When we conjure up images of summer European holidays, we often imagine ourselves lounging on a white sand Mediterranean beach, wandering the streets of a pretty coastal Italian town, reclining poolside at a luxury villa, or better yet, sailing the waters on our very own private yacht charter.
Though these blissful visions make for quite the enticing dream, there are plenty of us out there who find the hot, stuffy nights, blazing sun and crowds at the summer holiday hot spots quite unbearable. So, what do we do when summer comes around and we’re desperate for a spot of sightseeing in comfort and some exploration without the heat stroke? We head north.
Europe as a whole is a wonderful blend of cultures, languages, sights, landscapes, foods and more, and the north of this fantastically diverse continent is no different. A visit in summer affords you the utter delights of ‘white nights’, less crowded locations, a perfect balance of not-too-cold and not-too-hot weather and fun city festivals to enjoy.
What documentation do UK travellers need before heading off?
Before we start looking at some of the amazing places we can head to, we need to consider the fact that there have been some considerable changes to travel. Despite all of the Covid-19 restrictions over the past year, we can’t forget that the UK has left the EU and this raises many questions as to what paperwork is required when travelling between the UK and EU member states, non-EU member states and those that form part of the Schengen area.
You may now be wondering, do UK citizens need a visa for Europe? The answer is there are currently no visa requirements, but an important date for the diary is the end of 2022 when UK travellers will have to apply for ETIAS – the European Travel Information and Authorisation System. The ETIAS application for UK applicants is to be completed online and permits a stay of up to three months in the listed countries. As with any planned travel, you should check the entry requirements for that specific place well in advance of travel in case you need to apply for any extra documentation.
So, where will you be headed on your exciting holiday adventure? We take a look at some of the popular northern European cities to visit for some summertime fun.
Russia is not an EU member state and you will need to obtain a visa from the Russian embassy before you travel, rather than an ETIAS. St Petersburg is well worth the effort though for its stunning Baroque and Neo-Classical buildings, Mariinsky Theatre, works of art in the State Hermitage Museum – the second largest art museum in the world – and its inviting canals, bridges and passageways. Experiencing a ‘white night’ is a must and the few weeks in summer where this is possible sees many a festival or event to enjoy those seemingly endless hours of sun and splendid array of colours in the night sky.
Though Norway is not a member of the EU, you will still require an ETIAS to visit as it is one of the 26 European countries within the Schengen area. Its capital city Oslo sits at the head of the Oslofjord and if you are lucky enough to approach by boat – there are many cruises that you can take which grace this beautiful area – you will no doubt be enthralled with its eye-popping natural beauty. On land head to the Opera House, Viking Ship Museum and to the array of Norwegian restaurants serving up local delights.
Not so much a hidden gem, but certainly a lesser talked about capital city of Europe, Tallinn impresses with its Unesco-protected medieval Old Town, which boasts beautiful, cobbled streets, old town walls and Toompea, the hilltop citadel overlooking the lower section. The Alexander Nevsky Orthodox Cathedral is a fine example of an ornate onion-domed Russian Orthodox cathedral and is certainly worth a visit, while the pretty Town Hall Square will have you reaching for your camera. Estonia is a member of the EU and will require an ETIAS when they come into force.
Denmark’s capital is a cool, stylish hub of coffee shops, arts, culture and fun. A visit to Copenhagen must include a pastry and coffee followed by a visit to the famous Tivoli Gardens, a sojourn to The Little Mermaid bronze statue and, of course, a visit to Nyhavn Harbour where you will find a selection of delightful eateries in which to enjoy some fresh seafood or a smorgasbord. This city is pretty, it’s fun and there’s lots going on – what’s not to love?