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The best alternative destinations for your European summer bucket list

Written by Travel Adventures

Ah, summer in Europe. Slow mornings spent reading books and trying all the local pastries you can get your hands on; afternoons strolling along the river or exploring quiet neighbourhoods; evenings sipping rosé in sun-dappled squares. The only thing that can disrupt the pure bliss of summer in Europe is the threat of heaving streets, packed bars or overbooked restaurants – a reality that is, unfortunately, all too common in the continent’s most popular destinations.

While we would never suggest avoiding such hotspots altogether, there is a lot to be said for choosing a lesser-known holiday spot during the peak summer months. There’s a rapidly growing trend for travelling to alternative destinations, too – #dupe or #dupes amassed 342,000 posts on TikTok as part of the surging interest. Thoughtful travellers are reacting to the world around them – watching the rising temperatures and over-subscribed tourism of popular destinations during the summer, saving those destinations for off-peak travel and, instead, selecting off-beat destinations to visit instead. Below, our editors have put forward their favourite alternative European destinations to try this summer.

Sightseeing landmark famous baroque staircase in the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte Braga Portugal

Braga, PortugalGetty Images

Braga, Portugal

Portugal’s oldest city is also one of its most underrated. Despite being in the shadow of neighbouring Porto, Braga is a deserving destination in its own right. Pootle along narrow, cobbled lanes to unearth restaurants serving platters of traditional Portuguese dishes – Tabique, for example, specialises in slow-cooked meat and rich and thick sauces with potatoes for mopping, while just outside of the city, Dona Júlia is renowned for its sleek interiors and farm-to-table cooking. To soak up some of Braga’s history, visit Sé – Portugal’s oldest cathedral dating back to 1070 – or take a day trip to Bom Jesus do Monte, a picturesque staircase with decadent chapels and pretty fountains.

Where to stay: Braga doesn’t have an abundance of smart hotels, but book Vila Gale for a city-centre stay in a building dating back to 1508.

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