Late summer: the last hurrah before tans fade and leaves fall. Europe’s best late summer destinations only get better as the sunsets grow earlier, though. When the crowds begin to thin and the evenings grow cooler, look for these European bargains to give you one last taste of summer.
The Amalfi Coast, Italy
It’s known as one of the most beautiful places in the world, a stunner of cliffside villages clinging to impossibly steep mountainsides, crashing waves as the turquoise-colored sea meets the craggy rocks, and watercolored sunsets which provide free nightly entertainment with no cover charge. After August’s high season, the crowds (and prices) tiptoe down, but the temperatures stay pleasant with September’s average high around 84 degrees and October’s slipping through the 70s as the month wears on. With warm days and cool nights, late summer and early fall vacation packages might be the best way to explore Italy’s strikingly beautiful southwest coast.
“The one with the windmills,” Santorini is the inspiration for a thousand desktop wallpapers for good reason. The shimmering white and blue villages perched upon volcanic rock, silhouetted against an impossibly aquamarine sea, couldn’t possibly be real. But they are, and that’s the magic of this Greek island. If the weather is cooling in October, you’ll find plenty to do besides loll in the Grecian sun; explore Santorini’s black sand beaches, inspect the remnants of the ancient Minoan civilization, and taste wine from Santorini’s renowned vineyards, which were world-famous well before Italian wine reached its zenith. Take advantage of plunging rates on Greek Island vacations after the August high season, with September and October offering bargains and great weather.
If you’re not looking for a beach and you don’t mind sweater weather coming a little early, September and October are prime bargain months to visit Iceland. The rugged roads to Iceland’s spectacular mountains and other natural attractions won’t have closed for the season yet, the days are still long, and the tantalizing hope of an aurora borealis sighting grows with every passing day. Reykjavik makes a fun and cosmopolitan home-base from which to explore the island’s remarkable natural geysers, waterfalls, volcanic mountains and glaciers. Fall traditions in Iceland can be especially enticing if you’re looking for local culture: the annual sheep-herding and horse round-ups generally take place in September. Back in the city, festivals such as the Reykjavic International Literary Festival and the International Film Festival occur in September, with more music and arts festivals throughout the fall season. Package tour rates, including Northern Lights tours, slide down in October as the days grow shorter and cooler.
There’s no wrong time of year to visit Paris, but there are better times, and late summer/early fall is one of those perfect seasons for the City of Lights, when the evenings are cool and maybe, depending on how late you choose to go, a golden leaf or two will dress the trees you walk beneath on your way to an al fresco lunch. Paris has seen a few scorchers in recent summers, which can be less than romantic when you’re reliant on the (un-air-conditioned) Metro or your hotel room is similarly ill-equipped for hot weather. In fall the crowds leave, the locals return, and the weather is made for romantic strolls, picnic lunches, and sidewalk cafes. September and October rates creep downwards along with the temperatures, making Paris even more tempting than usual.
If you definitely don’t want to bring a jacket on your trip, consider Madrid. Still toasty-warm in September, Madrid’s long sunny days are perfect for extending your summer just a little longer. The temperatures drop off as September wears on, dipping from an average of 87 to 75 from the first to the last of the month. With a wealth of incredible museums and historical buildings from cathedrals to palaces, along with an outstanding foodie culture built on tapas and gourmet markets, you’ll welcome the warm, dry days for perfect city-trekking weather. Like the other destinations on our list, you’ll find September package rates drop from August highs, offering an awesome opportunity to discover this vibrant Spanish city.
Other European Late Summer Destinations
So where will you go this year? With Europe’s best late summer destinations looking especially enticing this year, the September vacation could be more delightful than the traditional August one. Consider eastern Europe, with beautiful mountains, medieval castles and stunning coastlines in places like Croatia and Slovenia. You can even combine a visit here with other European destinations like Venice, Italy.
Wherever you choose to go, it’s sure to be an amazing adventure. Don’t forget to tell us about it! Share your vacation pics on Instagram and tag us with #VirginVacations!