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Summers usually mean tourists thronging to European countries to visit the most famous places when the weather is being kind and explorable.
But did you know not all of Europe experiences maddening crowds and long queues outside popular tourist attractions?
Well if you did then I’m here to change that notion and show you 5 least crowded European cities in summer that are totally worth visiting because they’re just as beautiful.
Just think about it. Travel is convenient, food and drinks are cheaper, hotel prices are lower than usual and you can still see some breathtaking views while learning so much about culture and history.
They might not have been on your list until now but I suggest you add them to your itinerary during your next Europe trip.
So here are 6 least crowded cities worth adding to your bucket list and visiting in the summer.
1. Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
Luxembourg is one of the smallest countries in the world and one of the smallest European destinations that are also cheap to visit.
Unlike its more famous neighbours (France, Belgium and Germany), Luxembourg gets left behind during the summer and gets fewer crowds.
Luxembourg is known for its mild summers and has a bustling cultural centre that you can explore. It might be small but there is no shortage of things to see. You know what they say about Good things coming in small packages!
Whilst here, you can take the Passerelle Viaduc, also known as the Luxembourg Viaduct, to get to the city centre if you’ve entered from the south.
Opened to the public in 1861, the Passerelle came to be known as the Old Bridge once the ‘new’ bridge, Adolphe Bridge, came into existence around the early 1900s.
The flowers begin to bloom in April and May rings in the onset of summer with the hiking trails opening for the season. June is when outdoor activities flourish as it marks the start of the tourist season.
If you are visiting in June, you can go kayaking down the Sûre River and enjoy the festivals and events. The main event this month is the National Day on 23rd June which celebrates the official birthday of the Grand Duke.
The preceding evening has street processions and a massive display of fireworks along with a live orchestra above the Adolphe Bridge. So don’t forget to catch that performance.
The next two months are considered the warmest, and most busy as it is peak season. Visit the Luxembourg Castle or the Vianden Castle. This hilltop fortress is one of the largest fortified castles on this side of the Rhine and houses Medieval history exhibits.
Apart from the music festivals and outdoor events that happen, the Medieval Festival also takes place during this time and is one of the highlights of the castle.
Take the Vianden Chairlift (Der Sessellift) which goes above a hidden valley to provide you with stunning views of the Ardennes.
Visit the Victor Hugo Gomes Museum (Musée Littéraire Victor Hugo). It houses his letters, artifacts and possessions. Another castle you can visit is the Beaufort Castle which is situated on the bank of the River Beauly.
Palais Grand Ducal, another wonder of Luxembourg, dates back to the 16th century. It is where the Grand Duke of Luxembourg resides.
Luxembourg City makes for a great city break and more so in the summer months, it’ll give you more time to enjoy the sights and sounds without the hassle of too many visitors.
2. Porto, Portugal
A coastal city on Portugal’s northern coast that is growing in popularity. It is a cheaper alternative to Lisbon but isn’t short on amazing architecture and great culinary scene.
The city is bursting with colourful houses decorated with beautiful azulejos. Azulejos are blue on white painted tiles that are unique to Portugal and hard to miss as they can be found everywhere around the city.
This Riverside city is famous for its Bridge, the Luís I Bridge. Porto has a rich, cultural heritage and this can be seen in its museums and Old world charm structures.
In May, you can picnic in one of the many gardens that Porto has to offer or of course hit the beach before the tourist season begins. If you’re visiting the Pergola da Foz try booking your tour ahead of time to secure your spot. The sunset view from here is amazing.
June is a bustling month in Porto as its streets come alive on the 23rd for the São João Festival. You can also catch a concert at the stunning Palácio da Bolsa.
Porto’s gastronomy scene is amazing and if you’re a seafood lover like me then you might go crazy here.
Porto is famous for its wine especially but not limited to Port wine. Sip on some Port while sitting by the Douro River at Ribeira and enjoying the summer views. You can even catch the sunset over the bridge from here. Ah bliss!
3. Valencia, Spain
Valencia is Spain’s 3rd largest city and has warm weather during the summer. It is a four-hour train ride from Barcelona and a three-hour one from Madrid, its more popular counterparts. Valencia experiences fewer tourist crowds than both.
Valencia’s streets are lively and its ethos is art rich. Its world class restaurants and buzzing nightlife will keep you entertained.
Turia Gardens (Jardines del Turia) is one of the largest urban parks in Spain, stretching for 9 kms in the heart of the city. It is a hub for cyclers, joggers and picnicers. You’ll find the historic towers, Torres de Serranos here, which acted as the gateway of the medieval city wall.
The Turia Gardens has the Bioparc at its northern end where you’ll find leopards, lemurs and other exotic animals roaming in an innovative space with almost invisible barriers. Immerse yourself in this zoological world.
Another park that might interest your children or the child in you is Gulliver’s Park. This park recreates the tale of Gulliver’s Travels with a giant figurine of a sleeping Gulliver with ramps, slides and hidden passageways to wander in, out and around.
Valencia was influenced by Gothic architecture which is evident in the architecture of El Miguelete and Valencia Cathedral. The former is famous for its peculiar octagonal bell tower while the latter, also called the Catedral de Santa Maria de Valencia, is one of the city’s famous sights along with the Plaza de la Virgen square outside.
Valencia’s Town Hall (ayuntamiento de Valencia) is another tourist attraction with an impressive clock tower and a marble staircase inside.
If you have a day to spare then check out the Futuristic City of Arts and Sciences. It has a multitude of attractions that you can visit within it.
Valencia is also home to the Rotunda, the city’s famous round ‘square’. It is at the centre of Valencia’s Old Town and has bars, restaurants and stalls in its circular courtyard.
A place made famous in recent years by Ed Sheeran’s song Galway Girl, Galway is also known as the City of Tribes. You can avoid crowds that throng to the capital city of Dublin but don’t think that Galway isn’t bursting with culture and Irish folklore.
Galway’s main square, the Eyre Square, is what will give you your first insight into the city’s architecture. This large open plaza is close to the bus and train station so it’s pretty convenient and is the crux of most things festive in this town.
The renaissance-style Galway Cathedral is a must-visit. People have a polarising view of this green-domed modern cathedral. What might grab your attention once inside, apart from its interiors, is a mosaic of John F Kennedy on its walls.
If a short trip is on your mind then you can take a trip to the Dunguaire Castle which is a 16th-century tower house on the shore of Galway Bay across Galway city.
You can also take a day trip to the town of Athenry. The 13th century Athenry castle might not be the prettiest one that you’ve seen but its blocky structure makes it a unique attraction. The town’s medieval walls are among the best preserved.
Another attraction of this town is the medieval market cross that still stands in the center of town square since the late 15th century.
Speaking of history, back at Galway, you can explore the Fisheries Watchtower Museum. You won’t miss spotting this Victorian tower because it’s an odd little tower that was designed to help watch over the fishing stock. Now, it’s a 3-floor museum that will shed light on the city’s boating and fishing history.
If you want to know about general Irish history then the Galway City Museum is the place to be. You’ll learn the influences on the Irish, the Vikings and a lot more through the exhibits on display. You’ll also learn about the history of Claddagh but there’s a separate tiny museum dedicated jsut for that in the next bit.
The Claddagh Ring Museum enlightens you on the history of the Claddagh Ring. This traditional Irish ring consists of two hands holding a heart with a crown atop it. It represents the qualities of love, loyalty, and friendship, and makes for a great Irish souvenir from Galway.
Naples is Italy’s 3rd largest city and the birthplace of pizza. You can spend most of your time here learning the traditional art of pizza making and devouring it. You can finally try out the authentic Neapolitan pizza and watch the locals make it.
Finding a tour around Naples shouldn’t be a problem since it is among the least crowded European cities in summer. Naples is cheaper to stay at and explore than Rome, Venice or Milan. An entire pizza can cost as little as €4! Talk about cheap thrills!
Naples might experience a bit of chill till April from the winter gone by but it has amazing weather in May as it is nice and sunny.
This Mediterranean city experiences summer from June onwards till August when the weather gets quite hot but the sea breeze brings down the temperature a bit.
Naples’ historic city centre is the largest in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a lot of art, architecture and culture running through its city veins. Some examples of this are the National Archaeological Museum (Museo Archeologico Nazionale), the Museo di Capodimonte, the Teatro di San Carlo and the Royal Palace of Caserta (Palazzo Reale).
The first is an archaeological museum that houses Greco-Roman art and artefacts along with Greek sculptures. The next is a museum in the Palace of Capodimonte and is one of Italy’s largest art galleries. Three floors of classical and contemporary works.
The Royal Palace was the royal residence of the Bourbons and houses lavish artworks, artifacts and the most treasured, the papyrus scrolls.
The theatre is the oldest working opera house in the world. It opened in 1737 and still holds concerts and performances within its centuries old walls. Opera and ballet are conducted there seasonally while you can opt for a guided tour as well.
As much of history as you see above ground you’ll find an equally intriguing part below the ground as well. The catacombs of San Gennaro are one such attraction and belong to the patron saint of Naples. They are the oldest in the city and the largest in all of Southern Italy.
Another eerie attraction is the Cappella Sansevero. The chapel is in the heart of Naples, deep in the crypt and has stunning interiors. It consists of veiled sculptures and a realistic marble sculpture that depicts Christ’s tortured body. Talk about goosebumps and eeriness!
Take a mini road trip to the town of Pompeii for a blast from the past. This city has the infamous and still-active Mt. Vesuvius towering over it. It erupted almost 2000 years ago, in AD 79, destroying Pompeii so it still has people vary of it and the city by extension.
6.Bay of Kotor, Montenegro
Montenegro is a small Mediterranean nation with the most scenic views and serpentine routes. It is one of the cheapest European countries to visit and comprises a number of picturesque medieval towns.
Kotor, Boka Kotorska in local parlance, is probably the most important town of Montenegro after its capital, Podgorica. It is a Unesco World Heritage Site that also encompasses the Bay of Kotor.
World Heritage Kotor is a fortified town crammed with churches and statues. Its Old Town is a must-see attraction. The cobbled streets and fortress walls will take you back in time.
Behind the Old Town, you’ll find the San Giovanni Fortress. The 1355-step hike to the top will greet you with breathtaking views of the Bay of Kotor, well worth the climb.
The town gives off Italian vibes while also making sure that you can see an entire coastline here instead of getting lost amidst the maddening crowds at Fontana di Trevi there.
For all you cat lovers there’s something special that Kotor has to offer. This self-proclaimed ‘cat city’ pays an ode to our feline companions via the Cats Museum of Kotor.
On display here is a huge collection of period images from the Italian Countess Francesca di Montereale Mantica. It also showcases portraits, illustrations, books, postcards and souvenirs along with a couple of resident cats that you can play with.
The coastal town of Tivat boasts of the only Platinum-rated marina in the world, Porto Montenegro. You can admire the boats, shop at the luxury brand stores and once you’re tired and famished, you can grab a bite at any of the host of restaurants offering almost every cuisine that you can think of.
Perast is another town in the Bay of Kotor that is worth exploring. It is a stone hamlet that once housed seafarers’ families. You can stay in a restored palace hotel and enjoy the views of the Bay.
Floating off Perast’s shore, Our Lady of the Rocks is one of the Bay of Kotor’s top attractions. The church is built on a man-made island that was founded over 500 years ago.
Let us know in the comments where you are heading this summer!
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