July 21, 2024

Adventure Destinations League

Navigating Travel Wonders

Summer in Europe: When and Where We’re Going to Avoid the Crowds

In turn, for many, the more standard city breaks will fall later in the year. “Athens and Rome will always be desirable destinations, but we’ve seen an uptick in many people preferring to go there in May and October to swerve crowds,” says Carolyn Addison, head of product at Black Tomato, noting the weather in fall has been stable lately and enticing to travelers not tied to school holidays.

With this increased flexibility, shoulder season will become tricker to define, according to Mendizabal. Thanks to hotels extending their season as demand shifts to almost year-round and the high-season pricing window getting longer, the days of “scooping a deal in September are likely over.” At Jumeirah Palace in Capri, the season now runs from March to the end of December. “Thanks to the good weather, guests are staying longer than in the past,” says Ermanno Zanini, regional vice president at Jumeirah Group, Southern Europe and United Kingdom.

Castello di Vicarello in Tuscany’s Maremma countryside has traditionally stayed open in March and November. “We’re pushing the low season as much as possible because we truly believe it is a wonderful time to discover Tuscany. There is so much for guests to enjoy from hiking to mountain biking, truffle hunting, and wine tastings,” says owner Neri Baccheschi Berti.

Crucially, traveling in the shoulder and off seasons isn’t just about avoiding the crowds; it’s knowing that seasonal destinations are multi-dimensional, with year-round appeal. “One of my favorite things to do in cooler weather is to hike to the peak of Mount Solaro, with its beautiful views of the town of Capri and the bay of Marina Piccola with the Faraglioni, as well as Anacapri. You also see plenty of wintering birds on the island,” says Zanini.

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Zanini adds that they are in talks with the island’s municipality to consider what it would take to stay open in February and March, traditionally strictly closed off. “It’s not as straightforward as you think. There’s a lot of infrastructure that needs to be geared towards the low season: restaurants need to stay open, as do shops, and guides need to be available; it can’t just be the hotel,” he adds.

However, with staying open longer, there’s a real opportunity to engage local communities year-round, not to mention stabilize the hiring pool—and improve work culture. “We’ve already seen the positive impact of a longer season for our partners on the ground and locals in the hospitality and tourism sector,” says Addison, who adds that shifts in travel seasons are far from a fleeting trend. “This pattern for more year-round travel will continue to pick up pace in 2025—and beyond,” she says.

Travel specialists are quick to point out that even with some of this rebalancing, summer this year and next will continue to see high demand for travel to—and within—Europe. According to Hayley Berg, chief economist at Hopper, while airfare remains higher than at this time in 2019, 40% of all searches for international trips this summer are to Europe, in line with last year and slightly higher than in 2019.

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