It’s never easy deciding on a holiday itinerary. Do you go for variation or double-down on specific interests? And if so, which do you choose? Especially when you might be dreaming of standing in a field with thousands of music fans, while your partner is counting down the days to Berlin Fashion Week.
The number of options is infinite. We’ve narrowed it down to an ideal cross-section of events for five styles of travellers.
The music festival fan
Such is the concentration of quality music festivals in the European summer, a travelling fan can quickly tick off a bucket list of must-see acts in just a few months.
Start in late May with a flight to Barcelona for Primavera Sound, one of the world’s greatest indie-music festivals, and renowned for starting late in the day and running until the early hours of the morning. Then head to Belgrade for Exit, held in mid-July at a 16th-century Petrovaradin Fortress in Novi Sad, on the right bank of the Danube River.
From there make your way to Budapest for Sziget, another Danube River festival that takes over an entire island in early-mid August with arts and music ranging from DIY kids, to fully fledged pop stars. Also in August, head to Helsinki, Finland, for Flow, where the party is held in a defunct power plant.
Finally, fly to London and cap off summer with Reading. Established in 1955, it’s the longest-running popular music festival in existence (and still one of the best).
The adventure seeker
With vast amounts of terrain and natural environments to choose from, Europe has a wealth of adventure opportunities.
Into diving? The shipwreck of the 11,000-tonne RS Zenobia ferry, off the coast of Larnaca, Cyprus, is widely considered the best dive site in the Mediterranean and offers options for both amateur and advanced divers. If the other end of the elements is more your style, paragliding in Lucca, right near Pisa, offers stunning views of Tuscany from the sky.
Down at the water’s edge, Switzerland’s stunning mountainous Interlaken region is a thrillseeker’s mecca with offerings of canyoning, rafting and skydiving. If you prefer terra firma, there are two-wheeled adventures to be had through the ancient forests and Carpathian mountains of Transylvania, via Bucharest, or the Montserrat Monastery. A national park hiking tour from Barcelona is a terrific combination of exercise and culture.
The decadent degustation
The French do not mess around when it comes to fine food, meaning a summer visit to the Epicuriales festival in Bordeaux is essential. (Note: the site goes quiet between festivals, so bookmark this one for early 2019.) Running from early-late June, the annual event sees chefs from some of France’s best restaurants gather at the pop-up village to demonstrate their skills, making it the perfect excuse to fly into Paris and head for the coast.
The Copenhagen Cooking & Food Festival offers something similar in Denmark. Running over nine days in late August, the festival attracts participation from high-profile restaurants (such as Noma) to be involved in more than 100 events.
Over a few days in early June, Taste of Amsterdam, held in the verdant Amstelpark, is a laid-back but delicious affair in the Netherlands. It’s aim is to serve up dishes from the capital’s best restaurants and chefs, making it a convenient cross-section of the best in current local cuisine. If traditional foods are more your attraction, the Festa del Redentore (Feast of the Redeemer) in Venice, Italy, is steeped in history. Held on the third Sunday in July, it was initially designed to give thanks for the end of the plague of 1576. The occasion is marked by fireworks and an abundance of classic Venetian foods.
It goes without saying that Paris is at the top of any self-respecting shopper’s destination list. While it’s difficult to get tickets to Paris fashion weeks in June (men’s) and July (haute couture), visitors will find an increased sense of flair on the streets of the fashion capital during this time.
Elsewhere there’s the colourful, outre Barcelona Fashion Week, which runs from June 26 to 30. The summer instalment of Berlin Fashion Week is up next, in the first week of July, and traditionally includes both edgy and eco-friendly shows. For a double dose of Scandi-cool, hit up Copenhagen Fashion Week in early August followed by Stockholm Fashion Week at the end of August.
The laid-back relaxer
Despite the dizzying array of holiday options available in a European summer, there’s plenty of places to visit and do not much at all.
Be like a local and sun yourself along the French Riviera, via Nice, or using Athens as a starting point from which to leisurely sail from one island to the next – (Mykonos, Paros, and Santorini).
Quaint, pretty Prague is rich with chilled-out cultural events to enjoy over summer, including Museum Night in June, when the city’s museums, galleries and cultural institutions throw open their doors free of charge for one night, and Prague Folklore Days in July, a celebration of traditional songs and dance.
The lesser known Skopje is another quiet gem, moving at an endearingly slow pace. That’s all the better for exploring the laneways and burrows of the heritage-listed Old Bazaar, an ancient shopping and market precinct with parts dating back to the 12th century.
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