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Summer is a real treat in St Petersburg because the sun never sets, giving you ample time to explore the city’s many galleries, exhibition halls and museums. Don’t miss a trip to the ballet in the evening, though the candy-coloured buildings will make you feel like you’ve landed on the set of The Nutcracker if you do.
This mountainous Mediterranean island is a pleasant mix of rocky cliffs and sun-trapped bays. It’s part of France but retains a strong Italian culture, which is probably why the food and wine is so damn good. It also isn’t overrun with tacky resorts and drunk tourists.
Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
The former capital of Cuba, Santiago de Cuba is a step up in pace from laid-back Havana. The Fiesta del Fuego in July is the best time to experience the city, when you’ll get caught up in a colourful whirlwind of music, street performances, costumes and parades.
There’s a reason people return to Tuscany time and time again; it’s a place where warmth is reflected not only in its enviable climate but also the food and people. Stay at a little agro-turismo or rent a sun-drenched villa surrounded by olive groves and indulge in la dolce vita.
If you’re in the market for a new summer destination where you won’t bump into hordes of tourists, look no further than Brasov. Thanks to architectural towns and medieval villages set against a backdrop of dense forests and rugged mountains, the region cries out for a road trip that will take you off the beaten track.
You don’t need to travel to the end of the earth to get a bit of sun in the summer. Cornwall’s iconic shores are the perfect place to unwind with a seaside stroll followed by fish and chips. If you’ve never surfed before, it’s a great place to start.
Take a once-in-a-lifetime safari through the Maasai Mara to witness one of the “seven new wonders of the world” – the migration of large mammals such as wildebeest and antelope from the Serengeti to the greener pastures of Maasai Mara. You’ll feel like you’re on a shoot for Planet Earth (which you are, minus the cameras). If you’re feeling swish and want to make it extra-special, book yourself onto a hot-air balloon ride over the plains.
This whitewashed, architectural dreamland might look like Greece, but It’s actually in the Balearics. Much quieter than neighbouring Ibiza and with family-run hotels that will let you forget about package-holidays once and for all, this is where to find tranquility and charm and laid-back locals during the summer.
Spanning just 30km, this Atlantic island off southwest France is known for being understated and inherently chic. A charming port, crashing waves and local markets set the scene for a laid-back break full of bike rides and fresh oysters. Don’t be surprised if you spot the odd celebrity trying to stay under the radar.
If you’re after a beach escape that doesn’t break the bank, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is less crowded and more wallet-friendly than many of its European neighbours, making it a top pick. One of Montenegro’s historic coastal towns, it is full of Romanesque churches, restored frescoes and Venetian fortifications. Originally formed like a maze, it’s no wonder you’ll get lost in the labyrinthine and pedestrian-only streets – something that will make you love this charming place even more.
If you’d like to reclaim the bohemian glamour of 1970s St Tropez, the mountain village of Deia in Mallorca might just be the answer. Spectacular views and wild landscapes are paired with low-key luxury and eclectic bars, making it one of our favourite summer spots.
Rally your gang and rent a boat to sail through the sparkling Adriatic Sea this summer. You’ll escape the crowds by having the freedom to come and go around the coast as you please, discovering little bays (and bars) as you go. On Croatia’s mainland make sure to visit Split, the country’s second-largest city framed by majestic coastal mountains.
This city’s diverse architecture will please everyone from cobbled-street devotees to contemporary-design lovers. Once northern Europe’s answer to Italy, Antwerp is where Flemish Renaissance architecture is at its best. With an array of design-led concept stores, it’s also an excellent shopping destination.
Arles is a picture of Roman architecture and blue- and green-shuttered charm. Visit for a low-key weekend of chèvre chaud salads and clinking glasses of rosé followed by meandering strolls. Begin at the almost intact Les Arenes amphitheatre, then set out on a relaxed, self-guided Van Gogh tour until aperitif hour.
Known for its pristine beaches, elegant villas and glamorous people, this Tuscan town has earned the moniker ”fabulous Forte”. Wander the streets lined with countless designer outlets for a spot of window shopping before heading to The Pontile, a 19th-century pier stretching out into the Tyrrhenian Sea. People-watch from beachfront bars as chic sunbathers amble down to the sand, and admire (read: celeb-spot) any of the larger-than-life yachts gently bobbing in the bay. In the evening, treat yourself with a trip to any of Forte’s famed “bagni” (baths) for some serious self-care in the form of spa pools, saunas and steam rooms. Come in July for the annual International Fireworks Festival of Forte dei Marmi, where the world’s top fireworks companies come to compete for first place with a series of specially designed pyrotechnic shows.
Perched on the side of a mountain, this resort town offers Sicilian glamour at its finest. Loved by everyone from D.H. Lawrence to George Clooney, Taormina oozes sophisticated elegance flecked with Italian charm. Soak up Ionian vistas or potter along cobbled alleys to find charming trattorias. Explore the Teatro Greco, climb up Mount Etna or wander around the tropical gardens of Villa Comunale. Go at the beginning of July for the Taormina Film Fest, an awards ceremony dating back to 1955 with winners including Marylin Monroe and Nicole Kidman.
North of Seville and bordering Portugal’s Alentejo, this Spanish region has been kept under wraps by locals for centuries. Despite its many alluring qualities, Extremadura is one of the country’s least-visited regions, making it the perfect alternative to tourist-filled city breaks and jam-packed beaches. Spend days traversing wildlife reserves before heading to the region’s capital, Mérida, to replenish energy levels with plates piled high with Iberian ham and bottles of Spanish wine. Stroll through Mérida’s streets to stumble upon Extremadura’s six Unesco sites before paying a visit to Orellana reservoir, Spain’s only blue-flag beach. Visit in July for WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance) festival, which has been held in Cáceres each year since 1992.
What’s happening in the world in July?
11 June-2 July (TBC): White Nights Festival, St Petersburg
4-15 July: Running of the Bulls, Pamplona Spain
11-15 July: Naadam, Mongolia
18-20 July: Sónar Musical Festival, Spain
26 July-8 August: European Masters Games, Italy
29 June-14 June (TBC): Montreux Jazz Festival, Montreux Switzerland
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