Best Relaxing Summer Destinations in Europe
Europe is a continent with something for everyone. For beach lovers, there are islands and stunning coasts, for foodies, there’s a diverse range of cuisines developed over centuries of toil; for culture vultures, there are literally thousands of sites of global resonance; and for those seeking style and glamour, there’s cities like Paris, Milan, London.
If you’re feeling stressed by work or life, and just want a break to escape it all and are in need of peace and quiet, there are so many places you could go. From short city breaks nearby, to lounging on spectacular beaches or if just wish to relax surrounded by nature – to putting your feet up and watch the world go silently by.
Check out our list of the best relaxing summer holiday destinations in Europe, you’re bound to find somewhere which appeals to you.
1. Greek Islands
Greece is one of the best places to visit in Europe and for good reason, the culture, food, weather and sights attract millions of visitors every year. Although the most famous Greek islands like Santorini and Mykonos are very busy during peak summer, you can still enjoy a relaxing experience on some of the lesser known islands. You can also go island hopping.
If you’re a qualified sailor, you should look no further than a stint on a chartered yacht for your period of relaxation while holidaying in Greece. With notoriously calm seas making for extremely laid-back sailing – and with Greece’s coastline littered with islands hiding their own unique treasures – this is one of the best ways to kick back and relax in luxury throughout Europe.
Even if you’re not a qualified sailor, you can book a yacht tour with a crew in order to simply watch the turquoise waves from the sun-spattered deck of your very own boat.
2. Alpine Bliss
The Alps aren’t the only mountain range in Europe, but they may well be the most beautiful. Best seen from France, Italy and Switzerland – and gorgeous year-round – this set of mountains presents some of your best opportunities to kick back and relax in the very heart of Europe. In the winter, chalets with roaring fires are at your disposal between afternoons on the slopes, while in the summer the cool, Alpine air plays host to delightful hikes and downhill mountain biking in blue-skied, blissful silence.
3. Poland’s Woodland Spas
Eastern Europe is the less-visited area of the continent – which already means you’ll enjoy more privacy and space here than in other, busier parts of Europe.
But the lack of tourists in no way reflects the lack of sights – in fact, Poland is one of the most remarkably beautiful countries in Europe, if not the world. It’s famous, amongst other Eastern European nations, for the spas that dot its rural areas.
These spas are found deep in woodland groves that feel mystical and private. Luxury cabins here are affordable and opulent – the perfect break from fast-paced European travel.
4. Portuguese Riviera
Finally, heading to the western edge of Europe, there’s Portugal’s seaside gem: the Algarve.
Astonishingly beautiful and large enough to host large tourist resorts as well as the kind of villas the feature in your luxury dreams of beach-bound Europe, Algarve holidays offer privacy, culture, cuisine and relaxation in a country that’s proud of its culture, history and traditions.
Explore the coastline from your private villa, or simply stay put to relax in the sunshine – in either case, you’ll fall in love with this rock-and-sand part of Europe’s decorated coastline.
5. Scottish Highlands
Scotland might live in the public imagination as a windswept and harsh land, comparable to parts of Canada although a little less snowy, but in the summertime it’s a place of stark beauty that’s certainly the most wonderful place to visit in the British Isles.
With a generous smattering of golf and spa resorts set in complete isolation from the rest of the world, the spacious and fresh-aired feeling that you’re likely to encounter on your relaxation break in the Scottish Highlands will live long in the memory.
6. River Exploration
Europe is awash with rivers – huge arteries of water that spread throughout the continent – and many of them offer unique opportunities for relaxation.
The Danube River, running through Germany, Austria and Hungary, is one such river. You can take a cruise down a good length of this body of water, slowly chugging by medieval towns and villages as you spend your time on deck or in your luxury cabin.
Alternatively, for those with a little more energy in the legs, renting a bike upstream and cycling it downstream means you’ll rarely have to peddle hard as there’s a gradual downhill gradient throughout.
7. The French Chateaux
France is seen as a bit of a laid-back country at the best of times, so if you manage to retreat to a comfortable old farmhouse, stately home or mansion for the duration of your summer, your pulse is sure to slow to the most harmonious and patient beat possible.
Many such rent-a-homes are positioned in lush countryside, on vineyards or within fields of blossoming lavender – surrounds that will blow you away as you eat your morning croissant with a coffee, or drink a glass of red wine as sun sets.
8. Scandinavian Chills
Whichever Scandinavian country that you decide to visit during your trip to Europe, you’re guaranteed to find lakeside homes, mountain spas and utterly breath-taking scenery at every turn. These are countries steeped in Nordic traditions and at one with the natural world, which means that any lovers of pure wilderness can do no better than spending some relaxing time in the likes of Norway, Denmark or Finland. The further north you travel in these countries, the further into a land of silent mystery you’ll find yourself.
9. English Narrowboats
A quaint and quintessentially English holiday – and one that is unlikely to spring to mind when you’re considering relaxing trips away – is the narrowboat trip.
These boats, very much narrow as their names suggest, are free to explore the nation’s incredibly vast array of canals that connect the country’s old industrial cities, passing through the sleepiest and most charming villages as they do so.
The boats only max-out at around 5kmp/h, which means you’ll simply chug lazily along, watching the lush green countryside glide past as you wave at fishermen and fellow boaters throughout silent, peaceful and enjoyable days.
10. Relaxing City Breaks
If you are keen for a relaxing city break, for a weekend or longer, there are so many amazing places you could go. Here are some of our top picks where you can unwind, go sightseeing or take in different locations in peaceful surroundings:
- Copenhagen, Denmark
- Helsinki, Finalnd
- Kotor, Montenegro (as seen in the image above)
- Lisbon, Portugal
- Nice, France
- Tallinn, Estonia
- Zagreb, Croatia
While Europe might seem like a continent in which you’ll be forever traveling from city to city, you shouldn’t forget that there’s plenty to be found to help you relax and unwind during your trip, too – and with all the examples listed above, you’ll be spoilt for choice for quite some years.