For summer vacations, travelers are increasingly choosing to avoid Europe’s most visited cities and beaches in favor of less crowded destinations.

Recent data reported to Bloomberg by Chase Travel shows that European cities seeing the biggest increases in tourists this summer include off-the-beaten-path destinations such as Brussels, Munich, Zurich and Warsaw.

That said, the data, based on cardholder spending, shows that the busiest cities remain London, Paris and Rome.

This trend towards secondary cities is largely explained by soaring prices in Mediterranean hotspots, such as the Amalfi Coast, as well as the record heat gripping the continent, industry experts say. Rampant inflation has pushed the average price of luxury rooms in Europe to more than US$1,700 (about C$2,325) in 2023, nearly double, according to data from Virtuoso, a group of luxury travel advisors. from the 2019 price, which was $900 USD (approximately $1230 CAD). According to Misty Belles, Virtuoso’s vice president of global public relations, these record prices are expected to increase another 9 percent this summer. According to her, this development has an impact on the places visited.

“We’re seeing a desire to go to places or destinations where the rates aren’t as exorbitant,” Belles says, confirming Chase Travel’s findings.

A search on Google Hotels shows that rooms in five-star hotels in Brussels are available for less than $500 US (about $684 CAD) during the first week of June; in Paris, the price is closer to $900 US (around $1230 CAD).

Belles also says travelers are willing to try other destinations due to heat waves hitting Europe. Last year was the second warmest year on record on the continent, and each month of 2024 brought its share of records. While the mercury soared to 47°C in Sardinia last summer, average temperatures of 24°C in Zurich look awfully inviting.

And that’s without counting the crowds.

This combination has led to more people looking for destinations in northern Europe, with Virtuoso bookings for the Netherlands up 33%, Austria up 31% and Germany up 31%. 26%.

“Don’t worry about Italy, everything will be fine,” Ms. Belles said. But other regions of Europe are starting to attract significant numbers of travelers.

One place where growth has caused concern is Amsterdam. The city ranks fifth among Chase’s fastest-growing destinations, despite the government launching the “Stay Away” campaign to discourage mass tourism.

Rebecca Masri, founder of luxury travel app Little Emperors, has a solution for those who absolutely want to return to their old favorites despite the price, weather and crowds: go after Labor Day. After all, she says, the traditional European summer season no longer seems to end in August.

As she says, “peak season for countries like Italy and Greece is now in September.”