1. London, UK

London in the summertime is all about parks, riverside pub gardens and smiling faces. With temperatures ranging from 20 to 27°C, everything happens outside – from the open-air cinema in Greenwich Park to the traditional Lambeth Country Show. Adrenaline junkies can abseil down the O2 or ride on the zip wire in Archbishop’s Park. Those who prefer to watch the action can head to Wimbledon to catch a tennis match at the world-famous Wimbledon tennis tournament.

For some relaxation, head to Hampstead Heath for wild swimming in the ponds. Regent’s Park, meanwhile, really comes to life in the summer with live music, theatre shows and more. Music fans should check out Wireless Festival, which takes place each July in Finsbury Park - expect a lineup of pop music legends and a blissfully happy crowd.

Getting to London

London is well connected to the UK and Europe by train. To get from Edinburgh to London, the journey takes around 5h 33m by train. Admire the rolling green hills of Northumberland, Yorkshire and Hertfordshire before reaching your destination. You can also take a direct train from Paris to London, with the journey lasting just 2h 23m with Eurostar. Travelling from Amsterdam to London by train in 5h 45m, with a change in Brussels.

2. Lisbon, Portugal

July is a great time to visit Lisbon, top cultural events take place across the city this month, including Festival ao Largo – this free event in the chic Chiado district includes opera, ballet and other dance performances. Those who prefer their music rocking should head straight to Oeiras for the NOS Alive festival. Taking place across three days in July, it features an eclectic lineup of rock, indie and pop bands.

The Bairro Alto is one of the city’s trendiest districts. Through the summer, it’s full of people laughing and drinking on the streets. For a taste of Lisbon’s Moorish past, head to Alfama. With its winding streets and pretty castle, it feels like another world. Belem Tower, meanwhile, boasts a picturesque backdrop of the Atlantic. Featuring intricately carved stonework, the tower invites you to discover Lisbon’s Byzantine and Gothic heritage.

Getting to Lisbon

For those who want to watch the world go by as they travel, London to Lisbon by train takes 29h 15m, making it an ideal route to stop at other cities along the way. You can get from Barcelona to Lisbon by train in 13h 52m. Make a trip of it by travelling to Toulouse first, to experience some southern French elegance. Or why not travel to Lisbon from the south of Spain – the train journey from Malaga to Lisbon takes around 30h 45m and stops in Seville, Andalucia's Moorish gem.

3. Copenhagen, Denmark

Denmark’s capital is easily one of the best European cities to visit in July. Copenhagen's streets come to life with a celebratory energy as people dine al fresco, enjoy boat tours and sunbathe in the city's parks. A key draw at this time of year is the Copenhagen Jazz Festival, which celebrates hip jazz music from around the world. Taking place in bars, city squares and concert halls across the city, it showcases the best of local and international jazz of all styles. For an adrenaline hit, learn to surf at the Copenhagen Surf School or get electrifying views of the city with a bungee jump in Halvandet.

Kids will love the Airtrix Trampoline Park, while nature-lovers may prefer to head to the hills on horseback. Somewhat of a locals' secret (well, no longer - sorry locals!) Amager Beach is a blissful place to relax – just 20 minutes outside the city centre by local bus, the beach offers plenty of space to lay back and bask in the warm sun. Again, following the locals' cue, the best way to see Copenhagen is on two wheels. Rent a bike and whizz around the city with ease, making the most of the many wide cycle lanes. Make sure to take a detour to sunbathe in the tranquil, flower-filled King’s Garden.

Getting to Copenhagen

It's possible to travel from Berlin to Copenhagen in 7h 34m via a fast train. You can get from Stockholm to Copenhagen in 5h 52m, but to make an adventure of it, stop in Sweden's Norrkoping to enjoy art nouveau architecture and river views. Travel all the way from Paris to Copenhagen in 17h 37m, stopping en route to enjoy some of Germany's most picturesque cities, including Mannheim and Hamburg.

4. Bruges, Belgium

This enchanting medieval city may be synonymous with Christmas markets, but Bruges also wins visitors' hearts in the summer. With average highs of around 20°C through July, Bruges promises not to leave you hot under the collar. Take a canal tour, visit the Belfry of Bruges and cycle along the city's winding, cobbled streets.

For a different view of the city, take a hot air balloon ride. Or travel back in time in a horse-drawn carriage. The Cactus Festival, held every July, is an intimate rock festival with one stage and a laid-back atmosphere. If you happen to be in town on 21st July, you can join in with the lively national public holiday celebrations – get swept up in the festive atmosphere as you take in the fireworks, parade and raise a glass of locally brewed beer.

Getting to Bruges

You can travel from London to Bruges by train in just 3h 26m with a changeover in Brussels. Or from Paris to Bruges the journey time is 3h 21m, while from Charleroi-Sud, the journey takes just 2h 10m.

5. Berlin, Germany

Berlin is undoubtedly one of Europe's epicentres of cool. With temperatures rarely exceeding 25° in Germany's hip capital, the weather is equally suited to sightseeing and lounging by lakes. Visit Brandenburg Gate, Alexander Platz and Museum Island for a spot of culture. In the evening, go bar hopping in the chic neighbourhoods of Mitte and Prenzlauerberg.

Each July, style icons, trendsetters and fashionistas descend on the city for Berlin Fashion Week. Catch a show to swat up on the latest trends. Berlin also plays host to Europe’s biggest Pride Festival. Centring around Nollendorfplatz, the city’s LGBT hub, the festival is a colourful celebration of diversity, with great music, dazzling performances and thought-provoking political debates.

Getting to Berlin

Trains between London and Berlin take 13h 42m, so why not split up the journey by stopping in Cologne to visit its mighty Gothic cathedral. From Amsterdam to Berlin, the fastest route takes 6h 18m on Deutsche Bahn trains.

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