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6 Underrated Summer Travel Ideas to Avoid Crowds And Venture Off the Beaten Path

May 8, 2024

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a cozy living room with a striped couch and two yellow leather chairs

IMAGE COURTESY OF HOTEL SANDERS

Now is the time everyone is booking summer travel. Tried-and-true destinations are popular for a reason — and are likely to be booked up. But it’s worth venturing to lesser-known locales. Not only will you avoid the crowds by doing so, you’ll also help counteract overtourism.

Below, we have listed a few alternatives to the traditional summer spots (Italy, Paris) that will inevitably be awash with tourists this summer. Sometimes the wisdom of crowds doesn’t apply. 

Instead of Spain, consider Budapest

a modern hotel room with a pink chair and a painting of a person holding a palm leaf in front of a purple background

IMAGE COURTESY OF FOUR SEASONS HOTEL GRESHAM PALACE BUDAPEST

Spain will be packed with tourists this summer, but we have an alternative idea: Budapest. The fairytale-like Hungarian capital is brimming with charm and culture. Plus, it’s under-the-radar enough where you’ll be able to avoid absurdly large crowds while still getting a healthy dose of convivial summer energy. Budapest is in fact a dual city, consisting of Buda and Pest, which are separated by the Danube. Either side merits ample wandering.

Meander along cobblestone streets, savour chicken paprikash in local bistros (or Michelin-Starred dining at a chic gourmet restaurant) and marvel at the city’s ornate, historic architecture. Don’t miss exploring Castle Hill, where you’ll find the famed Buda Castle, a Baroque masterpiece. The neoclassical St. Stephen’s Basilica is also a site to behold. (Listen to the church’s organist if you can.)

As for where to stay, Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest is a sophisticated, beautiful option housed in a 20th-century palace in the bustling Belváros-Lipótváros district. Another option is the regal Párisi Udvar Hotel Budapest, with a premier location near some of the city’s top sites, including Dohány Street Synagogue and the Széchenyi Chain Bridge.

WeGalavant Perks at Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest:

  • When you book Four Seasons with WeGalavant, you will enjoy exclusive Four Seasons Preferred Partner amenities. We’ll be pleased to give you more details.

WeGalavant Perks at Párisi Udvar Hotel Budapest:

  • £75 hotel / resort credit, welcome amenity, breakfast daily, upgrade & early check-in whenever possible.

Instead of the UK, consider Denmark

a sprawling living room with a yellow couch and blue walls

IMAGE COURTESY OF NOBIS HOTEL COPENHAGEN

There’s a reason Denmark is often cited as one of the world’s happiest countries. Copenhagen in particular offers a dynamic urban landscape with a local feel and an overall sunny disposition. The city is a great alternative to busy UK locales like London. Even better, there are direct flights from New York and Los Angeles to the Danish capital. 

In the summer months, people flock to Copenhagen’s numerous rooftops for al-fresco drinks. And the Louisiana Art Museum’s outdoor Sculpture Park and seaside views are especially pleasant during this time of year. Plus, if you want to extend your trip, Copenhagen is an easy ferry ride away from Sweden. 

Hotel-wise, Nobis Hotel Copenhagen, Nimb Hotel and Hotel Sanders are three great luxurious, design-forward options.

WeGalavant Perks at Nobis Hotel Copenhagen:

  • A welcome amenity, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

WeGalavant Perks at Nimb Hotel:

  • £75 food / beverage credit, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

WeGalavant Perks at Hotel Sanders:

  • Complimentary three-course dinner for two, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Instead of the Greek islands & Athens, consider the Mani Peninsula

a seaside resort pool flanked by white loungers and wooden cabañas

IMAGE COURTESY OF MANDARIN ORIENTAL, COSTA NAVARINO

The Mani Peninsula is a veritable hidden gem in Greece. The mountainous region is part of Peloponnese, in Southern Greece, and is dotted with quiet fishing villages, rugged coastline, caves and cliffs.

The Greek islands in summer get overcrowded quickly. In contrast, the Peloponnese is far less travelled, and offers a more authentic, local experience. The region’s beaches are not to be missed, nor are the charming towns. (Nafplio is a great first stop while on your way to Mani, and Kardamili is another lovely village.)

Don’t miss the area’s historical sites either. The Archaeological Site of Olympia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, hosted the very first first Olympic Games in 776 BC. In Mani, the 13th-century Venetian Methoni Palace begs to be explored.

There are rugged hikes amid ancient landscapes (the peninsula is believed to have once been home to the Spartans) and charming hilltop villages amid olive groves and centuries-old stone towers. The beaches are dotted with hidden coves and impossibly clear waters. The pace of life here is blissfully laid-back — and it’s blissfully uncrowded.

The new Mandarin Oriental, Costa Navarino, is perfect for adults looking for a luxe, sleek escape. For a family-friendly resort, The Westin Resort, Costa Navarino is a solid option.

Kinsterna Hotel, a historic mansion amid olive groves and citrus trees, is another gem. The five-star hotel is the perfect homebase for exploring the nearby Laconian Castle of Monemvasia.

WeGalavant Perks at Mandarin Oriental, Costa Navarino:

  • £75 food / beverage or spa credit, a welcome amenity, breakfast daily and an upgrade.

WeGalavant Perks at The Westin Resort, Costa Navarino:

  • A welcome amenity, breakfast daily, an upgrade & extended check-in/out.

WeGalavant Perks at Kinsterna Hotel:

  • £75 hotel / resort credit, welcome amenities, breakfast daily and an upgrade.

Instead of Paris, consider Prague

a luxe hotel room with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a river

IMAGE COURTESY OF FOUR SEASONS HOTEL PRAGUE

Paris is always a good idea, but this summer, it may not be. The 2024 Olympic Games will bring in waves of additional tourists, and soaring prices along with it. En lieu of the French capital, consider Prague.

The Czech capital looks as though it’s been plucked from a fairytale — medieval bridges and architecture, cobblestone streets, castles and clocks add to its magic. Even better, the city is far more affordable than Paris.

Another plus: Prague is compact and easily navigable. Many of the city’s top sites are within walking distance, too. Prague’s history is vast, spanning from the Holy Roman Empire to Habsburg rule and beyond. Plus, with fewer crowds, you’ll be able to enjoy an overall more relaxed pace.

One of the top Prague hotel picks is the Four Seasons Hotel Prague, right on the Old Town Square.

WeGalavant Perks at Four Seasons Hotel Prague:

  • When you book Four Seasons with a us, you will enjoy exclusive Four Seasons Preferred Partner amenities. We’ll be pleased to give you more details.

Instead of Mexico, consider Puerto Rico

an outdoor yellow colonnade with tables and chairs over a floor with a checkered pattern

IMAGE COURTESY OF HOTEL EL CONVENTO

Early summer (May and June) is the prime time to visit Puerto Rico. The weather is perfect — the bulk of the crowds have dwindled and the country’s rainy season has yet to begin. In contrast, later in the summer (July through August) sees heavy precipitation, but even fewer crowds. If you can’t make it down there in June, and don’t mind the chance of rain, consider a later summer month to travel.

Puerto Rico is endlessly vibrant. Starting with its energetic capital, there are tons of things to do in Old San Juan, from visiting historical sites to wandering along its cobblestone streets, popping into artisanal boutiques for handmade clothes and jewelry. And the beaches, of course, are not to be missed. Another must-visit is El Yunque National Forest, a biodiverse wonderland complete with ample hiking trails and waterfalls and a short day trip from the urban centre.

In San Juan, stay at Hotel El Convento, a boutique gem housed in a former convent, or the opulent Condado Vanderbilt Hotel. For a beachfront resort moment, the Fairmont El San Juan Hotel and The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort are two top options. 

WeGalavant Perks at Hotel El Convento:

  • £75 hotel / resort credit, breakfast daily, an upgrade & extended check-in/out.

WeGalavant Perks at Fairmont El San Juan Hotel:

  • Hotel / resort credit, a welcome amenity, breakfast daily, an upgrade & extended check-in/out.

WeGalavant Perks at The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort:

  • £75 hotel / resort credit, breakfast daily, an upgrade & extended check-in/out.

Instead of New York City, consider Toronto

a large room with a zig-zag floor pattern and a large black-and-white painting

IMAGE COURTESY OF PARK HYATT TORONTO

In the summer, NYC is hot (both literally and figuratively). For an alternative city vacation that also has a bustling vibe, great gastronomic scene, world-class museums and personality-driven neighbourhoods, Toronto is a great choice.

Ontario’s capital is also Canada’s largest city, and you won’t be at a loss for things to see and do. Take in panoramic views from atop the CN Tower (you can even spot Niagara Falls on a clear day), check out the varied art exhibitions and galleries at the Royal Ontario Museum, stop by the Hockey Hall of Fame or meander among the gardens and memorials in Queen’s Park.

As for hotels, you can’t go wrong with the Fairmont Royal York, Four Seasons Hotel Toronto, Park Hyatt Toronto or the Kimpton Saint George Hotel, all of which boast ideal locations and tasteful decor.

WeGalavant Perks at Fairmont Royal York:

  • £75 food / beverage credit, breakfast daily, an upgrade & extended check-in/out.

WeGalavant Perks at Four Seasons Hotel Toronto:

  • When you book Four Seasons with us you will enjoy exclusive Four Seasons Preferred Partner amenities. We’ll be pleased to give you more details.

WeGalavant Perks at Park Hyatt Toronto:

  • £75 hotel / resort credit, a welcome amenity, breakfast daily, an upgrade & extended check-in/out.

WeGalavant Perks at Kimpton Saint George Hotel:

  • £35 hotel / resort credit, welcome amenities, an upgrade & late check-out.

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