With more people on the planet this year than ever before, taking your vacation during shoulder seasons has never been more beneficial for travel. You’ll be rewarded with cheaper flights and accommodations, shorter lines into tourist destinations, and reservations available at every popular restaurant.
Cultures will come alive through locals with passion for their country, unhurried by crowds of other tourist and group tours. The door opens to a more flexible vacation and the opportunity to feel like you’ve actually connected to the heart and soul of a country.
The hardest parts of shoulder season travel is knowing where to go and at what time. There are specially recommended times on the fringe of a country’s peak season which are still considered travel worthy, but with more potential for variable weather.
Don’t let the chance of inclement weather scare you off from traveling outside of peak seasons; any negative outcomes will be overwhelmed by the many benefits you will feel.
The following is a list of top shoulder season destinations for 2020, evaluated by season.
This coming April, many will flock to the blooming fields of tulips in the Netherlands or catch the last of winter skiing in Zurich. Instead, the city of Porto, Portugal is one of the top recommended destinations in Europe throughout the year, but will have less tourists around and still unbeatable weather during the months of April and May.
The friendly Portuguese will be but one highlight of the coastal city, offering an authentic experience in a romantic setting of cobblestones streets and charming bridges. Portugal has it all: rolling hills, plains, mountains, islands and beaches paired with a rich culture, history, and plenty of wine and delicious food. There’s something for everyone in Portugal, which is why its popularity is rising more and more each year.
In recent summers, the hottest destinations have been to the sparkling Dalmatian Coast of Croatia or a carb-fueled tour of Italy. This summer, we suggest adding Cancun, Mexico to your list. Cancun has earned a strong reputation as a top spring break getaway, but June and July are the perfect time take advantage of
Mexico’s mild temperatures and prices without the college kid madness. Nearby, explore impeccably preserved Mayan ruins or visit Playa del Carmen, considered to be one of the top diving destinations in the world. Mexico may just have more to offer for a summer break than a spring break!
If you can bear to part with fall foliage destinations like Colorado or Vermont, the fall season may may have the most options to capitalize on shoulder season travel. Destinations like Korčula, Croatia, which verge on overrun during the summer peak months, see tourist numbers dwindle toward the end of September. This is the ideal time to visit Korčula without the crowds, decent weather remaining, and water still warm enough to swim in.
Known for its agriculture, particularly wine and olive oil, there are plenty of local delicacies to occupy your time. Indulge in a cruise around the islands to soak up the fleeting sun and deep blue Adriatic Sea. Croatia is the perfect way to get in some last minute warmth before the winter months ahead.
The colder months are normally when denizens of winter take advantage of an escape to destinations closer to the equator in order to thaw out after months of cold. This year, try embracing a winter wonderland instead and head to Lillehammer, Norway. Remembered for the 1994 Winter Olympics, this understated town provides a plethora of wintertime adventures right from your doorstep.
Perfect for those with a love of nature, Lillehammer is home to quintessential Norwegian landscape explorable by snowshoe, all varieties of skiing, or a warm cup of coffee while perusing museums or exhibits from locals artists. Lillehammer is guaranteed to be a beacon of activity and vibrancy to keep those dark days of winter brighter.
The beauty of shoulder season travel is allowing you the experience of visiting popular travel destinations with most benefits of peak season travel, but without the overwhelming crowds and prices. When timed right, the perfect vacation truly can have it all.