical and architectural attractions that would surely pique any visitor’s curiosity. Must-visit attractions include the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, Gallo-Roman Museum, and the Roman Theatres of Lyon which was the site of Roman gladiator fights dating back to 15BC.
Lyon is also home to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites including the Fourvière, Vieux-Lyon district, La Croix-Rousse, and Presqu’île.
2. Bern, Switzerland
Not so far from Lyon is the city of Bern in Switzerland.
The Swiss capital doesn’t get enough praise during the summer as most tourists prefer to visit Zurich or Lucerne. However, Bern offers a wide range of attractions that would satisfy every kind of traveler.
Want to explore museums? Head over to the Museum of Fine Arts or Bern Historical Museum to learn about the city’s culture and history.
Prefer to visit churches instead? Bern Cathedral is the largest church in Switzerland that was completed in the late Middle Ages and inspired most of the city’s architecture.
Bern also features a UNESCO World Heritage Site, like Lyon, further proving that you must visit this city.
3. Naples, Italy
Want to experience an Italian summer getaway? Instead of visiting crowd-heavy Rome or Venice, you can head over to Naples.
As the birthplace of pizza, you can spend most of your time here sampling authentic Neapolitan pizza or even learning the traditional art of making it.
Aside from its food scene, Naples is also famous for its historic city center which is the largest in Europe and named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You should definitely visit the National Archaeological Museum, Teatro di San Carlo, and the Royal Palace of Caserta.
4. Valencia, Spain
Spain is one of the go-to summer destinations of tourists looking for pleasant weather, beautiful beaches, and awesome nightlife.
But if you want to avoid the crowds, skip Madrid and Barcelona altogether. Instead, visit Valencia on the southeastern coast of the country.
It boasts of a marvelous display of modern architecture, with the City of Arts and Sciences having the best-known futuristic structures. It includes a planetarium, an oceanarium, and an interactive museum that would keep any visitor, young or old, busy. There are also Gothic churches for those who are fascinated by ancient buildings.
Besides the architecture, Valencia also has several beaches where one can sunbathe or swim in.
5. Porto, Portugal
Compared to Spain, Portugal is still an underrated summer destination in Europe.
And despite being the second-largest city in the country, Porto hasn’t managed to attract big crowds. It is known for its picturesque hills that overlook the Douro River.
Expect a laidback promenade along the river filled with restaurants, cafes, and live music. You can also find river cruises at the city’s port where you can enjoy a hearty lunch while traversing the clear waters.
6. Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
Luxembourg is one of the smallest countries in the world. No wonder it’s often an overlooked summer destination.
But don’t let its small land area fool you! The country offers countless natural treasures that would surprise most visitors.
The capital city itself is filled with historic attractions and architectural structures. This includes the Beaufort Castle, Bock Casements, National Museum of History and Art, Passerelle Viaduct, and Old Quarter which was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
7. Riga, Latvia
Regardless of the season, tourists often forget about Baltic countries altogether. But you’re missing out on one of the most spectacular summer destinations in Europe, Riga!
The Latvian capital is often regarded as the “Paris of the North” due to its magnificent architecture, thriving art scene, and street-side cafés
It features a wide range of architectural styles from Hanseatic and Art Nouveau to Gothic and modern. This will delight most tourists who are looking to explore every building.
Aside from this, Riga is also known for its fusion cuisine that includes both traditional and modern, creative meals. Must-try dishes include rye bread, aukstā zupa (cold beet soup), and karbonāde (the Latvian version of pork chop).
Summer is the best time to visit Europe due to the pleasant weather and a wide range of activities available. However, it’s best to skip popular cities in your travel itinerary if you want to avoid long lines and crowded streets. Instead, visit these 7 least-crowded European cities for an enjoyable summer getaway!
Want to visit these cities on your next European summer trip? If you plan to travel by 2021, make sure you’ve already applied for an ETIAS Visa Waiver.
The E.U. Travel Information and Authorization System, or ETIAS in short, is a new required travel authorization process for U.S. citizens. It aims to ensure the safety of tourists and locals alike when visiting the Schengen zone in Europe.
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