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Summer in Europe carry-on capsule wardrobe

Summer in Europe carry-on capsule wardrobe

It’s officially Europe trip season! 🙌🏼

This time of year, one of my frequently asked questions is, “what do I pack for [insert many warm European cities here–Paris, Barcelona, Amalfi Coast, Florence, Mallorca, Lisbon…]–what do I pack?!” So today, I’ve compiled a list of everything I were to pack if I were taking a warm summer Europe trip!

Important to note, of course, not ALL places in Europe are hot in the summer–for tips packing for more mild climates, my Summer in Ireland packing list may be more helpful!

I have packed staples like these over and over again for any of my hot weather Europe trips. It’s absolutely doable to do in a carry-on, and in fact, you can fit a lot more than this in a carry on! (Find my long haul trip packing tips here–note, some of them may be considered controversial. 😂)

When packing for summer in Europe, pack for hot weather with comfort in mind! Of course, that doesn’t mean sacrificing style! It just means consider leaving the high heels and tight clothing at home. Dresses are you best friend, as are cool tops and shorts–I like to lean into color with my dresses and blouses, and then focus on neutrals for my shorts, tanks, cover-ups and accessories (think brown, cream, beige, or a woven material for bags, hats and shoes, gold for earrings, etc)–so they can be mixed and matched with everything else in your suitcase!

Adding pops of color: Don’t underestimate the power of a colorful scarf (try and choose one that incorporates colors that will pair nicely with your other items!) and a pop of red lipstick.

Both of these take up virtually no space but go a LONG way in making your outfit stand out. (Even with a simple white tank and jean shorts!) It can make the difference between looking back at your photos in 30 years and thinking, “damn! I was cute!” instead of “damn, I look hot and haggard 😂”

Speaking of pictures, make sure to brush up on my iPhone photography tips too! (Read: How to take great photos on vacation.)

Alright, let’s jump into my packing list!

Jess Keys Summer in Europe

Summer in Europe carry-on capsule wardrobe:


I am a huge fan of Summersalt swimsuits. My favorite is the ruffle backflip that comes in so many cute colors! You can see it reviewed here along with some other favorites! (BTW Summersalt is running a sale up to 60% off! 🙌🏼) Bonus: swimsuits barely take up any room, so if you’re going somewhere with water, go nuts. Bring the bikini too. Bring five!

Cover up:

This cute classic cover up can also double as a shirt dress, so it gets extra points for versatility! It’s perfect for wearing to the pool or beach all day and then going straight into town to grab some gelato.

Everlane Air Camisole:

The coolest (literally) tank I own. (Only $30!) True to its name, this top is light as air and perfect for those hot, sunny, sticky days! (I wore it on a walking tour in Rome in the hottest part of the day–it was the lightest thing in my suitcase!)

J.Crew striped square-neck tank:

I love their cotton tanks if you’re looking for everyday basics, but the striped version would be extra perfect for a trip! Stripes always help elevate an outfit and make things more interesting!

Short linen dress:

This cute dress from J.Crew ($40 off right now!) caught my eye due to the cut and versatility–if you’re going with a short dress on a Europe trip, I like to stay away from flowy styles (that ALWAYS seem to blow up in the wind!) You won’t have to worry about the Marilyn effect in this dress, and it’ll look just as cute with sneakers or flat espadrilles as it will dressed up with sandals. Comes in other colors if the punchy marigold isn’t your thing.

Black maxi dress:

Reviewed and styled in this blog post, this maxi dress is super versatile summer staple that can be worn during the day or at night for any occasion that you’ll encounter on your Europe trip! Comes in tons of other colors, too! (I think it runs a tad bit roomy, so go with your regular size OR smaller size if you’re in between, unless you need extra room in the chest!) Quince also makes a black maxi slip dress!

Flowy floral dress:

Ophelia & Indigo has quickly become a new favorite brand for dresses. More about them in this blog post! This is the “Flora” dress which comes in another pretty print and a solid pink color! They’re a small, women-founded brand created by two friends with the intention to design the lightest dresses possible to wear during the hottest, stickiest summer days! Therefore, their stuff was MADE for Europe trips! This dress Runs TTS. (I wear small!)

Tank dress:

A tank dress like this one is one of the coolest things to wear on the hottest days! You can wear it around during the day with sneakers, wear a suit under to go to the beach, and/or change into sandals and a pair of statement earrings at night–easy peasy! This one is also so cute if you want a longer midi version, and it has an adorable tie cut-out in the back! Or if you want a shorter tee version (with sleeves)–I love this red and blue striped one!

Linen shorts:

This pair from Quince is a pull-on style that is super comfy, but the 100% linen material makes them look super cute and polished, so you can dress them up or down easily. These kind of shorts are hard to find, and I highly recommend them! Come in several colors!

If you’re looking for a more breezy gauze version, I also love this pair (on sale for $34!) –they’re so comfy and come in really cute colors in addition to a faded black. (Run big, I went down to XS)

Jean shorts:

I love A.Golde’s jean shorts so much. I love white, but classic blue would be great too. Specifically the Parker Long Short (it’s a bit more coverage in length but still stylish, cute, not frumpy!) and Abercrombie’s Dad shorts. Both run TTS in my experience.

Breezy top:

Like this one from Ophelia & Indigo! (Reviewed here!) And you can’t go wrong with a short-sleeve linen top too in the summer! This one from Quince comes in lots of colors!

Backpack purse:

ABLE’s Abera backpack purse has been all around the world with me! If you want to be able to say, carry a water bottle, a jacket, a camera, etc with you at all times while traveling, while still remaining hands-free, this is the bag for you! It’s the perfect size to hold just enough but you won’t feel like you’re lugging a big backpack with you all day. The perfect “purse” size.

Fanny pack:

I am in love with the Clare V Grande Fanny. I own it in the rattan cream and I love that you can change out the straps and change the look so easily! It’s a great size but still lays flat against you so it’s comfortable to wear all day. If you don’t typically carry much stuff on you (as opposed to the above!) this is a great bag that I wear day and night. You really don’t need to bring any other purse!


I always bring a few scarves with me on trips because they make every outfit look instantly stylish! (Even just a boring tee and shorts looks intentional and chic with the addition of a scarf!) I wear them in my hair (great for disguising unwashed hair too. Because who wants to waste time primping on vacation?!) and also around my neck. I love this Amazon Scarf because it’s inexpensive, comes in tons of colors and patterns. And is the perfect size to either tie in your hair or around your neck. (Or around a bag!)


I love this pair for a subtle, go-with-everything statement at night and this pair of huggies for daytime! (Sezane is my favorite place to shop for amazing jewelry!) If you want an in-between, I love this Able pair!

Straw hat:

Whether you’re lounging by the pool or beach or walking around the city, I love a cute straw hat like this one that can add a lot of personality to your outfit and also keep you out of the sun!


Can go with a pair of flat espadrilles like these (41% off!), or a heeled pair depending on your preference! When it comes to heels, I usually recommend leaving them at home (you really don’t need them, especially with all the walking you’ll do and on cobblestone streets!) but wedge espadrilles are comfy to walk in for a long time, and the wedge won’t be an issue on cobblestones!

Versatile sneakers:

I prefer a classic white sneaker to an athletic sneaker so you can wear them with everything from shorts to dresses and also out to dinner at night! I love my Freda Salvador sneakers for hot summer days because the cutout makes them cooler (almost like a sneaker sandal!) but you can see all my favorite white sneakers here!

Sandal slides:

I brought these slides with me on my last Italy trip (well, a very OLD iteration of them, haha!) and wore them all around Capri one day. They were perfect for the boat to slip on and off but also comfy enough to walk around in! Great for everything from the pool to slipping on for dinner. I love the rattan because it goes with everything, but they come in lots of colors! (White would probably be my other favorite color choice!) Run TTS IMO.

Comfy walking sandals:

You’ll want to check out my post on best walking shoes for traveling for more reccos, but let me rave about these sandals for a second. I just ordered them this week and I’m in love. Review forthcoming, but you’re hearing about them first right here.

First off, they’re minimalistic and super chic, second, the brand was invented by a podiatrist, and they actually have hidden support without being chunky! I’m OBSESSED. They also come with optional insertable foot pads for an even better fit, and if you aren’t sure what size or style is right for you, they have amazing customer service. (This isn’t sponsored but I wish it were! This brand is incredible!)

I went with this style because it goes with everything from day to night, from shorts to dresses. The company makes a ton of styles too, so if you need a lot of support for any kind of shoe, check them out!


Saved the most important for last. ME! Pack me!

I hope this helps you pull together your perfect European summer vacation packing list!

Want more Europe travel inspo? See my travel section right over here! Also, don’t miss this post on tips for visiting Europe in high season!