August versus July in Europe

Aug 26th, 2019, 09:31 AM
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August versus July in Europe

For the past 20 years I've gone to Europe in late June through July. Certainly I found some places uncomfortably crowded (Venice, Dubrovnik, Santorini) but even those I'm still glad I did (in fact I've been to Venice 4 times during the month of July). Pretty much everywhere else I found to be 'busy' but not unpleasant and some places downright 'un-crowded'. But I hear August is worse. Except for the center of cities like Paris, everyplace is jammed. Obviously because that's when most Europeans get their vacations. One year we did go in August, to Ireland, and it was very 'un-crowded' and when I inquired we were told it's cause everyone, including the Irish, go to beach areas in Southern Europe.

I want next year to travel in August instead of July. So my questions to those of you who have been in both months (in recent years) - how different is it really? Is it 'worth' it to go in July instead if possible? And where would you suggest going? I've been to most countries in Western and Central Europe, though definitely not all regions of every country, so next year's trip can be anywhere. This summer I did a week in Italy (Bologna and around), two weeks in Croatia (Istria down to Hvar) and two weeks in France (Lyon, Dijon, Marseille) and didn't feel any of those places were too crowded to be enjoyable.
isabel is offline  
Aug 26th, 2019, 10:04 AM
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I think the secret to traveling in peak season is to go where other people don't go. There's a thread now about where to go that's like Sarlat
Is there another town like Sarlat in France?
& kerouac made a suggestion yesterday of a town called Sedan with more information today. I think that's the sort of place to go in August, places not frequented by tourists and for that reason, obvious choices to avoid crowds. It will just require more work to find them but the rewards of not being a lemming are great.
MmePerdu is offline  
Aug 26th, 2019, 10:09 AM
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We used to go to Europe at the end of June or in July, but had two bad-weather experiences in two successive summers (Northern Italy and then Paris) when heat waves struck (95 degrees-plus) so we switched our vacationing to August, then chose areas we hoped were less likely to have extremely hot weather (Prague, Vienna, Switzerland, Como, Venice, Amsterdam, Bavaria, Iceland, London, etc.) and the only place I can recall that felt truly crowded was Edinburgh, Scotland -- and that's because of the Edinburgh Festival, held during most of August. So obviously local goings-on will affect the tourist population. We have been happy with our plan to travel in August, but we intentionally don't choose southern beach-type locations. We went to the Amalfi Coast and Capri this past April and even that early in the season it was fairly crowded....during the days in Capri the daytripper traffic was SO congested it was difficult to walk in the main areas. I cannot imagine going there in July OR August. I think if you choose your August destinations carefully, it's a great time to travel in Europe. Good luck!
bakerstreet is offline  
Aug 26th, 2019, 10:21 AM
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The majority of schools in Europe have the first two weeks of August (llus either some weeks in July or more in August). From mid August schools start to go back. However prices remain high through August.
The Nordic countries, and Scotland, tend go back to school earlier in August than most of the continent.
Many people do go to the coast, but there are plenty of other areas popular with families.
We avoid August if we can, not only because of crowds but because of the weather, which can be really hot and also stormy - there were serious thunderstorms on the Italian lakes again this year, and also in parts of southern France, though we do sometimes go away fairly late in the month.
My son has no choice with two young boys and he goes away as soon as they get their school holiday. This year it coincided with the English holidays, so they were away the last two weeks of july and the first week of August. They went to the UK and it was busy, but not uncomforably so.
It really depends on where you go and what you want to see. You will always pay high season prices though, except perhaps for Brussels as all the EU mob have gone home.
hetismij2 is offline  
Aug 26th, 2019, 10:59 AM
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Last week, mostly in Gdansk, some Gdynia and beaches in-between.

On the same day you can be part of the crowd, or have places all to yourself.
cdnyul is online now  
Aug 26th, 2019, 12:28 PM
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Can't speak to all of Europe, but I do know that we just stay home here in July and August and are hopelessly irritated at the crowds in the surrounding towns when we need to go out and get something done. Maybe our tolerance levels are lower than those of tourists, but it drives us absolutely nuts not to be able to drive into town, get a baguette or fill up the gas tank or pick up some wood glue or whatever without encountering traffic backups, lines of people at the pizza stand, hordes at the local café, etc. You will never, ever find us in Sarlat in July and August and never, ever find us at the weekly markets in St-Cyprien or Le Bugue, markets that zillions of tourists actually plan their trips around. Us? Sorry, we're staying home.

By the same token I suppose we are pretty whiny in the middle of winter when there is nothing happening here at all. It's what happens when you live in a tourist-driven economy.

I do agree that with some good research and ingenuity you can always find places to visit that aren't going to be regulated by tourist inclinations. We seek these places out and enjoy them. Like the Midi-Pyrenées.
StCirq is online now  
Aug 27th, 2019, 04:17 AM
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Thanks for the replies. Most of where we were this summer were 'second tier' (or even third) cities so I guess that's what we'll just keep doing and see how August is. I do love the coastal areas but I suspect that won't be a good idea in August. Anyone been to Romania? Maybe someplace like that.
isabel is offline  
Aug 27th, 2019, 04:37 AM
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First half of August won't be any different than July. People these days aren't working in large factory towns that fully shutdown . Second half of August the countries that go back to school earlier will return home but each country has its own school schedule. In some places (IIRC Germany for example) the school schedule even varies by region.

The trick is to try and figure out which nationality represents a major part of the tourists in the area you're going to. If the area attracts a fair percentage of it's tourists from a country that starts school early the families will return early.
Traveler_Nick is online now  
Aug 27th, 2019, 07:58 AM
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We watch BBC TV with some frequency here, and they constantly have ads for the Bulgarian coast. It looks insanely alluring, and it's now on my list of places to head to in August. I could be wrong, but I can't see anywhere in Bulgaria being overrun with tourists at any time of year. Perhaps Romania is the same.

Closer to home for us, the Med coastline of Languedoc-Roussillon is fine in July and August, and the train that runs from Avignon to Port-Bou (the changeover to Spain) lets you choose from some very appealing and undiscovered spots. Yes, Sète is crowded, and at the other end of the line Collioure is always a tourist magnet, but get off in between the two and you'll have some nice beaches, great seafood, plentiful wildlife, low prices, and gorgeous scenery that doesn't call out to the tourist hordes.
StCirq is online now  
Aug 27th, 2019, 02:33 PM
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I have not been to Romania yet, but my daughter and son-in-law went to Romania for their honeymoon. They loved it! This was early October 2016. They said it was very, very quiet at that time of year; just a few German tourists, but that's about it. She thought it was actually a bit too quiet. I want to visit Romania some day, and my daughter suggests the summer months or September. So I assume Romania is probably the same as Bulgaria, as St. Cirq suggests.

There is a poster on this forum, Lancaster Lad, who posted a trip report for Romania a year or two ago. Reading his report might help you decide.
KarenWoo is offline  
Aug 27th, 2019, 02:36 PM
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In case you are interested, here is the link to Lancaster Lad's Romania report.

Romania [Transylvania] - 6 to 23 June 2018
KarenWoo is offline  
Aug 27th, 2019, 04:28 PM
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Thanks. Now I'm psyched to start researching Romania and Bulgaria. Next year is probably going to be a solo trip for me. I usually want my husband around for more 'challenging ' destinations but it sounds like these areas experience enough international tourists that I'd be OK by myself.
isabel is offline  
Aug 28th, 2019, 05:45 AM
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Hi Isabel,
July and August would, in my opinion, about the same. The schools in Europe are on their break so everybody is going to the tourist places. If you are slightly flexible, maybe try to go end of August or even the beginning of September. You will still find the crowds, but slightly less.
Just an idea?
JessicaBr is online now  
Aug 28th, 2019, 07:36 AM
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July and August are definitely not "about the same" around here. July is crowded. August is insane. Whether that translates to other places, I don't know.

It's starting to get back to normal now, as French school kids go back September 3.
StCirq is online now  
Aug 28th, 2019, 12:57 PM
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I have spent most of my life traveling in August because of work and school. Sometimes to crowded places and sometimes not.

Do not fear August. It has never stopped me from being thrilled. BTW, the last week of August is a lot different than the first three weeks in terms of prices, booking flights, hotels, and crowds in general.
shelemm is offline  
Aug 28th, 2019, 01:19 PM
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Romania and Bulgaria have big seaside resorts on the Black Sea which do get really busy in the summer months.
August is not that much different than July.
This whole "buzz" about August is more or less just because of those countries which do have an almost universal shutdown for vacations in that month. France is probably the most obvious example. And it's also lots of domestic tourism as the French go abroad to a lesser extent than many other Europeans. If only because those damn foreign countries insist on not speaking French ;-)
For most Europeans, though, France is not even a major holiday destination.
The Nordics focus much more on midsummer as their major event that kickstarts the summer season. And they also travel abroad a lot, so their home countries are never really "crowded".
The Baltics also don't suffer from "over-tourism".
Germany has its school summer vacations stretched over a longer period from June to September, state by state. My hometown Berlin has its peak season from May to September - with no massive peaks actually. It's business as usual all year round.
Major local events like the one mentioned in Edinburgh usually have a much bigger impact, regardless if those are in June or August.
So is August an issue? Yes and no. Depends on your destination.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
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