The most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean coast, or the great European capitals as a summer holiday destination in June or July are often not as breezy and balmy as we expect during summer. Pesky crowds, overpriced meals and coffee are often a thing during the busiest holiday time of the year: Summer.
However, there’s always non-touristy places that are world’s away from the usual destinations, where it feels like you’re stepping into an old book with familiar pages, where the rhythmic buzzing of people excites you.
You can be swimming in massive, beautiful waterfalls and less than an hour later be wandering a 500 year old village, and hop over to a crumbling countryside masseria. The possibilities are endless only if you dig deeper, and stay away from the hustle and bustle.
In this post, kindred travellers share their experiences and suggestions of the best non-touristy and underrated summer holiday destinations in June and July.
Almaty in Kazakhstan is one of my favourite cities in Asia. It is the perfect place to combine city life with nature. On a clear day you can see the snowcapped peaks of the Tien Shan mountains. From the city it is only one hour by car before you are surrounded by pristine nature.
My first visit was in April when it was actually still too cold for hiking. Beautiful Big almaty lake, famous for its turquoise blue waters, was still solid frozen and covered in snow. Also my hike to the Kolsai lakes was cut short, because the trail to the second lake was too icy.
My second visit was in June when I could finally make optimal use of all the hiking and nature opportunities Almaty has to offer. From walking to waterfalls just outside the city to visiting deep blue mountain lakes and seeing the rocky landscape of the Charyn Canyon. If you love the outdoors, summer is the best time to visit Almaty.
But it's not just nature. Almaty is an interesting city in its own right. A mix between old Soviet architecture and a new modern city with hip cafes and great restaurants. One of the things I like about Almaty are its parks that are full with people in summer. June and July are the great time to be in Almaty, because both the city and the mountains are at its best.
by Ellis Veen, Backpackadventures
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Southeast-Asia has its fair share of tourists and travellers who rave about the beachy destinations in Thailand and volcano hopping islands in Indonesia, and great Michelin-star hawker centres in Singapore but Malaysia does not get its fair share of love compared to its neighbouring brethren.
With boundless sunshine, and year-long 30 degree temperatures, Kuala Lumpur is a great starting ground for a summer destination in the tropics without worrying about the crowds.
There are numerous day-trips and colonial hill-stations about an hour or two away making it the perfect place to begin a road trip in Asia. It is a food paradise as well with old-school Hainanese Kopitiam shops and the best pulled tea “Teh Tarik” and Nasi Lemak with a nice mix of Indian, Chinese and Malay influences.
The heat and humidity can wear you out in the city centre, but if you take a one hour drive away with AirBnB experiences or MeetUp KL Hiking and Trail Running group to the jungles of Pahang in Malaysia, from Kuala Lumpur, you’ll experience cool rainforest estates.
The country is filled with diversity and contrasts with a make-up of three different ethnicities - Malay, Chinese and Indians; a country where everyone will gladly speak English as well. Flights coming in to Kuala Lumpur and out of the city makes it an affordable and easily accessible Asian country to visit during the summer.
By Pashmina, The Gone Goat
The historic city of Mostar in the southern Herzegovina region of Bosnia Herzegovina is a great destination to visit in the summer, whether you’re on a Balkans road-trip or exploring the country on foot.
Long, light evenings allow you to fully explore this beautiful city and the evening time summer sun makes the painted buildings and the honey-coloured stone of the old town glow. It can get very hot in Mostar during the summer - heightened by the heat from the radiating stones everywhere - so time your sightseeing for early morning or late afternoon!
Visit the iconic Stari Most bridge and watch the daring divers leap into impossibly shallow waters. Explore the pretty cobbled lanes of the old town and climb the minaret of the Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque for incredible views of the city.
Learn about Mostar's rich cultural heritage at one of the city’s many excellent museums such as the Bosnaseum or by visiting historic houses such as the 16th century Ottoman house Kajtaz. You can also learn about Mostar’s more recent tragic and traumatic history at the emotionally moving Museum of War and Genocide.
The old part of the city is easily covered on foot but for trips further afield public transport is cheap and reliable. Accommodation, eating out and entrance fees are much cheaper than other European destinations.
by Sinead, Map Made Memories
Lake Achen, Tyrol, Austria
If you’re more into nature than sightseeing in overrun European cities in summer, then the Lake Achen region in Tyrol, Austria will make you very happy.
The “Fjord of the Alps” as it is sometimes called, has something for everyone who wants to get away from the rat race of everyday life. Whether it’s a luxury lakeside holiday or a more active one hiking and cycling, one thing stays the same – the incredible beauty of the lake and surrounding mountains.
Lake Achen is the largest Alpine lake in the Austrian Tyrol. It’s 9 km long, and 1.3 km at its widest point. Three Alpine villages – Pertisau, Achenkirch, and Maurach – are scattered around the lake. They all have something unique to offer visitors – from 4-star hotels and camping grounds to public beaches and spas.
Boat rides between the villages and other points of interests are very popular. Hiking from Pertisau to the Gaisalm and taking the boat back is a great excursion. The Gaisalm is a traditional mountain restaurant and can only be reached on foot or by boat.
Those with lazy bones wanting to see the views over Lake Achen from the surrounding mountains, have the option of two different cable cars on opposite sides of the lake.
Lake Achen is nestled between the Rofan and Karwendel mountains above Jenbach, an Austrian town between Munich and Innsbruck, the capital of Tyrol. June and July is a great time to visit to experience the lake in the finest summer conditions.
by Linda, Travel Tyrol
Cathar Country, France
The Cathar Country in Southern France is an underrated area with an interesting culture, history, and heritage. It is best explored by car, on a road trip, but it is also possible to set your base camp in cities like Carcassonne or Narbonne and explore the rest of the area on day trips from these cities.
The Catharism was a dualist religion which flourished in the Languedoc during the XII and XIV centuries. Cathars (the followers of this new religion) combined a tradition of itinerant preachers in the forests with a very ascetic quality and rejected the Roman Catholic and the entire church structure.
Many lords of the former regions of Occitanie and Midi Pyrenees followed the Cathars or protected them, that’s why the Catholic Church started to consider the Catharism dangerous. In the end, the Catholic Church declared the Cathars heretics and called a crusade to destroy them. From 1208, a war of terror was waged against the indigenous population of the Languedoc and their rulers and it is estimated half-million Languedoc people (Cathars or not) were massacred by the Crusaders.
The Cathar Route includes 22 exceptional sites, both for their historical importance and beauty. These Cathar Country sites are mainly medieval villages, abbeys and vertigo citadels with incredible places such as Carcassonne, Minerve, or Châteaux de Lastours just to name a few.
Because some of the most beautiful citadels are located at the top of rocky spurs, they are best explored during the summer, when the weather and the visibility are good. The views over the surrounding valleys from these citadels are just amazing.
by Elisa, World In Paris
Pedalling past Himalayan nomads, army camps, and one of the highest peaks in the world is not just a thrill, but a spiritual experience. The ice-capped peaks, the contentment, the thin clear air and general sense of adrenaline teaches you to slow down and appreciate the many colours of nature.
Ladakh is a region filled with warm Buddhist monks, colourful monasteries, all in complete contrast to its harsh and rugged terrain, which forces even the nomadic people to be constantly on the move for their own survival. Known as the ‘Land of The Highest Passes’, situated at 3,000metres, the town of Leh is a high-desert city wedged in the mountains.
Originally a stop for trading caravans, Leh is now known for its Buddhist sites and nearby trekking areas. Massive 17th-century Leh Palace, modeled on the Dalai Lama’s former home (Tibet’s Potala Palace), overlooks the old town’s bazaar and zigzag lanes.
While the main town may be filled with local tourists, it is also the perfect time and weather to explore treks in this region and rent a motorbike and zip around the high-altitude terrains as well as the highest motorable road in the world.
by Pashmina, The Gone Goat
While many places in Europe gets busy and packed with crowds in the summer months of June, July and August, there are fun cities that are not overrun by tourists which make them great to visit.
One of the cities is Bremen, in Northern Germany which is located about 120km west of Hamburg. In summer, the school holidays (of about six weeks mostly in July and sometimes a few weeks in August) contribute to the fact, that there are even fewer people around.
Many locals go on vacation and other Europe visitors head to beach destinations or the more famous places in Europe - however, they miss out!
Bremen is a beautiful city with about 500,000 inhabitants and it has one of the most beautiful old towns and many fun places to visit in the summer months.
What many visitors are surprised of is how green Bremen is and how many parks there are - so a picnic in the warm months is one of the best things to do (either in the Bürgerpark, the Wallanlagen or at the Osterdeich). But do not worry, while it gets warm it normally does not get as hot as in many other European cities, so the weather will allow you to spend a lot of time outdoors.
Stroll the market square (with its many cafes), visit the Bremen Town Musicians and explore the Town Hall.
For a nice lunch/dinner head to the Schlachte - a wonderful promenade where locals and visitors meet and in the summer months, there is no better way to end the day than sitting outdoors, watching people, enjoying a drink and be surrounded by chilled people.
For the festival lovers out there: July is also a good month to visit as there is the BREMINALE Festival that takes place for a few days. This (free) festival is all about music, street food and drinks and enjoying outdoor time in one of the most beautiful areas in Bremen (Osterdeich) - so there are many reasons to visit Bremen in June, July or August.
By Arzo, Arzo Travels
My first visit to Puglia was in March, which was understandably quiet. But when I planned a visit 3 months later in June, I was expecting it to be busy and crowded – like most European destinations in the high season!
Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised and found that June in Puglia is the perfect place to be in early summer. The beaches are far from crowded, the cities are functioning but not overcrowded, and there are still great deals to be had on accommodation.
I’m not sure why people have taken a little longer to warm to Puglia. Perhaps it’s the ramshackle appearance that can be a little rough around the edges, but if you can get past the potholed roads and crumbling countryside masserias, you’ll find remarkable beauty.
Ancient olive trees line the country roads, the beaches and secret swimming holes are stunningly scenic, and the weather is balmy and consistent.
Even the most touristic of attractions are manageable in Puglia during early summer and you won’t have to fight the crowds to get where you want to go. I’d recommend you discover this hidden gem for yourself before the rest of the world finds out about it!
by Nadine, Lelong Weekend
Think cobbled street cafes, the emerald-green Soca river and a town that is just below the majestic Julian Alps. Located in north-west Slovenia, Bovec hits the sweet spot in attracting adventurous souls to experience this tiny little town.
The fairytale regions of Slovenia such as Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj may shine in natural beauty and showcase the greenest side of Slovenia, but Bovec stands out on its own for its turquoise Soča River, Triglav National Park and its Walk of Peace trail, a long distance hike that takes you from the Alps to the Adriatic alongside various sights linked to WWI, such as the Ravelnik Open-Air Museum, including trenches and bunkers.
High mountains, countless waterfalls, deep caves, crystal clear rivers in combination with adventure sport activities makes it an offbeat destination far away from the tourist crowds in popular places like Croatia.
by Pashmina, The Gone Goat
Kilkee, County Clare, Ireland
Summer in Ireland can be hit or miss with the weather. Gorgeous sunny days mixed in with classic Irish rain means that packing for Ireland even in the summer is a challenge. One of the best destinations for summer in Ireland is the gorgeous and rugged coastline.
Many travelers head to Dingle or the Cliffs of Moher, but if looking for a non-touristy destination, try Kilkee, which is sandwiched between these two popular destinations. Kilkee is in County Clare and is a hidden gem along the Wild Atlantic Way. Facing west towards the Atlantic Ocean, Kilkee is an hours drive from Limerick and two hours from Galway.
The little village on the sea offers travelers some of the most beautiful sunsets in all of Ireland from its cliffs and sandy beach. Kilkee is a popular summer destination for many residents of Limerick, but is virtually untouched by international tourists.
With around a thousand year-round inhabitants, it is as quaint an Irish village as there can be. One of Kilkee’s most beautiful features are the miles of cliffs traveling along the Irish coast. While shorter than its more famous cousin, the Cliffs of Moher, the cliffs in Kilkee are far less crowded. Stretching for nearly five miles, the Loop Head Way is a trail along the cliffs that begins and ends in Kilkee.
The trail allows unobstructed and breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Irish coastline. As soon as the sun emerges in the cool Irish summer, the locals descend on the trail or onto the horseshoe-shaped beach to take advantage of the weather.
When the rain comes, head to one of the handful of pubs in town to drink a pint of Guinness. Almost entirely visited by locals, the pubs offer an opportunity to experience real Irish life. It’s a welcome change from the touristy pubs found in Dublin and other major tourist destinations in Ireland. Just be prepared for the unpredictable summer weather in Ireland!
by Amber, Food and Drink Destinations
Saltee Islands, Ireland
Ireland is, of course, a hugely popular tourist destination for visitors from all over the world in summer. If you go to really popular spots like the Cliffs of Moher in the west or the city of Dublin then you'll see tourists everywhere. However, there are so many beautiful places all over Ireland that are less crowded and more untouched if you're looking for something a little bit more authentic. The Saltee Islands in Wexford in Ireland's south-east is definitely one of them.
It's an awesome spot to explore as a day trip from Wexford and you can spend your time there taking in the incredible nature of the island - and generally practically to yourself. Birdwatchers will love spotting all the different types of birds, families and friends will enjoy picnics and everyone will just love walking around the island and taking in the beauty of it all. It's the perfect place for a warm summer's day in the country.
Unfortunately, you can't stay overnight on the island but it's possible to stay in Kilmore Quay from where you take the ferry or in the town of Wexford which is also great and quaint places to explore completely off the beaten track.
by Ann Murphy, Eco Conscious Traveller
Tbilisi, Georgia doesn't rank very highly on most tourists radars, even by Eastern European standards. Georgia offers many tourists up to a year to be a tourist there, but beyond that, June and July offer up some of the best weather the city sees. My wife and I have had a great time perusing the city, and this might just be the city that turns me into a foodie!
Where to go?
Mtatsminda Park offers up a dated but serviceable set of amusement park rides alongside the city's trademark Ferris Wheel. We really enjoyed just walking around the park (entrance is free), and you can pay for rides as you go. Take the funicular or a local bus to the top.
The National Botanical Garden is south of the city's Old Town, and sports over 4,500 plant groups. Pillaged when Persians invaded in 1795, the botanical garden was established in 1845, and an iconic bridge over a waterfall was built in 1914. It's cooler here when the city gets hot.
While the State Silk Museum is a rather obscure holdover from Soviet times, we found it to be an interesting, authentic collection that's barely changed in decades. It's full of examples of silk grown in the area, though we also enjoyed the industrial examples and clothing patterns from decades back. It's a stone's throw from the Dinamo football stadium.
By Chris Backe at Worthy Go
Batumi, Georgia is the main seaside resort in the Caucasus region. While during most of the year it is a relatively calm place, in the summertime it turns into a summer filled with events, parties and Georgian activities.
Streets of Batumi are often fill with happy, relaxed crowds not only from Georgia but also Russia, Armenia, Middle East and other European cities, all attracted to the glitzy skyline and the fact that the city never sleeps. With so many things to do in Batumi, there is an undiscovered side to this ex-Soviet town.
Once you are done with chilling at the beach you can admire the modern, somehow odd architecture Batumi is known for and venture into the charming old town or take the Argo cable car to one of the hills above the city to admire the stunning view (I recommend doing so especially during sunset).
If you have more time, you should go to the botanical garden located a few kilometers away from the center. It is one of the most beautiful gardens you will ever see, with interesting flora and fauna. Don't miss the delicious Georgian food too!
Georgian cuisine is unique to its country and has several Caucasian influences which you can’t leave without trying Adjarian khachapuri - a dish traditional for the region. Even if Batumi is a popular summer resort on the Black Sea coast, it doesn't feel overwhelming, or like a party-town as it still has its old-world eccentricities. If you are planning offbeat summer holidays, Batumi might be the right place for you.
Helsinki is a wonderful place to visit in June and July, and makes a brilliant alternative to more touristy city breaks like Stockholm and Copenhagen, but with all the same Nordic charm. Up here in the capital of Finland in the middle of summer, the days are amazingly long - ideal for sightseeing.
You’ll also be visiting at the best time of year for sightseeing weather, and while the temperature’s never likely to get too hot, it’s still very pleasant - definitely warm enough for sitting outside at one of Helsinki’s bars or pavement cafes.
Helsinki’s attractions are quirky and understated. A must-do for any visitor is the Temppeliaukion Rock Church. You’ll never have visited a church quite like this one - it was dug out of solid rock in the 1960s and the walls of the church are rough rock.
Nearby is another unique place of worship. The Kamppi Chapel sits outside a shopping centre like a wooden spacecraft or giant seed, and is designed to give residents of Helsinki a place for quiet contemplation in the heart of the city.
Helsinki is on the south coast of Finland, and the long days of June and July are ideal for taking to the water. Visit the island fortress Suomenlinna, or take a cruise through the archipelago which shelters Helsinki from the Baltic sea.
Back on dry land, relax on Tar Island with a view of Finland’s ice breaker ships on the opposite bank - like you, they’re taking a well-earned summer break.
by Helen, Helen On Holidays
Ijlst is a beautiful Frisian city in the province of Friesland, The Netherlands. This city is one of the 11 cities of Friesland that were given its city rights. Ijlst even obtained it’s city rights back in 1268!
There are plenty of things to do in the city of Ijlst, but one thing you have to check out are the gardens. Ijlst is one of the only places in The Netherlands that still has gardens next to the river called overtuinen. People have to cross a road before they can enter their gardens. These gardens were used to bleach one’s laundry in the early days.
What I mainly love about Ijlst is that this beautiful Dutch city hasn’t changed even a little bit since the 19th century. But luckily for you, tourists haven’t discovered Ijlst yet. Even Dutch people often forget about the existence of Ijlst, let alone tourists.
Summer is high season in The Netherlands and virtually every museum opens its doors during this time period. There is something to do in every village, town or city that you visit. In Ijlst, the windmill that saws wood and the woodmuseum are opened. The city of Ijlst turns into a bustling, little city during summer. Boats are everywhere, the few terraces are filled and everyone enjoys the rays of sunshine.
So if you want to explore The Netherlands during summer, without many tourists, take a visit to Ijlst. I’m certain that you won’t regret it.
by Manon, Visiting The Dutch Countryside
What are some of your non-touristy summer holiday destinations that you’ve travelled to? And tell me why you loved them?
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