During the hottest days of summer, sometimes you just want to escape the tourist throngs, bustling sights, and crowded beaches. With so many people on the move all around the world, why not turn your attention to these understated and peacefully crowd-free destinations? In these calmer getaways, you can meet locals, enjoy regional cuisine, and explore untouched oases. Plan a more peaceful summer escape with our list of 10 under-the-radar summer escapes.
By Anisha Shah
Nestled between Switzerland and Austria, the tiny nation of Liechtenstein is blessed with outstanding natural beauty and a beloved Crown Prince. The idyllic setting is an almost surreal hideaway nestled in the Rhine Valley, with villages tumbling down lush rolling mountains.
Insider Tip: The Relais & Chateaux Park Hotel Sonnenhof has an enviably superior perch overlooking the entire city of Vaduz below. The family-run property is an institution with a Michelin-star restaurant, spa, and spacious suites facing snow-capped mountains. Grab lunch at legendary Restaurant Torkel, where the chef is the seventh generation to offer fine dining amidst the Crown Prince’s vineyards.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Liechtenstein Guide
Where: Aeolian Islands
A luxurious Italian island, Panarea is the getaway of choice for the glitterati. Unlike more upscale Capri and Sardinia, Panarea is a haven of understated pedigree and elegance. Panarea is a no-car island, so you'll have to hike or take a golf cart to see the Bronze Age ruins. The island earned a UNESCO World Heritage Site distinction in 2000, which has helped preserve Panarea's original charm. Also be sure to make time for a scuba diving excursion that will allow you to explore a shipwreck off the coast.
Insider Tip: The second smallest of the eight Aeolian Islands, Panarea is highly exclusive and thus, a favorite vacation spot for celebrities. You'll want to make reservations well in advance, but the island does offer some surprisingly affordable accommodations.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Panarea Guide
Tourism is low-key yet wildly rewarding in this northern U.S. locale. Lubec’s historical harmony with the sea and its close ties to the Canadian Maritimes are securing its future as a peaceful retreat to escape from modern life.
Insider Tip: With a wealth of picturesque waterfront cottages and chalet accommodations, you'll have plenty of options when it comes to where to stay. Peacock House is a blissful sanctuary complete with a piano, fireplace, and airy deck, located minutes from West Quoddy Lighthouse and Campobello Island.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Lubec Guide
A collection of tiny green islands, Bantayan is north of Cebu in the Visayan Sea. These lesser-known lush islands are covered in mangrove and palm trees, making them a great place for a natural retreat. For the best beaches, head to Santa Fe, Patao, or Madridejos.
Insider Tip: Accommodations are basic, but that’s part of the appeal, keeping many tourists away. Pay extra for the seaview cottage at Kota Beach Resort to have direct access to the curved shoreline of powder-white sand. Island-hop to Virgin Island for translucent emerald waters and the feel of a private island paradise.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Philippines Guide
Welcome to France, but not as you know it. Whether you're looking for beaches, culture, hiking, or diving, compact Corsica has it, engulfed in striking massif and scenic shorelines. Glistening bays and glorious cities are crowned by dramatic peaks, complete with luxurious restaurants for long lazy lunches and most importantly, away from the maddening crowds of the mainland.
Insider Tip: While the beach is breathtaking, consider a stay at the Hotel La Dimora, a charming, centuries-old restored villa in the Corsican countryside, just a short drive from Saint-Florent village.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Corsica Guide
Imagine exploring hidden coves, pristinely protected nature parks, and remote sun-drenched shorelines just south of Hvar island. That's what you'll find in Scedro, an intimate oasis tucked in the Adriatic Sea. Croatia is rapidly becoming a popular destination, but this spot is a sleepy retreat of tranquility.
Insider Tip: For the ultimate escape, hire a boat or take a boat trip to explore the abundant coves and caves. Also, hire a car and head to the abandoned hillside village Nastane.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Croatia Guide
Where: North Carolina
In this cluster of narrow barrier islands, you'll have your pick when it comes to finding the perfect beach retreat off the coast of North Carolina. It’s not difficult to find your own piece of paradise along the massive, 200-mile expanse of beachfront. With luxurious spas, restaurants, and empty beaches, the Outer Banks are an idyllic haven.
Insider Tip: For true seclusion, visit between August and November. This is a perfect destination for solo travel or a girl’s getaway, where you can indulge in seaweed body wraps, fine wines, and boutique shopping.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s North Carolina Guide
Where: St Vincent & the Grenadines
Remote, yet accessible and affordable, Bequia is the stylish and authentic alternative to its pricier neighbor, Mustique. The second largest of the 32 islands in St Vincent and the Grenadines, Bequia is blessed with beautiful beaches and reasonably-priced lodgings.
Insider Tip: If you want to splurge, Firefly Plantation Bequia is the spot, with just eight rooms overlooking 30 acres of coconut, citrus, mango, plum, and guava palms. Bequia Beachfront Villas is a beautiful budget-friendly alternative.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s St Vincent & the Grenadines Guide
The small Balearic island of Minorca, named by the Romans, offers a wealth of lush interior canopy, history, and sweeping bays. Gastronomy is a highlight, with stunning local lobster and tuna dishes making for the ultimate foodie experience. Minorca is a producer of gin, which is reason to visit on its own. Explore historical ruins at your leisure and discover secret bays and beaches, or just luxuriate in a hidden home-from-home.
Insider Tip: Much of the island is unspoiled and surprisingly free of tourists. Hire a scooter from a licensed outfitter to see all the nooks and crannies, where you’ll likely be the only one there.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Ibiza and the Balearic Islands Guide
Jura and Three Lakes
Famous for its varying landscapes, protected nature, and historical and architectural heritage, the Jura & Three Lakes region delights visitors. The mountains of Neuchâtel are a green paradise, while towns La-Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle are UNESCO World Heritage Sites for their history of watch-making. The Bernese Jura is a beautiful blend of valleys, meadows, and flowers, ideal for hiking.
Insider Tip: Visit vineyards en route, and practice your French and German as you travel through the region. A highlight is a boat trip along lakes Biel, Murten and Neuchatel. The classic Three-Lakes cruise is a can't-miss experience.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Switzerland Guide