The Alps are the longest mountain range in Europe: stretching over 750 miles, they cover six countries, comprise Europe's highest peaks and deepest lakes, and encompass two distinct climatic regions. During the summer months, the Alps' beautiful and diverse landscapes teem with wildlife and vegetation, and offer the opportunity to try an endless variety of outdoor sports. Sun-soaked days are refreshed by warm breezes, providing the perfect conditions for exploring walking trails, and discovering natural and historic landmarks. Meander through lush valleys, laze in meadows filled with wildflowers, or admire panoramas from sky-high peaks. By now, you're probably baffled as to why most tourists wait till winter to holiday here!
Top places in the Alps for summer holidays
From France to Italy, and from Slovenia to Switzerland, there are various types of holidays to be had in the Alps. You could relax in an Alpine spa, go paragliding over snow-capped slopes, enjoy a dip in a hot spring or try horse-riding, rock-climbing and cave-diving: there's nowhere better to satisfy the desire for both adrenalin-rushes and relaxation! HomeAway has thousands of properties in the Alps, and something to suit every budget and desire: whether you want to relax on the banks of a lake or rent a summer chalet in the heart of the forest, you'll find ideal accommodation.
The Alps stretch from the South of France to Slovenia, yet most classic Alpine hiking routes are found along the Mont Blanc Trail. Navigating the highest peak in western Europe (4,808 metres high, to be precise) isn't a challenge for the faint of heart, but it's a truly amazing experience. Alternatively, you could stay in the Abondance Valley, which offers some of the best mountain biking in the Alps, or play golf and go horse-riding in Portes du Soleil. You can enjoy water sports and white-water rafting with a stay in charming Megève, or simply check into its luxury spa for some well-deserved nature-based pampering.
Italy is a favourite with those looking for Alpine holidays, as it offers so many different experiences. You could get stuck into some Nordic walking in South Tyrol, or go mountain-biking and climbing in the Dolomites. As well as boasting spectacular scenery, it has some truly secluded and beautiful spots to explore. Those looking for water sports will find themselves well-catered for in Lake Maggiore, but those in search of a balance - perhaps a more relaxing break - will enjoy a comfortable base in Turin, Italy's cosmopolitan Alpine gateway. Whether you want to try extreme sports or take a truly relaxing break, Italy has so many wonderful destinations to choose from.
Germany doesn’t cover a large part of the Alps, but Bavaria is a destination worth considering: not only does its unique culture make it a fascinating place to stay, but it boasts two of the country's most breathtaking natural landmarks, Lake Engeratsgundsee and the Kirchendach mountain. Of course, the lake district around Mecklenburg is another option open to you, as is Berchtesgadener Land: covering an area of over 80 square miles, the National Park's mountainous terrain is characterised by deep forests, steep rock faces, and the emerald waters of Lake Konigssee. Around five miles long, the lake spans the whole area between the Jenner and Gotzenberg mountains in the east, to the peaks of Watzmann in the west.
Austria is a fantastic destination when you want to traverse mountain peaks, but without too much effort! Ischgl, for example, boasts over 180 miles of hiking trails - but they're all accessible by an extensive network of cable cars, chairlifts and gondolas. If your interests lie in water sports or sailing, look no further than the Lake Constance-Rhine Valley, but if you'd rather get to grips with horse-riding, head for beautiful Tirol. Of course, there are other reasons besides sport to opt for Austria over other Alpine destinations: from the world-famous festival in Salzburg, which celebrates Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, to the equally brilliant Innsbruck Summer Festival, Austria's a haven for lovers of classical music.
There are dozens of places to consider when you head to the Swiss Alps in summer, but the four distinct mountain regions - the Bernese Alps, Graubünden, Central Switzerland and Valais - offer an equally endless list of opportunities for summer activities. You can go hiking and climbing in the Eigel, Monch and Jungfrau region, or simply admire spectacular vistas in towns like Grindelwald. Some of the most popular Alpine mountain-biking destinations in also lie in Switzerland, particularly around picturesque Saas Fee. Lake Lucerne, meanwhile, is popular with those in search of more peaceful pursuits: as you laze on the lake's banks in the sunshine, you'll see centuries-old paddle steamers sail slowly along its waters.