9 activities that are perfect for making the most of summer in Europe

Ready for a spectacular summer in Europe? Wherever you’re going this year, kick your trip up a notch with one of these amazing activities available across some of the continent’s most exciting countries, cities, and natural hideaways. It’ll be a holiday to remember.

1. Hiking

Hiking the Italian Dolomites

Summer in Europe is best met from a mountaintop, or on an incredible trail with wildlife bustling all around. The continent is a treasure trove of hikes and walks for those that love to be immersed in nature.

Greece: Over in Greece’s wild Peloponnese peninsula, the Mani region is a special gem just waiting to be explored by those with a love for the outdoors. Journey past sparkling seascapes and some of Greece’s hidden historic structures – like small stone churches and temples – while walking around the Cape Tainaro region, before settling down to sleep at Kyrimai: a hotel drenched in heritage just a short drive away from exciting Areopoli.

Italy: For more mountainous terrain, there’s nowhere like the Italian Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This rugged rural area comes alive at sunset, when the mountainsides are brushed in hues of orange and gold. It’s a miraculous sight. Containing walks and treks that are suitable for all abilities, this is a winning destination for hiking in Europe. The historic Hotel Am Stetteneck is just waiting to receive you, too, where you’ll find sumptuous rooms and suites along with a gorgeous spa in which to unwind.

Ireland: A list of ideas for where to go hiking in Europe wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the Old Head of Kinsale! A confluence of green, rugged landscapes and gorgeous views, it’s a wonderful place in which to spend some time this summer. Marvel at the geology and explore the relics that lie around here – including a castle and tower house – during a hike like no other. Stay at Blue Haven Hotel afterwards for gorgeous gastronomy and service with a personal touch.

For more hiking in Europe suggestions, see here.

2. Golfing

You’re never short of incredible places in which to go golfing in Europe. From north to south, there are a wealth of locations in which to stroll (and practice your swing!) around the countryside. Golf clubs in Europe defy the ordinary, with many of them based impressively next to lakes, at the bases of mountains, and within rolling hills and valleys.

France: Even if you’ve never picked up a golf club before, you’ll fall in love with the stunning Golf de Meribel in the French Alps. The greens here are encased by emerald forestry and sublime mountain views – you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into the pages of a fairytale rather than the grounds of a sports club. Maintaining the storybook vibe, Hôtel L’Hélios and Spa sits alongside the world’s largest ski resort – The 3 Valleys – and is a hub of chalet-style interiors, open fires, delicious food and wellness services.

Wales: If you’re planning to go golfing in Europe, don’t overlook the stunning South Pembrokeshire Golf Club. This 18 hole golf course is beautifully maintained throughout the year – a great spot for golf lovers to visit of every skill level. Another crowd-pleaser, our historic hotel Roch Castle is a wonderful five-star hideaway dating back to the 12th century. Along with spending a night (or a few) in its luxurious walls, you’re going to want to hear its story to tell…

3. Sunbathing

A seasonal classic, for many, sunbathing is a must-do activity during summer in Europe. Little is as relaxing as recharging under the sun’s warm rays, particularly in these locations…

Isola Bella island and beach, Taormina, Italy

Greece: Take to the island of Lesbos for some TLC this upcoming holiday. Home to an ever-azure pool, Eressian Hotel & Hammam Spa is perfectly set up for your fix of sunbathing, Unwind, relax, and let the rays soothe you before taking a dip. The beach of Eressos is also close by if you’re craving the coast.

Another Greek spot, the legendary Santorini is spectacular at any time of year, particularly the hotter seasons. Whitewashed houses with bright blue roofs are some of this island’s most iconic sights – though it’s a hub of excellent beaches, too, including beautiful Baxedes and Armeni. Both are close to Oia, where Esperas Santorini awaits to connect you to the very heart of the island. Many of the rooms here are carved directly into the rock, creating a unique ambience you’re sure to love.

Italy: Known for its annual international film festival, Taormina is a wonderful place in which to go sunbathing in Europe, too. Take the short hop over to the island, Isola Bella, where you can mix up your stints lying in the sunshine with a fascinating trek around some gardens and a palace. Overlooking it all, Taormina’s Hotel Villa Schuler promises a stay that’s crammed with exceptional views and nature-filled spaces during your summer retreat.

4. Island-hopping

Who could say no to bountiful beaches, cerulean seas and heavenly horizons? Put your sea legs on this summer in Europe to explore some of its most idyllic islands.

Croatia: The intriguing and aesthetically pleasing island of Brač is the largest island in Dalmatia – where you can find the famous Golden Horn beach along with a surplus of olive oil-centric activities and tours, for which it’s famed. Between its expansive clean bays and lush forestry, it’s impossible not to be enchanted by this place… or by nearby Puteus Palace, a five-star boutique hotel. Of special note is its restaurant, where Brač and Croatian cuisine are dished up with flavourful wines straight from the palace’s renovated cellar.

Greece: Did you know there are roughly 6,000 islands and islets across the Greek seas? If you’re feeling especially ambitious, you could try and visit them all… but for those looking for a smaller list to begin with, our Greek Island-Hopping itinerary can help you. Zip across the waters on a five-leg route that’ll help you get familiar with some of the country’s most magical islands, complete with their local historic hotels.

5. Horseback riding

Horseback riding in Switzerland

There’s something so liberating about horseback riding. This summer, race across green pastures – the wind in your hair – to experience escapism at its finest.

Ireland: The Burren is Ireland’s smallest national park… but a completely unique natural wonder. A ‘glaciokarst’ landscape, its one-of-a-kind view is a mezze of limestone, mountains, wildflowers and sweeping plains – the perfect place to delve into from the back of your own trusty steed. From Gregans Castle Hotel, our sustainability-focused historic hotel just a short distance away, head to Mountain View Horse Riding Centre to get started.

Switzerland: The Swiss landscape often looks so surreal, you might doubt whether it actually is real. A tapestry of mountains, fields, ancient trees, waterfalls and fascinating wildlife, there are few better places for countryside lovers to explore when spending summer in Europe… especially from horseback. At Engadin River Ranch, you can plan day tours, embark on romantic carriage rides and more from the heart of Graubünden. We’d strongly recommend considering a night or two at Kurhaus Bergün while you’re in the area, too: an Art Nouveau jewel with several awards to its name.

6. Visiting spas

Summer is for switching off from the pressures of everyday life. Cue, spa days! Dive into a world of spa-based bliss with a trip to one of the luxurious spas on offer throughout our historic Collection.

Czech Republic: If you take your spas seriously, you’ll find your perfect fit at Rubezahl-Marienbad Castle Hotel & Golf. Professional physicians, aestheticians, dietitians and other wellness experts are all at-hand here to help you tap into your best self through a tailored wellness programme or carefully considered pick of treatments, which can include expert massages and body wraps.

Italy: Feel the tension melt away at Castel Rundegg – a historic castle hotel and spa in South Tyrol. Targeted therapies and holistic treatments devised by experts in the wellness industry are on offer, here, helping to revive you in a lasting way that’ll extend long after your holiday has ended. Benefit from a sauna, face treatments, indoor and outdoor pools, massages, body treatments and more. The list goes on and on.

Slovakia: Whether you’re keen to unwind in a Finnish sauna, recline in a bubbling whirlpool, partake in a soothing massage or try something else entirely, Hotel Gino Park Palace can deliver. This atmospheric spa is set apart by moody arches, warm lighting and a soft, serene atmosphere that inspires healing moments of introspection and connectedness – nurturing your body from the outside in.

For more spa suggestions across Europe, see here.

7. Spelunking

Exploring caves – or ‘spelunking’ (a truly great word) – is an amazing way to spend summer in Europe if you’re a fan of nature’s stonier, secretive side.

St. Beatus caves, Switzerland

Lisbon: Marvel at underground waterfalls, traverse curiosity-invoking passageways and gaze around at an eclectic environment of stalagmites, stalactites and other fascinating rock formations at the caves in Arrabida Natural Park, just outside of Lisbon. Many of the stones here took millions of years to form, creating an otherworldly ambience that simply cannot be replicated. In the paradisiacal Portuguese capital, Hotel Lisboa Plaza can cater to you with plush rooms and suites that beautifully bookmark each day.

Switzerland: Seemingly the stuff of sci-fi novels, the rocks at St. Beatus Caves decorate the caves near the Interlaken and Thun lakes with outstanding impact. Whether you’re travelling solo or as a group, there’s plenty to be appreciated here, including a waterfall feature. Built in 1894, nearby Hotel Falken has a long tradition of treating travellers in the idyllic Swiss countryside, furnished traditionally in alpine style.

8. Sailing

Much as we don’t condone the actions of pirates, we do understand the appeal of spending your days drifting across sapphire waters. Europe has a lot of interesting waterways to explore, making it the perfect destination for those with a taste for life on the waves.

Sailing on the Sognefjord, Norway

Norway: The Sognefjord – Norway’s largest and deepest fjord – is always impressive… but particularly so in summer, when the surrounding scenery is bursting with colour and life. Take the boat from Bergen and sail through areas that are the dictionary definition of awe-inspiring. We’re big fans of Hotel Park, too – a family-run boutique hotel on what was historically one of Bergen’s most fashionable streets. The ideal locale for a chic stay.

Belgium: It’s entirely possible to get a day’s worth of sightseeing and sailing done in one go in Bruges, Belgium’s culture-filled capital. Bob along the canal on a canal boat tour to see some of the city’s most stunning gardens, impressive bridges and mediaeval structures, the history of which will be narrated back to you by a skilled storyteller, depending on which boat ride you pick. Hotel Flanders equally values bringing its history to light, which is why you’ll find astonishing original features, including a Gothic room linking back to its roots as a Dominican monastery, within.

Montenegro: Summer days at Kvarner Bay are ones well spent, whether you’re in, on or next to the water. Drink in spectacular beaches, charming nature, historic architecture and long stretches of blue sea and sky, here. Several sailing schools and cruises are on offer nearby, helping you to connect to the water in whichever manner you’d like. With just 19 rooms on-site, make sure to book your place at Hotel Cattaro quickly if a sailing holiday appeals this summer in Europe.

For more excellent sailing destinations across Europe, see here.

9. Paragliding

Got a taste for adventure? Defy the limits of human nature by taking to the skies this summer – where gentle winds and copious sunshine will help you see Europe’s scenery at its most dazzling.

Italy: Lake Garda is one of Italy’s most renowned lakes. With its gorgeous natural environment and tapestry of houses, hotels, eateries and shops, it deserves to be experienced from every angle… including from high up above. Go tandem paraglidingwith experienced fliers to marvel at it all from an entirely new perspective, before heading to Agriturismo L’Unicorno: a calm oasis just a few minutes away from the lakeside.

Austria: Have someone guide you on a tandem flight or, if you’ve got time on your hands, take a taster course in paragliding at Flugschule Hinterstoder, where you can float over Austria’s famously delightful landscape at your leisure. It’ll be an adventure for the books – and to crown what will already prove to be an exquisite escape, book a room at the family-run Villa Bergzauber, which offers panoramic views, applause-worthy rooms and so much more.