Some cities simply sizzle in summer – and we’re not talking about the temperature. Long sunny days bring out the best in these 10 choices, drawing good-time crowds to the streets and opening up whole new attractions that simply aren’t a possibility in the winter. If you have a couple of days spare this summer this is where your city break should take you.
The ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’ gleams in the sunshine (quite literally if you’re walking along one of the marble streets). The warren of alleys in the walled Old Town keep you shaded while you’re sightseeing. But brilliant sunshine suits ventures to the beaches nearby or catching the 15-minute ferry to the island of Lokrum where peacocks strut through shaded gardens.
Berlin may be hundreds of kilometres from the nearest beach, but that’s not going to stop it bringing a summer-holiday feel to the city. There are over 30 urban beaches and beach bars across the German capital. You can swim in a converted cargo boat floating in the River Spree or channel an Ibiza sunset vibe from the top of the Prenzlauer Berg shopping mall.
Make your way to Majorca’s capital this summer and you can spend mornings wandering the narrow streets of the Old Town and visiting the magnificent La Seu cathedral. Lunch in the bright sunshine at one of the bustling alfresco cafes and there’s still time to hop over to one of the nearby city beaches before the sun sets. Try Can Pere Antoni, which starts beside the cathedral or the white sands of Ciudad Jardín.
Budapest Summer Festival adds three months’ worth of concerts and dance shows across Hungary’s capital, making summer an exciting time to visit. Plus the Hungarian Grand Prix comes to town in July, and there’s Sziget, one of Europe’s biggest music festivals, in August. If it all gets a bit hectic, escape to leafy Margaret Island in the middle of the Danube, or unwind with a trip to one of the many open-air thermal baths.
Alright, we admit Benidorm is a town rather than a city, but it does have plenty of city-esque towering skyscrapers, and no-one can deny that it’s popular in the summer! So if you’re looking for a summer escape which merges the bustle of a city with some stand-out beaches. Well, you’ve got our recommendation.
Summer days in Reykjavik last almost 24 hours, so you’ll get a lot more time to spend enjoying this wonderful capital in daylight. If you stay up late enough to watch the sun set, it’s a spectacular sight from the Solfar Sun Ship sculpture. The highlight though is the nightlife: at the weekends the whole city takes on a festival atmosphere as bars spill with locals enjoying the sunny evenings well into the night.
The sparkling Mediterranean sea is one very obvious attraction to Nice in summer, but just a few metres back, the Promenade des Anglais is buzzing. There’s an ongoing Prom’ Party throughout July and August with stages of music dotted along the prestigious promenade. And when it’s time for culture there’s a wealth of museums and galleries to pick from, and discuss afterwards over a glass of rosé in Nice Old Town.
Portugal’s capital is blessed with good enough weather to make it a year-round destination, but it is in the summer that the beachy suburbs of Cascais and Estoril come into their own, thanks to their fresh Atlantic currents and just-as-fresh seafood, usually dripping in garlic. Back in the city, scale the winding roads to visit Castelo São Jorge, catch the breeze at Torre de Belém guarding the harbour, and head to the hills of Sintra to explore the fairytale palaces.
To add to the long list of wonderful sights in Stockholm (the medieval Old Town, Stockholm Palace and the ABBA Museum to name just a few) in the summer you can also explore the Stockholm Archipelago. There are almost 30,000 islands, so you’re not going to get around them all, but ferries depart regularly popular islands where you can lose yourself in varied landscapes of thick forests, quaint villages and tranquil coves.
Beach and city meet to best effect in this art-filled Catalonian town. Alternate sunbathing on Barceloneta beach with trips to Gaudi’s colourful Park Güell and Sagrada Familia. Amble along La Rambla watching the street performers and treat yourself to a generous glass of sangria at one of the casual chiringuito beach bars when the sun sets.