Thinking about going on a big rail adventure through Europe, getting remote in the US national parks or perhaps a luxe visit to the idyllic scenes of the new Downton Abbey film in southeastern France?
Well, you’re not alone. We polled the Lonely Planet community across our social media channels for all your questions regarding everything and anything summer travel.
Read on for Lonely Planet experts’ top tips, advice and travel inspiration for what will be a very well-traveled summer of 2022.
All about US and Canada travel this summer
Where can I take my kids to give them a great outdoor experience in the US?
Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado is a one-of-a-kind destination and especially fun with kids. Sandwiched between snowy mountains in Colorado’s San Luis Valley, the massive dune field rises in a series of gold-edged waves, hundreds of feet above the valley floor. Dune hiking is a must – no trails mean endless possibilities, impromptu races to sandy peaks and spectacular views. The descent, though, is where it’s at: sand sleds and boards (available for rent near the entrance) have kids zipping down the steep slopes, wiping out on the soft tawny sand and trekking back up to do it all over again. Spring snowmelt brings a temporary miracle: Medano Creek, a slow flowing waterway at the foot of the dunes, is perfect for wading and tubing, a legit sandy beach in the high desert. In the evening, pitch your tent at Pinyon Flats Campground or head to nearby Alamosa for creature comforts. – Liza Prado, Lonely Planet Writer
What’s the best way to get out of the heat in summertime New Orleans?
When the scorching summer heat arrives, seek shade beneath the live oaks along New Orleans’ Bayou Metairie in City Park. Dripping with Spanish moss, these dense-leafed beauties cast wide shadows, making a fine retreat from the blazing sun. If that doesn’t do the trick, head to the nearby New Orleans Museum of Art, where you can see thought-provoking works, including a current exhibition on Queen Nefertari’s Egypt, amid heavenly air conditioning. – Regis St. Louis, Lonely Planet Writer
Are there any free US national parks I can visit this summer?
Yes! And probably a lot more than you think, too, since national parks also include parkways, historical parks and national seashores. Most people aren’t aware that the majority of the 423 national parks never charge admission for entry (only around 100 parks have an entry fee, in fact).
Of the top 25 most visited national parks in the United States, 11 of them do not charge an entry fee at all. That includes the following 7 parks, which are in the top 10 most visited: Blue Ridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Gateway National Recreation Area, George Washington Memorial Parkway, Natchez Trace Parkway and the Lincoln Memorial.
Additionally, all 423 parks in the NPS system will offer free admission (including Denali National Park & Preserve, Joshua Tree National Park, Grand Canyon National Park and all of these ones that usually charge admission fees) this summer on August 4, 2022, the anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act. Other free admission days this year include Sept. 24, 2022 (National Public Lands Day) and Nov. 11, 2022 (Veteran’s Day). Free entrance to national parks is also given to members of the military, military veterans, Gold Star Families, citizens with disabilities and all fourth-grade students. How awesome is that? Get out there and enjoy–even if you have to pay, you’re still supporting a vital and cherished federal service. – Terry Ward, Lonely Planet Writer
What’s the best way to avoid crowds in Canada’s national parks this summer?
It’s hard to imagine you’d need to try to get away from crowds in Canada’s vast national parks — but their beauty lures in millions of visitors each year.
However, with so much focus placed on national parks, provincial and territorial parks are often overlooked. They also provide epic outdoor experiences but lack the international reputation of a Jasper or Cape Breton Highlands. If you’ve been dreaming of the soaring mountains and turquoise lakes of Banff, Bow Valley and Peter Lougheed provincial parks are only a short drive away and offer similar scenery — but at spots you probably haven’t seen all over Instagram.
If there’s a particular national park you’re excited to explore, by all means, go. Do your research and you’re sure to find a less trodden path. But also research nearby provincial parks. You’ll still find stunning scenery and if you do run into crowds, they’re more likely to be locals — so you may even get a tip on a must-see spot. – Alex Butler, Lonely Planet Staff
What are some of the best art destinations in the US for the summer?
As travel is picking up, the art scene is, too, with new museums, can’t-miss exhibitions and exciting installations from coast to coast. Here are three destinations where you can get your culture fix this summer.
New York City: There’s no denying that New York City reigns supreme when it comes to arts and culture — and now it’s back and better than ever. The new Museum of Broadway celebrates the rich history of the Great White Way. Set in the Hudson River, the recently opened Little Island is an architecturally dazzling public park with arts programming ranging from music to dance. Then there’s Governors Island, where Collective Retreats has launched an artist-in-residence program, where guests can engage with the artists and view destination-inspired pieces.
Washington, DC: In honor of its 175th anniversary, the Smithsonian is pulling out all the stops in 2022. The biggest news: the Smithsonian Latino Center, opening within the National Museum of American History and telling the complicated history of the Latino experience in America. Plus there are plenty of shows not to miss, from the must-awaited Yayoi Kusama exhibition at the Hirshhorn Museum (complete with infinity mirror rooms) to a retrospective of Watergate artwork at the Portrait Gallery. Stay at the female-themed Hotel Zena, which is like a living museum filled with artwork by and about women.
Tusla, Oklahoma: When it comes to major art cities, Tulsa might not be at the top of your hit list, but this city is fast becoming an emerging cultural destination. The Bob Dylan Center, a museum dedicated to the legendary singer and his work, just opened right next to the Woody Guthrie Center, which honors the “Father of Folk.” Other cultural stops include the revitalized Arts District (with art crawls, museums and galleries) and the 66-acre Gathering Place, a waterfront park with plenty of art events and sculptures on display. – Laura Begley Bloom, Lonely Planet Writer
What are the best outdoor destinations in the US for the summer?
In summer when many Americans explore the great outdoors, it can be a challenge to find destinations not entirely overrun with crowds. For travelers looking to visit a few headliners in peak travel months but also occasionally escape the masses, a road trip along the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway that stretches between California and Oregon strikes just the right balance.
Stretching from Northern California’s Lassen Volcanic National Park and ending at Crater Lake National Park in Southern Oregon, the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway passes up to ten volcanoes within the Cascade Range. The road trip also includes Mount Shasta and Lava Beds National Monument.
Each volcano along the byway is entirely unique. Lassen has bubbling mud pots and geothermal features. Mount Shasta offers jaw-dropping views or even a challenging climb for the adventurous and prepared. Lava Beds present the opportunity to explore and crawl through cooled lava tubes. And Crater Lake’s collapsed caldera filled with clear blue water is a sight to behold.
I’d recommend taking about 5-7 days for this road trip to slow down and take in the sights along the back roads. Camping and RVing are popular in the region, but inexpensive motels are also an option. Consider continuing north and ending in Bend, Oregon where Newberry Volcanic National Monument is located. – Leslie Harvey, Lonely Planet Writer
Big adventures and top insights for Europe travel this summer
I’m looking for a peaceful spot in France to holiday this summer, with mountains, water and no crowds. Where can you suggest?
The Aravis mountains, between Mont Blanc and Lake Annecy in Savoie and Haute-Savoie. The key hubs, La Clusaz and Le Grand Bornand, are reasonably well-known among winter sports enthusiasts. But meander away from these towns into largely unsung, alpine landscapes strewn with ancient footpaths and pastoral shepherds’ huts and you find hidden spots cooking up peace, tranquility – and Savoyard gastronomy – in spades. This is the land of creamy Reblochon and Tomme cheese, tangy saucisson (air-dried sausage) and organic zero-kilometer dishes peppered with wildflowers and herbs foraged on the mountainside (Chalet de Paccaly, with mountain guide and botanist Astrid Marty at the helm, is a favorite lunch address).
Cycling, e-biking and scenic motoring is hot here: the Col des Aravis mountain pass linking La Clusaz and Le Grand-Bornand is part of the mythical Route des Grandes Alpes – an incredible 720km road trip from Lake Geneva to the French Riviera by way 17 hairy mountain passes in the French Alps. Mermaids seeking water can dip in Lake Annecy (the ‘busier’ option), hike up to crystal-clear alpine lakes like Lac des Confins or Lac du Mont Charvin (clearly created with star-topped bivouacking in mind), or dabble in heart-warming Tummo yoga in glacial rivers. In short, if you’re seeking a deep dive into untouched nature, Aravis is it. – Nicola Williams, Lonely Planet Writer
What’s your favorite summertime thing to do with your kids in Iceland?
My kids are going to fiercely disagree with this answer, but OUR favorite summertime activity in Iceland is camping. Each trip begins with me bulldozing gear and family members into the car and then, halfway out of the driveway, check the weather forecast to see where to go. Foreseeable sunshine dictates everything. If the warmest spot is a one-hot spring village five hundred kilometers away – well, buckle up. Last year, it was Hallormsstaður Forest. Super fun, right kids? – Egill Bjarnason, Lonely Planet Writer
I want to go Interrailing this summer but I only have seven days – where should I go?
Even a cursory glance at the Interrail map shows the size of Europe’s rail network – and just how much fun pass holders can have.
Bear in mind there are many different types of Interrail pass, covering individual countries (known as Country passes) and the entire continent (Global passes). If you live outside the EU and UK, you’ll need a Eurail pass – prices work out roughly the same. Youth and senior travelers pay less.
You might not even need a pass. Many of Europe’s trains require a seat reservation or, in some cases, the payment of a supplement for pass holders. The passes described above may work out more expensive than four point-to-point journeys – which is the maximum you should take in this time period – depending on where you go and how far in advance you book. You can compare options at trainline.com. Then again, point-to-point tickets will not give you the flexibility of a pass, nor any of the helpful discounts on other transport like mountain cable cars or entry to attractions pass holders enjoy.
So, without turning this into an essay, I’d say with seven days get the Italy country pass and take a route connecting Venice, Bologna, Florence (pausing in Pisa en route) and Rome, adding on Naples if you’re very energetic. It’s more than you’d normally cover with a week in Italy but it makes great use of your pass.
That’s two very brief options. If there’s any way you can beg, borrow or steal a few extra days you can stay longer, travel and really start to use that pass. – Tom Hall, Lonely Planet Staff
I want to go on a big adventure in Europe that isn’t on any bucket lists, can you recommend a place?
Wales. I’m unashamedly biased but the country of my birth is a wild land of craggy peaks and wave-lashed shores, all wrapped up in ancient Celtic myths and legends. It’s also often totally overlooked by travelers to Britain.
The mountains clamber to over 1000 meters up in the Snowdonia National Park, a place that was muse to Romantic poets like Wordsworth back in the day. Skip Yr Wyddfa, the highest, in favor of the sleeping-dragon peak of Tryfan or haunting Glyder Fawr, where the assemblages of dagger-like rocks are known as the Devil’s Kitchen.
For beaches, go south to Pembrokeshire and the Gower. Sweeping sands at Llangennith hoover up the Atlantic swell there for surfers and there are long-distance hiking paths that link seal-filled coves and puffin-stalked islands alike. – Joe Francis, Lonely Planet Writer
What sunny European destination is cheapest in summer?
There are some more affordable locations once you are on the ground. Bulgaria’s Black Sea beaches, Turkey’s beautiful Aegean Mediterranean coast and Portugal’s Atlantic seaside all represent good value for meals and shopping.
A destination is only cheap if it hasn’t cost you a fortune in flying there. It’s vital to factor in not just the cost of a plane ticket (or train ticket – this is Europe) but getting to and from the airport, and any money you spend while making the journey. This can make the per-day difference in choosing a less expensive destination less relevant. Another big factor is accommodation, and whether you have any meals included. There’s strong demand across the continent this year as travelers look to make up for lost vacation time. This combined with high fuel costs and increases in the cost of living across Europe means there won’t be too many deals during peak months of July and August even for late availability specials. – Tom Hall, Lonely Planet Staff
Where is the villa where they filmed Downton Abbey: A New Era?
I looked this up right after I saw the movie last week. The villa inherited by Violet Crawley is actually La Rocabella in Le Pradet, on the coast of southeastern France. If you have tens of thousands of dollars to burn, you can also rent it for your own private, Crawley family-esque Cote d’Azur sojourn. Or you can just watch the movie again. – Brekke Fletcher, Lonely Planet Staff
Where should I go in Europe for outdoor fun this summer?
Around 2009, the city of Prague removed the parking lots that had existed on the Vltava River embankments, just south of the city center, starting where Frank Gehry’s “Dancing House” meets the Jirasek Bridge. And with that, locals began setting up impromptu outdoor bars along the eastside of the river, beginning with Bajkazyl, a bike shop and bar. A few years after that, Naplavka, as its called, began growing into a near-mile, outdoor, warm-weather strip of bars, some of which are on moored boats and barges.
Today, Naplavka is more popular than ever. With Prague Castle and the Gothic spires of St Vitus Cathedral looming in the distance, revelers sit along the river nursing frothy pints of pilsner as buskers sing and street vendors cook up snacks. On Saturdays, a popular flea market plants itself here. Naplavka has become the go-to place for outdoor amusement in Prague. – David Farley, Lonely Planet Writer
I’m traveling to Ireland and I hear renting a car is a nightmare. Do you have any suggestions?
In Ireland, there are reports that the cost of car hire has tripled and at times quadrupled since before the pandemic. A lack of cars in the rental market has meant that many visitors are unable to secure car hire for the duration of their visit. The increased demand with return to travel along with a shortage of certain car components has meant that European care hire is at a premium now for visitors. Ireland however is compact, and all parts of the country can be accessed through a network of busses and trains. Be sure to do your research in advance, know the routes you need to take and reserve seats online to ensure the cheapest rate and that you get seated with your companions. Sit back, relax, leaving the driving to someone else and enjoy the views. – Fionnuala McCarthy, Lonely Planet Staff
Where is good to go in Croatia with kids?
Brač Island is a great choice to experience the best of Croatian island life with the entire family. The world-famous Zlatni Rat has calm, shallow waters and is great for splashing and snorkeling. The promenade from Bol to the beach is easily navigated with prams and there’s a play area and an inflatable water park to enjoy on the way. Further inland, there are ancient fortress ruins to explore or get a guided tour to see the Dragon’s Cave (about an hour’s walk from Bol). – AnneMarie McCarthy, Lonely Planet Staff
Exploring global destinations
Is it safe to travel to Sri Lanka, I’m already booked?
Sri Lanka is going through a tough patch at the moment. Hot on the heels of the pandemic, the country is facing a full-blown economic crisis that has already led to a change of government. The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office is currently advising against all but essential travel to Sri Lanka because of the risk of unrest and shortages of essential supplies.
But this is not the whole picture. While the country has seen violent demonstrations and curfews, trouble has been concentrated in the capital, Colombo, and other large cities. The airport lies north of the capital, and it’s possible to bypass Colombo when heading to beach resorts along the coast.
A bigger problem for visitors is the shortage of essential commodities. Petrol, cooking gas and medicines are in short supply, and there have been periodic interruptions to the electricity supply. If you have to visit Sri Lanka at this time, stick to self-contained beach resorts with their own generators, and avoid crowds and other potential flashpoints. – Joe Bindloss, Lonely Planet Staff
What is the best Caribbean island to avoid the crowds?
Dominica is the perfect Caribbean destination to avoid crowds. Situated in the southern part of the Caribbean, close to the islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique, Dominica’s nickname is “Nature Island”.
The country boasts an extensive network of hiking trails, wonderful diving opportunities and a boiling lake – the second-largest in the world.
Perhaps it’s because people confuse the country with the Dominican Republic or its lack of large, glitzy all-inclusive resorts, but Dominica is an oft-overlooked country. Sure it’s not your typical Caribbean island with white-sand beaches (the beaches are black due to the nine volcanoes), but trust me, that’s definitely part of the appeal. – Alicia Johnson, Lonely Planet Staff
COVID-19 travel concerns for summer 2022
Do I still need to pack a mask?
It depends on where you’re going and who you’re flying with but generally speaking, yes. Even though the US and many countries in Europe have dropped mask mandates, most nations elsewhere require them on flights and in airports. And individual airlines can still set their own rules. If we’ve learned anything during the pandemic it’s that rules can change with very little notice. So it’s a good idea to have a mask with you just in case you need it, particularly an FFP2/N95/KN95 mask. Purchase some in advance and keep them in your hand luggage because you don’t want to be caught short at the airport where prices for masks tend to be higher. – Sasha Brady, Lonely Planet Staff
What do you do if you get COVID when traveling?
So unfortunately the possibility of getting COVID-19 when traveling is something we have to consider. Travel does require some preparation now.
First of all, make sure you are fully vaccinated and boosted before travel. Second, before you travel, make sure you buy travel insurance where COVID-19 isn’t an excluding factor for coverage. These policies typically will reimburse you for expenses due to quarantining and also cover medical expenses should you need treatment.
Even if your destination does not require it, you may want to test before departure. Better to find out you’re testing positive and isolate at home than have to do so abroad. If you do get it while traveling, don’t travel and risk exposing others. You’ll need to isolate. From contacting your host/hotel to rescheduling your flight, here’s a detailed explanation of what to do next.
One thing I’m doing for my travels is packing a home test kit so I have one on hand in case of an emergency. Finally, it goes without saying if you’re not feeling well, don’t travel. – Melissa Yeager, Lonely Planet Staff