Seven Top Spots to Celebrate Summer Solstice
The summer solstice, occurring on June 21 this year, marks the beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere and is steeped in tradition and cultural significance. Celebrated in a variety of different ways across the world, from lighting mountain fires in Austria to skygazing in Croatia, it’s the perfect way to welcome in the summer and make the most of the longest day of the year. With over two thirds (69%) of travelers planning to travel in the summer months of 2023,* we share seven epic destinations for travelers to immerse themselves in festivity and celebrate the start of an exciting summer season.
Stonehenge, one of the greatest wonders of the world and known for its urban legends and mystery, draws thousands of visitors during the solstice. These annual celebrations are heralded for their positive and peaceful atmosphere and visitors gather together on the morning of June 21 to watch the glorious sunrise over the stone circle. With 67% of travelers seeking to travel to a destination with an iconic landmark,* visitors can book an Admission to Stonehenge and its Visitor Centre – the perfect way to discover the history of this impressive boulder formation as well as view a gallery of reconstructed homes from the Neolithic period. Stonehenge is located within the parish of Amesbury, a small historic town along the River Avon, with its own weekly market, museum housing one of the UK’s largest mesolithic collections and stream of boutique shops and quaint restaurants. Further afield, visitors can explore the county of Wiltshire which offers beautiful countryside and pretty towns full of cozy traditional English pubs.
Where to stay: Situated in Amesbury, the beautiful Georgian townhouse Fairlawn House is just a short drive away from Stonehenge. Each guest room is mixed with traditional furnishings and contemporary décor providing a home away from home feel. The guesthouse offers a cozy dining room where guests can enjoy a delicious hot breakfast with a choice of freshly cooked or continental style buffet options. A great base for cyclists and walkers to explore the wonderful countryside as well as the Stonehenge landscape.
The Austrian Alps region of Tyrol is a great destination to celebrate the summer solstice. Every year, the mountains are set ablaze shortly after the sun sets, and fires illuminate the sky, creating a magical atmosphere. The folk tradition of lighting bonfires on mountaintops not only looks spectacular, it’s rooted in a tradition from the Middle Ages where tribes believed that fire was a symbol that showed appreciation toward the earth. Tyrol’s capital, Innsbruck, puts on an impressive display lighting up the Nordkette mountain range (cable cars run until 11pm) with live music and feasts made up of traditional cuisine such as kasspatzln (baked egg noodles coated in cheese) and apple dumplings – held on June 24 this year. Stretching along the western side of Austria, Tyrol will have outdoor enthusiasts spoilt for choice with summer activities such as hiking, rock climbing and a range of mountain lakes to cool off in. For a birdseye view of the city, book a Innsbruck–Hungerburg Round-trip Funicular Ride to see famous landmarks as well as Alpine glacier formations.
Where to stay: Bed down at the Riedz Apartments in Innsbruck where travelers can enjoy incredible views from their balcony overlooking the mountains and easy access to the Alps. Close to the Inn River and Innsbruck’s Old Town, this accommodation is in an excellent location with nearby transport links and an array of traditional Austrian restaurants. With plenty of green spaces peppered around the property and serving organic and locally sourced food, this Booking.com Travel Sustainable stay is ideal for the 59% of travelers determined to make more sustainable choices on vacation.**
Famous for its tropical rainforests and spiritual beliefs, the state of Yucatán is a great destination to celebrate the summer solstice in a traditional Mexican way. The area is famed for ancient Mayan culture and rich in archaeological sites including Chichén Itzá where the solstice is celebrated each year. Ancient Mayans calculated everything precisely and, during summer solstice, the sun casts perfect shadows on the south and west sides of the main El Castillo pyramid, known as the Temple of Kukulcan, so that it looks to be split in two. Come to watch this astronomical spectacle and revel in the carnival atmosphere from rock to traditional music, folk dance troupes and groups of New Agers who come in robes to see the magic of the equinox. Top tip: Visitors usually wear white clothes to attract the positive energy from the sun. Explore more of what Yucatán has to offer on a Cuzamá Cenotes Day Trip with Lunch and visit impressive water-filled sinkholes formed by collapsed limestone caverns, and the ancient town and archaeological site of Acanceh.
Where to stay: Boasting an outdoor swimming pool and beautiful gardens, Galopina is a calm and tranquil B&B just outside Acanceh in the Yucatán countryside and a drive to Chichén Itzá. A five-bedroom, family-run guest house run by welcoming Mexican owners who created their dream homestay in the jungle with miles of trails, organic gardens and guest rooms offering meditative terraces. Most of the food served in the onsite restaurant is locally sourced and the owners invest a percentage of revenue back into community projects, making it a perfect example of a Booking.com Travel Sustainable property.
The easternmost Balearic Island of Menorca is known for its gorgeous white golden-sand bays and sea-splashed cities with an outstanding collection of architectural monuments. To mark the summer solstice, Menorca takes partying to a whole new level with one of the most iconic and participatory festivals in the Catalan calendar. Travelers can celebrate the triumph of light over dark during the festival of Sant Joan held every year in the beautiful old town of Ciutadella on June 23 and 24. Horse riders take to the streets during the day and become the stars of the celebration, and it features ancient traditions such as hazelnut throwing which is said to symbolize love, as well as fireworks, dancing and singing into the night. Outside of the fiesta, explore this port city lined with gold-tinged buildings, with its pockets of street art and gothic cathedral. Or, catch some rays with a Southern Beaches Boat Tour with Paella to explore prehistoric caves and snorkel in the clear Atlantic waters.
Where to stay: Situated in the heart of Ciutadella, and just a short distance from Gran Beach, Hotel Nou Sant Antoni exudes charm and elegance. This historic manor house offers light and airy rooms, an excellent buffet breakfast, complimentary cakes in the afternoon on the interior patio – and is a great spot to dip in and out of the festival. What’s more, this Booking.com Travel Sustainable property is making efforts towards sustainability, including offsetting a portion of their carbon footprint and offering tours provided by local guides.
A diversity of cultures is represented in Ottawa’s multi-day Summer Solstice Festival which fuses the longest day of the year with Canada’s Indigenous People’s Day. During this family-friendly festival, there’s food by celebrated chefs, traditional costumes and cultural performances held at the National Arts Center. Travelers are encouraged to wear orange to embrace the rich history of the aboriginal people and foster Canadian pride. Explore more of Ottawa on a Rideau Canal Cruise and discover historical landmarks from the water on a peaceful journey down this iconic waterway. Travelers often overlook Canada’s capital city in favor of Toronto and Montreal, but Ottawa has a wealth of cultural pursuits and beautiful natural landscapes. From world-class museums to leafy parks, this city may be large but it has an intimate small-town feel. In summer, travelers can head to Parliament Hill, the symbolic heart of Ottawa, for yoga (every Wednesday from May to August).
Where to stay: Stay in the heart of the city at the stylish Le Germain Hotel Ottawa. This trendy boutique hotel is just a short walk to the festival, the buzzy ByWard Market Square and Parliament Hill. Stylish rooms feature homey accents, murals and panoramic views and the complimentary breakfast is served in a chic, minimalist restaurant. Making huge efforts towards sustainability, this Travel Sustainable property serves locally sourced, organic food and also offers electric car charging stations – handy for those renting a car through Booking.com to explore more of Ontario.
Astrofest, a summer solstice festival that brings together astronomy with mystical history, is held annually near the famous observatory in Višnjan on the peninsula of Istria. Ancient tradition draws many astronomy enthusiasts on the shortest night of the year to watch the sun go down and welcome the sunrise marking the start of summer. Celebrations kick off by saying goodbye to the sun, followed by observatory tours, stargazing, bonfires and drum circles that don’t stop until the sun re-emerges the next day. There is a fairytale element to these celebrations with ancient myths dictating that on this night the earth is visited by fairies and elves. Discover more of what the village of Višnjan has to offer with a walk from the sundial in Antun Korlević Park towards the cobblestoned streets of its old town to drink in its rich historical heritage and view the gothic chapel of St Anthony the Abbot. A short drive away, head to the coast and book a Private Half-Day Poreč Tour to explore the 2000-year-old city of Poreč, known for its ancient temple, ruins and enchanting beaches.
Where to stay: For the 62% who want their trip to feel like a home away from home,* the charmingly decorated Villa Visnjan Residence is located in the village of Višnjan and close to the solstice celebrations. Guests can come together and make use of the barbeque facilities on the sunny terrace or relax poolside to re-energize after a night of festivities. These apartments are located in the heart of the village and offer stunning views overlooking vineyards and olive groves.
Each year, Taiwan celebrates the Dragon Boat Festival also known as Duan Yang which means ‘Upright Sun’ and is centered around the summer solstice. Falling on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, the festival this year will be held on June 22. A traditional Chinese holiday, the event will enable visitors to partake in festivities from watching the exhilarating dragon boat races held throughout the island to eating delicious sticky rice dumplings known as zongzi. Head to the Dajia section of the Keelung River where the International Dragon Boat Championship is held and watch the hand-painted and vibrantly colored boats grace the water, each with a drummer beating in time with the rowers. There are plenty of activities for travelers to enjoy during their stay in Keelung City, which is located on the northernmost tip of Taiwan and blessed with ancient forts, beaches and beautiful scenery. A visit to the famous Keelung Miaokou Night Market renowned for its fresh seafood from delicious butter crabs to salty braised eel is not to be missed.
Where to stay: Bed down at Drizzle Inn, a stone’s throw away from Keelung Miaokou Night Market and a short walk to the train station and the beautiful Zhongzheng Park. Guests can choose between a private room or a shared dorm at this well-priced, sleek inn that comes with a communal kitchen and terrace. To learn and explore more of the surrounding area, the friendly owners of this Booking.com Travel Sustainable stay offer sightseeing tours organized by local guides and readily provide guests with information on local heritage and culture. It also houses an art gallery where local artists display their work.
*Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of 42,513 respondents across 33 markets (2,000 from USA, 1,008 from Canada, 2,000 from Mexico, 1,000 from Colombia, 2,000 from Brazil, 1,000 from Argentina, 2,000 from Australia, 1,000 from New Zealand, 2,000 from Spain, 2,000 from Italy, 2,000 from France, 2,000 from UK, 2,000 from Germany, 1,000 from Netherlands, 1,000 from Denmark, 1,000 from Sweden, 1,000 from Croatia, 1,000 from Switzerland, 1,000 from Belgium, 1,000 from Ireland, 1,000 from Portugal, 1,000 from Israel, 2,000 from India, 1,000 from China, 1,005 from Hong Kong, 1,000 from Thailand, 1,000 from Singapore, 1,000 from Taiwan, 1,000 from Vietnam, 1,000 from South Korea, 1,000 from Japan, 500 from UAE). In order to participate in this survey, respondents had to be 18 years of age or older, had to have traveled at least once in the past 12 months, and planning to travel in 2023 and be either the primary decision maker or involved in the decision making of their travel. The survey was taken online and took place in January and February 2023.
**Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of 33,228 respondents across 35 countries and territories (1,019 from USA, 1,002 from Canada, 1,007 from Mexico, 1,005 from Colombia, 1,008 from Brazil, 1,015 from Argentina, 1,008 from Australia, 504 from New Zealand, 1,008 from Spain, 1,002 from Italy, 1,008 from France, 502 from Switzerland, 1,008 from the UK, 1,000 from Ireland, 1,008 from Germany, 1,006 from the Netherlands, 1,006 from Belgium, 1,004 from Denmark, 1,007 from Sweden, 1,016 from Croatia, 1,012 from Israel, 504 from UEA, 1,012 from India, 1,001 from China, 1,000 from Hong Kong, 1,000 from Thailand, 1,020 from Singapore, 1,001 from Taiwan, 1,000 from Vietnam, 1,002 from Indonesia, 1,007 from Philippines, 1,002 from South Korea, 1,009 from Japan, 1,005 from South Africa and 510 from Kenya). In order to participate in this survey, respondents had to be 18 years of age or older, had to have traveled at least once in the past 12 months and must be planning to travel in 2023, and be either the primary decision maker or involved in the decision making of their travel. The survey was taken online and took place in February 2023.