Europe tourists
Travelers flock to Europe to soak up the sunshine, explore historic cities, relax on beautiful beaches, and experience the vibrant culture. Reuters | AFP Image Credit: Reuters | AFP

Tourist crush in Europe is a real phenomenon, especially during the peak summer months.

What triggers the annual tourist deluge across this continent known for its rich history, culture and artistic legacy?

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The question bears the answer, plus a perfect storm of factors: Warm, sunny weather blankets most of the continent, making it an outdoor paradise for explorers. School breaks and holidays unleash a wave of families eager for adventure.

And to top it all off, extended daylight hours mean tourists can cram more activities into their jam-packed itineraries.

Some of the most popular European tourist destinations that experience large crowds: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Dublin, London, Munich, Paris, Prague, Rome, Santorini and Venice.

How to avoid the Europe summer tourist crush

Travel agents suggest the following:

  • Book your accommodations and flights in advance: This will help you ensure that you get the best rates and availability.
  • Consider visiting less popular destinations: There are many beautiful and interesting places to visit in Europe that are not as crowded as the major tourist hotspots.
  • Try visiting during the shoulder seasons (spring and fall), which offer pleasant weather and smaller crowds.
  • Be patient and respectful: Remember that you're not the only one who wants to see these popular attractions. Be patient with other tourists and respectful of the local culture.
Early, high and late summer
Choosing the best time to visit Europe depends on your priorities. A breakdown of peak season with some considerations:

Early Summer (June):
This shoulder month offers a good balance between decent weather and fewer crowds compared to July and August.

High Summer (July & August):
This is the peak of tourist season with the warmest weather and the most crowds. Be prepared for busy airports, train stations, and popular attractions.

Late Summer (September): Another shoulder month, September offers pleasant weather with fewer crowds and potentially lower travel costs.

Top 10 most popular cities for summer tourism:

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General view taken of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain.

Barcelona, Spain:

This vibrant city is home to world-famous landmarks like Sagrada Familia and Park Güell, both designed by the famed architect Antoni Gaudí.

Paris Reuters
During the summer months, Paris enjoys long days with sunrise around 6 am and sunset not until after 10 pm. This extended daylight gives tourists more time to pack in all the sights and experiences that Paris has to offer. Image Credit: Reuters

Paris, France:

The City of Lights is a perennial favorite for tourists, with iconic attractions like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, Seine River cruises, and Notre Dame Cathedral.

While there is no definitive number for tourists visiting Europe during summer specifically (June, July, August), we can look at pre-pandemic data and trends to get a good idea.

• July and August are the peak months for tourism in Europe.

• Summer travel is popular with both domestic European tourists and international travelers.

• Residents of the EU made over 270 million trips within the EU in July and August of 2018.

• In 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted travel, Europe saw over 740 million inbound visitors.

There are no exact figures for this summer, though industry experts predict a strong summer for European tourism in 2024, potentially reaching record numbers due to pent-up demand and events, i.e. Olympic Games in France and the UEFA European Football Championship in Germany.

Trevi Fountain Rome
The Trevi Fountain in Rome. Summer is a glorious time to visit the "Eternal City." But with glorious sunshine comes glorious crowds. Image Credit: Reuters

Rome, Italy:

The Eternal City is packed with history and culture, from the Colosseum, and the Trevi Fountain to Vatican City.

Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Amsterdam, the city of canals, bikes, and tulips, transforms into a vibrant summer playground. The crowds flock during this peak season as the balmy weather is perfect for exploring the city's charming canals and streets. Image Credit: Pexels | Adrien Olichon

Amsterdam, Netherlands:

This charming city is known for its canals, its liberal attitude, and its world-class museums like the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum.

Venice, the "City of Canals," holds a special allure in summer. Long summer days offer more time to explore the city's labyrinthine streets and hidden squares. As tourists flock to the city, piazzas buzz with activity, and outdoor gondolas become the ultimate romantic cliché. Image Credit: AFP

Venice, Italy:

This unique city, built on canals, is a must-see for any visitor to Italy. St. Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco in Italian) is the main square of the city and a major tourist destination. However, Venice has been struggling with the effects of over-tourism in recent years.

London: Summertime in the British capital holds a special allure. Comfy temperatures average in the low-to-mid 70s F (around 20-23°C), perfect for exploring iconic landmarks like Buckingham Palace or Big Ben, and enjoying outdoor activities in the city's many parks. Extended daylight allows for jam-packed tour itineraries or leisurely strolls, soaking in the vibrant city life. Image Credit: Reuters

London, England:

The vibrant capital of England is a melting pot of cultures and history, with iconic landmarks like Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and the Tower of London.

Czech Republic
The Old Town of Prague is a mediaeval settlement of Czech Republic.

Prague, Czech Republic:

This beautiful city is known for its well-preserved medieval architecture, including Prague Castle and the Charles Bridge.

Munich Germany
A scene in Munich, Germany. Marienplatz is the central square, the heart of Munich and is home to the New Town Hall, the Frauenkirche church, and the Glockenspiel clock tower. Image Credit: Pexels | Anastasia Shuraeva

Munich, Germany:

The capital of Bavaria is a popular destination for beer lovers and history buffs alike. Munich is home to the Hofbräuhaus, one of the world's most famous breweries, and the Marienplatz, the city's central square.

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Santorini, a breathtaking island located in the Aegean Sea, Greece is known for its dramatic scenery, whitewashed villages perched on cliffs overlooking the caldera, volcanic black sand beaches, and world-famous sunsets.

Santorini, Greece:

This picturesque island is known for its whitewashed houses, blue-domed churches, and stunning views of the Aegean Sea. However, Santorini has also been grappling with overtourism in recent years.

Dublin Castle is a major government complex, conference centre, and tourist attraction. This architectural gem is a mix of architectural styles, from its mediaeval origins to later additions during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. It boasts features like the Norman keep, the State Apartments with their rich decorations, and the Gothic Revival Chapel Royal.

Dublin, Ireland:

The capital of Ireland is a lively city with a rich history and culture. Dublin is home to the Guinness Storehouse, Trinity College, and St. Stephen's Green.

Final note:

If you're looking for good weather and outdoor activities, aim for the crowded June-to-August, period. If you want fewer crowds and potentially lower prices, consider "shoulder" seasons (April-May or September-October) with slightly cooler weather. The tourist volume also depends on specific destinations. Some regions in Europe, like the Mediterranean islands, might have slightly different peak seasons due to their unique climates.