Saturday, April 20, 2024

Where to Travel in the Summer of 2023

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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on Live and Invest Overseas.

I put out a call to Live and Invest Overseas editors, contributors, and correspondents near and far …

Where should our readers think about traveling this summer?

Here are their top seven recommendations.

This is our LIOS bucket list for travel in the summer of 2023 …

#1: Turks and Caicos

View of Beachfront on Grace Bay in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
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With powder-sand beaches, cerulean waters, and a vibrant coral reef offering spectacular diving opportunities, it’s surprising that the Turks and Caicos islands remain under the radar of most international travelers.

The string of sandy cays that makes up this British Overseas Territory (also known as TCI) sits quietly in the Atlantic Ocean just southeast of Florida.

But, if you’re seeking total relaxation on nearly deserted white-sand beaches, the Turks and Caicos are your ticket … and just a quick flight away from Miami.

The beaches alone justify a trip to the Turks and Caicos. As a result, they’re postcard-worthy: Picture white sands lapped by electric-blue waters and nothing to interrupt your view.

What to know about the Turks and Caicos islands

Scuba diving
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TCI is a dream destination for divers, sport fishermen, and lovers of watersports of all descriptions. Just minutes offshore you can reel in blue marlin, sailfish, tuna, and wahoo … or maybe you’d rather spend your days paddleboarding or wind-, kite-, or parasailing.

Of the territory’s 40 islands, only eight are inhabited. Island-hopping in a small boat or yacht is an exciting way to discover some of the lesser-known islands.

Certainly, with the right permits, you could even sail between TCI and nearby countries, including the Bahamas and Cuba.

TCI is a place to pamper yourself in acclaimed spas and wellness centers … and to indulge in glitzy nights out in the casinos and five-star restaurants.

This is a bona-fide luxury destination, and you must include it in your summer bucket list. In fact, it was named Luxury Destination of the Year at the 2021 Caribbean Travel Awards.

#2: Azores and Madeira, Portugal

Sunset over the church in Camara de Lobos, Madeira, Portugal
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Most tourists to Portugal make a beeline for the beaches of the Algarve or focus their time in the capital city of Lisbon. And we understand. As longtime Live and Invest Overseas readers know, we’re big fans of both those destinations.

However, just offshore from mainland Portugal are two unique archipelagos that also deserve your attention: the Azores and Madeira. Both offer pristine landscapes, unspoiled nature, and adventurous travel experiences.

The Azores’ natural beauty is jaw-dropping. Some have called the nine islands that make up the archipelago “the Hawaii of the mid-Atlantic.”

The islands were formed by volcanic activity centuries ago, and dramatic scenery dominates the landscape. There are sharp peaks and valleys sheathed in green as well as fine-sand beaches, lagoons, geysers, waterfalls, and thermal baths.

The Azores won the award for Europe’s Leading Adventure Tourism Destination in 2021 and 2020. There are hiking tours, cycling, mountain biking, and canyoning available on land.

Mount Pico, the highest point in Portugal at 7,700 feet, is found here, and you can hike to the top of it for outstanding views. Fishing, diving, yachting, and especially whale and dolphin watching are ocean-based highlights of the Azores.

What to know about exploring Portugal

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On the other hand, Madeira is known as “Garden Island” for its abundance of verdant vegetation and flowering plants that contrast delightfully against the surrounding blue of the Atlantic Ocean.

Also, formed by volcanic activity and featuring many points of elevation, spectacular scenery is a given here.

Madeira’s Porto Santo and Seixal beaches were rated the best in Europe this year by European Best Destinations. Natural and human-made pool complexes that are connected to the sea provide peaceful swimming opportunities and are found around the island.

It’s a gorgeous place, and that is why we added it to our summer travel bucket list.

No trip to this island is complete without a taste of its eponymous libation: Madeira wine. You can try the fortified wine produced only here at tastings across the island, including Blandy’s Wine Lodge where you can learn all about the Madeira wine-making process.

Most importantly, the dollar’s strength versus the euro makes this summer the best time in years to spend time in the eurozone.

#3: Kotor, Montenegro

Kotor, Montenegro at twilight
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You’d be forgiven if you couldn’t point out little Montenegro on a map.

This tiny Adriatic country of a half-million people dispersed over 2,050 square miles (slightly less area than the state of Connecticut) is located in Southern Europe, nestled between Croatia and Albania.

What might draw you here, first and foremost, is curiosity. You’ve heard of the wonders of Croatia — a firm Live and Invest Overseas’ favorite that’s regularly counted among our top retirement havens. What lies in store, however, if you were to venture south of Croatia’s borders?

To find out, start in Kotor, a fairy-tale, historical town surrounded by towering mountains on one side and the dazzling Adriatic on the other. The views are other-worldly.

What to know about Kotor

Travel map
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Kotor delivers Old World European charm in spades. Its Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and widely considered the best-preserved medieval town in the Mediterranean region, with ancient stone walls marking the city limits on two of three sides.

The Old Town is chock-full of medieval architecture, narrow lanes, squares, markets, and historic sights. Of note is Saint Tryphon’s Cathedral, built in the 11th century and one of the country’s two Roman Catholic cathedrals.

Kotor sits in one of the craggy inlets of the Bay of Kotor, one of the most indented parts of the Adriatic Sea. Its bay features two islands: Gospa od Skrpjela (“Our Lady of the Rock”) and Sveti Djordje (“St. George”), both steeped in local folklore.

Croatia receives hordes of tourists every summer. Montenegro, right next door, offers similar views and ambiance with less crowds. And it’s more affordable. It’s also a good option to include in your summer travel bucket list.

So, that’s why we’ve planned our first-ever Access Montenegro Workshop. Take a look.

#4: Ceará, Brazil

Fortaleza in Ceara, Brazil
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Long famous for its miles of golden-sand beaches, it’s hard to imagine going to Brazil and not visiting such iconic destinations as Ipanema and Copacabana.

But in the northeastern state of Ceará, the beaches are just as stunning … but without the crazy crowds and prices of Rio.

Brazil has almost 5,000 miles of coastline, but we rate the Ceará’s 370-mile stretch as the best in the country.

The beaches — glorious stretches of virgin sand, swaying palm trees, and otherworldly sand dunes — are precisely what make Ceará one of Brazil’s top domestic tourism destinations.

Also, the beaches range from city beaches with first-rate amenities to isolated outposts where you’re the only person for miles. There are peaceful bays with gentle waters and exposed strips great for ripping around while kite- or windsurfing.

What to know about Ceará

A happy couple couple walks on the beach
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The beating heart of Ceará’s cultural activity is the city of Fortaleza, one of Brazil’s biggest. Despite being home to almost 3 million people, Fortaleza remains a quintessential Brazilian beach town.

Fishermen offer their daily catches from wooden tables set up along the boardwalk as they have been for decades. Locals shimmy up trees on the city beaches to bring down fresh coconuts to sell for their water.

Therefore, all over the beaches, you see ever-active Brazilians playing volleyball and soccer and practicing yoga.

Ceará is developed for the domestic tourism market, meaning prices are low. Enhancing this, the U.S. dollar is notably strong against the Brazilian real. In other words, everything from eating out to staying at a hotel or buying a beach home of your own comes at a significant discount.

#5: Malta

Valletta, Malta
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Malta is a string of small islands in the southern Mediterranean. One of the tiniest countries in Europe, it also has the tiniest capital.

Valletta covers less than a half square mile … but what Superbissima (Latin for “Most Proud”) lacks in size, it makes up for in style.

Valletta is a testament to Malta’s rich history: It boasts historical treasures on the corner of every winding cobblestoned street.

But this is also a modern European capital with great shopping by day and entertainment at night.

What to know about Malta

A couple on a sailboat
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In 2018, Valletta was selected the European Capital of Culture, affording it a facelift and restoring many of its beautiful old buildings.

Beyond the city, the gnarled, limestone islands of Malta, Comino, and Gozo conceal an impressive array of caves, scenic sunsets, and some of the most stunning harbors on the planet. Its rugged coastline boasts secluded bays, dramatic cliffs, and tiny coves dotted with ancient forts and quaint fishing harbors.

From the fabled shipwreck of Saint Paul to the legendary naval battles waged in its waters in World War II, Malta claims boatloads of nautical history. Today, though, the Ottoman galleys and British destroyers that once skirted the islands have been replaced by the peaceful, white triangle sails of pleasure crafts scooting by.

These waters are one of Europe’s best sailing locales. With a near-perfect climate and a long sailing season, Malta works well as a sailing location both for experienced “salties” as well as those just starting out … not to mention all the other watersports to avail of here.

Because Malta ticks so many boxes — with its low crime rate, fantastic climate, and friendly locals — it is a country with broad appeal … quintessential Mediterranean Europe. And, notably, it’s the only place you can experience the famed Mediterranean way of life among locals who speak English. This makes Malta a high level entry for our summer travel bucket list.

#6: Salta, Argentina

Salta, Argentina - August 7, 2021: Traditional Argentinian couple dancing in Plaza 9 de Julio on August 7, 2021 in Salta, Argentina
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The trend when it comes to tourism in Argentina is to hit the hiking trails of Bariloche and southern Patagonia after spending some time in the country’s cosmopolitan capital, Buenos Aires.

But there’s another area of this country that deserves your attention this summer. Salta, a province in northwestern Argentina bordering Bolivia, Paraguay, and Chile, stands out for its incredible desert landscapes and Andean and Quechuan cultural traditions.

This is a rugged region whose capital city, known as “Salta La Linda” (“Salta the Pretty”), is a cultural hub with a unique historic flair.

Meanwhile, any exploration of Salta Province should start in the city of Salta, the most Spanish-looking city in Argentina, with a well-preserved historic center of colonial buildings, squares, churches, and parks.

What to know about Salta

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Attending a peña — a folk music concert — is a traditional experience you won’t forget. These involve live music — Spanish guitars, drums, and violins — as well as dancing, and spectators are encouraged to clap and stomp along.

More than just tourist entertainment, peñas are an important part of the local culture, reflecting the region’s mixed Spanish and indigenous heritage.

Salta also offers delicious regional cuisine, a laid-back nightlife scene, theatre, markets, exhibitions, festivals, and more. Museums commemorating local history, art, and archaeology provide context for explorations further afield.

The start of summer in the United States corresponds with the start of winter in Argentina. While cold temperatures can be expected in the more-touristed southern parts of the country, Salta Province has pleasant weather year-round.

From June to September, you can expect clear skies and temperatures of about 55 degrees Fahrenheit daily, meaning you can take full advantage of all the outdoor attractions this part of the world offers.

If you’re here at the start of August, you’ll be in town for Pachamama celebrations, based in Andean mythological beliefs and celebrating Mother Earth.

#7: Caño Cristales, Colombia

Caño Cristales, a colorful river in Colombia
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One of only 17 countries in the world that are considered megadiverse, Colombia is densely packed with natural riches.

Perhaps the most mind-boggling is Caño Cristales, a river that’s famous for flowing in vibrant and unexpected colors. Algae on the riverbed paints the waters yellow, green, blue, black, and above all, red, giving the river the nickname “The Liquid Rainbow.”

Caño Cristales is one of the most unique travel experiences in the world. That’s why it’s part of our summer travel bucket list.

What to know about Caño Cristales

Excited woman ready to travel
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The breathtaking colors of the river can only be seen at specific times of the year, when the algae that create the hues are in bloom. You’ll want to time your visit carefully and book with an experienced tour agency.

The river is in a sprawling area of jungles, rock formations, and countless wildlife species. Over 400 species of birds call the park home, and birdwatching kayaking tours can be arranged.

For example, you’ll spot a few monkeys along the way, and, if you’re lucky, a pink river dolphin or two.

Now is the time to visit Caño Cristales because this is when the red algae that makes the river so colorful blooms. May through November is the official season, but July through October is the peak.

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