Summer is the most popular time of year to go on a trip, and all indicators show that this season is going to break travel records. But do you know where to spend your time off? We've selected ten outstanding destinations from our 2015 Go List that are perfect for summer getaways. Not a fan of hot weather? Cool off in Iceland. Looking for great beaches and hotel deals? Jet off to Barbados. Around the world, there are UNESCO World Heritage Sites to visit, whales to watch, wine festivals to celebrate, and trails and mountains to hike. Get ready to plan an unforgettable summer adventure.
By Sara Quaranta
With its gorgeous landscapes and abundance of wildlife, Newfoundland is the perfect summer getaway. The middle of June through late August is prime whale-watching time. View these majestic mammals from your kayak, seaside trails, or boat tours. Summer is also a great time for bird watching and music festivals. Book a stay at the new Fogo Island Inn, which offers local-led expeditions and is furnished by native artisans.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Newfoundland and Labrador Travel Guide
Silk Road, China
Discover China’s oldest trade route, which was just added as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Silk Road’s distance from the hum of Beijing and its long summer days are perfect for witnessing local festivals and sightseeing. Two must-sees are the Terracotta Warriors, more than 7,000 unique life-size statues guarding the tomb of Qin Shihuang, and the Mogao Grottoes, about 700 caves filled with Buddhas, religious texts, and art.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s The Silk Road Travel Guide
Summer is the busiest tourist season for Norway, and with good reason: the long days mean more sun for taking in the gorgeous views of white-peaked mountains and striking blue fjords. But when the sun goes down, Oslo is the place to be. Check out the Nasjonalgalleriet for the country’s largest collection of Norwegian art, pop into one of its many trendy restaurants, or hit the town for some lively nightlife.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Norway Travel Guide
The long days of Iceland summers give you plenty of time for swimming, kayaking, horseback riding, and other outdoor activities. Book a stay among mountains and lava fields at the modern ION Luxury Adventure Hotel, which offers organized expeditions, stylish rooms, and a fresh, regional cuisine in its Silfra Restaurant. A trip to Iceland isn’t complete without a visit to Blue Lagoon. Bathe in the cobalt geothermal water, take a tour to learn about its history and nearby volcanic activity, sip on a blue lagoon cocktail from the LAVA bar, or pamper yourself with an in-water massage.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Iceland Travel Guide
Barbados is full of heavenly beaches, gorgeous golf courses, and local cuisine that ranges from street barbecue to world-class restaurants. Sandals recently opened its new, completely renovated property on the southern coast. The all-inclusive resort has eleven dining options, fire pits, personalized butlers, swim-up bars and suites, and customizable spa treatments. Mid-August begins the off-season, and prices can be as much as 20–50 percent less during mid-May through June.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Barbados Travel Guide
After a twenty-six-year civil war, Sri Lanka has slowly begun opening its temples, plantations, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites to tourists. Plan on going from May to August, when the weather is beautiful and prices drop. Make sure to check out Kalpitiya peninsula (in between the Indian ocean and the Puttalam Lagoon) before billions of dollars of development diminish the untouched beaches and wildlife.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Sri Lanka Travel Guide
Pilsen, Czech Republic
As the 2015 European Capital of Culture, Pilsen will hold tons of festivals, art exhibits, and concerts throughout the summer, showcasing why it has earned this title. The city is also one of the largest in beer producing. Explore the thirteenth-century tunnels that were initially used in producing the drink and check out the Brewery Museum to find out beer’s history. Stop off for a pint at the largest brewery in the country, Pilsner Urquell Brewery, to watch and learn how it’s all made.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Pilsen Guide
Hudson Valley and Catskills Mountains
The Hudson Valley and Catskills Mountains are a relaxing break from New York City, especially with all the boating, fishing, and hiking at Bear Mountain State Park. Check out the Walkway Over the Hudson, the longest pedestrian bridge in the world (1.28 miles). Stop by the food vendors on both sides, or pop into the East Coast branch of the Culinary Institute of America for a more structured meal at student-staffed restaurants.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Hudson Valley Travel Guide
Guadalupe Valley, Mexico
Guadalupe Valley is being deemed “the next Napa Valley,” and the Harvest Festival in August is a wine lover’s must. The 21-day event includes sumptuous feasts, wine tastings, live music, and cultural blessings. While you’re there, check out Phil Gregory’s wine cave and taste vintages from Mexico’s wine legend, Hugo D’Acosta.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Guide to Mexico's Wine Country
Paris has plenty of new and improved offerings this summer. And in June, the sun doesn’t set until late, so you’ll have ample time to explore. Check out Renzo Piano’s new Fondation Jerome Seydoux-Pathe, which celebrates Pathe’s film legacy in the spot where one of the first Parisian cinemas stood. Also worth a trip is Fondation Louis Vuitton, a beautiful, curved-glass structure dedicated to mostly contemporary art. Get a room at the freshly restored Plaza Athenee for the ultimate essence of French luxury, complete with stunning Eiffel Tower views.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Paris Travel Guide