With long summer nights, vibrant festivals and outdoor dining, the summer can be one of the best times of year to have a European city break. However, that doesn’t have to mean a big city either. From picturesque cities in France and England to the best of Italy and Spain, here are our top picks for a city getaway this summer.

Villa F (left), Ca’Nova (right)

Venice, Italy

Venice is possibly the hottest of destination for a European city break this summer, namely for the 57th Biennale of Art which opened May 13th. According to our local experts at Villa F the biannual festival offers a very special summer in Venice with a focus around contemporary art. This year’s exhibit is under the title VIVA ARTE VIVA and is held at the Giardini, the Arsenale and other venues around the city through Sunday November 26th, 2017.

The perfect base for an artistic summer exploration of Venice is at one of the refined and recently restored apartments of Villa F or the Ca Nova byexcellence.villas by Trust&Travel.

Situated on the Giudecca Island, also referred as the “Soho of the lagoon”, Villa F provides a unique and privileged escape from the bustle of the crowds that will flock to Venice this particular summer. The villa has been divided up into 11 self-contained luxury suites. Overlooking the San Marco Basin, this exclusive retreat is an oasis of luxury and peace with the city’s center, shopping, restaurants, and museums at just a short five minute private boat ride away.

A private shuttle boat service is available for Villa F guests, every day around the clock departing from the Villa dock and traveling to its sister Bauer Palazzo property at San Marco. Guests at Villa F will enjoy the intimacy of its sumptuous accommodations, surrounded by a three acre garden with a meditation pool and have access to the facilities of the nearby Palladio Hotel & Spa accessible through the garden of the villa. Reach out to Villa F here to book your summer stay in this grand villa.

Alternatively our experts at excellence.villas by Trust&Travel, have three stylish two and three bedroom apartments available in the Ca’nova palazzo, located on the Grand Canal opposite Santa Maria della Salute basilica and a short walk from the Piazza San Marco. Though it has origins dating back to the 12th century, the medieval structure was transformed into a Renaissance palazzo in the 17th century. Its heritage has been carefully respected in its recent restoration mixing antiques and contemporary elements.

The palazzo is within walking distance to the city’s major sites, some of which can even be admired from its inviting terrace, accessible to all guests. There is daily maid service in the mornings and a private secretary is available to assist you with your stay. For more information, contact excellence.villas / Trust & Travel at this link.

Paris, France

The French capital is a lovely destination virtually any time of year, however, your long days of summers in the city can be spent exploring its glorious parks, taking in world-class exhibits, enjoying lively festivals and grabbing up the bargains of its annual summer sales. This summer visitors to Paris can also stroll along the recently opened Rive de Seine “park,” established along the now closed to traffic expressway running the length of the north side of the Seine. In addition to being a beautiful place for strolls, there are children’s play areas, cafes and shady places to relax and admire the breathtaking riverside vistas. For a hip drink in the evening, make your way to the east end of the city to this year’s incarnation of Le Grand Train, a pop-up bar held only in summers on abandoned lots of the SNCF train company. Expect cool young Parisians sipping craft beer, eating trendy snacks on chaises longues and next to petanque pitches.

Experience your own perfect summertime in Paris by staying at the chic two-bedroom St Sulpice Elegance apartment by Haven In. Found in the heart of St. Germain des Près area, it’s steps away from some of the city’s top food shops, boutiques, restaurants and the much loved Luxembourg Gardens. It’s also a short walk away from the Rives de Seine Park, the Musee d’Orsay, the Louvre, Notre Dame and many other sites of interest.

With 10-foot ceilings, tall windows and a balcony, this bright apartment is ideal in summer. It perfectly blends modern comforts with classic French decor including vintage decor, large antique mirrors and two decorative fireplaces. The two sets of bedrooms and bathrooms are located at different ends of the apartment, offering excellent privacy and comfort. It can also comfortably sleeps up to six, with two additional built-in bunk beds in the hallway. When not dining out in the area or picnicking along the river, guests can prepare delicious seasonal meals in its fully equipped eat-in kitchen. Plan your summer trip to Paris with Haven In at this link.

Barcelona, Spain

With its vibrant cultural scene, amazing contemporary cuisine and gorgeous location on the Mediterranean sea, the Catalan is an excellent choice for those seeking a sunny summer cultural holiday. Music fans will be pleased with the Música als Parcs festival taking place June through August with live music a variety of the city’s parks, like the Ciutidella park which will play host to jazz concerts at 10 pm on Wednesdays and Fridays. Film Fans will get their fix during the Sala Montjuic outdoor film festival held July and August and the whole neighborhood of Gracia comes to live mid August for their annual festival of parades, concerts and street decorating contests. Beach lovers need only stroll down to the city beach running along Barceloneta or can venture further afield to the beach resorts along the Costa Brava.

Our experts at Villas and Apartments Abroad have an excellent base for making the most of Barcelona in Summer, the beautiful Urban Solitude. Built in 1904, this elegant historic home is located in the heart of the posh Sarriá district and can accommodate up to ten guests. It features a lovely living and dining area with gorgeous hardwood floors, molding, and plenty of light thanks to the wall of floor to ceiling sliding glass doors. These doors open onto the enclosed terraces, a perfect private place for enjoying a quiet afternoon with a book or al fresco dinners. Meals can be prepared in its extremely well equipped kitchen, with stainless steel appliances including dual refrigerators, as well as custom cabinetry, subway tile backsplash and breakfast table for up to six. Rounding out the home’s living level is a powder room and laundry room, as well as a small library with sitting area, located at the base of the gorgeous, winding staircase.

Upstairs are the three bedrooms, which share a large, bathroom, complete with dual vanity sinks and a dual showerhead shower. The first bedroom, with a king-sized bed, features three sets of ceiling-height French doors leading out to a private balcony. One of the other two bedrooms has two twin beds while the other has twin bunks.

The master suite is on the third level and includes its own office and large private patio, as well as a poster bed, leather wingback chair and flat screen TV and en-suite bath with a rain shower.

Enjoy the summer in Barcelona with Villas and Apartments Abroad here.

London, England

Londoners truly embrace summer, when most spend as much of their free time as possible outdoors. You can stop in at one of the city’s fabulous farmer’s market to stock up on delicious food and drinks for a picnic in one of London’s great parks or try to land a table at it’s growing number of pub gardens and rooftop terraces. Naomi Clark, our senior account manager and true Londoner suggests checking out the London Zoo Lates, when you can visit the zoo in the evenings, listen in to a variety of talks and enjoy some delicious food and drinks. She notes that many museums also take part in a similar program of Museum Lates allowing visitors to enjoy balmy nights from the viewing platforms/terraces, then wander round the exhibitions after dark. Another favorite of hers is the Summer Series of concerts performed in the lovely Somerset House courtyard.You can also catch outdoor cinema several times per week and an amazing array of other activities that will pack your London days … and nights!

Our experts at Haven In have the ideal base for enjoying London in summer. Their four-bedroom Kings Road Luxe townhouse is on a quiet residential block in the heart of Chelsea’s fashionable SW10. The ground floor of the bright four-story classic Georgian house has a stylish living and dining room, with comfortable seating, a flat-screen TV, an upright piano, and a dining table and a chef’s kitchen which opens onto a south-facing patio and garden.

The second floor features a elegant double and queen bedroom which share a full bathroom with soaking tub and built-in TV, as well as a full vanity and toilet. The third floor contains the large master suite with a king bed and en-suite bathroom with a modern soaking tub, vanity, and toilet. It also has its own private terrace with two cushioned wicker chairs and a small table. The fourth queen en-suite bedroom is on the underground level.

If you’re not soaking up the summer sun on your two private terraces then you can go out to enjoy your surroundings of London’s design quarter, full of excellent bistros and pubs, outdoor food markets, and notable sports destinations such as The Queens Club, The Hurlingham Club, and The Chelsea Football stadium. Plus, the townhouse is within easy reach for summer strolls around Sloane Square, the Embankment or Battersea Park.

Experience a fabulous summertime in London with with Haven In at this link.

Salzburg, Austria

This charming Austria city offers a fabulous range of summertime pleasures and makes for a wonderful city stop when exploring this stunning region of the country. Our local expert Monika Mayr-Melnhof would recommend starting with a stroll around in the historical center before stopping in the visit the Schloss Hellbrunn, a beautiful historic baroque villa with trick fountains to add to the summer ambiance. The Salzburg Zoo with its 140 different species is also a perfect place for the little ones and the Hohensalzburg Fortress for the older visitors. Or you are interested in modern art you can visit the M32 on Mönchsberg and all the galleries which open during the festival season. The world famous Salzburger Festspiele festival will take place between the end of July and the end of August. During the festival you can attend operas, concerts, plays and the well known drama “Jedermann“ from Hugo von Hoffmansthal which will be performed in the spectacular cathedral square. Plus the summer activities in the area are endless!

 

Located a 40 minute drive from Salzburg, the baroque  Schloss Kogl, castle is an ideal base for exploring Salzburg and the wonderful Salzkammergut Lake District. Constructed in 1750, the castle has been in the Mayr-Melnhof family since 1872. Extensive renovations where carried out in the early 2000s to restore the castle to its previous glory. It is decorated and furnished in a refined fin-du-siècle style. Perfect for summer, the castle has stunning grounds which feature a pool or a historic bowling lane and private forest. After visiting Salzburg you can tour the lovely villages and lakes of the area.

Have the perfect city and country break this summer at the sublime Schloss Kogl at this link.

Dijon by Dierk Schaefer / Flickr (upper left), Savoir Vivre (upper right), Prosperite (bottom left), Rendez-Vous (bottom right)

Dijon, France

The capitals of Europe are a roll call of cities celebrated for their extraordinary contributions to the cultural, historical, and patrimonial heritage of the world. However, there are a dazzling plethora of smaller cities, especially in France, that are worth exploring for their local flavor, offbeat charms, and cuisine scene. One of the favorites of our experts at Barge Lady Cruises is historic Dijon, located in the region of Burgundy, roughly halfway between Paris and Lyon. It’s a highlight of several Barge Lady cruises and we hear why from Stephanie Sack of Barge Lady Cruises:

“History buffs will thrill to the guided walking tour, which reveals Dijon’s well-preserved Medieval core, the gorgeously restored Cathedral of Saint-Beningus, and of course the adorable Owl of Notre Dame de Dijon, the city’s iconic symbol and unofficial talisman.

“Foodies and Francophiles will adore the time spent in “Les Halles”, the region’s busiest food market, where seasonal produce, artisan breads, and handmade cheeses are proudly displayed.  Shopping is also on offer, as the lively pedestrian avenues are lined with specialty shops and charming boutiques. After admiring the half-timbered houses surrounding the Place François Rude, one of  Dijon’s most beautiful squares, the people watching at one of the many bustling cafes is time well-spent.”

You can enjoy your special visit to this epicenter of the Burgundian lifestyle while cruising on the Prosperite, the Rendez-Vous, or the Savoir Vivre. Discover this unique city and many of delights of France with the Barge Ladies here.

Cheltenham, England

Like with Dijon above, not all city breaks need to involve spending time in large cities. Travelers looking to combine the joys of both the city and the countryside will adore a summer break in the charming Regency city of Cheltenham. Situated in the on the edge of the Cotswolds, the city has been a holiday and spa resort since mineral springs were discovered there in 1716. The city has some fabulous outdoor spaces, such as Pittville Park and Sandford Parks Lido, which are exceptionally beautiful in summer. You’ll also find a wide range of restaurants and bars with outdoor terraces. The city is particularly known for its festivals which include the Cheltenham Music Festival, A fortnight of music from July 1st to 16th, the Vintage Sports Car Club Weekend taking place on August 5th and 6th and the NAF Five Star International Hartpury Horse Trials held at the Hartpury College August 9th to 13th.

Enjoy the delights of this charming city by staying at the No.38 The Park Cheltenham by Luxury Cotswold Rentals. The gorgeous Georgian townhouse boasts 13 bedrooms, overlooks graceful gardens and is found in the center of Cheltenham and near the racecourse.

Each of the 13 bespoke bedrooms have been individually designed by owner and interior designer Georgie Pearman. He carefully sourced fabrics and furniture from British producers and equipped the rooms with the likes of king-size beds, Egyptian Cotton linens by Three Thieving Magpies, and other luxury amenities like Sky TV and minibar is stocked with treats from local farmers and producers.

Luxury Cotswold Rentals can assist with every aspect of your stay from private chefs to nannies and from in-room treatments to decorative flowers. Reach out to them here to design your perfect summer break to Cheltenham.

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