Get ready for the great summer getaway! And why not pack your summer holiday with exciting activities and thrilling adventures in an interesting destination? Sure, you could spend your days lounging on a beach and your nights trawling the local bars and restaurants, but these hotspots all offer something extra, to make this summer the best ever!
London, UK; get here whilst the sun is shining!
London is HOT right now (literally): we’re eagerly awaiting the birth of Prince William and Kate’s baby – the future King or Queen! The whole country has also gone sports crazy – thanks to the Olympic legacy and that stupendous Wimbledon win by Andy Murray!
Then of course we’re slap bang in the middle of festival season with an exciting array of music, comedy and food festivals to pique your interest, both in the capital and across the country. Music fans will be in their element at the upcoming Latitude Festival, Global Gathering and Creamfields, which are just a train ride away from London. And of course the biggest street parade in Europe lands in London’s Notting Hill Carnival (pictured above) on the public holiday weekend in August – cue pulsating music, delicious food and Caribbean-esque atmosphere – guaranteed!
And continuing with the sports theme, the Premier League Football season kicks off again on Saturday 17 August. Over a million sports tourists visited the UK last year to take in a soccer match at one of the legendary Premier League grounds. And if cricket is more your thing, The Ashes series continues at various venues across the UK. And in October the Rugby League World Cup gets underway at locations in England and Wales.
And, I don’t want to jinx it, but the long term weather forecast for London is hot hot hot - get here while it lasts!
Washington DC, USA; the destination for history buffs
Civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr delivered what has been called the most powerful oratory of all time with his ‘I have a dream' speech. Delivered to over 200,000 civil rights supporters on the steps of the capital’s Lincoln Memorial in washington DC on 28 August 1963, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the pivotal speech. Watch the video of Martin Luther King’s speech below and check out the special events taking place across Washington, Atlanta (birthplace) and Memphis (where he was assassinated in 1968).
Washington is of course the political powerhouse of the United States and this is evident in the many cultural sights such as the stunning White House, the U.S. Capitol Building where congress meets and the Lincoln Memorial itself, dedicated to the 16th President Abraham Lincoln. Don’t miss the vast art gallery collection at the Smithsonian Institution. Don’t expect to spot Barack Obama however, as he’s holidaying at Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts this August!
Singapore; perfect for family-friendly adventures
The ultra-modern city state of Singapore is incredibly safe and very easy to navigate thanks to a great public transportation network. Development continues apace, much like the other major cities of Southeast Asia (think Hong Kong, Bangkok etc). And this year marks the 50th anniversary of independence from Britain. Expect lavish street parties and awesome fireworks displays.
The 20th annual Singapore Food festival is about to get underway, and with every conceivable cuisine on offer across the city, you’ll never tire of eating out. I can personally recommend the delicious fish head curry which is something of a local speciality. Head to the Little India district for authentic cafes serving up delicious thalis (several small dishes served on one tray) and sweet snacks and deserts. Arab Street district is next door with mouth-wateringly good murtabak, baba ghanoush and falafel.
Singapore is remarkably family-friendly, with plenty to do all day and all night. Head to Sentosa Island for the newly opened Asian branch of Universal Studios. Sentosa also boasts beautiful beaches which are lined with luxury hotel chains. Meet 5,000 animals at the newly opened River Safari, visit the awesome Marine Life Park and spot colourful species at the Jurong Bird Park. And of course Singapore has a new observation wheel at the Singapore Flyer – which is the largest Ferris Wheel in the world!
Munich, Germany; imbibe the atmosphere
I have two little words for you – beer festival! And nobody does a beer festival quite like the mighty Oktoberfest. Kicking off on 21 September this year marks the 180th Munich Oktoberfest in Germany’s Bavarian city of Munchen. Expect 16 days of merriment and partying, where traditional costumes are expected! Around 6 million people take part in eating authentic cuisine and drinking beer. Pack your Lederhosen and Dirndl dresses!
And as for Munich's cultural sights, check out the majestic Frauenkirche Church with its two imposing towers and the Town Hall which is built in a stunning Gothic revival style and dominates the skyline.
Sri Lanka; best destination for cultural experiences
The south Asian country of Sri Lanka is incredibly resilient: recovering from the devastating tsunami of 2004 and the 26 year civil war which ended in 2009. This has opened up the whole country to curious tourists for the very first time. And this summer is the time to go as prices are still relatively low, in fact Sri Lanka has just been declared the cheapest destination in the world.
Visitors can expect over 2,000 years of fascinating culture, herds of elephants, beautiful Buddhist temples and a multitude of exciting watersports. Top cultural and heritage sites include the Old Dutch Fort at Galle, the stunning Gold Buddha Temple in Dambulla (pictured above), the impressive Sigiriya Rock Fortress and the sacred site of the Temple of the Tooth, which is said to contain Lord Buddha’s tooth.
Ecuador; perfect spot for exploring nature
Whilst all the focus is currently on the other hot South American destination (Rio de Janeiro of course), don’t pass Ecuador by. If it’s been on your must-see list for a while, then this summer could be the prime time to visit. Thanks to the expansion of the country’s railway network, it’s now easier than ever to connect with cosmopolitan capital Quito, port city of Guayaquil and the Cotopaxi volcano.
Make this summer more exciting by taking in something new and exciting in Ecuador: try sea kayaking in the Manabí Province as whales and exotic birds appear on your radar. Ride the scary (yet oh-so-popular) Devil’s Nose Train, aka La Nariz del Diablo, which is the steepest train journey in the world – hold on tight!