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12 Destinations Where Summer Is the Off-Season

Avoid the summer tourists by heading to these off-season destinations instead.

Summer is when travelers harbor dreams of escaping to sun-drizzled fantasy destinations that have it all—be it Lisbon, London, Santorini, or Rome. But during this period, some places are splendorous precisely for what they don’t have: exorbitant flights, juiced-up hotel prices, sold-out events, and endless crowds searching for the same selfie.

The joys of off-season travel include substantial savings on travel expenses, unhurried glimpses into local life, and not having to spend an eternity queueing for sought-after attractions and museums or basically begging for restaurant tables. You can turn your mid-year escape into an enriching adventure by choosing destinations where June through August signal a slower pace, uncrowded spaces, and unique seasonal delights. From the snow-dusted wonderlands of New Zealand’s ski resorts to hushed South American streets with tango dancing, here are 12 places where summer is the off-season.

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Buenos Aires, Argentina

Due to its position in the Southern Hemisphere, Buenos Aires experiences its mildest weather and lowest tourist activity from June to September (July is the coldest). During these months, the thermometer seldom exceeds 72°F with lows of around 47°F. This is an ideal time to soak up the culture of this South American capital during events like July’s Gaucho-extolling  Exposición Rural in the leafy Palermo neighborhood. You can head to an indoor milonga (local dance hall) for tango dancing or watch the pros in action during the annual  Buenos Aires Tango Festival in August. The off-season is also perfect for dining at acclaimed restaurants like Don Julio and  El Preferido de Palermo sans the summer rush.

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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

When Carnaval mayhem is in the rear-view mirror, Rio de Janeiro quietens during the winter between June and August though there are still samba-filled parties to be found. This includes Festas Juninas, the traditional festivals that run through June and July. These events honor major saints’ days with countryside flair, regional drinks, folk costumes, and samba at any hour. Although it’s winter, the sun still shines in the aesthetically blessed “Marvelous City” (Cidade Maravilhosa), so you can enjoy beach days on the likes of Copacabana, Ipanema, and Vermelha, world-famous beaches with mountain-adorned views.

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Cape Town, South Africa

As Northern Hemisphere dwellers brave summer heatwaves, Cape Town is cool and lacking in tourists from June to August. If you don’t mind wearing a few extra layers, beat the heat and the crowds by escaping to this South African metropolis where an array of thrilling pursuits are available. You can please your olfactory system at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, spot migrating whales off the coast (between July and November), mimic the waddling penguins at Boulders Beach, hop on a funicular at the Cape of Storms, or even abseil down Table Mountain.

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Belize’s rainy low season is from May to October, when it’s drenched in frequent showers, including nightly thunderstorms that spectacularly light up the sky. Despite this, rain generally pours overnight or early in the morning, so much of the day remains clear for taking in all the tropical sights and sounds—and how delightful they are. From palm-strewn Placencia to the perfect-for-snorkeling waters of Laughing Bird Caye, Belize has some of the most jaw-dropping beaches, biodiversity, well-preserved ruins, and protected nature in Central America.

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You’ll have gorgeous sandy strips like Sorobon, 1,000 Steps, Boka Kokolishi, and Te Amo Beach, almost all to yourself if you travel to the Dutch Caribbean island of Bonaire between May and October. There will be ample space for whizzing around on  three-wheeled blokarts, uncovering secret caves, spotting flamingos, and alfresco brewery visits to find cactus liqueur during this low season, which is characterized by thinner crowds and significantly reduced hotel rates. Though Bonaire is popular with divers and holidaying families from the Netherlands in the summer, this season is optimum for taking in the tranquility that the hurricane-free island is known for.


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If you’re willing to embrace its monsoonal quirks, Thailand’s wet season (July to October), known as “Ruedu Fon,” sets the stage for dramatic savings on accommodations and fewer tourists. This makes it easier to experience popular spots like Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan, and Chiang Mai without the usual hustle. Rainstorms are frequent but often brief, giving way to moments of sunshine that illuminate the stunning geography: slick sand bars, jagged limestone islands set against vibrant seas, and misty mountains that invite serene meditation.

INSIDER TIPNot every destination is ideal for off-season travel. Some places have fewer tourists during a certain period due to factors like excessive snow or pollution from burning and are better experienced when conditions are more comfortable.


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Riviera Maya, Mexico

There will be summer sunshine without the usual tourist crowds when visiting Mexico’s Riviera Maya between June and August. Sweltering temperatures, sargassum seaweed, and hurricane threats tend to keep vacationers away from this Caribbean coastal enclave during the steamy summer months. Therefore, this is a great time for savvy travelers to visit. June is your golden ticket for the best hotel deals as the rainy season kicks off, and August is one of the hottest months, making cenote swims, poolside dips, and leisurely beach days obligatory.

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Sydney, Australia

Sydney’s June to August winter is cold, rainy, and distinctly less bustling, making it a prime time for those seeking a more laid-back visit to Australia’s most celebrated city. You may not be able to spend languid days surfing, sunning, or swimming at  Bondi Icebergs, but this season is suitable for securing a table at top-tier restaurants or enjoying the city’s robust museum and gallery scene, which is less crowded compared to the summer peak (December through February). For the culturally inclined, the Sydney Film Festival in June is a must-attend event that draws cinephiles to the historic State Theatre, and for those not deterred by the chill, August’s City2Surf run is a spirited event that sees participants racing from the city to Bondi Beach.

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The punishing heat in Dubai during the summer months causes even residents to flee. If you travel during this time, you’ll continually be seeking respite from the three-showers-a-day rays and living perennially in air-conditioning (temperatures often soar above 105°F). As the mercury rises, life in Dubai shifts indoors. Malls, museums, and indoor theme parks like Ski Dubai become the main attractions and shopaholics can take advantage of the Dubai Summer Surprises festival in June when there are sales galore at the city’s retail spaces. Sparse crowds and more space at usually bustling sites like the Burj Khalifa and Dubai Frame are some of the silver linings of Dubai’s heat-induced exodus during summer.

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Panama might be busiest and the most pleasant weather-wise during the summer dry season (mid-December to mid-April), but it’s just as warm in the rainy, less frequented “winter” (mid-April to early December), so you’ll never be shivering in your flip flops. Sure, there are fewer pool parties and beer festivals, but you still have endless sunshine to enjoy stunning archipelagos like San Blas, Bocas del Toro, and the Pearl Islands. In the capital, stylish rooftops like Capella at Hotel la Compañia and Ammi at Sofitel Legend Casco Viejo are always inviting. Rains in Panama City tend to be fast and extremely furious for about an hour of the day before sunny skies make their return.


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New Zealand

New Zealand sees the number of international arrivals in winter compared to summer. June to August in this Pacific archipelago offers a good balance for urban explorers and winter sports enthusiasts. While popular summer destinations like Golden Bay and the Coromandel Peninsula hibernate, Queenstown and Wanaka come alive with snow sports, and urban life buzzes with cultural and culinary events. There’s Oamaru’s unique  Steampunk Festival NZ over King’s Birthday weekend, Auckland’s August Restaurant Month, and Wellington’s  Beervana and  WOAP (Wellington on a Plate). You might also catch nationwide celebrations for Matariki (Māori New Year) in June or July, depending on the Māori lunar calendar.

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Goa, India

If you’re eyeing Goa in summer, brace yourself for a monsoon-touched adventure. This rainy period from June to September transforms the state of Goa into a different kind of paradise, less about sun-soaked shores and more about gushing waterfalls, eco-treks, and spice-scented cuisine that goes beyond the tourist favorites. Monsoon also spells the best deals on flights and stays, so your wallet will thank you even if your beach plans might need adjusting.