18 Best Places to Visit in Summer
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Planning a summer vacation is exciting, but the options are endless, so it is important to apply certain criteria to your search. Some summer holiday destinations are seasonal, and they will attract the most tourists in June, July, and August, but these are also when all the attractions are open in these destinations.
In places like Whistler, Canada, which has many mountains, or a destination like Iceland, which has a brutal winter season, summer is the perfect time to visit because roads and trails will be open for you to fully experience what these places have to offer. Our best summer destinations are based on a variety of factors, including the best weather and timing for attractions.
Plan your next vacation with our list of the best places to visit in summer.
Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.
1. Grand Canyon, Arizona
A is one of the best times the to visit the Grand Canyon. While it's the most crowded time at the Grand Canyon, there are so many ways to experience it during the high season. The casual tourist can ride tour shuttles around the park, take brief hikes on the rim trails, or just relax by the Grand Canyon Village.
Fit visitors can tackle a section of Bright Angel Trail to experience hiking into the canyon. Extreme outdoor adventurers can spend a summer trip to the Grand Canyon tackling the hike of a lifetime, going down into the canyon from the North Rim, spending the night at Phantom Ranch, then hiking up to the South Rim the next day.
You can also take the Grand Canyon Railway from Williams, Arizona to the Grand Canyon, which is a nice way to see the landscape. During the crowded summer season, you will want to book far in advance for lodging and transportation.
Accommodation: Best Hotels at the Grand Canyon
2. Rome, Italy
Since many of the best attractions in Rome are outdoors, a visit in the summer puts you in the city at a prime time. Tours to famous ancient sites like the Colosseum and the Pantheon are plentiful, but you will still want to book tickets ahead of time. Rome is an easy city to see on your own, so pleasant summer weather makes it a fun place to explore on foot to experience new food or toss a coin into Trevi Fountain.
Plan the outside attractions first and save the museum visits in case there is a day of inclement weather. The summer season in Rome is popular for tourists, so plan extra time in the itinerary to accommodate lines during sightseeing, and book hotels at least six to eight months in advance.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Rome: Best Areas & Hotels
3. Whistler, Canada
The mountains of Whistler, Canada are ideal for a winter ski vacation, but the summertime means more moderate temperatures and other types of outdoor experiences like hiking in the mountains and wildlife tours. Skiers can still hit Blackcomb Mountain even in the summer months, without the heavy winter gear.
During the summer, Whistler opens up water sports at Lost Lake Park. The 525-acre park has hiking trails, and kayaks or paddleboards available for rent.
Nature parks like Brandywine Falls Provincial Park or the Valley Trail that you can get to from Whistler Village are ideal for hiking during the warmer months.
For a taste of Winter Olympics, you can hit the bobsled tracks at the Whistler Sliding Centre, where you can sled down a 4,757-foot curvy track at 78 miles per hour for about half the cost of doing it during the winter months.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Whistler: Best Areas & Hotels
4. San Diego, California
San Diego is one of those blessed cities that has beautifully consistent weather all year long and is always bustling with activity, but the summer is an especially fun time to visit this California city. With 70 miles of coastline, a beach is never far away. Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, and Coronado Beach are three of the top beaches to visit.
Summer in San Diego also means festivals and music in the city, so it is a vibrant time to visit, with something always happening in the local neighborhoods. There are also major attractions like Balboa Park, which has museums, gardens, bike trails, 1,200-acres of cultural experiences, restaurants, and the famous San Diego Zoo. Summer in the city is popular, so plan on higher rates at hotels.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts in the San Diego Area
5. Nova Scotia, Canada
Travel to Canada in the summer is always nice but it is an especially lovely time to travel to Nova Scotia. The peninsula is an outdoor lover's haven, with water activities like kayaking, rafting, and whale watching. Summer hiking gives you full access to trails at Cape Breton Highlands National Park, the Cape Chignecto Coastal Trail on the Bay of Fundy, and other trails with a seascape backdrop.
Flights to Nova Scotia pick up in June, so getting to the province is easier in the summertime. There are many festivals during June, July, and August, and these are ideal months to see the true culture of the region, with music and local events that celebrate Nova Scotia's heritage.
The islands of the Maldives are best experienced in the summertime when they have dry weather. There are nearly 1,200 islands along the Maldives archipelago, so there are many options for a tropical summer vacation. The draw of the islands are the deep blue seas, water sports, beautiful coral reefs, and tropical beaches.
The summer weather, with warm and dry conditions, enables you to spend the most time out exploring the islands and the Indian Ocean waters. The islands are surrounded by reefs, so the pleasant weather days make it nice to spend time in the water to see some of the spectacular reefs and aquatic life.
Families looking for an ultimate summer getaway can find what they're looking for at Kurumba, Maldives, an all-inclusive luxury family resort.
Accommodation: Best All-Inclusive Resorts in the Maldives
- Read More: Most Beautiful Islands in the World
7. Zermatt, Switzerland
Summertime in Zermatt, Switzerland is flush with color. It is when the snowcapped mountains are accented with lush, green meadows and a mesmerizing blue color in the lakes. Zermatt sits at the base of the Matterhorn peak.
The summer temperatures and climate enable mountain adventures beyond just skiing. Visiting during June, July, and August allows for other outdoor recreation, from hiking and mountain biking to kayaking and swimming. There are many tour companies in Zermatt that focus on various adventures, so even beginners can feel comfortable hiking in the Swiss mountains.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Zermatt: Best Areas & Hotels
Warmer temperatures and not having to worry about brutal winter weather are two of the biggest reasons to visit Iceland in the summer. The winter months are great for attempting to catch a glimpse of the aurora borealis since there are long, dark, cold nights but many roads are closed because of inaccessibility, and many attractions close as well.
The summer months have drier conditions making it easy to access hiking trails throughout the island. There are small festivals in Iceland during summer, and it is the best time for whale watching. Since summer is also the season for the midnight sun, you will have many hours of daylight to experience the best that Iceland has to offer including the Blue Lagoon and Glacial Lagoon.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts in Iceland
- Read More: Iceland Road Trip: Driving the Ring Road
9. Seattle, Washington
The city of Seattle is known for two things: great coffee and gloomy weather. The summer is high tourist season in this low-key city, so hotel rates are higher but it is a great time to visit. July and August are the months with the lowest amount of rainfall, so enjoying the outdoor festivals will be comfortable, although you will still want to take a light jacket for evenings.
Since summer is a busy time for tourists, you will want to plan extra time to see attractions like the Space Needle, but the upside is that skies should be clear during these months for a great view of the city. Clear skies also mean that walking around the city, versus hopping on local transportation, makes it easier to see the Pike Place Market and the Olympic Sculpture Park.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Seattle: Best Areas & Hotels
10. Marseille, France
A summer visit to France in the port city of Marseille is one of the best places in the country to visit in the warmer months. The summer climate, especially in June and July, is spectacular, which is why these are popular tourist months. The comfortable days mean you can spend time outside kayaking around or exploring the Old Port area, which has been instrumental in trading for thousands of years.
There are so many ways to enjoy the culture and heritage of Marseille, from electric bikes and walking around the historical center to a boat cruise and seeing the top sights from a hop-on, hop-off bus. Since summer is an ideal time to visit Marseille, you will need to make hotel reservations far in advance.
11. Anchorage, Alaska
Anchorage, Alaska is one of the best places to visit in the summer, when the weather is ideal, and since the days are longer, you can pack more into the daily itinerary. During the summer solstice in June, daylight lasts close to 22 hours, so you have more time to hike, canoe, golf, or do a whale watching tour.
There are also many heritage centers like the Anchorage Museum to visit, so you can plan a mix of outdoor and indoor activities. The temperatures in the summer are comfortable (averaging in the 60s Fahrenheit), so it is a great time to try river rafting, take a wildlife viewing tour, and see the landscape by railroad.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts in Alaska
12. Amalfi Coast, Italy
The summer sun and vacation vibe is terrific on the Amalfi Coast in Italy, which already has an exotic flare. The natural beauty of this UNESCO World Heritage Site is even more picturesque during summer, when the forests are vibrant and coast and cliffs are at your beck and call.
The Amalfi Coast beaches are where you will likely spend much of your time, but carve out some of the itinerary for visiting the beautiful Villa Cimbrone Gardens and walking the narrow streets of Centro Storico.
Since the Amalfi Coast is a treasure of Italy, it is also where many Italians go for vacation, so the summer season is busy, but it is also the best time to see the coastal region at its best.
13. Edinburgh, Scotland
While the summer months in Scotland are the peak of tourist season, they are the best times to experience cities like the capital of Edinburgh. June, July, and August have comfortable temperatures in the mid-60s (Fahrenheit), which are ideal for walking around the city or taking a sightseeing tour on a double-decker bus.
Summertime also means longer days in the city, so you can take your time strolling down the Royal Mile in the Old Town area and visiting Edinburgh Castle. With the clear summer days, you can get a great photo from above the city at Calton Hill, one of the most popular vantage points.
Summer is festival time in Edinburgh and the height of tourist season, so book travel and hotels far in advance.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Edinburgh: Best Areas & Hotels
- Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Edinburgh
14. Chicago, Illinois
The city of Chicago comes alive in the summer with outdoor festivals, boats on the water, the Navy Pier in full swing, and perfect outdoor weather. Summer is the busiest time in Chicago because it is an exciting time to visit, when the fierce winter cold is gone and before it returns again in the late fall.
Summer means walking the Magnificent Mile and spending time in Grant Park. With the sun at its full potential in June, July, and August, you can get a great reflective selfie in "The Bean" sculpture in Millennium Park.
Hotel availability can be scarce in the summer months and expensive for the lodging that is available, so plan on booking hotels several months in advance.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Chicago: Best Areas & Hotels
- Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Chicago
15. Machu Picchu, Peru
Since Machu Picchu is a bucket-list vacation for many people, it is best to experience it in the summer, when there is less chance of rain showers and inclement weather, especially if you plan to hike. This is a popular time for tourists who want to hike the Inca Trail.
Even if you do not plan to hike, the summer weather in Machu Picchu and Cusco is ideal. Keep in mind that since this is a popular time of year and trail spots require reservations and tickets, hikers should plan far in advance.
- Read More: Top World Heritage Sites
16. Aspen, Colorado
In the wintertime, this mountain resort is known as the American celebrity ski hot spot, but in the summer, it's a fun, family-friendly destination that's perfect if you love the great outdoors. You can enjoy some of those incredible ski slopes by mountain bike or on foot using the ski lifts to get to the top. The mountains are beautiful, with lush green valleys and wildflowers, perfect for hiking.
Areas like the Maroon Bells, located just a few minutes outside downtown Aspen, offer postcard-like mountain vistas. As this is the off-season, hotel rates are less expensive, and there are fewer crowds to deal with.
The Hotel Boulderado is a very hip, boutique hotel in the heart of Aspen's compact downtown area. Built in 1909, it's a cool way to experience Aspen's history during your visit.
Accommodation: Best Resorts in Aspen, CO
17. Sardinia, Italy
This magical Italian island, which is closer to Africa than it is to Europe, comes alive during the summer. The international glitterati converge here, arriving mainly by yacht and private jet. Get a taste of it by visiting places like Porto Cervo and the Costa Smeralda. But there is so much more here than fancy stores and live music.
Head to places like the Bidderosa Oasis, a large nature preserve near the city of Orosei with forests and many secluded beaches and coves. You'll find that electric aqua blue water and the white-sand beaches the island is famous for.
Skip the pricey beach resorts and stay in an albergo diffuso in one of the island's small towns like Santu Lussurgiu. These are boutique hotels diffused or spread out across multiple properties in the town, usually old houses. So instead of a hotel room, you get a little self-contained house.
Take some time to explore the island's Bronze Age history. There have been people here for over 4,000 years, and you can visit nuraghi, which are ancient stone structures whose meaning or use is still a mystery.
The Albergo Diffuso Antica Dimora del Gruccione is made up of a series of restored historic homes in the village of Santu Lussurgiu. The luxury boutique hotel is also a foodie destination for its amazing restaurant.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Hotels & Resorts in Sardinia
18. Budapest, Hungary
Another great place in Europe to visit during the summer, this Eastern European city delivers an amazing vacation experience at a lower price than cities like London or Paris. Perched on the banks of the Danube River, Budapest is filled with history, culture, great food, and friendly people.
Trace Budapest's Roman history with a visit to the Aquincum site, the original Roman settlement area. Jump into the massive Szechenyi Bath, a mineral hot spring spa pool over 100 years old. Enjoy some goulash, the local spicy beef stew, and spend an evening listening to music composed by Hungarian composers at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music's concert hall.
Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Budapest
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More Summer Vacation Ideas: Perhaps you already have your mind set on a particular part of the world. As you research your summer vacation ideas, be sure to review our top places to visit in Europe in Summer and the best summer vacation spots in the USA. If beaches are a priority, you will want to review the top-rated beaches in Thailand and the best beaches in the Caribbean.