Summer destinations from A to Z
(CNN) — No need to feel overwhelmed with the virtually infinite options for summer travel destinations and activities.
Scroll through these 26 ideas — from A to Z. As you’ll see with Z, some spots are a little risqué.
Beaches receive an inordinate amount of summer attention, but the most head-clearing escapes are often high in the mountains. The luxurious Belmond Andean Explorer train crosses the spine of the jaw-dropping Peruvian Andes.
Grills are being fired up the world over, but some of the globe’s most expertly slow-cooked meats originate in Texas and environs. Summer is a languid season for exploring all things low and slow.
Temperatures are spiking and so is that nearly unquenchable human thirst for all things aquatic. Whether bordered by impossibly turquoise waters or arctic ice, the globe’s shorelines will always draw visitors seeking a little bit of what’s just beyond terra firma.
The natural world is endlessly alluring, but there’s something to be said for amazing architecture. The Burj Khalifa in Dubai — standing twice the height of New York’s Empire State Building — is the world’s tallest building. Summer is low season, as average temperatures top 100˚ Fahrenheit. But higher temperatures mean much thinner crowds.
If very high temperatures don’t faze you, venturing to one of the hottest places on Earth may be within reason. Or running with the bulls in Pamplona. Or surfing the world’s most intense wave in Tahiti. Not everyone is cut out for lolling on the shore.
Some travelers are all for soaking up the frills offered by high-end hotels. And frills of the floral variety are hard to beat for vivid visual impact.
The food alone is reason enough to visit Greece. Fresh seafood, sun-ripened veggies, feta, olives and more. And then you’ve got your high-drama seascapes, hilltop villages and ancient ruins.
For many travelers, a hotel is way more than a place to lay your head. Sometimes it’s a Moroccan riad commissioned by a king. Or a private island with movie-star roots. An Irish castle or a “mirage palace.” The world’s most dramatic hotels are an experience unto themselves.
You’ve thought about Maui and Jamaica, but have Nosy Be or Barbuda ever come to mind? Guadeloupe? Roatan? Alonissos? With more than 2,000 ocean islands and countless more, it may be worth expanding your ideas of an island getaway.
Tokyo gets a lot of attention for its pulsing nightlife and seamless systems, but there’s a deep and varied natural world beyond the fray. From hot spring monkeys to the world’s most celebrated blossoms, Japan is home to some of nature’s most impressive shows.
For two minutes in May, all eyes are on Louisville, Kentucky. Or at least on the racetrack at Churchill Downs. But Louisville’s got more going on than horses and bourbon. There are museums and gourmet restaurants and Frederick Law Olmsted parks and more.
There’s no denying the heat of summer in Vegas. Temperatures average over 100˚ Fahrenheit. But air conditioning and a very impressive swimming pool scene make going to check out all the city has to offer perfectly doable all year round.
Looking for a truly unspoiled spot? Mozambique’s Bazaruto Archipelago, a group of six islands off the coast of Vilankulo, has long been isolated and protected. One of the best ways to explore its stunning expanses is on horseback.
You can’t get to know New Orleans without getting to know the people who live there. They’re friendly, so you shouldn’t have any trouble learning more about the storied city that’s celebrating its 300th birthday this year. And there are some essential experiences beyond the French Quarter that will help you along.
Mickey Mouse looms large in Orlando. Harry Potter has also taken up residence. But there’s plenty to do in and around Orlando beyond the parks tied to those famous faces. Bike tours, theater, paddleboard yoga and more.
Remote oceanfront locales are often considered the ultimate aquatic escape, but some of the world’s most jaw-dropping pools have been dropped into similarly scenic spots. Lake Como views, sparkling cityscapes, elephant encounters and more are part of the experience at some swimming pools.
Is Quebec the most European city in North America? Probably. Charming alleyways, historic squares, castle-inspired lodging and rich French-Canadian cuisine are all part of what makes Quebec City so appealing for a taste of the Old World.
While it seems that autumn has pretty much toppled spring and summer as the most popular time for weddings, romantic hotels are always nice for couples looking to get away. From candlelit dinners on the beach in Anguilla to opulent suites at the Gritti Palace in Venice, hotels fit for honeymooners go all out on romance.
East really does meet West in Serbia. Influences from the Habsburgs and the Ottoman Turks permeate the country, where the dynamic capital of Belgrade is abuzz with café culture and nightlife. And spectacular national parks draw visitors out of the cities.
There are no luxury resorts or fine-dining restaurants on North and Middle Caicos. The two sparsely populated islands accessible by ferry from the Turks and Caicos’ tourism hub have preserved the rustic charm of islands largely untouched by major development.
Ukraine may struggle to attract visitors due to recent turmoil, but it’s not for lack of fascinating sights. And while some regions are best avoided due to separatist clashes, most of the country is open for tourism. There’s Chernivtsi, nicknamed Little Vienna for rich Austro-Hungarian heritage, and the spectacular capital of Kiev, to name just two.
Vancouver’s notorious rainfall tends to let up significantly in June, July and August, revealing the city’s breathtaking surroundings. Hopefully sparkling water, clear sky and soaring mountains will all make appearances, but they’re not essential to enjoying the world’s best bartender Kaitlyn Stewart’s favorite Vancouver bars and restaurants.
In dazzling Givenchy, complete with a frothy embroidered veil, Meghan Markle walked down the aisle of St. George’s chapel at Windsor Castle to marry her prince. No prince included, but visitors to Windsor Castle can see where the widely watched nuptials took place and explore other areas of the queen’s most impressive weekend home.
Home to the famed terracotta warriors, Xi’an also has one of the best preserved fortifications in China, the most dangerous mountain in China and more. And the Terracotta Warriors Museum is a must. The UNESCO World Heritage site displays more than 8,000 warriors and horses expertly crafted in clay.
Hotels including The Strand are important bastions of Yangon’s colonial architecture, which is quickly disappearing as Myanmar opens up to tourism and international commerce. Tracing the history of the city’s historic hotels reveals much about Yangon and its rapidly changing landscape.
Lavish sex parties? Yep. This isolated Italian isle has a history of hosting orgies. Enough said.