July is the mid-prime vacation season in many parts of the globe. Traveling in the summer is hardly a novel idea, but that doesn't mean you have to share your getaway with a bunch of strangers. Some regions experience long, cold winters, and you can expect to mingle with the locals celebrating the warmer season. Other cities are worth the crowds to experience traditional festivals and annual holidays. Whatever vacation experience you choose, you can't lose with these international destinations in July.
Exquisitely preserved medieval architecture coupled with breathtaking views of the Eastern Alps makes Salzburg an enticing choice for your July getaway. Explore mountain hiking trails and the city's many churches and monasteries, or sample the flavors of a centuries-old beer brewery, Stiegl-Brauerei. The annual Salzburg Festival brings a sense of magic and artistry to the city from mid-July through early August. Notable artists conduct opera, theater, and musical performances, with an eclectic range of interpretations dedicated to Mozart, a native Austrian.
A magical adventure awaits visitors to Nanacamilpa and Españita, two villages in the rural Mexican state of Tlaxcala. The Fireflies Sanctuary, home to a biodiverse group of plants and wildlife, is one of the few places in the world where you can witness a spectacular firefly display. Thousands of fireflies illuminate the forest every night between July and August in a spectacular dance that lasts about an hour.
You might see a few skyscrapers in Calgary, but this cosmopolitan city, endearingly known as "Cowtown," is rightly suited to host the Calgary Stampede. The homegrown rodeo event occurs every July, and you'll see cowboys arriving in their best attire and attend concerts, stage shows, a parade, and various rodeos. Each year, the Stampede attracts a diverse crowd, from international newcomers to local families who've attended for decades. Grab a prime spot to watch the heart-stopping chuckwagon races, then feast your eyes on delicious comfort foods and agricultural showcases.
Bastille Day is one of the most celebrated holidays in France. From the sunny beaches on the Riviera to the cobblestoned streets of the older cities, the July 14 festivities bring the entire country to life. It is a spectacle to behold. Paris is at the heart of the celebrations, with a military parade marching down the Champs-Élysées first thing in the morning. Free concerts and street festivals packed with vendors are good places to mingle with locals, while an evening cruise on the Seine is perfect for escaping the crowds.
July is big in Japan for festivals. The festival of Tana Bata, based on a sentimental legend, is celebrated on July 7. Romantics celebrate by writing wishes on pieces of paper, tying them to bamboo branches. One of the largest festivals is the Shitamachi Tanabata Matsuri, which fills the streets with dancing and other traditional performances. July also brings the honbasho, or sumo tournaments, to Nagoya.
Whether you're a wildlife advocate, a nature photographer, or a fan of rare experiences, an excursion at Tortuguero National Park should be on your July vacation shortlist. Located on Costa Rica's Caribbean coast, the expansive wildlife sanctuary is a dense jungle connected by a network of waterways. Explore the park's canals, rivers, lagoons, and beaches on a tour boat, or glide through the dark waters at your leisure in a canoe or kayak. July marks the start of turtle nesting season, so book a stay in Tortuguero Village and make time for fishing and birding, too.
Hopeless romantics and history buffs should head for the medieval city of Tortosa, Spain, on the banks of the Ebro river. The Catalonian town travels back to the 16th-century for the annual Renaissance Festival, a cultural celebration that recreates the area's storied past. Citizens and visitors don period costumes to wander the streets while actors perform music and entertainment. After a day of festivities, head into a tavern for a cool drink and indulge in some medieval-era recipes.
Winters in Finland are long and very cold. By the time summer comes around, the locals are eager to take to the city streets and the great outdoors. There's usually something going on in Helsinki, the southern coastal town and capital city on the Bay of Finland. Exceptional public transportation and walking and biking trails make Helsinki a beginner-friendly destination. Sample traditional Finnish cuisine and tour the vibrant Design District. If you prefer being on the water, spend the day island hopping in the Helsinki Archipelago.
Malaysia owes its appeal to more than lush jungle greenery, idyllic islands, and ancient architecture. The nation's cultural heritage is also a thing of beauty. The Georgetown Festival in Penang provides an exciting opportunity to learn more about Malaysia's artistic community at one of Southeast Asia's most exciting cultural festivals. Not far from Penang Island is the Royal Belum State Park. As one of the world's oldest rainforests, it's home to a vast array of tropical plants and wildlife, including endangered species like the Malaysian tiger.
Suppose you prefer a classic French culinary experience, head to the Champagne region for the Route du Champagne en fête. The celebratory, gastronomic walk travels through the gorgeous valleys and vineyards along the L'Aube River at the end of July. Wine villages on the route bloom with hundreds of vibrant wildflowers, and the streets fill with performers, art installations, and champagne tastings with gourmet food pairings. Sit with the producers as they passionately invite you into their secret wine cellars and introduce you to their latest spirits.
The Montreal Jazz Fest is a perfect reason to head for Quebec in the summer. The world's largest jazz festival is a 10-day annual event beginning in late June and leading into early July. With more than 500 concerts, many of which are free, visitors are sure to get their fill of smooth tunes. The festival shuts down much of downtown, where attendees are free to explore outdoor stages, concert halls, and a diverse selection of eateries.
Northern Vietnam's higher mountain elevations keep the weather nice and cool, the perfect climate for hiking the rice terraces and green-carpeted hills of Sa Pa. These undulating landscapes are vibrant with foliage in July and August, becoming an Instagrammer's dream landscape. Book a homestay with a local Hmong family for an immersive experience, or seek out the luxuries of a boutique hotel and spa in town. Prices in Sa Pa are not as expensive as in larger cities, so feel free to treat yourself.
Most visitors to Puerto Rico stay in historic San Juan, but the country's smaller island of Vieques is a stunning retreat worth the cost of a flight or a ferry from Ceiba. Vieques' laid-back vibe is a welcome contrast to the lively capital's atmosphere, and it sets the stage for a rare natural phenomenon. The Puerto Mosquito Bioluminescent Bay dazzles after dark with brilliantly glowing microscopic plankton, which shines brightest during the new moon. Spend the night in Vieques, then head back to San Juan at the end of July for the World Salsa Congress.
If your summer vacation commands pristine beaches and laid-back vibes under azure skies, look no further than the Indonesian Islands. July is the rainy season in many parts of Asia, but this month is more likely to provide dry, sunny days. The Gili Islands are a slice of paradise, each with its own personality. Gili Trawangan is party central, a largely developed island with a lively nightlife. Gili Meno is better for romantic getaways, with bamboo bungalows on the shore and unbeatable white sand beaches. Head to Sumba Island for surfing, towering waterfalls, and to explore the traditional island villages.
St. Petersburg is a popular destination in the summer. Cultural events such as ballets and opera performances, concerts, and film festivals fill the calendar, and the start of July is the perfect time to experience the White Nights. Due to the city's northern location, the sun doesn't fully set during the first few weeks of the month, resulting in overnight twilight rather than darkness. Locals and visitors alike take advantage of long daylight hours by exploring the outdoors and socializing in the streets and at parties.