Brussels and Berlin Are Two of This Summer’s Travel Hot Spots—Here’s Why

A traditional Euro trip is on a lot of travelers’ bingo cards this summer, but heat waves and sky-high hotel rates are not.

So more jet-setters are looking for alternatives to crowded European cities and turning to lesser-visited locales instead, according to a new Chase Travel report published by Bloomberg. More specifically, under-the-radar hot spots including Brussels, Munich, Zurich, and Warsaw were among the top places with the most tourist interest, followed by Amsterdam and Vienna.

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“We’re seeing a desire to go to locations or destinations where the rates aren’t so exorbitant,” Misty Belles, vice president for global public relations at luxury travel adviser group Virtuoso, told Bloomberg. “If you can’t afford Italy, or France. or some of the traditional destinations, Belgium is going to be better value.”

The data, which was based on Chase cardmember spending, found that London, Rome, and Paris were still the most-booked cities among vacationers. However, rising prices due to inflation continue to hinder plans. Last year, Virtuoso revealed that average rates for luxury hotels across Europe had surpassed $1,700 a night—a 69 percent leap from the average $979 per night people were shelling out in 2019.

Munich is emerging as a top European travel destination this year.

At the same time, severe weather also shifted travel patterns, and this year is no different. In 2023, the continent was hit by flooding, wildfires, droughts, and the warmest year on record. “Last summer, Europe was so very crowded, on top of being unbelievably hot,” added Belles. Travelers are now seeking out cooler locations, even if that means heading further north. Data from Virtuoso recorded a 33 percent uptick in Netherlands bookings, a 31 percent increase in trips to Austria, and a 26 percent spike in bookings to Germany.

“Don’t worry about Italy, it’s going to be fine,” Belles explained. “But other parts of Europe are starting to attract significant numbers.”

Of course, if you must visit one of the world’s most iconic travel destinations, say Mykonos or the Amalfi Coast, it all comes down to timing. “Our high season for places like Italy and Greece is now September,” Rebecca Masri, founder of luxury travel app Little Emperors, told Bloomberg. Those interested in off-peak savings on hotels should look into booking a trip after Labor Day and while the weather won’t be as warm, it’ll at least be more pleasant—and definitely less crowded.

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