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With summer just around the corner, many of us have travel on our minds. With so many destinations to choose from, however, it can be difficult to settle on a place to visit.
Instead of battling the crowds in Paris, Orlando, or Venice, consider booking a flight to a major city with a less touristy vibe. Packed with culture, history, and natural beauty, these four incredible destinations are among our top recommendations for travel this summer.
Tallinn, home to 450,000 inhabitants, is the charming capital of Estonia. With a culture influenced by the nation's Nordic and Soviet neighbors and architecture dating back to the medieval era, this city is an ideal travel destination for historically-minded tourists. Meander down cobblestone paths in the city's quaint Old Town. Admire the stunning architecture of the Gothic-style town hall, the oldest in northern Europe. Dine at restaurants like Leib Resto ja Aed to sample freshly-baked Estonian black bread and seasonal dishes like pan-fried perch with potatoes and leek sauce. Visit the Estonian Open-Air Museum to enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride while watching historical reenactments of crafts like blacksmithing and weaving. Aesthetes will love the Estonian works found at the Kumu Art Museum as well as the Dutch, German, Russian, and Italian paintings housed in the beautiful baroque Kadroirg Palace. Whatever it is that you're interested in, you're sure to find it in Tallinn.
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Few places reflect the American spirit as much as Boston. Here, the history of the Revolutionary War meets the modernity of a hip, urban college town. Take a stroll down the red-bricked Freedom Trail, visiting sites and buildings that shaped the history of the nation. Stand at the site of the Boston Massacre before making your way towards Paul Revere's home, the oldest remaining building in Boston. Later, take a tour of Fenway, the nation's oldest ballpark, or buy a ticket to watch the Red Sox play. Take the time to smell the flowers in the Boston Common, America's oldest public park. Visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, a Venetian-style palace filled with priceless European art, or explore Boston both "by land and by sea" with an amphibious "duck bus” tour of the capital. Enjoy a bowl of creamy clam chowder or crack into a freshly-caught lobster while peering out over the harbor. From culture to cuisine, Boston is a city that has it all.
Natural beauty meets vibrant South American culture in Santiago, Chile! Packed with winding historical roads and hilly parks, Santiago is a cityscape that must be seen to be appreciated. To view the city from above, take a cable car to the top of San Cristóbal Hill. While here, visit the chapel and sanctuary dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Afterwards, enjoy a glass of mote con huesillo, a sweet Chilean drink made from rehydrated peaches, husked wheat, and cinnamon. Consider taking a tour of La Chascona, too. This museum, the former home of Pablo Neruda, offers a brilliant look at the life of the Nobel Prize-winning poet. In the evening, visit Patio Bellavista, a bustling, open-air market, to experience Santiago’s vibrant bohemian nightlife. For those interested in snow sports, the summer months offer the best time to hit the slopes, too. South America's largest and oldest ski resorts are both within day-trip distance of the city. Whatever it is that you choose to do, your trip to Santiago is sure to be unforgettable.
Nagano City, the capital of the Japanese prefecture of Nagano, has an interesting history. Whereas most Japanese temples were established to service an existing populace, the city of Nagano was actually built around the famous temple of Zenkoji. The first Buddhist statue ever brought to Japan is kept hidden within this breathtaking 7th century temple. Stroll through Zenkoji's main hall and the nearby History Museum to view a wide array of intricately-carved Buddha figures and displays. After visiting Zenkoji, explore the Togakure Ninpo Museum, a ninja history museum located an hour north of the city. Spend another afternoon visiting the three shrines of Togakushi. Explore these ancient historical sites before hiking up to Kagamiike, a serene lake surrounded by mountains and 800-year-old trees. In the evening, travel back to the city to enjoy a warm bowl of soba buckwheat noodles, the region's most iconic dish. Experience Japan's natural and cultural wonders for yourself by booking a trip to the Nagano Prefecture.
Instead of visiting the conventional travel destinations this summer, explore someplace new! Whether you choose one of these great cities or opt for a smaller local trip, enjoy your time spent discovering new corners of the world!
Photo:© Jose Luis Stephens / fotolia.com