As the rainy season starts in many tropical destinations, the risk of contracting a mosquito-borne disease increases. These diseases include Zika, which at best would put a damper on your holiday but has also been linked to birth defects and Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Zika is most common in low-lying areas, which means that if you want to avoid the virus, you need to avoid those tropical beaches. Luckily there are many exciting destinations that don’t involve beaches. Here are some of the best Zika-free destinations that go beyond the beach.
1 / 20
Uruguay, unlike neighbouring Brazil and Argentina, is still a Zika-free beach destination and while the town of Carmelo has riverside beaches, it’s also quite the foodie haven. You can stroll along cobbled streets and stuff your face with steak at one of the local parillas, or you can explore the surrounding wine region that is Uruguay’s answer to Tuscany.
2 / 20
Jasper National Park, Alberta
With its stunning mountain scenery, lakes, hot springs and two of Canada’s must-see waterfalls, Jasper National Park will make you forget that the beach even exists. The park is not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site but a dark-sky preserve too.
3 / 20
The Birthplace of Rock and Roll will always be associated with Elvis and the blues but you don’t have to be crazy about music to enjoy a visit here. Memphis is also known for its Southern barbeques, rich history and quirky attractions like the ducks of the Peabody Hotel. Moreover, it’s one of the cheapest destinations to travel to from Canada this year.
4 / 20
Magnetic Island, Australia
With its stunning beaches and superb snorkelling and diving, it’s easy to forget that the Great Barrier Reef also has plenty of attractions for those who’d like to stay dry. Head inland on Magnetic Island, for instance, and you can spot koalas in the wild.
5 / 20
Athabasca Sand Dunes, Saskatchewan
You can have the sand without the beach right here in Canada. The Athabasca Sand Dunes in northern Saskatchewan are among the most northerly dune formations in the world and because you need to take a boat or plane to get here, you’ll very likely have those dunes all to yourself.
6 / 20
Carbet Falls, Guadeloupe
Most of the Caribbean has reported cases of Zika but Guadeloupe has been completely Zika free so far. Of course you want to visit for the beaches too but one of the most popular attractions in Guadeloupe is the Carbet Falls. After hiking to see the falls, you can relax in one of the hot springs nearby.
7 / 20
Blagaj, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Gorgeous Blagaj is one of those magical destinations you probably didn’t know existed. The town is located at the source of the Buna River and is famous for its Dervish monastery.
8 / 20
‘Iolani Palace, Hawaii
Who would have thought that you could visit a royal palace not only in the United States but also in a destination that’s more famous for its beach culture? The ‘Iolani Palace is the more impressive of the two former residences of the Hawaiian royal family and is located in downtown Honolulu. Remember to check out our Hawaii packing list before you depart for the Aloha State.
9 / 20
Why would you want to have sunsets on the beach when you could enjoy them while watching elephants, giraffes and other animals as they come to the watering holes at dusk? You’ll also want to spend some time in Botswana’s capital, Gaborone, home to the fictional No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.
10 / 20
Chile is one of the few South American countries to have escaped Zika and while it has a long coastline with lots of beaches, you’ll be missing out big time if you don’t visit the country’s wine lands. Most of the vineyards are concentrated in the valleys around Santiago.
11 / 20
With its canals, bridges and medieval buildings, Wroclaw is sometimes called the “Polish Venice”. Once known as Breslau, Wroclaw is rich in history. While you’re exploring its streets, see if you can find the more than 350 figurines of dwarves spread all over the city.
12 / 20
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Dubai has great beaches, yes, but let’s face it: hardly anybody goes there specifically to sunbathe. The architecture is larger than life and with its luxury hotels, sophisticated dining and infinite shopping opportunities, it’s one of the best destinations for mother-daughter trips too.
13 / 20
St. Helena Island, South Carolina
St. Helena Island gives you the feel of an exotic tropical destination without the Zika. One of the tidal and barrier islands that make up the Sea Islands and surrounded by marshes, St. Helena Island is known for its rural Southern charm and unique Gullah culture.
14 / 20
London, United Kingdom
London has something for everyone: museums and historic sites, great fashion and music, sports, parks and one of the world’s most beautiful flower markets, to name just a few. It’s no wonder that the city is consistently ranked as one of the most visited in the world.
15 / 20
Tahiti, French Polynesia
Tahiti is not only about palm-fringed beaches and wearing tropical flowers in your hair. It’s also about pearls: specifically, the black Tahitian pearl. The Robert Wan Pearl Museum in Papeete is the world’s only museum dedicated to these beauties.
16 / 20
Haida Gwaii, British Columbia
Haida Gwaii is one of the up-and-coming destinations for 2018 and with good reason: you can go hiking through rainforests, go fishing, paddle on a lake or on the ocean, stroll through art galleries and learn more about Haida culture. It’s unlikely that you’ll miss the beach but if you do, the archipelago is home to plenty of sandy beaches too.
17 / 20
Latvia’s capital is becoming increasingly popular with those in the know of what's trendy. Riga is cosmopolitan and vibrant with one of Europe’s liveliest nightlife scenes. The city is also known for its vast collection of Art Nouveau architecture.
18 / 20
One of the largest cities in Africa, Cairo is a bustling metropolis with modern amenities and old-world charm. The city is still rebuilding its tourism industry after the Egyptian Revolution, so you can visit attractions like the Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx, the Sain Samaan the Tanner Monastery and the Egyptian Museum without the crowds.
19 / 20
Niagara Region, Ontario
Stunning scenery, hiking and biking trails, festivals, wineries and one of the world’s most breathtaking waterfalls: what’s not to love about the Niagara Region? To get there, take the Greenbelt Express from Toronto to start your vacation with one of the best train trips in Canada.
20 / 20
Barcelona is probably one of the chicest cities you’ll ever get to visit and even here you can save money while travelling in Europe. Take in the street performances along La Rambla, explore the city’s Gaudi architecture, look for bargains in the boutiques and markets or people-watch from an outdoor café. You might forget that the city is also home to one of Europe’s best beaches.