• More Americans are choosing to travel to Europe this summer than last year.
  • Popular tourist spots like London, Paris, and Rome are crowded with tourists, so consider visiting destinations like the Cotswolds, Bordeaux, or the Sicilian Aeolian archipelago.
  • September will be a popular month for travel, as lower airfares, more hotel availability, and fewer crowds entice Americans to choose early fall for their vacations.

What a difference a year makes! Summer 2023 has seen more Americans than ever pack their bags and head to Europe on vacation. Typically, things slow down in September as the kids return to school. Still, September appears to be bucking the trend this year, according to the popular American travel App website Tripit.

Data released in June showed that 88% of Americans planned to travel on vacation during 2023. According to CNN, the number of Americans packing their bags for a summer vacation in Europe is expected to surpass 2022 levels by 55%. Despite record-breaking hot temperatures, some Mediterranean destinations are crowded with tourists. While Americans are drawn to destinations like London, Paris, and Rome, northern Europeans escape to Spain's Costa Blanca and the Greek Isles in search of summer sun.

A European summer vacation without the crowds

Plenty of beautiful European destinations are under the radar if you still need to book your vacation and plan a September trip. Forget the crowded cities mentioned above and head for places like the Cotswolds or Whitby in North Yorkshire. Instead of Paris and rude servers, visit Bordeaux and immerse yourself in French wine culture.

A Britsh Airways Airbus A350 taking off.
Photo: British Airways.

Rome is overbearing, hot, and full of American tourists, so forgo the eternal city and vacation on the Sicilian Aeolian archipelago. Nestled in the Tyrrhenian Sea north of Sicily are Lipari, Vulcano, Salina, Stromboli, Filicudi, Alicudi, and Panarea, with the appeal of the Amalfi Coast and Capri without the crowds.

As for Spain, forget about Barcelona and Marbella and head to the Island of Menorca instead. Home to the world's second-largest natural harbor, Menorca was occupied by the British from 1708 to 1802. Menorca is today a laid-back version of Ibiza.

Overrun with cruise ship passengers, the Greek Islands of Mykinos and Santorini can be a nightmare during the peak summer months. If you are looking for an unspoiled vacation place, consider Paros. Located in the central Aegean Sea, a three-hour ferry ride from Athens, Paros is what you always imagined a Greek Island to be.

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Record numbers of Americans traveled during the 4th of July

According to Tripit's data, which included info about flights, hotel reservations, and car rentals, not a single indicator is trending down for September. During the long Fourth of July holiday weekend, the American Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recorded the highest number of passengers screened. Compared to a year earlier, air travel was up 42%. The most popular international airports for Americans to fly to were:

  • London Heathrow Airport (LHR)
  • Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG)
  • Rome Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport (FCO)
  • Tokyo Narita International Airport (NRT)
  • Cancun International Airport (CUN)
  • Los Cabos International Airport (SJD)

International flight volumes continued to increase in August by 78% compared to 2022, with most flights taking place the first week of the month. Tripit says that the average overseas vacation booked is for 13 days.

How do things look for September?

In September 2022, Tripit noticed an emerging trend of more people booking September vacations. Lower airfares, more availability at hotels, and fewer people around have more and more Americans forgoing the busier summer months for early fall.

The busiest time for travel will be Labor Day weekend at the start of the month, with a record number of people expected to travel. The most popular international destinations include many of the same cities as above:

  • London Heathrow Airport (LHR)
  • Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG)
  • Rome Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport (FCO)
  • Athens International Airport (ATH)
  • Cancun International Airport (CUN)

According to hotel booking, the busiest domestic destinations involve flights to:

  • New York LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
  • Orlando International Airport (MCO)
  • Las Vegas Harry Reid International Airport (LAS)
  • Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD)

Sources: Tripit and CNN.