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Europe in late July

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I'm planning my holiday for next year, I'm thinking a week in Europe. Question is: which country / city? I want the holiday to coincide with my birthday which is (unfortunately / fortunately) in the last week of July. 'Unfortunately' because I understand it is in the high season (expensive + crowded), 'fortunately' because it's summer and there can be a lot of activities to do / sights to see.

I don't like crowds. I went to Italy last May and didn't like the crowds in downtown Florence (but further up and away at Piazzale Michelangelo it was better because there were less people). The rest of the holiday I spent in smaller towns such as Pisa, Lucca, Pontedera, Peccioli, and Carrara, all of which were better suited for my taste.

I also prefer to explore the city on foot so cities with good public transportation and safety records are preferred. I am not ambitious and are more than happy to stay in one place and really experience the surroundings. I'm not much for shopping / nightlife and prefer relaxing activities, something cultural / to do with nature.

Any ideas? Thanks! =)

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