The heat and hassle of European cities can be difficult to deal with in the summer, when people cover the public spaces and loud, lively festivals abound. Luckily, it’s not too difficult to get out of the frenetic urban surroundings and into a heavenly space of clean mountain air, but you’ll have to decide on what you want out of the experience. If you’re looking for high-energy sports and world-class hiking, the alpine mainstays (like Chamonix or Zermatt) may be your best bet, but there’s a wealth of quieter villages and tree-lined glacial valleys to stretch your legs and restore your spirit. These eight remarkable sites reinvent the mountain lifestyle in beautiful ways, and are sure to inspire and comfort any nature-seeker.
Veneto Dolomites, Italy
The Italian Dolomites are a perfect blend of rustic and refined: rocky slopes draw hundreds of hikers and rock climbers, while the idyllic villages at the base of the mountain chain toast the surroundings with legendary wine and cuisine. Belluno sits on a cliff side over the Piave River, laced with Renaissance buildings and serving up its famous creamy Schiz and Malga Belluneuse cheeses. Wine lovers should move along to Conegliano, where the rocky hillsides produce some of the highest graded prosecco in Italy, and the pretty town center reveals a treasure trove of medieval and Renaissance art and architecture. The towns are charming in their own right, but the alpine backdrop is the icing on the cake.