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Your Ultimate Guide to an Unforgettable Summer 2024 Getaway Without the Crowds

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by Well Traveled
6 months ago

As summer 2023 comes to an end, our thoughts are already turning to our 2024 vacation plans. Whether it's sandy beaches, historic cities, or natural wonders, the excitement of new adventures is calling.

According to USA TODAY, Americans traveled to these countries in the months of June, July & August.

  1. USA
  2. Italy
  3. France
  4. Mexico
  5. Canada
  6. Spain
  7. Japan
  8. Germany
  9. Greece

Even though these countries make for memorable vacation destinations, we're ditching the crowds next year. We're over those crowded tourist traps, eternal queues, and the same vacation pics in our Instagram feeds every single summer. 

1. Instead of the USA, try Ireland 

Choosing to visit Ireland over the USA in the summer is an easy swap. Besides the fact that most of Ireland is English-speaking, here are a few reasons to consider visiting:

  • Milder Climate: Summers in Ireland are typically cooler, making outdoor exploration comfortable and enjoyable.
  • Stunning Landscapes: Ireland's lush green countryside, rugged coastlines, and picturesque lakes come to life during the summer months.
Photo by Marian Brandt
  • Longer Days: Ireland experiences longer daylight hours in the summer, allowing you to make the most of your visit.
  • Coastal Charm: Ireland's coastal regions are especially appealing in the summer. You can take scenic drives along the coast and even go surfing or kayaking in the milder waters.
  • Quaint Villages: Experience the warmth of Irish hospitality. Enjoy a pint of Guinness in a cozy pub, strike up conversations with friendly locals, and savor traditional Irish cuisine.
  • Historic Sites: Ireland is steeped in history, and its historic sites, castles, and monastic ruins are especially appealing in good weather.

2. Instead of Italy, try Portugal 

Portugal's unique coastal beauty, affordability, and diverse experiences make it an appealing alternative for those looking for something new and different.

  • Coastal Diversity: Portugal's coastline is incredibly diverse, with pristine beaches, dramatic cliffs, and charming fishing villages.
  • Affordability: Accommodation, dining, and activities are generally more budget-friendly than some of Italy's major tourist hubs like Venice, Rome, and the Amalfi Coast.
  • Portuguese Cuisine: Enjoy seafood, pastries like pastéis de nata, and regional dishes such as bacalhau (salted codfish).
  • Historic Cities: Cities like Lisbon, Porto, and Sintra are rich in culture, architecture, and history. You can explore centuries-old neighborhoods, palaces, and castles.
Photo by Nick Karvounis
  • Wine and Vineyards: The Douro Valley in Portugal is one of the world's oldest wine regions, known for its terraced vineyards and port wine production.
  • Azores and Madeira: Portugal includes the stunning Azores and Madeira archipelagos, which offer unique landscapes, outdoor adventures, and a tranquil escape from the mainland.
  • Less Crowded: While Portugal is a popular summer destination, it tends to be less crowded than some of Italy's iconic cities.
  • Adventure and Nature: From surfing on the Atlantic coast to hiking in the Azores, Portugal provides multiple opportunities for adventure seekers.

3. Instead of France, try Denmark

Denmark's tranquil coastlines, unique culture, and focus on simplicity and design make it an appealing choice for those seeking a different European experience.

  • Scenic Coastlines: Denmark's coastline offers serene beaches, dunes, and coastal landscapes that are less crowded than some of France's coastal regions.
  • Nordic Culture: Denmark's Nordic culture has a focus on design, simplicity, and hygge (a concept of coziness and contentment).
  • Historic Cities: Copenhagen, Denmark's capital, is a vibrant city with a rich history and modern amenities. Visit historic sites like Rosenborg Castle, Amalienborg Palace, and the picturesque Nyhavn harbor.
Photo by Nick Karvounis
  • Tivoli Gardens: The iconic Tivoli Gardens amusement park comes alive with rides, games, and entertainment during the summer months.
  • Cycling Culture: Denmark is one of the most bike-friendly countries in the world.
  • Island Exploration: Home to several beautiful islands (like Funen and Zealand), where you can explore charming villages, beaches, and lush landscapes.
  • Less Crowded: Denmark tends to be less crowded in the summer than France, allowing for a more relaxed travel experience with shorter lines at attractions.

4. Instead of Mexico, try Colombia

Colombia's diverse landscapes, unique culture, and emerging status as a travel destination make it an appealing choice for those seeking an adventure off the beaten path.

  • Diverse Landscapes: Colombia boasts a wide range of landscapes, from tropical beaches on both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts to the Andes Mountains and lush rainforests in the Amazon basin.
  • Unique Culture: With influences from indigenous communities like African heritage and Spanish colonization, Colombian culture is rich and diverse.
  • Coffee Culture: Renowned for its high-quality coffee, you can visit coffee plantations in the Coffee Cultural Landscape and learn about the coffee-making process.
Photo by Leandro Loureiro
  • Colonial Cities: Cartagena, Medellín, and Bogotá, each have their own history, architecture, and cultural attractions.
  • Adventure Tourism: Offering adventurous activities such as trekking in the Andes, river rafting, paragliding, and exploring remote Amazon rainforest areas.
  • Safety Improvements: Colombia has made significant strides in improving safety and security for tourists in recent years, making it a safer destination than in the past.

5. Instead of Canada, try Switzerland

Switzerland's compact size, alpine scenery, cultural diversity, and efficient transportation system make it an attractive choice for those seeking a European mountain adventure in the summer.

  • Alpine Scenery: Famous for its stunning Alpine landscapes, including pristine lakes, snow-capped peaks, and lush green valleys, the Swiss Alps is great for hiking, mountaineering, and outdoor adventures.
  • Quaint Villages: Switzerland is dotted with charming mountain villages and towns like Zermatt, Interlaken, and Grindelwald.
  • Outdoor Activities: Switzerland is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, offering activities such as skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, skydiving, and more.
Photo by Stephen Leonardi
  • Lake Geneva: In the Lake Geneva region, you can visit the cities of Geneva, Lausanne, and Montreux, as well as the famous Chillon Castle and the stunning Lavaux Vineyards.
  • Culinary Delights: Switzerland is known for its cheese, chocolate, and Swiss watches. You can savor fondue, raclette, and Swiss chocolate while enjoying picturesque views.
  • Safety: Switzerland consistently ranks as one of the safest countries in the world, providing peace of mind for travelers.

6. Instead of Spain, try Argentina

Argentina's diverse landscapes, unique cultural experiences, affordability, and adventure opportunities make it an appealing choice for those seeking a South American adventure during the summer.

  • Diverse Landscapes: From the lush rainforests of Iguazu Falls to the rugged beauty of Patagonia, you can explore the Andes Mountains, the Pampas, and the vast Argentine Patagonia.
  • Tango and Culture: Argentina is the birthplace of tango, and you can immerse yourself in this passionate dance form in Buenos Aires, the capital city.
  • Wine Regions: Argentina is renowned for its wine regions, particularly in Mendoza, where you can enjoy wine tastings, vineyard tours, and exquisite Argentine cuisine.
  • Unique Wildlife: Visit destinations like the Valdes Peninsula to see wildlife such as whales, penguins, and sea lions in their natural habitats.
  • Iguazu Falls: Witness the awe-inspiring Iguazu Falls, one of the world's most impressive natural wonders, located in the subtropical region of Argentina.
Photo by Jade Marchand
  • Adventure Sports: Offering a range of activities, including trekking, skiing, horseback riding, and mountaineering in the Andes.
  • Affordability: Argentina is often more budget-friendly than many European countries, making it an attractive option for travelers looking to get more value for their money.
  • Bariloche and the Lake District: Explore the picturesque town of Bariloche and the stunning Lake District, known for its pristine lakes, hiking trails, and Swiss-inspired architecture.
  • Less Crowded: While Spain is a popular European destination, some parts of Argentina, especially outside Buenos Aires, offer a more relaxed and less crowded experience.
  • Local Cuisine: Savor Argentine cuisine, including world-famous beef steaks, empanadas, and traditional asados (barbecues).

7. Instead of Japan, try South Korea

South Korea's distinct culture, historic sites, culinary delights, and affordability make it an appealing choice for travelers seeking a culturally rich experience.

  • Historic Sites: Home to a wealth of historical sites, including ancient palaces like Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul, traditional Hanok villages, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites like the Seokguram Grotto.
  • Korean Cuisine: Savor delicious Korean dishes such as bulgogi, bibimbap, kimchi, and various types of Korean barbecue. South Korea's culinary scene is diverse and flavorful.
  • Natural Beauty: Enjoy South Korea's scenic landscapes, including national parks, lush mountains, and serene temples nestled amidst nature.
  • Palaces and Temples: Explore well-preserved palaces and Buddhist temples that showcase South Korea's rich history and architectural heritage.
Photo via Unsplash+
  • Korean Wave (Hallyu): South Korea is at the forefront of the global K-pop and K-drama phenomena. You can attend K-pop concerts and explore K-drama filming locations.
  • Affordability: South Korea is generally more budget-friendly than Japan, making it an attractive option for travelers looking for value for their money.
  • Spa Culture: Experience South Korea's jjimjilbangs (public bathhouses and spas) for relaxation and rejuvenation, a unique part of Korean culture.
  • DMZ Tour: Take a tour of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), a unique and historically significant area separating North and South Korea.

8. Instead of Germany, try Czech Republic

The Czech Republic's historic towns, cultural heritage, affordability, and charming countryside make it a perfect country to visit in place of Germany.

  • Historic Towns: Home to picturesque historic towns and cities like Prague, Český Krumlov, and Kutná Hora, this destination is known for their well-preserved architecture, cobblestone streets, and medieval charm.
  • Affordability: The Czech Republic is often more budget-friendly than some parts of Germany, particularly when it comes to accommodation, dining, and activities.
  • Czech Cuisine: Savor traditional Czech dishes such as goulash, trdelník (sweet pastry), and hearty Czech beers in cozy pubs.
  • Prague: Explore the fairytale-like city of Prague, famous for its stunning Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, and Old Town Square. The city comes alive with outdoor events and festivals during the summer.
Photo by Mike Swigunski
  • Less Crowded: While both countries are popular European destinations, some parts of the Czech Republic are less crowded in the summer, allowing for a more relaxed travel experience.
  • Czech Spa Towns: Enjoy the therapeutic spa towns of Karlovy Vary and Mariánské Lázně, known for their healing mineral springs and wellness treatments.
  • Outdoor Activities: The Czech Republic offers outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, and canoeing in its picturesque countryside and national parks.
  • Pilsner Beer: Visit Plzeň, the birthplace of Pilsner beer, and tour the Pilsner Urquell Brewery to learn about the brewing process.

9. Instead of Greece, try Croatia

Croatia's diverse coastal beauty, historic cities, island-hopping opportunities, and cultural experiences make for a fun Mediterranean vacation.

  • Coastal Diversity: Croatia offers a stunning Adriatic coastline with clear blue waters, charming islands, and picturesque beaches. The coastal experience in Croatia is different from Greece, with its own unique charm.
  • Historic Cities: Explore historic Croatian cities like Dubrovnik, Split, and Zadar, which are rich in history, culture, and architectural marvels. Dubrovnik's Old Town, in particular, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Island-Hopping: Croatia's Adriatic coast is known for its island-hopping opportunities. You can explore a variety of beautiful islands, each with its own character and attractions, such as Hvar, Korčula, and Brač.
  • Game of Thrones Locations: Fans of the TV series "Game of Thrones" can visit iconic filming locations in Croatia, including scenes from King's Landing in Dubrovnik.
Photo by Spencer Davis
  • National Parks: Croatia boasts several national parks, including Plitvice Lakes and Krka, where you can enjoy hiking, waterfalls, and pristine natural beauty.
  • Culinary Delights: Savor traditional Croatian cuisine, which includes fresh seafood, grilled meats, and delicious pastries like pasticada and fritule.
  • Local Wine: Croatia has a burgeoning wine scene, with vineyards producing unique and high-quality wines. You can visit wineries and enjoy wine tastings.
  • Less Crowded: While both Croatia and Greece are popular summer destinations, some parts of Croatia can be less crowded, offering a more relaxed travel experience.
  • National Parks and Nature: Croatia's natural beauty extends beyond the coast to lush forests, lakes, and rivers, providing opportunities for outdoor activities like hiking, rafting, and kayaking.

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