Concierge Picks: The Best of Europe in Summer
Summer is a wonderful time to explore Europe. New museums, easy access to the beach and cultural events make these great destinations well worth a visit. The Ritz-Carlton concierges share their top picks for August on the continent.
1. Barcelona: Beaches by Day, Cultural Treasures by Night
Barcelona has something for everyone, especially in summertime. Enjoy the amazing beaches all day long and, at night, sample its incredible tapas bars, cafés and cultural performances that alight the city. Music and art lovers alike will enjoy a series of weekend evening concerts on the roof of architect Antoni Gaudi’s La Pedrera building, where live jazz bands play against the backdrop of the spectacular city, or magic nights on the rooftop of Casa Batló.
2. Berlin: Special Sights for Art and History
Visit the newly opened Wall Museum, which offers visitors a comprehensive view of the history of the Berlin Wall, from its construction in 1961 to the heady events that led to its coming down in 1989. Don’t miss the exhibition showcasing the instruments people used to escape from East to West Berlin. Also, be sure to catch the 9th annual Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, on through Sept. 18 at various venues throughout the city.
3. Budapest: Celebrate Hungary’s National Festivities
On Aug. 20, Hungarians celebrate their greatest national holiday — St. Stephen’s Day commemorates Stephen I, the country’s first king, and the founding of the Hungarian state more than 1,000 years ago. The public holiday is Budapest at its best and brightest, starting with the morning raising of the Hungarian flag, then on to daylong festivities across the city, and culminating in a spectacular fireworks display along the banks of the Danube that extends throughout the country.
4. Lisbon: Costal Pleasures, Mountain Escapes
Lisbon has some of Europe’s most charming cobbled streets and world-class museums — including the new Museum for Art, Architecture and Technology set to open this fall — but summer travelers should be sure to spend time in the nearby mountain town of Sintra and its neighboring beaches along the Atlantic coast. With its cooler temperatures, worthwhile sightseeing in its own right and seaside cafés, the Sintra region offers a respite close to the Lisbon’s cultural attractions.
5. Vienna: Bike the Leafy Parks and Streets of Europe’s Grand City
There is no better way to explore Vienna in the summer than by bicycle. It is also convenient, as Austria’s capital city — with its leafy Ringstrasse, old town alleys and Prater public park — is among the Europe’s most bike-friendly cities. Several companies offer tours, while the ubiquitous Citybikes, boasting 121 stations, is a nice way to cycle with spontaneity. For the more adventurous, a 300-kilometer (186-mile) bike path wends along the Danube from Vienna to the German city of Passau.
6. Wolfsburg: An Extraordinary Dinner and a Show
This summer acclaimed restaurant Aqua celebrates its 16th anniversary with a special four-course dinner paired with wine. Chef Sven Elverfeld’s exquisite contemporary menu and innovative presentations have earned Aqua three Michelin stars and a ranking as one of the top restaurants in the world. Nearby, the Autostadt cultural center presents its popular Jazz Series. This month French star Mathilde performs classic standards in the car museum Zeithaus.