We might just be getting used to enjoying the warm thaw of spring, but it’s never too early to start planning a summer adventure. If you’re looking to get a head-start on figuring out where to jet-off when the days grow long and the sun gets hot, here’s a list of destinations to consider this year.
With an exciting lineup of festivals, emerging beer scene, and endless supply of ice cream shops to fight off the sweltering heat, Tokyo is already an iconic urban destination for the summer months. But with the 2020 Summer Olympics just around the corner, the buzz around the Japanese capital is starting to intensify. A one-of-a-kind metropolis with an endless variety of markets and shrines to explore, Tokyo will never leave you at a loss for something to do. Make sure to check out our city guide before you go and, if you’re really looking to beat the heat, don’t be afraid to take a weekend trip away from the city and discover the natural chills on the slopes of Mount Fuji.
Québec City, Québec, Canada
Situated on the picturesque Saint Lawrence River, this Canadian colonial town is one of those rare cities that’s equally beautiful during summer and winter. With its narrow cobblestone streets and quaint old-world charm, the Vieux-Québec region is imbued with an enchanting magic that will suck you in and make you never want to leave. Plus, in the summertime, the city hosts the Festival d’Été de Québec, Canada’s largest outdoor music festival. With 300 shows across 10 different stages, the festival offers a stellar lineup which you can enjoy from the historic Plains of Abraham with the spectacular Chateau Frontenac looming in the distance.
Wadi Rum, Jordan
Travel to Mars might still be a few decades off, but in the meantime, we have Wadi Rum. Located less than two hours from the ancient city of Petra, this rust-red desert comprises one of the most breathtaking landscapes on the planet, complete with sandstone cliffs and dusty expanses that stretch to the horizon. This beautiful region has attracted plenty of filmmakers, who have featured the desert in such pictures as “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Prometheus,” “the Martian,” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” Trek through the desert by day via camel before watching the setting sun cast a vibrant light show against the sand dunes at dusk. Then, cool off and camp out under the stars as the canopy of the Milky Way hangs majestically above.
From the cobblestones of the Royal Mile to the quaint atmosphere of Dean Village, Edinburgh is a brilliant and culturally significant city filled with ancient castles, bustling marketplaces, and grassy spaces. And there’s no better time to visit the Scottish capital than the summer — when temperatures peak at a comfortable 65 Fahrenheit (18 Celsius) and a slew of exciting festivals fills the calendar. Check out our city guide for more recommendations on how to make the most of your time in the place that Scottish author Alexander McCall Smith described as “a city so beautiful it breaks the heart again and again.”
Nashville, Tennessee, USA
When the weather heats up, your first inclination might not be to head south. But if you’re a true music fan, there’s no better place to spend the summer months than in Music City itself. This rockin’ capital — home to the Country Music Hall of Fame and the famous Grand Ole Opry — kicks off its summer festivities with the CMA Music Festival in early June. This annual four-day event highlights the best in country music, but if that’s not your thing (and we totally understand if it’s not), make the journey an hour south to Manchester, Tennessee, which hosts Bonnaroo, one of the best and most varied music festivals in the U.S. Of course, even without the major music festivals, Nashville is a fantastically upbeat city to explore during the summer. With an exciting bar scene and live music playing around every corner, this city is never out of tune.
Okavango Delta, Botswana
Often, the best summer excursions are the ones that allow us to unplug for a while, to recenter and refocus ourselves amid one of the world’s brilliant, wild regions. This summer, seek out this sense of natural nirvana on safari in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. The massive, pulsing wetland region is located where the Okavango River meets the arid Kalahari Desert, an oasis of small islands and lush vegetation teeming with wildlife. Throughout your journey, you’ll have the opportunity to spot 350 different species of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians — including hippos, wildebeests, leopards, crocodiles, and both black and white rhinoceroses. Whether you choose a riding safari or a more rugged and immersive walking safari, you’re bound to get up close and personal with some of the most beautiful endangered species on the planet.
Header image by Jason Hoffman