July is a great time to take off to holiday spots across the world. Many towns host fiestas and parades during this time of the year while others showcase perennial natural or historic attractions. Wherever you go, it is one big, long party of fun, food and celebrations. So go through these ten top July destinations before you finalize your travel plans.
- Fjords of Norway
Northern Europe is an ideal time to visit in July because of long days and midnight sun. For truly memorable holiday, how about visiting the fjords of Norway? Fjord is a geological feature characterized by a long narrow inlet with steep sides. The western coast of Norway is famous for its fjords which offer amazing views of the surrounding landscape. One of Norway’s most-visited fjords is the Geirangerfjord where it extends over fifteen kilometers and has some thrilling views of waterfalls descending from several hundred feet into the lake below. Visitors to this fjord can find a lot to do - there are adventure activities like rafting, riding and canoe-trips while fishing and fjord cruises are more popular with the laidback crowd. During summers however, skiing at Stryn takes over as the most favored activity. The Geirangerfjord has been nominated a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.
- Duoro Valley, Portugal
A newly emerging travel circuit in Portugal is centered on its wine-producing regions especially the Douro Valley which was demarcated as a World Heritage Site in 2001. This region is famous for producing one of the best ports in the world and to a lesser extent red wines. The Douro Valley with its undulating hills and terraced vineyards is dotted with old estates where visitors can stay, take a tour of the vineyards and even participate in wine-tasting experience. The various types of ports one must taste here are the white, ruby, tawny and if possible the vintage. The Wine Academy located in the Douro Valley offers a far more extensive range of wine-related activities starting from port-tasting to gourmet chocolate tasting, various wine appreciation courses and specialist port tasting for connoisseurs. Visitors can stay at any one of the chateaus in the Valley or more modern lodgings in the town of Pinhao.
- Hawaii, United States
This Fourth of July, take off for Hawaii – not to laze on the beaches – but to honor the brave of the country at the Pearl Harbor and its war memorials. Located in the Oahu Island, Pearl Harbor is the largest natural harbor in Hawaii. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 changed the course of the Second World War and marked America’s entry into the war. Today the USS Arizona Memorial, the Battleship Missouri Memorial and the USS Oklahoma Memorial mark the courage of all those who gave up their lives in the war. Other places to see in the Pearl Harbor are the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum which reveals the nature of battles under the seas as well as the Pacific Aviation Museum which tells one all about World War II fighter planes and bombers.
- Lincoln Boyhood Memorial, Indiana, United States
However you can still do something meaningful without leaving the mainland; and if you live in the mid-west, you can plan a visit to the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial. Located along the Indiana Highway 162, the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial has preserved many of the physical surroundings which played a significant role in shaping the early life of Abraham Lincoln. Visitors to the Memorial are first invited to watch a 15-minute orientation film after which they can explore the museum housing precious memorabilia from the President Lincoln’s early life. Yet another highlight of a visit to the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial is an experience of pioneer life. The Lincoln Living Historical Farm is a recreated pioneer homestead where visitors can explore the cabin, split rail fences, outbuildings, farm buildings besides going through clothes, vegetable and herb gardens typical of life here in early nineteenth century.
- Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Every year this time, Santiago de Cuba hosts one of the most popular festivals of Latin America. Also known as Rumbon Santiaguero which means ‘Big Santiago Rumba’, the Santiago de Cuba carnival is perhaps the most emblematic celebration of Cuba. The biggest draws of the carnival are music concerts, street shows and art exhibits. During this time, the Trocha Avenue is turned into the heart of festivities with stages for music bands to perform as well as food and drinks stands while the Garzon Avenue is chosen as the site of parades which involves hundreds of performers dressed in colorful costumes as well as elaborate tableaus. Carnival Poster Contest and the Street Decoration Contest are other highlights of the Santiago de Cuba festival.
- Ghent, Belgium
For a European take on festivities, head to Belgium where one of the biggest July celebrations is the ten-day festival at Ghent known as the “Gentse Feesten”. The Gentse Feesten is primarily a music and theater festival which starts on the Saturday before July 21 – Belgium’s national holiday – and goes on for ten days. Attractions at the festival range from big stage events to random small street plays which include mimickers and busters. Music concerts, theatrical production, informal plays all form part of the festival which at times revels in the spirit of anarchy as in the days of bygone times. Along with Gentse Feesten, the city hosts many other film and music festival which have been gaining huge popularity over Europe.
- Wye Valley, Wales
Summer is an ideal time to delight in the amazing natural beauty of the Wye Valley in Wales which forms part of United Kingdom. Located around the River Wye, the valley is covered with dense native woodlands and offers many hiking and walking trails for tourists. The limestone gorge scenery in this area is yet another attraction which brings visitors to the Wye Valley. Other than this, the forests of the valley are home to several wildlife species and fishes. The Wye Valley has places of historical interest too like the castles at Cheapstow and Monmouth built by Normans in the 11th century. One of the most visited historical sites here is medieval Tintern Abbey which is the best preserved monastery from medieval times. No wonder then the Wye Valley and its surroundings have been designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty by the Countryside Agency of the UK government.
- Arusha, Tanzania
For a holiday off the beaten track, you can have a glimpse of Masai life, one of the primary tribes in the African country of Tanzania. Among the 120 different tribes in Tanzania, it is the Masai who are most widely known to the international tourists on account of their distinctive culture. Primarily grazers, Masai tribes lay huge importance on the wealth and welfare of their cattle herds. They live in settlements called “manyatas” and tribal traditions assign men and women of different ages distinctive duties. Among all the Tanzanian National Parks, one of the best places to view Masai life is the Ngorongoro Crater. Just outside the Crater’s ridge, visitors can watch tall Masai men herd their cattle on the green slopes of the highlands. Tourists generally take a day trip to the Ngorongoro Crater from the town of Arusha.
- Novgorod, Russia
Make use of the summer to visit one of the largest and most fascinating countries on the planet, Russia. While cities like Moscow and St Petersburg form the core of Russian tourism, other places like medieval city of Veliky Novgorod also attract visitors for their historical value. Novgorod lies along the Volkhov River and is famous for its medieval architecture, the best known example of which is perhaps the St Sophia Cathedral. Dating back to the eleventh century, St Sophia’s Cathedral is famous as one of the first buildings to exhibit certain architectural features which came to be identified as typically Russian – like the use of five domed cupolas and the austere walls. Other significant details include its famed bronze gates in the west entrance as well as its frescoes, originally painted in the twelfth century. Today it is regarded as one of the best-preserved medieval structures and one of the oldest Russian building that is still in use.
For all you shopaholics out there, remember summer is the time of a highly popular retail festival in Singapore, considered as the mecca of bargain shopping in this part of the world. Every year, this tiny Asian island nation hosts the Great Singapore Sale which draws in avid shoppers from across the world. Here shoppers can avail the attractive discounts offered on apparel, accessories, jewelry, consumer electronics and even select luxury brands. Other than for shopping, the Great Singapore Sale is also a good time for tourists to visit the various attractions of the island state like the Singapore Zoo as well as the DHL Balloon. This is because around this time visitors can apply for the Tourist Privilege Card from any Singapore Visitor Center to avail huge discounts not only on products but also on local sightseeing programs. International shoppers are also flooded with special privileges from fine dining and lifestyle promotions besides discounts on nightlife and entertainment.