Travel

20 Summer Getaways to Book ASAP

Vacation, had to get away.

July  8, 2019
Photo by Ed Webster/Flickr Commons

When summer gets going, doesn’t it seem like your suitcase wants to be used just as much as your cutoffs? Sure, you could head to the same beach you’ve sunbathed on for the past 20 years, or you could dust off your passport and really get away. Grab your sandals (maybe a pair of hiking shoes too?), and don’t forget that novel you’ve had on your bedside table since December. It’s time for a vacation.

1. Bruges, Belgium

Get lost walking the cobblestone streets along the canals in Bruges. The picturesque city was once home to Flemish Primitive painters like Rogier van der Weyden and Jan van Eyck, so don’t miss the museums. Wind down with a beer (Belgium is known for a rich brewing tradition) and a plate of fries with mayo.

2. Copenhagen, Denmark

What could be better than biking from around Denmark’s capital city? Pull over to take a swim in the harbor, eat ice cream in one of many public gardens, snack at the outdoor markets. You may not get a table at Noma, but there are hundreds of other restaurants try—better yet, shop and have a picnic. It’s no shock that Danes are considered some of the happiest people in the world.

3. Cornwall, England

Clifftop walking, surf lessons, touring a 13th-century castle—these are all things you can do while in Cornwall. Whether you prefer to rent a cozy farm cottage and cook for yourself or stay in a beachfront resort, the area promises stunning views for miles.

4. Granada, Spain

Known for incredible medieval architecture (you have to walk around the Alhambra), this city in southern Spain is much quieter than Barcelona or Madrid. After all that walking, you’re in luck, as Granada has one of the best tapas cultures in the country—every drink you order comes with a free snack. Hello, pan con tomate!

5. Huế, Vietnam

Huế is home to some of the most stunning monuments, tombs and pagodas in the country. But if you just want to lay on the beach or chill in a hot spring, you can do that here too. It’s also a great place to eat—don’t leave without a bowl of bún bò Huế, a beef and rice vermicelli soup.

6. Hudson Valley, New York

Small enough to explore in a weekend, yet expansive enough to stay for a couple weeks, the Hudson Valley is known for verdant farmland (yielding some of the best produce, dairy, meat, and wine in the Northeast) and bustling small cities and tiny hamlets packed with food and culture. Don’t miss Storm King Art Center and Dia:Beacon for stunning contemporary art.

7. Joshua Tree, California

If you’re craving a vacation where you can unplug and walk for miles in your favorite caftan and a large hat, hit Joshua Tree. Stroll through town to check out local boutiques, galleries, and cafes. But you also better pack your hiking shoes, as there’s plenty of exploring to be done in this desert.

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8. Franche-Comté, France

Give Paris a break during the summer heat and head east until you almost hit the Swiss border—welcome to Franche-Comté. A stunning region of mountains, waterfalls, and lush farmland, the area is also home to the infamous Comté cheese as well as wine from vineyards in the nearby Jura.

9. Limerick, Ireland

Walk through enough castles, cathedrals, and medieval monuments in 1,100-year-old Limerick and you might forget you live in this century. Explore a few museums, grab a pint at a pub or two, explore locally made ingredients at the Milk Market, and lose yourself in Irish culture.

10. Lisbon, Portugal

Portugal has become one of the most popular vacation destinations in recent years, so if you haven’t been, now is the time. Lisbon is a hilly city, and from the right views you can take in the rainbow of colorful old buildings. PSA: Don’t leave without a few pasteis de nata.

11. Maratea Coast, Italy

This area of the southern Tyrrhenian coast is an idyllic spot to vacation. Quiet and breathtakingly beautiful, you can lounge on the beaches or pack a picnic on a boat. Inland, stroll the Piazza Buraglia to explore the 40-plus churches in town, popping into a cafe for an espresso and gelato, (or later on, an aperitivo), when you need a break.

12. Fez, Morocco

Fez is dripping with culture, from the souks displaying local artisans’ work, to bakers pulling fresh khobz from open ovens, to the Islamic, African, and Persian-inspired architecture that make up the city. The city is known for its food: Visit food stalls around the city thick faba bean-based bissara, sweet mint tea, chicken bastilla, as well as fresh fish and lamb dishes.

13. Honolulu, Hawaii

It’s no surprise that Honolulu is a must-see travel destination—OK, that’s true of all of Hawaii, but this city is unmissable. Lounge on the beaches along the Windward Coast, eat dinner in Chinatown, have Dole Whip on Waikiki’s main street. And don’t forget to get moving! Take a surf lesson, hike Koko Head Crater Trail, or go on a running tour of the city.

14. Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia

The little island off of Bali is slowly becoming more of a tourist destination, so plan a trip to Nusa Lembongan sooner rather than later. Whether you’d prefer to stay in a sprawling resort or a cozy open bungalow, don’t spend too much time in your room: The island is all about surfing, standup paddle boarding, snorkeling, and cliff-diving; for a milder experience, tour the mangroves, and walk the miles and miles of beach.

15. Oaxaca City, Mexico

The first thing you’ll notice stepping to Oaxaca is the color: the fruit at the open air markets, the historical buildings made from green volcanic stone, the political street art. Walk through the Textile Museum or take a trip just outside the city to swim at Hierve el Agua, a natural rock formation with mineral pools. Don’t skip a mezcalería or mole (there are 7 types of the area’s signature sauce).

16. Osaka, Japan

If you get to Osaka at the end of July, you might catch Tenjin Matsuri, one of Japan’s largest festivals, complete with riverboat parades and massive fireworks displays. By day, you can relax on the beach or in a beer garden and wander the many temples, shrines and flower gardens. Whatever you do, be prepared to eat: Osaka is known for its street food, so skip the restaurant at least one night and walk from stall to stall for dinner.

17. Portland, Maine

Boasting some of the best restaurants and bakeries in the Northeast, this small coastal Maine city is way more than lobster rolls. Still, there’s plenty of exploring to be done outside: Take a tour of Portland’s lighthouses, go hiking or biking, and lounge on the beaches.

18. Prague, Czech Republic

Between the Prague Castle, the Astronomical Clock, Baroque churches, and numerous towers, you could spend days simply staring at Prague’s architecture. But of course, there’s plenty more to do: Rent a boat for a different view of the city, picnic in one of the many public gardens, visit the John Lennon Wall, and see a classical music performance.

19. Reykjavík, Iceland

Iceland’s capital city is a traveler’s dream: highly walkable, stunning architecture, dripping with great coffee. Visit Reykjavik's many museums, climb up the Church of Hallgrímur, and hike various trails just outside the city. After all that moving around, don’t skip a long soak in the geothermal hot springs (there are several in the area).

20. Tirol, Austria

Though this area of the Alps is well-known for skiing, Tirol is just as dreamy in the summertime. Spend your days hiking, biking, and rock climbing, or exploring the charming towns and even working the dairy farms. Definitely check out Swarovski’s museum-slash-theme park Crystal World. By night, relax in one of the numerous Tirolean inns for regional Alpine fare.

What's your favorite summer getaway? Tell us in the comments below.

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Rebecca Firkser is a New York City-based food writer and cook. Her byline has appeared in number of publications, among them Food52, TASTE, Extra Crispy, Healthyish by Bon Appetit, and Tasting Table.

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