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Secret European Destinations Perfect for Families: Escape the Summer Crowds

Secret European Destinations Perfect for Families: Escape the Summer Crowds

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Are you dreaming of a summer trip to Europe but are worried about the crowds? You won’t want to miss this list of secret European destinations that your family will love!
This list of European summer destinations was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

When you think of traveling to Europe in the summer, do you picture huge crowds and long lines at famous sights like the Eiffel Tower or the Colosseum?

What if you could discover a secret side of Europe, where the beauty and excitement remain but the crowds are few?

Yes, these places exist! Get ready to explore some of the best hidden gems in Europe that are perfect for families looking to escape the hustle and bustle of popular tourist spots.

Let’s take a magical journey to lesser-known destinations where you can enjoy a relaxed and memorable family vacation.

Secret European Summer Destinations Worth Visiting

1. Alentejo, Portugal – A Sun-Kissed Haven

Forget the crowded beaches of the Algarve and head to Alentejo, where rolling hills and serene landscapes await.

This region offers stunning historical sites, like the medieval town of Évora, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and beautiful coastal areas with quiet beaches.

Image of Alentejo, Portugal

Families can enjoy horseback riding, biking through vineyards, and tasting some of Europe’s best wines (for the parents!).

Alentejo’s slow pace and welcoming locals make it an ideal spot for families looking to soak up the sun away from the crowds.

2. The Azores, Portugal – An Island Adventure

Located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the Azores are a group of nine volcanic islands that are one of Europe’s best-kept secrets.

Image of The Azores, Portugal

With lush greenery, crater lakes, and thermal springs, these islands offer breathtaking natural beauty. Families can go whale watching, snorkeling, and hiking.

The Azores provide a perfect backdrop for adventurous families who enjoy nature and want to experience something truly unique.

3. Normandy, France – History and Scenery

While many travelers flock to Paris, Normandy offers a peaceful yet enriching alternative.

Known for its role in World War II, families can visit historic sites such as Omaha Beach and the American Cemetery to learn about the past.

A beautiful view of the Mont Saint-Michel on a cloudy day in Normandy, France

But Normandy is not all about history; it also boasts charming apple orchards, cliff-side walks, and quaint villages like Honfleur, with its colorful marina and artist galleries. It’s a place where kids and adults alike can enjoy beauty and history without the rush.

4. Piran, Slovenia – A Coastal Gem

Skip the crowded coastlines of Italy and Croatia and head to Piran, a stunning coastal town in Slovenia.

Piran sits on the tip of a narrow peninsula, and its Venetian architecture, vibrant squares, and stunning sea views are a wonder to behold.

Image of Piran, Slovenia

The town is pedestrian-only, making it safe for families with kids to explore freely. Enjoy fresh seafood, swim in the Adriatic Sea, and catch a sunset from the city walls.

5. Hallstatt, Austria – A Fairy-Tale Escape

Tucked away in Austria’s mountainous Salzkammergut region, Hallstatt might just be the most picturesque village in Europe.

Hallstatt, Austria - Iconic view of world famous Hallstatt, the Unesco protected lakeside town with Hallstatt Lutheran Church on a cold foggy day with traditional passenger ship and snowy rooftops

Known for its salt production history, stunning lake views, and charming houses, Hallstatt is like stepping into a fairy tale.

Families can tour the ancient salt mines, take boat rides on the lake, and hike in the surrounding forests. The peaceful atmosphere makes it a perfect retreat for families looking for a quiet, scenic vacation.

6. The Cotswolds, England – Rolling Hills and Rustic Charm

The Cotswolds are like a scene from a storybook, with rolling hills, meandering rivers, and fields dotted with sheep. This rural area of England is filled with thatched-roof cottages, historic towns, and lush gardens.

Families can enjoy walking trails, visit traditional English pubs, and explore castles like Warwick Castle, which offers interactive medieval exhibits and knight shows.

It’s an ideal destination for those who want a gentle, relaxing English countryside experience.

7. Tavira, Portugal – An Undiscovered Seaside Town

One more secret spot in Portugal is Tavira, located in the Algarve but away from the main tourist trail. This town exudes old-world charm with its Roman bridge, cobblestone streets, and historic churches.

Image of Tavira, Portugal

Tavira has managed to retain its authenticity and offers serene beaches like Praia do Barril, where families can relax and enjoy the Mediterranean sun without the crowds.

Tips for Planning Your Secret European Family Vacation

Book in advance

While these spots are less crowded, the best accommodations can fill up fast, especially in summer.

Rent a car

Many of these destinations are easier to explore with a car, giving you the freedom to discover at your own pace.

Embrace local life

One of the joys of visiting less-touristy areas is the chance to mingle with locals and experience the true culture of the place.

Pack for variety

Even in the summer, Europe’s weather can be diverse. Pack layers and be prepared for everything from beach days to chilly mountain evenings.

Summer in Europe Wrap-Up

Choosing these lesser-known destinations not only offers your family a chance to escape the summer crowds but also provides a more authentic and relaxed European experience.

Whether you’re exploring the volcanic landscapes of the Azores, the historic shores of Normandy, or the fairy-tale village of Hallstatt, each destination promises a unique and unforgettable adventure.

So pack your bags, grab your family, and get ready to explore the hidden treasures of Europe, where adventure and relaxation await at every turn! Happy travels!

Looking for more European travel tips? Check out How to Enjoy Europe’s Top Sights in Summer Without the Massive Crowds, Why Summer Is the Worst Time to Visit Europe (And How to Make It Work Anyway), How to Plan a Trip to Europe with Kids: Step-by-Step Guide, and 25 Helpful Tips for Traveling to Europe for the First Time!

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