Mountain or City? How to choose your Europe summer holiday

Mountain or City? How to choose your Europe summer holiday

Europe has it all, food, wine, culture and nature. Amongst lovely summer weather and easy access from the UK, a Europe summer holiday is a safe bet.

But, one problem might arise – should you choose the cities, or an Alps mountain break? The choice between the two can be a tough one, but our guide will hopefully help you pick.

Whether you prefer the hustle and bustle of urban life, or the peace and nature that can be found in the peaks, there’s something for everybody and today, we’ll see what’s the best choice fo you!

Ready to find out which type of Europe summer holiday is right for you? Let’s take a look…

Why Choose Europe for Your Summer Holiday?

Europe’s offering of history, culture and natural beauty is hard to find anywhere else, and Europe offers a range of experiences that suit almost every type of traveller.

Here’s few reasons why Europe should be at the top of your summer getaway list:

Diversity of Destinations

Every European country, and even individual cities, have their own unique personality. From the historic cities of Salzburg, to the modern metropolis of Milan, or the serene nature of Chamonix in the summer, all appetites are satisfied.

Salzburg Cathedral in the daytime

Rich in Culture

Europe’s cities are a treasure trove of culture and history. Museums, galleries, and historical landmarks to name a few, offer a peak into the continent’s past. In cities like Milan and Lyon, you can indulge in world-class art, architecture, and impeccable food. Summer is also the season for festivals, street celebrations and unique cultural experiences.

Bounds of Scenic Beauty

Europe’s natural beauty is not unknown. The continent’s landscapes range from vineyards, to coastlines, mountains and lakes. The Alps, in particular, are a feast for outdoor enthusiasts, offering hiking, biking, and adrenaline-fuelled activities. Meanwhile, cities like Zurich and Bergamo offer pretty views merged with urban sophistication.


Travelling around Europe is incredibly convenient. With a well-developed transportation network, getting from one destination to another is easy. Our summer airport transfers ensure that your journey from the airport to your destination is comfortable and hassle-free, whether you’re headed to a city or a mountain retreat.

The Appeal of a Europe City Break

European cities come alive in the summer, with a blend of history, culture, and modern amenities. With busy streets, breathtaking architecture, and a wealth of activities, a European city break can be unforgettable. 

Let’s explore the charm of some of the cities we serve, and see why they make a perfect summer holiday destination.

Where To Go? European City Breaks

Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg is the birthplace of Mozart, so it’s understandable that the city is steeped in musical heritage and baroque architecture. In summer, the city hosts many music festivals, including the renowned Salzburg Festival. Stroll through the beautiful gardens of Mirabell Palace, explore the Hohensalzburg Fortress, and roam the streets of Old Town.

Looking for a quick escape? You can take a transfer from Salzburg Airport to the city in roughly 20 minutes.

Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich offers a cosmopolitan x natural beauty blend. Spend your days exploring the city’s many museums, like the Kunsthaus Zurich, or enjoy a leisurely boat ride on Lake Zurich. The Bahnhofstrasse, one of the world’s most exclusive shopping streets, is perfect for a day of retail therapy. But, don’t forget to wind down and relax in one of the city’s many parks.

Transfers from Zurich Airport to the city take approximately 25 minutes!

Bergamo, Italy

When you think of a summer in Italy, most people think Venice, Rome, Florence, but we’re recommending Bergamo. Bergamo is somewhat of a hidden gem, known for its mediaeval vibe and beautiful landscapes. The city’s Upper Town, Città Alta, is a maze of cobbled streets and historical buildings. Visit the Piazza Vecchia in the heart of the old town and enjoy local cuisine in one of the many trattorias.

Get to the city from Bergamo Airport in 15 minutes or less!

View overlooking Bergamo's Città Alta

Milan, Italy

Milan is a city of fashion, design, and culture. Home to landmarks like Duomo di Milano – the Milan Cathedral – and Sforza Castle, it’s an art and history lovers paradise. Wander through Italy’s oldest shopping mall, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, and enjoy world-class dining and shopping. The city’s nightlife and ongoing events ensure there’s always something to keep busy.

So, how long does it take to get to Milan city? Transfers from Milan Malpensa Airport take roughly 50 minutes, and transfers from Milan Linate will take roughly 30 minutes.

Lyon, France

Lyon is celebrated for its gastronomy, with many Michelin-starred restaurants and traditional bouchons. Explore the historic Old Lyon, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the impressive Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière. The city’s traboules (hidden passageways) add a sense of mystery to your explorations.

Getting to the city centre via car is a breeze, private transfers from Lyon will take you 40 minutes.

Geneva, Switzerland

If you want elegance and international flair, head to Geneva. Visit the iconic Jet d’Eau, explore the old town, and enjoy the city’s parks and museums. As the home of numerous international organisations, including the United Nations, Geneva offers a unique blend of global culture and Swiss tradition.

Geneva is an ideal hub for Alps getaways, but it’s even more convenient for city breaks. Transfers from Geneva Airport take roughly 20 minutes, you’ll be there before you know it.

Green fields and village on Lake Geneva, with snowy mountains in the distance

Top Activities in European Cities

Cultural Attractions

European cities are awash with attractions. From museums and galleries to landmarks and architectural wonders, there’s plenty to explore. Whether you’re visiting the Louvre in Paris or the Vatican Museums in Rome, you’ll be immersed in the continent’s rich heritage.

World-Class Food

Food, food, food. We don’t really need to say anymore on this, but we will. A MAJOR highlight of any European break is the cuisine. Each city offers has it’s own culinary flair, with ample food tours, local markets, and fine dining experiences to satisfy every appetite.

Entertainment and Nightlife

Summer in Europe is hectic with festivals, concerts, and outdoor events. Whether it’s opera in Vienna, techno in Berlin, or a local celebrations in Lyon, the entertainment options are endless. Nightlife is equally bustling, with bars, clubs, and live music venues offering genres and vibes aplenty.

Shopping and Markets

If you’re a serial shopper, European cities are perfect. From high-end boutiques and designer stores, to local markets and artisanal shops, there’s something for every shopper, every wearer and every budget. 

Benefits of a City Break

All in all, city breaks offer convenience and accessibility, with a wide variety of activities and attractions all in one place. They provide opportunities for cultural immersion, world-class dining, and vibrant nightlife, perfect for travellers who enjoy a dynamic holiday experience.

The Magic of the Alps in Summer

While the Alps are famed for winter sports, come summer time they transform into a lush, green paradise. The region offers a peaceful escape with opportunities for adventure and relaxation. Let’s explore some of the top Alpine destinations and discover what makes a summer holiday in the Alps so magical.

Examples of Summer Alps Breaks

Chamonix, France

Located at the base of Mont Blanc, Chamonix resort is on every outdoor enthusiasts hitlist. In summer, the town offers plentiful activities from hiking and mountain biking to rock climbing and paragliding. The Mont Blanc Tramway opens you up to stunning views of the surrounding peaks and glaciers. Relax in one of the many cosy cafes and soak in the Alpine charm.

So, how are you getting to the Chamonix? There are many routes from major European Airports that are a sub 2 hour drive, but the fastest transfer is Geneva Airport to Chamonix, taking approximately 1.5 hours.

Taking photo out the window of a red train departing from Chamonix train station

Verbier, Switzerland

Verbier is a picturesque Swiss village known for its summer sports scene. Enjoy paragliding, mountain biking, and scenic gondola rides, and the area boasts a network of hiking trails for all experience levels. Verbier’s lively atmosphere and stunning vistas make it an ideal summer destination.

Transfers from Geneva to Verbier will take 2 hours 20 minutes, but the Alps resort is also easily accessible from Sion Airport or La Chable.

Courmayeur, Italy

Courmayeur resort offers a fusion of adventure and relaxation. Located on the Italian side of Mont Blanc, it’s a gateway to some of the Alps’ best hiking trails. After a day of exploring, unwind in thermal baths or take a ride on the Mont Blanc Skyway for unbeatable views. The charming town centre is filled with delightful shops and restaurants offering local cuisine.

Transfers to Courmayeur from Geneva take roughly 1 hour 50 minutes, and a transfer from Turin Airport will take 1 hour 55 minutes.

Kitzbühel, Austria

Kitzbühel resort is not just a winter sports destination; it’s equally attractive in the summer. Known for its pristine golf courses, the town is also surrounded by hiking and biking trails that showcase the natural beauty of the Tyrolean Alps. The Kitzbüheler Horn offers incredible views and is accessible via a scenic cable car ride.

There are many transfer options under or around the two-hour mark, let’s weigh them up! Transfers from Salzburg to Kitzbühel take 1 hour 35 minutes, Innsbruck to Kitzbühel transfers take 1 hour 45 minutes, and Munich to Kitzbühel transfers take approximately 2 hours 20 minutes.

Traditional Austrian church in the middle of green fields with mountains in the backgroun

Top Activities in the Alps

Outdoor Adventures

Hiking trails range from leisurely walks to challenging treks, offering something for every level of adventurer. Mountain biking trails, rock climbing spots, and paragliding opportunities provide an adrenaline rush and stunning scenery.

Relaxation and Wellness

The Alps are also perfect for relaxation and wellness. Many towns feature spas, thermal baths, and wellness retreats where you can rejuvenate your body and mind. Enjoy a spa day in a luxurious resort or find peace in the natural thermal springs.

Unbeatable Views

The beauty of the Alps is, truly, unmatched. Dramatic vistas, quaint villages, and crystal-clear lakes forge a stunning backdrop for your holiday. Photographers will find countless opportunities to capture the breathtaking landscapes.

Benefits of a Mountain Holiday

A mountain holiday offers peace and tranquillity, far from the hustle and bustle of city life. It provides opportunities for physical activity and nature immersion, allowing you to reconnect with the natural world. The unique landscapes and experiences found in the Alps make it a perfect destination for those seeking both adventure and relaxation.

Comparing the Two: City vs. Mountain Holidays

Deciding between a city break and a mountain holiday can be tough, as both offer special experiences. Le’s compare key aspects of each holiday to help you determine which is the best fit for your next European summer adventure.

Travel and Accessibility

One of the first factors to consider is how easy it is to reach your destination.

City Holidays

  • Ease of Access: Cities are well-connected to major airports, making them easy to reach from almost anywhere. Public transportation is efficient and plentiful, allowing for easy city-hopping
  • Transportation Options: From trams and buses to taxis and bike rentals, there’s many ways to explore the cities 

Mountain Holidays

  • Scenic Routes: While the Alps require a bit more planning to reach, the journey is often part of the experience. Private transfers to the Alps can be arranged and you can enjoy the views along the way
  • Limited Public Transport: Once in the Alps, public transport options are more limited compared to cities, but shuttle services, rental cars, and tours are available

Accommodation Options

The type of accommodation available can greatly influence your holiday experience.

City Holidays

  • Wide Range of Choices: Cities offer a range of options, from luxury hotels and boutique inns to budget hostels and vacation rentals 
  • Central Locations: Staying in a city means being close to major attractions, dining, and shopping areas, making it convenient to explore without long journeys

Mountain Holidays

  • Charming Lodges and Chalets: In the Alps there’s cosy lodges, charming chalets, and luxury resorts that provide a rustic experience, often offering a closer connection to nature
  • Secluded Retreats: Mountain accommodations are typically more secluded, providing a peaceful environment for relaxation and escape

Cost Considerations

Budget is an important factor when planning a holiday.

City Holidays

  • Varied Price Points: Cities provide for all budgets. While luxury experiences can be costly, there’s plenty of affordable accommodations and dining options
  • Potential for Higher Daily Costs: Cities like Milan or Geneva can have higher daily expenses due to dining, attractions, and shopping.

Mountain Holidays

  • Affordable Nature Activities: Outdoor activities like hiking and biking, are either free or low-cost. While some activities and wellness retreats can be pricey, the overall daily expenses in the mountains can be lower compared to cities
  • Accommodation Costs: Depending on the level of luxury, mountain accommodations can range from affordable to high-end

Ideal Traveler Profiles

Understanding which type of traveller you are can help in making your decision.

City Holidays

  • Culture: Ideal for those who love museums, historical sites, art galleries, and cultural festivals
  • Foodies: Perfect for travellers who enjoy trying new cuisines, dining at renowned restaurants, and exploring local food markets
  • Nightlife Lovers: Great for those who want to experience nightlife, including bars, clubs, and live music.

Mountain Holidays

  • Outdoor Adventurers: Perfect for lovers of hiking, mountain biking, and other outdoor sports
  • Wellness: Ideal for travellers looking to relax in a serene environment, with access to spas and wellness retreats
  • Nature Lovers: Great for those who appreciate stunning landscapes, peaceful surroundings, and a slower pace of life

How to Decide Which Holiday is Right for You

Choosing between a city break and a mountain holiday depends on various factors, including your interests, preferences, budget, and travel style. Here’s how to determine which type of European summer holiday aligns best with what you’re looking for:

Assess Your Interests and Preferences

Consider what you enjoy most when travelling and what activities you look forward to during your holiday:

  • If you love exploring museums, historical landmarks, and cultural sites, a city break might be the perfect fit for you.
  • For outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy hiking, biking, and exploring nature, a mountain holiday offers endless opportunities for adventure.
  • Think about the types of experiences you want to have – whether it’s sampling local cuisine, attending music festivals, or simply relaxing in a peaceful setting.

Consider the Purpose of Your Holiday

Define the primary purpose of your trip and what you hope to gain from it:

  • Are you hoping for relaxation and rejuvenation, or are you looking for excitement and adventure?
  • Determine whether you want to immerse yourself in the energy of a city or escape to the peacefulness of the mountains
  • Think about the activities and experiences that will make your holiday memorable and fulfilling

Check Your Budget

Consider your budget and how it aligns with the costs associated with each type of holiday:

  • City breaks can vary in cost depending on factors like accommodation, dining, and entertainment expenses. Consider the overall daily expenses in cities like Milan or Geneva when budgeting for your trip.
  • Mountain holidays offer a range of accommodation options, from budget-friendly lodges to luxury resorts. Factor in costs associated with outdoor activities, wellness experiences, and dining.

Time of Travel

Think about the time of year you plan to travel and how it may impact your destination choice:

  • Summer is an excellent time to visit both cities and mountains, but weather conditions and seasonal activities may vary
  • Consider whether you prefer warmer temperatures and longer daylight hours for outdoor adventures in the Alps or if you’re more interested in cultural events and festivals happening in European cities.

Choosing between a European city break and a summer holiday in the Alps can be tough, but both promise incredible experiences. From the cultural richness of cities like Salzburg to the natural beauty of destinations like Chamonix, Europe caters to every traveller. Alps2Alps offers seamless transfers whether you’re exploring cities or mountains. Whether sipping espresso in Italy or hiking in the Alps, we’re here to make your European summer holiday stress-free. Book your summer transfer today!

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