Summer is the season for fun in the sun, but there’s so much to see and do beyond the beach. Looking to plan an adventure in a place that isn’t totally taken over by tourists? Consider a vacation that’s not on the beach but will still allow you to score a little quiet R&R, soak up the vitamin D, and explore some of the world’s most photo-worthy national parks, major metros, and cultural hubs. We talked to the team at Topdeck travel to handpick 10 unique locales to explore solo or with your BFFs this summer. Here’s to making warm-weather (non-beach) memories you’ll cherish forever.
1. Japan: Love traditional culture mixed with a modern appeal? The Topdeck team says nowhere beats Japan. “Walk through beautiful temples, bask in the views from Mt. Fuji, and try Japanese beer — you’ll truly feel like you’re in another world,” they tell us. Don’t forget to pencil in a couple of days just for Tokyo; the expansive city is chock-full of streets, museums, and ultra-cool shops you’ll want to experience and explore.
2. Zimbabwe: “Forget Niagara Falls — you can find the largest waterfall in the world at Victoria Falls, between Zimbabwe and Zambia,” the Topdeck team reveals. “Spot every character from The Lion King on an African safari in Matobo National Park and get a serious adrenaline boost at the Instagram-worthy Gorge Swing.”
3. Scandinavia: A visit to some of the happiest countries in the world may be just the summer vacation you need! “Discover the serious fashion in Stockholm, visit the fjords of Norway, and wander the colorful streets of Copenhagen,” the folks at Topdeck suggest. Want to hit ’em all at once? Consider booking a scenic cruise that’ll let you spend a day or two in several key cities. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more pristine and positive-feeling place anywhere in the world.
4. Singapore: Yes, there are beaches in Singapore; however, we hear that the real draw of this Asian island is the actual city. “Explore the lantern-lined streets, walk through the picturesque Gardens of the Bay nature park, and spend hours eating famous dishes like Or Luak, Char Kway Teow, and Satay in the Chinatown Food Street,” the team advises.
5. Morocco: It’s not your imagination — people are flocking to Morocco for inspiration. The Topdeck team has some advice on how to best do this destination: “To catch the magical vibes of the Middle East, visit the Red City of Marrakech, stop in Casablanca and the UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization] World Heritage capital of Rabat, and spend a night in the Sahara Desert, where you can ride camels.” Talk about an experience that’s truly unlike any other!
6. Queenstown: “While we’re just approaching spring and summer here in the US, down in New Zealand, winter is well on its way,” the team reminds us. “The South Island is a perfect place for adrenaline junkies; you’ll have awesome opportunities to explore ice caves at Fox Glacier, bungee jump, or hang glide in Queenstown.” If you’re a more relaxed type of traveler, plan to bask in the beauty of the fjords at Fiordland National Park.
7. Australia: You might think beaches when you picture Australia’s coast, but Topdeck tells us the Northern Territory is an underrated region you should have on your radar. “This section of Australia is famous for its views,” the team shares. “Catch one of the best sunsets you’ll ever see in Ululu, walk among the more than 30 red sandstone giants in the Valley of the Winds, and try a scenic helicopter flight over Kings Canyon.” Count us in.
8. The UK: London is top-of-mind for many, thanks to the royals, but the surrounding areas are just as picturesque as England’s best-known metro. “Explore beyond the limits of the cosmopolitan city to find the quaint and historic cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. Tour Medieval castles and view gothic architecture before hitting up a local pub for fish and chips or a hearty stew,” Topdeck suggests. History buffs, we see your heart eyes.
9. Alaska: You can soak up 20 hours of sunshine a day in the summer in Alaska, which makes it an epic spot for nature lovers. There are tons of incredible things to see and do with all that extra daylight too. “Tour Denali National Park and keep your eyes open to see moose, grizzlies, sheep, and more. Take a canoe out in the Tangle Lakes to spot beavers, and find glaciers and humpback whales in Prince William Sound,” the team advises. Alaska is also home to some of America’s most beautiful and quiet drives, which makes it ideal for a road trip.
10. Canada’s Rocky Mountains: “Even if you’ve seen the American Rockies, the views from the Canadian Rockies will blow your mind,” the Topdeck team promises. “From the crystal clear waters of Banff National Park and Lake Louise to the Columbia Icefield and the highest peak in the Rockies, Mount Robson, there won’t be enough film or memory in the world to capture the beauty of this amazing place.” Maximize your fun by taking full advantage of available outdoor activities, like camping, hiking, kayaking, scenic walks, and more.
Have you been to any of these non-beach destinations? Show us your best shots on Instagram by tagging @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)