Traveling to Europe in August? Read This First
Posted on 08/15/2017
August can be a divisive month in Europe.
Some adore the eighth month of the year, viewing it as the epitome of summertime. Others see August as an annoying no man’s land between summer and fall that also happens to host the ultimate buzzkill event of the year: the start of school.
There is a similar divide when it comes to traveling to Europe. Some think that you will see the continent at its best, while others believe the heat and the crowds to be unbearable.
The truth lies somewhere in the middle. There is no denying that August is the most popular month for Europeans themselves to go on vacation, and temperatures can certainly be stifling.
That shouldn't scare you away, though. Follow these tips for surviving August travel in Europe and you’ll be just fine.
Travel From North to South
Whether you are planning a month-long sojourn or just popping over for 10 days, start your trip in Northern Europe and work your way down.
The British Isles, Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg) and Scandinavia provide soft landings culturally and language barrier-wise. They also typically offer cool temperatures, which could be a welcome change from North America.
Once the novelty of wearing a sweatshirt in August wears off, head south where temperatures are more, well, summery.
Get up and at ‘Em
Even when the mercury soars on the continent, the mornings remain bastions of comfortable conditions. Aim to wake up and get going during the hours following dawn to see the sights in a sleepy—and more pleasant—setting.
Trust me, the last thing you want to be doing at high noon with the sun beating down is pounding the pavement when you could be having a siesta like the locals. You will also be rewarded with “golden” light early in the mornings, which is ideal for taking photographs.
Buy Your Tickets Ahead of Time
Tickets to top notch sights in Europe like the Louvre and St. Mark’s Basilica can now be purchased online ahead of time, so take advantage of this to help you stay out of the heat and the crowds. And if you are presented with an entry time slot choice, then naturally go for the morning one.
The same goes for transportation tickets, as I’ve seen midday ticket window lines in train stations that snake as far as the eye can see.
Always Check If It's Open
Europeans go on holiday en masse in August, with many spending nearly the whole month on vacation. Plenty of those holidaymakers are also small business owners, and many of them choose to shutter their shops while they are away.
So before you head out for lunch or dinner at that restaurant you were recommended, check ahead if they are open.
This is especially pertinent if you are seeking to eat and drink like a local in Europe, as small Mom & Pop joints are the ones most likely to hang up a “Gone to the Beach” sign in the window.
Skip the World Famous Resorts (for Now)
Places like the French Riviera, the Italian Lakes and the Greek Isles are world renowned summer playgrounds. Due to their popularity with both the local and international set, they run at maximum capacity in August.
It’s probably best to see these places early in the season during May or June or just save them for September.
If you truly can’t pry yourself away from one of these popular locales, why not rent a car for the day and find your own hidden beach a few miles up the coast?
PHOTO: A languid Europe beach in summer. (photo by Worldwide Scott)