The best summer break destinations for 2019
It’s that time of the year again. Winter is beginning to fade, we’re full of the joys of spring and starting to think about our summer holiday.
Perhaps you’re dreaming of a romantic trip for two, a getaway with your friends, or maybe you want to make some memories with the little ones.
Whatever your plan, we have some inspiration for you! Check out our top summer destination picks for couples, groups and families.
Best summer holiday destinations for couples
Bangkok is colours, smells and sounds. Take your partner and feel all your senses come alive.
Visit a temple
We recommend Wat Pho-temple. It’s one of the biggest and oldest in Bangkok and this is where you find the Reclining Buddha, Bangkok’s largest Buddha at 46 metres long and 15 metres tall. This impressive lying statue is covered in gold leaf and mother of pearl.
Already in love with Thai food? In Bangkok you can find amazing delicacies everywhere you turn, especially when it comes to street food. It’s quite an experience to see the cook prepare a scorpion in front of you. One tip: eat where you see the locals eating.
Rivers play a very important role in Thailand. Chao Praya is the artery that winds its way through busy Bangkok. Take a ride on the Chao Praya river and see the real Bangkok unfold. There are many longtail-boat rides on offer. Choose a small one so that the driver can take you into the stunning canals that branch out from the main river.
Visit a snake farm
There’s a first time for everything… Take the opportunity to visit the snake farm at Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute. Here researchers are working to develop an anti-snake venom serum. You’ll also find an exhibition, and you can even see the venom being extracted from the snakes.
Village of Love
Take your other half to the Bang Rak district, which translates as ‘Village of Love’. Here you can both smell, taste and see authentic Thai life. And eat. According to locals, this is one of the best areas in Bangkok to dine.
Markets and shopping
Don’t miss a trip to the magical market in Chatuchak, which is actually one of the biggest weekend markets in the world. It isn’t exactly a secluded setting, but this isn’t why you go to Bangkok.
We also recommend exploring some of the city’s night markets, such as Rot Fai Market in Srinakarin. This colourful maze of stalls comes alive when the sun goes down, and here you’ll find everything from cheap and delicious snacks to rare collectibles from around the world.
If you’re making a pit stop in Bangkok before heading off for a beach break on one of Thailand’s many beautiful islands such as Krabi (which is also perfect for couples, by the way), then make the most of your time in the Thai capital with our bite-size Bangkok itinerary.
The ultimate island for couples, Santorini offers dramatic views, stunning sunsets and glorious beaches. Its scenic towns brim with architectural beauty and natural wonders, while friendly locals, a warm climate and delicious cuisine make this the perfect destination for a summer getaway with your someone special.
Iconic white-washed houses
Explore the two main towns of Santorini, where you’ll see the iconic cliff-hugging white houses of this Greek isle. Fira is the capital, and whether you head there via road, cable car, donkey or on foot, you’ll be blown away by breathtaking views.
Oia is a sprawling olde-worlde village renowned for its picture-perfect sunsets, magnificent churches and stunning vistas. You can also take a boat from Oia to the island of Thirassia and spend a few hours at the sublime beach of Armenis.
This archaeological site sits on top of the 360 metre-high Messavouno mountain. It boasts ruins from Roman, Hellenistic, and Byzantine settlements. Stroll hand-in-hand through marvelous temples, theatres, markets and more at Thira.
Santorini’s famous delicacy
Try the white aubergine with its unusual sweet taste. You’ll find this rare product in various dishes on the island. White aubergine salad and melitzanosalata (white aubergine dip) are a must.
If Santorini is too laid back, then how about heading to the Greek capital for a few days first? Check out these 10 awesome reasons to visit Athens.
Looking for something other than palm trees and beach cocktails for your summer holiday? Iceland, with its intimate hot springs, stunning glaciers and spectacular waterfalls, is a unique destination well suited to couples. The midnight sun is a particularly special experience. Don’t forget to pack for plenty of rain and wind!
A visit to the world’s most renowned geothermal spa just outside Reykjavik is a must. After soaking in the mineral-rich warmth, head to Moss Restaurant for some classic Icelandic cuisine. Moss occupies the highest point at the Blue Lagoon, offering incredible views of the volcanic horizon.
See, feel and live the natural wonders of Iceland at Perlan, perfect for experiencing the wintry version of the land of ice and fire that you don’t get to see during summer.
You’ll learn the secrets of glaciers and walk through a 100 metre-long frozen cave built with over 350 tonnes of snow from the Blue Mountains. Enjoy panoramic views of the city, sea, mountains and volcanoes at the observation deck, and don’t miss the Northern Lights planetarium show.
What could be more romantic than being surrounded by shimmering pinks, blues and greens inside a dormant volcano? Take a day trip from Rejkjavik to Þríhnúkagígur to see these dazzling colours inside the volcano’s gigantic chamber, only accessible with a guided tour. You’ll descend 120 metres and be awestruck by what you see.
Take a close-up look at huge whales from one of the many whale safari boats in Iceland. You’ll usually get a warm overall to wear before the boat takes you out on the open sea. Then it’s just a matter of keeping your eyes open.
Sightings are by no means guaranteed, but in summer, the sea around Iceland is full of marine food and it’s high season for whales, such as minke whale, and white discus. You can also see dolphins and porpoises. And if you’re really lucky, you might even bump into an orca.
Best summer holidays destination for groups of friends
Heading away with your best pals this year? Then you’ll find the destination options are endless… But fear not, we’ve done the hard work for you and narrowed it down to these four top picks for this year’s unforgettable summer trip.
New York, USA
There’s so much on offer in the Big Apple that you’ll definitely be spoilt for choice. From its one-of-a-kind views atop skyscrapers to outstanding museums, theatre and diverse cultural life, NYC’s attractions suit all tastes.
See the skyline
Rockefeller Center is one of New York City’s most well-known attractions. Practically a city in itself, it’s packed with shops, sights and restaurants. It’s a great place to be a total tourist. You can ice-skate, admire the Channel Gardens or see the skyline from Top of the Rock, plus so much more.
9/11 Memorial Museum
Listen to personal stories of remembrance and resilience following the terrorist attacks at this poignant memorial. Make sure you pre-book tickets online to avoid the queues.
A beautiful and relaxing oasis in the middle of America’s busiest city, sprawling Central Park features pedestrian paths, playing fields, plus a carousel, boat rentals and a reservoir. This is a great place to take some time out from the sightseeing and enjoy a leisurely stroll. And if you’re here on a Sunday, make sure to head to The Boathouse for a delicious brunch.
Dine with the (pre)stars
There’s a special place in Manhattan you can take your group to get a proper New York burger, fries and shake – with a side of entertainment. At Ellen’s Stardust Diner, all the wait staff are aspiring Broadway performers, and take turns to serenade the packed dining room with their all-singing, all-dancing renditions of big hits and timeless classics.
Need more food-related fun? Check out our guide on where to eat in New York.
Best bargain in New York
On a bit of a budget? Taking the Staten Island ferry is one of the most memorable things you can do on your trip to New York – and it’s completely free. The ferry’s route offers stunning views of Lower Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, and Governors Island.
This vibrant capital is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in Europe with a unique atmosphere that combines the ancient world with a modern metropolis.
The modern side
Thanks to Expo ’98, the World Trade Fair which was hosted by Lisbon in 1998, a once derelict area of the city was transformed into a thriving neighbourhood. On the site of Expo ’98, you’ll find a casino, Vasco da Gama shopping centre, designer railway station, cable car, Europe’s largest Oceanarium and the 17 kilometre-long Vasco da Gama Bridge.
Carcavelos Beach is one of the best-known surf spots in the Lisbon area and in Portugal. A ten minute drive from the city centre, it has consistent waves most of the year. Top surf schools in the area offer lessons at all levels.
Another place to visit is Bairro Alto, for the essence of city nightlife. This bohemian part of town is full of hip, quirky bars, and comes alive after dark with its vibrant clubs and DJ-manned lounges.
During the day, visit the nearby Chiado, an exclusive district where you can drink coffee at the popular Café A Brasileira, then slowly climb the steep hills of the city by tram to observe the daily life of Lisboetas.
Cruise the river
Enjoy a two-hour sunset cruise on a sailing boat along the Tagus River and see the city from a different perspective.
Croatia has everything you dream of in a summer holiday, including stable and hot weather, crystal clear water and friendly locals. Norwegian flies to Pula, Split, Zadar and Dubrovnik, but the latter is ideal for those heading on a summer break with friends this year.
The Old Town is a spectacular sight and is on UNESCOs world heritage list due to its unusually well-preserved medieval architecture. Jutting out into the sea, its walls contain fascinating sculptures, churches, monasteries and fountains.
It’s obligatory to walk around the entire Old Town on top of the city walls. The view is out of this world and it’s easy to see why it was chosen as the setting for many Game of Thrones scenes. If you’re a fan of the show, then be sure to take a walking tour where you’ll recognise parts of King’s Landing and even learn about the production of the series as some of the guides actually worked on set.
Pack your suncream
It goes without saying that it’s hot in this part of Europe in summer. Dubrovnik has a fantastic city beach just outside the walls of the Old Town. A great place to relax with your friends and cool off, or take part in some jet skiing, SUP or scuba diving.
Mountainous landscapes, charming villages and Austria’s famed art and cultural life are just a few of the reasons to come here with friends on summer holidays.
Art and culture
Throughout the 19th century, Vienna was a powerhouse of art, music, and culture. The legacy from those golden years still lives on. Salzburg’s Museum of Modern Art and its music scene (classical and modern) still thrives today.
Built to rival the Versailles Palace, Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace is a sight to behold. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most important architectural, cultural, and historic monuments in Austria.
City of music
Music is very important in Vienna and a huge part of its culture. Attend a live music show, the opera, a concert event, or simply listen to one of the many talented street performers.
Passion for coffee and cake
You’ll find dozens of traditional cafés in Vienna’s Old City, where you’ll encounter Viennese coffee house culture in its most original form. Café Central, Café Am Hof and Café Frauenhuber are all recommended.
Easy to get around
Norwegian flies to Salzburg and Vienna and it’s easy to hop from city to city in this relatively small country. There’s also the option of stopping off in the countryside in between. Buses and trains are quite cheap and all the major cities are well connected. Road trips will give you the chance to see gorgeous natural landscapes one day and idyllic cities the next.
Renting a car is easy and convenient and even earns you CashPoints.
Climb or hike in Tirol
If you do decide to rent a car, head west to Tirol to see the dramatic beauty of mountains from a different perspective. In this region of Austria, with most mountains over 3,000 metres, you’ll find more than 5,000 alpine climbing routes and 3,000 sport climbing routes in stunning natural settings. There are routes for all ages and abilities.
Best summer holidays destination for families
Travel is both fun and educational for children and with a bit of thought and planning, the flight to some of these memorable cities can be a good experience too.
Perhaps Europe’s best summer destination for families, Copenhagen is a treat for children. Here you’ll find zoos, amusement parks, beaches and, a few hours away, Legoland! There’s plenty in this lively, cosmopolitan city to keep mum and dad happy, too.
Made for children
At over 175 years old, Tivoli is the oldest amusement park in the world, and also the most visited theme park in Scandinavia. It’s a paradise for children and is said to be Walt Disney’s inspiration for Disney World.
Here there’s something for everyone with exotic architecture, historic buildings and beautiful gardens. And of course, rides for all ages, like the wooden roller coaster which dates back to 1914.
In Copenhagen you’re never far from a beach and in summer you can swim in basins off the harbours. Amager Beach Park offers 4.6 kilometres of white sand, Islands Brygge Harbour Bath has five basins and Urban Beach offers sand, music and drinks.
Take the train, bus or a plane to Legoland in Billund and follow the paths from one magical Lego world to another. Here children of all ages can create, explore, play and discover as much as they like. There are also 50 rides on offer, treasure hunts, a zoo and much, much more.
Child-friendly museums, arts, entertainment and attractions abound in Miami. There are also tons of fun activities that the whole family can enjoy.
Play and explore
The Miami Children’s Museum fosters creativity and inspires little ones to play as they explore and engage in educational activities. Child-sized replicas of places such as the supermarket and bank make kids feel like grown-ups.
Blow their minds at FunDimension
Let the kids enjoy laser tag, bumper cars and an amazing 7-D theater at FunDimension. Coin-operated games and a four-storey playground are also on offer. Parents can relax with coffee and complimentary Wi-Fi.
Love the water
The Venetian Pool is truly beautiful with its tropical foliage, waterfalls and Italian architectural touches. Kids love the shallow pool and cool grotto. It boasts clean showers, lockers, free parking and a place to grab a bite. Be aware that the pool doesn’t admit children under three years old, though.
Fancy the states but perhaps something a little further north? New York is another great American city for a family holiday. Check out our tips on how to do New York with kids.
The Catalan capital is a popular summer destination for families. With its nine UNESCO World Heritage sites, delicious cuisine, beach and mountains, there’s no shortage of things to see and do here. Easy to navigate by bike, the city is a fun mix of old and new.
Park Güell is Gaudí’s fantasy creation. It features Hansel and Gretel houses, ornamental dragons, and leafy plazas to take a rest. Take the kids for a picnic here and enjoy the picture-perfect views over the city.
Barcelona’s beaches become packed in summer, so if you’re looking for a spot of relaxation, it’s best to get there early and leave early. Of all the city beaches, the Olympic Village beaches are the most child-friendly, with a spider’s web climbing structure and playground.
If you’re a football fan, you won’t want to miss a visit to the emblematic Camp Nou stadium, the home of FC Barcelona. If you’re not lucky enough to be in the city on a match day, then taking a tour of the stadium is a good call, as you get to see the players’ changing rooms and retrace footsteps of Barça’s legendary players including Kubala, Cruyff, Maradona, Guardiola and Ronaldinho.
A spot of magic
Take the little ones to the Montjuïc Magic Fountain on a summer’s evening. This spectacular show will leave you dazzled as the synchronised jets make the colourful water dance before your eyes in time to the music. And the best part? It’s free.
Travel this summer, earn CashPoints
Every time you travel with Norwegian, you get CashPoints. And don’t forget you can earn extra CashPoints quickly on a summer holiday as they’re rewarded through your car rental, hotel accommodation and of course, your actual plane tickets.