(Here's a disclaimer: All the photos you see in this article are free to download here!)
Planning a vacation is a significant part of the fun. But with so many options, it might get a little overwhelming. The months of June, July, and August attract a massive flock of people to summer holiday destinations, but that’s also when things are most lively.
Here are our 10 picks on where to spend the summer:
1. Santorini, Greece
The beautiful portion of the island is popularized by breathtaking Instagrammable classic white and blue buildings and shimmering waters.
Move beyond taking photos for social media and check out some of the fantastic attractions Santorini offers. Take a walk around the caldera edge, try the local food, and turn the clock back thousands of years with a visit to the Akrotiri ruins.
Santorini is going to be crowded. So if you decide to visit during the peak summer season, sort out your accommodations and guided tours at least two months in advance. Bookings are especially crucial if you’re eyeing one of those villas with a private pool under the blue skies.
Note: It’s important to remember that many white and blue buildings are actual homes of residents. Don’t trespass and invade privacies just for content.
2. Grand Canyon, USA
Grand Canyon National Park is straight out of a science fiction movie - endless miles to be explored with all the solitude one can get. This place is a hiker’s dream.
For the adventurous, backpack the most iconic 9-mile Bright Angel Trail. This trail, perfect for experiencing the canyon, was used by the Indigenous tribes before miners and tourists came.
Another way to experience the Grand Canyon is to go on a rafting trip by way of the Colorado River, rent a jeep for an off-road desert tour, or ride on a mule to explore the depth of the park. It might not seem strenuous, but stay hydrated because it can get really hot!
Iceland is famous for its aurora borealis during the long, dark, cold winter nights. The trade-off for a glimpse of the brilliant Northern lights is that many roads and attractions are closed because of their inaccessibility – making summer one of the most underrated seasons to visit the land of fire and ice.
During warmer seasons, there’s no need to wonder how brutal the cold might be. Instead, visitors get to experience the midnight sun. The sun is only gone for a few hours a day, with an average of 20 to 22 daylight hours. Summer in Iceland isn’t sweltering either. The average temperature is a comfortable 50–55 °F (10–13 °C).
On top of that, you’ll have many hours to experience all that Iceland has to offer, including hikes, glacial lagoons, and geothermal pools, or seeing the sights via Ring Road that will take you past some of the most impressive views of Iceland over 800 miles (1,285km).
4. Chioggia, Italy
Why not ditch the touristy crowd of Venice for a smaller town called Chioggia (pronounced ‘Kee-Od-Jer’) this summer? The small, beautiful town is one of the best-kept secrets of the Venetian lagoon and is located about 25km south of Venice.
Chioggia is filled with stunning boats and picturesque canals, lined with historic buildings with much fewer crowds than Venice. The small town is just off the beaten path enough to retain much of its charm.
To fully experience the colors of Chioggia, stroll through the Corso del Popolo, visit the Canal Vena for one of the town’s most scenic waterways, the daily fish markets, or the famous beach of Sottomarina.
Every year, millions of people head to world-class destinations in Cambodia, such as the Angkor Wat, to take in the history and magnificence of the ruins, particularly during the months of December and February. Even if you get up hours before sunrise, expect crowds in most of these tourist spots.
However, that won't happen during the summer months. That makes it a great time to explore the Kingdom in what the locals call the 'green season', when the country is in full bloom and filled with greenery.
Other than that, visit the lakes, rivers, and Tonle Sap floating villages or the idyllic beaches such as Kep and Kampot.
6. Prague, Czech Republic
The dry, sunny weather makes Prague a great sightseeing destination. Like many other countries in Europe, it’s festival season. So bookings are to be made well in advance.
When you’re there, drop by the french gothic St. Vitus cathedral for a dose of history and architecture, stroll through the scenic Old Town Square, watch the medieval mechanical clock strike an hour, and walk across the 14th-century Charles Bridge.
This charming town is truly an extra treat for any history buff.
Switzerland is beautiful all year round, with each season serving up a different platter of activities. Many believe summer is when the small, mountainous country is most vibrant.
Across Switzerland, green-yellow leaves, emerald lakes, and clear blue skies dominate. But in the mountains, powdery white glaciers cover the alpine forests. It’s truly a dream place for snowboarders, skiers, or any hobbyist who missed the skiing season.
Not big on the snow sport? Head over for a cable car ride in the buzzing village of Zermatt, go to the Old Town of Zurich or take a train to the highest point in Europe – the Jungfraujoch.
8. Chicago, USA
Chicago during summer hits different. Outdoor festivals in the area are going in full swing after a long winter break, making it an exciting time to visit the city.
The city of Chicago is blessed with miles of sandy beaches, so gear up with your fins and swim trunks for a dip in the ocean, rent paddleboards, build sand castles and indulge in beach volleyball, or snap a nice photo at The Bean.
Check out festivals over the summertime, such as the country music festival Windy City Smokeout and Maxwell Street Market, for some unique handmade crafts and more.
9. London, United Kingdom
London during the summer months is relatively comfortable, with one or two weeks of extreme heat when the heat waves arrive. Nevertheless, it’s a change of environment from the usually cloudy and gloomy London.
Now that there’s some sun shining on this city, enjoy the excellent summer activities like tennis matches, an arthouse film in the outdoor cinemas with the summer breeze, or a picnic in Hyde Park.
10. Paris, France
Spending your summer in Paris is one vacation many can only dream of. Aside from visiting the usual tourist attractions, some of the best things to do in Paris is simply walking around exploring the streets.
Take a stroll along the Seine River and check out the Paris Flea markets for some exciting finds. Have a quick grocery run, grab a baguette and a bottle of wine, and head to the park for a picnic. Gelato places are all around the corner.
How could we forget the Parisian staples like a delicious coffee and a croissant?
Anywhere with a beach
Beach view by 123RF
Truthfully, anywhere with some sand, sun and sea is a great place to be during summer. Get your tan on, surfs in, do a dose of beach volleyball, crack open a watermelon, and enjoy all the ice cream you can get away with.
Nothing can go wrong with a day trip or a weekend getaway to the nearest beach you have.
Happy summer, everyone!