Great Spots for an Exotic July Vacation

A posh Italian resort town, a summer ski trip and some other getaways are perfect summer destinations. Put these spots on your “must go” list.

Cartagena, Colombia – Planning a trip to Cartagena in July is a no-brainer. A number of airlines offer direct flights from New York at just under 5 hours. With no time difference, visiting the seaside city over a long weekend is easier than ever. What’s more, you’ll avoid the crowds that flock to the bustling port during the holidays, and also have your pick of great hotels. Among the best are Casa San Agustin, Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa and Tcherassi Hotel & Spa. All are located within the walls of the old city.

Lake Como, Italy – There’s no better time than July for a bucket list-worthy trip to Lake Como. You really can’t go wrong any week of the month. Book a room at the iconic Villa d’Este and you’ll feel right at home: the hotel has been hosting a July 4th Gala for its American guests to enjoy since the 1920s, complete with a cocktail party, gala dinner, dance performance and, of course, fireworks on the lake. Don’t be surprised if your fellow attendees aren’t from the US – as it turns out, non-American visitors love participating in the revelry too. It’s a great celebration.

French Polynesia – July is one of the most festive times to vacation in the South Pacific because Bastille Day celebrations are in full swing. Locals and tourists partake in the Heiva festival which includes drumming, dancing, singing and rowing competitions. With more than 100 islands to choose from, you can’t go wrong when deciding where to stop first, but The Brando, a private island located on a three-mile wide lagoon, is widely considered the area’s most luxe resort. Between snorkeling, sunbathing and meditating on pristine beaches, the exotic getaway is truly an escape you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

Kenya, East Africa – July marks the beginning of the Great Migration in Kenya, wherein wildebeests and zebras attempt to dodge the enemy – crocodiles – as they make their way across Mara River. With cooler temperatures and clear blue skies, the mid-summer month is an ideal time to experience the Kenyan safari you’ve been talking about for so long.

Zurich, Switzerland – Zurich is perfect place to visit if you enjoy traditional summer activities minus the unbearable heat. The average temperature is in the low 70’s during July, making it an ideal time to take a dip in one of the city’s 18 outdoor bathing spots. From a cultural perspective, you can immerse yourself in Swiss art while taking in the scenic view of the Alps at the lakeside sculpture festival which takes place from mid-June to the beginning of August.

Baden-Baden, Germany – Located not far from Zurich, this charming yet lively spot is known as one of the most famous spa towns in Europe. What’s best about this destination is that there’s something for everyone to enjoy. There’s Merkur Mountain for the active tourists seeking a view, art exhibits and monuments for the history buff and an endless amount of spa options for those looking to unwind. With temperatures in the mid to high 70’s, July is one of the most pleasant times to enjoy all this city has to offer.

Mount Hutt, New Zealand – It’s entirely possible to get your powder fix in the middle of summer – as long as you don’t mind flying halfway around the world. New Zealand’s ski season runs from June to mid-October, which, despite being a fairly “off-peak” travel window for tourists, promises unbelievable conditions for snow bunnies. Just two hours outside of Christchurch, you’ll find the country’s stunning southern alps – and plenty of space on the slopes.

Quebec, Canada – Travel to Quebec in July to experience the electricity of the city when it plays host to one of the world’s largest music festivals. The annual Quebec City Summer Festival takes place July 5-15 in various indoor and outdoor venues through the city. The renowned festival has come to be known for its eclectic musical selection, and this year’s line up does not disappoint. Acts range from The Weeknd and Neil Young, to The Chainsmokers and Dave Matthews Band.

Palm Beach, Florida – If you’re looking for a quiet weekend away head to Southern Florida. “People don’t realize it’s a year-round destination,” says Nick Gold, the public relations director at Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa, who adds that during the season, hotel rates drop by 30 to 40 percent. “I think it’s one of the most underrated times to visit. Plus, it’s less crowded than the Hamptons.”

Namibia – For those seeking an isolated adventure unlike no other, this desert escape is exactly what you’ve been waiting for – thanks to the orange dunes, cobalt blue waters, and what seems to be an endless horizon. Try kayaking with seals or cruising in a houseboat while elephants and giraffes drink from the waterside. To make your experience even more unforgettable, book a lodge at the soon-to-open Omaanda Resort. The micro-village consists of 10 luxurious huts located on a private 9,000-acre wildlife reserve. Or, check out Little Kulala, where you can request that your bed be made up underneath the stars.

Friendliest Cities in The World

There’s nothing quite like a vacation to lift one’s spirits. For many, jetting off to new and exciting locales is one of life’s greatest pleasures – but it’s important to do your research before you pick a destination for your next hard-earned vacation. It’s easy to research common factors like popular tourist attractions, weather or exchange rates, but one much less covered (but equally important) factor can be how friendly the people are.

Last year, Travelbird compiled a list of the 100 friendliest cities in the world. The travel site analyzed the top 500 global tourist destinations, paying special attention to factors that make tourists feel welcome. They ranked the top 100 cities by creating a combined score that took into account whether or not a city had a welcoming port of entry (like an accessible airport or train station), the happiness of its citizens, their openness to hosting tourists in their homes, English language proficiency and the amount of over-tourism each locale has to contend with during the year. Travelbird then combined their own data with a poll of 15,000 travel journalists who weighed in on how welcoming they found each city from their own experiences.

The end result? A well-researched list of the 100 most welcoming destinations for tourists.

From that lengthy list, here are the 10 most welcoming cities in the world:
1. Singapore, Singapore
2. Stockholm, Sweden
3. Helsinki, Finland
4. San Francisco, Calif., USA
5. Rotterdam, Netherlands
6. Lisbon, Portugal
7. Tokyo, Japan
8. Oslo, Norway
9. Zurich, Switzerland
10. Orlando, Florida, USA