10 Summer Vacation Destinations to Escape the Crowds
For many people, summer is the most convenient time to travel, thanks to busy school and work schedules. Unfortunately, this means that popular vacation destinations see inflated crowds and higher prices during this season, not exactly the ideal situation for a relaxing summer vacation.
So how do you escape the hoards of tourists during a summer holiday? Look no further than these 10 uncrowded summer destinations recommended by travel bloggers around the world.
Some are calmer in summer because the high season falls at a different time of year, like the Caribbean, where winter getaways are typically the most popular choice, or Brazil, where the summer months of the Northern Hemisphere are actually winter down south. Others are frequented in summer, but much less so than their famous neighbors, like a quiet island in the Philippines next to another so busy that it recently underwent a temporary closure to visitors.
Keep reading for ideas on where to travel this summer for a fun and refreshing vacation without the crowds.
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(Photo credit: Allison/She Dreams of Alpine)
Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
By Allison of She Dreams of Alpine
Tucked away in the Caribbean, Virgin Gorda is home to crystal blue waters, beautiful white beaches and quiet coves. The third-largest of the British Virgin Islands, it is most well-known for the Baths, a beautiful area where giant granite boulders have come together to make sheltered sea pools that you can walk around in beachside.
Virgin Gorda is also famous for its rock climbing, and avid climbers come here to scale all the unique boulders that are scattered across the island.
One of the best parts about the island, though, is that it is a really great place to get away from the craziness of summer. You can spend time on the beach and snorkeling in the waters without running into many tourists at all.
So, whether you want to explore the rock climbing, spend some time sunbathing on the beach, go snorkeling in the crystal clear waters, or charter a sailboat for tours around the island, Virgin Gorda is a gem of quiet summer getaways.
By Michelle of Harbors and Havens
The famous Italian cities of Rome, Venice and Florence burst at the seams with summer crowds, but the country has tons of other historic towns and villages to explore away from the hustle and bustle. In the Umbria region, hilltop Assisi welcomes visitors to its ancient streets, where Roman ruins mix with well-kept churches.
Assisi was the birthplace of St. Francis, so his namesake basilica here is a popular place to tour, filled with frescoes from medieval artists. The Basilica of Saint Clare is also open to visitors and has a Gothic design adorned with paintings inside. A Roman amphitheater, castles and a temple round out the impressive historic sites around town.
Though Assisi is a pilgrimage site, thanks to its patron saints, it isn’t nearly as busy as Rome or Florence, though both cities are only about 100 miles away. Whether you want to walk the stone avenues soaking up the historic atmosphere, grab a slice of pizza near the town center, or relax on the balcony of your rustic hotel, looking out over fields of green in the valley below, Assisi is sure to please.
By Christine of The Uncorked Librarian
If you live in the northern part of the world, heading to the Southern Hemisphere for the summer awards you with quiet cobblestoned streets, tiny cafes and local shops all to yourself, especially in Paraty, Brazil.
Nestled between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, this colonial town of whitewashed, colorfully latticed buildings is home to aquamarine colored beaches — many only reachable by boat — and stories of greedy pirates. With a Portuguese influence in a tropical setting, a mix of ancient churches and forts, kitschy shops, bountiful crepes and the freshest seafood welcomes guests.
For a day trip, hop on a friendly steed for a personal horseback tour through the luscious countryside dappled with cottages and farms in search of hidden waterfalls. If you love the water, charter a private or group boat tour to enjoy a day of food, drinks and beach hopping with frequent stops to admire the misty mountain backdrop.
At night, grab a fleece or sweater and wander the traffic-free streets as solo guitarists gently strum love ballads. Enveloped by history, jagged mountains topped with fluffy clouds, and waters that sparkle like champagne, Paraty is truly the perfect summer retreat.
(Photo credit: Maria & Rui/Two Find a Way)
Kotor Bay, Montenegro
By Maria & Rui of Two Find a Way
If you are looking for a magical destination to visit in the Summer, then Kotor Bay is the place! The region is breathtakingly beautiful, with views to the southernmost fjords in Europe. Even though the area is growing in popularity, it is still easy to visit while avoiding the crowds, which are mostly located in the main square of the Old Town of Kotor. There are countless activities to do in the area — enjoy your time by the beach, hike the city walls or to nearby towns, visit an island, or just enjoy the history, the beautiful architecture and the delicious food!
Kotor Bay really is the dreamy summer destination we’ve all been looking for, although it almost looks too good to be true. After our four days in the area, we can absolutely confirm that it is true indeed! This is a slice of paradise right in the middle of the Adriatic Sea.
There are many ways to get to the area and you don’t need a car to explore the surroundings. It is very affordable when compared to similar destinations and is still a hidden gem for most people.
(Photo credit: Katherine & Hali/Tara Lets Anywhere)
Carabao Island, Philippines
By Katherine of Tara Lets Anywhere
Think about summer destinations in Southeast Asia, and Boracay almost always comes to mind. This island in the Philippines is so popular that hundreds of thousands of tourists come here to beach bum and get a tan. But talk to the locals, and they’ll tell you a secret – there’s another island close by where you can dip in clear, blue waters without all the crowds.
Carabao Island lies in the province of Romblon, just a one-hour ferry ride away from Boracay in Aklan. This island is often overshadowed by the popularity of Boracay, hence few people come here to stay. Carabao Island has a long stretch of sandy beach where you can lounge all day. There’s also a diving spot in the island, accessible via a boat or habal-habal ride.
With minimal development, there are only a number of homestays and resorts on Carabao Island. Activities include beach bumming, diving or visiting some of the island’s features – coconut plantations, a view deck and a cave. It’s best for people who simply want to relax and chill in a tropical location.
By Michelle of Harbors and Havens
While the number of summer tourists to Iceland grows each year, many visitors pick the capital city of Reykjavik as their base, departing on day trips to popular attractions like the Blue Lagoon and the Golden Circle. Just a couple of hours away, though, on the southern coast, the little village of Vik offers a much quieter experience in close proximity to an abundance of natural attractions.
Only a few hundred people live in Vik, but thanks to bus tours that stop here while cruising the south coast, the village is equipped to host travelers, with accommodations ranging from a campsite and hostel to guesthouses and hotels. Along with its landmark, hilltop church that looks out over the ocean, Vik has a small public pool typical of Iceland towns.
Nearby, the black-sand Reynisfjara Beach has cool rock formations that draw sightseers while popular waterfalls like Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss are less than an hour away. For day trips, the trails, waterfalls and glaciers of Vatnajokull National Park, and the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon are to the east.
(Photo credit: Jacky/Nomad Epicureans)
By Jacky of Nomad Epicureans
To me, the only place to really escape the crowds in the summer is Finland. Most people associate snow, Santa Claus and northern lights with the country, but in my opinion, Finland is at its best in the summer. And the place to be is the Finnish Archipelago.
By some definitions, the Finnish archipelago is the largest in the world and consists of thousands of islands littering the Baltic Sea. The larger islands, such as the Åland Islands, are connected by ferries. Åland can easily be reached in a few hours from either Stockholm, Turku, or Helsinki. The more adventurous may even cycle their way across bridges and ferries from Turku.
Mariehamn is the best place to make your base and explore the islands further as it is the biggest city in the region. Go cycling, fishing, swimming or even hiking and simply appreciate the pure Finnish nature far away from the tourist crowds elsewhere in Europe. The Finnish Archipelago is the place to do it!
(Photo credit: Aneesha/Om Nom Nirvana)
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
By Aneesha of Om Nom Nirvana
When you think of a quiet summer destination, Dubai is usually one of the last places you'll have in mind. That's because when you hear about its sweltering temperatures in the 100s, it hardly sounds like a holiday!
However, this may just be the best time to see the city and take advantage of amazing deals. Most tourist attractions and hotels offer massive discounts during the summer, which makes Dubai a much more reasonable destination in this season. One of these places is the luxury resort called Bab Al Shams. This property is nothing short of beautiful and stays true to Emirati heritage. Plus, the pool is gorgeous and perfect to fight the sweltering heat.
With most locals away during the summer, you can escape some epic traffic jams. The holy month of Ramadan occasionally also takes place during the summer months, which means that there are far fewer queues across attractions. In the evenings, when it's cooler, go to the old areas of Dubai and experience how locals break their fasts with dates and water. It's an amazing communal feeling. It may be worth noting that doing a desert camp in the evening is much more comfortable and cooler at this time.
Everything from the metro to the bus stand is air conditioned, but don't forget to stay hydrated here (however, be mindful of drinking water during the fasting hours). Many restaurants are open for day dining and provide a comfortable environment.
The malls of Dubai are an excellent option for escaping the sun. The city is home to some amazing shopping centers, such as Mall of the Emirates, with its indoor ski slope for ski lovers, and the Dubai Mall, with an ice skating rink. Visit the Burj Khalifa during the peak heat — you'll have safety indoors from the sweltering temperatures.
(Photo credit: Shivani/The Wandering Core)
Sangla Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India
By Shivani of The Wandering Core
Sangla is a quiet village in Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh. Touching one corner of the Indian border with Tibet, Sangla Valley is a captivating destination for beating the summer heat. The start of summers overwhelms the famous hill-stations including Shimla, Manali and Napa Valley. Sure, those are great too, but why face crowds when you can have all the place to yourself?
Our family planned an impromptu trip to Sangla Valley and en route to Sangla, we covered some of the world’s deadliest roads.
There are a number of places to see in Sangla, including the centuries-old Kamru Fort. It is rumored to house 33,000 gods, and no one but the priests can enter the main fort. Tourists can, however, visit the Kamakshi Devi Temple in the Fort premises. Apart from the Fort, Sangla also has a gorgeous Bering Nag Temple with marvelous wooden architecture and impressions of Buddhism.
The untouched Baspa River and a monastery are some of the must-visit places from Sangla. A day trip to nearby stunning Chitkul will take you to the Indo-Tibet border and the last village of India. For me, the highlight of the trip was a trip to Kanda Lake as recommended by a local.
Kauai, Hawaii, USA
By Michelle of Harbors and Havens
Believe it or not, winter is the busiest season to visit the Hawaiian Islands, and though summer comes in at second, you can still escape the tourist crowds by avoiding the most popular islands of Oahu and Maui in favor of beautiful Kauai.
Known as the Garden Island, Kauai is the northernmost inhabited island of the archipelago, and has a diverse natural landscape of lush rainforests, red canyons and gushing waterfalls. Towns here are small and laid back, full of locally owned shops, farmers markets and food trucks.
There’s plenty to do on the island, whether you prefer relaxing on sandy beaches listening to the waves or tackling challenging hikes like the bucket list Kalalau Trail on the Na Pali Coast. And not only is summer a little quieter than winter here, but it also brings dryer weather and calmer waters, making everything from hiking and snorkeling to beach lazing all the more enjoyable!