Between May and August, long summer days fade into warm nights, making the city the perfect place to enjoy seasonal activities. With bustling farmers markets, quaint outdoor eateries and world-class museums, the opportunities to enjoy summer days in iconic destinations are endless. Here are a few ways to make the most of each free moment on tour in lively urban capitals.
Visit outdoor markets at 9am
Summer mornings are made for farmers markets, and a warm day in the city is the best time to take a leisurely stroll to one of these open-air marketplaces before the crowds arrive.
La Boquería market in Barcelona, Spain
One of Europe’s best Mediterranean markets, this bustling institution is located off La Rambla and showcases fare from the Catalonia region and beyond. Immerse yourself in the multi-sensory experience as you pick up everything from freshly baked empanadas and olives from Aragón to bacalao, salt cod typical of the region. Take a break on a warm summer morning at the Pinotxo Bar, where you can get a delicious chick pea dish or xuxo, a custard-filled pastry. And, make sure to grab a freshly blended fruit juice to cool down as you explore.
Viktualienmarkt in Munich, Germany
Translated as “victuals market” in English, this farmers’ market-turned-delicatessen is a lively local spot to peruse over 140 different booths. Pick up various Bavarian specialties, including schweinshaxe (roasted pig knuckle) and obatzda (a traditional cheese-and-beer dip). If you get thirsty toward the afternoon, stop by the Beer Garden to sip lagers from Munich’s famous breweries as you sit in the shade of chestnut trees.
Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne, Australia
All foodies should visit this historic market, which is often called “Queen Vic” and has been open for more than 130 years. This 19th-century landmark covers several city blocks and offers the largest selection of organic produce in Melbourne. Get a jam doughnut at The American Donut Kitchen food truck, buy pumpkin poppy seed fettuccine at The Traditional Pasta Shop and make sure to grab some award-winning Milawa Cheese, which is hand-made in North Eastern Victoria’s wine region.
Cool down at 2pm
The height of the day calls for a reprieve from the heat. Grab some gelato, pop into a museum to keep cool while you browse or find a shady spot in a public park for a relaxing picnic.
Gelateria dei Neri in Florence, Italy
While Florence is dotted with a vast array of gelaterie, it’s the abundance of mouthwatering options hand-churned with fresh ingredients that make Neri a must-visit on a warm summer day. This family-run establishment is only a short walk from the city center, making it an ideal alternative to the other centrally located establishments that sell inauthentic creations to tourists for high prices. Not in the mood for gelato? Opt for Neri’s granita, a semi-frozen dessert made with fruit juice, or one of the many decadent pastries—the crêpes and cannoli are especially good.
The British Museum in London, England
A mid-18th-century Act of Parliament is to thank for the founding of this London landmark, which is noted as the world’s first national public museum. Centuries of history and culture await inside, where a staggering collection is only rivaled by the building’s stunning architecture. Step in to get out of the sun and marvel at a variety of wonders, including the Rosetta Stone, Greek sculptures and ancient Egyptian artifacts.
Parc Monceau in Paris, France
If you’re looking to picnic in one of Paris’ most elegant parks, look no further than this serene spot. Fashionable town houses line this romantic escape, which lays claim to over 20 acres and is so beautiful that artist Claud Monet chose to capture it in multiple paintings. Sip summery rosé as you sit beneath blooming trees or take a relaxing stroll past scaled-down architectural features called follies—the park’s unique collection includes a pyramid and Corinthian columns.
People-watch at 8pm
Warm summer nights are the best times to get a feel for a city’s local character as you enjoy dinner and drinks in a bustling piazza. Sit among locals as you sip classic cocktails, eat authentic fare and watch talented street performers entertain sun-kissed crowds.
Piazza Navona in Rome, Italy
Sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s impressive Fountain of the Four Rivers serves as the Baroque centerpiece of this lively piazza, where people watching in the Eternal City peaks. This sprawling square once served as an ancient Roman stadium, and is now ringed by elegant buildings and numerous eateries. Sit at a cafe sipping a flute of Prosecco or summery Aperol spritz as street artists entertain locals and tourists alike.
Plaza Mayor in Salamanca, Spain
Designer Alberto Churriguera brought this Baroque plaza to life in the mid-18th century, and today, many consider to be one of Spain’s loveliest squares. In the evening, the plaza’s illuminated pavilions, uniform balconies and impressive City Hall set the perfect backdrop for relaxation. Take a lap around the plaza to admire the unique stone busts of Spanish rulers, including a controversial and often-vandalized bust of General Francisco Franco. Then, sit down to take in Salamanca as you enjoy tapas alongside a cold glass of fruity sangria.
Old Town Square in Prague, Czech Republic
The Czech capital’s oldest square is magical any time of day, but it takes on an even more alluring atmosphere during the evening. This medieval, UNESCO-listed gathering place is reached by winding cobblestone streets, and is lined with Gothic-style houses and iconic landmarks including an ornate Astronomical Clock and the bronze Jan Hus Statue. Sit and admire the picturesque architecture as you soak in balmy summertime air and the square’s tangible history.
What are some of your favorite summer activities when you stay in a city? Tell us in the comments below!