The Festival Hopper’s Guide to Summer in Europe 2016: August Edition
BUDAPEST ——> EDINBURGH ——> SIENA, ITALY ——> BUNOL, SPAIN
This August itinerary goes for approximately 3 weeks and covers the Sziget music festival in Budapest, Hungary, Il Palio horse race in Siena, Italy, arts festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, and tomato fight in Bunol, Spain. Please use this guide however loosely or strictly you wish depending on your interest in the activities, availability on these dates, and amount of money you are able to spend. Also, if you have friends that are traveling through Europe, definitely take some time to meet up with them and you can jump back into this itinerary at any time. If you have any questions regarding how to do that, feel free to email me or ask in the comments below! And if you have any questions about the best methods of transport in a particular European country, I have all of that information right here.
Fly to Budapest, Hungary. Spend some time exploring Budapest. It is one of my absolute favorite cities in Europe. Sometimes the “required” main sites of a city can be pretty to look at, but relatively boring. In Budapest, all of the city sites are fun and are more activity-based. Make sure to go on a free walking tour to get your bearings of the city, take a dip in the traditional bathhouses, and buy drinks at a bar that was bombed out from the war.
Head over to the Sziget festival for Budapest’s famed August party. The website has instructions for transport and information on the festival. It’s up to you to scour the lineup and see what days you prefer to go. Tickets are already on sale and you can buy single day, 5 day, or 7 day passes. Personally, my threshold is usually 2 nights at a music festival and then I need to move on to the next activity. You can choose whether or not you would like to camp or stay at a hostel in central Budapest.
Fly from Budapest to Italy and take the train to Siena for Il Palio, a bareback horse race held each year. On Google Flights, there are currently flights on Ryanair from Budapest to Pisa for $56 and flights on Alitalia to Rome for $106. Once you arrive in Italy, take the train to Siena if you are able to find a place to stay and have booked far enough in advance, or Florence if there aren’t any options left in Siena.
If you aren’t already in Siena, take a bus or train from Florence for about an hour and a half in the morning. Spend the day watching the last trial run and historical parade until the actual horse race happens around 7:00 PM. Be sure to line up in the square early though so you get a spot. Don’t expect to have the best view of this minute and a half long horse race, but enjoy the fact that you are a part of a unique festival experience with locals eagerly participating in this time-honored tradition.
Spend the next 3 days in Florence and then take the train to Cinque Terre for the next couple of days to enjoy a bit of relaxation, ridiculously amazing pesto and prosciutto, and beautiful views in two of the most incredible places in Italy.
Take the train from Cinque Terre to Rome as there are flights from Rome on Brussels Airlines for under $150. Fly to Edinburgh, Scotland.
You will want to spend some time at one of the greatest and largest arts and culture festivals in the world. The Edinburgh International Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival which was established in 1947 are held for about 3 weeks and feature musical performances, classical art, theatre, and a variety of other arts. While I have not been myself, I suggest planning out the specific events you would like to see ahead of time. Timeout Edinburgh has an excellent breakdown of everything from best events to best bars to best food pop-ups at the festival. You want to make sure to have an idea of “must see” events ahead of time, but be careful of booking too many events before you even arrive. Part of the fun is to spontaneously decide what events you would like to see that particular day based on reviews and word of mouth. Also, try to see a variety of different artistic performances instead of sticking to a specific genre.
Fly to Barcelona, Spain. Spend the next couple of days seeing Gaudi architecture, hanging at the beach, and eating tapas with a tinto de verano in hand.
There are a couple of options when you are deciding on how to get to Bunol, Spain for La Tomatina on the 31st. The first is taking a bus or train to Valencia on the 30th, spending the night, and taking a train to Bunol in the morning. Be sure to get some paella for dinner! Your second option is to use a tour company from Barcelona that will leave very early in the AM and take you to Brunol before the festival begins at 11 AM.
Spend an hour throwing 150,000 tomatoes at your friends and strangers at La Tomatina. There’s no better time than now to fulfill those crazy middle school food fight dreams you wished you had the guts to start. Did anyone actually dream about that or is that just in movies? Bring an extra set of clothes and make sure whatever you are wearing in the first place does not need to ever be worn again, especially shoes. Hostel sandal shoes anyone? Head back later that day to Barcelona either with your tour group or on your own.
What a crazy few weeks! It’s time to fly home and hopefully have a few days of transition before real life starts again. If you are continuing on in Europe in September, check out my itinerary here.
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