A BBQ at Bondi Beach.You might immediately think that summer is the perfect time to visit any city in the world – but you would be wrong.
You don’t, for instance, want to go to Bangkok in the middle of summer. Far too sticky and hot. And you will be questioning your sanity if you book a trip to Dubai or Abu Dhabi in June, July or August, given temperatures there regularly hit 40 degrees. And even somewhere like Rio de Janeiro can be uncomfortable in summer, and is far better to visit in the shoulder seasons.
There are, however, some cities that shine their brightest when the sun is out and the weather is warm. These are the places where everyone comes out to play in the summer months, where parks and beaches and pubs and music venues fill with locals and tourists alike, making the most of the year’s best weather. Sydney, Australia
You don’t have to cast your gaze too far to find the perfect urban summer destination. Sydney has some of the world’s best city beaches – from the hugely popular to the hidden and deserted – and where else could you go boating on the harbour, and then hiking in a national park, and then drinking in a beer garden, and then hanging out in a park, all in one afternoon? There are few better places on the planet than Sydney in summer. Cartagena, Colombia
It’s always summer in Cartagena. This beautiful walled city, a former Caribbean pirate base turned South American holiday favourite, has good weather year-round, with average high temperatures ranging from 31 degrees to 32 degrees the entire 12 months. That’s great news for tourists, who can swim in the sea, and hang out drinking cocktails at open-air bars on the city walls, and stroll the cobbled streets and enjoy a city at play at any time of the year. Queenstown, New Zealand
New Zealand’s adventure hub is usually thought of as a winter destination, but there’s a lot to love about Queenstown in summer. The days are long and the temperatures are mild, but it’s still hot enough to want to take a swim in Lake Wakatipu, or go hiking through the mountains, or go camping, or jet-boating, or do a leisurely sunset cruise on the lake, or even just hang out in the sun drinking tasty Kiwi beer. Barcelona, Spain
This is another city that’s lively year-round; however, if you show up during the summer months, when the days are long and hot, and the bars and restaurants around Barceloneta beach really get going, you’ll see the Catalan capital at its finest. Many Barcelona locals also take their holidays during the summer months, but it seems the rest of Europe arrives, and they’re ready to have fun. Cape Town, South Africa
Many of the elements that make Sydney so great in summer can also be found in Cape Town. The weather is warm, but not oppressively hot. The city beaches are crowded but stunningly beautiful. And it’s easy to get away from the bustle if you so desire – in the case of Cape Town, a quick drive down the cape to Kalk Bay or Simon’s Town will do the trick, or head up north to Franschhoek for a little wine-tasting session in gorgeous surrounds. Moscow, Russia
No one celebrates summer quite like those who go through a harsh winter. And there are few winters more brutal than a Russian one, which is why you see everyone out and about and enjoying themselves in Moscow once the weather allows it. It seems like there’s some sort of festival on in Moscow almost every day during summer, and if people aren’t attending those they’re sunbathing in parks, or cycling along the river, or eating and drinking in the sun. Perth, Australia
This is another of the world’s great summer cities that Australians don’t even have to leave the country to experience. You could argue for days about whose beaches are better – Perth or Sydney – but the reality is that both are amazing, and over in the west you have the added bonus of long, beautiful sunsets over the ocean, which are as good a reason as any to hit the pubs around Fremantle or Cottesloe or Scarborough or Rockingham and take them in. Essaouria, Morocco
It’s not just that this is a seaside town, an exotic North African port where you can spent your summer days either down by the water taking a swim, or strolling the city’s ancient streets, or relaxing on the ramparts and watching the world go by. Essaouira is also famous for its festivals, including the world-renowned Gnaoua World Music Festival every May, as well as plenty of smaller but equally interesting events. Vancouver, Canada
It’s the old rule: harsh winter, fun summer. Vancouver might be grey and wet for a large part of the year, but when the sun comes out in the warmer months, there’s no better place to be. People go biking through Stanley Park, or take boat cruises on the harbour, or lie in the sun at English Bay, or skip over to Vancouver Island to visit a microbrewery, play some golf, or hike through the forest. Nice. Reykjavik, Iceland
If you enjoy sunshine, there’s good news: Reykjavik has it almost 24 hours a day at the height of summer, and the locals tend to make the most of it. There are plenty of natural wonders to enjoy, from thermal baths to walks around nature reserves to ferry trips out to Videy Island. But it seems what the Icelandic locals like to do best in the summer months is drink and dance, with bars and clubs and pubs in the Laugavegur area open all “night” long.
Which cities do you think are the best to visit in summer?
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