Beat the Crowds with these Alternative Summer Destinations

Beat the crowds and explore the world with these alternative summer destinations
Beat the crowds and explore the world with these alternative summer destinations | Courtesy of Skyscanner

Editorial Manager

If you’ve been dreaming of travel this summer but need a dreamy spot that’s on trend and on budget, then look no further. We’ve teamed up with our friends at Skyscanner to give you 14 affordable and alternative destinations that rival the top summer spots this year. If you have somewhere in mind, or just fancy trying somewhere new, take a spin to discover where your travels could take you.

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Hamburg instead of New York

One of the largest port cities in Europe, Hamburg has a thoroughly modern skyline with historic features hidden in plain sight. There’s a great food scene here so arrive with empty stomachs and get ready to explore not one, but two World Heritage Sites. Speicherstadt is the old warehouse district where buildings still stand on logs and timber-piles whereas Kontorhausviertel draws you in with a network of brick buildings from the early 20th century. Hamburg gives you the thrill of a trip to New York at a fraction of the cost even at peak times.

Ho Chi Minh City instead of Singapore

We love Singapore but it is fairly small. If we’re traveling to a different part of the world, we really want to make the most of it and Ho Chi Minh City is bursting with the sort of energy you can’t avoid. You won’t want to avoid it either, instead go with the flow and let the sights and sounds take you on a journey to Vietnam’s mesmerizing cultural heartland. Wide boulevards are met with tight alleys and a bewildering mix of styles. The ‘Backpacker Quarter’ is great for cheap stays, but also worth a visit if you want excellent street food on a budget.

Valencia instead of Malaga

Sunny Spain is always a popular destination and there’s nothing wrong with a trip to the coast for a seaside escape in Malaga. If you want to try somewhere a little different whilst capturing the essence of other parts of the country, however, Valencia is the perfect spot to visit. With a mix of Roman, Islamic and Christian influences, the architecture is a heady blend of cultures and styles. Distinctive modern buildings sit alongside historic cathedrals, with local designers seemingly having the freedom of expression rarely seen in other parts of Europe.

Amman instead of Cairo

Jordan’s capital is the ultimate gateway to one of the world’s best known bucket list destinations. The city of Petra has been seen in countless films and TV shows but is still breathtaking to experience in person. The ancient ruins might not be as well documented as the famous Pyramids of Cairo, but that mysterious aura only adds to the allure. Amman itself is not to be overlooked either, with a genuine calmness rarely found in other parts of the region allowing for relaxed sightseeing.

If you’re looking for the ultimate summer trip, these alternative destinations are worth exploring

Taipei instead of Hong Kong

All the best trips are made in Taiwan and, whereas Hong Kong can sometimes feel like a short stop on a longer journey, Taipei serves as a standalone destination you’ll want to take your time exploring. Even though this is a densely populated city, it lacks the incessant rush that can envelop other tourist hotspots in Asia. Take a look up for incredible high-rises and at ground level there are museums and temples. Taipei is also a city that literally lights up at night and you’ll want to experience it all over again under the cover of darkness.

Austin instead of Los Angeles

Everything is bigger in Texas and that old adage applies to its most culturally diverse city too. Sixth Street is part of the entertainment district and is the perfect place to immerse yourself in local music and capture the party vibe of Austin. SXSW attracts film fans, art lovers and tech heads but even casual visitors at other times of the year will get a buzz from the variety of attractions on offer. You’re just as likely to bump into a celebrity here as you are on Hollywood Boulevard, and the relaxed atmosphere will instantly put you at ease. This is also one place where Stetsons and cowboy boots feel like perfectly normal attire…

Tampere instead of Toronto

Finland – like all the Nordic countries – is a great summer destination that travelers are beginning to discover. Whereas the snowy charms of cosy winter getaways will always have their fans, the warmer months are probably the best time to truly get under the skin of the country. Located roughly 100 mi from Helsinki, Tampere is an easily accessible spot full of authentic culture and friendly locals. If you’re looking for another reason to visit, it’s worth noting that the city is regarded as the sauna capital of the world thanks to its abundance of public facilities.

Leipzig instead of Prague

Looking for a cool European city that’s as fun at night as it is in the day, and as forward-thinking as it is historic? While Prague is as beautiful as ever, it has become heavily overcrowded, and you only have to look 125mi west to discover Leipzig. Coined by many as the new Berlin, this former industrial powerhouse has a rich history in architecture and classical music, but its post-Berlin wall trajectory has turned it into a hub for contemporary artists and cool fashion brands. Expect to be wowed by architecture new and old as you wander from trendy cafes to even-trendier bars.

Eindhoven instead of Dubai

This one might be the hardest to visualise as a genuine alternative summer destination, but stick with us as we explain why Eindhoven is a great swap for Dubai. The Dutch city is best known for its association with Philips, founded here in 1891, and as such it has a modern feel not common in other Dutch cities. There are plenty of green spaces and parks, so if it’s somewhere to stretch your legs and relax that you’re after, then we’ve found the place for you! We can’t give you the desert unfortunately, but we do hear the weather is delightful here in summer.

Kilimanjaro instead of Sydney

If you’re dreaming of a big trip then it doesn’t get much bigger than this. Kilimanjaro isn’t the sort of place you can visit without a fair amount of planning but then again you can’t exactly hop on a plane and go on a weekend jaunt to Sydney either, so let’s just agree this is the trip where you’re going to have to show a real desire to travel. Mount Kilimanjaro is in a national park in the region and if you’re looking for a challenge, it remains one of the most intimidating yet rewarding experiences on the planet. We’re glad we can feature somewhere in Tanzania too, as it’s a country we think everyone will be talking about very soon.

Still looking for an affordable getaway? Take a spin with Culture Trip and Skyscanner before exploring what’s on offer.

Salamanca instead of Barcelona

Here’s a genuine hidden gem in western Spain that is a calming alternative to Barcelona. Don’t get us wrong, we love everything about Catalonia, but we’re also big fans of finding new spots and sharing those with you too. The Old City has UNESCO status and is an excellent place to find out more about the religious past and present in Spain. There’s a strong link to university culture here too, but it’s not of the boisterous kind and more of a fun festival vibe everyone can enjoy. You’re close to Portugal in this city, so Salamanca is a great option if you’re looking for base for a wider Iberian excursion.

Malmö instead of Reykjavik

Thanks to a relatively recent boom in tourism, Reykjavik is one of the most popular destinations in the world right now. But what if you’ve already been there and want to try somewhere else without breaking the bank? Malmö is a smart choice if you want to see what Sweden has to offer. One of the best things about the city is how easy it is to get around, something that can’t be said for our beloved Icelandic counterpart. For a short summer break, this is one you’ll be able to do without excessive planning (or funds).

Basilicata instead of Tenerife

We’ve been expecting you, Mr Bond. Actually we’ve been expecting more than just suave secret agents to turn up to the Italian region of Basilicata ever since it was featured in No Time to Die (2021). If you’re wondering why we think a trip to southern Italy is a great alternative to Tenerife, you need to take a look at the geology here. Craggy mountains, incredible caves and delicate buildings perched on lofty hilltops are beautiful to look at, while quiet beaches compete with those of neighboring Puglia, Campania and Calabria. Head to Matera, which is now more accessible than ever, to see the stone city that captured James Bond’s heart.

A visit to Matera is like stepping back in time, making it the perfect host to James Bond’s style and part of a popular travel trend for 2023.

Gdansk instead of Paris

People have been trying to find an alternative to Paris for centuries, but we think we’ve found a pretty good shout on northern Poland’s Baltic coast. Gdansk is also a city with over a thousand years of history, and it also boasts a stunning gothic church, as well as a scenic river that much of the city is built around. The pop of colour brought by the old merchant houses along the Motława, however, give the city a vibrancy that not even the City of Lights can match. Not to mention this place is very walkable, endlessly beautiful in truly charming Eastern European fashion, and extremely cheap compared to its rivals to the west.

For more inspiration on where to go this summer and tips on how to save on your next trip visit Skyscanner.


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