Where to Go in July: 20 Great Summer Travel Spots

July 9, 2013 by

Things to Do, Travel Advice & Inspiration

“Summertime, and the livin’ is easy,” wrote composer George Gershwin almost 100 years ago, and the mood has shifted little since. It’s not just a good time for barbecue sauce and grill sales, but also for traveling. With July fast upon us, the global tourist industry is laying out the red carpet, opening its doors, and is enticing visitors inside. In addition to the established historical sites and natural wonders, destinations are adding an ever growing schedule of events and festivals to the resume. It’s not just about where you go anymore, but what you do. Below are some of our favorites for the month of July.

Calgary, Canada

Calgary in summer

Calgary in summer

Calgary may have been chosen to host the 1988 Olympics in winter, but summertime now offers just as many options, if not more. Situated in foothills and prairie along the Bow River in southern Alberta, Canada’s third largest city is also the world’s cleanest, according to Forbes magazine, which means a lot of nature tourism on tap, especially in Canada Olympic Park, where mountain bike trails and zip lines take over the mountain slopes. In July, the city’s event season reaches a peak at the annual Calgary Stampede. The 10-day “greatest outdoor show on earth” rolls out the rodeo by day and concerts by night.

Read more: How to Plan a Trip for the Calgary Stampede

The Pacific Northwest

Despite the many complaints of inhabitants of the Pacific Northwest about the rainy weather, it’s one of the best places to beat the heat during July, with an average of just 76 °F (24 °C). In addition, there an endless supply of fantastic destinations, whether exploring the vibrant cultural centers of Seattle, Vancouver, and Portland; heading inland to parks like Olympic National Park; or cruising off-shore to watch killers whales frolic and hunt in the Pacific waters.

Scandinavia

Norway in summer

Norway in summer

Who doesn’t love a cooling fjord in the summer? Luckily, Norway alone has several thousand, but they’re just the start of the four-country region that’s at its best in the summer. Whether it’s dipping into the North Sea, rocking out at Europe’s largest music festival in Copenhagen, or joining thousands of Swedes in summer cabins around the country’s 100,000 deserted lakes, plan for lots of daytime activities in the nearly 24-hour white Scandinavian sun.

United Kingdom

Some might say that Britannia rules the most in July, when the islands’ sea breezes provide a measure of relief from the sun. No doubt you’ll share the road with thousands of tourists, but if you vacate the London area, the majority can be avoided. In Wales, stop at the 16th annual Big Cheese festival, which celebrates 2,000 years of inhabitation around Caerphilly Castle. From there, cross the Irish Sea to Northern Ireland to visit the Bushmill’s whiskey distillery, and then back to Scotland, which has declared 2013 the “Year of Natural Scotland,” and is living up to the claim.

Alaska

You might not actually be able to see Russia from your house, but there’s still plenty of worthy alternatives. As one of the last true wilds of nature in North America, Alaska attracts nature lovers to its 54 million acres of national parks, especially Denali National Park & Preserve—home to Mount Whitney, Kahiltna Glacier, and herds of caribou. July is also an ideal time for fishing, with halibut and king salmon derbies throughout the state. However, the famous aurora borealis may be elusive as the near constant daylight makes it difficult to see.

Plan a visit to Denali National Park

Washington DC

Washington DC in summer

Summer is a great time to see the sights in and around DC

The nation’s capital is always a top choice to on Independence Day, especially for the impressive fireworks display launched from Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. But July brings a host of other events and festivals alongside such well-established attractions like the Smithsonian Museum, Ford’s Theater, and the Washington Monument. Not only do free evening concerts abound throughout the city, but movie classics are screened at the National Harbor on the Potomac River. Round off the visit with a day at the ballpark to watch the Washington Nationals.

Browse sightseeing tickets and passes in Washington DC

Boston

In summer much of New England flocks to Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard to enjoy the cool ocean waters and enjoy seasonal fun like mini-golf, sailing, and waking (or biking) the many seaside nature trails. Bostonians take advantage of the extra space with its own festivals and events, starting with the spectacular Independence Day celebrations along the Charles River. The rest of the month has plenty of fun as well, from the five-day Boston Harbor Festival to nine days of free music and performing at the Outside the Box festival. And what summer in Boston is complete without a frank at Fenway Park?

Read more about summer in Boston

London

Buckingham Palace in summer

Buckingham Palace

There’s a reason London was the most visited city in the world in 2012. With its unique combination of history, style, and energy; the city rarely fails to amaze visitors. Not only does the summer weather often bring a reduction in the rain that famously falls so often, but it motivates Londoners to the city’s more than 200 parks and natural areas, especially Royal Richmond Park, a 2,500-acre nature reserve known for its 650 free roaming deer. However the city center is just as busy in July 2013 with events like the Henley Royal Regatta, Wimbledon, and the Coronation Festival, marking the Queen’s 60th year on the throne.

Northern Australia

Encompassing Queensland and the Northern Territory, Northern Australia is known for its rugged mountains, dense rainforests, and aboriginal culture. Alongside the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns combines the best snorkeling in the world with crocodile spotting in the thick rainforests, which cover 70 percent of Queensland. A thousand miles to the west, Darwin, the capital city of the Northern Territory, stays consistently hot throughout the year. The nearly always sunny skies keep the beach markets and entertainment and dining venues around Wharf Precinct busy. For a walkabout in the outback, head south to Ayers Rock, a sandstone plateau sacred to Aborigines.

Bali

Ulan Danu Temple in Bali

Ulan Danu Temple in Bali

Most people return from Bali with a dazed glint in the eye, as if they’ve been struck by beauty’s version of Medusa. The reason? It only starts with the palm-fringed beaches and goes on to include the impossibly lush rice-terraced valleys, ancient Hindu temples, dramatic volcanoes, and tropical palate of flowers. Most people consider July one of the best times to visit during the year as the normally hot climate cools to the 70s °F and stays predominantly dry. July adds events like the Ubud Village Jazz and International Choir festivals.

Seoul, Korea

Korea’s largest city earns its fame from centuries at the center of politics, business and art. Yet, Seoul is a strikingly modern and technological city with an almost New York buzz. Recent beautification projects, especially around the Han River encourage people to stay out, as does a thriving entertainment community with everything from ancient traditional dance to punk rock. While there in July, don’t forget to grab a moonlight tour Changdeok Palace or stop into the Culture Street Art Festival on Saturday nights. Better yet, head about 100 miles south to the Boryeong Mud Festival to join more than 2 million attendees slathering and partying in the purported mineral-laden mud.

Read more about Seoul in summer

Singapore       

Singapore at night

Singapore

“No one does summer like Your Singapore” declares the island country’s board of tourism, and they just might be right. The “little red dot,” of just 224 square miles, loads up on festivals and events in July to complement the parties on the beaches, rainforest treks, cruises to the “white lion.” The Singapore Street festival brings out the youth talent via performances and workshops, while the Food Festival celebrates homegrown culinary talent all month. July 2013 also marks the 20th anniversary of the Great Singapore Sale, an island-wide shopping extravaganza with sales on virtually everything, especially local products.

Southern France

French Riviera beaches

Visit the beach on the French Riviera

Few places in the world can match the magic of the French Riviera in summer. Since Roman times, Côte d’Azur has attracted elites of all flavors to its Mediterranean shores for the near flawless weather, sunbathing, and dining on the renowned regional cuisine. The Belle Époque added the mansions, casinos, and royal favor, as well as the artists who celebrated it with some of the most famous canvases in the world. July initiates the high season and offers festivities to match, starting with Bastille Day celebrations; Jazz à Juan, the oldest jazz festival in all of Europe; and the artsy Festival d’Avignon.

Nova Scotia

Throughout the entire year, Nova Scotia is no stranger to stunning scenery and natural wonders, but the summer is by far the most comfortable to see them. The sun is out and the countryside taken over by bikers, hikers, and cruisers. Visitors also make the most of the 4,500-mile coastline; either on the 100 beaches, kayaking off-shore, or watching more than a dozen species of whale cavort in the Bay of Fundy. This year, July marks the 300th birthday of Louisbourg, which is celebrating in grand style with concerts, feasting, and arts and crafts fairs. Over in Halifax, the province capital, the annual jazz festival shares the bill with the Maritime Fiddle Festival.

Salt Lake City

With its Mormon heritage, Salt Lake City admits being different than most but considers this a positive. About the size of Providence, Rhode Island, the city packs just as much into its summers as its famously ski-friendly winters. No doubt, July is hot, but the breezes of the Great Salt Lake and its elevation at 4,330 feet keep it cool enough to enjoy the activities. In addition to a relaxing evening in Temple Square and strolling among the buffalo on Antelope Island State Park, visitors in July can watch concerts at Red Butte Garden amphitheater or shake it up at the Utah Reggae Festival in Liberty Park.

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe in summer

Lake Tahoe in summer

The cobalt-blue waters of North America’s largest alpine lake look especially refreshing in the summer. Straddling California and Nevada at 6,225 feet, the resort town is most popular in July, when the high temperatures hover in the 70s, allowing visitors to comfortably trek this hiking trails, camp in the woods, and golfing the scenic courses. The month also makes a midsummer night’s dream come true at the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival and helps visitors find peace of mind and body at the Wanderlust Music & Yoga Festival. Thursday evenings, be sure to head to the historic downtown Truckee for the organic farmers’ market, live music, and a cold one in the beer garden.

Costa del Sol

The Coast of the Sun in the south of Spain may sound blazingly hot in July, but in fact, that area is one of the coolest in the season, keeping the water and air at very comfortable temperatures. It certainly gives more time to take in the incredibly rich cultural history of the Andalucia region, known for its attitude, art, and architecture. And then, of course, there’s the food, drawn from some of the best and freshest supplies of fish, grains, and produce in the world—enough to support five Michelin-starred restaurants. The region also hosts several noteworthy festivals and events in July, including the International Festival of Music and Dance and the Cordoba Guitar Festival.

Read more about summer in Costa del Sol

Croatia

Game of Thrones tour

Game of Thrones tour

Not that the “pearl of the Adriatic” needs any more praise, but its role as King’s Landing in the popular fantasy show Game of Thrones has re-established its must-see prominence with a new generation of visitors. As those who came before, they are stunned by the beauty of UNESCO World Heritage Site for its fairytale old town, pristine beaches, and excellent wine. Now, there are Game of Thrones tours to boot alongside July’s annual summer festival featuring eighty theatre, music, dance and film programs in the city’s churches, fortresses, squares and streets.

Kenya and Tanzania

There are already dozens of reasons to visit Kenya and Tanzania during the summer. Prices are low, the nature virtually untouched, and the countries’ south-of-the-equator location means the coolest weather of the year. But in July, one of the greatest shows on Earth begins with the annual migration (the largest in the world) of millions of zebra, wildebeest, and antelope, who take the 1,800-mile journey from Tanzania’s Serengeti Plains to Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve in their search for food and water. Book a safari and enjoy the spectacle from the first row.

Mongolia

Few destinations are as far off the beaten tourist path as this central Asian country, known for its green mountains, yurts, grassy steppes, and huge Gobi desert. However, it’s precisely the reason that makes Mongolia so attractive to adventure seekers, who arrive in summer to travel the ancient Silk Road, swim in Khövsgöl Nuur lake, and ride horses across the stunning landscapes. July also hosts the country’s largest festival, Naadam, which features Mongolian wrestling, horse racing and archery at venues throughout the country. The biggest games, however, remain in the capital, Ulaanbaatar.

- Mike Dunphy

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3 Responses to “Where to Go in July: 20 Great Summer Travel Spots”

  1. stephen Says:

    Great! I wish to come here soon. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Joe Says:

    Great destinations, bout don’t you think costa del sol in july may be too hot! They can reach up to 44ºC!

  3. Carla Says:

    Great list of destinations.Last time I had gone to Washington state but there had no hiking trails. Don’t even bother coming up here. It rains all day, every day.It’s very boring here and actually kinda ugly. This time I will definitely tried one from the above list. Thanks for shared this interesting and happening information.

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