Escape crowded places by going somewhere that’s not necessarily the 1st option when we talk about summer destinations in Europe.
Always on the move
Someone with a travel mentality is always on the move. Whether it’s a short trip skiing or longer journeys across SE Asia, travellers don’t stop. Every next time off or bank holiday is carefully planned so that no travelling opportunity is being missed out. The downside of using every bank holiday to travel is that everyone else is doing the same. This means that some periods in the year are busier than others.
What can you do to avoid the crowds but still travel during busy periods like Christmas, Easter or summer when literally everyone else goes on holiday? Do no travel is not an option. You still want to take advantage of the time off like everyone else by doing the following.
Tips to travel in summer:
*Don’t travel to what’s known as summer destinations in summer. I know it might sound strange but if you want a quiet holiday abroad at any point in June, July or August, then this is something you might consider. Avoid visiting countries like Spain, Italy or Greece-one of the most popular and busiest holiday destinations in summer. There are plenty of other options on the continent where you can still enjoy highs of 30 degree Celsius, get some tan and good food. By doing this, you will avoid overcrowded places while still going on holiday like everyone else.
*You can apply the same strategy in winter. This does not mean you need to sacrifice the skiing season. Avoid this by simply going somewhere that’s not a winter hotspot. There are several European destinations which are perfect for winter sports. I’m not passionate about winter sports, so I did not mind spending one of my winter holidays in Cyprus or Italy and one of my late summer holidays in Finland.
*By applying these strategies will not only win a quiet holiday but also save up money. Although flight tickets are more expensive in the high season (it can either in summer or winter), you will still pay less than everyone else travelling to the hotspot of the moment. For my trip to Helsinki, I paid 100GBP for a return flight with Finnair. It was a bargain considering I flew in August the peak of the summer holiday season in Europe. It also helped that I booked my flight in advance.
Visit Finland in summer to avoid the crowd
I already mentioned that my last couple of trips in Europe before the pandemic hit were Finland during the summer bank holiday and Italy in February for a random week away. I must say that each European country has its own national bank holidays, so people get time off on different days across Europe, except for the most important celebrations like Christmas, New Year or Easter when almost everyone is off at the same time.
Choosing Finland for a getaway trip in Europe proved to be the best choice despite travelling during a summer bank holiday. Landing in Finland was straightforward and minutes later I was on my way to Helsinki. The city welcomed me with plenty of sunshine which I definitely enjoyed. I remember walking down the street and being surprised that the temperature was showing 30 degrees Celsius. On top of that, the extra daylight hours you get in Scandinavia in the summertime, made me feel luckier than anyone else holidaying in Spain or Italy.
What to visit in Helsinki during summertime
Helsinki is quite a small city. According to Wikipedia, it has a population of 625,000 people. Its metropolitan population is only 1.4 million people. This means that main tourist attractions are concentrated in the city centre. Since everything is within walking distance, you will barely spend any money on transportation. I love places where you can walk everywhere, and Helsinki is one of those places. Similar to its Scandinavian neighbours, Helsinki has a strong cycling culture. Everyone cycles in summer when the weather is perfect for this activity. There are cycling lanes everywhere if you want to discover the city by bike.
Main touristic attractions in Helsinki
- The Market Square. As the name suggests the Market Square is Helsinki’s main square. It’s quite a big area, full of shops, cafés and souvenir shops. The most important building by far is the imposing, white cathedral which offers a panoramic view if you decide to climb the stairs all the way up to the top.
2) The Beach. Most certainly not that well known, at least not like the one in Barcelona for example, Helsinki also has a beach. It’s quite refreshing to walk through the city and reach the beach. The day I went was particularly sunny and warm with clear skies and peaceful seawater.
3) Uspensky Cathedral. Helsinki has quite a few cathedrals, and one of the most famous ones is Uspensky Cathedral. It was interesting to see how many Orthodox churches Helsinki has. However, this is not that much of a surprise considering its past relationship with Russia, one of the biggest Orthodox countries in the region.
4) Sibelius Monument. Helsinki has many parks, and one of these hosts the Sibelius Monument. It has quite an interesting architecture, so I recommend visiting it.
5) Nuuksio National Park. If you fancy exploring more nature sites, I recommend Nuuksio National Park. You can reach it via train and bus, and it’s perfect for a hiking day outside Helsinki.
If you have more time (which I did not have, unfortunately), you can take a 2h Ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn. For those who do not know, Tallinn is the capital of Estonia. I met many travellers doing this at the time. This way, you check out 2 European capitals and get to enjoy a short voyage on the Baltic Sea.
More about the Finns:
People in Finland speak really good English. The same applies to the entire Scandinavian region. Therefore, you won’t have problems if you cannot speak a word of Finnish. Did you know that in Finland everything gets translated into Swedish first and not English? English only comes second, and in some local public transport, the bus stops get announced in Finnish and Swedish only.
Nevertheless, I have enjoyed Finland more than I initially thought. The country was on my bucket list for a while, well ever since I finished my tour through Norway and Sweden, so I am glad I got to travel there last August. I avoided the crowd while still enjoying some proper summer weather.
In conclusion, Finland is the perfect summer destination if you want to avoid crowded places during the summertime in Europe. Helsinki has many touristic attractions, and with so many places to visit outside the capital city, I can guarantee you won’t get bored.