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Summer in the castle: European travel adds a regal twist to your summer vacation

These European capitals are brimming with history, striking architecture and culture. Exploring them during summer vacations are a singular pleasure — and one that you won't soon forget. | By Paul Oswell | May 2, 2022

Great European cities celebrate their history through their architecture and museums, their culture through their galleries and concert halls, and their contemporary appeal through their performing and culinary arts. And the beautiful summer months allow you to enjoy every aspect of European city life, from outdoor cafes and art exhibitions to walking tours through historic neighborhoods. Here are some inspirational ideas for your next summer European adventure.

  • Luck of the Irish: Take in the historic, literary and social charms of Dublin, where you’ll make friends at every turn

  • Scotch not to be missed: Ancient and regal, Edinburgh is one of Europe’s most striking old cities, and is a delight to explore

  • Going Dutch: Amsterdam has inspired some of the world’s greatest artworks, and its progressive, effortless style makes it a sensational destination


Few cities around the world promise as warm a welcome as you’ll find in the Irish capital. Ancient history, a proud literary tradition and an irresistible social scene make Dublin one of the most satisfying European destinations to visit. Immerse yourself in the city’s impressive culture - the National Gallery of Ireland on Merrion Square will uncover a world of delights including famous works such as Caravaggio’s “The Taking of Christ,” 1602. The city’s fine dining scene cannot be missed and include Michelin-starred restaurants that celebrate the region’s fresh seafood and produce. At Chapter One in Parnell Square, for example, Chef Patron Mickael Viljanen welcomes guests to an atmospheric dining room and serves dishes such as foie gras royale with smoked eel or cod and caviar with bonito butter with precision and innovation. Variety Jones is just as alluring, promising a holistic dining experience that showcases the finest, artisanal European producers.

If you’re a returning traveler or would love to see more of the glorious Irish countryside that surrounds the city, then a helicopter tour can show off the best of the Emerald Isle. There’s a raw beauty to the nearby coastline, and you can get a birds-eye view of sites such as the dramatic Hill of Tara, a Neolithic Age landmark. By staying at Conrad Dublin you can complement your visit with curated experiences. Discuss local greats such as James Joyce with the hotel’s poet-in-residence over champagne and pastries, before he creates a work of literary art with you as the muse. Or have your concierge arrange for a private whiskey tasting session at the prestigious Teeling Distillery. The ‘craic’ (Irish for a good time) continues at The Coburg Brasserie and the hotel’s signature restaurant Lemuel’s. Best of all, you can relax in style in spacious rooms after exploring neighboring St Stephen’s Green Park or the beautiful Iveagh Gardens.


Historic, cosmopolitan and surrounded by dramatically rugged scenery, Edinburgh combines castles, evocative streets and even a dormant volcano. The latter would be the Arthur’s Seat, one of the seven walkable hills that show off the city skyline, Edinburgh Castle providing the architectural cherry on the cake. Speaking of, a private tour of Edinburgh Castle is an ideal way to skip the lines and enjoy a personalized presentation of the ancient city’s colorful history. Golfing and whisky tasting are two of the city’s most popular pastimes, and you can combine the two with Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian’s Tee and Whisky experience. Begin the day basking in coastal beauty at the prestigious Gullane Golf Club. On your return, take a ‘wee dram’ and enjoy a flight of five whiskies — each from a different region of Scotland.

Views of Edinburgh and the city’s most scenic surroundings come as standard at Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh. As well as the excitement of staying in Edinburgh’s West End, you’re close to the shopping and nightlife of The Royal Mile and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Old Town. Not only that, but one of the city’s most impressive fine-dining restaurants is on-site, and the tasting menu at Dean Banks at The Pompadour is a feast of local flavors in a truly elegant dining room. The special Queen Carriage Room with its tartan accents and polished burr veneers reflects the city’s poise and aesthetic, as well as its proud railway heritage.


Summer in open-hearted and multicultural Amsterdam is made all the more beautiful by the sunlight glinting off the 165 waterways that thread through the Dutch capital. In fact, heading straight out onto the canals is an idyllic way to see the city. Rent your own classic wooden saloon boat, replete with a captain and tour guide, to point out the landmarks and introduce you to Amsterdam’s many charming neighborhoods. These quaint environs have inspired a great number of artists, most famously Vincent van Gogh. You can bypass the queues to see his most famous works as well as taking a crash course in Dutch art history with a private, guided tour of the Van Gogh Museum.

Amsterdam has one of the most innovative fashion scenes in Europe, with high-end brands such as Pauw curating designer clothing since the 1940s. They have several outlets around the city, and are complemented by newer arrivals, such as Vanilia, where ethical production and sustainability are built into their exhilarating collections. Your hotel concierge can even help set up private consultations with celebrated make-up artist Fabiënne Jansen and stylist Pieter Van Loon. This is just one of the bespoke experiences offered by Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam. Mindfulness and indulgence coexist quite happily at this stunning property, from private yoga sessions in a UNESCO Heritage garden to pampered, on-site movie nights with a selection of decadent treats. Any stay at the property has to include dining at Spectrum, the hotel’s signature, two-Michelin-star restaurant. Chef Sidney Schutte enthralls diners with seasonal delicacies such as smoked mackerel or black truffles.

Make your European travel memory

Summer is the perfect season to explore European cities, with most places enjoying warm sunshine without any extreme temperatures or humidity. Cosmopolitan cities with dynamic culinary and arts scenes, Dublin, Edinburgh and Amsterdam all exude a friendliness that will help cement the memorable experiences your summer getaway brings.

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Paul Oswell is an award-winning travel writer, and has been reporting from all seven continents for over twenty years. He is based in New Orleans and is the author of “The Bucket List North America: 1,000 Adventures Big and Small.”

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