Europe is a popular destination year-round, and it becomes all the more popular as the temperatures rise and students and families opt to travel abroad during their spring and summer vacations. Those who have an extended amount of time off (and, of course, the cash to afford it) can visit numerous cities during one trip, but others with limited time and funds must decide upon one location -- which can be a tricky feat. So we've come up with an expert guide for how to spend six months in Europe; whether you can take half a year and explore a handful of cities, or you have just a weekend in which to get away, we'll tell you the best European destination for each month -- starting right now with February!
February in Venice
Venice’s Carnival is one of the most famous festivals in the world, and every February locals and tourists crowd the streets of the city to let loose before Lent begins. This year the celebration kicks off on February 15th and runs for two and a half weeks; parades, contests, special exhibits, and ceremonies take place along the Grand Canal.
Where to Stay: Hotel Al Sole
This boutique hotel may have simple — verging on bland — rooms, but canal views, a charming courtyard, and a great location — the hotel is housed in a 15th-century mansion within walking distance of numerous sights — make Hotel Al Sole a solid pick.
March in Dublin
As the birthplace of St. Patrick’s Day, Ireland is without a doubt one of the most exciting, festive places to be in March. Throughout the weekend of March 14th, Dublin will be aglow with green, beginning with the famed “greening of the city.” Other activities include fairs, walking tours, treasure hunts, and, of course, plenty of Guinness!
Where to Stay: Schoolhouse Hotel
The Schoolhouse is a charming, historic hotel in the leafy Ballsbridge neighborhood. Its quiet location, excellent food, and rich history — it housed a school for over a century — make it one of Dublin’s best affordable picks.
April in Amsterdam
Amsterdam made travel headlines last year with the Canal Ring’s 400th anniversary and the reopening of the world-renowned Rijksmuseum, and it promises to be just as exciting in 2014. Not only is April a beautiful time to visit the Dutch city (the tulips begin to bloom in the spring) but it is also the month in which King’s Day is celebrated with activities and events taking place throughout the city’s parks, streets, and canals.
Where to Stay: Canal House
Swanky rooms at this boutique are among Amsterdam’s most luxurious, and are decked out with rich purple fabrics and dark woods. More modest travelers might have an issue with the open layouts of some room types, but parts of the bathroom are always enclosed and throughout, bathrooms feature gorgeous tiling and modern basin sinks; many have soaking tubs as well as walk-in showers with rainfall showerheads, making it a great pick for couples.
May in Paris
There’s a reason all poems are written about Paris in the springtime; during April, May, and June (but particularly May), the City of Lights is absolutely gorgeous — even more gorgeous than usual. Flowers are in bloom, temperatures are moderate (it’s often warm enough to enjoy your coffee and chocolate croissant on a park bench), and the streets are bustling with locals and tourists (but it still hasn’t hit the summer peak). Must-see sights such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and the Louvre are also made all the more beautiful this time of year.
Where to Stay: Hotel Montalembert
This oh-so-chic boutique hotel in the heart of Saint Germain’s shopping district has 56 rooms and suites in a Parisian house-like setting. The gourmet restaurant changes its menu monthly and has a sidewalk terrace — perfect for people-watching in warmer months.
June in Barcelona
Considered by many to be the coolest and most modern city in Spain, Barcelona boasts a vibrant nightlife, excellent cuisine, beautiful Gothic and one-of-a-kind Modernist architecture, and a cutting-edge design scene all year-round. The warm Mediterranean climate can get quite hot in the summertime, but June’s temperatures are nonetheless bearable, particularly with the ocean nearby, and it is the month in which the uber-popular Sonar dance music festival takes place; this year it will be celebrated June 12-14.
Where to Stay: Ohla Hotel
The stylish and luxurious Ohla hotel is centrally located in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona. This boutique option offers 74 modern rooms with high-tech amenities and free Wi-Fi, and the chic rooftop pool and lounge offers incredible city views along with a space to sunbathe.
July in London
Often remembered for its seemingly constant rain, London receives a nice reprieve from the downpour during July, and unlike some European cities, the summer temperatures are rarely stifling. Of course there are plenty of crowds throughout the month, but unlike during the colder seasons, all major sights and attractions are generally open, and the city’s many parks are lush and gorgeous. Plus, the Yahoo! Wireless Music Festival takes place at the beginning of July this year and features performers such as Kanye West, Ellie Goulding, and Bruno Mars.
Where to Stay: Hotel Indigo London-Paddington
This hotel has a great West End location with efficient transport links to Heathrow Airport, and rooms are refreshingly colorful and modern — but the almost futuristic style of the lobby might not be to everyone’s taste. The fitness center is a perk for a hotel of this size, as is the inclusion of a stylish brasserie on-site.
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