European countries are different from the U.S. in a lot of ways, particularly when it comes to how they spend their vacations. While here in the U.S. we tend to take our vacations a few days or even a full week at a time, in Europe, several cities essentially close down for August while everyone takes a needed break.
They find it leads to more productive days the rest of the year. They escape the hustle of the big city and head to coastal towns where life is a little slower. Families, in particular, enjoy traveling in August, while school is out of session and the weather is warm enough to enjoy pretty much any outdoor activity.
So, while Europeans are visiting their favorite travel spots in August, here are some cities that empty out as the locals take their well-deserved time off. They'll be less crowded if you're traveling in August and want to avoid huge crowds in airports and your hotel. However, there will be significantly fewer places of business open.
As one of the more well-known and popular destinations in Europe, you might think Paris would be packed in August. But offices across the city close down for the month, meaning there aren't any (or at least there are significantly fewer) business travelers. That means you can usually find cheaper hotel rooms and deal with fewer people as you walk around the city.
Popular tourist destinations like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre will still have crowds. So, expect to stand in line alongside other international tourists if you travel to Paris in August. If you want to see Paris but also have some relief from crowds, consider booking a couple of nights at another city in France, where you can get a feel for the local culture without knocking elbows with other tourists at every step.
Scandinavia is beautiful to visit in the summer, and August is an especially good time to make a trip since the locals tend to clear out and head for warmer climates. Along with beautiful weather, you can take part in one of the several festivals that take place in the city of Copenhagen in August.
As for the weather, you can keep your shorts and tank tops at home, or at least bring some warmer clothes to layer on throughout the day. Highs in Copenhagen in August don't tend to get above the 60s Fahrenheit. Make sure to bring an umbrella, as July and August tend to be the rainiest months of the year.
In keeping with the theme of locals vacating their cities in August to go south, Oslo, Norway, is a Scandinavian city that's ideal for visiting in the summer months. Along with being cleared of the locals, you'll enjoy warmer weather by visiting Oslo in the summer than taking a winter trip. You might still be able to see the northern lights in August, although the best time for viewing is later in the year — around October or November.
Oslo tends to be a bit warmer than Copenhagen and other cities in Scandinavia. Highs in August get into the 70s and 80s Fahrenheit, and the nights don't cool down all that much. That's in part because Norway is far enough north to experience the midnight sun. You'll see the remaining locals kayaking, fishing, and just plain hanging out well into the wee hours of the morning with the sun still shining.
If you're taking a European vacation in August, you might be tempted to skip popular tourist destinations like Rome. But the whole country of Italy is especially known for closing up shop and taking off during August. That means that Rome is relatively clear of business travelers and locals. You can usually find decent deals on hotels if you book far enough in advance. And you won't have as many business travelers in airports or around town. On the flip side, you'll have to deal with more tourists at attractions like the Coliseum.
Keep in mind that the weather in Rome is pretty hot in August — above 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. So, popular tourist attractions will become crowded as people flood the city from other countries around the world. Plan on sightseeing early in the day or evening when the weather is cooler, and the crowds have died down a bit.
Venice is another Italian city that closes down for business during August. As a tourist, expect to find some relief from the heat compared with Rome. You'll still have to deal with crowds, though, since Venice is such a popular tourist destination in the summer months. If you want to stay on the main island, plan your tours for early in the day, since it tends to be less crowded in the morning. People staying on other islands take their time traveling to the main island, so you'll have plenty of time to explore.
Fun fact: Venice is made up of 118 small islands that are all connected by bridges. Each neighborhood has its own distinct vibe. You can avoid some of the crowds by staying on an island that is home to more locals than tourists, like Giudecca, in August. Also, even though it's surrounded by water, there are very few beaches in Venice. If you want to go swimming, you may want to consider thinking like a local and heading to a coastal city like Ponza or Ravello after spending a couple of nights in Venice.