Best Places to Travel in the Summer
Longer days and breezy evenings can mean only one thing: summer is here. Expect the same bustling farmers’ markets that opened back in spring, plenty of concerts and an abundance of outdoor activities. Popular destinations will be fully booked by now but don’t let this deter your summer travel aspirations — the world is big enough for everyone.
From scenic national parks right here in the U.S. to captivating destinations halfway across the world, check out our best places to travel in the summer and start planning.
Money’s Top Picks for Best Places to Travel in the Summer
By: Marcela Otero
From its gram-worthy beaches to its historical streets, Chania might just be the picture-perfect Greek destination you’ve been looking for. A small city on the western coast of Crete, the many flights and ferry options from Athens make it fairly easy to get to, without the crowds that plague perennial favorites Santorini and Mykonos.
Chania’s long history and rich traditions make it more than just a sun & sand vacation spot. A stroll through the harbor will lead you through the city’s Venetian era, and in Old Town you can discover some of the remnants of the almost two centuries Crete was part of the Ottoman Empire — see if you can find the mosque, public baths or fountains.
There are also museums to explore and delicious Cretan specialties to savor like gamopílafo (a rice dish traditionally served at weddings) and kaltsoúnia (sweet fried pastries stuffed with green and herbs).
That’s not to say Chania doesn’t have beautiful beaches and activities to enjoy in nature. The pink sands and crystalline waters of Elafonissi beach make it a popular destination. If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path option, the beach at Sougia is an almost mile-long stretch of pebble coast that rarely feels crowded (nudism is tolerated in a large section) and will gift you with vistas of cliffs, rocky outcroppings and blue waters.
Outdoorsy types might also enjoy the over 400 gorges in Crete. While the Samaria Gorge — a UNESCO world heritage site — may be the most famous and one of the longest in Europe, that also means you might run into hundreds (or thousands) of people trekking with you. If you’d rather have a more solitary hike, try the Agia Irini or Aradena Gorges, both of which are far less busy. The latter gets bonus points for ending in gorgeous and tiny Marmara beach for a nice plunge after working up a sweat.
- SEE: Chania Harbor and Venetian lighthouse, Frangokastello Fortress, Biolea olive oil factory, Archaeological Museum of Chania, Museum of Typography
- EAT: Municipal Market, Iordanis Bougatsa, Pallas, Thalassino Ageri, Chalkina, Ginger Concept
- SHOP: Tsiftsoglou, Miden Agan, Xamam, Mitos Objects of Art, Manousakis Winery
By: Edgar Nieves
Known as the gastronomic capital of France, Lyon is a must-visit destination for those who like to explore historical landmarks and enjoy rich local cuisine. Lyon, France’s third-largest city, is home to world-renowned restaurants, including Lyon’s traditional bouchons and a few dozen Michelin-starred restaurants.
Bouchons are moderately priced restaurants that serve authentic Lyonnais food. These restaurants earn this title by serving high-quality food and safeguarding Lyon's culinary tradition. This makes them the perfect place to taste Lyon’s most famous dishes and local wines.
But Lyon is about more than just delicious plates. The city offers plenty of spoils for visitors.
Take a day to explore the oldest part of the city — Vieux Lyon — and discover the hidden passageways that connect buildings and courtyards. Many visitors schedule guided walking tours or take on the adventure on their own. While you’re at it, make sure to visit La Tour Rose, the Cour des Voraces and the Cathédrale Saint-Jean Baptiste.
Lovers of the great outdoors can stroll and relax in one of the largest urban parks in France, the Parc de la Tête d’Or. Here you can visit the park’s small zoo, rose gardens, greenhouses and the botanical garden. The youngest members of the family can also have fun on the park’s carousel and the kid’s train. Summers are also the perfect time to rent a boat to pedal your way into the park’s lake or to rent a bike.
Another must-see location is the Ancient Theatre of Fourvière, a Roman theater located on the hills. The theater is over 2,000 years old and part of the UNESCO World Heritage. The festival Nuits de Fourvière takes place here all summer long, giving both residents and tourists an opportunity to enjoy different presentations, including concerts and circus performances.
- SEE: Mussé de l’Illusion, Musée des Confluences, Opéra National de Lyon, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Cinema Museum & Miniature,Jardin Rosa Mir, Notre-Dame de Fourvière, Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval
- EAT: Brasserie Georges, Bouchon Les Lyonnais, Le Poêlon d’Or, Paneterra, Les Fines Gueules, Bouchon Comptoir Brunet
- SHOP: Quartier Auguste Comte, Le Bal des Ardents, Confluence Shopping Center
Read our full review for more places to visit.
By: Carlos Silva
While it might have one of the harshest winters in the country, Minneapolis comes back alive in the summer. Luckily for those escaping the extreme southern heat, the temperature stays breezy for all the walking you’re bound to do.
The city offers plenty of outdoor activities and parks, such as the renowned Minnehaha Regional Park, and bikeways and trails that connect pretty much everything. And if you haven’t heard, there’s water — a lot of it. Minneapolis roughly translates to “Water City” and it’s known as “The City of Lakes” (it’s the L.A. Lakers’ original home).
You can go kayaking in the Mississippi River and walk or bike along the Lake of the Isles. You can also visit the amenities at Lake Harriet, where you can fish, paddleboard, buy locally sourced picnic snacks at Bread & Pickle or see one of the many free live concerts scheduled all throughout the summer.
As you’d expect from Prince’s birthplace, Minneapolis’s art scene is also booming. There’s a total of 55 museums in the city. The Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota, designed by architect Frank Gehry, is a sight to behold before even going in. Inside, it houses over 20,000 pieces, from modern art to historical artifacts. The Minneapolis Institute of Art has the biggest collection, however, and the Walker Art Center focuses on contemporary and multimedia art.
There are plenty of theaters too. The Guthrie Theater might be the most beautiful and renowned; it offers traditional plays and musicals. For a laugh, however, you could also visit the Dudley Riggs Theater, home of the Brave New Workshop, an experimental improv company that’s been in Minneapolis for 65 years.
When it comes to food and nightlife, there’s a lot to choose from. You can try the famous Juicy Lucy — a burger with cheese stuffed inside the patty — at its original home, Matt’s Bar, or try some of its creative variations at award-winning restaurant The Nook. You can also visit the aptly named Eat Street, a large area along Nicollet Avenue filled with restaurants and bars of all sorts.
- SEE: Minnehaha Regional Park, Weisman Art Museum, Lake Minnetonka, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
- EAT: Hell’s Kitchen, Eat Street, The Anchor Fish & Chips, Kramarczuk Sausage Company, The Nook, Al’s Breakfast, Pimento Jamaican Kitchen & Rum Bar
- DRINK: Dakota, Can Can Wonderland, Brit’s Pub, Dangerous Man Brewing Co., Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge, Up-Down Minneapolis
- SHOP: Mall of America, Nicollet Ave., Midtown Global Market, Minnehaha Mile
Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
By: Gabriel Sánchez
Towering over 14,000 feet in the Cascade Range, Mount Rainier is Washington State’s highest mountain and one of the Pacific Northwest’s most emblematic landmarks. Its namesake national park provides a vast playground for nature lovers to revel in, especially during the summer months.
The national park is located less than a two-hour drive from Seattle, making it a perfect getaway from the city: you can plan a day trip or stay multiple nights at any of the park’s gateway communities or campgrounds. There are even lodging options inside the park, including the historic Paradise Inn.
Mount Rainier National Park covers some 369 square miles, almost all of which are categorized as wilderness, including dozens of well-maintained trails with options for all ages and skill levels.
A one-week vehicle pass costs $30 and allows you to drive to any of the park’s sectors. Some of the most popular areas to visit include:
- Carbon River and Mowich Lake - located to the northwest of Mount Rainier, Carbon River is known for its frequent rainfall that results in a lush forest. Mowich Lake is the park’s deepest body of water. Carbon Glacier is one of the many natural wonders to explore in the area.
- Sunrise - the park’s highest point that can be accessed by vehicles is a heavily visited spot where you can spot ancient lava columns and awe-inspiring vistas of Mount Rainier.
- Ohanapecosh - named after the river that runs through the southeast corner of the park, this area offers lovely hiking trails through old-growth forests of cedars and Douglas firs.
- Paradise - on the southern end of the mountain, Paradise is another highly frequented area for views of the majestic peak and sprawling wildflower meadows.
- Longmire - not far from Paradise, Longmire is the park’s original headquarters where travelers can visit historic buildings and many beautiful waterfalls.
The active but dormant stratovolcano is also a popular destination for mountaineers who want to marvel at the 25 glaciers that make Mount Rainier the largest glaciated mountain in the contiguous U.S. However, climbers require additional permits and should have ample experience before taking on the challenging peak.
Mount Rainier National Park is no different than most other national parks during the summer: it gets extremely crowded, with travelers jockeying for parking spaces, especially in the popular visitors' center of Sunrise and Paradise. The National Park Service (NPS) offers tips and suggestions to plan your trip and avoid summer congestion.
- SEE: Sunrise, Narada Falls, Mowich Lake
- EAT: Paradise Inn, Summit House Restaurant, The Mint
- DRINK: Plateau Wine and Beer, Snorting Elk Cellar, Cole Street Brewery
Prince Edward Island, Canada
By: Joan Pabón
Prince Edward Island, a gorgeous 140-mile-long island off the coast of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada, is a treasure trove of breathtaking vistas, red-sandstone cliffs, and plenty of beaches and provincial parks, perfect for those looking for a laid-back summer getaway with plenty to do.
Known as the Garden of the Gulf, Prince Edward Island has no shortage of lush landscapes and outdoor recreational opportunities, especially in the summer. If you're traveling with kids, make sure to camp at Prince Edward Island National Park, where you can find some of the best hiking trails in the province.
Among these is the iconic Greenwich Dunes Trail, an easy out-and-back trail over sand dunes, marshes and woodland. There are also plenty of beaches in the park, including Cavendish Beach, a gorgeous white-sand stretch with easy walking trails and fun family activities like sandcastle-building classes.
If you're looking for adventure, consider biking (or walking) the Confederation Trail, a mostly flat 270-mile-long abandoned railway that traverses a good portion of the island. Locals highly recommend the Island Walk route, which takes you along most of the Confederation Trail. Start the route in Cardigan, Georgetown or Montague, where a Three Rivers Summer Festival Series takes place in July, starting with Cardigan's Canada Day celebration and parade on the first of the month.
Want a more relaxed experience? Drive down the North Cape Coastal Drive. Known as the Canadian Oyster Coast, it covers 217 miles of breathtaking views, secluded capes and pristine beaches. You can also visit several of the island's 61 lighthouses, including the West Point Lighthouse, which operates as an inn from May to October. And if you're craving even more unique experiences, paddleboard with beach goats (you read that right) or visit Cape Egmont's impressive Bottle Houses, constructed out of 25,000 recycled bottles.
- VISIT: The Dunes Studio Gallery & Cafe (Brackley Beach, near PEI National Park)
- EAT: Malpeque Oyster Barn (Malpeque Bay) *Dates of operation: June 22 - August 31, 2023.
- DRINK: The Gahan House Brewpub (Charlottetown)
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
By: Amarilis Yera
Nestled in the heart of Colorado, the Rocky Mountain National Park is the state's central scenic gem and a haven for nature enthusiasts. Its extensive 355-mile trail system allows visitors to explore towering peaks, alpine lakes, lush forests, blooming meadows and more.
From leisurely walks to challenging summit climbs, the park’s treks allow both beginner and seasoned hikers to challenge themselves, all while witnessing jaw-dropping views. You’ll probably also encounter some wildlife since the area is home to elk, bighorn sheep, black bears, moose and over 270 species of birds. Besides hiking, the park offers numerous opportunities for rock climbing, mountain biking, fishing and camping.
If you want to enjoy the scenery without breaking a sweat, take a drive through the 48-mile-long Trail Ridge Road. It goes from the park's east side to the west, climbing around 4,000 vertical feet and reaching over 12,000 feet at its highest point. This route is considered the highest continuous paved road in the U.S., providing countless photo ops of the area's diverse ecosystem.
The Rocky Mountain National Park offers a breather from the bustling urban life. Those who want to immerse themselves in nature for a few days should consider staying in nearby towns. However, the park is around two hours from Denver, making it an easy day trip for those who prefer the city but like to dabble in outdoor activities.
- TRAILS: Bear Lake, Emerald Lake, Dream Lake, Sky Pond, The Loch, Mills Lake, Alberta Falls, Chasm Lake
- NEARBY TOWNS: Estes Park, Grand Lake
By: Taína Cuevas
Stretching along the shores of Lake Maggiore — and located just a little over an hour from bustling fashion capital Milan — Stresa offers visitors a chance to relax and unwind in a truly spectacular setting.
Because of its natural beauty and temperate climate, Stresa became a favorite destination for noble families in the 1700’s, leading to the construction of opulent villas that now dominate the landscape, especially throughout its Borromean Islands.
But Stresa isn’t only about luxurious historical architecture, it’s also the perfect place for nature lovers. Several of its villas offer access to their lush, immaculately landscaped gardens and the city itself has two botanical gardens open to the public.
Giardino Botanico Alpinia, located on the slopes of Mount Mottarone, showcases almost 1,000 different plant species as well as a scenic balcony, where you can get a panoramic view of the Alps all the way up to northern neighbor Switzerland.
There’s also Villa Pallavicino, a 19th-century home surrounded by 37 acres of rare trees, exotic plants and vibrant flowers. But the villa’s showstopper is undoubtedly its park, which offers miles of walking paths where you can mingle with 40 different species of animals, including peacocks, zebras and llamas.
However, if leisurely city walks and a good espresso are more your style, then head on over to the center of town. Start from café-lined Piazza Cadorna, and make your way to the lakefront promenade for stunning views of the Borromean Gulf on one side, Baroque and Art Nouveau luxury villas and hotels on the other.
- VISIT: Parco Villa Pallavicino; Palazzo Borromeo; Borromean Islands
- SEE: Lago Maggiore; Mount Mottarone; Giardino Botanico Alpinia
- EAT: Lo Stornello; Osteria Mercato; Ristorante Trattoria "La Botte"
Best Places to Travel in the Summer Guide
By: Andrea Agostini
Planning a summer trip is equal parts exciting and nerve-wracking. What do I pack? Where will we stay? Is my passport expired? All of these questions run through the mind of even the most experienced traveler. But there’s no need to worry. With a bit of planning, everything should run smoothly. Read on for tips on how to prepare for your summer adventures.
Tips for Traveling During the Summer
Book flights in advance
It’s best to book flights five to six months in advance for international destinations. Domestic travel is more forgiving — you can book flights one to three months ahead. Use Skyscanner and Google Flights to compare flight rates across different airlines and dates. You can also sign-up for email alerts to receive notifications when prices drop.
Another pro tip: You can get a better rate if you book red-eyes or flights that arrive or depart midweek (on a Tuesday or Wednesday). Flying during late May and early June may also save you some money.
Make sure your passport is up to date
Visit a local passport agency as soon as possible if your passport is expired. The State Department is currently processing an unprecedented amount of passport applications and you might not get it in time if you apply by mail.
Consider summer destinations within the U.S. to avoid the stress of passport renewals. You only need a valid I.D. card to visit many of the best places to travel this year, including Caribbean destinations like Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Compare hotel rates
Aggregator websites such as Expedia, Hotels.com and Booking.com are great ways to compare rates from multiple hotels. We also did the legwork for you and reviewed the best hotels in 2023.
We recommend that you make the reservation directly with the hotel. You might be able to score a better rate than the one that’s advertised, and the hotel will take care of you if something goes wrong with the reservation. The same can’t be said for third-party bookings. You’ll need to call the website, which might be frustrating and time-consuming.
Consider travel insurance
Travel insurance reimburses you for hotel costs, flight fares and any other travel expenses if you need to cut your trip short or cancel it. The policy also covers flight delays, medical emergencies and baggage loss or theft.
The decision to get travel insurance depends on how much risk you’re willing to assume during your trip. We recommend you get coverage if you’re traveling internationally or if you booked non-refundable reservations — especially for destinations with hurricane or typhoon seasons.
Pack the essentials
Be mindful of what you bring and avoid overpacking. To start, find out what residents and frequent travelers wear during the season and plan your outfits accordingly. Next, review the TSA’s travel checklist and your airline’s baggage restrictions.
Here are some tips to pack like a pro:
- Get packing cubes and sort clothes by category
- Pack sun-protective clothing: a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and a lightweight long-sleeve shirt
- Roll your clothing instead of folding it
- Pack versatile items that can be dressed up or down
- Plan your outfits
- Bring an empty bag for dirty laundry
- Pack a complete outfit in your carry-on (in case your luggage is lost)
- Make the most of free samples
- Decant your toiletries into travel-size containers
- Put dry toiletries and liquid toiletries in separate bags
- Bring sunblock and multi-use cosmetics
Another tip is to pack enough toiletries for the flight and the first few days. Most destinations have easy access to the essentials and you can stock up at local stores. This will free up valuable real estate in your luggage.
First-aid items are easy to find at most places but having these on hand is still useful:
- Pain reliever
- Triple antibiotic
- Antiseptic pads
- Blister kits
- Portable battery pack and adapter plug
- Emergency cash and credit cards
- Earplugs and headphones
Store these documents in an accessible spot in your carry-on or personal item:
- Travel itinerary
- Proof of medical and travel insurance
Once you’re at your destination, move your travel documents to a secure place in your luggage and keep your I.D. card and wallet close to your body when you’re out and about.
Learn key phrases in the local language
Learn basic greetings, how to order your food (particularly important if you have any dietary restrictions) and how to ask for directions. Language learning apps are a great tool for this.
Check whether your native language is well-spoken in the area or if you’ll need to prepare more in advance. You can sign up for a short language class or go the auto-didact route: purchase workbooks, listen to music and watch movies with subtitles. You’d be surprised to see how much you can learn this way.
A great way to practice a new language is to integrate it into your daily routine. You can change the language setting of your favorite video game or practice a familiar recipe written in the target language. This habit will speed up the learning process because you’re already familiar with the subject matter.
Learn how to get around
Plan how you’ll get from the airport to your hotel or rental and identify the best way to get around the city. Some cities have a robust public transportation system, while others are best explored using rideshare apps, taxis, renting a car, or even walking and biking. We recommend you find out which transportation method is preferred by residents and frequent travelers.
Stay away from crowds
Don’t be discouraged if you’re traveling to a popular summer destination. Yes, it’ll be crowded but you can still make the best of it:
- Visit tourist attractions during a weekday, early in the morning or late in the evening.
- Be creative with your itinerary. Plan day trips to beaches, parks, viewpoints and areas of interest that aren’t as popular. You’ll likely have a great experience that’s much more relaxing.
- Buy tickets in advance whenever possible and avoid long lines by signing up for group tours.
How to Avoid Overspending on Summer Travel
It’s easy to get carried away and overspend during vacation. After all, the entire point of traveling is to relax and enjoy new experiences. You can minimize the financial impact of a summer holiday with the following strategies:
Be flexible with flight destinations
You’ll find excellent travel deals if you’re not too hung up on visiting a specific country. Focus on cities that have low tourist volume during the summer months.
Save on expensive baggage fees by traveling with a carry-on and a personal item. This is the preferred packing strategy for many, and for good reason. You don’t have to worry about lost luggage or carrying a heavy suitcase on unforgiving cobblestones.
Take advantage of travel credit cards
Pay for your day-to-day expenses with a travel credit card and then use rewards to pay for future travel expenses. Travel rewards credit cards also include credit cards co-branded with an airline or hotel chain. These cards suit travelers who are loyal to a particular airline or hotel chain.
Keep your eyes peeled for sign-up bonuses. Many credit card companies will reward you with points or cash if you spend a specific amount during the first few months. That said, this strategy only works if the credit card’s benefits are worth it and if you are already going to spend that money. Don’t overspend just to earn a sign-up bonus.
Make the most of rewards programs
You can get upgrades and additional perks when you book with a specific airline or hotel. Hotel rewards programs include room upgrades, late checkout and free nights. Airline rewards programs offer free flights, upgrade to first or business class and access to exclusive airport lounges.
The Benefits of Off-Season Summer Travel
Off-season travel is a smart choice for those who want to save money and avoid crowds during the summer. New Zealand, Southeast Asia and South America’s southern hemisphere are popular alternatives. The trade-off? Weather conditions will be less than ideal. Depending on the destination, you’ll encounter lots of rain, high temperatures or cold winter weather.
- Significant savings on airfare and hotel expenses
- Transportation, tours, hotels and hard-to-get reservations are more accessible
- Fewer tourists
- Shorter wait times for popular attractions
- Limited destination choices
- Unfavorable weather
- Popular attractions and tours might be closed or on a limited schedule
Check out the best places to travel this year for ideas. We feature 50 places from all over the world, including Kochi, India and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, two vibrant cities that get less tourism during the summer months.
How to Stay Safe During Summer Travel
Follow these tips to keep your summer trip fun and safe:
- Review the U.S. State Department’s travel advisory page for your destination.
- Research safety tips specific to your destination, such as common scams and areas to avoid.
- Make digital copies of your passport and I.D. cards.
- Share your travel itinerary with a family member or a friend if you’re traveling alone and let them know you’ll check in.
- Save important numbers to your phone: local police, ambulance services and the embassy. You won’t have to scramble to find this information in an emergency.
- Ask your hotel's or hostel's front desk which parts of the city to avoid and what they’d recommend to a first-time visitor. This is a great opportunity to find fun activities away from the tourist crowds.
- Enjoy yourself but be mindful of your surroundings. Keep your bag or purse secured and within sight at all times.
- Use cash or credit for purchases whenever possible. If you must use your debit card, use it only for cash withdrawals and learn to spot signs of fraud at ATMs.
- Carry emergency cash in an inconspicuous place, separate from your wallet.
Best Places to Travel in the Summer FAQ
What are the best summer vacation spots in the U.S.?
Where is the best place to travel in the summer for families?
For an international holiday, visit Gdánsk, a quaint and affordable coastal city in Poland. Dublin, Ireland — with its many parks, castles and museums — also has something for everyone.