For many, the desire to travel peaks when summer rolls around. And with so many destinations experiencing warm weather and longer days, it’s hard to decide which vacation is right for you and your family. Maybe you’ll use this list to help you plan your vacation.
Like many modern cities, Dublin is a melting pot. Along with its traditional Irish culture, Dublin has been infiltrated by a host of glorious international influences. The city is the largest in Ireland, and its fast-growing immigrant population brings people from all over the world. The influence of these cultures is evident in the diverse and vibrant culinary scene that can be found here. That said, Dublin has held on to some of its classic characteristics. Known for its traditions, fine literature, folklore, customary music and dance, and fresh pints of Guinness are never in short supply. Travelers should expect to experience the traditional alongside the contemporary on their next trip to Dublin.
Dublin is one of the most walkable cities in Europe. Start in the north at Phoenix Park and head south to the River Liffey, cross the famous Ha’Penny Bridge and find your way to the medieval streets of Temple Bar. Pause for a pint before heading to the Trinity College campus. Shop along nearby Grafton Street before jaunting on to the peaceful St. Stephen’s Green. From there, literary fiends can drop by the Writers Museum or the James Joyce Centre while visitors that enjoy a drop of the good stuff can tour the Guinness Storehouse or the Old Jameson Distillery.
The sight of winding cobblestone streets and towering cathedrals; the sound of French pleasantries and tourists’ “Oohs;” the smell of fresh-baked bread and pungent cheese; the taste of creamy cafe lattes and buttery croissants. All your senses agree: You’re in France. But they’re wrong: You’re in Québec.
Québec City – the capital of the Canadian province, Québec – dwelled in the shadow of its neighbor, Montreal, for a long time, but the 2008 celebration of its 400th birthday catapulted Québec City back into the spotlight. Since then, travelers have flocked here to experience this UNESCO World Heritage site’s charm for themselves. As the birthplace of New France, Québec City continues to uphold the culture of its motherland. Upon passing through the fortified walls of Old Québec, you’ll discover a world straight out of a European painting: 17th- and 18th-century buildings house bakers, bistros and boutiques, while cobbled squares are drowned by a sea of cafe tables. And around every corner, a piece of Québec City’s rich heritage awaits discovery.
If you’re mesmerized by towering fortresses and lavish castles, you’ll be more than satisfied just wandering the ancient cobblestone streets of Old Québec. This UNESCO World Heritage site is the only walled city north of Mexico. Inside its fortifications, charming cafes and antique shops rub elbows with historic attractions like the Citadel and the Notre-Dame Basilica. When history starts to repeat itself and all the sights start to blend together, take in a breath of fresh air at Battlefields Park or Montmorency Falls. You can also combine history and nature with a walk along the scenic Terrasse Dufferin, where your stroll will be supplemented with fantastic city views.
Determining Puerto Rico’s charm is a no-brainer. Less than a three-hour flight from Miami, this island is a U.S. territory (in case you didn’t recall from high school history class). So when you’re shopping in San Juan, you can pay for your souvenirs with American bills. But don’t be mistaken: This isn’t quite a home away from home. Puerto Rico has both 20-foot waves for surfers and calm, clear waters for families. It’s a stroll back through time (El Morro) and an up-close look at the contemporary (Calle del Cristo). It’s an exhilarating mix of landscapes, from the serpentine jungle of El Yunque to the corkscrew caves of Parque de las Cavernas del Río Camuy. And if you want to get away from civilization entirely, you can ferry over to the secluded — not to mention jaw-droppingly gorgeous — islands of Vieques and Culebra. Convinced?
If not, we can drive a few further points home. When other Caribbean isles put a premium on wintertime at the beach, Puerto Rico offers year-round affordable packages so travelers can relax along its blanched sands. And while other regional spots like to advertise exciting nightlife, the capital city of San Juan actually delivers. Follow a pulsating beat to the dance clubs in the Santurce neighborhood, catch some live music in a Ponce lounge or grab a casual drink at a San Sebastián bar.
Puerto Rico’s attractions range from the adventurous (like the underground caves of Río Camuy Cave Park) to the historic (like the 500-year old walls of the El Morro fort). And there are plenty of options between the two extremes. Beach lovers must visit the western beaches of Rincón for sunbathing and surfing; snorkelers are bound to enjoy Vieques’ bioluminescent Mosquito Bay. And if you’re the kind of traveler who parties heartily, you’ll discover a varied but vibrant nightlife in San Juan.
Boston – or “Bahston,” as the locals say – is not only a hub for baseball, brownstones and bookish collegiate types. It’s also home to America’s first large free municipal public library, the first subway system, the first public school and the first public park. To say the city is historic would be an understatement, but this wicked smart college town doesn’t linger in the past, either. A well-rounded trip to Boston integrates the classic with the contemporary: Split your time between cherished sites like the Paul Revere House and Faneuil Hall and modern attractions like the Museum of Fine Arts. Venture to Beacon Hill and you’ll stumble upon the graceful mansions of yore juxtaposed with chic boutiques and innovative hotels. So, yes, come first for the history, but don’t miss out on the opportunity to sample the unmistakable Beantown flavor.
The city’s darker side has garnered a rough-and-tumble reputation thanks to Hollywood appearances in gritty films like “Black Mass,” “American Hustle” and “The Town,” but Boston’s cool, cosmopolitan personality pervades its trendy restaurants, urban parks and modern museums. Passionate residents are still rooting for their beloved Red Sox, but they’re also venturing to the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway for a free yoga class or meandering to the edgy SoWa Open Market for some antique shopping. So, grab a stool and join them at their favorite pub to chow down on oyster shooters and New England clam chowder, or venture to Back Bay to sip a coffee as you stroll along the trendy Newbury Street. You’ll need more than a few days to experience the city’s wealth of cultural and historical offerings, but meandering along Boston’s cobblestone streets is a great way to start your exploration.
Boston’s nearly four centuries of history are showcased by the city’s must-see sites. Start your city tour on the Freedom Trail, which will lead you to landmarks like the Paul Revere House and Boston Common. Or, discover Beantown’s artsy side at the Museum of Fine Arts and its fashion sense along Newbury Street. If you’re a fan of baseball, you can’t miss catching a game at Fenway Park, home to the beloved Red Sox. Though blowing through your travel fund is an easy thing to do in Boston, there are also plenty of things to do that won’t cost you a penny; the lovely Boston Public Garden and the lively Faneuil Hall Marketplace can be experienced without opening your wallet.
Porto has long been a hot destination for wine lovers — it’s the go-to place to find the best of that sweet, tasty port wine. But this city by the sea has more to offer than vinho. Porto (or Oporto, as it’s sometimes called) is an attractive European mini-metropolis on Portugal’s northwestern coast where travelers can get their fill of culture and the outdoors. Travelers can visit the city’s wealth of museums, admire its varied architecture and, of course, hit the beach.
The city earns its nickname Cidade das Pontes, or “City of Bridges,” from the six arches spanning the Rio Douro (Douro River), which runs along Porto’s southern edge. Views of the Douro River are best enjoyed from the Dom Luís I Bridge, the most iconic of Porto’s six structures. From here you can get a sense of Porto’s unique charm, from its colorful UNESCO World Heritage historic district to the north to the neighboring town of Vila Nova de Gaia just south, where you’ll find the region’s infamous wineries. You could spend a long weekend or a week here strolling the city, discovering the contemporary art in the Serralves Foundation complex and appreciating the history behind Porto’s old churches like the Sé and Igreja de São Francisco. No matter what you choose to see and do in this captivating city, you’ll leave with an appreciation of Porto’s diverse offerings, some great photos and, hopefully, a bottle or two of its best wine.
The charms of Porto are plentiful and this city’s laid-back vibe gives travelers to Europe a much-needed respite from the faster-paced, museum packed cities nearby. In Porto, you can take in the arresting views of the Rio Douro from a stroll across the Dom Luís I Bridge, admire the beach landscape on the city’s western coast and drink in the liveliness of the UNESCO World Heritage Ribeira District. Speaking of drinking, get ready to sip and saunter through Vila Nova de Gaia to taste the region’s famed port at its finest wine lodges. Those looking to enrich their minds with a little history and culture will enjoy visits to the Porto Cathedral, the São Bento Railway Station and the Stock Exchange Palace. Meanwhile, artsy types can see paintings, sculptures and more at the Museu Nacional de Soares dos Reis or the Serralves Foundation’s contemporary art museum.
See also: Best Summer Vacations #1; Best summer vacations #2