You may be correct if you believe that every American you know is currently in Europe (or will be there in the fall).
Dolev Azaria, the founder of New York City-based Azaria Travel, stated in an email that “for the majority of American travelers, this is the first year they are traveling without being constrained by Covid limitations.”
The most well-known locations in Italy, France, and Greece, including the Amalfi Coast, Capri, Tuscany, French Riviera, St. Tropez, and Mykonos, are seeing record-high demand due to the pent-up demand.
To get away from the current tourist swarms in the continent’s most well-known locations, Azaria says her agency is advising its most discerning European clients to “take full advantage of areas like Indonesia, and notably Bali, in its fledgling opening season.
The French island of Corsica, which she describes as “a more down to earth, laid-back version of its glamorous Italian sister, Sardinia,” and Montenegro’s 295-kilometer (183-mile) coastline are recommended to clients as alternatives to some of Croatia’s more overrun islands and beaches.
In order to find out where to go in Europe to avoid the summer crowds in Italy, Spain, France, and Croatia, among other popular European destinations with American tourists, CNN Travel went out to other travel agents, experts, and residents.
The Camargue, France
The yacht-filled waters of the Côte d’Azur and iconic cities like St. Tropez, Nice, and Cannes draw visitors from around the world. However, southern France is much more than just the usual locations.
For a more tranquil getaway east of Montpellier, Marianne Fabre-Lanvin, co-founder of the organic French wine label Souleil Vin de Bonté, recommends the Camargue, a wild area with large, deserted beaches where white horses wander. Accommodations range from a basic stay at a manade, a traditional bull or horse farm, to a luxurious farm stay at Le Mas de Peint, a five-star boutique hotel.
“It’s not congested in the Camargue. In this region, the beaches are very, very long, so even at the busiest times of the summer, you can still spend time alone there “La Plage de l’Espiguette is one of Fabre-favorites. Lanvin’s L’Oyat Plage, a sustainable beach club that attracts kitesurfers, even appears on the sand during the summer.
Arlindo Serro travels from Lisbon to a particular section of coast in the Alentejo region when he wishes to spend time on the Portuguese coast away from the tourist throngs of the cities and the more well-known beach locations in the country’s extreme south.
People refer to Alentejo as “Europe’s best-kept secret,” but Serro, the creator of Portugal Dive, questions how long it can continue to be so.
Without the crowds that congregate at more well-known beach spots in the Algarve, Alentejo offers extensive lengths of unobstructed coastline and fantastic wine and seafood.
The beach extends for over 28 miles here, just south of the Tróia Peninsula, and Serro describes Comporta and Melides as “the best spots to stay and rest from regular life.”
The apartments, suites, and villas at Sublime Comporta are surrounded by tall untamed dunes, pine and cork trees, and a natural setting for an unspoilt vacation.
The region is renowned for producing the most wine in Portugal and having the most clearly marked hiking paths in the nation, in addition to its magnificent beaches.
Serro describes it as “a spot of tranquility on a harsh part of Portugal.”
Costa de la Luz, Spain
The Costa de la Luz in Spain rewards adventurous tourists who know to look beyond the Mediterranean.
In the summer, Spanish residents flee their oppressively hot cities to relax on the seaside, where it appears that everyone (or their abuela) owns a modest second home or apartment.
You’ll have more breathing room if you head for the windier Atlantic coast, advises Manni Coe of the Andalusia-based tour business TOMA & COE, as opposed to the Mediterranean beaches surrounding Barcelona in northwest Spain and the sands of the Costa del Sol in the country’s south.
Between Tarifa and the Guadiana River, 121 kilometers (75 miles) of southern coastline that faces the Atlantic and is close to the Portuguese border, has “temperatures that are a little cooler, hasn’t been mass developed and is rather a hidden treasure,” according to Coe.
Highlights include the breathtaking El Rompido fishing village, the fantastic cuisine scene in Cadiz, and the untamed beaches near Huelva (between Mazagón and Matalascaas). Kitesurfing is a popular activity in the area.