The continent The forecast for this summer’s European travel season is as bright as the sun on Spain’s Costa del Sol, with 2019 looking to be fully restored or on track to return.
So with this year’s much-anticipated high season about to kick into high gear, we believe it’s time to review some of the most important trends across the continent to keep an eye on this summer with a few useful insights. Voices in the European travel world.
Across Europe, we’re consistently seeing travelers seek deeper connections with the communities and sights they visit. And on which tours and excursions it is showing.
“American travelers are more likely to seek out historical tours, culture-based experiences and outdoor adventures—among the most popular activities among our 2023 Viator Experience Awards,” Adam Lawless, director of communications for Viator, told TravelPulse.
A few of the many examples of these more culturally oriented are the continent’s large collection of food tours and cooking classes, which cover a wide range of cuisines and adventure experiences, as well as nature-based tours—often with a focus on sustainability.
Buzz behind the scenes
Tours and experiences that offer a peak behind the scenes at a popular tourist attraction or a world-renowned art gallery are also growing in popularity while delving deeper into the destination and offering a unique experience perfect for doing little. Pride in social affairs.
A good example of this can be found at York Minster, the famous cathedral in my home city of York, England. There is a Scaffolding Tour that allows travelers to meet the Ministry’s masons and watch them at work before climbing onto the scaffolding to get a closer look at the ongoing renovations and come face-to-face with both medieval and modern stonework and grotesque works. Or, how about the Vatican in Rome, where the Clavigero Tour allows you to “unlock” the Vatican Museums with a keymaster and see sights like the Sistine Chapel without the crowds?
Bottom line: Hop-on-hop-off bus travel is still going strong, but travelers are longing for experiences that peel back the layers of the places they visit, making “slow” experiences feel, well, a little different.
packing their values
Echoing recent TravelPulse coverage, Euromonitor recently reported that “consumer values are being refined across all aspects of their lifestyles, and travel choices reflect consumers’ needs, beliefs and attitudes. Value-based offers such as sports, health and eco-tourism are all expected to outpace standard packages from 2023-2027.
At almost every turn of the European travel experience, travelers are faced with choices and more and more are choosing to go with brands and experiences that align with their values. Sometimes, this will be a culturally and environmentally conscious tour guide, while other times it may be choosing to participate in tours that impact a community in an incredibly positive way.
A prime example of this is that travelers who value environmental impact prefer to travel by train and stay longer in one destination.
The railway renaissance is real.
Much has been made of rail travel and there is no place more synonymous with rail travel than Europe.
But do the numbers back up the hype? Indeed it seems.
Jody Bauer, research analyst at Eurail on the subject, said: “Demand for rail travel has rebounded significantly and is proving a slow way for travelers to explore all that Europe has to offer. We will see this clearly at Eurail as we continue to welcome increasing numbers of US travelers as well as other overseas markets throughout 2019. With an expanding rail network, improved infrastructure and new night trains, European train travel is sure to grow in popularity for years to come.
According to the Long Haul Travel Barometer 2023, which is an initiative from the European Travel Commission and Eurail BV, “American travelers are interested in traveling by train on their next European adventure. This is because of the overall capacity, comfort, convenience, safety and flexibility that comes with exploring the continent by train. In addition, American travelers cite a desire for slow adventure among their top 5 activities when traveling overseas, with the full experience of borderless rail travel.”
Or in other words, travelers are all aboard.
E-scooters. E-bikes. E-tuk tuks. Today, everything is going electric and how travelers can get around major European cities and even explore the countryside.
In the Alps, e-bikes are opening up mountain biking to people who might otherwise miss them, and in the continent’s major cities, e-scooters and bikes have made it easier to explore neighborhoods outside the city centers.
Changes in Latitude
After several summers in the news about headache-inducing crowds and sunburn-causing heat waves across Europe, it seems the healthy traveler is taking a cue and heading to areas where more people are thinner and the weather warmer.
Lawless added: “We’re seeing hidden gems such as Norway, Malta and Finland grow in popularity for those looking to get their European summer experience away from the crowds. “
For more weather-focused bookings, look no further than EF Go Ahead Tours, which has seen a huge increase in bookings to Europe’s mildest summer destinations.
A representative of the company recently told TravelPulse: “Bookings for trips to Scandinavian countries have doubled in the last three months compared to the same period last year, and bookings for countries such as the UK and Ireland have also increased significantly.” “
But it doesn’t mean that travelers have completely given up on tropical destinations, oh no, far from it, but many travelers are changing their travel dates to hot destinations like Spain, Portugal and Italy.
As for those countries, EF Go Ahead “is seeing a significant increase in bookings to these countries during the season (colder months) especially suggesting travelers should experience these gems outside of the summer bookings.”
Of course, many travelers are forced to book high season due to work or school, but those who aren’t are doing their best to avoid the continent’s warmer conditions.
Topics from this article to explore