These Offbeat Places In Europe Are Perfect For The Summers


Europe, for most travellers, is synonymous with the cities of London and Paris and the many Alpine resorts of Switzerland. On the flip side, the continent has a vast number of gems that are yet to be uncovered, right from villages illuminated by the Midnight Sun to historic towns that are proud UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Their perpetually favourable weather conditions, despite the almost lack of snow, are the icing on the cake. Given how we have incurred the wrath of the summers, these lesser-known destinations will serve as the ideal respite from the soaring temperatures so book your tickets in order to beat the heat and the crowds at the same time.

Credits: Chris

Photo of Saariselkä, Finland by Sumedha Bharpilania

A good 200 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, Saariselkä is a Finnish village that emerges straight out of your Christmassy dreams. A part of Finland's Northern Lapland, this snow paradise has a mere 350 residents and was once synonymous with gold rushes. Today, it is dotted with excellent hotels and comes with snowmobiling opportunities, skiing experiences and a chance to spot reindeer. The Northern Lights, of course, are a major attraction. During summers, you can soak up the Midnight Sun, go for a hike around the adjacent Urho Kekkonen National Park, explore museums dedicated to the indigenous Sami people and cosy up with a book in the comfort of your private cabin. Fishing and canoeing trips are equally exciting.

Getting There: Hop on a flight from Helsinki, the capital of Finland, to 'Ivalo' and then get on to the airport bus that connects the village to Saariselkä.

Credits: Valerii Tkachenko

Photo of Kitzbuhel, Austria by Sumedha Bharpilania

Some 100 kilometres away from the city of Innsbruck lies a dreamy Alpine town that goes by the name of Kitzbuhel. With around 8000 residents, it is a popular skiing destination and morphs into an excellent and relatively virginal mountain retreat during the summer season. The hiking trails are sublime, the peak of Kitzbüheler Horn has arresting panorama of the Alps and a breath-taking flower garden, the Churches of St. Andreas Parish and Liebfrauenkirche have some ornate frescoes, the Schwarzsee Lake has excellent fishing opportunities and the Town Museum wonderfully documents the rich history of the region. High-end fashion boutiques, luxury hotels and coffee shops also dot this gem of the Tirol province.

Getting There: Kitzbuhel is an hour long train ride away from the Innsbruck Hauptbahnhof. Check the OBB Website for tickets.

Credits: Norbert Rupp

Photo of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany by Sumedha Bharpilania

A part of Germany's Bavaria, Garmisch Partenkirchen is a mountain retreat like no other and was in fact the host of the 1936 Winter Olympics. Nestled along the banks of the River Loisach, Garmisch looks straight out of a fairytale with its charming wooden houses and 15th century churches. With the sensational Partnach Gorge, Zugspitze, the highest peak of Germany and the nearby palaces of Ludwig II, the Mad King, this Alpine retreat has a history that goes right back to AD 15. While Garmisch is a popular day trip from Munich, skiing enthusiasts tend to spend weeks zooming along its pistes. During the warmer months, you could just throw your worries to the wind and relax.

Getting There: Garmisch is roughly an hour away from the Munchen (Munich) Central Station. You can buy tickets on the official website of Deutsche Bahn.

Credits: El Coleccionista de Instantes

Photo of Český Krumlov, Czechia by Sumedha Bharpilania

A splendid historic town and a glittering UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cesky Krumlov is as Bohemian as a place could possibly get. What is essentially a compacted version of Prague, this historic Czech Republic gem sits alongside the Vltava River and makes for a great day trip from the capital city. The Cesky Krumlov Castle with its Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque elements is a sight to behold and so are the town's frescoed buildings, cobbled alleyways and medieval taverns. What is also the city of crimson turrets and the revered St. Vitus Church, you can walk the length of Cesky Krumlov in less than 30 minutes.

Getting There: Direct trains depart from Prague Hlavni and arrive at Cesky Krumlov in around 3 hours.

Credits: Viktor K.

Photo of Courmayeur, Aosta Valley, Italy by Sumedha Bharpilania

An Italian Alpine village which is a popular ski resort during the winters and turns into a ghost town of sorts during the warmer months, Courmayeur is impossibly beautiful and delightfully laid-back. A part of the country's Aosta Valley, it is guarded by the highest mountain of Western Europe, the indomitable Mont Blanc. A heartbeat away from Chamonix, France's beloved ski destination, Courmayeur is perfect for indoorsy travellers who relish the idea of doing nothing. If you are someone who loves the outdoors, you could take the SkyWay Monte Bianco Cable Car from the nearby village of La Palud which will then take you right up to the stunning mountain peak of Aiguille Du Midi. Once near the summit, you can spot miles and miles of snow even during the summer season.

Getting There: Savda Buses running from the cities of Turin and Milan terminate at Aosta from where you should get on another one to Courmayeur.

Credits: jechstra

Photo of Svolvær, Norway by Sumedha Bharpilania

A part of Norway's Lofoten Archipelago. Svolvaer is essentially a port city that is surrounded by snow-capped peaks and is chock-a-block with colourful sloped roof buildings. With less than 5000 inhabitants, it was once a fishing village that has gradually transformed into a tourist hub for Norwegians. With the midnight sun shining in all its glory during the summers, travellers must not miss out on the WWII exhibits of the Lofoten War Memorial Museum, the massive ice sculptures of Magic Ice and the picturesque Trollfjord Cruise. While walking around town, don't be surprised if you spot people taking pictures of codfish/stockfish that are hung up on outdoor frames to dry. The Vikings love devouring them despite their pungency!

Getting There: Flights from Oslo to Svolvaer go via the city of Bodo. A non-stop 2 hour long flight also operates every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.

Credits: Klausi

Photo of Bamberg, Germany by Sumedha Bharpilania

A part of Germany's Northern Bavaria and a lesser known UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bamberg is a historic town that seems to share this intimate connection with beer, so much so that it is named after this golden beverage. Also known as 'Little Venice', it is spread out over seven mighty hills and sits gracefully alongside the junction of the rivers Main and Regnitz. In terms of sightseeing, the Romanesque Bamberg Cathedral is worth feasting your eyes on and so is the ginormous Historisches Museum. Don't forget to walk around Klein-Venedig, which is basically a scenic colony of fishermen and explore the Benedictine monastery of Michaelsberg Abbey. The luxurious Residenzschloss is one of the best hotels you can stay in.

Getting There: Bamberg is 2 hours away from the Frankfurt Central Station. You will have to change trains at the Wurzburg Hauptbahnof. Visit the Deutsche Bahn website for tickets.

Credits: Kosala Bandara

Photo of Annecy, France by Sumedha Bharpilania

Most people visiting France unfortunately tend to ignore the beauty that is Annecy. Located towards the south-eastern end of the country, this dreamy town is surrounded by mountains and the vast Lake Annecy and is fondly referred to as the Pearl of the French Alps. With a magnificent castle that once housed the Counts of Geneva, pastel houses with terracotta rooftops and meandering canals that are reminiscent of a passionate love affair, Annecy is a fantastic summer retreat. Grab a table at one of its outdoor cafes, sip on some cafe au lait and watch the world go by.

Getting There: Annecy is a two hour bus ride away from the French city of Lyon. Check the Ouibus website for tickets and information.

Credits: Nigel Swales

Photo of Odense, Denmark by Sumedha Bharpilania

It wouldn't be wrong to say that the third largest city of Denmark does not get the kind of attention it deserves. The birthplace of the fairytale genius Hans Christian Andersen, it is a part of the Danish island of Funen. Named after Odin, the God of war, it has glorious Renaissance castles like Egeskov and museums dedicated to the aforementioned author for tourists to feast their eyes on. Moreover, the hill of Nonnebakken is a great site for those obsessed with the history of the Vikings. For a more immersive experience, make sure you walk around Odense's medieval City Hall and the Neogothic church of St. Albans.

Getting There: Odense is a 90 minute train ride away from the Copenhagen Central Station. Check the DSB website for tickets.

Credits: Pixelteufel

Photo of Seefeld, Austria by Sumedha Bharpilania

A sublime farming village in the Tirol region of Austria, Seefeld also holds the reputation of being one of the finest ski destinations in the country. A relatively lesser-known name among conventional tourists, it surprisingly has a number of five star hotels to boast of. Snuggled on a plateau above the city of Innsbruck, Seefeld has some incredible hiking options during the summer months in the form of the Seefelder Spitze. It also has an opulent casino for the well-heeled. And once you're done with the revelry, make sure you visit the Gothic Church of St Oswald.

Getting There: Seefeld in Tirol is roughly 30 minutes away from Innsbruck by train, the tickets for which can be booked on the DB website.

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