It’s happening! In many countries, travelers are receiving their coveted second doses of a vaccine and looking overseas to possible safe travel destinations. At the same time, many countries in Europe are opening their borders to fully-vaccinated travelers in hopes of boosting their economy by reviving the struggling tourism sector. It seems like every day the travel and entrance requirements are loosening or becoming more flexible, making travel to Europe in Summer 2021 almost as easy as it was two or three years ago.
Personally, I have experienced the changing travel regulations in Europe myself. I do have flights booked from Canada to Europe in July (and home in August) and already I’ve had to reschedule one short-haul flight (and consequently shift around five hotel bookings!). Two days after I did all that work, the rules changed again and it turned out my original plan would have worked out under the new rules. Because there are so many factors at play I won’t be getting into vaccination, entry, exit or quarantine requirements in this post. By the time I hit “publish” I’m sure something would already be out-of-date! Instead, I just wanted to share some of my favorite European summer holiday destinations with you, to assist with your wanderlusting and, possibly, even Europe summer vacation planning!
Spain was one of the first European destinations to open widely to international travelers in Summer 2021. It will also be my first stop in Europe this summer (fingers crossed!). I’ll be basing myself in Barcelona, one of my favorite cities, and doing a few day trips to explore the surrounding areas. Although I’ve been to a few different cities in Spain (including Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia and Marbella), there’s one that I keep going back to, again and again, and that is Barcelona. If you’re thinking of hitting up the Catalan capital this summer, check out these guides:
- 25 Things to Do in Barcelona – Really, these are just my favorite things to see and do in Barcelona. Some of the big tourist attractions don’t make my cut… click through to see why.
- The Best Barcelona Guidebooks – Self-explanatory (and yes, I did read them all to find the best one!).
- My Favorite Neighborhoods in Barcelona for Solo Female Travelers – Make the most of your time in the city by staying in the district that suits your travel style.
In Summer 2021, my second stop is going to be Italy (again, fingers crossed!). In the past, I lived in Turin, which is in Northern Italy, and I re-visited my former hometown shortly before travel shut down. I think Turin is an absolutely fabulous Italian getaway as it’s utterly authentic and shockingly under-touristed. If you’re looking to visit Italy “off the beaten path”, make sure to read my guide to Turin, and the accompanying post about my favorite day trip:
- The Perfect Turin Itinerary – Designed for weekend visitors, with options for two or three days.
- Day Trip from Turin to Rivoli – Just down the road, Rivoli is a quaint medieval village with a world-class contemporary art museum in a hilltop castle.
This summer, my itinerary includes some new-to-me Italian destinations, including Rome and Sicily. I had previously been to the Amalfi Coast region, but the cuisine of Sicily has been calling my name for too long now!
In case you haven’t noticed, I’m apparently a sucker for cities that start with the letter “B”. While Barcelona has always been a favorite, Berlin is definitely a close second. I won’t be visiting Berlin in Summer 2021, but Germany has recently loosened their entrance requirements for travelers from many countries and this makes Berlin a top travel destination for Summer 2021! Start reading here:
- The Best Berlin Guidebooks – Yes, like Barcelona, I read every last one of them.
- 25 Things to Do in Berlin – Grouped thematically, I’ve narrowed the list down to my favorite things to see and do in Berlin.
- The Secret Berlin Sightseeing Tour – I’ll explain exactly how to see the city’s top attractions from the top of a double-decker bus for less than the price of a currywurst!
- German Vegetarian Food Guide – The land of suspicious-looking sausages is actually one of the most vegetarian- and vegan-friendly destinations imaginable.
- My Cheap Berlin Hotel Recommendation
- My Cool Berlin Hotel Recommendation
Georgia has been open to travelers since 2020, and it’s been a popular destination for digital nomads who needed to hunker down in one spot until they could travel more widely and with fewer restrictions. I last visited in 2017, and I have to admit that I definitely considered revisiting Georgia in Summer 2021. I was drawn to the local hospitality, the stunning natural landscapes (I hiked to the church shown in that photo and it was amazing!), and, of course, the food and wine!
- Tbilisi City Guide – An overview of the city, including my favorite attractions, the restaurants I loved the most and other insights from my visit.
- Day Trips from Tbilisi – Georgia is relatively small, so it’s easy to escape the capital to experience the countryside and smaller towns. This post includes information about visiting the church shown above.
- Chiatura Cable Cars – An overnight trip from Tbilisi, Chiatura was home to a crumbling network of dangerous old cable cars at the time of my visit. However, they are now closed to the public for safety reasons. Read this anyways, just to see how crazy it was!
Russia is open to tourists from a limited number of countries (as of press time). If you are from one of those places, this could be the perfect time to explore Russia without the crowds, and with your choice of any cabin on the Trans-Siberian Railway. I took the epic train ride back in 2016, crossing the continent from west (Vladivostok) to east (Moscow) and stopping all along the way. I did the whole trip solo, without the help of a travel agency, and without planning my route in advance. Here’s how I did it:
- How to Plan a Trans-Siberian Railway Trip – This post covers everything from visas to buying tickets to life on board the train.
- Where to Stop on the Trans-Siberian Railway – Because you can sit on your sofa for seven days if that’s all you want to do. The real fun is getting off the train.
- 20 Things to Do in Moscow – I had no idea that Moscow would have so many amazing things to see and do. Leave yourself at least three full days to see the city (and more if possible!).
More Europe Travel Tips for Summer 2021
- How to Save Money on Travel – This isn’t Europe-specific, but it’s a pretty comprehensive guide to how I’m able to afford to travel so often, and for so long, in Europe and other expensive destinations. Since I won’t be staying in any dorm rooms on this trip (even though I’m vaccinated, that’s outside my comfort level right now) these money-saving travel tips will be especially important in Summer 2021.
- How to Travel Around Europe – A guide to the most common forms of inter-city transportation available in Europe, from budget airlines to national rail service to car sharing (and more!).
- The Most Beautiful Destinations in Europe – I asked some of my blogging friends about their favorite European destinations, and they shared these stunning spots across the continent.
- My Complete Europe Archives – I have lots more Europe content, including extensive information about Istanbul, Ukraine (including Chernobyl), Armenia, Belarus and beyond.
- Booking.com – I pretty much only use Booking.com for my hotel reservations. All of my Europe Summer 2021 accommodation has been reserved through Booking, and I am so glad that I used them because when Italy suddenly changed their entrance requirements, I could shift around all my hotel bookings with one click, and at no cost. Most of their rates allow you to modify your booking at no extra cost – just confirm before you reserve!
- World Nomads Travel Insurance – Now that I’m back at work I have comprehensive travel health insurance through my employer. Last year, though, when I was traveling around the world, I had to pay for my own travel insurance policy. I opted for World Nomads, and while I didn’t need to make a claim, they were super-helpful when I did need medical care in South America. You can find their COVID-19 coverage page here.
Do you have plans to visit Europe in Summer 2021?
Tell me all about it in the comments, or ask me any question about the destinations I’ve mentioned above! I won’t be able to give advice about vaccinations, entry or exit requirements, or quarantine rules, but I can tell you all about where to find the best ice cream and the coolest independent boutiques!
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