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Summer is the most popular time to take a vacation, which means if you’re thinking about going to any of the world’s top travel destinations, whether it’s close to home, in Europe or somewhere else, odds are, there are countless others planning the exact same trip you are. If battling thick crowds is not your idea of fun, it may be time to think outside the box. There are some fantastic places you can go this season to enjoy spectacular scenery and more without having to elbow your way through to get to those views.
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Just a few years ago, Newfoundland was rarely talked about among travel destinations but that’s starting to change as more and more begin to discover its long list of nature-based delights. But for now, it’s still one of the most captivating, uncrowded places to visit this summer. This is the peak time for whale watching, with the opportunity to head out on the boat for a close encounter with humpbacks, or even see them right from shore. Enjoying hiking to waterfalls in the dramatic mountains of Gros Morne National Park on the west coast, visiting postcard-perfect villages like Trinity, taking in the live music on George Street in St. John’s, and enjoying plenty of fresh seafood, along with a warm welcome, as Newfies are some of the friendliest people on the planet.
Iceland has become one of the world’s most coveted travel destinations, but the good news is that most tend to stick to well-worn routes like the Golden Circle and the South Coast. By traveling to the north, you can still enjoy many of its breathtaking wonders, often all to yourself, along with the Midnight Sun bringing plenty of time to take them all in. Instead of piling in with all the rest to places like the Blue Lagoon, visit the Lake Myvatan Nature Baths, soaking in the soothing warm water surrounded by an otherworldly-like, volcanic landscape without bumping elbows with others.
You’ll see some of Iceland’s best waterfalls in the north too, including Dettifoss Waterfall, set deep inside Vatnajökull National Park along the Jokulsa a Fjollum River. The “Waterfall of the Gods” is stunning, with the turquoise-hued horseshoe-shaped cascades nearly 100 feet wide and 40 feet high. You can also soak in a hot spring cave, climb to the top of a volcanic crater and marvel at all the geothermal activity, including multiple fumaroles and boiling mudpots in the Hverir Geothermal Area.
Most people visit the Caribbean in the wintertime, with summer the off season. That means you can enjoy the islands without the crowds along with the same 80-degree temperatures that are enjoyed year round, and often at a much lower price too. Of course, summer also falls during hurricane season, but the island of Bonaire’s position on the outer edge of the hurricane belt not far from Venezuela’s north coast means that although it experiences some tropical storm effects, direct hits are uncommon. The island is famous as a premier diving and snorkeling destination, and it’s also home to one of the world’s most beautiful pink sand beaches, a narrow strip of sand on the west coast with its pink hue derived from the presence of millions of tiny crushed shells.
Although La Paz is just two hours north of popular Cabo San Lucas, it rarely sees big tourist crowds even in the winter. In the summer, while you’ll have to endure high temperatures, you’ll be able to enjoy its array of exciting attractions, including its lively squares, beautiful Malecon and outstanding eateries with few other tourists around. Less than 30 minutes away is one of Mexico’s most beautiful beaches too. Playa Balandra boasts soft white powdery sands in an almost circular bay with calm, crystal-clear turquoise waters that are typically only about waist-high, all surrounded by sand dunes and unique rock formations – jump in for a perfect way to beat the heat.
Located north of Scotland between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic, the Faroe Islands are famous for their breathtaking scenery, Viking folklore and puffins. This archipelago made up of 18 islands connected by tunnels, with ferries and helicopters also serving as public transportation, is an ideal destination for those who want to travel off the beaten path, hiking crowd-free paths to take in fantasy-like scenes including the famous Múlafossur Waterfall near Gasadalur Village.
Great Basin National Park is one of the least-visited and most remote national parks. It also boasts miles and miles of hiking trails that lead to pristine mountain lakes and through ancient pine forests where you can walk for hours without seeing another soul. Explore Lehman Caves, ornately decorated with stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone and more, and some of the darkest night skies in the continental U.S, with meteors, millions of stars and five planets all coming into view.
Kefalonia is a lesser-known Greek island that doesn’t get the mass tourism famous islands like Mykonos and Santorini do, yet it still offers stunning aquamarine waters framed by soft white sands, and impressive Venetian-style architecture. While many do come to enjoy it in July and August, you can almost always find a more secluded spot including hidden coves and off-the-beaten-path beaches for swimming and relaxing like Agia Eleni near Petani. Fiskardo is the most well-preserved traditional village and is surrounded by small shady coves while hosting plenty of seaside tavernas serving fresh fish.
Dubrovnik has been drawing huge tourist crowds thanks to its frequent appearance in “Game of Thrones,” but Vis Island offers a totally different experience. The furthest island from the central Croatian Coast, it once served as a base for the Yugoslav Army, and was closed to foreign visitors for nearly four decades, from 1950 to 1989, deserted by much of its local population. Today, visitors can enjoy an unspoiled Adriatic destination, easily reached via a high-speed ferry ride from Split. Relax in one of its many breathtaking secluded bays, and head out to explore its extensive vineyards to enjoy wine tasting. In the emerald waters of Stiniva Cove, you can even snorkel alongside bottlenose dolphins and loggerhead turtles.