Are you a last minute planner like me? Then you probably haven’t booked your 2014 travel yet. Not to worry, as I’ve rounded up some recommended experiences to have this summer in Europe.
1. Get Away From It All In Gimmelwald, Switzerland
I first mentioned Gimmelwald — located in the UNESCO World Heritage Jungfrau region — in a post titled My Favorite Destinations For Getting Away From Tourists. This place truly is a paradise for those who just want to hike, enjoy aerial views of Switzerland (Gimmelwald is located high in the mountains), drink wine and eat farm-fresh goodies procured from the home of local farmers. I recommend a night at Mountain Hostel reading a book by the fire and then spending a night drinking red wine, playing board games and getting to know other travelers who also appreciate natural beauty and solitude. Tip: Make sure to pack some warm clothes and a travel rain jacket as even in the summer it can get chilly and wet (which only adds to the destination’s beauty!).
2. Attend A Fun Festival
Festivals abound in Europe during the summer. Seriously. From June through September when I’ve traveled through Europe I found myself constantly stumbling upon random events and happenings without even trying. That being said, you may want to plan your trip around some of the following fun festivals: the Festival d’Avignon in France (all of July), the Salzburg Festival in Austria (July 18-August 31), the Helsinki Festival in Finland (August 15-21), Tomorrowland in Belgium (July 18-20), the Melt! Festival in Germany (July 18-20), Lollibop in England (August 15-17), Notting Hill Carnival in England (August 24 and 25) and Sziget Festival in Hungary (August 11-18).
3. Go Punting In England
Summer is great time to go punting in England. No, I’m not referring to soccer, but to a narrow flat-bottomed boat that looks almost like a giant floating sled that you row with a long pole. Oxford is a popular place to partake in this activity, and you can choose to have someone chauffeur you around or steer your own punt. There are a number of scenic floats, although I recommend the River Cherwell lined with meadows, botanical gardens and pubs (perfect for a refreshing pint on a hot day).
4. Explore Tuscany’s Agriturismos
One of my most immersive travel experiences to date has been agriturismo-hopping in Tuscany, Italy. Most of my trip was focused on the Chianti Classico Road (Route 222), littered with farm-stays and opportunities for wine tasting, vineyard tours, truffle hunting, cooking classes, olive oil pressing and simply lounging around with a glass of sangiovese and taking in the medieval architecture and rolling hills dotted with olive trees, lemon groves and vineyards. While this may sound like a fairytale description that’s too good to be true, I assure you, it’s not. Backpackers and budget travelers should check out Perugia Farmhouse Backpacker Hostel in Perugia, Italy — located less than two hours from Tuscany — to stay on an organic farm for about $27 for a 5-person dorm or $35 for a private double room.