Why You Should Never Travel to Southern Europe During the Summer


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As much as we love going to Europe to soak up the sun and enjoy the food (pasta for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, anyone?), visiting during the summer months can be a real nightmare. These picturesque regions from the pristine coastlines of Capri to the vibrant streets of Barcelona become lined with tourists at every turn. Traveling to southern Europe during this time means you’ll also be faced with significantly inflated prices for everything from food and housing to excursions and souvenirs. 

Here are eight reasons why you should never visit southern Europe during the summer months, plus tips on how to enjoy a summer getaway without breaking the bank. 

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1. Overcrowded Tourist Attractions

During the summer, the most iconic sights, from the Vatican in Rome to the Alhambra in Granada, Spain,  will be crawling with tourists. This means you’ll likely spend more time waiting in line to get inside or to take pictures, which makes it difficult to truly enjoy these historical landmarks. Photography and leisurely exploration can also become challenging (and tedious) tasks amid the throngs of people running into you. 

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2. Steep Prices

Summer is peak tourist season, which means everything from accommodations to restaurant meals will be priced higher. Hotels and Airbnb rates can double and even local trattorias and bars may raise their prices in response to increased demand. Budget travelers will find it particularly tough to find good values during these months.

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3. Extreme Heat

Southern Europe can be exceptionally hot in the summer, with temperatures often soaring above 30°C (86°F). This kind of heat can be stifling and miserable, particularly in cities like Athens or Seville, Spain, where the urban heat island effect makes it feel even hotter. The scorching temperatures can make daytime exploration exhausting (and even dangerous) for those sensitive to heat or to extreme weather changes. 

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4. Limited Local Interaction

With so many tourists around, the chance for authentic interactions with locals can diminish. Since many residents leave for their vacation homes or stay away from these typically tourist-filled areas, this can lead to a less authentic experience for those seeking cultural exchange. Restaurants and shops might prioritize convenience over quality and authenticity, while neighborhoods that usually bustle with local activity may appear more commercial, crowded, and catered to tourists. 

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5. Overbooked Services

During peak travel months, transportation services — including trains and flights — can get overbooked, or become overpriced. This can lead to delays, cancellations, and a more stressful travel experience. In addition, renting a car can be more expensive and challenging due to higher demand during the summer months.

If you want to enjoy a satisfying summer getaway without spending a fortune, check out our story on cheap, family destinations

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6. Environmental Strain

The influx of tourists can put a strain on local resources, including water and waste management systems. In some coastal areas, this high demand can lead to water shortages and increased pollution, which tarnishes the natural beauty of the region and contributes to global pollution. This means beaches and natural landscapes, once pristine and inviting, can become littered with trash or be overwhelmed by foot traffic, eroding the very attractions that draw visitors in the first place. 

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7. Tourist Scams

Unfortunately, the increase in tourists also leads to a rise in opportunistic scams aimed at unsuspecting visitors. From overpriced taxi rides and bogus excursions to pickpocketing in crowded areas (this happens often), tourists can become easy targets for these pesky scammers. This can detract from the overall travel experience by creating a sense of unease and frustration as one has to be constantly vigilant. 

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8. Lack of Seasonal Charm

Visiting in the summer means you’ll miss out on many seasonal cultural events and more moderate weather that spring and autumn offer. Other seasons provide unique experiences like spring festivals or autumn harvests, which are not only less crowded but also offer a more immersive experience into the local culture and lifestyle.

Image Credit: Ladislav Kubeš.