The savvy international traveler knows avoiding the tourist-trap months is the secret to a successful vacation. Even summer offers some surprising off-season gems!
If you’re a T-Mobile customer, you already have the best plan for international travel. Here’s a little extra know-how to help you skip places at their peak, so your vacation plan works just as well.
1. Seville, Spain
For all the lovers: Turn up the heat by taking a trip to Seville in July and August. You’ll be enjoying one of the most romantic and picturesque cities in Europe. Among the sights to see is Seville’s majestic Alcázar palace, a masterpiece of Moorish architecture. Blistering hot? Yes. But a crowd-free photo-op you can’t miss. Plus, you can reward yourself with a few frosty Cruzcampos and cold tapas – and then, to burn off the rest of the afternoon heat, a blissful siesta. Or whatever your heart desires…
2. Bariloche, Argentina
Have a hankering for a summer ski? Head down to this Argentinian city during the country’s winter months, June through August, to hit some of the smoothest and most breathtaking slopes imaginable. If you lack a passion for pow-pow, Bariloche also has lots to offer besides the trails, from a wooded winter walk to a frozen lagoon to its famous chocolate shops. Après-ski Patagonia style with some of Argentina’s world-renowned wines and grilled local meats to fuel up for another run, or simply relax the day away in one of the Bariloche’s many luxury spas.
3. Sydney, Australia
Visiting Down Under during Australian summer (our winter) can be insanely expensive. So snap up some tickets to Sydney during Aussie spring, which is from late September to November. There’s so much of the city’s natural beauty to explore, especially its famously gorgeous beaches: Catch some rays at Bondi, or grab a board and join the surfers at Tamarama or Bronte. Too cold for a beach day? Try a stroll through the stunning Royal Botanical Gardens, or the city’s excellent museums, which will be open in case you get some really nasty weather. (You might.) Also, make sure to book a Harbour cruise – a great way to see other major sights like Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.
4. Cairo, Egypt
Summer is Egypt’s low season (for a reason: it’s hot!), but if you can put up with a little extra heat under your collar, you’ll be rewarded like a king. Known as “The Paris of the East” – the city is lined with late 1800s’ Belle Époque architecture – a June or July jaunt will let you peak into a pyramid-rich past without needing a tomb full of gold to pay for it. Word to the wise: Air conditioning is still a burgeoning amenity at most indoor cultural sites, so head out to see the antiquities and artifacts early in the morning – or scrap those plans altogether and cool off with a cruise down the Nile.
This small Nordic country is a veritable winter wonderland, and shines most brightly from October to April – quite literally. That’s when the legendary Northern Lights illuminate the sky, a crazy natural phenomenon like no other. Other natural wonders not to miss include the Golden Circle and the geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon, as well as tons of incredible ice caves and epic glaciers to explore, and snowboarding and skiing a-plenty. Also, not for nothing, you can snap a picture of a puffin!
Regularly overrun during the summer months, hop on a flight to this Italian island treasure in late fall and you’ll still be able to enjoy all of the historic cathedrals and winding side streets in relative warmth with fewer fellow travelers to fight off. Palermo, the largest city on the Mediterranean’s largest island, is also known as one of the street food capitals of the world, but you can find deliciously fresh seafood, pasta, local Greek and Spanish-inflected dishes like caponata (a sort of sweet and sour Sicilian ratatouille) and increasingly acclaimed local wines all over the island.
7. Amantani Island, Peru
Catch a cute boat at the tail end of rainy season in February, and head to Peru’s beautiful Amantani island, the largest in Lake Titicaca, where, at 12,000 feet, you should be able to take in the stars in all their heavenly glory in the most serene of settings. (The llamas will be there too!) Climb to the remote island’s two temples to watch the sunset, and enjoy truly authentic, homemade Peruvian food prepared by local hosts. Horseback ride through the Amantani’s sprawling fields, or travel back in time by seeing some live Peruvian music at a traditional nighttime gathering. When it’s time to hit the hay, with no lights or cars on the island, this will be some of the soundest (and soundless!) sleep you’ll ever get. Sweet dreams!
8. Manta, Ecuador
Visit this Ecuadorian, pre-Columbian fishing town from December to May to catch some of the best coastal moments that South America has to offer. Rain could be in the forecast, but Manta’s proximity to beautiful beaches – like the surfer’s paradise of San Lorenzo and the South American kitesurfing mecca of Santa Marianita – and indoor amenities of a modern small city, makes toggling back and forth from surf to sights practically effortless.
9. Oaxaca, Mexico
If you visit the magical southern-Mexican city of Oaxaca from November to March you’ll find all its rich cultural treasures — enchanting art, serene gardens, chaotic markets, beautiful temples and vibrant city streets — without all the sunburned tourists looking for the same thing. Oaxaca is home to one of Mexico’s most revered and historic cuisines, and a year-round growing season means it’s no less tasty in the off-season. Whether your tastes run to chocolate or cheese, mole or mezcal, you’re well advised to bring your appetite.
10. Tallinn, Estonia
If you’re seeking peace and quiet, allow yourself to get wrapped up in the splendor of Estonia’s Tallinn in the winter months. There will be a ton of snow-topped castles to see and European majesty waiting for you at every turn. If you visit in December, Tallinn’s charming Christmas market in picturesque Old Town is a must. Winter in Tallinn offers something for every pace: sip mulled wine and wander the streets, or fuel up on potatoes and sausage before heading out for a dogsled ride. Feeling extra adventurous? Be like a local, and take an icy plunge into the sea before warming up in one of the city’s saunas, a staple of Estonian culture.