Summer vacation brings with it a hunger for travel and adventure. Across the world, the search for sandy beaches, historic landmarks, and cultural exploration ramp into high gear as the days grow longer and warmer. With a world of unique cities, natural landscapes, and sparkling oceans, the question for those looking to soothe their wanderlust remains, where to spend the perfect summer vacation?
While tourists have been traveling, Expedia has been researching trends and unlocking the secrets of summer travel. Pulling data from Vrbo listings, Expedia search interest, and a 2022 fall survey, Expedia has compiled the 10 most desirable summer destinations outside the United States. Many of the top ten are considered must-see cultural capitals, hotspots for natural and man-made wonders alike.
For those ready to book their exotic summer getaway, Expedia and TheTravel have found some of the most luxurious hotels and resorts to round out the perfect cultural escape. Recommendations have been compiled using an Expedia survey as well as traveler reviews from 2021-2022. The goal with each of these recommendations is to get travelers as close to their destination as possible without sacrificing amenities and comfort.
10 Edinburgh, Scotland
The castle of Edinburgh with fireworks during Hogmanay
Scotland’s warm weather and summer festivals make the whole country a perfect European summer destination. Of all Scotland’s beautiful cities and towns, Edinburgh has ranked top of the list for must-visit summer cities, thanks to its wide array of attractions that visitors can walk between. The Edinburgh Zoo, Royal Botanic Garden, Palace of Holyroodhouse, and of course, the iconic Edinburgh Castle all shine under the long summer days. Full of history, easy walking paths, and delicious local dishes, Edinburgh has everything for a culturally enriching Scotland vacation.
A view of the sea in Belize City
White sand beaches are a staple of summer vacation, perfect for lounging in the sun or dipping toes in the water. Neighboring the Gulf of Mexico, Belize has everything visitors could hope for in a tropical escape. What makes Belize a unique vacation spot, however, is what lies beyond the beaches. The English-speaking country is full of friendly locals and a host of one-of-a-kind sites. Belize’s Mayan ruins and famous Blue Hole beg to be explored, while adventurers can go kayaking, hiking, cave tubing, paddle boarding, or zip lining through the tropical mountain forests. Summer is an especially exciting time to visit, thanks to festivals like Cross-Country Lobster Festivals, the Chocolate Festival of Belize, and the Grand Caribe Deep Sea Fishing Tournament.
8 Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon Portugal at dusk
Planning the perfect summer vacation can be difficult, especially for those trying to decide between warm beaches and beautiful historic cities. Fortunately, top tourist attraction Lisbon avoids that dilemma by offering a bit of both to its guests. Warm summer days in Lisbon are ideal for visiting the beach, including Carcavelos Beach and Praia dos Galapos. The warm days also make it easy to explore grand sites like São Jorge Castle and the National Azulejo Museum or shop along the streets, enjoying the unique feel of the city.
7 Tokyo, Japan
A street in Ginza, Tokyo
The capital of Japan, Tokyo, is a city unlike any other in the world. A unique blend of ancient temples and shrines and ultra-modern skyscrapers, Tokyo is an iconic representation of Japan’s culture through the years. Summer in Tokyo ushers in a near-constant display of fireworks, street vendors, and festivals, making it a true cultural and literal feast for summer vacationers. Classic attractions like the Tokyo Skytree, Senso-ji, and Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden shine in the summer sun, while more extreme landmarks like Mount Fuji are in peak form for more adventurous travelers.
6 Dublin, Ireland
Christ Church Cathedral near Wood Quay in Dublin, Ireland
The warm summer weather brings visitors and locals out in mass in the beautiful capital of Ireland. Dublin, nestled on the east side of the country along the mouth of the River Liffey, is full of historic castles and modern conveniences for every visitor. Dublin’s flat, compact style makes it extremely walkable during the warm summer months, allowing tourists to enjoy landmarks like the Dublin Castle and St. Patrick’s Cathedral while also exploring modern highlights like the Guinness Storehouse and Dublin Zoo.
5 Grand Bahama, Bahamas
Aerial view of Freeport Port Lucaya on Grand Bahama Island
Grand Bahama Island in the Bahamas is a true summer island escape, with white sand beaches, National parks, and a bustling downtown. While the Bahamas are a worthwhile destination any time of the year, summer is particularly enjoyable for activities like snorkeling and diving since the water is at its warmest. Out of the water, beach horseback riding, historic biking trails, and scenic hiking paths offer more ways to enjoy this perfect island. Summer also follows the regatta peak season in the Bahamas, meaning the crowds and costs are lower for summer travelers.
4 Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Montreal Downtown View at night, Canada
Canada’s more northern position on the globe makes it a haven for natural beauty and unique wildlife but a difficult place for visitors hoping to explore on foot. The more temperate summer months are the peak season to visit Canada’s cultural wonders like Montreal, home of numerous museums, art galleries, and even a local theme park. With the city’s extensive public transit system providing access to most of Montreal, travelers without a car need not fear missing out on highlights like the Montreal Botanical Garden, Jean Talon Market, and Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal.
3 Munich, Germany
One of the most southern cities in Germany, Munich is not just a blend of the beautiful culture and history of Germany but of its adjacent countries as well. Visitors wandering in the warm summer air can visit the Neues Rathaus, or town square, and enjoy the neo-gothic architecture as well as the glockenspiel shows that chime and reenact 16th-century German stories. For the days that are too hot for even the bravest summer vacationers, indoor attractions like the Deutsches Museum, BMW Museum, Frauenkirche, and Odeonsplatz offer an escape from the heat without missing out on any of the beauty of Germany.
2 Bangkok, Thailand
Aerial view of Bangkok, Thailand at night
Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, lies near the southern coast of the country and offers a humid, tropical climate all year round. Bangkok is well-known for its lively street scene, perfect for those on a summer holiday hoping to wander the outdoors. After shopping at the Chatuchak Weekend Market or Pak Khlong Talat (flower market), visitors can enjoy cultural and religious landmarks along the Rattanakosin royal district, including the Wat Phra Chetuphon and Grand Palace. Those with enough time on their trip can spend even more time enjoying the museums, skyscrapers, and palaces that draw visitors to Thailand from all over the world.
Aruba Marriott All-Inclusive Resort & Stellaris Casino
Home to Arikok National Park and some of the highest-ranked beaches in the world, Aruba is the perfect summer vacation for those hoping to relax and those looking for thrills. TripAdvisor has ranked Aruba’s Eagle Beach the No. 2 in the world, thanks to its perfect blend of seclusion and luxury amenities. The Caribbean waters are ideal for windsurfing, snorkeling, diving, and more. In Arikok National Park, visitors can enjoy hiking, biking, Horseback riding, or even off-road Jeep tours. Meanwhile, downtown Oranjestad gives tourists the chance to enjoy high-end shopping, visit historic museums, and peruse the local art galleries.
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