When school's out, work slows down, and the weather warms up in many parts of the world, it's officially time to take a summer vacation. If you're the busy type, a host of exciting happenings around the globe will keep "lazy days" to a minimum, whether you're cheering on your favorite soccer team, reveling at various festivals, or taking advantage of outdoor adventures. But if you're looking for creature comforts, there are plenty of new hotel openings to allow for the utmost in relaxation, too. Either way, here are our picks for the hottest spots to hit for summer 2014. --Kathleen Squires
Football fans will be flocking south, as the 2014 FIFA World Cup kicks of June 12 and continues through July 13. The 20th tournament happens to be held in the country that has won the most titles in history. The Brazilian national football team has taken the Cup home five times and its home country will be hosting matches in 12 different cities. Between matches in São Paulo, check out the art of coffee cultivation at historic Nossa Senhora da Conceição Farm. Dining at Alex Atala's world-famous restaurant D.O.M is also a must. If in Bahia, enjoy exploring the colonial African/European city center of Salvador, and make time to relax on one the lovely coastal beaches, such as Trancoso. If you prefer to be a bit more off-the-beaten path, Manaus, deep in the jungle, reveals the history of the "rubber barons" in places such as the elaborate, 1896 Teatro Amazonas. Bookend the trip with a river cruise aboard the Amazon Clipper.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Brazil Guide
The Aspen Ideas Festival (June 24-July 3), an open exchange among the best and brightest journalists, politicians, artists, entrepreneurs, musicians and many more leaders, celebrates its 10th anniversary this summer with various programs, seminars, and tutorials. The end of June also sees the kick-off of the Aspen Music Festival (June 26-August 17). In its 35th year, this season celebrates "The New Romantics" with performances such as Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin to Philip Glass's The American Four Seasons. Later in the summer, the city's new Cooking School of Aspen will open, while Chefs Club by Food & Wine will feature the cuisine of Best New Chefs Matthew Gaudet of Boston's West Bridge and Chris Shepherd of Underbelly in Houston. The brand-new, environmentally-sustainable Aspen Art Museum, designed by Shigeru Ban, unveils 12,500 square feet of gallery space on August 1st.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Aspen Guide
Let the crowds battle for hotel rooms in Dubrovnik during the 65th Annual Dubrovnik Summer Festival, which includes music, Shakespearean performances, dance, and much more (July 10-August 25). The quiet coastal town of Cavtat, just 10 miles away, offers easy access to the Dalmatian hub along with an under-the-radar art scene, waterfront restaurants, beaches, and boating activities.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Croatia Guide
The opening of the Zorlu Center brings a fresh new face to the banks of the Bosphorus. The complex includes a performance arts venue, an upscale shopping center, and a brand-new Raffles Hotel, opening at the tail end of summer. The opening concert (and a host of others) at the annual Istanbul Music Festival (May 31-June 27) will take place at the Zorlu, while the harmony continues into the summer, with the Istanbul Jazz Festival following quickly on its heels starting July 1.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Istanbul Guide
Quito and Guayaquil, Ecuador
Summer 2014 marks the maiden journey of the revamped Tren Crucero, which crosses the Andes from Quito to Guayaquil along the scenic Avenue of Volcanoes. And there's plenty to do in each city before boarding the restored 100 year-old locomotive, as the season includes many holidays. In Guayaquil, June 29 marks the San Pedro and San Pablo fishermen's festival, all along the coast, kicking off with bonfire and continuing with food, music, and celebrations. The birthday of national hero Simon Bolivar is celebrated all over the country on July 24 with military parades, music, and dancing in the streets.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Ecuador Guide
A busy summer for "the historic state" in the southern Malay Peninsula begins with the Melaka River Invitational Festival, a celebration of water sports that includes a Float Parade and the Melaka Parade Competition. On July 7, history is the focus when the city celebrates its anniversary as a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a food and culture festival, right in the center of the city. Melaka also celebrates its Portuguese heritage during the San Pedro festival, June 23-29.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Malaysia Guide
Yes, it's known for its music scene, but this summer, Nashville is poised to become a hot food destination, too, as celebrity chefs are swooping in. Charleston chef Sean Brock started the trend last year with his Husk Nashville, and now Chopped judge Maneet Chauhan is on the verge of opening Chauhan Ale & Masala House in July. Legendary chef Jonathan Waxman of NYC's Barbuto will expand with Adele's by Jonathan Waxman in early summer. What's spurring this influx? The opening of the new, half-billion-dollar Music City Center last year, for one, as well as the resurgence of neighborhoods such as East Nashville and Hillsboro Village.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Nashville Guide
Vienna has been voted the world's most livable city for five years in a row by the independent consulting firm Mercer, and "The Imperial City" is just as easy to visit. The Sisi Museum within the Imperial Palace celebrates its 10th anniversary with a special look at the divine clothing of Empress Elizabeth, through the remainder of the year. Celebrations continue with the Vienna Jazz Festival in various venues all over the city, with headliners such as Sinead O'Connor, Dr. John, and Al Jarreau. Beginning June 28 and running through the end of Agust. The open-air Vienna Film Festival Rathausplatz, that doubles as a food festival is expected to draw a crowd of 700,000.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Vienna Guide
This year, Glasgow hosts The Commonwealth Games, the third largest multi-sport event in the world, which includes competitors from the entire Commonwealth of Nations from July 23- August 3. The games have spurred the redevelopment of the Pacific Quay and Clyde Waterfront near the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Center, with a brand new arena, park expansions, and new river boat cruises that shuttle visitors to the Glasgow Science Centre and the Riverside Museum, named the 2013 European Museum of the Year.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Glasgow Guide
There's no special equipment needed in order to walk the just-opened Glacier Skywalk smack in the middle of the Canadian Rockies. The walkway leads to a glass cliff-edge promenade with stunning views of the alpine terrain. The nearby Glacier Discovery Centre shows off its new renovation and is the starting point for the Glacier Adventure, which leads visitors right onto the Athabasca Glacier. Access via the Icefields Parkway is considered one of the more scenic drives in the world.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Alberta Guide
A serial traveler who often lets a country's cuisine dictate her itineraries, New York City-based writer Kathleen Squires has visited all 7 continents and over 60 countries, with stints living in London, Tokyo, and Buenos Aires. Her work also appears in The Wall Street Journal, Saveur, Cooking Light and National Geographic Traveler.