Planning a fortnight in Europe
April 26, 2010 3:04 AM   Subscribe

Travelling with the parents in Europe during the last two weeks of July. Please help us think of destinations! Parameters under the jump.

Family of four (two 20-somethings and two 50-somethings) travelling in and around Europe for the last two weeks of July.

1. Easily accessible to and from London.
2. Not unbearably hot weather, preferably below 25C.
3. Not overrun by tourists.
4. Good mix of history, culture, and natural beauty.
5. Decent accommodation available – charm is good, but nothing too basic or grungy for the parents.
6. Two to three destinations preferred, with no more than five in total. We will likely be moving from one destination to the next by train/plane. There will not be any driving involved.

Not interested in trekking, mountaineering, cycling, sailing or any other adventure-type physical activities.

Language and food are unlikely to be an issue. No major budget concerns, but we're not travelling on an unlimited tab either.

Metafilter has piqued my interest in the Adriatic coast, but I’m not sure which specific locales meet the parameters above (especially points 2 and 3). Not particularly attached to the idea anyway, so other suggestions are more than welcome!
posted by hellopanda to Travel & Transportation (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Slovenia and possibly Croatia.

Slovenia because Ljubljana is a great city that's perfect for a short break. Decent food. Nice people. Attractive place. It's an easyJet flight from London.

I'd also go to Bled, which is stunning and cooler temperature-wise. If you can stretch on budget, Vila Bled is awesome.

Both are going to be busy, but are not overrun with tourists. You can happily spend 10 days or so there, ot just a week and spend the 2nd week on the coast in Croatia. (Slovenia has a small amount of coast, although I personally didn't rate Piran that highly and found it overly touristy. It is quite pretty though).
posted by MuffinMan at 3:19 AM on April 26, 2010

wrt to point 2, I think that the adriatic coast (as much of southern europe, to be honest) is pretty much out. Wrt. to point 3, big cities and popular destinations are not so easy, either. How do you feel about Sweden / Denmark / Finland, perhaps plus Estonia or Poland?
posted by _dario at 3:22 AM on April 26, 2010

Southern Europe - indeed, pretty much anything south of France - is going to be over 25C in late July. You might even get temperatures over that in the UK (or you might get two solid weeks of rain).
posted by handee at 3:34 AM on April 26, 2010

From London you can take the Eurostar to Brussels and from there you can take a train to Bruges which is lovely. You can also go to Paris by Eurostar, but in my experience this is more expensive than the trip to Brussels, and probably hotter. The trains in Belgium are very reliable and punctual.

Having been to Prague in July, I would avoid landlocked countries such as the Czech Republic and Slovakia as it can get uncomfortably hot.

Scandinavia is lovely in the summer, and not too hot. I've been to Norway in August and found it was generally a very pleasant temperature. Some of the Youth Hostels in Norway are very good value for money and of a good standard. In Norway you can mix beautiful, natural locations (a boat trip down a fjord for example) with culture, such as visits to Oslo and Bergen. Denmark is also beautiful, with some lovely coastal regions. Scandinavian countries are a bit expensive places to visit in comparison to the rest of Europe but well worth it in my opinion, especially if you are avoiding hot places, and you won't have any language problems as many people speak very good English.
posted by lizabeth at 3:46 AM on April 26, 2010

How do you feel about Sweden / Denmark / Finland, perhaps plus Estonia or Poland?

Sweden is mostly empty in July with everyone on holiday. Many museums, restaurants, etc. will be closed.

On the other hand, the likelihood of temperatures over +25C are exceedingly remote.
posted by three blind mice at 4:06 AM on April 26, 2010

2nd'ing lizabeth about Scandinavia especially Denmark. Not too cold, not too warm - really excellent summers. Everyone's outside and the atmosphere is really friendly and open. Nature and city-life are very close, so it doesn't take a long time to switch between either. Public transportation is excellent, and there are really good connections from London to CPH.
posted by alchemist at 4:07 AM on April 26, 2010

Ireland. Specifically the west coast, which has unbelieveably beauty, is surprisingly quiet, and is as green as the day is long.

Galway would be the biggest city in that area and a good jumping off point. I haven't been there since 2002, but I imagine it hasn't changed that much. Very vibrant little city but not overly touristy. And the stereotype about pubs on every corner is true. One can easily get to the Cliffs of Moher from there and the Aran Islands. Farther up the coast are incredibly charming little towns that seem barely touched by tourists when compared to other parts of Europe (thinking Italy and most of France here). The Connemara region stands out in my memory.
posted by fso at 4:20 AM on April 26, 2010

Utrecht in the Netherlands is very beautiful and close to England.
posted by chillmost at 4:35 AM on April 26, 2010

Scotland would fit the bill - a day or sleeper train could get you there from London. You might want to visit somewhere like Edinburgh then take a ferry from, say, Oban out to one or more of the islands. Imagine it as like Croatia only cooler and more empty.

I will also weigh in with another vote for Scandinavian countries like Finland, and Sweden: you have super-long days, susrprisingly warm weather (but not too hot), good public transport and some interesting cities. Side trips to places like Tallin or St Petersburg are possible.
posted by rongorongo at 4:54 AM on April 26, 2010

Portsmouth - Bilbao - San Sebastian, just in time for the jazz festival. From there, either st jean de luz and Biarritz (France) if you want to stay close to the Ocean (cooler), or any other place in Spain (much, much warmer) or Portugal.
posted by nicolin at 5:45 AM on April 26, 2010

As someone who travel from N. Ireland to Scotland for work, I can tell you that I'd love to go there for a break- Edinburgh and Aberdeen are both fantastic, as are all the Cairngorm areas. It's not pricey, all ranges of accomodation are available and there's lots to do and see for everyone. Being a local, I'd have to say that Ireland fits your bill- the North coast of N.Ireland and the west, oh and Kerry is possible the most beautiful, slow paced part of the world that I could lie around and dream in for months.... If you avoid the tourist traps, that is.
posted by Joe Rocket at 6:15 AM on April 26, 2010

Be aware that accomodation will be harder to find while the Edinburgh Festival and Fringe are on, i.e. most of August.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:31 AM on April 26, 2010

Berlin, Dresden, Prague and Munich. The weather should be good. There is natural beauty on the train from Dresden to Prague, which has great views along the Elbe, and there are plenty of day trips from Prague. Plenty of history in all four cities. The only thing I can't speak to is if they will be overrun with tourists in July.
posted by soelo at 7:16 AM on April 26, 2010

Is the duration of your entire trip to Europe two weeks? It's a tough one as much time at all- even 2-3 destinations in different countries in 2 weeks once you have factored in Jet lag is a tall order. I would suggest the Island of Ischia off Naples or Dubrovnik.

Ryanair / Easyjet are you friend wherever you decide to go.
posted by numberstation at 7:39 AM on April 26, 2010

Just got back from the Isle of Skye in Scotland. Stunning - and cold, so it will be stunning and pleasantly cool in the summer.
posted by rhymer at 8:36 AM on April 26, 2010

Sweden is mostly empty in July with everyone on holiday. Many museums, restaurants, etc. will be closed.

It is true that it want be much business going on but museums and restaurants will most certainly be open. It is the tourist season after all.

The temperature seems to keep below 25 most of the time though. SMHI has a map with the daily average maximum temperature during july.

Both Göteborg and Stockholm are nice cities and easy to get to from London. For nature the archipelago is highly recommended in both cities. It is easily accessibly with public transportation. If you are planning to avoid driving i would probably stick to the bigger cities.
posted by furisto at 10:58 AM on April 26, 2010

Gdansk, Warsaw, Krakow.
posted by mdonley at 12:22 PM on April 26, 2010

Lots of great suggestions here, all of which I will surely explore in further detail. I must say I never considered the British Isles once, but will definitely take a look at the recommendations for Ireland and Scotland. Scandinavia is a distinct possibility, and I hope furisto's right on the museums and restaurants being open.

Would love to hear more!
posted by hellopanda at 1:28 AM on April 28, 2010

furisto is right, Scandinavia does not close in the summer. Music festivals, open air theater, really (really) long evenings. Noma (in Copehagen) was just named "Best Restaurant in the World", so gastronomy is definitely at a very high point here. Good luck with your planning !
posted by alchemist at 9:39 AM on April 29, 2010

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