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Avoid the Crowds: 8 Alternative Summer Destinations

Save the hotspots for shoulder season

The summer vacation in Rome sounded so idyllic until you arrived and spent half your trip elbowing your way through boisterous crowds and the other half waiting in line for gelato. If you’re done with overcrowded tourist destinations, plan a trip to one of these under-the-radar gems and save the hotspots for shoulder season!

1. Mariager, Denmark

Don’t skip Copenhagen altogether, but after you’ve had your fill of the city rush, check out Odense on the island of Fune. Here you can explore the Hans Christian Andersen Museum and the spectacular Egeskov Castle, constructed in 1554. From there, head north to Mariager, where you can tour the Mariager fjord by boat, fish, or relax in the salt pool at the Mariager Saltcenter. It is the perfect destination for families, offering fun and activities for all ages.

2. Outer Hebrides, Scotland

The Outer Hebrides, also known as Scotland’s Western Isles, are composed of 119 islands, only 15 of which are inhabited. Soak in the diverse wildlife kayaking, canoeing, biking or simply wandering along the shores. Visit the Callanish Stones, which are said to be like “Stonehenge without the crowd or the price.”

3. The Alentejo, Portugal

If you’re going for a Mediterranean feel with a little slower pace, Portugal’s Alentejo region might be a perfect alternative. With quiet beaches, lush, rolling hills dotted with cork oak, and an abundance of fresh seafood, you’ll fall in love with South Portugal.

4. Salt Cay, Turks & Caicos Islands

If you can’t imagine a vacation without fast wifi, amazing shopping, and an outstanding nightlife, then Salt Cay is not for you. This sparsely populated Turks and Caicos island has just 3 restaurants (all of which specialize in seafood), and most travel on the island is done by golf cart. Fill your lazy afternoons with scuba diving, whale-watching, or simply hit the beach with a book.

5. Nuuksio National Park, Finland

With nearly 190,000 lakes and 73% of its land covered in trees, Finland is the ultimate destination for a wilderness retreat. Nuuksio National Park is located within the Helsinki metro area and is a perfect destination for camping, hiking, fishing and swimming. For something a little more remote, try Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park in Finland’s Lapland region.

6. Sofia, Bulgaria

Sofia consistently ranks as one of Europe’s most affordable capitals, offering creative travelers the 5-star experience for a totally affordable price. Get your fill of history, architecture, and music in this beautiful capital city. Indulge in Bulgarian cuisine, noted for its rich pastries, grilled meats, and refreshing salads.

7. São Francisco do Sul, Brazil

Founded by the Portuguese in 1658, São Francisco do Sul is the third oldest city in all of Brazil. Despite its historical significance, São Francisco’s tourists are mainly locals looking for a beautiful weekend getaway. Check out some of the many beaches, museums, and parks or take a boat tour during your stay. If you go during the months of June through July, keep in mind that this is technically the winter season. The weather is usually mild during the day, but jackets are needed at night.

8. Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

Although the Phi Phi Islands have seen a tourism boom in recent years, they’ve somehow managed to retain a slow, laid-back pace. If you’re looking for outdoor adventure, sunshine and amazing food, head to Thailand. The sparkling scenery of these pristine islands exceeds expectations.

Shawna Levet

Shawna is passionate about helping travel agents grow their business and expand their knowledge as travel experts. She has been in the travel industry since 2011, helping agents and travelers alike find the best negotiated airfare and travel coverage to meet their needs.

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