From June to August every year, Europe is one of the hottest destinations in the world! From balmy evenings dining alfresco to the crystal clear Mediterranean sea, endless festivals, cute villages that are buzzing and epic hikes. There is something for everyone to adore!
With popularity, however, comes crowds, very inflated prices and the need to book well in advance! But there is more to a European summer than Santorini and the Amalfi Coast, much more actually.
Continue reading to discover 12 underrated destinations in Europe that are incredible to visit during the summer months. Expect lower prices, more availability, fewer crowds coming from international tourism and more local vibes!
1. Pitigliano, Italy
The first underrated European summer destination on our list is Pitigliano in Italy. If you want to avoid the immense crowds and tour buses in places like Rome, Florence and Amalfi then give this stunning Italian town a try.
Pitigliano is a dramatic town in the province of Grosseto, located about 80 kilometres southeast of Grosseto in Tuscany.Pitigliano, also known as "little Jerusalem", is an inland town that appears to emerge from rocks, literally! The town has been built high up on giant rocks, overlooking a beautiful green landscape. This town has an interesting history to explore.
There are also many beautiful local shops and restaurants to explore, without rubbing shoulders with tourists, even during the heights of summer.
2. Frigiliana, Spain
Spain is a notorious hotspot for tourists, especially from the UK, escaping for some sun, sand and usually a party or two. If you aren't into the wild beach party scenes of Ibiza, Mallorca or Barcelona but still want to enjoy the beauty and weather of Spain in relative peace, then welcome to Frigiliana!
The stunning off-the-beaten-track town is known as the 'prettiest village in Andalusia' and it's easy to see why! Frigiliana is located in the south of Spain and is less than an hour's drive from the hustle and bustle of Malaga and Marbella.
This gorgeous white-washed town has been built into the side of a hill, with stunning views over to the mediterranean sea, which is just a short drive away.
Frigiliana is free of big hotels and tourist attractions, making it the perfect relaxing place to base yourself as you can easily explore nearby attractions from here. Nearby attractions include the Sierra Nevada mountains, Nerja Caves and beaches in the area.
3. Symi, Greece
The Greek Islands are one of the most sought-after summer destinations. Greece during summer is home to the most beautiful sunsets and crystal clear waters in the world, so it's no wonder tourists flock here from all over the world!
Many islands are overly touristy and pricey in summers such as Mykonos and Santorini, but there are many other islands in Greece that are just as stunning but lesser know. One of these is Symi!
Symi is located in the Dodecanese Islands near Turkey, between Rhodes and Kos. It is only accessible by ferry and being quite far from mainland Greece, it can be quite a journey to reach this stunning island.
Once you arrive you will be greeted by one of the most picturesque harbours in the world. With colourful pastel buildings climbing up the hillside, cute boats and of course crystal clear water to dive into.
There isn't that much to do on this island which makes it the perfect place to unwind and learn how to enjoy the authentic Greek Island lifestyle. Heaven!
4. Lumbarda, Croatia
Lumbarda is a stunning seaside village on the island of Korcula in Croatia. This stunning village isn't on the overly touristy 'sail Croatia itinerary, making it a more peaceful and relaxing place to visit.
It is located around a beautiful harbour looking out over to the Adriatic sea, which is famous for waters and sunsets that rival Greece!
There are many restaurants and shops to explore, without the touristy vibe. Plus this is one of the best places to enjoy the pristine Croatian waters by kayaking, snorkelling and paddle boarding.
When you're there, don't miss the Friday evening Fisherman's market to indulge in local life.
5. Ulcinj Montenegro
Forget the crowds of Kotor and Dubrovnik and head to Ulcinj in Montenegro. This is a gorgeous seaside town on the Balkan coastline that is buzzing in summer, but mainly with local holidaymakers.
Located an hour and a half south of Kotor, Ulcinj is set on a beautiful cove beach and has many local bars, live music and restaurants full of friendly people, who will wonder what you are doing in Ulcinj! There are also epic beach bars, where you can drink a cocktail, lounge in the sun and cool off by jumping off the rocks into the stunning Adriatic sea.
Ulcinj is easily reachable by bus from Kotor and there are many affordable Airbnbs in Ulcinj that you will be able to book last minute.
6. Himara, Albania
Himara in Albania is another Balkan delight that is potentially one of Europe's best-kept secrets in the summer. The pristine beaches on the 'Albanian Riviera' rival Italy and Greece for beauty and excellent weather, but remain much quieter through the peak of summer.
Himara is an incredible town to base yourself in to explore this unreal coastline. It is a cute seaside town, where lots of Albanians go on holiday. Himara is surrounded by the world's most stunning beaches and also has plenty of buzzing restaurants and cafes to keep you busy. You can easily hire a boat charter to explore the coastline by sea. Did we mention, that it is also WAY more affordable than Italy or Greece?
The journey to reach Himara may be the most challenging part! From Tirana hire a car or catch a bus through some very steep and windy mountainous roads (a trip you won't quickly forget!). It is also possible to reach Himara from Greece.Visiting Himara should be a no-brainer destination to add to your bucket list!
7. Piran, Slovenia
Slovenia is another European destination in the Balkans that has been flying under the radar compared to its Western counterparts. However, the news is starting to get out about the natural beauty and charm of this stunning country.
Slovenia is a paradise for people who love the outdoors and adventures, with loads of hiking trails, cycling tracks, kayaking, caving, rafting and so on. Lake Bled is one of the more popular places to visit in Slovenia, however, don't look past Piran for a summer trip!
Piran is a small town sitting on the tip of a peninsula on the coastline. It is home to luxurious Venetian architecture and an incredible restaurant scene. If you want to add a bit of luxury to your summer escape in a lesser-known place, Piran may be the place.
8. Dordogne Valley, France
The Dordogne Valley is a beautiful region in the south of France. The valley is inland and is full of gorgeous towns and extremely picturesque green countryside. It is a popular spot for French families to holiday in summer but is a far cry from the crowds that gather on the French Riviera.
The towns and villages come alive with festivals during the summer months, making this a stunning place to be immersed in authentic French culture. One of the most incredible places to visit in the Dordogne Valley is Rocamadour (pictured) which is an ancient village built into the side of a rocky cliff. It is a sight to see and an incredible place to wander for a day.
There is also a HUGE hole in the ground called Devil's Hole in the area that is worth a visit. PLUS it is just a 40-minute drive to the Lascaux Caves, where you can see cave paintings thought to be 20,000 years old!
9. Taormina, Italy
Taormina is another underrated Italian town that is more than worthy of a visit in summer. Taormina is located on the island of Sicily and is one of the most stunning places in the country.
This dramatic village is nestled on top of a volcanic cliff that falls away into the gorgeous blue water. Not only is it stunningly beautiful but there is so much amazing history, architecture and Sicilian food and wine to explore.
10. The Azores, Portugal
The Azores are a group of islands located a two-hour flight from Lisbon. They appear to be in the middle of the Atlantic sea! The Azores are a natural wonder, fully isolated and sparsely populated.
They are far off the beaten track and make for an epic holiday destination in summer without the heaving crowds of the mainland. The islands are volcanic and therefore very dramatic!
They are characterised by their epic landscapes, cool blue seas, small villages and lush green pastures. If you love mountains, beaches and towns (without crowds) all nearby, you will love the Azores.
11. Ohrid, North Macedonia
North Macedonia is another underrated destination that not many people think of visiting. This is a country that has been unspoiled by mass tourism or external influences and has remained true to its roots.
This is an amazing place to explore if you love to experience new cultures authentically.It is home to stunning natural beauty. Expect an abundance of lakes, mountains and interesting heritage that has been influenced by the Greeks, Romans and Ottomans.
Ohrid is a stunning place to visit in North Macedonia in summer. It is a charming town located on the banks of Lake Ohrid. Ohrid is a summer hotspot for local holidaymakers and so it comes alive during the summer season.
12. Ronda, Spain
Ronda is another town in Spain that is an underrated destination to visit in Europe in the summer.Ronda is in the south of Spain between Malaga and Seville.
It is built on top of a rocky gorge with very striking architecture that will have you questioning its safety (it's survived for hundreds of years so we think it's safe enough!)! It is another dramatic town that you will never forget.