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Europe’s best summer destinations 2012

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Europe.

EDITOR’S PICKS. Europe hosts some of the world’s greatest travel destinations. It happens that people from Asia or America bundle the whole thing together to a single ‘Europe’, as if being one country only. And it is hard to grasp the wide range of languages and cultures that the continent contain. Of course, it doesn’t help either with Henry Kissinger’s famous supposed quote, “Who do I call if I want to speak to Europe?”, pointing out Europe’s inability throughout history to unite itself.

But for travelers, it is the fragmentation which makes journeys in Europe so rewarding. Cross a border, and you’re in another world.

But where to start this summer? To sort things out a bit, the Traveling Reporter has put together an itinerary containing what can be considered Europe’s best summer destinations. This is a highly subjective gathering of cities and sights, though, and if you don’t agree you are more than welcome to post a comment – or write your own review in our special forum for traveler’s reviews, CheckMyPlaces.

1. London

Oxford Street, London.

If you’re flying in from outside Europe this summer, London might be the perfect place to start. If, that is, you enjoy the Olympics (and can handle high hotel prices). The Olympic Summer Games starts on July 27 and ends on August 3. The British capital may be suffering from traffic chaos during that time, but has lots of things to offer besides sports.

A fantastic range of theaters, more pubs than you can visit in a lifetime, the Greenwich meridian, and museums of all kinds and for all tastes. Don’t miss a historic boat tour on the river Thames.

Download Hostelworld’s London City Guide

2. Paris

Paris Metro.

Take the Eurotunnel from Britain to France and Paris. The French capital may be a bad choice if you long for lazy days on the beach, but no visit to Europe can be considered complete if you haven’t strolled the avenues, climbed the Eiffel Tower, walked your legs tired in the Louvre Museum, and spent a few hours at any of the cafés swarming the place.

There, you can really get into the right mode of Paris, reading a book, having another cake and just watch people and time pass. Also, don’t miss a visit to Louis XIV’s Versailles, 20 km outside of Paris.

 Download Hostelworld’s Paris City Guide

3. Stockholm

Summer in the archipelago of Stockholm.

In general, Swedes hate winter and worship summer. It is easy to understand why.

June 6 may be Sweden’s National Day, but it is at Midsummer a few weeks later that the country and its residents really get into gear, celebrating long nights and warm winds with food, beer, wine and the essential Snaps.

Swedish summers can be rainy, but usually holds a few weeks of sunny temperatures around 25-30 degrees Celsius. If you have time, consider heading out in the unique archipelago right outside of Stockholm.(See our guide to the islands.)

 Download Hostelworld’s Stockholm City Guide

4. Granada

Granada, southern Spain.

Southern Spain is a another world, with mountains, beaches, cites, and small villages, wide highways and small country roads all in one place.

Sceneries are fantastic in summertime, especially around and in Granada which holds one of the country’s best attractions, the Alhambra.

This old Moorish temple sits on a high hill with stunning views over the romantic city, from where skiing in the winter and beaches at the Mediterranean during summer are both less than an hour away.

 Download Hostelworld’s Granada City Guide

5. Berlin

Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin.

The capital of Germany can not be compared to any other large city in Europe. While places like Stockholm, Paris, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Frankfurt have all seen real estate prices soar – and sometimes crash – Berlin holds on to much of its legacy derived from decenniums as a divided city between East and West.

You’ll still find reasonably cheap food, shopping and lodging here, and the mix of new and old in the city has generated into a great bowl of underground culture, arts and theaters.

All tourists venture to the famous Checkpoint Charlie (picture), where once soldiers and tanks were trapped in a standoff that made the whole world hold its breath.

 Download Hostelworld’s Berlin City Guide

6. Amsterdam

Amsterdam.

The Netherlands is flat, and driving through the country can feel a little boring. Not so in Amsterdam, though, the nice Dutch capital with its canals, boats, cafés, and old houses.

The Traveling Reporter does not encourage taking narcotics nor going to prostitutes, but it is a fact that Holland’s liberal policies towards drugs and prostitution have characterized the city in a way that at least makes it an interesting destination.

A good idea is to rent a bike to get around the city.

 Download Hostelworld’s Amsterdam City Guide

7. Copenhagen

Nyhavn, Copenhagen.

It has been said about Malmö (Malmoe) in southern Sweden that the best thing about the city is its closeness to Copenhagen, the Danish capital just over the Öresund strait.

That may be unfair to Malmö, which is well worth a visit, but fact is Copenhagen has more to offer.

Bars, clubs, beaches nearby and no less than two theme parks makes this a great destination to spend a few days before heading on to Berlin of Prague, or west to the Netherlands and France. The Danes are usually easy to get along with.

 Download Hostelworld’s Copenhagen City Guide

8. Sicily

Palermo, Sicily.

Formed out of decades of mafia operations and different rulers come and gone, leaving Sicily with an awkward relation to the outside world, the southern Italian island offers unique sights and environments.

Try out the cuisine of southern Italy, swim in the Mediterranean, take in the views of Mount Etna and relax from the heat in the shade at a square in Palermo, which has a large architectural heritage and is notable for its many Norman buildings.

 Check out Worldtravelguide’s Palermo City Guide

9. Nice-Cannes-Antibes

Nice, France.

This stretch of French Mediterranean coastline has it all. Nice, with its medieval layout and buildings; Cannes, where the rich and famous gather for festivals, fairs and parties; and Antibes, the secluded town with small squares, great villas and a great beach that does not disappoint.

Monte-Carlo and Monaco is not far off either, which makes this part of southern France suitable for at least a week’s visit.

Easy to get around by rental car or commuter train.

 Download Hostelworld’s Nice City Guide

10. Prague

The Staropramen brewery in Prague.

Prague is the former tumbling place for spies and agents during the Cold War, a boiling point between East and West where nobody could be trusted and history was written and rewritten. These days, the historic city center is one of Europe’s and the world’s most interesting, featuring bars, churches, the famous Karl’s Bridge, museums and numerous beer breweries, complete with scenic postcard settings all around. Prague is a must for everyone who wants to feel the wings of European history where it is at its best.

 Download Hostelworld’s Prague City Guide

 

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Comment: Which are your best European destinations?

 

The editor of the Traveling Reporter works as a business news editor, and is a frequent traveler. When not doing any of that, he spends time on his boat and tries to figure out where to travel next. Two of his top destinations are the Philippines and San Francisco. Email Erik! Follow the Traveling Reporter at Stumbleupon, Tumblr, Chime In, Pinterest, Google+, Weibo, Storify, Facebook, Traveldudes, Myspace.