These Summer Vacation Spots Will Dominate Your Instagram Feed
As the thermostat rises and sunlight lingers a little longer each day, we have one thing on our minds: summer vacations. With the sunny season a mere month away, it’s time to start planning your next getaway. We spoke to Rebecca Warren, Lonely Planet’s U.S. destination editor, to find out which hot spots will dominate your Instagram feed in 2016. From azure beaches and candlelit piazzas to vibrant cities and hiking adventures, there’s something for every traveler’s taste. Repeat after us: Scroll, select, and book. Your next summer vacation awaits!
Perched between Sicily and the North African coast, Malta is the perfect European summer destination for seasoned travelers in search of their next white-sand playground. The tiny island nation was named by The New York Times as a top place to go in 2016, thanks to its “superb climate, sublime beaches, megalithic temples, and a distinctive crossroads culture.” Take your pick from three inhabited islands: buzzing Malta, tranquil Gozo, and car-free Comino. Valletta, a UNESCO World Heritage city, celebrates its 450th anniversary this year, so expect a lineup of spectacular cultural events.
“With the Summer Olympics taking place in Rio, many travelers will take advantage of the relaxed visa rules to visit Brazil,” says Warren. Brazilian officials have waived the standard visa requirements ($160 and a consulate appointment) and will allow U.S. travelers to explore the country hassle-free between June 1 and September 18.
Warren recommends straying beyond the capital city. “[Travelers will] also add on side trips to explore the country, including the enchanting Costa Verde, as well as adding excursions to other South American countries, with Uruguay and Peru both being popular choices,” she says.
Keen to see more of Brazil? This summer, travelers will tap into the Azul Brazil Air Pass, an offer described as the “world’s best airfare deal,” which allows travelers 10 days of unlimited flights throughout the country for $299. Just be sure to visit Rio’s Niterói Contemporary Art Museum before you go. The UFO-like structure will host the Louis Vuitton cruise fashion show at the end of May, and is a must-see for its clifftop views alone.
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With its bustling piazzas, old-world ruins, glistening waters, and surrounding mountains, it’s no wonder Kotor topped Lonely Planet’s "Best in Travel" list for 2016. One of Europe’s best-kept secrets, the Balkan town captures the charm of its neighbor, Dubrovnik, without the overwhelming crowds. The fortified town hugs the Adriatic coast and has two tiny islands off its shores, including the Island of Saint George, a natural formation with a 12th-century monastery.
Cuba has dominated travel news in 2016, and this summer, it’s about to get even more popular. “The recent historic visit of the Obamas to Cuba has only added to the excitement and buzz around this beautiful and intriguing island,” says Warren. “As more travel avenues open up for tourists to explore Cuba, this destination will only go up in popularity.”
This week, the first U.S. cruise ship in 48 years docked in Havana, a sign that this vibrant city will soon be abuzz with tourists. Take our word for it, and start planning your trip now—this is the summer of Havana.
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Ireland’s capital might be best known for its bustling pubs and locally brewed alcohol (it is the home of Guinness and Jameson, after all), but there’s much more to Dublin than a perfectly poured pint. Thanks to literature giants like James Joyce, W.B. Yeats, and Oscar Wilde, Dublin has a rich scholarly heritage.
Add Trinity College to your list of things to see; visiting the prestigious university library will feel like you’ve stepped into Hogwarts. Be sure to venture to Northern Ireland, too. Dunluce Castle, a 16th-century medieval structure, and Giant’s Causeway, a stunning natural rock formation, are well worth the transit time.
The National Park Services turns 100 this August, so expect to see more breathtaking trails and mountain peaks on your Instagram feed.
“There are special events all year long to celebrate, but the summer is prime time to enjoy the unparalleled beauty that parks offer,” says Warren.
Among the must-see destinations are the Great Smoky Mountains, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Joshua Tree National Park. While the daytime temperature sizzles during the summer months, Warren points out that Joshua Tree National Park is ideal for stargazing in August, when the annual Perseid meteor shower lights up the night sky.
A snorkeling photo in Palau is enough to stop you in your Instagram-scrolling tracks. The Micronesian nation is made up of more than 500 islands, one of which is home to the aptly named Jellyfish Lake, a landlocked body of water teeming with millions of harmless translucent jellyfish. While it might sound like some traveler’s worst nightmare, snorkeling in the lake is one of Palau’s top highlights. Just be sure to pack your GoPro—this is one holiday photo you don’t want to miss.
If you’re looking to travel far from U.S. shores and have enough annual leave to burn (read: one week, minimum), now is the time to visit Australia. Thanks to the relatively low Australian dollar and drop in fuel prices, which has halved in the last 18 months, the long-haul flight is more affordable than ever. Yes, spending your mid-year months here is technically during winter, but June to August is the best time to visit Far North Queensland, when the temperature is still warm and tropical, rainfall is minimal, and whales migrate up the coast.
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If your summer vacation includes a few younger travelers, Warren says a city stay should be at the top of your list. “Cities offer so much for families to explore in relatively compact areas, and are a great way to get some fun educational activities in over the summer as well,” she says. So, where to?
Warren says Washington, D.C., and Detroit will see a surge in visitors this summer. Reserve tickets to Icebergs, a surreal art installation at the National Building Museum, or take the family to the recently opened world’s largest penguin conservatory at Detroit Zoo. “There are clear viewing tunnels 25 feet under the tank that allows visitors to be wowed as penguins dive and swim all around them,” she says.
Portugal’s Algarve Coast often features on summer destination hot lists, but its Northern cousin, Porto, is starting to steal the attention. And so it should: Porto is a historical city boasting romantic cobbled streets, stunning Baroque architecture, and a vibrant arts scene. Add to that a UNESCO World Heritage–listed city center and unmatched wine culture, and you’ve got all the makings of an epic summer vacation.
According to AirBnb, Porto is a top travel destination for San Franciscans, and has seen a spike in American visitors over the last year. Be sure to sample the city’s drink of choice, port wine. The fortified wine is produced exclusively in the Douro Valley, which is accessible by boat or train from the city.