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Europe is always a great idea – but Europe in the summer is pure magic. Cities are alive with bustling cafés, the parks are filled with people enjoying the warm weather and the finest produce is deliciously in season. Discover the best things to do in Europe this summer with the help of Four Seasons […]

Passport to Europe: 9 Cities to Explore This Summer

Spending the summer in Europe never goes out of style. Discover some of the most beautiful cities in the world with Four Seasons by your side.

Europe is always a great idea – but Europe in the summer is pure magic. Cities are alive with bustling cafés, the parks are filled with people enjoying the warm weather and the finest produce is deliciously in season. Discover the best things to do in Europe this summer with the help of Four Seasons experts who can curate an unforgettable vacation for you and your loved ones. From a speedboat ride along the Danube in Budapest to a tapas bar–hopping tour in Madrid, these nine alluring cities offer a range of experiences to put on your Europe bucket list. We’ve gathered some insider recommendations from Four Seasons team members in some of our favourite cities to give you the local advantage when you set out to explore.

Open-air restaurant dining patio with very large orange shade umbrellas surrounded greenery and city views of Madrid

Things to do in Madrid: Secret finds in the Spanish capital

According to Almudena Durango, Assistant Chief Concierge at Four Seasons Hotel Madrid, the city is filled with hidden treasures to be found in the small neighbourhoods within walking distance of the Hotel. “Spend a morning in the Palacio del Principe de Anglona Gardens in the La Latina district. It’s truly a place of peace and calm in the city,” suggests Durango. “Then wander into the small boutiques nearby, such as Cocol for local crafts and ceramics, and Casa Hernanz for espadrilles.”

For lunch, opt for a meal at one of the sidewalk cafés in the Chueca neighbourhood before exploring one of Madrid’s little-known jewels: the 17th-century baroque Church of San Antonio de los Alemanes. “It’s unassuming from the outside, but once you walk in, you’re surrounded by frescoes,” says Durango.

On your way back to the Hotel, stop by the Monastery of Las Carboneras for a bag of traditional sweets and pastries. “They’re handmade by the cloistered nuns, who sell them through a panelled counter because they can’t be seen,” notes Durango. Then, end your day with a signature gin and ginger-infused Flamenco cocktail at Dani on the Hotel’s rooftop terrace, watching the sun set as you admire the beautiful views of the city.

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The Hotel also offers exclusive experiences you’ll only find at Four Seasons. Whether you take a historical walking tour into the heart of the city, attend a Flamenco guitar workshop and show, or taste your way through some of Madrid’s top tapas bars with a local expert, these are the moments you’ll remember long after you’ve gone home.

Get to know Madrid

Indoor pool with lounge chairs on the side set beneath a slanted wall of windows

Things to do in Geneva: Laid-back days in nature

When summer arrives in the Swiss capital, activities shift outdoors, from al fresco lunches to lacing up your hiking boots for a trek. “Summer in Geneva means at least one boat day,” suggests Audrey Mercier, Concierge at Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues Geneva. “Hop aboard one of the Hotel’s private boats and go wakeboarding across Lake Geneva, then head to the charming medieval village of Yvoire. Order the fresh filets de perches at Le Passe Franc, where the owner serves wine from his vineyards in the South of France.”

For another scenic option, take a walking tour through the cobblestone streets of Old Town and visit the most ancient rooftop in Geneva: the 12th-century Saint Pierre Cathedral. After you’ve climbed back down those 157 steps, have traditional fondue lunch on the terrace of the iconic Restaurant Les Armures. Then wrap up your day with a lakeside bike tour that’ll also take you past the Palais des Nations, headquarters for the United Nations.

Have some extra time? “Spend your last day in the mountains,” recommends Mercier. “Board the famous Belle Epoque steamer for a ride on the lake or the contemporary GoldenPass Panoramic train for a scenic, two-and-a-half-hour journey to Glacier 3000 for a hike that will cross the Peak Walk by Tissot – a suspension bridge connecting two mountain summits.”

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For a one-of-a-kind souvenir, the Hotel’s concierge team can arrange for a private visit to nearby Swiss watchmakers, including the prestigious Roger Dubuis Haute Horlogerie atelier. Or pay a visit to the Hotel’s Spa Mont Blanc and sign up for the Haute Couture by Dr. Burgener Switzerland ritual, a personalized session using the latest technology, skin analysis and Swiss skincare products.

Find lakeside fun in Geneva

Two people riding horses, one brown horse and one white horse, on a grassy field with an English manor hous in the distance

Things to do in Hampshire: Scents of the season

Deeply connecting with a place means taking in all that it has to offer. “It’s the simple things such as the smell of fresh Hampshire flowers that bring some of the greatest pleasures,” says Andrei Pascut, Concierge Manager at Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire. To see some of the area’s best florals, Pascut recommends taking a short drive from the Hotel to the beautifully restored house and gardens of natural history pioneer Gilbert White. After taking in the aromas of the quintessentially British gardens, travel the natural world through the collection of explorer and naturalist Frank Oates, as well as that of Lawrence Oates, who was part of the fateful Terra Nova Expedition to the South Pole, notes Pascut.

To go even further back in history, Pascut recommends visiting the historic city of Winchester and taking a walk around the towering Winchester Cathedral, where centuries of events left their mark. “I recommend going first thing in the morning on a weekday to avoid the crowds. Start off with a guided tour, where you’ll learn about Winchester during Anglo-Saxon times, what changed when the Normans invaded, and the many characters and events that shaped England’s history.” Have the Hotel arrange for a curated itinerary to make your time spent exploring even more personalized.

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With a nod to its countryside setting, the Hotel offers several unique outdoor experiences, including English-style horseback riding, archery and taking a traditional hawk walk with a falconry expert and a real Harris hawk. And for fans of “Downton Abbey,” the Hotel can also arrange for a private tour of nearby Highclere Castle, given by its owner.

Explore the English countryside in Hampshire

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Things to do in Budapest: Walks through history

Because Budapest is divided into two districts separated by the Danube River, the best way to see Budapest, says Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest Head Concierge Peter Buday, is by foot. “I love wandering around the medieval cobblestoned streets of the Castle District. It offers great views, as well as narrow, charming alleys with hidden spots for strudel, art or simple souvenirs,” he says. Buday also recommends a visit to the Hungarian National Gallery, currently housed in the former Royal Palace, to see the incredible collection of works by Hungarian artists from the 11th century to present day.

While Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion are on everyone’s must-see list, there are also plenty of hidden gems, such as the 18th-century buildings on the western and eastern sides of Castle Hill and Szalag stairway, a winding path of tree-lined steps leading to the bottom of the hill.

“City Park features excellent playgrounds for kids and plenty of green areas, too,” says Buday. “Go see the fairy tale–like 19th-century Vajdahunyad Castle and take a boat ride around its adjacent lake. Just a few steps away is the charming Budapest Zoo with its houses built in different architectural styles, something that both animal lovers and architecture enthusiasts will enjoy.” After the zoo, consider taking a hot-air balloon ride in the Varosliget Ballon, suggests Buday. A short ride takes you up 150 metres and offers one of the best views of the city.

As night falls, the romance of the city comes alive. “A stroll along the Danube, whether on the Pest side or the Buda side of the city, and crossing its many bridges, is equally romantic and breathtaking – especially at night, when the city lights are reflected in the river,” says Buday. Walk up to Gellert Hill for a panoramic view of Budapest, or take a leisurely walk along the river from Gresham Palace to the Central Market Hall, or the other way from Gresham Palace to the Parliament Building.

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Ready to venture a little farther afield? Have the Hotel arrange for a road trip to Etyek – a small village outside of Budapest that produces some of the country’s best wines – where you can taste some of the best varietals. Or opt for a sunset ride along the Danube on a private, Venetian-style speedboat, complete with sparkling wine, or an appointment for the Spa’s signature two-hour Touch of the Earth treatment, a scrub-wrap-massage combo that promises to leave you relaxed and glowing for the next day’s discoveries.

Walk Budapest’s most romantic streets

Two people ride in a small wooden boat along the river in Prague approaching Charles Bridge

Things to do in Prague: Ancient to avant-garde

With its stunning architecture and Gothic towers, the Czech capital’s ancient past seamlessly co-mingles with today’s modern world. To find out more about how its historical eras coexist, spend an afternoon visiting the 800-year-old, Baroque-style Strahov Monastery Library, one of the most well-preserved in the world, suggests Vaclav Hugo Kominek, Guest Experience Manager at Four Seasons Hotel Prague.

“The book rooms are beautiful, with more than 200,000 volumes on their shelves, including ancient first editions,” says Kominek. “The vaulted, frescoed ceilings are magnificent, and there’s even a rarity cabinet with curious objects.” Afterwards, dine at Stangl, Prague’s contemporary gastronomic restaurant best known for its creative interpretation of locally sourced and wild ingredients. Another not-to-miss foodie experience: If you’re in Prague over a weekend, ask the Concierge to make a reservation for the Sunday Art Brunch at Kunsthalle Praha Bistro, which includes a ticket to the Kunsthalle Museum and a breakfast buffet filled with experimental dishes.

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See how the famous Czech crystal is made with a visit to the Rückl glass factory in nearby Nizbor, where you’ll meet the craftspeople and even get to blow glass yourself. The Hotel can also arrange a romantic ride in a charming wooden boat for a cruise along the Vltava River, complete with sparkling wine and the captain’s captivating stories about the history of the city.

Old meets new in Prague

Things to do in Baku: Craftsmanship and cultural icons

Located on the western shore of the Caspian Sea along the curved Bay of Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan has been an economic stronghold for centuries, with a rich cultural history that thrives today. To get to know the city, the Concierge team at Four Seasons Hotel Baku suggests visiting the Mardakan Quadrangular Tower, a 12th-century coastline castle fortress, and afterwards, exploring Shah Dili and Zire Eco Park, a nature reserve on the edge of a long, thin peninsula.

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Unlock the mystery – and learn about the history – behind the art of Azerbaijan’s famous woven carpets on a private tour into the workshop of a 100-year-old carpetmaker in the heart of the Old City. You’ll also be able to weave a one-of-a-kind carpet of your own and take it home with you. Afterwards, taste the region’s world-renown caviar – from classic beluga to rare types of sturgeon – on the rooftop terrace of Baku Caviar, complete with bubbles and breathtaking views of the city.

Get to know the culture of Baku

Aerial view of Greek peninsula

Things to do in Athens: Make a splash

Located on the tip of a peninsula on the Athenian Riviera, Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel Athens is in the enviable position of being close enough to the city to visit and far enough away for a peaceful, relaxing sojourn. Here are some of the property’s top curated experiences in and around Athens.

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Spend a day zipping through the Saronic Gulf in a private rib boat, discovering the picturesque islands of Hydra and Spetses. Swim in clear, sparkling waters; have a leisurely lunch at a seaside tavern; then shop at the boardwalk boutiques before your captain whisks you back to the Hotel.

You can also dive deep into Athens’ rich history with a private, guided tour of the Acropolis, the iconic landmark and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Situated on a hill high over the city, you’ll take in magnificent views of Athens and the Aegean Sea as you learn about famous monuments such as the Parthenon and Nike Temple. Concierge Danai Papachristofilou also suggests a walk through the charming neighbourhood of Plaka at the bottom of the hill, stopping for meze at one of its outdoor cafes. Afterwards, let your mind and body continue to absorb the rituals of an ancient civilization with a soak in the Hotel Spa’s Fountain House. With a steam grotto, sauna and hammam, it aims to provide healing through the waters – sanus per aquam – a long-held Greek belief.

And if you’re looking to really get a taste of Greek culture, you can find out what makes Greek olive oil so unique as you taste the four indigenous varieties during an interactive, expert-led workshop. You’ll learn how to select the right olive oil for the task at hand, and how to appreciate the differences between them. And since all olive oil needs a vessel, you can also learn how to make pottery like the ancient Greeks during a class that covers its history as an ancient form of storytelling.

Uncover Greek culture in Athens

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Things to do in Istanbul: Capture the magic

Spread across two continents, Istanbul is a city like no other. The Concierge teams at both Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus and Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet recommend seeing this ancient city by land and sea, and can arrange private guides to accompany you, whether you’re on foot or on the water.

Spend a morning on a private yacht, cruising along the beautiful Bosphorus Strait, the waterway that divides Europe and Asia; then go to a traditional meyhane restaurant, where locals typically gather to share meze platters and listen to Turkish music. Afterwards, visit the Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest covered markets in the world, and pick up a bag of Turkish delights, the iconic sweets of Istanbul, to take home.

Cruise along the Bosphorus

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Did you know that the bits of coffee sediment at the bottom of your cup of Turkish coffee hold clues to your future? Find out more at a traditional Turkish coffee reading, known as fal. Let the magic continue as you learn about the ritual of the ancient Mevlevi Order, a mystical Ottoman artform in which pigments and dyes are suspended in drops of water; then try it out for yourself, and even get to take your finished piece with you.

Find your delight in Istanbul

Man floats on steps of an indoor pool while woman stands next to him leaning on the hand rail

Things to do in London: Iconic shopping and dining

Let Four Seasons make your trip to London a breeze by taking care of all the planning. The Concierge teams at both Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane and Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square can make arrangements for whatever you’re in the mood for, from curated sightseeing excursions to witness the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, to trips to London’s top shopping districts – with tea and scone breaks as needed.

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Michael Hagen, Head Concierge at Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane, recommends you see London from a different perspective with a private cruise along the River Thames (offered by both properties), with your guide telling stories about the landmarks you’ll pass along the way, including London Bridge, the Tower of London and more.

After your tour, the team at Park Lane can set you up with a shopping expert who’ll whisk you away in a private car to the city’s famous Mayfair district, which includes renowned Savile Row for bespoke men’s tailoring; Davies Street for galleries and boutiques; and the elegant, glass-covered 19th-century Burlington Arcade, London’s oldest luxury shopping destination. While your packages are being delivered to your room, toast to your smashing day with an Allenotic – Chef Yannick Alléno’s innovative take on the classic gin and tonic – at Bar Antoine, followed by an al fresco dinner on the terrace at Pavyllon London, Alléno’s first restaurant in the U.K., which has already received its first Michelin star.

Experience London from Park Lake

If you’re staying at Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square, you may want to spend the morning taking a private guided walking tour through the city’s historic district, followed by a couple’s swim in the private pool – champagne included. And if you’re feeling peckish after all of that activity, your dinner table is waiting: legendary French chef Anne-Sophie Pic’s two-Michelin-starred restaurant Le Dame de Pic London is located right in the Hotel.

See a different side of London

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