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8 Alternative Summer Holiday Destinations

What are you looking for in alternative summer holiday destinations?

Generally I’m going to say everyone is looking for three things.

1. guaranteed hot weather

2. a good deal and

3. to be somewhere beautiful.

We all know islands can get busy in the height of the season and large crowds can work to diminish that much sort after holiday vibe. So here are 8 great alternative summer holiday destinations that will offer so so so much more than busy hotels and crowded beaches.

France – alternative summer holiday destinations

France Alternative Summer Holiday Destinations
Strasbourg France
Wilatlak Villette / Getty Images

Doesn’t seem very alternative? Let me tell you, France is SUCH a diverse country!

You can explore impressive mountain ranges, historical cities, world renowned theme parks and some of the most beautiful coastline all in the one country!

Take some time to visit cultural hot spots like Paris, Bordeaux and Strasbourg before driving up into the mountains to enjoy the breathtaking views in places like Annecy, Chambery and Chamonix.

Then when you are ready for some true rest and relaxation head to the French Riviera and sun yourself in Saint-Tropez, Nice, Menton and Monaco.

And if you feel like you need to stop off for some fun and frolics head to Disneyland Paris for a couple of days.

The options are endless. One of the best ways to discover France for yourself is to go on your very own driving holiday which is an alternative summer holiday all in itself!

Italy – a great alternative summer holiday destination

Italy Alternative Summer Holiday Destinations
Taormina, Sicily Italy
(shutter stock)

Italy is just the summer holiday destination gift that will just keep giving again and again and again!

For me Italy is broken into three parts: the north, the middle and the south. They are all amazing, all different from each other and all brilliant summer holiday destinations!

If you choose to go north Milan, Venice, Como, Verona, Trieste and Cinque Terre will offer culture, a cosmopolitan feel and style in bucket loads.

The middle of Italy gives you beauty with rolling hills, wonderfully ornate cities and picture perfect coastlines with places like Florence, Rome, Perugia, San Marino, Sorrento, Almafli, Positano and Pompei.

The south is much drier, harsher, dustier and hotter. However, with that comes some of the most impressive places I have ever seen. Cities like Lecce on the mainland and Syracuse in Sicily need to be seen to be believed and Trapani, Marsala and beautiful beautiful Taormina make the perfect backdrops to any story from ancient Roman mythology.


Croatia Alternative Summer Holiday Destinations
Town of Pag, Croatia

This country is a real mix of great cities to explore and unique coastline to discover. Croatia doesn’t have sandy beaches, but what it does have is bags and bags of charm, glorious weather and history, loads and loads of history.

In the north of Croatia Umag, Rovinj and Pula have a very Italian feel. In this area you will find Roman ruins, beautiful countryside and cute little port towns.

Further south along the coast brings you to Zadar which is small but undeniably beautiful. In complete contrast to this is nearby Pag, which is like driving on to the moon.

Split and the Makarska Riviera are breathtaking and offer the chance to island hop through places like trendy Hvar and Bol. There are also ample opportunities to take a trip to Mostar in Bosnia, which is a must!

Then there is of course Dubrovnik. The city of a million steps! It’s hard to describe this city as there are so many facets to it. The wall, the harbour, the streets, the steps. It’s one for the bucket list that’s for sure!


USA Alternative Summer Holiday Destinations
North Carolina Outer Banks USA

The good ole US of A makes a great holiday destination at any time of the year.

However, us Brits tend to concentrate on a few tried and tested places when it comes to spending our summer holiday dollar bucks.

But, what if I said there is sooo much more to see?

Here’s a short list of other places to look at:

  • Boston – a pretty east-coast city which ranks as one of the top 10 best places to work in the world!
  • Washington DC – impressive, interesting, historical and magnificent. It really is a must see.
  • North Carolina – beautiful beaches.
  • New Orleans – swamps, crocodiles, gumbo and a vitality that is infectious.
  • Nashville – honky tonk bars and great live music.
  • Chicago – deep dish pizza, Navy Pier, Cloud Gate and a cool, sophisticated edge right on Lake Michigan!
  • Lake Tahoe – beautiful beaches around a huge lake. Wonderful mountainous backdrop and not too far from Vegas.
  • San Diego – Cool, beachy and a very short distance from Mexico so you could take a day trip to Tijuana!


Spain Alternative Summer Holiday Destinations

  • Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias
  • Valencia Spain
    (Luca Quadrio / Luca Quadrio)

    Spain is well know for it’s miles and miles of pristine, sandy beaches and a holiday anywhere along this stretch of coastline would be undoubtedly wonderful.

    However, if you are looking to throw a little culture into the beach scene, these are the areas you should be looking to go:

    • Barcelona – vibrant, exciting and full of history. This city has it all and fun can be found around every turn!
    • Granada – in the Andalusia region Granada is famous for its medieval architecture, moroccan influence and tapas!
    • Valencia – a city which has its roots held in place by its rich history but boldly looks out to the future with the development of places like Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias. Beaches and beautiful parks are all within walking distance from the centre of town too making it a great alternative summer holiday destinations.

    Portugal – alternative summer holiday destinations

    Portugal Alternative Summer Holiday Destinations
    Lisbon Portugal

    Known best for its seafood, beaches and a certain famous football player (although technically he is from Madeira). Portugal is a wonderful country packed full of beautiful cities and gorgeous golden coastline. If you are looking for an alternative summer holiday destinations (away from the Algarve) have a look at:

    • Lisbon – Small but well formed. This city is so pretty with its cobbled alleyways, tram lined streets and white domed cathedrals. It’s a wonderful place to spend some time. There is also a fantastic train line that runs west to take you to days out in places such as BelĂ©m Tower, Caxias and Cascais.

    Western Canada

    There is so much to say about Canada.

    It’s big, like really big. Every thing is off the scale. Mountains are huge, the views are breathtaking and the animals are wild in every sense of the word.

    We are going to concentrate on the west side of Canada starting with:

    • Banff and Jasper – ski in the winter, explore and walk in the summer. The mountains are beautiful, the scenery picture perfect and the towns (especially Banff) ooze charm.
    • Vancouver – from Gas Town to Stanley Park and Granville Island. There is so much to see and do. Also if you’re feeling flush you can splash out on a cruise to Alaska from here, which I have to say is one of the most incredible things I have ever done!
    • Vancouver Island – this place is just wonderful. It has a completely different feel to mainland Canada and places like Tofino (where we spotted Canadian PM Justin Trudeau), Nanaimo and Telegraph Cove make Vancouver Island a truly unique place to visit.
    • Whistler – is a two hour drive from Vancouver on the Sea to Sky Highway and it has to be one of the most beautiful drives in the world. Famous for its skiing in the winter, however there is just as much to do in the summer. This includes, but is not limited to, discovering bears on Whistler and Blackcomb mountain, hiking the summits after the cable car ride up, mountain biking and shopping in the village. Whistler will not disappoint.
    • Calgary – smaller in size but full of darling neighbourhoods, cowboy stampedes and beautiful public spaces.

    Austria – a great alternative summer holiday destination

    Austria Alternative Summer Holiday Destinations
    Hallstatt Austria

    The water will be cold as it is all snow melt from the mountains. However, Austria is a brilliant choice for an alternative summer holiday destination.

    Explore the hilltop fortress and Mozart’s House in Salzburg, experience the grand architecture and beautiful plazas in Vienna and the cute streets full of boutique shops in Innsbruck.

    Then spend some time unwinding in the mountains and lakes in places like Attersee, Wolfgangsee, Achensee, Mondsee and the biggest must see of all Lake Hallstatt!

    We spent an entire summer camping around Austria (while pregnant may I add too) and I would do it all again in a heartbeat!

    So, if you get fed up of the tried and tested, have a look at these places and have a go at forging your own paths across the world!

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    Looking for another fun holiday alternative? Ever thought about Lake Bled in Slovenia?

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