June means summer in Europe with temperatures finally (hopefully) warming up. It also means peak tourist season has begun so if you’re yet to make your summer travel plans you might find many places in Western and Mediterranean Europe fully booked.
I know you might be thinking of a beach holiday and summer weekends in Spain and Italy can be tempting but there are other destinations which are just as fun, interesting and certainly better value.
The Baltic States are nice to visit at this time of the year. Tallinn might be busy but elsewhere in Estonia you could be the only tourist in town. Riga and Vilnius are cool capital cities where cafe culture and cocktail hour are huge and the milder weather makes it more comfortable for exploring outdoors.
Scandinavia is great for outdoor activities too. Hiking around the fjords in Norway or island hopping in the archipelago around Stockholm is perfect when temps are in the mid to low 20s.
But my real recommendation for where to go in June is the Balkans. The weather is perfect, you have lakes and the sea for swimming, historic cities to explore before it gets too hot and beautiful scenery.
Macedonia is still one of the cheapest countries in Europe, both cheapest to get to and cheapest once you’re on the ground.
Ohrid is a sleepy town in the off-season but it gets lively as things warm up. You can visit historic (and pre-historic) sites, ancient amphitheatres, party with locals, swim in the lake and hike remote trails.
I still can’t quite get my head around Skopje, it’s weird but fun with a touch of history thrown in.
I do cringe a bit when people label destinations as underrated (I’ve done it myself too many times) and when you see the number of tourists cramming into Budva in August it’s becoming more difficult to describe Montenegro as that. But considering the natural beauty of the riviera it’s difficult to understand why more people don’t visit.
I do wish I’d spent more time in Kotor and hiked around the fjords. The views are some of the best in the Balkans. From Kotor you can also visit the village of Perast and other smaller villages too.
The water along Albania’s coast is starting to warm up but if you’re set on a beach holiday I suggest waiting until September when the sea along the Albanian Riviera is warmer and most of the crowds will have returned home. Instead I’d take this time to visit the inland towns.
Gjirokastra is an unusual looking city with its grey stone and Ottoman facades. It’s surrounded by mountains and overlooked by a fortress. If you’re visiting this area don’t forget to stop by the Blue Eye spring and the ruins in Butrint.
Berat has changed a lot since I was there, they’ve fixed the roads, redeveloped the riverfront and more of the old Ottoman houses have been renovated. Berat can get hot and humid later in the summer, now is the best time to visit.
Bosnia & Herzegovina
You could easily spend weeks soaking up the history in Sarajevo from the ancient to the very recent. Different cultures and traditions and cuisines blend well here. Then stop in Mostar to visit the bazaar and watch divers jump off the rebuilt Old Bridge.
Sarajevo and Mostar and the most well known spots in BiH but there are so many other gorgeous towns which get few visitors.
Croatia is getting busy already, especially in the south and more popular islands Korcula and Hvar. But there are less frequently visited islands like Vis and Mali Losinj which are still quiet at this time of the year and in parts for most of the summer.
Cheap Flights to the Balkans
Most of the low-cost airlines now fly to the Balkan countries.
Wizz Air has flights to:
- Ohrid, Macedonia
- Podgorica, Montenegro
- Skopje, Macedonia
- Split, Croatia
Norwegian has flights to:
- Corfu (for Albania), Greece
- Dubrovnik, Croatia
- Tivat, Montenegro
- Pristina, Kosova
- Pula, Croatia
- Rijeka, Croatia
- Split, Croatia
Where to Go in Europe
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