Many travelers out there have a bucket list of destinations and are on a mission to get to as many as they can. While this is definitely one fool-proof way to see the world, other travelers prefer to visit the same places again and again, discovering new things about each destination with every visit. For those travelers, we’ve hand-picked a few cities and their specific points in the calendar year that deserve a second glance thanks to drastically different seasons or not-to-miss events. A visit to one of these cities at each time of interest will present you with what seems like an entirely new journey, but with the added comfort of some basic familiarity. Consider making double the travel plans for these incredible destinations!
Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
Though not as populous as Montreal, Quebec City is a destination that offers variety to travelers in more ways than one. The city is literally walled off into two sections, that of Old Quebec and the rest of city-proper, by the original ramparts that were constructed in 1759. The divide in the city is distinct and both parts offer a completely different vibe to your vacation. What’s more, visiting Québec City in the winter months provides a very different experience from a summertime visit, but both are equally valuable to discover. In early February, normally the coldest point of the season, the Quebec Winter Carnival takes over with celebrations and amazing snow structures. Visits to the Ice Palace, elaborate snow sculpture contests, dog-sledding, and ice skating performances are just some of the memorable activities to take part in during the carnival. Be prepared for a visit like this with lots of layers for every exposed part of the body…you’ll need them!
In summer, the old city transforms and shows off a European charm in the cobble stoned streets. Take a stroll down the boardwalk along the St. Lawrence river to watch the boats come in and to hear the music of the street performers. The historical tours of Quebec during the day are a great way to see the old city from horse-drawn carriage and, when taken at night, can add to a romantic couple’s getaway! Characters dressed up as historical figures often frequent the streets of Quebec in summer and can be great fun to listen to and learn from. There are plenty of beautiful streets to discover during the warm season in Quebec, but one tourist favorite is the Rue Saint-Louis for its boutique shops and village charm. Take advantage of this mini Europe in North America during both of these moments during the year and you’re sure to have a great vacation each time!
The bustling metropolis that is Tokyo obviously has a lot to see, but the view varies depending on when you visit. If you travel in the spring months, the cherry blossoms will take center stage even in the city, and visitors and locals alike will flock to the best viewing parks. Cherry blossom festivals throughout the country celebrate the coming of spring and the abundance of this beautiful, fleeting flower. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden and Ueno
Onshi Park seem to take precedence as the best spots to view these blooms in the city, but there are several locations throughout the area where these trees grow. Japan is famous for this particular flower and it has captured the attention of travelers from all over the world. A lesser known season of growth in this city is autumn when the chrysanthemum, or as they say in Japan, the kiku, flowers grow. The chrysanthemum is a very special flower to the culture of Japan as the blossom has been used to represent the Imperial House of Japan for centuries. What’s more, the “Chrysanthemum Throne” is even used as a term to refer to the Emperor of Japan. A trip to Tokyo during the autumn months, particularly September, will award visitors with the chance to se the various chrysanthemum festival celebrations held throughout the city. Much like the cherry blossoms in spring, The Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is usually the best place to see Tokyo’s own chrysanthemum blossoms.
In the fall, there’s no mistaking that Oktoberfest is the time to visit Munich if you’re looking for the most exciting beer festival that the world has to offer. This enormous event sees over six million individuals from all over the world each year who come together to celebrate with rides, games, traditional dishes, and of course, lots of beer. If you’re looking to create the ultimate travel bucket list, this one is a must-see! Of course, if you’ve already been to Oktoberfest or if you’re looking for something a little different, head to Munich in July for the Tollwood Summer Festival. This event, like Oktoberfest, is an annual festival that celebrates local culture, only with a lower alcohol content. The festival shows off Germany’s more artistic side with theatrical and musical performances taking up most of the exhibits. Aside from the performances, craft markets are a big part of the event where visitors can enjoy browsing handcrafted materials and artisan food products. While not as big as Oktoberfest, this festival is widely popular in the area and can show visitors a lot about a different kind of culture in Germany. Still in the mood for a beer? Don’t worry, Tollwood also comes complete with festival beer tents.
If you’re headed to Reykjavik, there are definitely two times to travel. The first suggestion is obvious; just on the outskirts of Reykjavik, travelers have a prime opportunity to witness the Northern Lights in all their grandeur. The city offers multiple tour options for these sightings whether on land or on a boat and often come with an expert to help you along the way. It’s best if you search for this phenomenon outside of city limits, however, as light pollution can be a factor in how impressive your view will be. In summer, Reykjavik can offer some daytime delights for travelers as well. In particular, summer travelers should plan a hike of Mount Esja or Mount Keilir for some spectacular views and beautiful, lush foliage. Mount Keilir is particularly famous for its 360 degree views at the summit and, while challenging, it is a hike that will reward your efforts greatly. Aside from Reykjavik’s nightly winter wonders, its location is perfectly situated so that the summer season also offers a daytime phenomenon called a “midnight sun”. During the summer months, the sun remains visible until midnight and when it finally sets it splashes the sky with streams of color. There are plenty of prime locations available for travelers to view these late sunsets and to take beautiful photos as well. These natural sky performances are not to be missed during your Icelandic travels, winter or summer!