Avoid the crowds and try places that are less traveled – which are usually much more interesting too. From the world’s highest capital to an enigmatic Balinese island that is hugely popular with surfers, we’ve rounded up the best alternative summer destinations for a great vacation under the sun.
Well hidden on the Ionian Sea is Parga, a city worthy of the Greek gods. The cliffs are overgrown with pine trees, while colorful houses have been built on the mountainside, which in their entirety almost resemble an amphitheater. Tiny arts and crafts boutiques and markets line the cobblestone streets, where ceramics, antiques, and island delicacies such as honey are available for purchase.
Take a break at local Restaurants and try some of the traditional delicacies desserts. When you’re done exploring the streets, relax on the sunny Valtos Beach, hike up the mountain to the ruins of Ali Pasha Castle, or take ferry trips to Corfu and Paxos.
The Andalusian capital is known for flamenco and bullfighting and is a great destination for the summer. Take a tram or bike to explore the historic city center, famous for its impressive Gothic cathedral – one of its largest kind in the world. Baroque jewels such as the royal Alcazar exhibit Mudejar art, while emblematic monuments such as the Giralda Bell Center display refer to the city’s spiritual roots.
Take snapshots of the sidewalk on the wooden structure, Metropol Parasol, go shopping in Soho Benita and stroll through the winding streets of the Santa Cruz district. Explore the incredible bar scene and clap to the beat at a flamenco performance or watch a Sevilla FC game. Also, take time for the archaeological cities of Italica, which is not far from here.
The Rhine and the Moselle meet in Koblenz – a 2000-year-old city with many castles and palaces. The Stolzenfels Castle and the electoral castle guarantee impressive sightseeing, while the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress watches over the city high above and offers great views of the old town and the rivers.
Take your photos of the Deutsches Eck promontory, where the two rivers meet, visit the military engineering study collection, and marvel at the incredible Church of the Sacred Heart. The neoclassical Koblenz theater attracts elegantly dressed visitors, while the Kufa culture factory offers plays and live music. Take a boat trip on the Rhine, and be sure to try some of the famous dry white wines as well.
Andorra La Vella, Andorra
High up in the Pyrenees lies the capital of Andorra, a tax-free shopping realm in the middle of a tranquil, ancient city divided into two halves: the commercial north and the historic south and west. Visit 12th-century wonders such as the churches of Sant Esteve and Sant Andreu. Take a guided tour of the Casa de la Vall, walk over the medieval bridge la Margineda and have a picnic in the market square.
When shopping, you can find great bargains on clothing and electronics here before relaxing in the sauna in Caldea. The “Green Ring” runs around the city, a nature area crisscrossed by hiking trails that lead you through forests, farms, orchards, and Roman sites.
In southern Sweden, this city is a medieval beauty with the striking Lund Cathedral and famous Lund University enthroned. With its cobblestone streets, artist cafés, and colorful huts, Lund is as relaxed as it is lovable. Don’t miss the cathedral’s bell show, which takes place twice a day, explore the ruins of the 11th-century Drotten Church.
There are numerous museums and galleries in the city, and the performing arts scene benefits from the large number of students who live in Lund. The immaculate botanical garden is a great place to spend an afternoon before you treat yourself to a rustic dinner. Don’t be put off because the nightlife is mostly geared towards students and stop by the Bishops Arms Pub or Cafe Ariman.
Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
Santa Fe is located in the Sangre de Cristo’s foothills and combines the charm of the Wild West with a lively art scene. The city is built around a central square, and there is always something going on in the city center, which is easy to walk through. Check out the museums on Museum Hill, visit the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, and stroll past great attractions like St. Francis Cathedral, Loretto Chapel, and Santuario de Guadalupe Church.
Relax with an open-air performance of the Santa Fe Opera, shop for Native American artwork, and explore the art on offer on Canyon Road. Santa Fe also hosts numerous festivals throughout the year, from food to film to music and culture.
The island of Sumba has long been popular with surfers, but now it is luring more and more other travelers away from its famous neighboring island of Bali. The island is covered with lush tropical rainforest and offers refreshing waterfalls as well as pristine surfing beaches. The tourism infrastructure is still in its infancy, so tarred roads are rather the exception.
Explore the huge Neolithic megaliths scattered around the island, watch a traditional horse tournament called Pasalas, and take a tour of the tiny villages that often produce woven garments called ikat. Water fans can spend their days swimming, snorkeling, and surfing before indulging in a roast goat, pork, chicken, or fish meal in the evening.